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Eels SHOOTENANNY!

hoo·te·nan·ny
Pronunciation:'hü-t&n-"a-nE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -nies
Etymology: origin unknown
DatE: 1929
Definition 1. (informal) a social gathering at which participants engage in folk singing and sometimes dancing.

Shoo·te·nan·ny
Pronunciation: 'shü-t&n-"a-nE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -nies
Etymology: Mark Oliver Everett
DatE: 2003
Definition 1. (informal) a social gathering at which participants engage in folk singing and sometimes dancing, but mostly the shooting of guns.
Definition 2. (formal) EELS' new album. Out June 3, 2003.


THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EELS
Interview by Rev. Charles M. Young

Charles M. Young: I heard you were into meditation.

E: Okay. That stuff about meditation is so "last album." And anything about psychotherapy is so "several albums ago." And any other statements at any time with the barest whiff of New Age stink on them are now totally inoperative. I've learned that whatever is in this biography is what I will have to talk about for the next year.

This album, it's promiscuity and drugs. This will make the interviews interesting for me. If I have to talk about something ten times a day for the next year, it might as well be that, right? I'm sorry, but I don't have a good "press angle" for this album. It's not a concept album. There's no big story about the recording.

It's just one of three different albums I have been working on and I decided to put this one out first. But that's not much of a story. I hate the story about "prolific songwriters." So what?

C.M.Y.: Well, there are a lot of really good songs on this album.

E: I don't have high enough self-esteem to think I'm doing anything special. My father was a genius (Hugh Everett III, responsible for Everett's Many Worlds Theory of Parallel Universes). I didn't inherit any of that. I flunked out of the easiest algebra class in high school. But I'm a hard worker. What I'm trying to say is, 'thanks.'

C.M.Y.: So you'd rather discuss promiscuity and drugs?

E: Yeah, I could talk about the song where we set the mikes up right in the middle of an orgy. It was inspired by the Charles Manson/Beach Boys sessions. Or something.

C.M.Y.: Speaking of, do you still look like the Unabomber?

E: Not at the moment. I don't have a beard anymore, or not much one, anyway. It got to be too much trouble at the airport. I was traveling all through that 9/11 stuff and after the twelfth strip search, I just felt like, 'I gotta get rid of this beard.'

Before September 11, all the metal detector guys were friendly and would confide in me, 'I wish I could grow a beard like that.' After September 11, it was a different story. I wasn't trying to look like a terrorist. I just didn't feel like shaving, and it grew and grew, and the ladies all loved it. Some of them said they hated it, but that was a lie. The beard actually fueled the promiscuity aspect of this album. I now have to deal with losing that aspect of my sex appeal.

I'm not into the bombing part, ya know. It was an awkward time to have an album (Souljacker) out that had a picture of yourself with an ominous beard and the word 'jacker' in the title.

C.M.Y.: Did you learn any lessons?

E: I guess not. This album is called SHOOTENANNY!, which is a word I made up when I realized that it's only a matter of time before we need some MTV-style street catch phrase for "shooting spree." I thought I should be the one to coin the term. It's a hip, "edgy" catch phrase for something so serious and so ugly and so likely to happen at any moment. To me it kind of sums up the times that we live in.

C.M.Y.: Why "E"?

E: It's just a nickname. Now I'm a grown man and it's a little embarrassing. It really is what everyone calls me. It just sounds like my name to me. But when I see it in print I realize that it probably sounds like some super-pretentious art school performance artist or something. Now that I'm a grown-up maybe I should legally change it to Mr. E.

C.M.Y.: Let's talk about the songs. "Restraining Order Blues"?

E: That one is a character study, I should point out, not autobiographical. I don't know where it came from. I just heard someone say 'restraining order' on the news or something and I thought somebody needs to write a song about that situation.

C.M.Y.: "Fashion Awards"?

E: I turned on the TV one night and the VH-1 Fashion Awards were on. I watched for three minutes and wrote the song. Unfortunately the show was still on for 3 more hours. You know ... any excuse for an awards show at this point. It's the Tuesday Morning Awards! They're all so meaningless, of course. But people seem to care so much about them. When they get up there at the Oscar podium and start blubbering like a baby because it means so much for them to win- it's funny. What are they in it for? If winning means so much to them, are they going to blow their heads off when they lose?

C.M.Y.: You've won awards...

E: Yes. But I always try to put them to some use.

C.M.Y.: Like the Brit Award you turned into a cymbal stand for the drum set?

E: A good example. Now it's worth something.

C.M.Y.: Seems like you were feeling kinda down in "All in a Day's Work."

E: I just had this sense of being the guy that goes around and there's always something wrong happening. Seems like I'm always bumming someone out for some reason. I wanted to air that out and make it more attractive by turning it into a Muddy Waters type thing.

C.M.Y.: Did you resent your parents making you go to Sunday school like in the song?

E: No, they didn't care about that stuff. But if I did have to go to Sunday school, I would have told them they were fools. The only thing more irritating than awards shows are born-again religious fanatics. Oh, brother.

C.M.Y.: "Saturday Morning", about being bored when you're a kid and your parents aren't awake yet, must be unique in its subject matter.

E: I've been thinking about that lately. That feeling of being eight years old and a day seems like a year. You wake up early on Saturday and it'll be three hours before you can even go to your friend's house to play. It seems like a small moment now, but it was such a big deal then. Do you remember a show called Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp?

C.M.Y.: No.

E: It was like Get Smart, but with chimps. I remember watching that show at 6 a.m. and when it was over, thinking, 'What am I going to do now?' I recently bought a tape of the show as research. I do a lot of research for my songs.

C.M.Y.: "Love of the Loveless" almost seems like your Sermon on the Mount.

E: Anybody can love the already loved, that's easy. But loving the loveless--that's an accomplishment.

C.M.Y.: Jesus didn't actually say too much beyond loving your neighbor.

E: Isn't that enough? If people just went with that, Christianity would be a really great thing. I think ultimately what the song is saying, and this pops up a couple of times on the album, is: give yourself a break. Some people aren't fortunate enough to have been given the kind of love that people need to flourish and survive in this world, so you've got to find a way to give it to yourself. No easy feat.

C.M.Y.: Then you're back to promiscuity and drugs with "Dirty Girl." The song starts, "I like a girl with a dirty mouth/Someone that I can believe."

E: I don't trust people who don't use profanity. If people make an effort not to say 'fuck' or 'shit,' et cetera, I feel like they're not being real. Come on, this is how we talk. It's not hurting anyone. Who cares? I've felt that way since I was a kid, being around other kids' families where people would have to put a dime in the cookie jar if they used profanity. What was that about?

C.M.Y.: Were you in agony when you wrote "Agony"?

E: Yeah, I was in a bad frame of mind. But that's the great thing about song writing. You get to transform the emotion by making a song out of it. When somebody complains about depression or suicide being romanticized, I think: 'Thank god that there is a romantic side to this stuff.' Because if you are really depressed, romanticizing it might be the only thing that gets you through it.

C.M.Y.: You appear to be wrestling with agony again in "Rock Hard Times."

E: It was inspired by the experiences I've had around the music and movie business, here in the murder capital of the USA. Hearing all these Hollywood assholes say that they want something hip and irreverent and "edgy" and all that stuff, and then looking at the state of everything. It's really bad times. Good luck trying to do anything halfway decent. Of course it's easy for me to criticize everyone else. But don't worry. I hate myself even more.

C.M.Y.: At least you haven't sold your songs for commercials.

I can afford to throw stones. I don't have any kids in college. And everyone seems to be doing it now. But that doesn't make it right. I will let a song be in a movie sometimes, because at least that's SOMEBODY'S idea of art. And I don't mind advertising myself. A video is basically a commercial for a song. But I don't want to be singing for some product. It doesn't seem right. Every big company you can name wants to use my songs. It's funny. In the music business I can't get arrested. But in advertising I'm a hot, but unwilling, commodity.

My least favorite word is "edgy." That's what these advertising people want. "Edgy." And it means...nothing. It means, "we want the form of rebellion stripped of all content." That's what the world has come to. "Edginess." But nobody is rebelling against anything. It's all for sale.

C.M.Y.: You appear to be mining your autobiography again in "Lone Wolf."

E: Being married has brought to light just what a lonely loser I am. It's become quite apparent that I'm not much of a "people person." Mrs. E is patient, but I may be pushing the envelope a little thin. In the song, I'm owning up, and accepting that this is who I am. A real loner at heart. But there's joy in the music. There's this great relief in accepting what you are. Now if the people I'm around can accept it is another story.

C.M.Y.: Philosophically, you're more existentialist than postmodern. You've got that Jean-Paul Sartre vibe happening.

E: Yeah, but he doesn't rock like me.

C.M.Y.: Paul Tillich, the Protestant existentialist, had a pretty wild sex life.

E: Which bring us back to promiscuity and drugs. The lone wolves don't get a lot of action, hence the aloneness. Or maybe they do. They ARE wolves, after all.

C.M.Y.: Was "Wrong About Bobby" inspired by a specific person?

E: Yes, but I prefer not to divulge the identity so I can keep everyone I know on ice, wondering if it's about them. Puts them on their best behavior.

C.M.Y.: The concept of counting your days in "Numbered Days" seems to be almost a Buddhist meditation on impermanence.

E: It could be taken that way. There's a certain number of days you have left in your life. But you don't know how many. Dammit, I wanna know. The Buddhist idea of impermanence is true, and they recommend that you don't attach to things, which causes suffering. The problem is, we're fucking human and we attach to other humans. I think it's good to attach to other people, and if we lose them, it's going to be a horrible situation. That's just the way it's going to be. That's human. I also like graveyards as a simple reminder to enjoy my time above ground while I can.

C.M.Y.: There are some great lines in "Somebody Loves You," like "This nagging malaise is more than a phase."

E: I wrote that song after being alone in the basement for a week. I don't even know what I meant by it. I was just singing it to comfort myself. I think it's like 'Love of the Loveless.' You've got to learn how to take care of yourself. The somebody who loves you might have to be yourself.

C.M.Y.: It is really unfair that "No boss ever pays you to lay there and think how you'll die," as you say in "Somebody Loves You."

E: It's like Albert Brooks said, 'Why can't neediness be sexy?' Likewise, why can't lying in bed while thinking about how you're going to die be a job that you get paid for? The world is so unfair.

C.M.Y.: Are you going to tour?

E: I can't wait. Something strange has happened to me. I used to hate touring. Now I just want to get back to it. I was really sad when the last tour ended. There's something great about always moving. My favorite time of day is Rock O'clock.

C.M.Y.: Taking the sermon to the streets...

E: I'm tellin' ya. I rock harder than any of those philosophers you mentioned.

C.M.Y.: You do. You rock harder than all the existentialists.

E: Jean Paul Sartre with a Marshall stack. That's a concert I'd pay to see.


Release DatE: June 3, 2003
Label: DreamWorks
Produced by: E
Featuring performances by Koool G Murder, Butch, Lisa Germano, Joe Gore.

TRACK LISTING
01 All In A Day's Work
02 Saturday Morning
03 The Good Old Days
04 Love Of The Loveless
05 Dirty Girl
06 Agony
07 Rock Hard Times
08 Restraining Order Blues
09 Lone Wolf
10 Wrong About Bobby
11 Numbered Days
12 Fashion Awards
13 Somebody Loves You








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