Friday, August 12, 2011
Q. So what should we talk about?
V. What should we talk about? I don’t know, I really have nothing to say anymore, this is already uncomfortable. I’m talking to a journalist. I feel the pain coming already. The brutal pain, when one day I should read your edit of whatever I say, because no matter what I say, no matter how I say it, no matter it’s tone, it’s frequency range, it’s decibel level or the way in which I put the words together, no matter my intentions and no matter the truth, what I’ll read one day will be a chastised, manipulated abortion of your misunderstandings, your manipulations, your agenda and your amateur use of the English language.
Q. How can I do that if this is a Question and Answer?
V. You’ll edit out the questions that I give answers to that you don’t like or YOU don’t feel are important or that offend YOU or offend anyone who controls your magazine. I will also be stuck answering your questions. Besides, the best interview of Vincent Gallo was done by Vincent Gallo. The best articles about Vincent Gallo were written by Vincent Gallo, the best acting performance of Vincent Gallo was directed and edited by Vincent Gallo from a screenplay written by Vincent Gallo, even the best photographs of Vincent Gallo were taken by Vincent Gallo. So you see, this is painful for me.
Q. This is why my first question was, what do you want to talk about?, because I don’t have an agenda here.
V. Let’s talk about what a wonderful president George Bush has been so far.Let’s talk about how ridiculous handicap parking is. Let’s talk about why the Puertoricans think they need to have a parade down fifth avenue. Or for that matter why the gays do too. Why isn’t the Veterans Day parade down fifth avenue? The people who secure our nation get a couple blocks in Brooklyn while the fags and spics get Fifth Avenue.
Let’s talk about revenge.
Q. That was at the top of my list. It’s a recurrent theme of yours, maybe Buffalo 66 was some sort of revenge on your parents?
V. I’m clearly a small-minded person, with my own petty grievances. Hopefully, my work transcends my own petty grievances and small-minded nature. It’s best for me to remain small-minded on an emotional level and broad-minded on a conceptual level. It doesn’t matter whatever it is that makes me do my work. Neurosis, obsession, wanting people to like me, wanting my parents to feel bad for underrating me, making a lot of money, power, social status, wanting girls to like me or just to meet one girl on a job. All of this doesn’t matter as long as the work that I do to achieve these small-minded needs is a lot more interesting than me and my reasons for making it.
Q. Was Buffalo 66 autobiographical then?
V. Not at all, it’s a very conceptual film with a lot of attention and focus put on its aesthetic sensibility. Although, the characters of the mother and father are very much like my mother and father, they could have been like anybody’s parents. The concept was to invent two fictional characters that wind up in my parent’s house. Here’s the point; I feel that when you or anyone else refers to that film as "autobiographical" what you are really doing is creating a sense or an idea that I didn’t really write the script. It sort of wrote itself. And since I am playing myself, I’m not really acting and since I’m not really acting and the script wrote itself then the film sort of directs itself. Well, it wasn’t autobiographical, it’s a real screenplay and a real performance and a real soundtrack.
Q. About this small-mindedness, I’m curious how do you transcend that? How do you take your head out of this small-minded space to create?
V. You mean, how can I create when I’m focused on petty grievances how can I then pull away from that pettiness? And think about more broad-minded things? Well it’s an old habit from childhood, I lived in a very petty environment that I had to deal with but I always thought of things outside that environment. I’ve developed the capacity to go back and forth from being easy to antagonize and easily made to feel poorly to thinking in a very focused way about way bigger more conceptual things. Or spending a lot of time focusing on aesthetics. Did you hear my record?
Q. Yes, I thought it was beautiful.
V. Well, I only spent about six hours of actual recording but the whole album took about two years to make. Most of the time was spent inventing the studio. I had already spent twenty years collecting rare equipment, begging difficult people to fix it in a special way which is always against the way that they want to do it. Because I have to have it done in a certain way. And so most of the time I’m screaming and yelling and throwing things and begging people to sell me things and begging them to fix them the right way and I’m getting depressed because someone fucks it up. He fucks it up and then he fucks it up and one day it works and I record a song (hums a few bars). And then something brakes again and then I’m back in my bad groove again, so the energy around that recording was very unpleasant, very uneasy, very hectic, very painful, very aggressive and violent and unhappy and angry and desperate, really desperate as if every single thing meant everything, every detail meant so much. The type of cable, the color of the cable. I wanted all the power lines to be red and all the microphone cables to be black and all the patch cables to be brown. There was one patch cable that was black, it bugged me so much…it was on a weekend, those kind of stores are closed on Saturday and Sunday so I stopped recording until I changed it on Monday. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t know. Ever since my psychiatrist died over a year ago, I have not been doing well.
Q. You’re serious. You wouldn’t lie to me, right?
V. No, I wouldn’t lie, especially about that. I had a very good doctor named Malcolm Hill. Smartest guy in the world. I saw him for about twelve years. Well, maybe I didn’t go for about three years of it, from work and things. About a year and a half ago his office was closed one day, for no reason. Couple weeks later, someone finally returned my messages and told me he was sick. A month after that, there was an announcement on his answering machine notifying everybody that he had passed away. I never felt such a loss from anyone’s death in my life. No one else’s death could feel that bad to me. At the time of his death, I was also having a difficult time in my relationship with my girlfriend. It was the most serious relationship of my life, she was the love of my life, and our problems were coming from things that are difficult to explain. And eventually, my relationship with my girlfriend ended. I haven’t been doing well at all because I don’t have a constant relationship where I can talk about what I’m thinking, and how I’m feeling and how I’m acting.
Q. You could just do interviews.
V. No, you don’t understand, when I talk to my psychiatrist Dr. Hill, it never felt bad in the end. It always feels bad in the end doing an interview. Always.
Q. Is there any room for pleasantness in your life?
V. I have more fun, and I have more things that I like and care about than anyone else I know. But I also have more things that make me feel unpleasant. I remember when I was 16 years old and I moved to New York City, I met this square girl and one day went to her house to try and fuck her and stuff. She was very pretty and clean and nice and she was older. She introduced me to some of her boring college friends who were going to Brown University. At 16, I already owned 4,500 albums. Some of them, I worked whole summers to buy. I loved my records, 4,500 records is tons of music to like. One day, I go on this trip with this girl and her friends; it’s the late seventies, the beginning of really bad radio on the East Coast. We’re all driving in a car and the radio is blasting some shitty music. I make a few comments about the music and begged them to change the channel, telling them; "this crappy song is killing me". They all gave me dirty looks and one of them says; "you’re so negative, you don’t like anything". And I thought to myself, "I don’t like anything?"…I spent every penny I ever made in my life on records, and because I’m not satisfied with main stream radio, I’m negative?
Q. Does your beautiful white dog have a name?
V. No, she has no name. I thought of calling her ‘The only girl who has never lied to me yet’.
Q. Speaking of your dog and this new LP, I was wondering if there’s any story about the song called Laura.
Q. What about ‘My beautiful white dog’?
V. I gave the song that title because I wanted her to be included. I didn’t even have her when I made the song. Though sometimes I’ll start off making work by beginning with a good title.
Q. Can you trust anyone?
Q. How did you take Joey Ramone’s death?
V. Johnny Ramone is my best friend. Johnny and Joey had not been friendly or speaking for fifteen years. So I never got to know Joey. Anyway, Deedee was my favorite in the band and Tommy seemed to be the brains of the band, Marky sucked. Joey Ramone though was clearly one of the most original singers of all time. And he was the sweetest guy. And his death is very sad.
ANTHONY KAUFMAN INTERVIEWS
FOR SOMA, NOVEMBER 2001