Wicked and Weird Rich is, but the man otherwise known as Buck 65 is also a very passionate person. His love for music is something which few other artists can convery through their one on one interviews. With a vast history and continually growing catalogue, Mr. 65 sat down to discuss a few things including the two books he's writing.
MVRemix: How does it feel to fascinate people through your creativity?
Buck 65: [pondering] I guess I don't... know. If that happens that's basically the best reward I could get from this job. I don't do it to make money; I have no expectations of that. And to be completely honest with you, I'm not really making any money. I'm certainly not interested in fame, having my photograph taken and all that kind of stuff. Being completely realistic about my music and where I'm taking my music from, the fantasy to be regarded as... I don't know, I bought a Rolling Stone magazine today and it's feature is "The 50 Most Important People In Rock & Roll Ever" or something like that. That's another kind of perk that people could aspire to as a musician to kind of be influential or something like that. To influence people on that level, to be regarded that way by Rolling Stone and shit like that is a whole other thing. Realistically I don't see myself fitting into that.
I think there are a lot of musicians which aren't regarded as great, that kind of fell through the cracks into a "For those who know" kind of situation. So short of that, I think the most you can hope for is to turn someone on, to catch someone's attention is a bonus. If you get someone thinking or inspired because I do what I do because of someone else, to me that kind of feels like the point. Like the real justice of doing this. It kind of gives purpose to this because we all at one point get philosophical about what we do with our life. It can be pretty hard on yourself - I'm not saving any lives here and blah blah blah. But, you can't really discount the importance of stimulating someone or giving them something to think about... A reason to feel good or that they're not alone. Something someone can identify with. So if I've taken something from someone else then the rest, and I don't mean to sound like a hippy... seems cosmically just to pass that on.
MVRemix: Kind of sparking from that; you mentioned unknown names not getting the appreciation they deserve. Last time we spoke, you mentioned Johnny Cash - what's your favourite Johnny Cash song?
Buck 65: That's hard to say. Some of the pleasure that I get from Johnny Cash can be a little bit guilty. I've been vocally critical of a lot of "Gangsta Hip Hop." But admittedly, some of the Johnny Cash stuff I like the most are the murder ballads. A year or two ago he put together these compilations which he compiled into three themes; "Love," "God," and "Murder." [smiling] I went out and picked up that "Murder" one, you know?
In the last few years everybody has been talking about his covers, which aren't actually his songs. Everyone talks about "Hurt" from the last album, which is clearly a genius musical moment. But, the thing that really surprised me the most on that album was the song that Sting wrote for him. I mean Sting! Sting of all people - who would have thought? And it's a murder ballad - that song "I Hung My Head." I really like that song and part of me is telling me not to... because it's Sting! For there to be a line "I borrowed Jeb's rifle..." Sting wrote that? Sting wrote about a guy named Jeb? It seems very weird, but it's a great song. Clearly he wrote it for Johnny Cash, and it works very well as a Johnny Cash song. There's something really thrilling sick about "Delia's Gone," the album before that. I've always kind of liked everything he has had to say. The fact that he's always been a righteous and god fearing man. He writes great love songs. I wouldn't want to focus on that tough outlaw stuff. It is pretty bad ass even thought it contributed to his myth and icon status in a big way. From that song "Give My Love To Rose" inspired the song "Tired Out" on my album. Where he wrote a love song that was so sweet - that gave me a lot of inspiration too.
When you're talking about someone like that, you're going to have a different answer depending on the time of day. His catalogue is so unbelievably vast. I was in a record store in Calgary the other day, and I went through the whole store, like I normally do. The biggest section they had in the entire store was the Johnny Cash section. That's a pretty daunting task, even to pick a couple. There's just tonnes and tonnes of great stuff there. He's one of those few people kind of like, say Duke Ellington and Bob Dylan that you could devote a whole life just to collecting his work. Slowly but surely, I haven't taken the full plunge. I'm trying to accumulate everything.
MVRemix: The last time we spoke, you told me you have a lot of your material in rare form. For example you have music on 7-inch vinyl with few copies pressed etc. and no one can find them. What have you been working on recently? Have you been keeping your material to yourself, or?
Buck 65: An interesting thing as far as all that is concerned from the last few years is the work that I did while I was living in France. Doing collaborations with French artists and there's a whole bunch of stuff there. Most of that would only be available in France and maybe Belgium. Then there was the obvious side project of the "Sleep No More" album that I did with Sage Francis and DJ Signify which I think might have came out yesterday or something. I know there was supposed to be a release party in New York on Monday and I couldn't make it... Then there've basically been a few projects, which have slowly been in the works. I've been touring almost non-stop for two years, so its been hard to find time to work on new projects.
Plus, obviously it's a priority to work on the next album, so I've already begun demo-ing that and with some of the loose ends that I've had lying around, I've kind of released a song quietly as a part of the enhanced component of the last record... This "Buck-A-Month" thing. But I have begun chipping away at things for another Sebutones album. DJ Signify and I have been continuing to work on some other stuff without real plans of what we're going to do with it. A few other things here and there. There's always ideas that kind of pop-up but then nothing ends up being done with them.
I've got a whole bunch of stuff building up and I've been getting a couple of live recordings lately because its been in the back of my mind to someday do a live album because my show with my band is a completely different thing. There are very different versions of previous songs that I've done with the band that I want people to hear. A lot of stuff I just have to decide what to do with it. I like slipping it out there on the Internet. So it's around. But it came to my attention recently that there's a website around called StolenBass.com where people buy/sell and trade obscurities from my catalogue. I've actually never checked it out, but I know all sorts of weird things floating around there.
MVRemix: I saw you perform last year, and it was one of the most unique live performances I've seen on stage. Who or what influenced your stage show?
Buck 65: The first person that comes to mind right away is Jacques Brel who's a famous icon in the world of French music, but he's actually from Belgium. He's one of the best performers I ever saw. I never saw him with my own eyes, but on video. He's the main one, I'm basically just thinking about him when I'm up there and essentially just trying to imitate him. I've been inspired from everyone from Bryan Ferry, Willie Nelson, Tom Waits of course, with the whole kind of storytelling. I've always found very interesting. Vic Chesnutt. All kinds of stuff.
Sometimes it doesn't come from musical places, in-fact sometimes I'm more inspired by ideas. I go into some psychological mindset in an effort trying to create an energy out there. The best shows I remember are when there's an energy that you can't quite pin down. You don't know quite what to call it, you don't know where it comes from but there's almost this tangible sense of something in the room. How is that created? Where does that come from? I've stumbled on it a couple of times by accident when I'm having particularly bad days when I'm not in the mood to perform. There's a thing that goes on there and ultimately it comes across. Interestingly, that often ends up as the best shows. When you don't want to do it. I've thought about that and how you can channel it. Like putting lightning in a jar or something.
The main one though, is Jacques Brel. Recently, because of the Anniversary of his death and Jacques Brel celebrations all over the place, a three DVD set was released just called "Brel" and totally worth looking for. Although, some of the best footage I've seen of him wasn't on that collection. But good lord, he's one of the most magnetic performers I've ever seen.
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