I remember watching a nature documentary when I was quite young and wondering why the people making the documentary didn’t just save the (insert prey here) from being eaten by the (insert predator here). And it’s a question that has stuck with me to this day, and only really gotten more confusing. People talk about the greater good of recording an incident than to interveen, and I do understand that. Or when one of Andy Warhol’s cronies, I think maybe Tinkerbelle or something jumped out of a window and killed them self, apparently Warhol’s first response was “I wish I had of filmed it” which has a sexy nihilism to it sure, but hot damn, what sort of a prick to you have to be to photograph a person setting themselves on fire on not dowse them in water? Unless of course they’re using a propellant that water would have no effect on in which case you are better off with a spray foam, but anything is better than a camera to put out a fire. It’s a debate, and it’s ongoing. Personally for me, I have trouble with the whole “photographers code” to not disturb the scene, it’s too easy to brush off responsibility. I have no solution of course. Anyway, The Guardian have asked a few photographers to talk about their decisions to not get involved.. pretty interesting.
Here is the extended interview between myself and Peter Escott. Peter correctly pointed out that my fake racist question was impossible to answer and proabably only funny to one person. Once back on track peter was a delight to interview and gave some thoroughly entertaining answers. The interview was done across two or three emails and I inserted new questions between existing ones if you’re wondering about the weird flow. Anyhow, here’s why we like him:
Native Cats. Im not gonna try and overanalyse their ‘sound’ here with words like garage aesthetic, weird wave or ‘this band’ meets ‘that’ or whatever. Just check out this song, you’ve probably never seen anything like it before, unless of course you have.
SOLO: I really like this song, it’s oddly intimate and also shows how part of Peter’s vibe is just a genuine interest in
noodling around digging on electronic instruments, in this case the supremely popular, powerful and hard-to-get-a-non-commercial-sound-out-of Micro Korg.
Comedy: Peter Escott is a funny man. Too funny for me. I recently went to Picnic at Hanging Rock while stoned and it was terrifying.
And now for the interview…
SODA: Peter, what’s up with you, you’re like a Tasmanian Renaissance man.
PETER: That’s stretching the definition a little bit. Unless the Renaissance was full of dudes charging headlong into every form of artistic expression the era had to offer, but ultimately spreading themselves too thin and never developing any genuine talent for any of them. Which it probably was, now that I think of it. The Renaissance’s mediocre men. The Renaissance’s Neanderthals.
SODA: Maybe so, you have the Native Cats, you do some solo music, you do comedy, what else am I missing?
PETER: My job as a transcription typist and my infant son. Those count as things, right? Can a Renaissance man have a job and a wife and a baby and live in the big city and try to “have it all”? This is the premise for a sitcom pilot I’m writing (working title: “Ren-Man Daddy”).
SODA: The Native Cats seems to have some very racist themes throughout its music, how do you respond to the allegations that your band is responsible for inciting violence in Hobart?
PETER: No, no, that’s not how you do it at all. When you write a zany joke question it still has to have some basis in reality. Like you wildly misinterpret one of my lyrics or you ask me if it’s true that Peter Garrett choreographs my dance moves. That gives me something to work with. But when your joke question is about inciting racist violence - which is a real thing that some people still actually do! - how do I show that I’m in on the joke BUT also make it clear to anyone who has never heard of us before that we’re not neo-Nazi skinheads, when sarcasm is almost impossible to adequately convey in print?
SODA: I think you may well have just done that Peter, and quite neatly too. Tell me a little bit about your solo music, what are you trying to do with that, where do you see it going. What instruments do you play?
PETER: I’m not upset about the racism thing, it’s just that I’ve read your first couple of issues and it’s all very promising, but there’s also a distinct Vice Magazine influence in there that needs to be stamped out at all costs. Don’t submit to the false Frankie/Vice dichotomy! Carve out your own identity! My solo music is mainly piano/vocal-based and I hope to have my second album out by the end of the year.
SODA: You do bring up some interesting points that seem to be in the aether at the moment. I’m sure you probably can see elements of Vice magazine’s aesthetic in SODA. I remember first reading Vice when I was in highschool (a long time ago now) and just being blown away by the raw, honest and youthful style of journalism that has come to define the magazine. It was a big influence on me at a tender age and I still very much respect the influence it has had on modern culture, the creative risks it took, and the doors of expression it has opened up. Of course it was a very different magazine back then and sadly like a lot of great media and art, it has lost its original appeal. I guess when you are reporting on street level popular culture, and then you, yourself, enter that realm and become a part of it, things change. Tell me though, I am interested, why you are against the doctrine of these magazines in particular?
PETER: I’m aware that Vice has a deep and complex history, but as there is no journalism in my blood I haven’t followed it anywhere near as closely as you have. There’s really only four things that comedians do: talk about lowbrow things like they’re highbrow; talk about highbrow things like they’re lowbrow; talk about simple things like they’re very complicated; talk about complicated things like they’re very simple. That last one is all I can really do with Vice (and also what I just did in the previous sentence about comedy). It just skeeves me.
SODA: On identity; how have the Native Cats changed since you started - Are there any creative ideas that informed the band in the beginning that have changed since then?
PETER: Not answered
SODA: More on instruments, when I first saw you play in the Native Cats, you had a small mobile device which looked like a nintendo DS or something, and now you seem to use something else. What can you tell us about the change?
PETER: A full month has now passed since I wrote my answer to the last question, and at least two weeks since I approached you on the street to reassure you that my answers would be coming soon. The truth is that my brief giddy joy at subverting the form of the email interview soon gave way to deep embarrassment, sending me into a shame spiral which I am only now developing the strength to escape from. I use a Zoom drum machine for its built-in drum samples and a Nintendo DS with a Korg MS-10 emulator for more interesting and easily manipulated electronic sounds.
SODA: It’s a great sound. You did a remix of another Hobart band; Tiger Choir. Who else would you like to remix, and what kind of musical approach would you take?
PETER: I just bought a Korg miniKP Kaoss pad, it’s a great little device but I’m appalled at how, if you plug it into an iPod, it lets you make mediocre remixes of absolutely anything very, very easily, just by rubbing your finger around. That Tiger Choir remix came out of a day of solid work on the MPC and I’m very proud of it, but I think the miniKP has spoiled remixes for me forever.
SODA: What is your favourite street in Hobart?
PETER: Fitzroy Crescent, where all of Western architecture is represented and no two houses are the same. I used to walk to and from Albuera St Primary through there, kicking leaves and writing love songs about a girl in my class. By the end of the year I had two songs. You can mark them down as “never performed live”.
SODA: Comedy, love it. What’s the scene like in Tasmania.
PETER: On fire. Go to the Hobart Comedy page on Facebook to find out when things are on! I cannot adequately summarise what we have here! It’s heaps better than Melbourne though!
SODA: Who are some of your favourite comedians and what styles of comedy influence you. What made you want to get into comedy, or have the guts to for that matter?
PETER: I’d already been playing live music for four years before I decided to give stand-up a go, so getting up the courage wasn’t especially difficult. Just had to do a lot of shows and undertake a lot of study and deep, deep introspection. Maria Bamford, Hannibal Buress, Todd Barry, Paul F. Tompkins, John Hodgman, Tom Scharpling & Jon Wurster, Tig Notaro, yeah everyone’s heard of Patton Oswalt and Louis CK but they’re really really good, Stewart Lee, John Mulaney, Hannah Gadsby when she’s not being criminally underused on that show, Claudia O’Doherty, Michael Kupperman, yeah I’m just listing people but they’re all incredible. Oh and Monty Python’s Flying Circus has aged a lot better than anyone will tell you.
SODA: I will be jumping on youtube straight after this! What exercises would you recommend for the kids out there looking to improve their upper back strength, and what diet routines do you use to keep in shape?
PETER: Vice Magazine is a false god and will only lead you to ruin. Just do your research and keep an element of sincerity in everything you do and it will all work put in the end.
SODA: That question was based on a bit I remember from your stand up on Edge Radio. You sang a song about people in the local gym. …I think.
PETER: The song is about a shop in town that sells bodybuilding supplements and ultimate fighting DVDs and how I’ve never ever been in there. But you’ve admitted that you weren’t listening in the best of circumstances and I can see how your false recollection of the subject matter could have led you to believe that I was some kind of muscleman. (Unrelated, but could you please substitute the words “impeding them” for “holding them up” in my next answer, to avoid ambiguity in the context of spinning plates. Also, please include this correction in the body of the interview, as I value needless transparency.)
SODA: What are your plans for 2012?
PETER: Spinning many, many plates for a limited audience. I have a lot of projects on the go and nothing is impeding them except me.
SODA: I feel ya. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
PETER: Much the same as now, except by then my son will be six years old and thereby able to help me write.
SODA: Where do you see yourself in 5 minutes?
PETER: Having second thoughts about my whole “thing” and whether anyone really “needs it”.
I wanted to finish the interview off by asking if Peter would ever move to Melbourne to better his career, but the answer to that can be found in the final line of his bio: Peter Escott, Explained (and thereby spoiled). “P.S. Still never moving to Melbourne”