The Twilight Singers
Powder Burns (One Little Indian)
An interview with guitarist/vocalist Greg Dulli
By Tim Den
How are you feeling?
I’m just wiped.
Oh yeah? What’s been going on?
Well, The Twilight Singers just played about 75 shows in a row, and we also just recorded a new EP. And then I went to Cincinnati to play with (The Afghan) Whigs, recorded with them, went down to New Orleans to record for Low Fidelity Allstars, and am now getting ready for another tour.
That pretty much mentions everything I wanted to ask you about! Tell me about the new EP.
We had a day off on our last European tour, so we went into a place in Helsinki. I’m always recording. I had three songs that I’d been working on. We also did a few covers that we’d been playing live for a while. We did this song with Joseph Arthur called “Sublime” that should’ve come out last summer, cuz it’s such a summer anthem. But the whole thing should be out this fall.
Is (the Massive Attack song) “Live With Me” on it?
It’s the lead-off track!
Killer! I just saw them here in Chicago, and (vocalist) Terry Callier came out and sang with them.
Yeah, my friend Dave Prince is friends with Terry, and he just told me about it. I think that was the only show where that happened, cuz I saw Massive Attack about four times this summer – we played a few festivals with them – and I only saw Elizabeth Fraser singing. I’ve invited Terry to either come down to our upcoming Chicago shows or perhaps play with us. If he actually accepts the invitation, I’ll tip you off.
I heard that song in Italy when I was doing press. The journalist was doing the thing where he plays songs and I have to react to them on the spot? It’s a schtick that a lot of magazines are doing right now. Anyway, he plays me the song, and I go “that’s Terry Callier!” But I couldn’t place the musicians. So the guy says “it’s Massive Attack,” and I was just shocked because it was the best song I had heard from them in 10 years, easily.
Yeah, not many people liked 100th Window, but this one song on a best-of literally knocked everyone on their asses.
I know! After the interview, the journalist says “Dude, you should totally cover that song.” And I’m like, “Dude, I’m totally gonna.” (laughs) Halfway through listening to it, it’s like seeing a pretty girl: “I like her.” You can stalk a song and not get arrested. (laughs)
How did the Whigs’ thing go? And what’s the extent of this “reunion”?
It was a reunion for the four of us, but that’s the extent of it. Rhino Records, who’s putting out a retrospective for us, I used to work for a long time ago. Like 15 years ago. But they’ve been great to me, and they asked us for something special, so I wanted to give it to them. We had an unfinished song from around the time when we broke up, so we met up, finished writing it, and wrote one more. We had a blast, but dude: The Afghan Whigs are never getting back together.
Would you remarry your wife who you divorced six years ago? I’m a forward-looking guy: I don’t wallow in nostalgia. I can’t look back. We did that band for 14 years, man. We did everything we could and it was time to move on. Whoever was at the last show, that was The Afghan Whigs’ very last show.
What if someone gave you a million dollars to do one last tour?
(Pauses, thinks) I would take a million dollars for one show. (laughs) But just for myself. (laughs)
What about the other guys?
They have to get their own agents! (laughs)
I read in The Onion that Powder Burns was the first album you ever recorded sober.
Well, sober is a relative term. It was the first album where I wasn’t doing Class A narcotics.
Is it going to be a permanent method of working?
It’s going to be a permanent method of living. I got to a point where it was life or death, you know? And I’m here talking to you because of it.
Did it trigger any other life-changing reactions? Waking up early, eating healthier, etc.?
No. (laughs) I still do other, um, things. I’m a creature of habit: Certain habits needed to be slayed, but everything else I’m taking one day at a time. I’m not gonna get up tomorrow and run a marathon. (laughs)
How was recording with Low Fidelity Allstars?
They actually weren’t there: I went down and recorded parts with Mike Napolitano, who does most of my records. It was fine: I finished and went to the movies. Jackass Number 2 is great, by the way.
Ha ha, I haven’t seen it yet, but I heard about the part where Steve-O throws up after someone farts into the gas mask that he’s wearing.
Yeah, he throws up in the gas mask, then eats the puke, then pukes again. (laughs) It’s amazing.
Where do you live these days?
I live in Los Angeles, but I also have an apartment in New Orleans.
What’s it like down there, 14 hellish months or so afterward?
Man, I tell ya, it’s come a long way, but it has a long way to go. There are some seriously scary crime here. I was down there for a week, and there was definitely something in the air. Motherfuckers are getting jacked everywhere. After 3 am? It’s not a fun place. The streets are filthy, the cops are filthy…
But surely L.A. cops are just as filthy?
Yeah, but at least in L.A. you know someone’s watching the motherfuckers. Not in New Orleans. I just don’t trust cops in general. I mean, I deal with them like you do: When I have to. But if this was the Wild West? I’d take one of them out into the middle of the street and have a draw. See who’s really the quickest.
Final question: What Greg Dulli interview would be complete without asking him about his love life? So: How is your love life?
(Pauses, thinks) It’s healthy and stable. (laughs) Put it this way, I’ve loved some wonderful women in my life who’ve loved me back as deeply and intensely, and I’m still friends with most of them. But currently, I am not in love. That doesn’t mean I’m sitting in my house waiting for love to come find me: I actively search for it and believe that it will be mine again. Love is the greatest thing a human can experience: I hope everyone gets a chance to love and be loved.