Pro-Choice on Mental Health
Anti-Interview from antifolkonline.com RS: What is your first musical memory? Peter: I was running a fever, sitting on the floor with a console phonograph in my grandparents' apartment. It sounded like they and my parents were arguing. Naturally, I thought it was about me, and who would take care of me. Poor me. I was an only child back then. I played, over and over, a 7 inch record of Frankie Avalon singing 'Togetherness.' RS: Your grandparents ran a folk center right? Peter: No, but my godmother had a Columbia records subscription. RS: Do you remember your first performance? Peter: Yes, why thank you for asking. My parents took us to what was then a children's theatre next to Serendipity on East 61st street. After one of their fairy tale adaptations, the cast offered the stage to audience members and I performed Snoopy and the Red Baron from 'You're a Good Man Charlie Brown.' RS: What happened? Peter: My parents were shocked and I think they enjoyed the attention. And to me, it meant I was an entertainer, like my TV friends, and that made me feel good. Then I started writing songs.... RS: You said about performing, 'It's like sex, it's a drag when only one half gets off.' How else is performing like sex? Peter: It's rapturous. It makes possible stadium-sized intimacy. It can inspire and relax. I forgot to think about that, but during my next set I will. On the recent Grammies I saw two extremes in performance, between Costello and Springsteen singing London Calling and I wanted to suggest that one was oversexed, the other undersexed, but thinking more about it, I can't say which is which. RS: You've built your career with great live performances. Is there one night that stands out? Peter: I played a set at 12-Bar in London between Magoo and Kaito. The audience was appreciative. Some were holding hands. RS: What's the best song ever written? Peter: It's hard to remember all the songs that were ever written, but one that I rarely hear and I really like is Cindy Lauper's 'I'll Kiss You.' Come to think of it, that song references another favorite song, 'Love Potion Number Nine.' RS: With three young kids running around, you must listen to tons of children's music. Yes. I grew up with AM pop, and I drive an old car, so lately I listen to, and revel in, the material played on the Disney station. (It broadcasts in New York City from AM 1560.) It played a song about being beautiful that was, itself, pretty beautiful; and an initially irritating Alanis Morrisette sounding song, 'Why d'you always have to make things so compliCAted?' turns out, thanks to AM's lower fidelity, to have good lyrics about people altering their natural behaviour depending upon who's watching. I also heard a Rage Against the Machine sounding adaptation the song, 'The Hokey Pokey,' and the spoken word disclaimer about the rules governing Disney's promotional contests is always something to savor. Other than that I listen to and learn from the public radio jazz station. RS: I read that your girlfriend, Laura Dern, has an amazing voice. Peter: You mean Diana Dunphy, my fiancée. Not only is her voice amazing, she can do amazing vocal impressions. RS: Do you have a favorite video? Peter: The Moldy Peaches Lucky Number Nine. RS: Any new bands you like? Peter: I don't know. The Trachtenberg Family Slideshow Players. RS: Are there any songs you wish you'd written? Peter: Steely Dan's Haitian Divorce. RS: So, do you ever smoke pot, um, for a creative advantage? Peter: RIght. That's exactly why I smoked pot, and I wrote songs because of it. RS: And you have a pretty slick wardrobe. Whose personal style do you emulate? Peter: Thank you. My grandfather left behind a 'sheik's' wardrobe so thanks to him I got to feel how fine garish clothing can be. After that disintigrated I wore thrift shop clothing. Most recently, Diana and I went shopping where I discovered that new clothing that fits is not necessarily more expensive.
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