RESTAURANT: DOES NOT INCLUDE MAGIC
Restaurant came from Texas and use Texas license plates as hi-hats and share a label with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and the Fall. Their full-length will be out on Narnack next year. They speak now from an area with poor phone reception.
So incrimination and pollination are your major concerns about this interview.
Jonathan (drums / keyboards / back-up vocals /snide remarks): Cross-pollination. And military sayings.
Troy (vocals / guitar / harp): Which are like stories to tell. Fake myths.
T: ‘Never pull your socks up over your calf because you’ll get cramps.’
What am I supposed to get from that?
T: Not getting a cramp.
J: I’d figure if you pulled your socks up, it’d keep your calves warm, and there’d be less likelihood of a cramp.
Do you prefer warmth and pain or cold and health?
T: I’d rather be functional. That way I could work at doing a lot of nonsense.
J: That’s what you’re about. Function over fashion. And I’m more fashion over function.
And together you have twice the fashion and twice the function.
T: I’m more Legos and he’s more Tyco slot tracks.
Have you two ever visited a psychic or held a séance together?
T: That’s a bad campfire. Anytime we have séances, it turns into a campfire gone bad.
Because things catch fire?
T: I think they start with a fire.
J: I went into the Psychic Eye bookstore on Ventura Boulevard—it’s crazy—and I bought some incense that was supposed to be enchanted incense. It’s called ‘red ginger’ and it’s designed to bring wealth and riches, which are my primary preoccupation.
T: I think it’s sponsored by Pepto Bismol. All it does is give you a stomach ache and send you straight to Ralph’s. Every incense I smell makes me sick.
J: But you just now started to eat Asian cuisine.
T: I had to.
J: …right. So I light up the incense and I’m waiting for the pot of gold to shower down, and I look at the package, and it says, ‘DOES NOT INCLUDE MAGIC.’ Something to the effect of ‘NO MAGIC IS IMPLIED BY THIS ENCHANTED INCENSE.’ So what’s the point?
I wish I knew what lawsuit inspired that disclaimer.
J: Yeah, what provoked that? Some witch called, like, ‘You know what? Nahhhhh. I prayed for years for Fabio to come sweep me off my feet—I been waiting twenty years!’
This is interview is about to deplete the constructive potential of the printed word.
T: It’s beyond nonsense.
Are you truly from Victoria, Texas?
T: Yes, we are.
What was it like growing up next to Stone Cold Steve Austin?
T: He was at Edna.
But he moved to Victoria.
J: To make it?
Once he had made it.
T: He could at least move to Puerto Vallarta. Why would you move to Victoria?
J: We made many beautiful friends there, and had magical experiences—even without the incense. The most magical experience was something called the drill team—what Californians call the pep squad. Not the cheerleaders but the dance team. In Victoria, they were called the Victoriadores—and they’re adorable, right?
T: I didn’t even grab that—that they were ‘adorable.’
Seems like they would ask you that before you got to graduate.
J: Yeah—‘Do you understand the pun?’ But I’m quite an accomplished typist—my girl was asking me how I learned to type so good, and then she was like, ‘Oh, damn, I bet you have some story,’ and actually I do have a story—my typing coach was also my basketball coach, and we had typing class right before basketball practice, and he’d let all the basketball players in the class go suit up early. And the Victoriadores would be in there warming up and stretching, so we’d get to rap to the Victoriadores, and as a result, all the basketball players were swift-ass typists.
Because of the Victoriadores?
J: We spent every moment we could around them. I think all of our girlfriends were Victoriadores.
T: But I never got ‘adorable.’ Where have I been?
J: You’re even somewhat of a wordsmith, too.
T: I thought I wrote alright stuff. Now all I wanna do is go soapbox-derby racing. That simplifies everything.
Gravity handles all the work.
T: That’s the beauty of it. All I can rely on is gravity.
J: And they found what they thought was a chupacabra down the street from Victoria. But I think it was overturned—they did a DNA test and I remember the paper said it was just a mutated dog. And people were still like, ‘That’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in real life.’
So your hometown is the birthplace of the chupacabra?
We’re building a legend.
J: We’re getting off track.
Who is Texas’ most beloved gunshot wound victim?
T: John F. Kennedy.
Does he count?
T: He was in Texas.
But he wasn’t from there.
T: So you want another answer?
J: He tried to assassinate Stevie Ray Vaughan once.
T: I just saw a painting of him and I shot it.
T: I had a rubber-band gun—a clothespin and a wooden stick—and we were talking about Stevie Ray Vaughan, and I was like, ‘It’d be great if I never saw him again.’ And we show up at the venue and there’s a huge painting of Stevie Ray Vaughan on stage behind us. I had the rubber-band gun and I shot it a couple times. I thought it would at least kill the imagery.
You needed that incense.
T: The magic was not there.
What film best prepared you for life in Los Angeles?
J: I’m curious—can you explain that?
T: I’m not even gonna explain it.
J: Fine. Right.
T: I’m gonna stand by that. I’m still thinking about the bullet wound—Davy Crockett! Fucking killed at the Alamo.
Was anything on fire when you first came to L.A.?
T: I came knowing people refer to like ‘once you cross the L.A. river,’ and I wanted to go see the river. The river! So I go over there and to get downtown it was like concrete slabs and shit, and signs trying to help pelicans survive—or not pelicans but other species—and it wasn’t flooded—it was actually a loss of water. A loss of nature. But my heart was on fire. On fire!
How did Restaurant end up in L.A.?
T: I was supposed to work for Cirque Du Soleil.
Did you get to wear a leotard?
T: Set-design stuff. Now I’m supposed to mention Dave’s place. Dave Young.
We endorse that place.
T: It’s a good place.
You should come up with a slogan.
J: ‘Dave Young’s: We Just Bought A Kegerator!’
T: So Cirque Du Soleil—I was gonna work for them, and the lady was like, ‘Show up in two weeks and you got a job!’ So I came out and she said she didn’t expect me to call so soon. So I was stuck. I put in an application at some slot-car track—a little hobby shop by my friend’s place—and then got another gig welding for an artist, and I did that, and I went back to Texas, and then came back here. And Jonathan and I started randomly making music.
I believe you.
T: It’s a fucking true story! What’s not to believe?
It’s a natural series of events with a logical conclusion.
J: It’s totally plausible.
Where do you go when you get homesick?
T: My backyard.
J: We play a show. We have a BBQ in his backyard and gather the troops.
Did you have the band in Victoria?
T: It didn’t start until we were out here.
J: Last year at SXSW was our debut. That was the only time we played in Texas. We were excited to see what the response would be. It’s Southern type of music.
J: My license plates are all Texas plates.
Do they work better than others?
J: We’ve run through the gamut. We got New York and California and Hawaii—I thought Hawaii would be magical. Every time you see a Hawaii license plate, you’re like, ‘What the fuck? It’s not contiguous—how did that plate get here?’ I thought it would endow my hi-hat with magic. But it just broke.
T: What’s crazy is slide guitar came from Hawaii—they were doing it before the South.
How many of your license plates do you think came from prison?
T: Probably all of them.
J: We got a friend who’s a used-car dealer in Victoria who sends us boxes. They’re not cheap—I used to buy them on the Venice boardwalk at $11 a pop, and that starts to add up. And I beat the shit out of those things. So this dude got the hook-up. He sends us a big box. I don’t think he was in prison at the time.
Is that the best thing you guys ever get in the mail? A big box of Texas license plates?
J: Of old Texas license plates! Every day is Christmas with Easterling Motors!
When you signed with Narnack, did you get to meet Lee Perry and Mark E. Smith?
T: We’ve only been around Mr. Smith. He looks like a bag of drugs.
Maybe ‘bag of medicine’ would be more polite.
J: We played with him in New York at CMJ and saw him twice, and he fucking crushed it. It sounded great. He still has some type of charisma for weathering the storm as he has and being such a monumental figure in terms of progressive punk music or whatever they call it. I was really impressed.
T: Aw, he’s good.
When are the four 45s coming out?
J: There’s a series with four different eyelash curlers for artwork. The first one is supposed to come out on December 1, and then January and February and March.
T: But we’ll have them for the show Friday.
J: It’s all stuff we recorded at home—basically we put one kind of acoustic song on one side and the B-side is an electronic song. And after we release those eight songs, we’ll release an EP with all those collected and probably some bonus tracks. And the full-length which we just got the rough masters for—it really is faithful to everything we do, but it’s got a big sound. They’re saying second quarter of 2008. We’re gonna call it Restaurant Returns.
T: Because it’s our debut album.
Are you trying to confuse as many people as possible?
T: It’s not confusion—it’s about being smart. Put that in print—‘What an asshole!’
J: The dude who mastered it said, ‘You know what I really like? At first glance the stuff comes across really knucklehead’—he used that word—‘but if you sit with it for a minute, you see some substance and good art and good poetry.’ And I don’t think there’s any decent musicianship, but there’s good imagery and narrative and all that shit. And you can get down to a visceral level and shake your ass and mosh.
Can you really mosh to it?
J: Fuck yeah, man! We’ve had people do just about everything under the sun on stage, so yeah, you can! I think our primary concern is to get people to move, which is a daunting task in L.A.—that’s our mission statement from the beginning. To make the girls shake their asses, and you can! You can really get down on that level.
T: We’re hoping there’s no arm folding.
J: Apparently if you’re not moving around enough, you’re probably gonna get hit in the face with a drum stick shard.
That’s a good slogan.
T: We had some insurance issues. Some dude was threatening to sue us.
J: The shards tend to fly. Prince ended up at a show we were playing at Little Temple, and I swear I buzzed the top of his hair with part of a drumstick.
Did time slow down at that moment?
T: All time stopped when Prince had a drumstick skim across his head. And he was dancing. And he had two ladies who were double his size. But they were good-looking.
J: And he made eye contact with my girlfriend. She’s a really nice girl, but she was like, ‘I don’t give a fuck—I would have gone home with him.’ Weeks later she kept talking about it. ‘He looked at me…’
Can you ever experience a greater moment than skipping a drumstick off Prince’s head?
J: I sure as hell hope so! Like somebody giving us money. In return for throwing drumsticks, you can throw money or girl’s underwear.
Which member of Restaurant would have fit best in Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys?
T: Jonathan. Or Jesus.
J: We have the same initials.
RESTAURANT PLAYS L.A. RECORD PLAYER NUMBER TWO ON FRI., NOV. 30, WITH MORIS TEPPER AND CROOKED COWBOY PLUS DJs SMALL TOWN TALK AT CHARLIE O’S, 501 S. SPRING ST., LOS ANGELES. 9:30 PM / $5 / 21+. WWW.LARECORD.COM.