David Yow The Exclaim! Questionnaire

David Yow The Exclaim! Questionnaire
After virtually disappearing for eight years, David Yow has returned to front the explosive Los Angeles band Qui, reclaiming centre stage like only his sweaty, spitting, half-naked body can. In the ’80s and ’90s, Yow was the menacing vocalist for awe-inspiring groups like Austin’s Scratch Acid and Chicago’s the Jesus Lizard. Scratch Acid embarked on a surprising reunion tour in 2006 and, aside from rare appearances with the Melvins and Model/Actress, the trek was Yow’s steadiest musical activity since the Jesus Lizard unceremoniously disbanded in 1999. So where’s he been?

"When the Jesus Lizard broke up, I got a job as a freelance photo re-toucher,” Yow explains. "Now that I live in LA, I do a lot of movie posters and DVD covers. I do colour correction, putting things in that aren’t really there, stuff like that.” Yow tweaking graphics on Photoshop is an odd image for anyone who’s seen him fling himself into a fury on-stage. Thankfully he connected with Paul Christensen and Matt Cronk, joining their dark, noise-pop band Qui to collaborate on their demented Ipecac debut, Love’s Miracle. "Writing songs with these guys is a breeze and they’re teaching me to sing too,” Yow says. "They’ve taught me to harmonize and hit keys and pitches, so I think people who are aware of the crap I’ve done in the past might be a little surprised.”

What are you up to?
About five-foot-six.

What are your current fixations?
I really love to cook. Actually, all three of us Qui boys really love to cook and, as a matter of fact, on this tour we’ve got t-shirts but also Qui aprons, which I think is kind of a good thing. So yeah, cooking is one of my favourite things. I hate music so I don’t listen to it very much. I like the occasional movie…

What is something you like to cook?
Mexican food is sort of my specialty. For the last few years I’ve been making my own tortillas and chili powder. Making enchiladas with tortillas that didn’t exist ten minutes before is pretty good.

Why do you live in Hollywood?
About two years ago my wife and I said, "Let’s call it quits.” We’re still really close pals and stuff but we’re divorcing. I see her very often and we get along better than we did when it was falling apart, so that’s all good. But yeah, I live in Hollywood and I like the apartment I live in but I hate my neighbourhood. That’s why I live where I live.

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art:
The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky. It will blow your mind — truly amazing. Alejandro Jodorowsky was a Chilean director and this movie was funded by John and Yoko in 1973. For 30 years or so, it was kind of unattainable and just recently got re-released. I saw it about a month or so ago. It’s got more of a consistently amazing imagination than any movie that I’ve ever seen. You know when Raiders of the Lost Arkfirst came out? As far as I can tell, when that came out, it seemed like it was the most non-stop action-packed movie I’d ever seen. The Holy Mountain is like that but with incredible imagination. Instead of action-packed, it’s just… I think the guy was doing a lot of LSD at the time.

What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
I think one of the [most fun] times of my life was, several Halloweens ago, Shellac wanted to play a show as the Sex Pistols but there’s only three guys in Shellac so they asked if I would be Johnny Rotten. So we did that and it was really, really, really fun.

Yeah, you know Bob Weston sent me a CD-R of that show.
Oh he did?

I asked him about it. I said,”Bob, I’ve heard about this thing. Do you have any record of it?” And he just totally sent me one in the mail.
Bob’s a very accommodating, nice man.

Yes, he’s super, super nice. Okay, what have been your career highs and lows?
Well, the low I think involves Canada. I think we were in Ottawa with the Jesus Lizard and Mac (McNeilly) and I didn’t have any money. David (Wm. Sims) and Duane (Denison) had a little bit so they’d gone off to eat and Mac and I scrounged up some change and went to a grocery store and got some day-old bread and a dented can of chick peas. We had some mustard in the van so we had chick pea and mustard sandwiches. That was kind of sad.

Aw man, what year was that?
Probably ’91.

Okay, one of the first Canadian tours I imagine?
Yeah, yeah.

And those guys had money and they didn’t share it with you?
That’s right.

Is that the way the band functioned? That’s too bad.
Yeah, it’s hard for me to believe too.

Okay. And do you have any highs that you wanna talk about?
Just recently, we went over and did a couple of shows in England and Matt and Paul had never been out of the U.S. It was so much fun going over there and getting to see some friends that I didn’t know if I’d ever see again and watching Matt and Paul freak out on England. Watching Matt screaming, "Look at that van! It’s smaller than a fucking car!” Plus the food and walking around in Camden Town and seeing weird looking old men that they were calling twits. It was really good.

What should everyone shut up about?
Hm. Hmmm. Hmm. Uh… hmm. I think everyone should shut up about now. Right about… now.

What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
I like that I’m generally a pretty nice guy. I don’t like how short and old and ugly I am.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I’d love to be able to go invisible. I think I’d like that a lot. I could walk around the ladies bathroom. Although sometimes I do that any way.

What advice should you have taken, but did not?
Um... you’re asking me to use my memory. Hold on, there’s gotta be a good one. I feel like I’m zeroing in on it. Um, probably that last time I was at the bar and the guy said I shouldn’t have had one more bourbon.

What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?
Well, I’d kick someone out of the band for eating crackers.

What do you think of when you think of Canada?
I think of Canadian bacon, lots of snow, and gentle people who like hockey. Also, the Canadian and English sense of humour is more developed than the American one.

What was the first LP/cassette/CD/eight track you ever bought with your own money?
The first album I ever bought was Revolver by the Beatles. I was a full-fledged Beatles freak. I’m old enough that I was buying Beatles seven-inches when they first came out.

What was your most memorable day job?
Working at a restaurant in Austin called Castle Hill Café. It was a really cool experience and I learned a whole lot.

How do you spoil yourself?
I don’t.

If I wasn’t playing music I would be…
Probably living in a box down on skid row.

Wait, what? What about that graphics thing?
You’re right. That’s what I shoulda done! Damn it! Now, what am I gonna do with this box?

What do you fear most?
Scorpions kind of freak me out. I think they’re really, really cool looking but they freak me out. I have seen lots of scorpions and one time I killed one on the ceiling over my bed.

In Texas.

Oh. They can kill you right?
Um… I don’t… not these ones. If they sting you it’s like a really bad bee sting. I think there are some scorpions in the world that are that venomous.

What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
That sounds like something from The Dating Game. A really pretty, sexy girl?

What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
Several years ago in Chicago, I was asked to do a few songs with Yoko Ono. I had become friends with her son Sean. At sound check, I got a real kick out of Sean saying things like "Mom, c’mon! I’m hungry!” Then we went back to her hotel after the sound check and we were standing in the elevator next to each other and I said, "I’m sorry, what’s your name?” and she just laughed.

As a Beatles fan, that must’ve been crazy.
It is pretty cool. It was fun hanging out with Sean. When I was first meeting him, this friend of ours said, "Hey Sean, have you done your dad for David?” and he said he hadn’t. We were at some place in Chicago eating Polish sausages and so, when Sean imitates his dad, he just says whatever he wants and finishes with "for peace.” So, he said [adopts Liverpool accent] "We’re eating sausages for peace.”

Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
Wowee. It’d be a toss-up. It’d have to be Albert Einstein or Jacques Cousteau. If it was Albert Einstein, I think I would make wiener schnitzel, if it was Jacques Cousteau… probably fish.

What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
Well, ma died a few years ago. I dunno, she was really, really proud of my musical crap so I think she was happy with what I was doing.

What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
"Here You Come Again” by Dolly Parton. That’s the first one that popped into my head.