BANDSPEAK, Upcoming Boston Hassle Shows

An Interview with Pere Ubu’s David Thomas


So interpreting this interview will take you a little more effort than most interviews. Nothing good in life is easy. Below please find 2 audio recordings (via soundcloud).

The first is David Thomas’ answers to Colby Nathan (of New England Patriots/ Hyena)’s questions.
The second is David Thomas’ answers to Colby Nathan (of New England Patriots/ Hyena)’s questions w/ slide guitar accompaniment by Dylan Kumnick.

Just below the soundcloud interview answers please find the questions that Colby Nathan asked David Thomas (which were not recorded).

A slight puzzle, but you can do it, and it’s worth it. promise.


full audio response, here’s David Thomas of PERE UBU…

David Thomas recorded to cassette Oct. 2, 2017, 3:00PM BST.  Transferred to digital via long extension chord from the barn into the camper, some interference may apply.

Please enjoy, listen around, and hear the voice and the personality, and go see PERE UBU on Nov. 11th @ Hassle Fest 9.  Always Support Lifers.

audio rendered with live improvisation by Dylan Kumnick – his first time exploring the steel, on monday, Oct. 23, 2017 around 11:00PM EDST.  one of my oldest friends and bandmates.  we’re both living back in southern maine.  DK got me my dishwashing gig, so now i can call myself a real musician.


pulled quotes from interview with David Thomas of PERE UBU.

“very bad question, that’s a that’s a worse kinda question you can ask.”

“its the bellhop who has to watch all these people come and go, all these broken hearted broken people come and go.”

“remove yourself from what you’re writing, you’re telling a story, you want the story to live, to have a life of it’s own…so it’s a matter of having respect for the story, you know that it’s gonna lead somewhere and it may have a conclusion you don’t like, but you have to let it be that.”

“i don’t explain what I do.  that’s not in the nature of… of the art form.  that’s not in the nature of rock music.  where i’m not…rock musicians are not responsible role models in society. you know, i don’t have to be. you know, whoever said, that that musicians were role models. you know this is a very recent idea. you know, musicians are scum. you know, there’s no questions of that.  um, so, you know, and if you take the mystery out of… if you explain everything, if you take the mystery out of the process, then what are you left with? you’re left with used car salesmen. you know, you know, you’ve reduced the entire art form to a bunch of used cars salesmen…”

“…in any story, there are contradictions, that’s the nature of the human experience. in any story, there are total irrelevancies.  you know, stuff is happening now wherever you are outside you’re/the room that you’re in, you know, that’s that’s not at all related to you, you know, but it’s it’s part of the story, it’s part of your world, you know, and deserves and deserves some representation in the story you’re telling…”

“…if something is a commonly held belief, you know, i’m always very suspicious of it.  so this notion that we’re surrounded by chaos is a pretty commonly held belief and i’m pretty damn suspicious of it…”

“…i don’t care about being wrong, you know if you realize you’re wrong, you change.”

“……for any member of a band, i’ve got two or three back ups in mind, yeah, i’m pretty damn ruthless, you know, i, you know, i’m ready to replace anybody if it becomes necessary. now, i don’t replace people very frequently, i mean, i stick with the same people for very long periods of time – forever, if it comes to that. but i also like to work with different people, so i don’t – i try not to limit myself to who i work with…”

“who said? how old was Ike Turner when he created rock music?…”  “… this notion of youth is just another one of these myths…”

“…rock music is in the blood of america…”

“well, good.  that’s my job.  my job is to make sense, make sense of the things that don’t make sense.”

“nah, i don’t… most people would be, would be startled to hear me described as having a cool head, i don’t…i don’t… i think that you have to come up with your own way of solving problems.  i think that the most important thing is to know what the rules are of your own production.  every production, whether you like to admit it or not, has rules – that’s what makes the band different, or the band, any band, unique…” ” …the rules are the most important part of the whole operation, you know, i don’t, and i don’t make the rules, i just enforce them.  you know, again, the rules evolve from the process, you know, and the rules become obvious, you know, over time…”

“…it’s my job to enforce the rules, yeah.  it my job to keep Pere Ubu being Pere Ubu over forty- however many years it is.  you know, and it’s it’s it’s as distinctly unique and and as… now as it was forty years ago and the reason is is the way- the wa – the rules, it’s the way operate, the reasons we do things…”

“yes, absolutely, i’ve been trying to find a replacement for myself…  the only thing… the only thing that matters is ideas.  you know, so, you know, you say you’re in a band or something, well what makes you special? you know, you’re just a schlub like anybody else.  what makes you into, you know, un- unex- unexpendible? nothing. you know, what you bring to a band is ideas, you know, and a way of looking at things. you’re not the only person in the world who looks at things the way you look at them. i’m not the only person so… who looks at things the way i look at them. so you, you know, when you put a band together, you’re putting together… you’re not putting together people who look good. you know, or, who, you know, have some sorta rock’n’roll attitude or crap like that. you know, you’re putting together a group of people who will interact in a certain way and yield an end product, i.e. the music, that has a certain characteristic, you know.  so, that comes from understanding people, understanding what each person brings to the formula…”

“i push forward. you know, whatever i can’t do is what i want to do next.”

…ellipses imply there’s more content on either end of the pull that is available on the audio recording included above.


this was the first interview i’ve done. i was very nervous.

questions, in order:

0. can you hear me alright?

1. my first question is to ask you if you have any advice for a novice interviewer?

2. that makes me think i should ask you what’s on your mind this afternoon?

3. alright alright great. ok good. you wouldn’t even know i’m kinda shaking, but, but, i’m all, i’m all shook up, you know, well i guess that brings me to my heartbreak hotel question… one of… day jobs … … why do you think heartbreak hotel is about the bellhop?

4. ok, so when you’re, i’ve read that you believe, uh, self expression is evil… so when you are writing songs are you always trying to think of the perspective of a fly on the wall or…

*5.  do you think that, um, by assuming different persona or characters while writing songs or in the in the in the process of performing that you can channel archetypes that go back , hum, millennia and connect to histories that existed…

*a question from a dear friend, Musky Pocket, of the midcoast.

6. excellent, ok… is there anything in the folk consciousness that you find yourself consistently referring back to or trying to grapple with specifically?

7. do you still think that music, uh, music is uh, is a job…a service that you’re providing for your audience?

8. yes it seems kind like that’s an essential part of preserving the chaos…

8A.  well how do you identify with chaos cause it kinda seems to be a tagline almost…

 9. um, so i’ve i’ve been looking through your website, there’s just, there’s so much information, there’s so many guidelines for being part of pere ubu and the overall project… is that…um…  are you just always recruiting new members? are you always finding new band members?

10.  uh, you with musicians of a pretty broad range of ages, correct? hum, how do you feel in rock’n’roll which is a primarily youth driven energy… oh… oh good… hahaha… i guess not…

10B. ya that makes sense to me. that’s part of the job, ya, ok.

11.  so how are we doin? how are we doin on time and everything? never ever before, this is the first one.  haha, oh ya, I don’t know how deep i’m trying to get into this whole interview business but it is a real pleasure to get to talk to you, i have to say.

12. i, uh, i’m wondering about ‘problem solving with a cool head’… i’m not always that great about it, uhm, and it seems like that’s an important role in the band, uh, do you play that role usually in your band?

13. so one of your jobs is maintaining the rules – making sure everybody knows the rules?

14. alright, i, i’ve read somewhere that you said all of the members were dispensable and that even includes yourself, do you really believe that?

15. if you… if you feel that way then do you feel like you really… like what drives you to put yourself in front of people on a stage performing…?

thank you, David, for this interview and for giving me a lot to think about during transcription.  


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