This interview was done with EDSEL on April, 13, 1994, by phone with Sohrab Habibion, vocalist & guitarist. Parts were cut or edited for space.
HOW ABOUT A BAND HISTORY TO START IT OFF?
EDSEL- It originally started as Nick, Steve Ward and me. Then Eli Janney from GIRLS VS BOYS joined us. And then Steve Raskin joined us. Steve Ward left and Geoff Sanoff replaced him. Nick left and right now we are in the void of friends playing drums with us.
ARE YOU PLANNING TO STAY WITH GRASS RECORDS? WHAT HAPPENED WITH DESOTO?
EDSEL- We have 1 more record to do with Grass and they are really great people, the woman who runs it, Camille, is just top notch, so we have no reason not to. We started DeSoto but then Bill and Kim from JAWBOX took it over. They were going to put it out, but at this point, JAWBOX is just so busy.
WHAT DO YOU EAT FOR BREAKFAST?
EDSEL- On the days I work at the book store, I usually get some kind of seeded bagel, toasted with butter and a latte. And some midday fruit.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FRUIT?
EDSEL- That's a tough one. Crunchy apples. Fruit that is ripe. I like ripe fruit.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE INFO-MERCIAL?
EDSEL- I don't get a chance to watch much tv, so I guess the new age polymer ones. Fantastic concept, this one solvent is a solution to all worries.
ANY FAVORITE SHOWS YOU'VE PLAYED? BANDS YOU'VE PLAYED WITH?
EDSEL- Hmm, I don't know... Oh! I show we played at CB's with BRAINIAC and GIRLS VS BOYS and man, GIRLS VS BOYS recently have been top notch. What else? EGGS, I like them a lot, they are a fun live band. Oh, ya know who is really good that surprised me, HOUSE OF FREAKS. Oh! SCRAWL, they were great!
ANY NEW BANDS TO RECOMMEND OR FAVORITE UNKNOWN OLD ONES?
EDSEL- I'm kind of lazy about keeping up with new stuff. I'm a big fan of Francois Hardy and the sort of old crooners. Old international records, old jazz. New bands, SILKWORM, ENGINE KID, the stuff on Drag City is pretty interesting. The last MOONSHAKE ep was really cool. There is such a glut of indie rock. It would be cool if people could put together a wider variety of combinations.
WHERE DO YOU GET THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR MUSIC?
EDSEL- I know when Nick and I started we were into the '77 British punk stuff, like BUZZCOCKS, WIRE, EMPIRE, MISSION OF BURMA. More recently, the GRIFTERS are a great band, they leave a lot of space in their music to invent things on the spot.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR OF VINYL?
EDSEL- That iridescent blue, the FAITH "Subject To Change" was first issued on it, I thought it was really cool. When it is clear, but genuinely clear.
ANY PETS NOW? AS A KID?
EDSEL- The book store has 2 cats. And the house I'm living in now has a kitten, you can't really have dogs in a city, it's just not fair to them. Yeah, I did as a kid. One of the places we lived, we had a chance to have a lot of different animals, we had a cat, a dog, a bird. Birds are weird though, it is kind of freakish, anti-pet. You can domesticate rabbits. I'm not into fragile pets.
WHAT ARE THE "VARIOUS THINGS" NICK IS CREDITED WITH PLAYING?
EDSEL- A lot of the random sounds, like on the song "Checkering", in the studio there was this metal advertising board, so some of the drums are him playing that. Little things we'd find, Nick would be into.
IS THERE A MESSAGE IN THE MUSIC? IT SEEMS SEMI-RANDOM AT TIMES...
EDSEL- The concept of message in rock music is pretty remote, it's a really delirious idea. In 3 minutes, what are you gonna give some treatise on abnormal psychology or something? A band like RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, can you think of a more unwarranted group of people bringing you political issues? It's kind of hokey. A lot of hardcore punk music tends to have messages and should be dodged at a young age.
WHAT ABOUT THIS NATIONAL MOURNING FOR KURT COBAIN?
EDSEL- It's a strange situation, on one hand you want to be sympathetic to him as one of the 100's of people who committed suicide that day. But as rock figure? I could care less. Honestly, who cares? Is the world gonna suffer for 1 less NIRVANA record? But for the people close to him, I feel a lot of sympathy.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MICROSCOPIC ORGANISM?
EDSEL- The plankton!
DO YOU SPELL IT "CATSUP" OR "KETCHUP?"
EDSEL- I always thought the "cat sup" thing was odd, I'll go with the "k."
I'D ASK YOU TO DRAW A WOMBAT, BUT..
EDSEL- Ok, well, somewhere in cyberspace I am drawing a wombat right now.
ANY TALES OF CHILDHOOD THAT DEFINED YOU?
EDSEL- I will turn this around, cuz 1 thing that I am REALLY tired of is people in their 20s reverting to their childhood for inspiration, it really is disgusting to me. It is so exploited in the media now, like those fools walking in the golf course talking about "moment of silence for" whoever, Eric Clapton. That is one of the ghettos of indie rock, I personally don't know FUDGE, they may be the greatest guys, but if you are writing songs about Oreos & PEZ, there are better outlets for you, it is so un-inspirational. It should not be accepted.
WEEEELLL, OK I GUESS, THE WHOLE 70S REVIVAL THING...
EDSEL- Isn't that terrible?! Who said it was ok to bring it back?
THE GAS STATION JACKET AND UNIFORM THING, A LOT OF RICH KIDS WEAR THEM LIKE IT WILL MAKE THEM LOOK POORER OR ONE OF THE MASSES.
EDSEL- It is a weird call, that it may be somewhat representative of what they'd like to be, it suggests they are embarrassed of their upbringing, but should FUGAZI come out in 3 piece suits? Wearing a gas jacket is a far worse crime than wearing platform shoes, well maybe it is better, more effort, you are admitting up front, you are a sucker.
WHAT DO THINK OF BANDS SIGNING TO MAJOR LABELS?
EDSEL- Doesn't really matter. The records will be good or bad. I don't think GREEN DAY's record is any worse or better because it came out on Reprise. It so representative that a band so completely washed up as SOCIAL DISTORTION created the alternative market at CBS records. [turns into a discussion of Neil Young] SHUDDER TO THINK or a band like STEREOLAB, there is no way they can sell that many records!
WHAT IS THE FUTURE HOLD FOR EDSEL? TOURS? THAT GRASS RECORDS FEST?
EDSEL- Definitely! We're gonna do one this summer. The Grass thing I hope happens, there is some talk, solidarity is the one last hope for independent music, a sense of community.
ANY CLOSING COMMENTS?
EDSEL- The really exciting thing about indie music is that people can learn about things and find new ways to get excited about music. I hope to god, if I am a 45 year old rocker, that I am still looking at fanzines and listening to college radio. Save the earthworm.
deepest thanks to Sohrab and EDSEL, good luck and rock on!