The DF interview: Dirt Bird, part I
This week began at Losanjealous headquarters as any other. It was a bright, clear Monday morning. The Sandalwood conference room at the Marriott Residence Inn–Marina del Rey was ready for us to start work. And there, sprawled on the floor after a weekend binge apparently caused by despair occasioned by another second-place finish in a local flatulence contest, lay a passed-out DF.
Finding DF at the Losanj HQ in various states of mortification and/or disrobe at the end of a weekend is standard operating procedure. Except for one detail. In DF’s outstretched, near-comatose hand, we discovered a disk drive with a computer file on it. Could it be that DF had broken from character and actually done some damn work for a change?
Apparently: It seems that DF managed to convince Claire McKeown, charming doyenne of the local goth minimalist psychedelia dyad Dirt Bird to sit down with him for an interview. The result was occasionally incoherent (thanks to DF), occasionally inspired (thanks to Dirt Bird), and obviously incomplete. Here’s the first fragment:
–LaVerne CasaGrande, Losanjealous jefe
DF: Claire of “Dirt Bird,” I’d like to begin this interview by apologizing copiously for the fetor I exude.
Claire McKeown: …
DF: “Fetor” means “odor.”
DF: It’s a congenital thing I’ve got, you see. When I was just a fetus, my mother ingested the needles of a deciduous Bosnian conifer, and as you can probably surmise… [seventeen-minute digression redacted–ed.] …anyway, “open sore” is really an understatement, as I think these eight-by-ten glossies I’ve brought amply illustrate–
CM: DF, are you going to ask any questions?
DF: I’m asking the questions here!!!!
[Painfully awkward silence ensues.]
CM: Perhaps you’d like to know where the name “Dirt Bird” came from.
DF: Is it a reference to flatulence, Claire of “Dirt Bird?”
CM: Ha! No. Dirt Bird comes from when I was about 19 and a dirty filthy little punk rocker. My Mom used to call me dirt bird. I wonder if she knew what it meant in slang and that she was basically calling me a prostitute?
DF: You’re a prostitute? How great! So if I–
CM: I’m not a prostitute.
DF: Can I still pay you for sex?
DF: Would you like to pay me for sex?
DF: That’s very disappointing. Say, what’s the fixation with birds, dirty or otherwise? Frankly, they scare the hell out of me with the beaks and the pecking and the cheerful songs.
CM: I also fear birds. We should all fear birds. They carry diseases from outer space. At least that’s what the science channel was teaching me the other day.
Not to mention I’ll never look at a bird the same after watching Jurassic Park for the first time. They are clearly dinosaurs.
DF: Dinosaurs! Help! Aaaaaaa!
[DF bellows robustly and in abject fear for several minutes straight.]
CM: DF, are you going to stop bellowing anytime soon?
DF: One sec.
[More bellowing, and some sobbing, from DF.]
DF: Ahem. So, Claire, there’s scuttlebutt afoot that you’re not the only person in the band “Dirt Bird.” Here’s your chance to put these scurrilous rumors to a stop.
CM: Well, I don’t think it’s any secret that Dirt Bird consists of me and my bandmate and collaborator, Athena LeGrand.
DF: Aha! It’s true! So what do you and this “Athena”–if that is her real name–
CM: It is her real name.
DF: Sure it is, Claire of “Dirt Bird.” Anyway, what do you and this “Athena” get up to when you’re working on these pop songs all the kids are buzzing about?
CM: Athena and I make sacred music for secular people.
I write all the songs and play most of the instruments (Piano (tacked), Organs, Harmonium) on the album. Athena is on percussion duties. Our producer Tom Biller (Liars, Jon Brion, Warpaint) played bass, a few synths, and some percussion. Also our friend Brett Mielke played pedal steel on a track for us.
The biggest difference between Athena and my vocals are that I am a trained opera singer. We were both in choirs growing up so we have that connection, which we wouldn’t be able to do what we do with out this connection.
We have a similar range which is really fun because we can get really creative with harmonies. Not just have one person always sing the high and the other sing the low. I dig this flexibility. It makes writing harmonies that more interesting.
DF: I also can sing in a high register. Have you ever heard “Mr. Bojangles” sung in a falsetto?
DF: OK, back to more of my trademark hard-hitting journalism. Everyone knows that Dirt Bird got its start in the great days of the 1970s when two members of Humble Pie died in a plane crash and the remaining two joined up with the moog player from Michelle Bachman-Turner Overdrive–
CM: Gee, DF, I’m not sure where you’re getting your information.
DF: I pay a homeless guy in gumballs and he tells me what I need to know.
CM: Okay, well in reality things were a bit simpler. Athena and I used to be in a band called ‘Afternoons’ together, for a brief moment before the band cut its members from nine to seven. Athena was a casualty of the cut, but we had begun to sing all these two part harmony songs I had written. Afternoons continued on and is now called ‘Shadow Shadow Shade’. Athena and I continued as ‘Dirt Bird’.
The biggest inspiration for our band (Dirt Bird) was the feeling that occurred when we sang together. I never knew how important chemistry was until I started sing with Athena.
The biggest difference between the two bands, SSS and Dirt Bird, is that I am producing all the music for Dirt Bird where as SSS is a collaboration. Not to mention I just sing in SSS.
The similarities of the two bands are the mutual love of harmony. I am obsessed with harmony. There is no better feeling in the world than singing with other humans. I think it is the only key to finding peace in this world.
DF: Yes. Peace. Hey, that reminds me that yesterday I drank seventeen Shamrock Shakes. It was a totally frabjous experience. Do you know where I got the word “frabjous”?
CM: Was it from our song, “Jabberwocky”?
DF: No! Wrong again, Claire of “Dirt Bird!” It was from your song, “Jabberwocky!” DF wins again! And speaking of that song, how did you think up all those wacky words? And what the hell does “frabjous” mean?
CM: Frabjous is a portmanteau of, I believe, fabulous and joyous.
However, that song is actually based on “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll. I wrote a song based on the Jabberwocky poem first because of a deep love for Lewis Carroll’s works and mostly because of a deep hate for writing my own lyrics. Lyrics are the hardest part of song writing for me. I am getting better but I have to fight for it.
When I am writing the music just comes. It’s as if I am not even present. I have had to train my brain to be this unconscious with lyrics as well. Easier said than done but again I am getting better.
DF: Fascinating. We all have our medium of choice. Yours is hauntingly beautiful music. Mine is belching. In a way, we’re the same.
CM: Really? In what way is that?
DF: I’m glad you agree! Now, since I’ve uncovered through sheer journalistic brilliance that you egregiously plagiarized the song “Jabberwocky” from the famous writer Louis Barrel, who I have totally heard of, allow me to suggest that the Buckminster Fuller character who appears in the eponymous song is also plagiarized–from real life!!!!!!
CM: Hm, well first, we make it pretty clear that “Jabberwocky” is based on Carroll’s work, and second, yes, “Buckminster Fuller” is based on a real historical figure.
DF: I knew it! Another shocking revelation! And who is this so-called “historical figure”?
CM: Buckminster is one of the most interesting men to ever walk this earth. He was a scientist, a mathematician, and an inventor. He is so fascinating so you must google him to read up more. He is most known for his geodesic domes which besides being absolutely beautiful they are also the best use of space and energy. We should all be living in them. I love that the design of them was taken from the structure of a dandelion clock.
I could talk about this man for ever but this is the most important thing to say about him. One day he decided that we was going to find out what one man, an average man, could do to change the world for the better. He knew that if we continued the path we were on that we would run out of resources. He desired to do the most with the very least.
His inventions are mind blowing. He invented a car that could go for miles on just a thimble of gas. Unfortunately to us a freak accident occurred at the World’s fair (I believe in Chicago) when he was showing the world his car. It lead to the death of the driver in front of an entire crowd. This didn’t go over well.
His death is amazing too. His wife and love of his life had slipped into a coma. He was at the hospital with her for days and she was completely unresponsive. He was holding her hand and she squeezed it. He jumped up and started screaming to everyone that she squeezed his hand. He then had a heart attack and passed away right then. His wife joined him three days later.
I love this man!!!
The file with the interview appears to run out there. And DF remains in a drunken quasi-coma. But if/when he emerges, we’ll seek to extract the remainder and post it forthwith.