MusicRag.com interview with The Special Goodness - March 12, 2000
Interview by Claire Caraska
The Special Goodness, featuring Weezer drummer Pat Wilson (who now sings and plays guitar), current Weezer bassist, Mikey Welsh, and drummer, Lee Loretta, embarked on their second tour this past March. Before their show on Sunday, March 12, at the Che Café in San Diego, I had the pleasure of interviewing the boys from the comforts of their brightly painted blue-green 1982 GMC van, complete with shag-carpeted floors and padded vinyl walls and ceiling.
Has the Special Goodness released a record in the U.S. yet?
No - bunch of lame jerk offs in Hollywood - but we're going to try and figure something else out. The wheels are in motion. I hate to say that. I'm so sick of saying that.
But you have something out in Japan? How has that been doing?
That's been doing well. It was the label's [Rock Records] first release. The album has only been released in Japan, and not the rest of Asia.
Have you toured in Japan?
No! I guess people who were in to Weezer bought it. We haven't been able to go over there yet, probably we'll get a chance to for the next record we make.
But you have toured in Japan before [with Weezer]? What is your favorite thing to do there?
I would love to go to the crazy indoor mountain and go snowboarding. I like the crazy Electronics District. Japan's just cool. The whole economy is run by the tastes of eight year old girls; everything you see is happy bunnies and flowers. It's really bizarre.
What was the last CD you bought?
I don't know. I don't remember.
The Best of Chet Baker.
He's a famous trumpet player from the '50s.
Chet Baker? You're thinking of Chet Atkins. Damn Chets.
Yeah, it's a real common name.
Would you [Pat] characterize The Special Goodness as your solo project?
I wouldn't say that it is solo. It's just us guys.
But in the studio, you take sole responsibility for vocals, guitar, bass, synth, and drums. Have you ever had anyone else record with you in the studio?
Not yet. But we're going to record some stuff this spring.
How is that for you, doing everything in the studio?
That's how the record was recorded. I did everything. It's pretty cool but I'd rather play with other people. It comes out sounding really slick when you do it by yourself. But there's no band interaction.
How is the switch from drumming to singing?
Do you prefer it to drumming?
Yeah, I'm way more into playing guitar and singing.
Which did you start playing first: guitar or drums?
And the singing just came naturally?
No. It's been hard, but-
...He's doing a wonderful job.
Who would you consider to be a major musical influence?
I don't know probably the same things everybody else says - like The Beatles.
You don't have to say them.
Yeah, but it's true! Pink Floyd, The Smiths - I love the Smiths.
Did you see Morrissey on his latest tour?
No, I haven't seen him.
I hear that he's a mean Frisbee player. I think he's going pro.
Can you remember the first album you ever bought?
Yes. (Laughs). It was "This One's For You" by Barry Manilow. I was like four years old. And his face was the whole album cover. Just a huge face. Can you imagine that?
That's kind of scary.
That sucks (laughs).
Do you remember the first concert you ever went to?
The 1984 Tour for Van Halen.
Mine was Van Halen, too, except the 1981 Fair Warning Tour.
My first concert was Madonna's 1990 Blond Ambition Tour.
[To Mikey and Lee] What is it like playing songs that you didn't get to work on in the studio? Do you mind?
I do that all the time.
(jokingly to Claire) Now you're causing trouble.
Now we're going to get in a big fight.
I didn't mean any harm.
No, it's not bad. We pretty much play whatever we want. (Pat laughs) But there's going to be more collaboration in the future.
They can play whatever they want as long as they don't screw things up.
You're not the dictator of the group?
(Simultaneously) No. I will be though.
Where did the title of the band come from? I read on the Weezer.net site, where you were quoted as saying, "My goal was always to strive for high quality that wound up being called for lack of a better term, the special goodness." Is that still true?
It sounded like a funny name.
Have you achieved your "high quality"?
Yeah, I think so.
Do you prefer the SG to Weezer or is that going to cause more drama?
I don't totally prefer SG to Weezer.
You like SG for different reasons?
For every reason. I love the Special Goodness.
How long have you been playing as SG?
We played our first show last fall . We did a big tour. This is our second tour.
On tour, what have been your favorite cities?
Probably Fayetteville, Arkansas.
What is there to do there?
They're college towns, you know? We have good shows there.
There's nothing to do that's why. We have a lot of favorite cities. DC was really good. Boston is good. New Jersey's always great.
All right, I have many friends who want to know: Is there definitely a new Weezer album coming out?
No. But I think there will be. But I can't say anything definitely.
But you guys still communicate?
(Long pause) Yeah.
Oh no. I was trying to make sure I was being truthful.
We're [Mikey and Pat] going to Los Angeles after our tour's done in a few weeks to start working on a new record. So, we'll see how it goes.
Is everybody pretty content with their side projects [in addition to Pat and Mikey playing in SG, Brian Bell, Weezer guitarist, is in The Space Twins]?
At this point for us, this doesn't feel like this is a side project because it belittles what we're doing. I don't think it really is a side project because it's just growing and we're working really hard at it. We can do whatever we want. I just think when people say [side project], it has something attached to it that makes it like it is a temporary thing or like a hobby which it isn't. (Jokingly) We're going to take over man!
All the flyers for tonight, promoting SG as "Ex-Weezer", how does that affect you?
That's just marketing. You got to do it. We'd be stupid not to. You know what, I can tell right now that once you get the record, and you can download the MP3s off of our site, you will see that the true path lies with the SG.
How would you describe the sound of SG?
I think a lot of our stuff is pretty Sabbath-ish.
Like Sabbath meets XTC. We have songs with a lot of melody.
We have equal love for ultra heavy music and XTC and The Beatles.
It's definitely just a mixture between the two. We love the pop songs and melodies, but we love the ultra heavy sound, which you have to have. You just have to rock. It has to be heavy, you can't mess around.
Lee, have you played with any other bands?
I've played with the Lee Loretta Pat Wilson Experience my entire drumming career.
He had a drum set and I didn't. I had a bass. I'd go over to his place and we would play.
Pat didn't even have cords or an amp but he would rest the bass on the dryer so it would resonate (laughter). We brought in our friend and we would play Ozzy.
Our friend was the one kid in school who could play guitar but he was a Randy Rhodes head so he was all into "Crazy Train" and all that Ozzy stuff. He sucked, too. The only song he knew from start to finish was "Crazy Train" (imitating his friend) "All right, we're gonna play 'Crazy Train' again".
How long have you all been playing instruments?
I started playing drums sometime in high school. I didn't get my own drum set until I was 19.
I started playing guitar when I was 13 but I was never really serious about it and then I got a bass when I was 17 and I started playing like 12 hours a day and got really into it. So I guess I've been playing for about 11 years.
I've been playing [drums] since the second grade. I played in the school band.
He was the concert snare drummer guy.
Did you wear a uniform?
I used to be in the marching band as a matter of fact. I was a little bigger than most of the other drummers so I got to carry those big heavy ones all the time. It was a joy.
Did you have baton twirlers?
No, we were a cool band.
The whole baton twirling thing, that's like the red headed stepchild of the school activities - the vinyl white boots! It is a dying breed.
Since we're on the topic of high school, have you been to any reunions?
I've blown off the last two, the five and ten year. I'll probably go to the next one. But they're in Buffalo [New York] and I don't want to fly out [from his current home in Portland, Oregon] to hang out with people who didn't like me.
Have you had a lot of experiences with people who were not so friendly to you in high school, who now approach you since you've "hit it big" with Weezer?
Yeah. It's amazing. Some of the guys who were the biggest dicks to me, it's like I've surpassed them somehow, in their eyes, which is even weirder. They think I'm the shit because I was on Letterman.
That's got to be rewarding for you.
No, it just makes me feel yucky, even yuckier, because it's like you were an asshole to me before and now you think I'm cool because I did that? Fuck you!
It just shows how low those guys from high school still are.
I know. It's just a lose-lose situation.
What is your view on the MP3 craze?
I think that MP3s are just a great way to promote music. It's just a promotional thing. People who worry about it aren't looking at it in the right way.
Have you gotten a lot of response from the MP3s that you have posted?
Oh yeah. People download them all the time. There are eight songs off the record up on our website right now.
Do you download MP3s yourself?
I've downloaded a couple, but it's tiresome. I've got better things to do. I was heavily into the Internet, but I just kind of got burned out.
Do you think that music companies should charge for MP3s?
Sure if a band wants to, but bands should not be prevented from giving them away. It's just a file on your computer, big deal. If someone is into your band, they're going to buy your CD anyway. It's just a promotional tool. But if those portable MP3 players become big, then there might be trouble. People may not want to buy an album if they already have it on their computer. We'll see how it works out.
Probably the people who are just kind of like, "Hey music, I like music, that's great", they'll probably abuse MP3s. But true fans will continue to buy stuff.
Any final comments?
I'd like to give a shout out to Sherman Hemsley.
I'd like to give a shout out to Sherman Oaks.
(to Mikey) Now you're going to get it.
You're gonna get it.
You're gonna get it.
No, you're gonna get it.
Loretta's [Lee] gonna get it!
Bring it on!
You're next, Loretta.
Bring it on!
For more information on where to find this van on a highway near you, check out their website: www.thespecialgoodness.com