All week this week I’m running an enormous interview I conducted in May and October of 2003 with Jason Webley, who is playing his last show of the season at Town Hall in Seattle on November 1st. See you there!
This is the last bit of the long walking interview from May before the phone interview from October comes in.
JW: [hums] that’s my Bruce Springsteen song.
MW: Have you told Bruce?
JW: Naw. Doesn’t matter, it’s gonna sound like a Tom Waits song anyway when I’m done with it. [laughs]
I thought that “Train Tracks” was a pretty good Springsteen song, but [laughs]. . .
I don’t know if I’ll actually use that part of the song. It’s a pick-me-up kinda song.
Counterpoint. Lightness and dark. Like, last year is a year, like, I don’t know. Was there any kind of. . . I guess I’ll just draw the connection. It was a harder year. Like the year before when I came back to life, like in a lot of ways it was the harder year because I was really scared to death. I didn’t really know if I wanted to come back to life. I thought the whole idea of coming back to life would be. . . If. . . Like the thing that really would kill him.
Like, you know, it’s pretty annoying to do the death thing, but what’s really annoying is the coming back to life. I mean, they’re both pretty annoying habits.
MW: I have this thesis about your elemental symbology which is the [inaudible, maybe “four years”]
JW: But have I come back and gone away every time?
MW: Uh, I dunno.
JW: I mean, I have. I have in a way.
MW: So that would mean if you wanted to get out of the cycle –
JW: And which element is Australia?
MW: I don’t know.
JW: There is some simple numerology going on, like. You’ve got your fours. Um.
MW: There’s all kinds of spiritual and metaphysical [metaphors?] that make use of that four-part. . .
JW: I got burned, as in the fire; I got put in a coffin, is that, I don’t know.
MW: That’s the earth, I think. See I don’t really know: There was fire when you went away on the water.
JW: And there’s always fire.
MW: But maybe just fire. . . In which case: Don’t fucking hurt yourself.
JW: I’m gonna have a stunt double! I’m gonna have a stunt double this year, I’m all through with this shit.
MW: A giant puppet!
JW: Yeah, well, don’t get your hopes up about anything.
MW: You don’t like to be predictable – by telling you it’s like putting a curse on you.
MW: But it isn’t really. All I’m doing is honestly telling you patterns and reflections that occur to me that I see in your stuff.
JW: No, it’s interesting to hear.
JW: Where am I going? Who am I? What’s going on here? Where is he leading us?
MW: So, uh, you need to be back at 6:30?
Don’t worry, I know where we’re going.
Yeah, yeah. What was the question?
MW: I don’t think there was a question.
JW: There was a question back there, that I somehow didn’t answer.
MW: Oh you were just saying that you thought last year was a harder year for you.
JW: Well, in a lot of ways, actually, there’s no question of what’s harder. But what looks harder – what’s, what’s . . . Like, the first year, coming back, I’ll say, was the hardest. I don’t think it’ll ever get that hard again. Except for may be the first time I came back. The first time that I went on the viaje, the first time I went on a little. . . trip. Which is about the time Viaje came out, about the time I got started.
Ah, God, this is gonna be such a boring interview. . . Because all we’re talking about is me. It’s really, you know I remember back before when I used to get interviewed I was really good at trying to avoid that whole topic.
MW: You actually warned me about this, and I was kind of ready to hold your feet to the fire if I needed to. You pretty much haven’t made it necessary.
This is pretty much equally about me satisfying a selfish curiosity about lots of things as it is providing material that’s gonna be useful to both of us as a writer and performer.
JW: So last year the coming back to life, like what happened? What happened when I came back to life?
MW: Uh, you swam in from Lake Union, looking very, very, very damn cold, and climbed on board a ferry.
MW: A very crowded ferry. And um, you, and this was kind of a smaller show; it wasn’t really the birthday sow, but it was definitely the return. And you performed several songs in uh in an orange kimono. Uh, there were sort of ghosts of previous incarnations uh which you involved, actually, interestingly enough, in rope-lifting symbology, which recurred in the last show that you did. Huh, hadn’t thought of that. Uh. . .
JW: Yeah. I mean, look at that whole show and like, and hold it up against the, the last show [November 2002].
MW: The ferry show was smaller, more intimate.
JW: Yeah, but – the whole cold body coming in from the thing, um, the tying and pulling of ropes, the ghosts of the former Jasons. . .
MW: This time, the ghosts of the former Jasons were there but they were inhabited by helpers. . .
JW: The putting on of the kimono. . . And so the shows basically became inverted, and I didn’t think of it at all, this way, in the creating of it. It’s not – it’s all after the fact.
MW: Oh, I completely believe you, that’s like, what I look for in good art, is, when an artist makes art that contains material that’s not intentional but that continually expands the intentional elements of the project, it defeats the artist’s intentionality. That’s rich, that’s rich material. It’s definitely something I value about your work. So. . .
JW: So what’s gonna happen next? Sure, I’ve got my plans and my ideas. Um. And I’ve had to book a venue already! – For the Halloween show. Like things are at that – that’s how big they are now.
MW: How many seats does it have?
JW: Eleven hundred.
MW: Wow. And how many tickets did you sell to the last one at the Paradox?
JW: . . . We sold over four hundred tickets, for a three hundred capacity place, and we turned well over a hundred away at the door. Yeah, it is a pity that they were turned away, but it’s good to know that there’s that buffer.
MW: I think I know where we’re goin’.
JW: I don’t have a lot of flexibility there though. I can’t really mess the place up. No throwing tomatoes, no throwing paint, no. . .
Part Five on Friday!