Published on February 18th, 2002 | by Gerry Galipault0
Q&A with Kristian Hoffman
HOMETOWN: Santa Barbara, Calif.
THE SOUND: Hook-laden pop, with an emphasis on songcraft (hey, what a nice concept!).
PRODUCER: Earl Mankey (The Beach Boys, Runaways, Concrete Blonde, Possum Dixon).
THE TRACKS: “Devil May Care,” “Get It Right This Time,” “Anyone But You,” “Scarecrow,” “God, If Any, Only Knows,” “Series of You’s,” “Revert to Type,” “Madison Avenue,” “Just in Time,” “Palace of Corn,” “Tender Even Then,” “Die For Cute,” “Sex Choir,” “Sex in Heaven,” “Can’t Remember My Dreams.”
“&” features duets with some of Hoffman’s friends, among them Maria McKee, Rufus Wainwright, Van Dyke Parks, Paul Reubens (yes, Pee Wee Herman), Steven McDonald (Red Kross), Lydia Lunch, Ann Magnuson (Bongwater), Russell Mael (Sparks), Anna Waronker (That Dog), Darian Sahanaja (Wondermints).
WEB SITE: www.kristianhoffman.com.
SOMETHING TO KNOW: OK, we cheated, Hoffman is far from a new artist; though “&” is his third solo album, he’s new to Pause & Play … and likely new to you.
Hoffman, a keyboardist, was a member of The Mumps, an obscure New York punk group that was a favorite of the underground scene in the 1970s. He also was a member of Bleaker St. Incident and the Swinging Madisons and has worked with Dave Davies, Lydia Lunch and Rufus Wainwright, to name a few.
Hoffman – “My stock story is that I met Lance Loud, soon-to-be Mumps cohort, in Mr. Baker’s art class at Santa Barbara High School. Lance was pinning dead leaves onto the twisted scrawny neck of a huge papier mache Dodo he was making, and that set the tenor for most of our ensuing adventures.”
WHAT WAS YOUR MANIFESTO FOR THIS ALBUM?:
Hoffman – “I am a great subscriber to many of Eno’s less willfully contrarian theories, and believe most good albums are made through dedication and a LOT of felicitous mistakes. On this particular album, I will risk stating that the SONG was ‘the THING,’ and I do believe that more IS more. It’s like the songs were the coffee-stained treasure map, the production the high seas adventure, and the guest vocalists and collaborators the glittering prize. And I do believe the ridiculous is the gateway to the sublime.”
WHAT SONG ON THE ALBUM DEFINES YOU?:
Hoffman – “No song in particular on this album ‘defines’ me – but I would say there is a unifying outlook. Whereas the songs on my other CDs are typified by a sort of perky despair, this album is, strangely, (given the will towards reactionary mindlessness of the historic moment) hesitantly optimistic. As I look at the titles, the theme seems to be: If I can recognize my own idiocy, perhaps we as a species can bumble erratically towards a more loving relationship with the unvierse and each other. Or, if not – at least be conscious enough to share a hearty guffaw at our self-perpetuated demise, invent better drugs, and enjoy the show.”
YOUR PERSONAL MUSICAL HERO?:
Hoffman – “Of course, it would have to be LA BOWIE, for his by now historically acknowledged ceaseless reinvention, his amazing career arc, and his fabulously idiosyncratic back catalogue – measure for measure more listening pleasure! Others have had higher highs, or more glorious single moments (‘A Day in the Life,’ anyone? ‘I Am the Walrus’?), but he’s the most consistently enjoyable, surprising, craftsmanlike, outlandish, risky and smart. Now if he could only write about one single truly human emotion, and stop being so smug; even his latest in a long line of ‘Honest to garsh I’m sure humble and this is the REAL me’ poses is an annoying smugfest.”
DO YOU DOWNLOAD SONGS? IF SO, DO YOU FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT?:
Hoffman – “I don’t download songs, because I don’t have a computer. But no – I don’t think I’d feel guilty. Although I DO feel that indie-hell residents like me are in more desperate need of your entertainment dollar than major label whores, oops, I mean contractees, I’m an AMERICAN and I just LOVE to OWN things – so if I liked an artist enough to download several of his songs, that would make me MORE likely to buy his CD, IF the price was right ($10 is a good starting point – witness the success of the Vines) and IF the packaging was imaginative enough. I am a TRUE consumer: I LOVE packaging!”
YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE TV SHOW?:
Hoffman – “I’m not a big TV person – currently, ‘Law and Order’ is my electric babysitter, but serves mostly as a sleep aid. However, I was most culturally damaged by ‘The Addams Family’ because their lifestyle of invisibly supported life as outsider aesthetes is the one I most aspire to, and my house is decorated in slavish Addams style, right down to the taxidermy. No backyard quicksand, however. And it’s the TV version, NOT the movies.”
WHO’S SORELY MISSING FROM THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME?:
Hoffman – “Off the top of my head, the most embarrrassing omission is the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band of all time: the New York Dolls! Is it too soon for the Cramps? What about Jobriath? The Shaggs? And, of course, the more obvious and thus even less forgivable oversights like the Stooges, the Left Banke and the Music Machine.”
UPCOMING TOUR DATES:
Hoffman – “The only date I have scheduled right now is VERY soon: Thursday, Aug. 15. It’s an in-store at Amoeba Records in Hollywood (at the corner of Sunset and Cahuenga) at 7 p.m. I’m also playing keyboards at a big 15th anniversary El Vez concert the next night, Aug. l6, in downtown L.A., outdoors at California Plaza.”