Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Comedian Julian McCullough hates DMB’s condescending “Ants Marching”

Illustration for article titled Comedian Julian McCullough hates DMB’s condescending “Ants Marching”

In HateSong, we ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.


The hater: As the host of the Doug Loves Movies spin-off podcast Julian Loves Music, comedian Julian McCullough is setting himself up for a bit of a challenge. If he’s saying he’s so in love with music that he considers himself expert enough to host a podcast about it, then he’d better be able to put his money where his mouth is.

Fortunately, McCullough can, frequently waxing rhapsodic about Morrissey, Green Day, and Dinosaur Jr. on his Twitter page. With the first few episodes of Julian Loves Music out now, The A.V. Club thought it would be as good a time as any to see what music McCullough doesn’t love.

The hated: Dave Matthews Band, “Ants Marching” (1993)

The A.V. Club: What do you hate about “Ants Marching”?

Julian McCullough: The first thing I hate about “Ants Marching” is that it starts with the horn section, and I hate horn sections in rock music. They drive me fucking crazy. So I already don’t like you when your riff is a horn. Then, it’s essentially a song about not getting a regular job and how everybody who has cubical jobs are just ants marching in a maze with no plan or whatever—who are afraid to take risks. It makes me so angry because it’s sort of condescending.

AVC: A little.

JM: You started some jam band in Virginia—

AVC: —that happened to make it.

JM: Which, by the way, when they wrote that song, they were not successful, but he could have easily been looking down on people doing way better than him.

AVC: But they’re not free, man!

JM: No, they’re not. They wear shoes.

I’m also annoyed because I ended up taking a huge risk and doing a creative thing with my life and, technically, that song came out at a very influential point in my life and it may, in some way, have something to do with me choosing stand-up. It infuriates me that Dave Matthews might have had some kind of influence on me.


When Under The Table And Dreaming came out, I fell for it. For like six months I fell for it. I didn’t know who they were, they came out of nowhere. That was in ’94, so I was about 15. Sophomore year of high school. Sophomore year was very tough for me anyway; I had experimented with being popular, and it was a disaster.

AVC: Well then liking Dave Matthews made sense, because popular kids liked Dave Matthews. He could help you fit in.


JM: That’s actually true. I did a lot of things I wasn’t proud of: I stole liquor from people’s garages, I lost my virginity to my best friend’s girlfriend, and I listened to Dave Matthews; those are the three worst things I’ve ever done. I am very annoyed that I loved that album, and I probably still know all the words to it, and it’s very embarrassing to this day.

Also, the Talking Heads did a song called “The Big Country,” which is basically the same song as “Ants Marching.” It’s just about David Byrne flying over America in a big plane wondering what all of those people in Middle America are doing, saying, “I wouldn’t live there if you paid me to.” So I much prefer that, mostly because it’s the Talking Heads, even if it is a dickhead thing to do.


The ultimate problem with Dave Matthews—and we all know this—is the fan base. I mean, his music is annoying because it has horns and his facial expressions are atrocious, but his fans are the worst people on the planet. His fans are a latent, racist, date-rape crew.

AVC: You could argue they just stopped developing as 15-year-olds.

JM: Yes, and they’re also the worst because they think just because they like Dave Matthews that they have an artistic side to them. There’s nothing worse than a date-rapist jock who thinks he has a sensitive side because he likes something like Dave Matthews; that’s a very dangerous creature.


So, I guess those are all the reasons I hate “Ants Marching.” It’s a condescending song from a guy that I can’t stand about honest people that work hard. Oh, and also, they dumped all of that crap off their tour bus onto a boat of people; that’s like the funniest things that ever happened.

AVC: According to the “Ants Marching” Genius page, DMB fans refer to themselves as “ants” and “Ants Marching” is one of the group’s most popular songs.


JM: Oh my God, why did you tell me that?! That makes me so much more mad!

AVC: One of the most popular “Dave” fan sites is called antsmarching.org.

JM: That just shows me that they just don’t understand his songs and they’re his fans! Why would they call themselves the “ants?” That doesn’t make any sense! That’s like if you’re Nate Dogg’s fans, you call yourselves the “busters.” It’s so stupid.


AVC: It’s like if Pink Floyd fans were like, “We’re just bricks in the wall.”

JM: We’re the bricks! We love Pink Floyd! [Laughs.] You can use your quote as my quote if you want!


AVC: Did you see Dave Matthews in high school?

JM: No, I’ve never been to a Dave Matthews show; I’d tell you if I did. But I have been to a Hollister store, and I feel like it was the same experience.

AVC: I saw Dave Matthews in high school because, like everybody else, I convinced myself that I liked this record. So I went with my friend and she just straight-up disappeared as soon as we got there because it was an outside amphitheater.


JM: Then you never saw her again?!

AVC: She had driven, so I had to wait by her car and she came back fucked up an hour and a half after the show. I was like, “You can’t drive!” but her car was a stick, so I think she drove. I don’t remember the resolution. I think she might have been like, “I’m cool, it’s cool,” and I was like, “Okay. Otherwise I’m stuck here and I’ll have to call my parents and we’ll never be friends again.” I’m still alive, fortunately.


JM: That’s a traumatic event, and that’s what you get for doing that.

AVC: Pretty much.

JM: You’re not an “ant.”

One other thing I want to add to this: When I start my podcast, I’m going to have two lists. One is bands that if you talk shit about, I turn your mic off, and bands that if you say something good about, I turn your mic off. Dave Matthews will be one of the secret bands that if you say something good about, I will turn your mic off.


AVC: Do you know Matt Mira from the Nerdist podcast? He’s a huge Dave Matthews fan.

JM: What?! Oh, he’s got to come on the show. I’m going to trick him into saying something about Dave Matthews Band and just keep turning his mic off for the rest of the podcast.

AVC: Who else is on that list? Unless you don’t want to reveal your secrets.

JM: So far, if you say something nice about the following people, your mic gets turned off: Eric Clapton. Dave Matthews, obviously. Phish. In fact, any jam band. I don’t care.


AVC: String Cheese Incident?

JM: Yeah. Moe. Whatever. Except for the Grateful Dead; you get a pass. I like the Grateful Dead.


Ones that if you say anything bad about I’ll cut off are Guns N’ Roses, David Bowie, Talking Heads. That’s it so far. As I think of it, it’ll grow. As the show starts to air, we’re going to start building it in the moment.

AVC: How is the show going to be different than Doug Loves Movies, other than the title?


JM: Well, it’s about music.

AVC: Obviously. Thank you.

JM: I’m not doing the exact same games. I’m doing some of the same games for the most part, but I’m going to come up with my own games. There’s going to be a “Name That Tune” game that is not as boring as “Name That Tune.” And I think there’s going to be more fighting and earnestness because music makes people sincere. When you start talking about music, of course it’ll be funny because my guest will be funny, but the arguments will be much more grounded in emotion than movies. People feel much more ownership in movies, but it’s not the same. Music is much more personal, and I don’t know how this is going to go, but my guess is that people are going to really piss people off on this show, and I hope that happens.


I’m also going to be more involved. Doug [Benson] is so funny and he picks his moments in the show and it’s great, but I think I’m going to involve myself more in the beginning because I’m hungrier to and I want to set the tone. He’s already set the tone for his show, so he kind of lets the guest do their thing. But I’m probably going to be a little bit more present in the podcast than Doug is.

We’re also going to have a DJ sidekick. DJ Badilla. He’s going to be on stage with me with a laptop to play music cues and do live research because while everyone seems to know everything about movies, music can get esoteric. So to settle beefs and arguments, we’re going to have the DJ there to hook it up and make sure if we’re fighting about some album or something that we have all the facts straight.