Jonathan Cummins The Exclaim! Questionnaire
Published Nov 01, 2002Jonathan Cummins is the singer and guitarist for Montreal rock band Bionic. They are touring across Canada in November in support of their latest album, Deliverance, on Sound King Records.
Going to open houses to get home decorating tips, hanging out at McDonalds while eavesdropping on loitering senior citizens, getting up early in the morning, sketching obese people at "all you can eat" buffets, going into music stores and playing nothing but ZZ Top songs at excruciating volumes while screaming "I am Billy Goddamn Gibbons dammit," working on my novel Waiting For Goddo (sic), write script that includes a scene with nude senior citizens bowling. Think about starting a tribute band of that Edwin guy who once was in I Mother Earth, plotting the slow painful death of Sandra Bullock. I don't know if these are my fixations but at least that's what I did on Tuesday.
Mind altering work of art:
Sadness Will Prevail by Today Is The Day, Electric Heavyland by Acid Mothers Temple, Gobble Gobble Hey! by Slutarded. Anything by Charles Burns or Joe Coleman. Michael Jackson's nose.
Most memorable gig and why?
That one's easy. Black Flag at the Party Center in Toronto in 1983 on the "My War" tour. I was at the impressionable age of 16 and Nig Heist and the Meat Puppets (when they were good) backed them up. They played nothing but Black Sabbath between bands which really bummed out the punkers. Opened up with the aptly titled ten minute instrumental "Process Of Weeding Out" and proceeded to annihilate. punkers bummed out at their long hair and tried punching them but Flag fought back with both barrels. Greg Ginn was one of the most intense people I have ever seen play. With every show I do this is the measuring stick I use.
What was your career high and low?
High: Bionic playing with Kiss on the Psycho Circus tour in Montreal '98. Peter Criss screamed at me.
Low: Playing a wake to a bunch of drunken jocks with Bionic and Tricky Woo in Victoria. The guy who bought the farm died after getting wasted at the very bar that we were playing at and then unsuccessfully tried to surf on the roof of a moving car. Neither bands knew the guy but before we could start our set there was a moment of silence. As we were up on stage with our heads bowed for some guy we didn't even know, one of his "buddies" with a white Molson Canadian baseball cap finally broke the silence with "I bet Craig-er is up there in heaven right now watching this with an ice cold Bud in his hand." I couldn't hold it in anymore and was laughing so much I couldn't start our set. They didn't like us very much. Actually, is it too late to make that our career high?
What should everyone shut up about?
1) "It's the return of rock, so ladies and gentleman here's the Vines"? "The return" thing is all well and good but where the hell is the rock? Did I miss a memo here or something? This just in: "The Strokes are just an updated version of Wham!"
2) This is a little obvious, but electroclash? O.K. Drum and bass's shelf life is up but what the hell is so cool about name dropping the Human League and Soft Cell as an influence? This will have the life of a fruit fly. That svengali guy Larry Tee seems like quite a cunt.
I would drop everything to play a benefit for:
Affordable housing for lower income families in Montreal.
What trait do you like and dislike most about yourself:
Like: I am a very handsome man.
Dislike: I constantly lie to myself and say I'm a handsome man but in actuality I'm uglier than Feargal Sharkey, Joe Clark or Prince Charles.
What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed. And have you?
I have never done either. I mean I share a bed with Ian Blurton on tour fercrisakes.
When I think of Canada I think:
Teenage Head's first record, Gordon Sinclair's bow tie, long drives with people that make every mile worthwhile. Slow "Against The Glass," SCTV. Lonnie James, burritos at Amigos in Saskatoon, The State in Regina, Factor grants. People with the best sense of humour in the world.
What is your vital daily ritual?
Haven't I already written too much stuff anyway? This better not affect the size of my photo up top or heads are going to roll.
How do you spoil yourself?
I unplug the phone and fill my bed with Marmaduke and Ziggy comics and stay there all day. Oh Marmaduke, you mangy rascal. Sometimes I will play a game called "I'm Howard Hughes" and parade around the house with a bathrobe that won't quite close and Kleenex boxes on my feet while praying for Jehovah Witness' to come a knockin'.
What was your most memorable day job?
I had a job working at the Warped Tour picking up empty water bottles. There was a firehose used to water down the sun soaked crowd so the ground became ankle deep in mud. I would wade through this mud and collect the bottles in a garbage bag. After wading around in the muck, being caked in sundried mud and completely dazed from the sun beaming on my bald dome a kid turned to me and asked "Aren't you the guy from the Doughboys?" and asked for my autograph. I gave it to him and then asked if he was done with his water bottle.
If I wasn't playing music I would be:
Maybe a crossing guard? Good hours and I like to think of myself as a people person. Now that I think about it screw playing music!
What is your greatest fear?
Being the bitter old guy who talks to himself at the bar or working in a music store.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I suppose to see through walls so I wouldn't have to go to so many open houses. Ha! You thought I was going to say Bionic dick or something didn't ya?!
What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
T Rex's "The Slider."
Music and sex: is there a difference? Why?
I think any musician who gets up on stage and is good is trying to fuck everybody in the audience for 45 minutes. Sun Ra, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Today Is The Day, MC5, Stooges, (old) Rolling Stones. I mean c'mon, do your really think these guys are going to be premature ejaculators?
Strangest brush with celebrity?
I was in New York at a Buzzcocks show and the bass player guy from REM was there. I had a drank a bucketload of Jack Daniels and somebody said "hey that's the guy from REM" just as I projectile puked all over the place. I would've got him if somebody didn't push him out of the way. Damn!
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
G. Gordon Liddy. Crushed glass.
What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
I think she's just happy I'm not in jail or perhaps wishing I didn't use the word "cunt" when describing electroclash guru Larry Tee.