Nardwuar vs. Daniel Johnston

Nardwuar: Who are you?

Daniel Johnston: I don’t know. It’s hard to tell.

Nardwuar: You are Daniel.

Daniel Johnston: Yeah, I’ve heard that. That must be me.

Nardwuar: Daniel Johnston!

Daniel Johnston: That’s right.

Nardwuar: Welcome to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Daniel Johnston.

Daniel Johnston: Thank you very much.

Nardwuar: I have a gift for you right off the bat from the Vancouver band, Cub. Here it is, their seven-inch Betti-Cola. [Nardwuar pulls out a 7inch]

Daniel Johnston: Ah, that looks good! That looks pretty good!

Nardwuar: With cover art by Dan Decarlo.

Daniel Johnston: Ah, no kidding man. That is cool. He’s great. I love those. I buy those Archie comics a lot. [looking at the 7inch]Those girls look so foxy. I always buy ’em.

Nardwuar: And you know what’s really amazing about it, and I have another gift for you, is they actually cover, and this is on their CD, they cover “Tell Me Now” by Daniel Johnston!

Daniel Johnston: Oh, no way. I love that. This is great!

Nardwuar: And they’re from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. What do you think about that, getting Dan DeCarlo?

Daniel Johnston: Yeah, he’s cool. I mean those girls look like real foxes and babes on the Archie comics.

Nardwuar: And they have some great lyrics too, Daniel. One of them is “Satan sucks, but you’re the best.”

Daniel Johnston: [Surprised] Oh my.

Nardwuar: That’s one of their lyrics.

Daniel Johnston: Yeah, oh, hmm.

Nardwuar: Now, here we are in Vancouver, home of Boris Karloff. He grew up here.

Daniel Johnston: I think I met him. One night we were at a pizza shop. And I left a slice, and he was looking at the slice on the table and I said, “Are you Boris Karloff?” But it couldn’t have been, you know, he’s been dead for so long I guess. But it seemed like it was really him. It was weird.

Nardwuar: He did work at Vancouver at the Pacific National Exhibition. And I have another gift for you, and check this out: this is The Beatles playing in Vancouver. [Nardwuar pulls out a poster]

Daniel Johnston: That is so cool, thanks so much. That’s going on my wall.

Nardwuar: Playing at Empire Stadium in Vancouver.

Daniel Johnston: That is so cool.

Nardwuar: Boris Karloff worked at the P.N.E.

Daniel Johnston: [laughs]

Nardwuar: Now, it doesn’t stop there, Daniel Johnston. I have another gift for you. Another P.N.E. Vancouver gift.

Daniel Johnston: O.K.

Nardwuar: We have here a CD of Beatles interviews. Are you into Beatles interviews?

Daniel Johnston: I sure am! I collect Beatles stuff.

Nardwuar: Beatles interviews.

Daniel Johnston: I lucked out today!

Nardwuar; Yes, Daniel Johnston. It’s Beatles interviews in Seattle and Vancouver. Seattle and Vancouver-specific Beatles interviews. So, it’s got some local content.

Daniel Johnston: Yeah.

Nardwuar: I guess that’s what I was wondering about. I was looking at the movie The Devil And Daniel Johnston and I saw this [Nardwuar pulls out a record] on your Christmas tree, The Beatles American Tour with Ed Rudy.

Daniel Johnston: Oh yeah, uh-huh.

Nardwuar: Can you tell the people about hanging Ed Rudy on your Christmas tree — this is like a spoken word record — the spoken word Beatles thing.

Daniel Johnston: It was a freaky Christmas that year. Can I have this too?

Nardwuar: That maybe isn’t quite for you. Some of the interviews are actually on on the CD I gave you.  That’s what I wanted to ask you about. What do you think Daniel Johnston, about records like this? [Nardwuar pulls out a Liverpools LP] It’s not The Beatles, is it?

Daniel Johnston: I understand that, but it’s collectable. I have a lot of Beatles soundalike records. I collect them.

Nardwuar: That’s the Liverpools. So have you been fooled ever thinking it was The Beatles?

Daniel Johnston: Well no, not really. But they, I’ve… like they, they’d have just a little bit more hair… It was funny because it’s like they get a bunch of session men in for Beatlemania or whatever they call it or something, that’s cool.

Nardwuar: What’s interesting is on your new LP you have a real connection to The Beatles, don’t you? Jason Faulkner? Because he worked with Paul McCartney.

Daniel Johnston: Oh, that’s unreal. He had recorded recently with Paul McCartney or something when we went into the studio. I laid down a lot of basic tracks, and he has a real Beatles feel to the music. So, it’s going to be really good.

Nardwuar: He worked with Paul McCartney. Is there any chance he could have got Paul McCartney to work on your album Daniel Johnston?

Daniel Johnston: I think he would have told me if that happened. I must have missed him by a few days.

Nardwuar: Did you once leave a whole bunch of tapes for Yoko Ono?

Daniel Johnson: Yeah, I went to Yoko’s house and no reply. [laughs]

Nardwuar: You left some tapes?

Daniel Johnston: Sure, I did. Some shirts and stuff.

Nardwuar: This Guitar Hero thing that’s happening. Kurt Cobain wearing a Daniel Johnston shirt in Guitar Hero. What do you think about that? Do you get any cyber-royalties for that?

Daniel Johnston: Well, you know about that title “Daniel And The Devil”… what is it? “The Devil And Daniel”? Man, that’s hardcore. That’s got me tattooed for the rest of my life. It couldn’t be worse.

Nardwuar: How about the Guitar Hero video game, you know the Guitar Hero video game has…

Daniel Johnston: There starting a video game with the characters that I draw and stuff.

Nardwuar: Well, the Guitar Hero video game has Kurt wearing your t-shirt and Kurt in that video game sings some Bon Jovi.

Daniel Johnston: Oh, cool. Kirk, Star Trek actually sings Bon Jovi?

Nardwuar: Yes, Kurt sings some Bon Jovi in Guitar Hero.

Daniel Johnston: That sounds great.

Nardwuar: What do you see down there?

Daniel Johnston: [Looking at Comics at the shelves of the Comic Shop] I’m looking for some monster magazines. Go ahead, I’ll still interview ya. I’m just looking to see if they have any monster magazines. I guess they don’t. O.K., well… thanks a lot for interviewing me and ah–

Nardwuar: Actually, we have a couple more questions, and I think I’ve got something to help you out. We have Kliph over here. Kliph is your number one fan in Vancouver. Come over here, Kliph, right?

Kliph: Hey Daniel.

Nardwuar: And he wondered if you could trade some comics of his for some gig tickets tonight.

Kliph: [Giving Comics to Daniel] We’ve got, Action Comics #269 — Identity has been betrayed by black magic, that’s for you. Complete run of Black Goliath issues one through two—

Daniel Johnston: That is great!

Kliph: “The Party’s Over Punks — There’s a new superhero in town,” not quite a monster magazine, but a monster comic.

Daniel Johnston: That’s a great cover, who did that cover?

Kliph: I’m not sure.

Nardwuar: These are all gifts from Kliph.

Daniel Johnston: Right. [laughs]

Nardwuar: For gig tickets.

Kliph: There’s some Jack Kirby inside this monster comic, Monsters On The Prowl, and for you…

Daniel Johnston: That is cool. I really appreciate that.  Thank you so much. How many tickets you want?

Kliph: Ah, I dunno. [laughs]

Daniel Johnston: How many tickets do you need?

Kliph: Four, but uh…

Daniel Johnston: Well, tell my brother there, tell my brother, and he’ll write your name down and let you in at the door.

Kliph: Really? Thank you very much! And uh, House Of Secrets, sort of a horror, “Ice Cream Cone Gone Bad” and the final one, Archie in Vancouver, at Expo ’86.

Daniel Johnston: There they are!

Kliph: The Archies playing in Vancouver on stage. ‘You’ll have to book more Canadian concerts—

Daniel Johnston: [Laughs]

Kliph:  Shouldn’t we be singing in French?” All done by Dan DeCarlo.

Nardwuar: Now Kliph is giving this to you and a bunch of other comics as well, and I wanted to ask you Kliph, you love smelling comics, don’t you?

Kliph: Uh. I like the smell of comics.

Nardwuar: Do you like the smell of comics, Daniel?

Daniel Johnston: You know when I’m looking at comic books, and I look at some old comic books, like the glue that they used or something, I smell it too and I’m thinking, this takes me back over the years to when I was a kid and I bought the same comics. This is, like, it still has the feeling of the era.

[Kliph steps away]

Nardwuar: You also love tapes, don’t you Daniel?

Daniel Johnston: Yeah, yeah. I get a lot of demo tapes people send me. It’s pretty funny. I’ll put ’em on a lot and just listen to ’em while I’m eating or something.

Nardwuar: Daniel, do you have any tips if somebody wants to tape somebody secretly? You did a lot of secret taping, didn’t you? What are some tips for that?

Daniel Johnston: Well, I used to be, like, a multimedia artist, is what I called myself, you know. I would take a tape recorder around and record all my friends, and you know some of that ended up on Songs Of Pain.

 Nardwuar: What about for taping somebody? Where do you hide the tape deck?

Daniel Johnston: I carried it around. I didn’t hide it, everybody got used to me having it.

Nardwuar: Daniel, you also worked at Astroworld in Houston, Texas.

Daniel Johnston: That’s right. The place of no return.

Nardwuar: That place looked incredible. But now it’s gone?

Daniel Johnston: Yeah, I dunno why they closed down. It was a big, really cool place.

Nardwuar: It had the Alpine Sleigh! And it had, like, an echo chamber in it? And it got really cold? What was Astroworld like? You saw A Flock Of Seagulls there?

Daniel Johnston: Yeah, and I played football with them before the show even.

Nardwuar: You played football with A Flock Of Seagulls? What an image that is!

Daniel Johnston: Yeah. [laughs]

Nardwuar: Were they any good?

Daniel Johnston: Oh, they were great. They had that “and I ran… I ran so far away” song.

Nardwuar: Now, from football, Flock Of Seagulls, to working in an oil refinery with a girl, what was that like, working at the oil refinery with a girl?

Daniel Johnston: Well, there were girls at the oil refinery so it made it kind of fun to joke around and stuff. But like the other day when I tried… you know, you can’t harass girls too much — like I get, I’ve gotten in trouble a few times with the stewardesses, and you know, I leave the girls alone, I don’t bother them as much. [laughs] I used to have fun with the stewardess, “Can you get me another drink?” something like that. [laughs]

Nardwuar: Daniel Johnston, is your artwork still on the walls of your high school?

Daniel Johnston: I dunno about that. But I’m in the yearbook, and stuff, and I painted a bear. It took me all year to paint. They wanted me to paint this bear, our symbol was a bear and I painted it, and it took me like all year, and I just didn’t go to classes and everything, and the next year they painted over it. [laughs]

Nardwuar: What’s the first punk band that you saw, Daniel Johnston?

Daniel Johnston: Well, I saw The Clash. I saw Elvis Costello in the day. Some good shows there in Pittsburgh.

Nardwuar: I was wondering Daniel Johnston, what role did this gentleman here have in your life? [Nardwuar pulls out an LP] Here we have Mr. Kim Fowley.

Daniel Johnston: All right! This is cool. I never, he wanted to do a record with me, you know and I told him, “sorry.” Then I said, “yeah,” y’know and he said he wanted to see what I sounded like in the studio and I could do some studio recording and when I did, I thought to myself, “Hey, I’ll go ahead and record an album.” Continued Story, was the album, but I never really met him. I’d like to work with him some day. He did stuff like  Joan Jett and Cherry Bomb. Alright.

Nardwuar: Also, I was wondering Daniel Johnston, you’ve got a song about record recording on your new LP, don’t you? About records, about record stores.

Daniel Johnston: Yes, I do.

Nardwuar: What’s that song about?

Daniel Johnston: Well, it’s about fake music. [laughs]

Nardwuar: Regarding music, Daniel Johnston. On eBay recently there was a test pressing, a Daniel Johnston Jad Fair test pressing for $5,000.

Daniel Johnston: Oh man, that is unreal.

Nardwuar: Do you have any of those you could put it on eBay

Daniel Johnston: I really enjoyed that first album we did, and we did plan to get together sometime.

Nardwuar: Daniel Johnston, you were on MTV Cutting Edge. One person that doesn’t get a lot of credit is the host of the show. What can you tell the people about Peter Zaremba from The Fleshtones. [Nardwuar pulls out a Fleshtones 7inch] He was the host. Do you remember him?

Daniel Johnston: Oh yeah, he was so cool.

Nardwuar: Yeah, The Fleshtones. I love The Fleshtones.

Daniel Johnston: He got me on the show. I just showed up there, grabbed my lunch, y’know, and we were all eating tacos, and I held up my tape to the camera, and smooth sailing. I was famous. MTV.

Nardwuar: You’re talking about MTV but it comes back to The Fleshtones, Peter Zaremba.

Daniel Johnston: Yeah, I heard it. I really liked the music. I’ve heard them before a little bit. Oh, can I have this? Probably not.

Nardwuar: Yes, that’s for you.

Daniel Johnston: Thanks. I appreciate it, that’d be great.

Nardwuar: Daniel Johnston, at one time, did you almost have Lou Reed on one of your records?

Daniel Johnston: Well, that’s another one that just… was almost a brush with greatness. He was there a couple days in between when I was recording and I missed him, but Mojo, Mo Tucker was there, and we wrote a song for it. Me and Jad wrote a song for her.

Nardwuar: But you almost had Mo Tucker and Lou Reed on a Daniel Johnston record.

Daniel Johnston: It would have been cool.

Nardwuar: But you did have Willie Nelson’s sister on one of your records.

Daniel Johnston: Yeah, that’s true. [laughs]

Nardwuar: Willie Nelson’s sister!

Daniel Johnston: It’s true. Hey, do you have some more comics for me?

Kliph: Ah, yeah.

Nardwuar: That’s the last bit of comics for more free tickets for the gig tonight.

Daniel Johnston: All right, how many, do you wanna go tonight? O.K., so how about I’ll give you credit for 10.


Nardwuar: And also, we have a gentleman with you here, Brett. Could we bring over Brett for a moment to do a song for us? You said you could do a song for us. I wanted you to do the song “Tell Me Now” but you haven’t been doing that recently, have you? That would be in honour of the band Cub.

Daniel Johnston: I don’t really remember it. [Looking at the comics Kliph gave him] The Bible says never turn down a precious gift. So, thanks.

Nardwuar: Daniel, here we are with Brett.

Daniel Johnston: Hi Brett.

Brett: Hi Daniel.

Nardwuar: And you had a tune for us?

Daniel Johnston: We sure do, this is an old one, a song from Songs Of Pain era.

[Sings “Grievances” with Brett on Guitar]

Nardwuar: Daniel Johnston, amazing, live at the Comic Shop in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Daniel Johnston: You know it.

Nardwuar; With Brett as well.

Brett: Thank you very much for having us.

Daniel Johnston: Yup, an old friend from College. We went to college together.

Nardwuar: Anything else you want to add to the people out there at all Daniel Johnston?

Daniel Johnston:  Hmm, I dunno. Anything to add to the people? I dunno. They used to say “ Power to the people.” I dunno.

Brett: Right on.

Daniel Johnston: power [laughs]

Nardwuar: Well thanks so much Daniel and Brett and keep on rocking in the free world and doot doola doot doo…

Daniel Johnston: Yeah, Kathmandu.

Nardwuar: Almost … Doot doola doot doo …

Daniel Johnston: Uh. doot doo.

Nardwuar: Yeah!

Daniel Johnston: Right ok. Thank you. Thank you very much. Hey, I really did pretty well with all this loot!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top