Phil Tippen The Exclaim! Questionnaire

Phil Tippen is the singer and bassist for Minneapolis band Bellwether. Their self-titled album is out now on Square Dog Records, and they will be performing Canadian dates in November 2001.

Current fixations:

Pad thai, Phillipe Starck, polyester shirts, Sea Biscuit: An American Legend, Ichiro Suzuki, Polaroid cameras, Battlebots David Sedaris, Joy Ride, woolen socks, whiskey old fashioned.

Mind-altering work of art:

John Cage – "A Year From Monday"

Most memorable or inspirational gig and why?

Playing the Springwater in Nashville - we showed up and there were no mics or monitors and a sign on the wall said "nashville's #1 dive bar."

What has been your career high and low?

What career?

What should everyone shut up about?

Celine Dion

I would drop everything to play a benefit for:

Wasabi peas

What trait do you like and dislike most about yourself?


What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?

Repeated eye poking.

When I think of Canada I think:

Lots of friends, beavers and Sleeman's beer. And of course, the history of Newfoundland's cod fishing industry. The English and Irish immigrants who settled Newfoundland derived a livelihood solely from the fishery. Most of these people settled along the Northeast coast of the Island of Newfoundland, and on the coast of Labrador. Here, from the beginning, they were totally dependent on the annual shoreward migration of Northern Cod. Of course we know, their dependence had, by the 1900's created a society, an economy and a political community based on cod. The Newfoundland economy has diversified over the years, but Northern Cod is still as central to the Newfoundland soul as the wheat fields are to Saskatchewan, or the forests and salmon are to British Columbia. For the past century enormous Northern Cod landings have dominated the Newfoundland fishery, in some years peaking at over 300,000 tons. From 1884 to 1984, Northern Cod was the main source of the rich harvests Newfoundlanders have drawn from the seas. This special dependence on Northern Cod has been a recurrent theme in our history. For almost a century before Confederation with Canada, Northern Cod was exclusively fished from Newfoundland. Indeed, until foreign vessels began plundering this resource in the 1950's, virtually the entire catch of Northern Cod was taken by Newfoundland fishermen. This historic dependency, based on centuries of fishing, establishes for the adjacent coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador a compelling and prior claim on the present and future benefits of Northern Cod. This claim has been nurtured by the very evolution of the settlement pattern, much the same as other regions of Atlantic Canada have developed an historic exploitation of the fish stocks in their adjacent waters. Saltfish was produced in many qualities and sizes destined for markets in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Brazil and the West Indies. However, the developments and problems of Newfoundland between 1800 and 1914 have a familiar ring. The biggest watershed in the history of the early Newfoundland cod fishery occurred during the war period between 1793 and 1815 when Great Britain was almost continuously at war with France, and for a short period, at war with the United States as well. An almost unlimited demand for saltfish resulted in high prices and a 100% increase in both population and exports. At the end of the wars prices collapsed as the other saltfish competitors reappeared in the marketplace, and supplies of saltfish on world markets exceeded demand. In the past when this kind of development occurred the number of fishermen living on the island always declined. Newfoundland's jurisdiction over its resources, coastline and coastal waters was a major issue in the nineteenth century. The West Coast and the Northern Peninsula were outside the control of the local government from the beginning of the century. However, that did not stop every Newfoundland government, especially after Responsible Government was acquired in 1855, from constantly seeking to extend its control over this area. Despite firm denials from the British Government that this could ever happen, in 1904 after Newfoundland's sixty-year campaign, Britain and France signed an agreement which gave up this area to Newfoundland. Similarly, the colony fought for over thirty years to get control over its own bays which were frequented by foreign ships, particularly from America, in search of bait for the bank fishery. In 1910 the Hague Tribunal (the international court) awarded control over its bays to Newfoundland. In the 1800's when the deepening crisis required more government action, two main developments were pursued by governments. Pro-fishery governments supported lobster and cod hatcheries and also concentrated on the development of a major bait fishery. Newfoundland bait, especially herring, was beginning to become enormously important to the French and American banking fleets and it was thought by some that Newfoundland could become the principal supplier at considerable profit. However, the colony was never able to fully exploit its bait supplies and the lobster and cod hatcheries produced mixed results and they were abandoned in the 1890's. However, for a period Newfoundland took a major lead in fisheries research and experimentation. In 1866 Captain William H. Whiteley invented the cod trap at his fishing station in Bonne Esperance and, beginning in the 1880's, it became an important feature of the inshore fishery of both Newfoundland and Labrador. It increased the size of fishing crews and changed the fishing operations somewhat. This had an impact on the role of women in the fishery because it allowed the men to spend more time ashore and thereby relieved the women of much of the work of splitting and salting and curing the cod. The introduction of the internal combustion engine rationalized the process even further. Newfoundland was affected by technological developments during this period. Sometimes in a positive way as with the cod trap and the gasoline engine; sometimes in ways which were mixed as with the introduction of the steamers.

What is your vital daily ritual?

Waking up, coffee.

How do you spoil yourself?

Very well thank you.

What was your most memorable day job?

I forget.

If I wasn't playing music I would be:

An astronaut.

What is your greatest fear?

Boll weevils.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?


What makes you want to take it off and get it on?

"The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

Music and sex: Is there a difference? Why?

Uh, if you don't know this by now, I can't explain it to you.

Strangest brush with celebrity:

Peeing next to Kenny Rogers in an L.A. men's room.

Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?

Benjamin Franklin/egg mcmuffins.

What does your mom wish you were doing instead?

Mom is happy for us and for you.