Oh, man. I've been anticipating the release of this Little Wings record since, well, since Soft Pow'r dropped in 2007 because, real talk, I simply can't get enough of the stuff. Seriously, if his music was all I had to listen to for the rest of my life I can imagine living perfectly happy with that. So, I'll save myself from sharing what would certainly be an incredibly biased, glowing review of Black Grass (I only just received my record anyhow) and sum up my barely realized feelings about it thusly: it rules! The apple-tastic covert art hints at but a fraction of the symbolic baggage packed all up in that fresh LP sleeve and the *new* songs are as fresssh as the material devotees like me are surely already familiar with given the countless shows between albums, the Little Wings Daytrotter sesh last January and the ever-malleable nature of Kyle Field's approach to self-expression.
After an amazing (behooded, double-fisted microphone) Little Wings show at Amnesia earlier in January I chanced to speak with Kyle, who surprisingly and much to my embarrassment had heard about my one-off Little Wings cover band, and we agreed to scheme an instore gig (going down this Saturday, Feb. 26, 2pm at Amoeba Music in San Francisco) and do an interview as well -- check it out below!
First off, I'd like to ask about your new record. You've been performing some of the songs from Black Grass for quite some time now; how long has the record been in the making?
Little Wings: five years in the making in some sense, seven in another. i cannot believe it took me seven years to release ten songs, i was just hibernating or something, i still don't believe it. but i think that was a necessary break somehow.....?
What would you say is the overall vibe of the record? Does it have a particular place in time or season, is there a theme or feeling that inspired or permeates the collection of songs here?
LW: the overall vibe? disappointment and starting over maybe, the darkest hour peeling into the dawn, but the light isn't strong yet, a candle that might blow out? am i only answering with more questions?
At this moment what would you say is your favorite Black Grass jam?
[check out the sweet-as video for Little Wings' "Mr. Natural" below]
How do you know when a song is finished, or ready to be recorded?
i don't know how i know i know but i do. how do you know when a snowman is finished?
There seems to be little separation between the stylistic and thematic quality of your visual artwork and your music; do you feel there is any separation between the two or do you think of the two mediums as one?
i never know what to say about how they relate to each other, neither medium requires that i know how to relate them to each other, so i have never needed to pin it down me thinks.
The cast of characters that inhabit both your music and artistic creations are fun to imagine keeping up with. Do you ever have trouble with them? Have they been with you since you were a kid?
trouble? they are all based on me reading myself through others and trying to make a joke i think.
they keep me young i hope.
The Shredder, Scuby, Hanta Yo, Uncle Kyle...you've recorded many songs, if not song trilogies, for (or perhaps, as) these guys: what ever happened to Limber Legs and Grey Squirrel?
limber legs and grey squirrel, yes! those were two songs that were only ever recorded live, they are out there somewhere on a big sure tape i believe?
If you were to put together a class picture of these characters who would be in the center of the back row? Who'd be sitting Indian-style up front, possibly holding the sign?
scuby would be holding a branch/hanky bindle thingy, uncle K would be embarrassed to sing his own song. Hanta Yo would be singing indian style, and the shredder would be wearing torn Op shorts like dogtown documentary style. hopefully the photo is from '83, with the wizards being the school mascot, it's true!!!!
I'm curious about what are you listening to these days. Is there any new music you're into? What music do you always go back to, never tire of listening to?
i cannot seem to tire of lil' wayne the drought three. that is my main source for energy and musical income. he is such a wordsmith, and i am constantly having new breakthroughs with his lyrics and what they are doing. "money gives me life like a man with a gavel." thomas campbell and i are doing this installation at park life gallery right now and he is playing me so much music i have never heard but love instantly. i am completely unadventurous when it comes to seeking out music, i am not sure why, but i don't need outside music the same way i used to, i am trying to hear an inside song and jealously await new songs.
How about your earliest musical influences, can you remember the very first album you owned? Was it instrumental in your decision to become a musician?
my first tape i bought was toto IV in fourth grade, for the song "africa." it gave me this romantic feeling that i could wrap myself up in and listening to music has always brought me goosebumps and such heights.
I read before in another interview that when you're not enjoying "easy listening" you like listening to Iron Maiden, among other things. As a Maiden head, I gotta know: what is your favorite Maiden jam?
i love "killers!" but i first got into live after death in 8th grade. I love both of the versions of the band with paul or bruce singing, i kind of celebrate all of their 80's catalogue but didn't even make it past somewhere in time? so, when i was in highschool there were these surfers what were called the rats, and they were into iron maiden and i thought they owned it, so i couldn't wear it on my sleeve...but it was inspirational music, so fast and wicked....
I love that you often include choice cover jams in your live sets: what kind of song makes you want to take it for a drive? Have you ever heard a song and thought,"damn, I should have written that?"
"human nature!" when i learned the lyrics i felt like i knew michael so much better and really fell harder for him, then i find out it was written by one of the toto guys, what?!
live Little Wings cover of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature"here:
What is your opinion on karaoke?
i think it is harder than playing a show. i thought i could go up and make up words to "funky cold medina" and the place was packed with regular karaoke pros, and they were just puzzled. i totally choked and had to leave the stage.......
I understand you are an avid surfer: how often, if ever, do you find inspiration for your music and art when you're out there catching 10,000 waves?
i probably indirectly am inspired by the speed of the water, but what i really like about it is that it can absorb one's attention so fully that there is no room for any other thoughts. i usually just have room enough to have someone's song in my head.
Do you have a favorite surf documentary or surf related movie?
i love sprout, endless summer, litmus, the clay marzo movie just add water, and i love the surfing of derek hynd.
Have you always been a beach person?
sort of, but i can also feel alienated by the classic extroverted socal beach scene where guys are dumping water on screaming girls and stuff. i like beaches that look like gilligan's island, it keeps the parking lot riff raff out, they don't like walking on dirt trails?
Do you have any magical powers, because I'm inclined to assume that you do. Is there any particular power you would wish to wield?
esp and magical timing and thinking, seeing the right numbers at the right time, when i am thinking of someone and they call or tap me in the shoulder, i am fascinated by all of these occurrences and feel like i am in the right slipstream when i feel them stacking up, like i can't lose and can't stop.
I know you mentioned H.P. Lovecraft at sometime somewhere in one of your songs: Do you love him? Beach reading? What's on your beloved book list?
i don't know this song......and i don't think i have read him. i like joseph campbell and alan watts a lot. that is all i can think of at the moment..... and d.l. estero!!!
[please note: I figured out the Lovecraft reference I recalled is not from a song but comes from one of the skits on Magic Would, the Little Wings half of a split LP/cassette with Justin Clifford Rhody released on Indiana label Friends and Relatives in 2005.]
If you were to write an autobiography at this time in your life what would you title it, how heavy would it be and how would it end?
considering i would never do this i have no idea. great question and it really sets me up to be funny and all but i can't indulge in this Q at all somehow. it is fun to mythologize yourself with friends as a joke but i am still finding my feet on fanning the flames of a public persona. every time i read interviews where people are trying to be funny it gives me a weird feeling? david berman has done some of the best interviews, i can't come close....
Do you have any projects, schemes, shenanigans currently in the works?
a tape that will come out after black grass, a second be gulls joint, trying to do some more skateboard graphics. try and start jogging again?
One last question: a friend of mine would like to know "what is a what button?" and I am wondering, is there just one?
there is only one what button, you're right. i wonder what your friend thinks it is? i bet anything could be....
I know that's right. Thanks so much for your time Kyle, we are looking forward to your show!