Mike Watt of Minutemen & Reviews of Pharrell Williams and The War on Drugs

The Minutemen

With his classic album Double Nickels on the Dime about to turn 30, bassist Mike Watt of Minutemen speaks with hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot . Later they review new albums from Happy Pharrell Williams and The War on Drugs.

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Mike Watt

By the early 1980’s, punk had become less about sticking it to the man, and more about conforming to a set of rules. Then came the Minutemen with Double Nickels on the Dime, the 1984 album that threw out the punk rulebook. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Double Nickels, Jim and Greg revisit their 2011 conversation with Minutemen bassist Mike Watt, who founded the San Pedro hardcore group alongside drummer George Hurley and larger-than-life lead singer and guitarist D. Boon. The Minutemen weren’t afraid to experiment with their sound, incorporating jazz and funk, as well as Econo—a lo-fi, DIY attitude that would later inspire indie rock. Ever the motor-mouth philosopher, Watt waxes poetic about jamming econo, the true meaning of Double Nickels on the Dime, and his idea of a Hot Topic.

G I R L Pharrell

G I R L

For a long time, baby-faced Pharrell Williams was better known as a producer for artists like Jay-Z and his own N.E.R.D. But in 2006 Pharrell stepped out more as a vocalist, releasing a lukewarm solo album and increasing his guest appereances on other artist’s tracks. In 2012, two of those tracks, one with Robin Thicke and the other with Daft Punk, launched him to new heights of stardom. And with that momentum, Williams is back with a second solo album. G I R L’s slick combination of disco and R&B sounds make the record an instant Try It for Jim. He would’ve gone Buy It if it weren’t for Pharrell’s tired lyrics about women. Greg also sighs at the empty lyrics, adding that Williams should stick with what he does best: producing. His ability to channel dancable rhythms from the likes of Prince and Stevie Wonder is his greatest asset and ultimately the only thing earning G I R L a Try It.

Slave Ambient The War on Drugs

Lost in the Dream

The Philadelphia band The War on Drugs straddles the line between indie singer/songwriter and psychedelic rock. It was originally founded by Kurt Vile and Adam Granduceil, but Vile has since left to pursue a solo career. Granduceil continued as The War on Drugs, releasing a moderately succesful record called Slave Ambient in 2011. His new album, Lost in the Dream, is his best, according to Jim. Working out the songs on the road created a wonderful live atmosphere. It’s perfect headphone music, says Jim: Buy It. Greg likes the record as well, but wishes some of the more meandering tracks were better edited. He gives Lost in the Dream a Try It rating.

Greg

During his conversation with Jim and Greg, Mike Watt reveals some of Minutemen’s more surprising influences. One that didn’t come up, but has been cited in the past, is Blue Öyster Cult. But, as Greg explains, the more you think about it, the more that affinity makes sense. This hard rock arena band was actually masterminded by producer (and former rock critic) Sandy Pearlman. And some of the bands lyricists were Patti Smith and critic Richard Meltzer. So you have the heft of literary words with the speed and intensity of punk rock. You can hear that combination in a song Watt continues to perform to this day: The Red and the Black by Blue Öyster Cult.

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