Dan the Automator & Prince Paul The Exclaim! Questionnaire
Published Jan 01, 2006What are you up to?
Nathaniel: Working on the Handsonium Institute trying to bring handsomeness to the rest of the world and Canada.
Chest: I'm doing the same. The main mission now is the make the world a better-looking place. Combined with our super twin powers, we will succeed in that.
What are your current fixations?
Nathaniel: Well, we have to give a bit of a commercial plug at this moment to Terry Richardson. He just had a big chill opening in New York and he had shot our cover, so he's definitely been a handsome person on-the-go at this moment.
Chest: Have you ever seen this movie called From Beyond by H.P. Lovecraft? It's about the pineal gland. It's very handsome in its own way. If you get a chance, go pick it up. In '89 it was Blood Sucking Freaks in 2004 for me, it's From Beyond. And Frankenhooker.
Why do you live where you do?
Chest: Nathaniel lives on Mars.
Nathaniel: Well, I consider the world my backyard. I live where I live [San Francisco] because they wouldn't let me into Canada.
Chest: Right now, I've been living in my mind. The reason I like living there? Who said I like living there?
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art?
Nathaniel: Not to be self-serving obviously, but the first thing that comes to mind is the Handsome Boy Modeling School, because a handsome state-of-mind brings a handsome person and a handsome body.
Chest: I was thinking the same thing.
Nathaniel: That pretty much covers it really.
Chest: I hate to reinforce it, but that was definitely the first thing I was thinking of because, Van Damme, like how wouldn't that change somebody's life?
What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig?
Nathaniel: I guess the one we played with Deepak Chopra and Tony Robbins at the Los Angeles forum was the most inspirational one. We had 30,000 people standing up saying, "I can be handsome. I will be handsome." Just to feel the power and the energy and the positivity in the room was probably the biggest moment for me.
Chest: Yeah, I'd say that's pretty intense, but probably even before that happened when I attended Rock Against Racism with Hal Linden and Ed Asner.
What have been your career highs and lows?
Nathaniel: The highs just keep getting higher and being handsome, the lows are never really all that low. There's been a few low ones, like the time I couldn't see Chest in Monte Carlo winning the Detective Oldham Championships because I was busy shooting the Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover. That was a pretty big low for me.
Chest: Definitely one of the highs was when Nathaniel brought 50 women over to my surprise birthday party, and they were all naked. A low was when they all left with him when the party was over.
What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
Chest: "Your seersucker line sucks."
Nathaniel: Here's the thing being as handsome as we are we often run into catty people, you know what I mean? That's just the way it is. The thing about being handsome is meaning to be gracious. So we don't worry too much because it's not handsome to dwell on that. Not to say that doesn't happen because jealousy is everywhere, but we try to take that and make it positive, like, "Okay, I understand you're jealous and you want to be like us. Here, come to the Handsome Boy Modeling School and we'll help you out." And most people come around and it might take a week or a month or a year later, but we usually hear "thank you" from them and at that point all is forgiven.
What should everyone shut up about?
Nathaniel: There's a variety of things that I don't need to hear anymore, and there's been far too much attention paid to many things. For me to bring down someone else's hustle is just not handsome.
Chest: How all the other designers have been stealing the concept for our papier mâche clothing line. Yeah, I know they bit. So what, you know? It still won't be of the same quality.
What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
Nathaniel: Being handsome means loving oneself. I grant you that you can't love everything about yourself, but at the same time I am the fucking co-head of the Handsome Boy Modeling School.
Chest: Van Damme, I have such a beautiful moustache. One of my dislikes is that I wish I had the goatee to match it.
What advice should you have taken, but did not?
Nathaniel: I guess at the time that stock tip from Martha Stewart sounded pretty good, but in retrospect it's cool I didn't take it.
Chest: I shouldn't have signed that contract. I'm not going to say which one, or which ones.
What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?
Nathaniel: I've never had to kick someone out of a band, because we try to work with people that we enjoy, but once in awhile you have to be like, "Honey, you gotta get out of the bed. The sheets need to be washed." Sometimes you have to send them home, you know what I mean? You need time to be handsome and do other things. I don't want to name any names because I might need to call them up again. The Olsen Twins are very nice people.
Chest: If they tried to kill me, that would have a lot to do with it. Or better yet, if they tried to kill or maim Nathaniel, they would definitely have to leave.
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
Nathaniel: Molson. I really enjoy Canada. I think the nicest people are from Canada. Kid Koala is one of our favourite handsome people and he's from Canada. Not to single him out as the only handsome Canadian that we know. There's a plethora of handsome people in Canada.
Chest: Escaping the draft.
Nathaniel: That too. Draft beer.
Chest: That's the door I'm looking at, but I'm too old for that now. Who knows, they might start reaching.
What is your vital daily ritual?
Nathaniel: Sneaking out of the house to avoid the paparazzi.
Chest: Parking in front of Nathaniel's house and helping escape the paparazzi. "Come on, get in!"
Nathaniel: It's very handsome when you do that, though.
Chest: Gotta have bullet-proof tinted windows.
What are your feelings on piracy, internet or otherwise?
Nathaniel: The high seas piracy has lost some of its lustre. It's far more "arrr." It's more like a violent business now and not as romantic as it used to be. If you want to spend your time on a ship surrounded by men that don't shower? Hey, that's your business. I myself have other things I want to do during the day.
Chest: You can download everyone else's record except mine. That's cool with me.
What was your most memorable day job?
Nathaniel: Photographer for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit calendar.
Chest: Tan applicator for the Hawaiian Tropic models.
How do you spoil yourself?
Nathaniel: I don't think there's any need to spoil yourself as long as you have cars, money and houses, and fine wine and food. Why spoil yourself? We just want the necessities. The basics.
Chest: Looking in the mirror.
If I wasn't playing music I would be
Nathaniel: I think I would be working at the Westminster Dog Show.
Chest: Refer to "most memorable day job."
What do you fear most?
Nathaniel: If you mean it in the context of that TV show Fear Factor, I fear the breath of whoever's eating those bugs.
Chest: On a serious note: the ending of the Handsome Boy Modeling School, which I really don't foresee. That would be pretty sad.
What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
Nathaniel: Usually there's a prelude to that. We don't like to just get straight down to business typically. It generally involves a woman. In fact, it always involves a woman. Wait, that's not true. Sometimes it involves two or three women. I guess the biggest headache about the whole thing is that 16 or 17 hours in, you might want to get something to eat.
Chest: If we're talking about in a sexual context, I would say just hold me. I want to be held.
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
Nathaniel: I guess it would be that time David Hasselhoff tried to borrow five bucks.
Chest: Probably the time I slap-boxed Wesley Snipes.
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
Nathaniel: I guess that would be Chest Rockwell. I'd pretty much let him order for himself. I don't think it's necessary to tell him what to do he understands the art of ordering fine food.
Chest: It would have to be two people. The first one would have to be Jesus and, to return the gracious offer, the other one would have to be Nathaniel Merriweather. If Jesus is there, he's definitely bringing the food.
Nathaniel: And the women.
Chest: In abundance, and it's all healthy.
What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
Nathaniel: Ultimately she's pretty happy with the choices I've made in life, though if it was up to her I might be working at the 7-11. Stay close to home.
Chest: Anything that doesn't have to do with me getting hurt in jail or being with another man.
Given the opportunity to choose, how would you like to die?
Nathaniel: It's never handsome to die. I can't really think of a handsome way to go, but if you go out in a hail of gunfire, you're a gangster. Is that handsome? I don't know. If you wind up getting hit by a bus, you're not going to look very handsome. Do you know the handsome way to go? No? Then why did you ask the question? Are you having problems? Because if you are, call the Handsome Boy hotline and maybe we can straighten you out. Maybe you've been hanging out with Bushwick Bill or something.
Chest: Or Everclear.
Nathaniel: Something you should try to avoid.
Chest: I'd like to go out happy.
The phenomenal hip-hop production duo of Prince Paul and Dan the Automator return for a second school year as Handsome Boy Modeling School drop White People, sporting an impressive and diverse line-up of students lending their musical talent. Handsome Boy graduates such as Mike Patton, Del the Funky Homosapien and De La Soul return for a refresher course while everyone from the RZA to John Oates give Handsome Boy's sophomore release a blend between straight-up hip-hop to sensitive indie rock, while Paul and Dan seamlessly combine their beat-making skills. "We just do things together as the mood strikes," says Automator. "It's all cupcakes and Jesus juice, as some people would say."
This isn't strictly a boy's club though. Cat Power's Chan Marshall and Paula Frazer add a feminine touch and prove that it's not only men that can be handsome. "The Handsome Boy Modeling School is co-ed," Automator clears up. "I can understand the confusion, but everyone is welcome, as long as you've got 60 bucks." This small admission fee could be the starting point to a new and beautiful you, and rest assure that the formula that Dan and Paul introduced with 1999's So How's Your Girl? has not been tampered with.
"There's an extension, but we can't really change the 101 that we started with the first album," says Prince Paul. "Right now we have graduates that will say, Van Damme, guys. I'd really like some refresher courses. When it comes to my handsomeness I remember some things but I really want to get the most out of it.' So we started applying some extra things to reinforce some of what we taught in the beginning. It ranges from hygiene to fitness, such as yachting and polo. Fashion, catwalk and etiquette is very important, as well as automotive repair."