Nardwuar: Who are you?
Pharrell Williams: [laughs] I’m check-check-check.
Nardwuar: You are?
P: I’m Pharrell.
Nardwuar: From the?
P: From the group N.E.R.D.
Nardwuar: N.E.R.D. And Pharrell, who do you have beside you?
P: Shay [Haley].
Nardwuar: Hello Shay.
Shay Haley: What’s going on, Nard?
Nardwuar: Doing good. Welcome to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
S: Yeah, it feels good to be here.
P: So it’s “Nard Wuar?”
Nardwuar: Nardwuar The Human Serviette.
P: Serviette, OK. Is “Nard-wuar” one word or two words?
Nardwuar: One word.
P: Ah, Nardwuar. And what’s the origin of this?
Nardwuar:“Nardwuar” is like a dumb, stupid name, like Sting. And “Human” is from the band The Cramps, their song “Human Fly.” And in the United States Of America, you don’t have serviettes, you have nap…
Nardwuar: Napkins. So I’m Nardwuar The Human Serviette.
P: Oh, so the human napkin?
Nardwuar: Yes, exactly.
P: But what does Nardwuar mean, though?
Nardwuar: It’s just a dumb, stupid, made-up name, like Sebadoh, Sting, Sinbad. You know what I mean? Just a dumb, stupid name.
P: Yeah, but Sting has real, like, there’s a definition for it. Is there a definition for it?
Nardwuar: Well, no, there isn’t. Although there is a record label recently that sprung up called Jagjaguwar. And I was really kind of jealous of that, thinking they’re stealing my shtick there, calling the record label that. But no, it’s just a dumb, stupid name.
P: Really, so there is no dictionary definition?
Nardwuar: No, I was just talking to myself one day, grovelling, going Nard-Nard-Nard-Nardwuar! It’s kind of nerdy, isn’t it? In a way, N.E.R.D. Nardwuar! We both share N’s together. Sorry for not acknowledging that.
P: No, no, that’s great. I think that’s cool.
Nardwuar: And I would like to welcome you, N.E.R.D., to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with a gift. And we have right here, this is a book, Skateboarding Vancouver, for you, Pharrell and Shay. And this celebrates skateboarding in Vancouver, and the history of skateboarding as well.
P: Wow, the shape of the board right there is like when I was skating, when I was a kid.
S: Hey Nard, I think you should be in the next N.E.R.D. video.
P: Absolutely. [laughs]
Nardwuar: I’m there. You know, actually, I make a weird appearance, although it’s not me, in the video that Snoop Dogg did with Korn, you know the “Twisted Transistor” video. If you watch the video closely, Snoop Dogg is getting interviewed by a guy in a tartan hat, and he gets slapped.
P: That’s the name of that hat!
Nardwuar: Yeah, tartan hat. Yes.
P: A tartan. Spell it for me.
Nardwuar: T-A-R-…you’re the artist, you spell it!
P: No, no, no, I want to know. I’m interested. I like the hat.
Nardwuar: T-A-R-T-A-N? Is that right, Shay?
S: I have no idea. [laughs]
Nardwuar: Anyway, in that video…
P: It’s English in nature though, right?
Nardwuar: Actually, from Scotland.
Nardwuar: it is quite an amazing hat. Something maybe Billionaire Boys Club should actually examine. Because, check this out, this [Nardwuar takes the pom-pom off his hat] comes off here and you can put it on here [Nardwuar attaches the pom-pom to the beak of his hat], so you can do this, if you want. And actually, I did see one of the Sex And The City characters wearing this years ago, so I may have actually influenced them as well. But I would like to welcome you guys to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with the book on skateboarding British Columbia. And back, yes, to the Korn video. In that Korn video for “Twisted Transistor” you see Snoop Dogg slap the reporter, and it’s a guy wearing a tartan hat. And I later asked Snoop Dogg, and he said the character was inspired by me.
Nardwuar: So I should have been in that video. So I’ll gladly jump aboard a Nerd video, a N.E.R.D. video, any day.
Nardwuar: And you guys are cruising across Canada, and you’re talking to me, Nardwuar, a Canadian, so I’m wondering how’s tour been going so far?
S: Amazing, man. Words can never express how much fun we’ve been having since we’ve been here in Canada.
Nardwuar: Now what’s it like with Rihanna? Because she’s been described as having, on this particular tour, quote, “Beyond skin-tight pants.”
S: Painted on.
Nardwuar: How’s that working out? Have you seen that? Is that true?
P: Ah, yeah. It’s… it’s entertaining.
Nardwuar: But you’re not only into the young ‘uns, are you, Pharrell? You’re also into the old Canadians, like Anne Murray.
P: [laughs] You know what, when I was a kid they used to sell, like, Anne Murray albums on a 1-800 number on a channel that we used to watch. She’s had a lot of hits, by the way.
Nardwuar: Yeah, she’s a Canadian legend.
P: Yeah, she is.
Nardwuar: When there was a roast for Jerry Seinfeld, guess who was involved? Anne Murray! Anne Murray had Seinfeld open for her. So she paved the way for Seinfeld.
Nardwuar: Looking back at things, perhaps that you were influenced by, or that laid the foundation for N.E.R.D., Pharrell. What can you tell me about the importance of Carl Sagan and The Music Of The Cosmos? [Nardwuar pulls out a Carl Sagan LP]
P: I cannot believe you have this in album form.
Nardwuar: This is Carl Sagan doing the throw-down.
P: How did you… How?
Nardwuar: Well, of course I bought it when it came out. There it is. A gatefold as well. What can you tell the people about Carl Sagan, Pharrell?
P: I’m blown away. I can’t believe you have this on wax. I’m blown away. This is incredible.
Nardwuar: Well, I’m so glad that you’re into it, because I am, too. It’s an amazing record, isn’t it? There’s Carl Sagan, kicking it down. You’ve not seen this before on a wax?
P: Absolutely not.
Nardwuar: Wow. What about you Shay?
S: Never. First time.
Nardwuar: And there it is. So how does it play into the N.E.R.D. formula, or the Pharrell formula?
P: God… I don’t know, man. I can only aspire to be, you know, someone that people learn as much as they’ve learned from Carl Sagan. Carl Sagan is… he is to me what A Tribe Called Quest was to us for music. He was just food for the mind. The way he thought and the way he articulated. And he had a special talent for teaching the layman. And that’s hard to do when you’re talking about science, which has a tendency to be technical, mostly all the time. He just has a way of teaching and articulating to the layman, like myself. ‘Cause you know, in school I really didn’t care about science. It was so boring. But to watch this, I have the DVD set.
Nardwuar: Now the vinyl is here with Carl Sagan throwing down the raps. It’s mostly electronic-type stuff.
P: Oh man, it’s amazing. I mean, you gotta understand, this was the guy, when NASA wanted to send out something, a capsule, they asked him to put it together. So he had this diagram on it, that was anodized in gold that had, like, you know, man woman and child, earth sun and moon, and you know…
Nardwuar: And some recordings, too, I think.
P: Yeah, recordings. You know what they put on there? They contacted Quincy Jones, and they put “Fly Me To The Moon,” produced by Quincy and sung by Frank Sinatra. And also, he said that no matter where you were in the universe, the physics would still be the same. In terms of primary numbers, it would still be the same. He is incredible. The whole thing is based on, like, primary numbers. Sick, sick, sick, sick. He is a genius guy, man, genius guy.
Nardwuar: One genius guy is missing though, you’re into the Carl Sagan, what does this particular person right here, Mister Mork, represent, Shay, to the member that’s not here? [Nardwuar pulls out a Mork Doll]
S: [laughs] Chad [Hugo] would die right now.
P: He would.
Nardwuar: Why would Chad die over this particular thing right here? Could you explain, Pharrell?
P: Well, Mork from Ork, we grew up to that. We grew up with that. You know, Mork & Mindy. That was a huge… that’s na-nu, na-nu.
Nardwuar: So na-nu, na-nu plus Carl Sagan equals…
P: N.E.R.D. Honestly. What can you say? What can you say?
Nardwuar: Chad is not here. What is the Chad dance?
P: The Chad dance?
Nardwuar: I saw a Chad dance on the internet.
P: You know they’re talking about that, right?
S: “Everyone Nose” ?
S: Him kicking all the way across the stage?
P: Yeah. People like it.
Nardwuar: What is the Chad dance? Because it’s important to have Chad in the band, of course, doing the dances and laying it down. It’s kind of on the keyboard? What is the dance?
P: It’s called “the mudfoot.”
Nardwuar: You guys played Virginia recently, and when you played Virginia, N.E.R.D., you did a shout-out to the Military Circle Mall.
S: [laughs] Yeah, we did! Yeah!
P: How’d you catch that?
Nardwuar: What do you know about the Military Circle Mall? What can you tell the people about the Military Circle Mall, N.E.R.D.?
P: Well, that’s a mall back home, where we’re from. Where, like, it’s a little bit more urbanized. And like, you know — it’s where all the cute black girls go.
Nardwuar: That’s where everything was laid down, in Virginia. And I wanted to ask you particularly, Pharrell, about this joint right here. Is this where it all started, right here, with the “Rump Shaker”? [Nardwuar pulls out Wreckx-n-Effect’s 12inch LP “Rump Shaker”]
P+S: [long pause then laughter]
Nardwuar: Pharrell, is this where it started? Pharrell Williams. The “Rump Shaker”?
P: Yeah. This is one of the most impressive interviews I’ve ever experienced in my life. Seriously.
Nardwuar: Well, thank you so much! It’s great to be able to talk to you guys.
P: This is insane, man. Do you see this? Who comes to an interview, and hands you, you know, Skateboarding Vancouver style, a Mork From Ork, Mork & Mindy doll, Music Of The Cosmos, and a “Rump Shaker” record?
Nardwuar: Me, Nardwuar The Human Serviette interviewing N.E.R…
P: D. Stands for “Damn.”
Nardwuar: What can you tell people about the “Rump Shakin'”? There’s your name in tiny little print. Do you remember Pharrell, from back then there, Shay?
S: Of course I do. Yeah. He was a funny guy.
Nardwuar: What do you remember about this particular joint, “Rump Shaker,” Pharrell?
P: Umm [Silence]
Nardwuar: You got your name in print. That’s cool, from 1992.
P: I’m bugging out. [Laughs] I can’t believe he has this. [laughs] I just remember being the kid in high school, and definitely unfocussed, so I had, like, another year to go. And when this record came out, it was, like, you know, it was an amazing feeling. You know, I was from Virginia Beach, Virginia, where there wasn’t really a music industry at all..
S: I was still in high school. I remember that.
Nardwuar: And it was this gentleman Teddy Riley that helped you out, wasn’t it? [Nardwuar pulls out a Teddy Riley 12inch]
P: Yeah, it was Teddy.
Nardwuar: This is from the Do The Right Thing soundtrack, as well.
P: Right. Wow.
Nardwuar: So could you have gotten on the Do The Right Thing soundtrack? That was a few years earlier, wasn’t it?
P: Yeah, this is before my time. Wow.
Nardwuar: All out of Virginia, Shay. You guys really rep the Virginia, don’t you?
S: We try to.
Nardwuar: And that’s what I was curious about. Looking at N.E.R.D., and thinking about you guys, your new record is called Seeing Sounds.
P: Yes sir.
Nardwuar: Now seeing sounds, is that an illusion, perhaps? Because on the cover of Seeing Sounds is it a giant gorilla, a giant ape?
P: Yeah, it’s a giant gorilla.
Nardwuar: Was there not a theme park, The Ocean Breeze Fun Park in Virginia, that had a giant gorilla?
S: You’re absolutely right.
Nardwuar: And it got burnt down because somebody, like, shot an arrow into it?
S: Nah, it’s still there.
Nardwuar: I thought it got burnt down and then they rebuilt it.
S: Oh yeah, you’re absolutely right! They did. They sure did.
P: Ho-ly shit.
Nardwuar: So how does that all play into Seeing Sounds? Is that the connection? Is it from the gorilla from the Ocean Breeze Fun Park?
P: Ummmmmmmmm. Maybe subconsciously?
Nardwuar: Shay, were you thinking of that at all?
S: No. Have you ever been to Virginia?
Nardwuar: No, I’ve never explored the fine shores of Virginia.
P: So how did you find that?
Nardwuar: I’m friends with the rock ‘n’ roll band Gwar. No, I’m not. Actually, no, I was just taking a wild guess at it. Because the Ocean Breeze Fun Park had a giant gorilla, and I saw the cover of your record having a gorilla, so I thought I’d put it together.
P: That’s crazy. That’s crazy. You know what, let me… Can I ask you questions?
Nardwuar: Go ahead, Pharrell.
P: Have you seen that documentary called Zeitgeist?
Nardwuar: Yes, I have.
P: What do you think about it?
Nardwuar: I’ve explored that, previously. It’s hard to get to the bottom of that thing because there are so many YouTube chapters to go through. But I’m really open to learning new things.
P: We have the full movie. You have to see it. It’s pretty interesting.
Nardwuar: Well maybe when I’m, like, waiting in the trailer to film the new N.E.R.D. video you can have that playing there for me. That will be my payment, right?
P: First of all, the answer is yes. He’s gotta be there, Shay.
P: He’s gotta be there. We’ll arrange it. For sure. You have to at least open the video, or something.
Nardwuar: I’d be honoured to do that.
P: He’d be perfect. You know what I’m talking about, right?
Nardwuar: What were you thinking for the video? Can you disclose? What am I getting myself into when I get into a N.E.R.D. video?
P: It’s pretty cool. We’re gonna do it, though. It’s pretty cool. We’re going to get your information and we’re gonna do it.
Nardwuar: What am I going to be wearing? Can I be me?
Nardwuar: I don’t have to play anybody else?
P: No. We wouldn’t want you to, by the way. What you do is perfect, man. [laughs]
Nardwuar: N.E.R.D. Mount Trashmore. The Mount Trashmore skate park. You hang out there quite a bit, don’t you?
P: Well, my younger brother did. When I went, there was this asphalt little thing called The Snake. And it was like a bowl, but it was like in a snake form. And I used to bust my ass there. I was kind of like, one of the little posers hanging out watching the guys that really could skate. I was OK. I was like, you know, an ollier, and you know, axel-grinder, and you know, couple of sadplants and you know, couple of launches off the quarter pipe. And when I was a kid, we hit quarter pipes and stuff like that. So I wasn’t really… I’ll never forget… By the way, I just met (pro skater Christian) Hosoi again.
Nardwuar: Profiled in the book Skateboarding Vancouver.
P: OK, well, he came backstage to our show when we were in LA. The first show. My brother Cato brought him back. But I’ll never forget, he did a Christ air in Virginia. He came to the skate park when I was a kid.
Nardwuar: That’s the Mount Trashmore skate park. That’s a neat name, isn’t it, Shay?
Nardwuar: Was there a rumour once that Mount Trashmore was going to blow up and people got scared?
S: No. Not that I…
P: Yeah, there was a rumour. Yo, this is really scary. Yeah, people thought that, like, the gasses from all the trash was somehow going to explode.
Nardwuar: Like, a DJ started some rumour on the radio, like a War Of The Worlds thing.
P: Your research is second to none. Second to none. And I can only imagine that you probably do the same kind of research with every band that you interview. So that’s… It’s pretty impressive, man.
Nardwuar: Well, thank you, I really appreciate that, N.E.R.D., Pharrell and Shay. That’s very nice of you to say that. And I will launch right into The Chuck Norris Karate Studio.
P: Now you’re playing dirty. [laughs] Now you’re playing dirty. Now you’re playing dirty! Why would you do that?!
Nardwuar: Well, I guess I was curious. The Chuck Norris Karate Studio. Is Chuck Norris actually at that karate studio? Because I noticed there is a Chuck Norris Karate Studio in Virginia, but he’s not there is he?
P: No, he’s not. He came one time though, when I was a kid.
Nardwuar: And it caused some problems. How is that playing dirty, Shay?
S: I don’t know. How is that playing dirty, Pharrell? [laughs]
P: Because it’s embarrassing [laughs] That’s why!
Nardwuar: You guys are called N.E.R.D.
P: Yes, sir.
Nardwuar: Also in Virginia, and you’re from Virginia, there’s A.R.E. Edgar Cayce.
P: Wow. OK. OK.
Nardwuar: Which stands for the Association For Research And Enlightenment.
P: Yeah, I go there all the time.
Nardwuar: That’s sort of interesting. What do you think about A.R.E.? What can you tell the people about Edgar Cayce?
P: He was a renowned sleeping psychic. He was interesting — the way he came across, encountered his information. But there’s a lot of holistic education you can get there. It’s pretty interesting.
Nardwuar: Did you ever hang out at Aladdin’s Castle video arcade at all?
Nardwuar: Was that a good chain?
P: It was cool. After you go to Japan nothing matters anymore, though. Japan is like, that’s like video game capital to me.
Nardwuar: How about Sal’s Bella Pizza or Chuck’s Oyster Bar?
Nardwuar: I was excited by those places because Chuck’s Oyster Bar is like a drive-through. You can drive through in your boat.
S: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Nardwuar: How is it? Have you ever been through the drive-through in your boat?
S: No, I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard about it.
Nardwuar: Isn’t that the first thing you do? You get the money, you’re in a band, you buy a boat, you go through the drive-through to get some oysters? That would be great, Shay!
S: Yeah, but… Nah, not for me.
Nardwuar: What does this number mean to you, from Virginia, N.E.R.D. (757) 422-8823.
P: I don’t know. What is it?
S: It’s down the beach, wherever it is.
Nardwuar: Oh, you’re getting close!
Nardwuar: No, the beach. It’s related to the beach. It’s the Surf…
P: The 17th Street Surf Shop?
Nardwuar: The Surf Report !
S: The Surf Report?
Nardwuar: The Surf Report. It’s like, everybody in Virginia Beach knows the Surf Port, Report don’t they? A lot of people are into surfing in Virginia Beach so they would know the Surf Report number.
P: Oh yeah, OK. I wasn’t a surfer as a kid.
Nardwuar: But you watch crowd-surfers. I noticed that you guys commented, quote “We counted 12 surfers in Knoxville.” Twelve crowd-surfers. Do you count the crowd-surfers?
P: Well, yeah. That’s kind of like a high of mine, personally, because I’ve always wanted to experience that.
Nardwuar: Have you topped 12 at all? Twelve crowd-surfers for N.E.R.D.?
S: I think so. Maybe yesterday. We performed in New York.
P: Oh yeah, yeah. There was a bunch of them.
Nardwuar: N.E.R.D., Pharrell, you designed a chair. An amazing looking chair. Is the N.E.R.D. phone next?
P: [laughs] Um, not a N.E.R.D. phone. But I gotta say, it’s pretty scary. You’re either psychic or like… I don’t know. Like, you have some kind of remote viewing talent or something. Seriously, it’s amazing.
Nardwuar: Well, thank you! Remote viewing!
P: Yeah. I’m a fan.
Nardwuar: Well, thanks so much N.E.R.D. Keep on rockin’ in the free world and doot doola doot doo…
P: Doo doo.