Hefty Fine (Geffen)
An interview with singer Jimmy Pop
By Scott Hefflon
It’s been, what, six, seven years since the last record, Hooray for Boobies, and your “Tubthumping,” “The Bad Touch”? What’re you doing now?
Collecting bad reviews. (laughs)
South Park was new when yer last record came out, but there was no Jackass or Chappelle’s Show or Insomnia with Dave Attell and Dane Cook hadn’t become the stand-up rockstar he is today. What’re your thoughts?
I really like Eddie Izzard and others who are left of center, and understand it’s a lot more interesting if not everyone gets the joke. And all those you mentioned, of course. I also really like the fourth quarter, when Conan O’Brien runs outta budget, so he has a cactus with a sombrero on, and someone’s doing a voiceover. I love that stuff. That’s why we never do our videos in L.A. If you pick a different location, they always come out better. So much evolves from the shithole you’re shooting in. I want to shoot a video at the Bunny Ranch. A set in L.A. can’t come close to that. Somehow, they took a building and made it look and feel like a trailer, filled with skeezy-looking rooms.
Have you ever had one of these brilliant concepts, dragged a whole crew and producer to some shithole location, then had the idea flop hard?
Oh yeah! That video with the two gay guys dancing, the song that Holly Johnson from Frankie Goes to Hollywood was so upset about. That was a disaster. It was shot on a studio set.
One of our best videos was the Discovery Channel song (“The Bad Touch,” even HE refers to it that way!). That was filmed in Paris, with our friends pretending to be stereotypical French people. I mean, they were French, but they were playing it up. Not all French people wear berets and carry baguettes around all day. I liked the way that one came out.
You have a DVD out of all you’re videos, One Fierce Beer… something, yeah?
Run. Yeah. That was for One Fierce Beer Coaster. We have a new one called Hooray for Groupies with all the videos since. Both are very stupid. The new one’s really disturbing. The things people’ll do for free tickets, ya know? A guy eating his own shit, shit like that. This guy and all his friends piss on a banana, which he shoves up his butt, then squeezes it back out with his ass muscles, he puts it on a plate and his friend barfs on it, then he shits on the plate, mixes it all together, and eats it. For four free tickets.
Are DVDs rated?
Yeah, it’s NC-17.
And Geffen had the balls to put it out?
It’s not out yet, but the last one had some pretty disturbing shit on it too. At the end of the day, they gotta make their quarter: They either need to let us release it on our own, and it’s a cash cow, or they choose to remain involved and put it out. There’s always something they think crosses the line. We get that all the time, obviously. They need a product to sell, and that’s ok, because they’re a record company and that’s their job, but it’s fun to watch the president squirm when it’s an all or nothing deal like this.
If no one lifts an eyebrow or squirms, it’s not worth doing. Not to be shock for shock’s sake, but if rock musicians edit and censor themselves to the point that no one is at all uncomfortable, it’s no longer rock music.
Nothing good comes from appeasing everyone. Greatness is loved or hated.
I remember you had some “shocking” opinions on hanging out with other bands and celebrities and stuff…
I like collecting people. People who can bring something to the table. Like we never hire techs for our tours. Our crews are made up of people we know who we show how to tech. Techs are the lamest people to be around, and if you have to be around the same people for 18 months, you need some fucked up personalities around. Functionality is overrated. 18 months is a big chunk of your life, so to spend it with people wearing fag bags, with mini flashlights to show me where the stage is? No. Find me someone who’s bukkaking underage cheerleaders in the back of the bus.
Who do you see as your audience these days?
As long as people drink and are fucked in the head, we’ll always have an audience. We did this premiere thing at Top of the Pops in Europe, and between shoots or whatever, we played some older stuff, and all these thirteen year old kids knew the words. You can catch the stupid no matter what your age.
You mentioned The Office, what else tickles you?
How’s Your News? You can watch it on many different levels. They put five very mentally challenged people in an RV and sent them cross-country to interview people on the street. That’s amazing! Uncle Goddamn, which is kind of the predecessor to Jackass. This redneck sets his uncles on fire when they get drunk and pass out. That came out on DVD over the summer or something. And I recommend www.seemerot.com as well. A woman allowed a live cam to be put in the coffin with her when she died. So you can watch her decompose. Shocking. I check it every six months or so. It’s not like a whole lot changes, ya know? I have a fear of my mom walking in on me jerking off to that.
Cuz how do you explain that?!?
What, living at home?
There it is! I love that line in “A Lap Dance Is So Much Better When the Stripper Is Crying” about jerking off to a milk carton photo, cuz it’s just so wrong. What are some turns of phrase or just plain twisted ideas that made you pee when you first thought of them?
Well, that’s what I said before about not everyone getting the joke. There are a few friends I grew up with, and I like to make them laugh, but there are also lots of things that make me pee myself that no one else seems to find funny. One of the songs this time is about what a horrible girlfriend this girl was, and I start the second verse saying that if I wanted to be repeatedly shit on, I’d go make Dutch porn. I always liked that one.
Do you write with someone in mind?
Me. Which is why it’s hit or miss to other people. At the end of the day, I have to like it, because I’m the one who has to perform it for the next year or more. If I’ve pleased myself, and my mother or girlfriend cringe, I know I’m onto something.
Any weird writing habits? Naked? With a chicken on your head? Sitting on a slice of bologna so you feel funny? (That’s Steve Martin, by the way.) Late night and loaded?
Late at night, usually. About a year and a half ago, I found a doctor in Pakistan who’d sent me shitloads of Valium, no questions asked. So I was ordering 300 a week. I tried writing on Valium for about a month, and none of it made any sense. Then one day, my shipment didn’t come, and a few days later I get a letter from the Department of Homeland Security saying they’re going to prosecute me for importing Valium. There was a number, so I called it and told them to go fuck themselves, because I wasn’t doing anything illegal. No one ever called me back.
That story sounded funnier in my head.
Long drives work too.
In the bus, or when you’re driving?
I drive with a CD looping the part I need to write something for. I loop that part 99 times, and somewhere in there, your brain goes to a weird place. The line “the drummer from Def Leppard’s only got one arm” I specifically remember writing. I was driving from Chucktown back to Philly in the snow, and I was thinking of all the musicians who’d had car crashes.
I love singing along, then suddenly realizing I’m in a public place singing “Yummy down on this” or “It’s hard to rhyme a/word like vagina/Calvin Klein? Kinda/North Carolina.”
All the writers I like and admire don’t try to get what they do into your world, they try to pull you into theirs.
Jared told me a joke: What does Bush think of Roe vs. Wade? He doesn’t care how you get out of New Orleans.
I like people who’re natural, who have a good sense of self and know what works for them and they go with it. We did The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and he’s good with the off-the-cuff stuff, which is why he has the job, but when he came backstage, he was wearing a freebie Popular Mechanics shirt and he’s a riot! I just respect people who do their own thing… The guy who helped us with our last video just finished his first full-length film, a musical comedy based on the L.A. riots.
I was surprised to hear “Fire Water Burn” in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.
We weren’t around when he asked to use it, so our manager talked to him, but we were glad to be a part of it, because it was a way to have a bit of a say about politics without writing some shitty song about how much Bush sucks.