by yours truly via
To be perfectly honest, when I got the email containing Girls' vocalist and songwriter Christopher Owens' answers to my questions, I was pretty peeved. I shrugged it off to my weird morning. It was the kind of morning that, whilst gazing at the sunlight streaming through my blinds, everything including light, pulsed in time to my heartbeat. So I left it for later. I read it all back again in the afternoon and still felt quite indignant at the responses.
The thing is, I’ve really wanted to have a face to face conversation with both Chet 'JR' White and Owens for a while, since I first heard their music. I’ve had questions I wanted to ask. I genuinely wanted to *know* stuff. And it's different when you actually talk to someone, obviously. When this opportunity came up, face to face wasn’t really an option, so I’d rather send that shit over email than get a measly-PR-slash-management-controlled-wholly-inadequate ten minutes.
I did my research, composed questions that I thought might be interesting to answer, at least tried not to be too probing *eeep* - an occupational hazard when writing to strangers like this; knowing so much more about them whilst they respond back into the void. I took aim with questions that might yield revealing answers and hoped (okay, expected, just a wee little bit) for some interesting, revealing (read: extensive, soul-baring) and *connected* answers the likes of which I’d been reading over in countless of their previous interviews.
So the succinct, at times one-word answers kinda pissed me off.
I was unsatisfied.
These were answers from the same guy who told detailed stories about his life to the most benign of inquiries. Who stated his ambition to write a standard like ‘Love Me Tender’ that everyone knows, and that he's "never done anything else that makes me feel so alive". Who likens Michael Jackson to Jesus (amen) and points out that MJ was misunderstood. The guy who refused to let his Mum bail him out of jail and sat it out for three weeks because “it’s the government’s way of trying to get money from us”. I was dying for epic quotes! And with the rather riveting Trufflegate hullabaloo flooding my feeds, it's all made me double take on my own lines of questioning and agendas (for a hot second).
Anyhooz, there’s a LOT of information out there about Girls; most of it provided by the band themselves, particularly concerning Christopher Owens’ back story (just google it people. But in case you didn't click the previous links: Owens grew up in a religious cult traveling the world, broke free - a veritable blank canvas - at 16 to become BFFs with eccentric millionaire Stanley March 3 who encouraged his creativity, before going sssick on drugs then moving to San Fran to straighten out only to meet JR. I can’t/won’t repeat it all here – just know that it’s fascinating and does help frame the music and mindset somewhat). And furthermore, there’s also lots about their ambitions, loves, losses and of course, the music.
I realised though, that whilst abrupt (and I’ve been babbling I know), the answers Owens served me are revealing. They are soul-baring and epic in lots of ways. So in the last 550 or so words, I guess I’ve talked myself down from peeved to a begrudging re-realisation that, hell, it’s pretty fucken hard to be at the receiving end of a public interrogation.
So finally, in short, thank you for answering, Christopher. Your awesome music speaks for itself anyways.
Hello Girls...what were you guys doing and listening to today?
We are in Portland about to take a flight to Mexico City. I'm listening to Chet Baker, Chet Baker Sings.
When you guys were kids, what did you wanna be when you grew up?
JR wanted to record music, and I wanted to be a carpenter.
Stanley March 3 described you as a 'diamond in the rough'. How polished (or not) do you feel like that diamond is these days?
Not polished at all, I'm a mess, just like most people.
In one interview, you liken yourself to Dorian Gray in terms of Stanley Marsh 3's influence on you at one point in your life. That shit ends pretty badly...is there anything else about Dorian Gray that you see in yourself besides how influenced he was by the painter dude?
Yeah, I don't wanna grow up, I feel alone in the world, I like opium and I'm pretty gay.
Christopher, you're always kinda sporadically referring to all these classic novels...what's your favourite book?
Rabbit Run, by John Updike, after that the other Rabbit books by John Updike, after that anything else by John Updike.
I read that you already knew your stuff was good before anything took off, and it seems most everybody else felt the same way (including me). Of all the reviews I've read, I've only read one bad one, and it was quite searingly bad as the reviewer thought you were incredibly derivative. What do you have to say in response to that?
What music is not derrivative? What art is not derivative. All art is derrivative. I'm interested in making art, not entertaining people.
You guys yourselves have mentioned your mixed live reviews; though you obviously really try to connect with your audience, which I know can be a very draining thing. And you've given lots of interviews and that's evident in those, each more revealing than the last. Where do you get the strength to be as open/giving as that to people who may or may not throw it back in your face? I guess it's the nature of the audience to the artist in any kind of creative output, isn't it...
It is, an artist should never expect anything in return. An artist finds joy in giving.
Do you believe in a heaven? Or at least, do you guys have some kind of an idea of it?
I know what it's supposed to be but I don't believe in it.
What does love mean to you?
What does JR stand for and how did he get that nickname?
He got the name from his parents, it's his middle name, it means junior, his dad's name is also Chet.
By now have you added any more material to the 6 albums worth
you've already got?
Yes, everyday there's more and more madness.
What's in store in the immediate future for the band?
And what do you both see yourself doing in twenty years time at 50 years old?
I don't even know if I'll be alive then.
The thing you most want to be doing in the entire world RIGHT NOW:
Recording an album called Lysandre, and then going to France to hand deliver the album to her.
GIRLS with MEN (clever huh) are playing three dates in Brazil this month! The 10th in Sao Paulo, the 11th in Porto Alegre and the 12th in Rio. Check all the details HERE