Here's an interview between Guano Pyle, our spiritual mentor, and an unnamed
journalist who was really tyring to find a deeper meaning in jug band music...
this is from 1967, when our LP entitled Fast & Cheap had just been
Q: Although it focuses on four separate characters, Fast & Cheap
seems less about these four people as individuals and more about the epistemiologies from which
these people operate.
A: I hate to use the word since it makes me sound like some unspeakable egghead- but yes there
is a kind of epistemological footing in that my movies are bound to the world and how we live
in it and to the disjuncture between the two. I was just talking with someone about Nabokov's
love of the totally ill-conceived narrator - not just the unreliable narrator but the
out-to-lunch narrator. There is his idea that narration gives us information about the world
when actually it gives us information about the speaker; he reveals both his world and the
radical disjunction between his world and the world at large. Looking at that disjunction is
the enterprise of all of my movies. I keep coming back to the questions: what the hell are we
doing? Why are we here? Do our activities have any meaning in tie larger sense of the world?
My mother and stepfather died during the course or making this movie - two people I was very
connected to, But there is something about the impermanence of our lives our relationships.
our connections with the world around us that has very much been on my mind.
Q: There is a very elegiac strain throughout the recording.
A: It is an elegy and intended as such.
Q: You describe it as four versions of Sisyphus.
A: I should qualify that - I have also recently called it four versions of Frankenstein. The
Sisyphus tale comes across most explicitly or me in the song about the gardener. What do we
know about a topiary garden? It is absurd. Why does he use privet [a type of garden hedge]? It
is completely labor intensive- Fifteen years to create a bear. It is an enterprise of love,
affection and commitment. And, last but not least it is ephemeral. But everything [the
gardener] says tells us directly or indirectly that this garden is not going to last - that
it is going to shrivel and die, be trampled down by snowfall and blizzard, smashed by a
hurricane and eaten by bugs. And is there going to be anybody else who is going to want to
spend 20 years producing a topiary animal? I think not. So then what happens?. The place goes
to rack and ruin. And there is Sisyphus. All the toil and effort to create something that may
not even outlast your own lifetime?
Q: Were you were aware of Camus' Myth of Sisyphus while you were making the
A: I had read it as a kid years ago.
Q: Although in your recording there is something that rises above the
nihilism usually associated with existentialism.
A: Yes. I hope so. I keep thinking of the lines from Yeats "Lapis Lazuli": "All things all
and are built again/And those that build them again are gay": It is like Lear's rage. Somehow
there is this majesty and dignity in doing something for no reason at all.
Q: A sort of happy existensialism comes through here. When you finally
acknowledge how meaningless the world is, then something quite lovely can begin to emerge.
How did you bring these four disparate stories together and make them cohere in this
A: With enormous difficulty because on one level there are lots and lots of overlapping themes which I did my best to incorporate into the recording. Only problem is that none or the stories are really stories; they are our worldviews. Each starts off with a childhood dream but in the end the recording finds each [subject] more or less expatiating on the nature of their craft and their affection for it-Turning chat into a storyline that has a beginning, a middle, and an end was really hard to do. So that was the path that I set for myself, and the rest of the band.
Q: Who's your favorite Beatle?
Now that you've seen this stuff, and you've really got the hunger, you're probably
looking for something really substantial. Well, for an honest-to-God history of jug
band music, and recommendations on books and recordings to add to your collection,
Yes...finally! After almost a year in production,
Guano Records and
The DIRDY BIRDIES Jug Band
are proud to announce the release of
For ordering information, a run-down of what's included on the newest
offering from The Jug Band for The Millennium,
Of course, since our first CD, Endangered Species, was a million seller (I gotta million in my cellar),
we still have a bunch left. If you're one of the few laggards left in the world
look here for ordering info...