September 8th, 2005 | Interviews

Ice Cream Man has a real name but prefers to be known only as Ice Cream Man, the living incarnation of the smiling mascot painted on the side of his ice cream truck Bessie. He travels the nation giving away free ice cream to everyone who wants it. He was backstage at ArthurFest this weekend dispensing organic ice cream bars to people in Earth and Sunn O))).

Was anyone an ice cream hog at Arthur Fest?
Oh, man, Olivia Tremor Control loves ice cream. The drummer had four ice creams within an hour.
Is that medically advisable?
I used to not have limits for what I gave to people, and then one kid had about eight in an hour, and from that day on, I knew what limits are for. But with something like ArthurFest, where you don’t know what they might have in their body–I don’t wanna be the guy that doesn’t fulfill an urge that could make them feel especially happy.
Do you yourself still eat ice cream or have you grown to dislike it?
Oh yeah, I’m addicted–to sugar, to caffeine, to ice cream. Yesterday I had four ice cream treats: frozen bananas, a Pink Panther, a creamsicle for breakfast, and a Julie’s Organic Chocolate with Chocolate bar.
Was that the healthiest thing you ate that day?
No–thank god for late-night taco stands.
Does everything you eat come off a truck?
Kind of–it’s a kind of vagabond lifestyle. I gotta support the people working on the trucks!
Did you have any other plans before becoming an ice cream man?
My main plan is just to be happy–it may sound basic but I don’t think that many people are as happy as they could be. I wanna be the happiest person in the world, and I think I might be! I think I’m getting there, and then I’m driving around giving people free ice cream and making them happy. When I was in college, I had a vision that I wanted to be an ice cream man. I got fired from a thrift store for shopping too much off the clock: ‘Look, you’re just around here too much!’ So then it hit me: I wanna be an ice cream man!
Do you find it difficult to be a good person in a world that’s so base and corrupt?
The one thing I learned is that people either get it or they don’t–it’s amazing how much you can learn about someone in two or three seconds. If they frown, you know there’s no point in going into the spiel–you can’t convince someone to be happy. Maybe you can help them a little with free ice cream.
You are a very philosophical and inspiring ice cream man.
I wanna be inspiring! I wanna tell kids they can do anything they want–imagine if every person truly believed they could do anything they wanted, the world would be so much different. People would just like be walking around happy. I once walked from Mexico to Canada, and that was kind of an inspiring thing–I realized everything I’ve wanted to do in my life, I’ve been able to do. How-why-what-when-how-I’m-able-to-afford-it I don’t know. But I’ve been able to do it. And now it’s a time in my life that I got enough experience and knowledge and connections to do something huge. And ice cream was the biggest thing I could think of–give away a million ice creams!