The shuffler: MC Lord Grunge of whimsically silly/serious Pittsburgh hip-hop duo Grand Buffet. The pair released King Vision on Fighting Records in 2008; while on an extended hiatus, Lord Grunge randomly selected his rock iPod over his others and gave it a spin for The A.V. Club.
Rush, “The Trees”
Lord Grunge: A big hit by maybe my favorite band of all time. It’s off the Hemispheres LP, of which I’m a huge fan. Rush is one of the first bands I actually started following as a band, like when I was 10 or 11. My older brother turned me on to them, and it might be the only band I just liked right away. Upon hearing them for the first time, I thought they were amazing. I know there’s kind of a resurgence now; a lot of hipsters pretend to like Rush. I’m a diehard fan. I’ve seen them 14 times in concert. I don’t fuck around when it comes to Rush.
The A.V. Club: How much of that is because you grew up listening to them?
LG: Sure, it’s that. It’s multi-tiered. Any band I’ve been listening to for the last 20 years, there’s definitely a sentimental thing going on there. But at the same time, it wasn’t until much later, actually fairly recently, where I appreciated them on a more intellectual plane.
The stuff I always liked the most is when there’s a more visceral reaction, and I’ve always fuckin’ dug Rush sonically. Their signature sound is getting the voices the same, just in terms of production. There really is a giant range of different-sounding shit that it’s based on in the course of their career. I like bands that aren’t one-trick ponies, sonically. Some of the records from the ’80s sound horrible, some of the worst production I’ve ever heard in my life, it’s so dated-sounding. That’s awesome. Their stuff from the ’70s over time has become my favorite shit there is. This is a fucking awesome album. I don’t know, man, it’s difficult to explain why I love Rush so much. Bass is my first instrument, I think largely inspired by Geddy Lee. And more recently. I genuinely think Neil Peart is a really amazing lyricist when he’s at his peak. Mistakes have been made, absolutely, and that’s another thing I dig—I like guys that do something that blows your mind, melts your heart. They had a song in 1996 about the Internet [“Virtuality”], and it’s embarrassing to listen to, that’s how bad it is. I can’t say it enough. It’s not a cheeky facetious interest in Rush; I love them so much.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Otherside”
LG: Big Chili Peppers fan. Love it. I just bought Stadium Arcadium for the second time on Saturday.
LG: Because my car was stolen in 2006, and one of the things that was in it was fucking Stadium Arcadium. And I had made a burn of it. I guess I should thank iTunes for that, because I was able to still listen to it for the past two years, but I did finally re-buy a hard copy.
AVC: That band gets picked on a lot.
LG: Yeah, they get shit on. I don’t know, you can look at any band—now that I’m babbling, I think there’s a big trend in music today. I don’t want to say popular music across the board—maybe I do—but at every level, from stadium country music all the way to Pitchfork darlings, whatever the hip shit is, I feel like cats by and large do play it very safe. I’m not knocking anyone, but whatever the stylistic confines are of the day, I feel like everyone is damn sure they don’t fuckin’ step outside the parameters.
There’s several bands that are still in it who existed before that trend, and in my mind as a fan are just completely untouched by it. To me, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are just one of those bands. I’m not saying there’s stuff you can’t dis them for. I mean sure, even Christie Brinkley takes a stinky shit every once in awhile.
It’s funny, I do have some weird shit on this iPod, but we’re getting all the hits.
U2, “Window In The Skies”
AVC: And the hits keep coming.
LG: U2 is crazy. Three mainstream rock bands all on my iPod? Yeah, I love this song, actually. I’m a record collector. Primarily CDs—I do love vinyl, but I imagine I’ll get bigger into vinyl down the road, when it gets more expensive and I have even less money. There are a couple bands I’m geekily completist about, trying to buy all their shit. U2 is one of them; Rush is one of them. Bono in recent years has pissed me off absolutely. I never thought I’d say that, but I’m saying it. U2 is probably the other seminal band in this man’s life. Rock bands, we’re not talking about the black rap yet, but as far as rock goes, it’s always been U2 and Rush, to be honest.
AVC: What’s the most ridiculous or pathetic thing you bought for the sake of being a completist?
LG: Their most recent album, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, which is my least favorite. It’s kind of a ball-crusher of an album.
AVC: But not in a good way?
LG: Right, ball-crushing like heartbreaking, not like ball-breaking. But anyway, that was in Media Play, a big chain like a Best Buy, but all music. It didn’t sell washers and dryers and shit. It was my favorite chain store, is the bottom line. And Media Play in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh did a midnight sale of the U2 album. So I bought every goddamned variant. There’s the version with a single CD, and then there’s a DualDisc, then there’s some fucking thing that comes with a book. I did it compulsively. It wasn’t something I was enjoying. I mean, I love to shop, but I wasn’t enjoying it. I was like, “Oh, there’s three different versions; I’m going to buy them all.”
AVC: Did you get the U2 iPod?
LG: I really wanted to, man, and I don’t know if I can still find one used. But I fucking want one.
AVC: Have you looked for it?
LG: Not recently.
AVC: eBay has 240 of them available for sale. One auction ends in two hours for $126, plus $10 shipping.
LG: That’s not bad. I almost have enough in my PayPal to swing that.
Bruce Springsteen, “I’m Goin’ Down”
LG: Off Born In The U.S.A. I don’t know what to say, man. I love The Boss. I got into Springsteen later in the game. It’s weird, though. It’s come full circle, because I do remember listening to Springsteen when I was really little—my old man bumping “The River” specifically, riding around in his pickup. But I didn’t really take an interest in Springsteen until I was a full-blown adult maybe five years ago. I got Springsteen fever.
AVC: What’s the cure?
LG: No cure, man. I’m going down with Springsteen fever.
AVC: It’s terminal?
LG: It is, man. Didn’t some asshole call him “Dylan for jocks” or something like that? You can’t front on some of the man’s songs. It’s fucking unbelievably awesome. I love The Boss. I’m not knocking anybody, but I don’t get the association with—they’re a newer band; they’re really famous.
AVC: Arcade Fire?
LG: Yes. I’m not dissing them, but I don’t understand it. There’s even some magazine where there was Springsteen and the two dudes from Arcade Fire and it was like, “At last, they meet!”
AVC: The two Springsteens!
LG: Right, it’s like Springsteen and his understudy.
Robyn, “Bum Like You”
LG: We’re getting hot now. I got this album fairly recently, and I’m definitely digging it, but I’m not that familiar with it yet. But I’m a huge fan of Girl Talk, of female fancy vocal stuff. Giants, man.
AVC: What do you like about that?
LG: [Laughs.] It’s like, “Why do you like Count Chocula?” I guess I’m not good at the concise one-line answers, dude. I love pop music, and I love dance music, because I love to dance. So there’s that, but why specifically the female stuff? I don’t know, man. It’s kind of like getting fucked in the ear when you listen to music. For me, music that focuses on dancing is a little more overtly sexual, and I don’t want people to think I’m queer ever at all. So I listen to a whole lot of music that coincidentally tons of gays listen to. But I love it.
AVC: What’s stopping you from being gay yourself?
LG: I don’t know. I’m into ass-play already. I’d be down to fuck a dude; I just wouldn’t want to be sensual. I wouldn’t want to be holding hands, like kissing and shit. I don’t think I’d be up for the romantic stuff with a dude. Just straight reamin’. [Laughs.]
AVC: Who would be the one who could change your mind about that?
LG: Dennis Rodman, I guess.
LG: Chocula’s a contender. He’d be weird and kinky and into too much fucking weird shit. He’d be, like, into scat or something.
AVC: Because it looks like marshmallows?
LG: I wasn’t even thinking that, but maybe.
AVC: You’re thinking about it now, though.
LG: I’ve got a raging erection right now.
Rush, “The Main Monkey Business”
LG: Rush is back, with probably my least favorite song off of the most recent Snakes & Arrows record.
Weezer, “Thought I Knew”
LG: It’s probably my least favorite song. It’s one of the other guys singing, not Rivers [Cuomo].
AVC: It’s a big step forward for Rivers. Previously he had been down on side projects or changing the band’s formula—everything has to be in the context of Weezer, as it’s always been.
LG: I like that it’s on the album, and I don’t think it’s a bad tune. That man fascinates me, Rivers Cuomo. I think he’s a cool man in a lot of ways. Kind of a ball-buster. I’m a big Weezer fan, always have been. I think he’s a great pop-song writer. Sometimes I imagine things about famous people just based on the miniscule knowledge I have about them, and he’s one of those guys that you could just imagine has an interesting perspective on life, and an evolved, elaborate sense of humor. And I take him as having a last laugh in this music industry full of a bunch of glad-handing, opportunistic cunts. I feel like Cuomo is one step ahead of all of them, laughing all the way to the bank. I hope I’m right about that.
Atreyu, “Deanne The Arsonist”
LG: The mall-metal scene is weird, but I had to pick one band from it that I was going to fucking ride with: Atreyu. This [song] is not one I know. I had their album The Curse for a long time. Just a couple weeks ago, I got their older record Suicide Notes And Butterfly Kisses. I haven’t heard it much. This is one of the songs off that; it sounds cool. It sounds like all their other shit.
AVC: When and why did you decide to get into them?
LG: A friend of mine, a fellow Pittsburgh musician, made me a mix CD that had a song, this is a long time ago, called “Bleeding Mascara” on it. And I was like, “That rules.” I try not to qualify things, why I like them too much. And I was just down with that song. I do think the name of the band is horrible. I’m not going to bat for them the way I would go to bat for other bands. In fact, let’s skip to the next song.
Audioslave, “Out Of Exile”
LG: Aw, goddammit! This song has such a sick riff. Rage Against The Machine is a band I was a huge fan of, and one of the few bands I outgrew a little bit. Not musically, just because of the subject matter. I hate their pseudo-leftist horseshit politics. Soundgarden, on the other hand, is a band I was a huge fan of and still am. The whole back catalog, love it to this day. So when I’m like, “It’s Rage with [Chris] Cornell, it’s going to be sweet!” And it wasn’t. Anyway, fuck ’em.
Songs: Ohia, “Till Morning Reputations”
LG: Just a huge fan of Jason Molina, both the man and the songwriter. And it’s weird, because we did a chunk of shows with these fellows years ago. We had the same agent, and it was one of those things where I have a hole in my ass where we toured with them and became friends, so now I’m a huge fan. We did hit it off with those dudes, and love all those dudes a lot. We’re definitely good friends. I feel like Michael Stipe should be clawing to get backstage and suck his dick. I just think there’s such an insane talent in that dude. So dark, too, man, and that stuff can be cathartic, but it is creepy to me. Not to sound like a fucking Nashville hippie, but he’s able to channel some pretty crazy energies.
John Doe, “Forever For You”
LG: Off the record Dim Stars, Bright Sky. My favorite song off the record. I think it’s a great song, but definitely an associative thing too. I’m having trouble with women perpetually. I’m going to die obese and alone, and soon. I don’t know if I’d ever do a cover album. This is going to be on there, definitely.
AVC: Have you talked about doing that, a covers album?
LG: The other guy in the band, Jackson [O’Connell-Barlow], did a karaoke LP a few years back. I don’t know if you ever stumbled across that. I think there’s only 100 hard copies of it. So he did that a long time ago, kind of as a lark, but it’s cool studio karaoke. And we did a cover song on a really insanely obscure—the only thing to my knowledge of ours that ever made it over to Japan was a cover of “Working On The Highway” by Springsteen on this weird Japanese comp. It’s all Japanese bands, pretty much, but somehow we got on there, and it’s like the cover of a Top 40 song.
AVC: What about your planned kids album, Gorilla And Fox? Is that also vaguely in the works?
LG: We’ve been talking about it for eight years. It is going to happen. I don’t want to say when it’s going to happen; we don’t know when, necessarily. It does need to happen, though. I feel like we were able to cut our teeth for so long, getting asked to tour with bigger bands, it’s because of this fucking song that we started doing as kind of a joke band.
Some kid in Virginia was putting together a rap-metal comp where he had e-mailed us and asked us to submit something, and that’s why we came up with that “Let’s Find A Cat” song. I do want to finish the album. We have a bunch of tunes written, and that’s something we need to have evolved into. We’ll make some legitimate songs for kids, and I definitely want to finish it. But I don’t know. King Vision took two years of our life to finish. It’s constantly getting bumped back, but now we’re at the point where it’s like “Okay, our fan base has dwindled, our record is a failure, perhaps the children’s album is our best bet in terms of rekindling the flame or something like that.” But that [metal comp] never happened.
AVC: Have you heard They Might Be Giants’ foray into similar territory?
JW: It’s weird, because when that shit came out, we were kind of like, “Aw, we’ve already been doing that.” I like them. They’re a cool band. They’re kind of ageless, in a way.
Mazzy Star, “I’m Sailin’”
LG: I’m a big fan. I shouldn’t seem like a big Mazzy Star fan, but I’m a huge fan of The Sundays and The Innocence Mission, bands of a similar aesthetic. [She Hangs Brightly], I got fairly recently. My brother got it for me. Cocteau Twins is another one. I loved sugary female melodic stuff, and having camped on the Mazzy Star record a lot. On my iPod, I keep the entire Rush catalog on all the time, and then I sort of rotate other records.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor, “Another Day”
LG: [With] uppers and this kind of dance music, I really think I could get the right combination, I think I could get so pumped that I would turn into energy. Like into powder, and just disappear into the sky. It was a flash, and then a thunderous clap. I fucking love Sophie Ellis-Bextor. I’m sure it’s not just her, it’s the songwriters and the production team. It’s not like she’s in a lab making all these beats and shit. But at the end of the day, the whole product of this, I’m really riding with hard and shooting from the hip. I love that kind of shit. She has that song “Murder On The Dancefloor.” That was the first song of hers that knocked me on my ass. I loved it.
Journey, “Stone In Love”
LG: I’m one of those assholes that bought the new Journey album, with that 15-year-old Asian guy singing on it, so that’s what just popped up right now. It’s off Revelation by the new—I’m not going to say improved, but by the new Journey. The dude has pipes; he can fucking belt it out. Journey is another band shit-talked constantly by the new tastemakers.
And I think Journey’s a great rock band. They have some great moments. And it’s kind of a cool concept, this new record. Now, I don’t know if you’ve been to Wal-Mart lately, my friend, but there’s a big three-CD thing for $10. Brand-new studio album, plus the new album re-recording the hits with this new kid, this Chinese punk singing, and then a DVD of a live show. Let the big stores get big, let ’em rise. They’re not busting you for pot. They’re not kicking down your door because you have coke. They’re cool. They’re just there if you want to shop there.
Kiss, “Hard Luck Woman”
LG: I’m a pretty big Kiss fan. Not a super-fan, but definitely love the older records, and this is a great song. I’m kind of a huge X-Files geek, and in my mind, this song was always about Scully. It could be reapplied to Special Agent Dana Scully, and I always thought of her when I listened to it. As a matter of fact, I’m doing that right now. I should have my booking agent call Gillian Anderson’s people and try to get me arrested.