Twinkie Jiggles and Dessa

Twinkie Jiggles and Dessa

Heiruspecs' bassist and the Doomtree MC talk to each other about the common ground between their two groups.
 

Heiruspecs bassist Sean “Twinkie Jiggles” McPherson and Doomtree MC Dessa Darling are united by their love of trivia-night hosting, their employment at McNally Smith College of Music, and their positions as heavies on the local hip-hop scene. Friends and professional favor-traders who lend a hand in each other’s projects, the two sat down with Decider to talk about the creative common ground they share. Besides her Doomtree activity, Dessa recently published a volume of creative nonfiction, Spiral Bound. Heiruspecs, meanwhile, is coming back from a four-year recording gap with a new self-titled album and a CD-release show Dec. 13 at First Avenue with Mayda, Big Quarters, and DJ Anton opening.

Decider: Do you two draw musical inspiration from the same sources?
Dessa:
I bet we have pretty different lists, with some overlap.
Sean McPherson: Who are the people you really like for lyric writing?
D: I think that Leonard Cohen is hard, on his best days, to fuck with.
SM: And I think, when I hear Leonard Cohen at somebody’s house, “I should really listen to this at home.” But then I go home and listen to rap.
D: And funk?
SM: I really appreciate funk, and there is some funk stuff I listen to—but I could actually get away with a 4 GB iPod, because I will listen to the new Nas record four times before I move on to other stuff.
D: Would the music that you yourself make fit into that 4 GB comfortably?
SM: If somebody found this iPod at a coffee shop, would they be like, “That’s Sean from Heiruspecs’ iPod”? Theoretically, if they started really thinking, “Well, he listens to a lot of jazz, and a shit-ton of rap, and a lot of local music from all over,” would they think, “Maybe this guy plays in a band planted locally that does rap stuff but has a live-band sensibility”? Yes, I think that’s likely. But if you’re asking, if I wasn’t in Heiruspecs, would I listen to Heiruspecs? I think the answer is, “A little.” I am the snob who makes live hip-hop and hates live hip-hop.
D: Welcome to the Land of the Apologists—that’s where we live in Minneapolis.
Decider: Can you elaborate on that?
D:
There’s so much of rap music that I love, and so much of it that I hate, just as far as music and culture and social importance. To the underground hip-hop fans, I couldn’t be prouder to announce, “I’m a rapper.” But I know why my grandma makes that face, and I can’t say that she’s wrong. There is some stuff to make you go, “Why are you involved in that?” I know that’s it’s a tired conversation to have: “Oh no, the mainstream. The underground is here to save hip-hop.” That is also a clever way to say that rap was really violent until white people came along and saved it. I don’t want to make that statement. I guess it’s as complicated as any arts movement.
Decider: Sean, you’re at First Ave the week after the big Doomtree blowout. Have you guys headlined the Mainroom before?
SM:
The last time we played as the last act at a First Avenue show, the person who “opened” for us was Paul Wellstone. You couldn’t call that headlining! After Wellstone, everyone was like, “Wow!” Then Norm Coleman got up, and everybody booed him. And I will say that Norm Coleman was legit as hell, because he said, “Boo me all you want, if you’re voting, I’m happy.”
D: Is there a rollercoaster of optimism and panic?
SM: I’m really scared! But the actual performance, I’m really excited about. Occasionally we’ve had a bigger band for bigger shows with extra percussion, maybe a horn section. This time we thought, “No. Let’s get up there as the dudes who make this music happen. We’ll have the guests we can get come up to sing with us, to rap with us, but let’s just present it, be really far apart onstage, try to take it and do well.”
Decider: Dessa, are you on the new Heiruspecs album?
D:
I am, yeah. [To Sean] You have a lot of guests—list ’em off.
SM: We have Carnage, New MC, I Self Devine, Dessa Darling, Dan Wilson
Decider: Really? What is he doing?
SM:
He had come into McNally and said, “I love that song ‘War Drums,’ by Heiruspecs, heard it on the radio.” So I was like, “Dan Wilson thinks we did something good!” I sent him this track that we were really struggling with, one where we had this really super rippity-rappity 16-bar verse by Muad’dib, but the rest of it was very ’70s, dry, sorta soulful—
D: Wait, you sent Dan Wilson something you were struggling with? Instead of, “Here’s our best stuff”?
SM: We needed somebody to write a hook. And he’s very aware of his deal, and he said, “It’s very Dan Wilson, and I’m assuming that’s what you want.” The stuff he wrote was beautiful.
D: What’s the title of the album?
SM: Heiruspecs. Just to confess—we were all sitting around after having compiled the final track listing, and we realized, “This record is going to be 77 minutes long.” Completely embarrassing to the whole idea of the “art of the record.” But it’s been four years. When we were making this record, it was a really interesting time. Because we thought, “When it’s done, it’s most likely that Barack Obama will be president.” And it does seem to me that somehow we are starting to get serious as a band again, at this time when we have a new president and gas is cheap—wow, that’s a pretty good business plan! We have a bunch of songs that are political in the sense of being about economics, and I think that has to do with our age. You have a different vision of what it’s like to be short on money when you’re 28 or 29 than you do when you’re 22. You have fewer solutions like staying at your parents’ or borrowing money. It’s not funny anymore. One thing I like about Heiruspecs is that the first chance we have to stop making songs like that, I think we would. There are bands where, if everything in the world got light-years better—well, Dead Prez would not make music like 50 Cent. They would still take the couple issues that mattered and deal with them. But if things got pretty good again, Heiruspecs would go back to, “Rippity-rappity-bippity party!” But it’s so bad right now that stuff has to be addressed.

"Get Up," from Heiruspecs: