Beck & Tom Waits Chat It Up

Some journalists may get frustrated when an interview stumbles off track from the planned out Q&A format into a totally random, off the wall convo but that’s just what Beck has in mind with his Irrelevant Topics interview series. The series kicks off with a rambling chat between Beck and Tom Waits.

Beck’s website describes the series as “conversations between musicians, artists, writers, etc. on various subjects, without promotional pretext or editorial direction.” The site promises the new series will be updated several times a month.

Waits and Beck begin their hour-long conversation with a discussion about growing up in the Los Angeles area, touching on subjects such as the Oscar Mayer wiener mobile and whether or not there was a homemade submarine found in the drained Echo Park Lake.

Photo: AP Photo / Jersey Journal
It’s not a scene from "Puppetmaster 2006." It’s Beck on stage at the Loews Theatre in Jersey City, N.J.

Beck brings up the fact that Beverly Hills was originally supposed to be named Morocco Junction, which then leads into talk of the perils of outdoor concerts.

Waits says he hates playing outdoors and reminisces about performing in an abandoned temple in Japan. The roof was torn off and “everyone was dressed up in moon gear” because it was 30 below.

Think that’s tough? Beck played a show where an audience member was struck by lightening and had outdoor shows canceled because of a hurricane in Mexico and a typhoon in Japan.

Photo: Stephen Cohen

The conversation rolls on to America’s obsession with having the “best eye surgeon, the best babysitter, the best vehicle, the best prosthetic arm, and the best hat” (Waits says Denny’s is doing great at offering the worst of things) and Beck’s issue with making “Best of” lists. Other topics include cassette tapes vs. jumping rope, blasting Beethoven in 7-11 parking lots and how there aren’t many songs about moving to Northern Finland.

Part two of the singer-songwriters’ conversation will be posted on the website next week.

In addition to playing reporter, Beck is working on his Record Club series, in which he and collaborators rerecord classic albums in a single day without any rehearsals. The gang (Beck plus Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker, Brian Lebarton, Bram Inscore, Giovanni Ribisi, Chris Holmes and Thorunn Magnusdottir) voted on The Velvet Underground & Nico and has posted one song per week with “Sunday Morning,” “Waiting For My Man” and “Femme Fatale” already on the website.

Who would you like to see featured on Beck’s Irrelevant Topics series? 

Click here for Beck’s website.