Kevin Rutmanis - 2003

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Kevin Rutmanis is currently the bassist for the Melvins and Mike Patton's supergroup Tomahawk (also featuring the Jesus Lizard's guitarist and Helmet's drummer). But I've been following the guy for YEARS! Why, for YEARS! Because he used to be the mastermind behind all the distorted slidey heavy catchy bass lines for Minneapolis's Cows, one of my favorite bands of all time! Buy all their albums or consider yourself a member of the anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant Know Nothing party, in that you "Know Nothing" about music. Years ago, I interviewed Kevin and two fellow members of the Cows for my college radio station in Chapel Hill, NC (1993, it must have been?). I couldn't find a parking space and those damned Cows convinced me to park in a handicapped zone. When we returned to the car, I had received a hundred-dollar ticket! I talked it down to $20 though; I've always been a smooth talker (I threatened the lady with a tire iron). Kevin agreed to a telephone conversation and sent me an email saying "Call me whenever," so I called him nearly immediately! My questions are in bold; his answers are in plain text.

I know this isn't the place for this, but my wife just showed me It is THE absolute most disturbing web site I've ever seen in my life. Check it out if you want to see the extent of human suffering that one person can inflict upon another.



Is Kevin there?

This is Kevin.

Hey! This is Mark Prindle, the computer guy.

Oh hey! Wow, that was fast!

Yeah, I'm a fast guy.

I guess so!

Do you have time now, or do you want to schedule a time?

Now's fine. I'm just sittin' around. Watching the Simpsons.

The Simpsons are more important than I am! I can call back.

No, it's fine. I've seen this episode.

Where do you live anyway?

I live in L.A.

Aww! When did you move out of New York?

About three years ago, I think? No, more than that.

Why? For the band, I guess?

Basically I've always really liked it out here, and Buzz was leaning on me, "Come on, come on, move out here - you'll love it!" And I already knew I'd like it. The only problem was that my wife and I had just moved out there to New York.

Is that hard? To keep a marriage together when you -


I mean you're basically touring all the time, right?

Actually I've been home for a couple months. But before that, I was basically gone for a rock solid year and a half with one band or the other.

When you're on the road all the time, does that make it hard to keep a relationship together?

It could, and in some circumstances it does, but my wife's really good that way because she's really independent. She kinda likes having time to herself.

And I guess you talk on the phone.

Yeah, we do. We actually talk several times a day when I'm gone. Plus she comes out on tour a lot and travels with me.

Oh, that's good. That's great actually! Was it difficult moving from a band that was basically YOUR band into a band with a long history as somebody else's band? Did you - or do you - feel restricted at all in what you can contribute? Or have you guys known each other for so long that that's not an issue?

Well, the Melvins play a super different style of music as I'm sure you are aware. But it's different in a way that I really like. At first, it was so different that I kinda doubted. I wasn't even sure I'd be able to do it because I'd only ever played stuff that I'd written. But they both said, "Come on, you can do it! Come on, it'll be great!" And they sent me the demos for "The Bootlicker" - wait, was it "The Bootlicker"? Which one is the quiet one?

No, I don't think that was "The Bootlicker." Wasn't it.umm.

No, that's right, I think. I really liked that one a lot. But knowing them for a long time really helped. We'd known each other for such a long time.

Have you contributed song ideas to the band?

Buzz works out an awful lot of it before we hear it, but those guys are really open minded and flexible. I don't feel at all limited. If anything, they're actually a lot less conservative than the cows. It might sound more organized than the Cows, but they're a lot looser.

I can see that. It seems like every record the Melvins put out sounds different than the one before it.

They'll try ANYTHING. Whereas in the Cows, a lot of times you had to sort of argue your point.

Why did the Cows break up?

The mechanical thing that happened was that Thor told us that he didn't want to tour anymore and "whatever you guys want to do is fine." So we just sort of let it go, but we knew it was time. We were all drifting into different ideas about the direction of the band.

Do you keep up with any of them?

I talk to Freddy a lot, but he's the only one. I email him or talk to him on the phone almost every day. We're pretty close. And my brother obviously. But it's been years since I've spoken to Shannon or Thor. Thor came by and saw me with the Melvins the first time we came through town and then I never saw him again. Shannon and I just went our different ways. But my wife saw his band and said she really liked it a lot.

Yeah, the Heroine Sheiks are great.

I've heard their first album; I haven't heard the new one.

I like the first one a little better, only because it's more idiosyncratic. The new one is more. traditional, I guess? It's still great - it's just more normal-sounding. But, so - how has your life changed since you joined Melvins?

How has my life changed..

For example, are the crowds a lot bigger?

I guess they are, yeah. They're more consistent crowds anyway, whereas with the Cows, we had some places where we always did well - like San Francisco was always huge for the Cows - but then other places, the crowd would be tiny.

What sorts of differences in songwriting dynamics have you noticed between the Cows, Melvins and Tomahawk?

The Cows generally, not always, but most of it came from us playing together and making shit up as we went along. Towards the end, I did some four-tracking and brought in parts, and Thor did that too. But initially it came from us all just jamming. The Melvins don't do much of that really. It's funny, like I said, Buzz brings a lot of stuff to practice already worked out.

So you just play what he writes for you to play?

No, he usually doesn't tell me what parts to play. I mean, he makes recommendations. Like he might say, "Oh, Crover - can you do something more off-time in that section"? But it's weird - in some ways the Melvins are more restrictive, but in other ways I can do whatever the hell I want. Whereas in the Cows, we made stuff up as we went along, but sometimes in the studio we could be really rigid and it was hard to get people to experiment a little bit. It's funny and kind of almost ironic in a way, but not really. And then in Tomahawk, I don't really write that stuff. That is easily the straightest job I've ever had, which is fine. I'm really glad I'm in that band, but it's really dictated to me pretty much. I bring some ideas up and they listen, but Duane writes pretty much all the music, and then Patton will come up with arrangements, samples, vocals and all that.

Is the new one out yet?

No, I think it comes out in about a month in the U.S.

How does it sound to you?

I like it a lot more than the first one! It's really simply that we just got used to playing with each other, so there's more unity and it just feels better.

How did you get mixed up with Mike Patton? Just through the label?

No, Fantomas formed right when I joined the Melvins, so right when we started rehearsing was when Buzz was doing stuff with them right upstairs from us. And all three of the non-Buzz members were so nice, I liked them right away. They're the kind of guys that are really looking into your eyes when they talk to you and when they shake your hand. I really liked them.

Were you already a fan of their old bands? Mr. Bungle and the Jesus Lizard.

I had liked some of the Jesus Lizard stuff quite a bit, but I was never into Faith No More or Mr. Bungle at all. But to be fair, I hadn't heard much of it. I remember seeing Helmet at a six-band show that the Cows were playing, and we were like "Wow!" There were things l really liked about both Helmet and the Jesus Lizard, but they didn't seem to progress much. If I had any complaint, it would be that neither band evolved at all.

Helmet actually progressed by playing less interesting music!

Yeah! Sort of Regression.

I always liked the Jesus Lizard though. Their last album wasn't great, but all their others I liked a lot. Hey - are you still into Helios Creed? I remember when I asked you ten years ago what bands you were into, you mentioned Helios Creed.

Really? That's so weird that I mentioned him - yeah, I do like him! But I wonder what would have made me say him as opposed to somebody else.

I may actually have just been asking what other AmRep bands you were into.

I pretty much liked all the bands on AmRep, to be honest. I just think there are a lot of bands I used to like that I just haven't followed that closely over the years.

So who HAVE you followed over the years?

The one band that I still follow - that I still haven't given up on - is The Fall.

I LOVE The Fall!

Yep! I don't know what it is. Well, we all know what it PARTLY is, but. There are three kinds of Fall songs and I really like all of them. There's the techno Fall, the rockabilly Fall and the rock Fall. Oh, and the obnoxious guy yelling poetry Fall. I suspect that he, meaning Smith, must give them some leeway because it's not just him. I give him credit, but he must let them do some stuff; that's the only explanation I can think of. Who was the old bass player?

Steve Hanley.

Yeah, I always thought he was so great. Those bass parts are so great.

I agree. Simple, but there was something about them.

I've always liked the Fall and I still like the Fall, though to be honest, the last one I heard was. umm. "The Unutterable."

Oh! Well, they've only put out one album since "The Unutterable."

Oh really? Then I'm alright! There are a few holes in my collection, but I've definitely kept up with them over the years.

How long have you been following them?

The Fall? From the start! I bought "Live at the Witch Trials" when it was NEW.


I bought it because the American cover was red - this cool red color, like blood red. I think in retrospect The Fall were a big influence on The Cows.

I know Shannon's a big Fall fan too.

Yeah we all were - well, with the caveat that Thor never liked ANY of that shit! Do you realize how crazy that makes his playing?

What did he like?

Muddy Waters, the Stones -

Are you serious?

Yeah! He would reluctantly listen to the stuff we liked and abstractly say, "Yeah, I can see what they're doing there," but he would never sit around and listen to any of it. And that might make me like his playing even more.

He was trying to play blues-rock? That's insane!

I remember one time Buzz said, "I think Thor is playing rockabilly, but it's so buried in his insanity." He's still one of my favorite guitar players. He used to come in with all these page of hand-written notation.


I don't know! I loved his way of playing though.

But why did he write such crazy stuff if he didn't like that kind of music?

I think a lot of what he was doing was survival - writing stuff that could be heard over the bass. (off the phone, to his wife) Okay, be careful!

Did you just tell your wife, "Be careful"?

Yeah, she's going out.

I always say "Be careful" when my wife goes somewhere! Because I'm afraid that if something happens to her, it will be my fault for not warning her to be careful.

That's superstition!

But I'm not superstitious about anything else - chain letters or anything.

I think Buzz got me into saying "Be careful." I always take great delight in saying "Get in a wreck!" to people when they leave. Or saying, "Remember, if a boy hits you, it means he loves you!" to a baby girl. It's superstition - it freaks people out! Like when I'm with my brother - he has daughters. And we'll see a girl and I'll say, "Mmmm, she's about your daughter's age, isn't she?" and then say something lewd.


What were we talking about?

Thor's playing.

Oh yeah. That tone is shit. And I'm sure we were a hard band to mix anyway, but I seriously think he's deaf.


Yes! And I also think he's crazy, so that made it hard.

Do you seriously think he's crazy or are you just saying that?

In my experience, people who think they're really normal, especially really strong-willed people, are the crazy ones. Like Freddy is a nut. But he thinks he's a regular guy! "You're a kook, Freddy!" This is not a criticism. I know Buzz and Patton think I'm crazy.

Are you?

I probably AM crazy. but I don't take it seriously.

Were you the first rock bassist to prominently use a slide? Or did somebody influence you to do that?

No, that came out of - I have these weird vague recollections of it. I had knee surgery when the Cows were starting out and I couldn't go anywhere, and I always liked the sound of slide guitar, so out of boredom I just picked one up and started messing around. I don't know what made me do it. Buzz likes it. He's always going, "Play some slide bass in this one!" It's a big novelty for him.

It's a great sound!

And you can do things with it and change it around.

I love how you used it in the Cows. Like in "Sexy Pee Story" and in "Pickled Garbage Soup" where you do that "Dooornn-dah-dooooorn-DOOO!"

Was that slide? I think I may have just been running my finger up the string on that one.

Really? It sounds like a slide during that part. Do you play any slide on the Melvins stuff?

I do it a lot, yeah. The first song that it dawned on me would sound good with it was "Lovely Butterfly." I thought, "Aah, that would sound so cool with this." I play a lot of slide bass on the new one - "Hostile Ambient Takeover."

Really? I'll have to listen closer to it.

You didn't notice the slide bass?

It must be buried under the guitar or something because -

Actually what you THINK is the guitar is actually bass. I do a lot of stuff on that album.

Oh wow! Okay, I'll listen again. All I caught the first time were more `70s-style guitar riffs than usual.

Really? But the Melvins have always kinda had that `70s thing.

It just seemed more pronounced on this one.

Huh. It's interesting to hear how it sounds to you.

Well, I don't know. I'll listen again. Hey, I still haven't seen this thing in Stuff magazine.


What is it?

You should see it. Patton was in L.A. and they called and said they wanted to do a photo shoot and they know I hate that kinda shit. And they said, "Patton will do it if somebody else does it, and the other Tomahawk guys don't live here," so I said, "Okay, I'll do it." So I show up and it's this Beverly Hills mansion with seven pools and all these teeny models, and the clothes just looked like shit! So we were like, well what can we do. And we had this makeup, so we gave ourselves black eyes and cuts.


There's this full page spread of Patton with a black eye, and I have a scar on my cheek and I have my pants leg INSIDE my boot Andy Griffith style, and that magazine -- boy does that suck!

It's pornography for men who are scared to buy pornography.

You can't jerk off to that shit! I DID like this - I was in 7-11 and there it was: Stuff magazine! Alright! Me being in there, I mean. My hats off to the Tomahawk guys! They're not trying to control me at all; they're just letting me do what the fuck I want. And we're touring together this year on a Melvins/Tomahawk tour. I'm serious - I feel so lucky to be in this great situation.

And you don't have to work a 9-5 job!

Yeah, I feel really lucky for that too. I haven't had to do that in a few years.

When did this last tour end?

Well, we -

I mean, when did you last do an international tour?

When did we last play internationally? I don't know -

I'm just wondering if you encountered more anti-U.S. sentiment outside of the country over the past several months.

No, I didn't encounter that, although there's always this kind of snottiness about the U.S. over there that I totally resent. This is me making a stereotype, but it just seems like its okay to be offensive if it's a PC kind of offensive. Like the way black people can make jokes about white people, but not vice-versa. Over there, they're all like, "Oh these stupid Americans" and expect you to agree. Umm. no, actually I don't agree. FUCK YOU! How about that - Frenchy?!? And I didn't say that because of the stupid Iraq stuff, whatever - it's everywhere. Like we were in some Irish place and there were all these jokes going around. I've traveled the world, I've been everywhere, and do I want to live anywhere else? No, because the US is better. Actually, you said something on your site that I couldn't believe.

Uh oh.

No no, I liked it! It was - oh, it was in the introduction to my brother's interview. Where you said, "Thanks for being white!"

(laughs) I was just joking!

No, I know! But I was just - that's the sort of thing most people would be afraid to say.

I think most of the people who read my site know that I'm just joking when I say things like that. I've written worse things than that on the site, believe me!

Has anyone ever called you a racist for it?

Umm. yeah, just a few though. I've had people think I'm sexist too.

See, I just think it's fucked that it's okay for them to say, "You racist!" Fuck you. I think about this kind of stuff a lot.

"Thanks for being white." That doesn't mean anything! You laughed at that?

Yeah! That shit's never gonna offend me. What if it said "Thanks for being a Jew!"?

I make a lot of jokes about "smelly Mexicans" and things like that. I don't use the word "nigger" though. I just don't think it's a very funny word.

You don't think the word "nigger" is funny?

No, there's too much hatred behind it. I find the word "negro" funny, but "nigger" just has too many connotations. Maybe if I hadn't grown up down south. Why, do you think it's a funny word?

I've laughed at it many times. But not in the context of some Klan meeting! I get tired of people thinking that it's okay for black movies to talk shit about white people and that's okay - it really wears me out. When are you gonna get tired of that and why is it okay?

So basically you hate black people?

(laughs) I can't wait to see this interview. "Mostly what I came away with was that Kevin hates black people, or as he calls them - `niggers'."


See you're laughing at it right now! There are two types of characters that I would love to see in a movie, but they've never done it and probably never will. First, I want to see a good-looking black guy whose girlfriend is a fat white girl - but it's never addressed at all.that is, they are characters in the movie, but that's not what the movie is about. Because I see these kinds of couples all the time, but never in the movies! The other character I want to see is a sympathetic - again, without comment -- some guy in the Klan. And it's not some anti-Klan thing; he's just some guy in the Klan. I was reading some letters from Flannery O'Connor; she was from the south, and she's just so matter- of-fact about it in the letter. She had a black couple that worked for her and moved out, and then a new couple moved in. And the letter is like, "The Klan burned a cross up in their yard, but I think they thought it was the other people because these new ones are really nice."


And stuff like, "Thanksgiving is coming up, and the Klan's all excited; this year they're giving everybody turkeys." They were like a community group. Like the 4-H!

Have you had racist type stuff happen to you?

I had my ass kicked by blacks when I was a kid, but so what?

I guess I just feel like they have a valid reason to hate people, what with us having enslaved them and all.

I've never had a slave in my life. And none of them have ever BEEN slaves in their lives. They don't know what it's like. I think about this a lot. It's a little too easy to have that guilt - what am I saying? I'm not saying anything. It's just something that I think about a lot - like not just race. I just become uncomfortable by opinions that EVERYBODY can get behind. Like the people who are reacting negatively to the war; I don't find their arguments any more compelling than Bush's arguments, and I find that really difficult. I just get tired of the sweeping generalizations - like I saw Jello Biafra speak a while back -

Oh, you're friends with him, right? What is he like?

He's really nice! He's an eccentric, neat guy. I don't agree with everything he says, but he's really thoughtful, and that means a lot to me.

Really? Because it seems like he just believes all the leftist propaganda that supports his point of view, and ignores everything else.

No, he's not just reactionary. He's more critical than I was expecting; he doesn't just believe everything he reads. But anyway, I saw him speak a while back and he was going for a joke, and we all agreed beforehand that we were gonna laugh at it. Now, I am in no way a Christian or anything like that, but - I can't remember the context; it was something about how the only treatment they gave this junkie friend of his was prayer. And he said it like he was mocking it, and everybody just roared out laughing. Then I started thinking, "But what if prayer IS the best treatment, statistically?" Just that easy reaction to anything makes me uncomfortable. Flannery O'Connor was a practicing Catholic - a very serious one. And she was obviously smart, so how do the two co-exist?

That sounds a lot like how people laugh at everything Michael Moore says because he tells them only jokes that they WANT to hear. Jokes that support their political views.

I agree, and I think he's good! I like him! But that book title of his is bullshit. I'm starting to wonder if it's just ME I'm talking about. When I was younger, I always reacted really strongly in one direction, but maybe now I'm talking about my own prejudice. I know that I was a shrill reactionary liberal talking guy at one point, and I don't feel like that anymore. But I also don't feel like a conservative guy either! My excuse is "The more I learn, the more I realize that I don't know anything." That's how I get out of it, by pretending I'm smarter than everybody else because I KNOW I don't know.

(laughs) I do that too! But it's easy to do because I don't trust this administration at ALL. They tell us what they want to tell us, and we're supposed to believe it.

Why would they tell us everything? Why should they? Let's say they're telling the media a 10th of the truth, and the media tells us - what, maybe a 10th of that? News sucks! Forget it! Like all that 9/11 shit. I didn't have any strong reaction either way, because I didn't feel like they told me ANYTHING about why it really happened. My reaction was just, "Fuck it! I don't believe you!" It's the same thing with this war - I think that most of the people who are against it are intuitively against it.

Well, I've been very anti-war from the beginning just because I hate the idea that all these people have to die just because we want one guy out of power. I still don't understand why we couldn't just send some stealthy CIA or FBI guy over there to assassinate him.

I've wondered about assassinations. It's not a moral question, but it would take more than that if they wanted physical possession of the land, which they probably do.

There are so many people saying it's all about oil. It's NOT just oil. There is a LOT going on here that we don't know about.

And even if it IS about oil - so what? And what are these altruistic reasons that war should be for? I find it difficult to respond with any emotion. It's just a castle built on sand; what would I be responding to? The media has actually said with a straight face, "We are going to have to decide what to show the American people, because they don't need to see everything on the battlefield." I feel like asking the media, "What if the government said that to you?"

But what I was saying before - It's not just the crowd making fun of prayer. Religious people do the same thing in the other direction. Once I totally stumped a street preacher. He stopped me and said, "Have you taken the lord Jesus Christ into your heart?" And I said, "Yeah!"


He was all confused, "Wait a minute - YOU believe that Jesus Christ is the one true savior?" "Yes I do!" I don't know why, but I figured if I went along with it, he'd leave me alone. He asked me, "What church do you go to?" And I just made one up - "St. Olaf's!" It honestly irritated him that I would believe in Jesus!

I'm not sure how we got on this subject -

It's interesting! But okay, I'll get back to my questions. Ummm - ah! There appears to be this whole legion of people who feel that Mike Patton is a genius, but a friend of mine suggested that he just RECOGNIZES genius and surrounds himself with it - and between you and King Buzzo and -

Is Mike Patton a genius? Is that what you're asking me?

No, I'm just wondering what he brings to the table. I mean, I know he can sing but does he write any of the music or -

Well, like a Tomahawk record, he brings a lot to it. He really does arrange everything, and bring in cool samples and stuff. And he's a good fuckin' singer! I was surprised. I never liked that -- what was Faith No More's big hit?


Yeah, I never liked that "Epic" shit, but the first time we were in the studio, I was really surprised. I'd never really heard anybody who was able to do that live. He brings a lot to it. But what's he supposed to do, surround himself with shitty musicians? That's part of his genius too! I even asked him one time, "Why did you bring me into this?" Because I don't fit the profile.

What do you mean? You're a great bass player!

Well, a lot of the guys he plays with are trained musicians.

Oh you mean like John Zorn.

Yeah. And Trevor can write and read music. Buzz can't, but he's a. special player.

Have you been a Melvins fan for a long time?

It took me a while. I knew them before I was really sold on them. We'd played a few shows with them. And I heard somewhere that the two bands that were the biggest children to deal with were the Cows and the Melvins. Then I met them and they were great! I felt like maybe they were a west coast version of the Cows, reacting in horror and with violence to the music around them. To quote Max Ernst, "to put a crack in the wall of imbecility around them."

It took me a while to get into them too. They were one of the bands, and Frank Zappa was another one, that I knew EVENTUALLY I would grow to like because it was obvious that they were very smart. But I just didn't GET it at first. I started following them at "Bullhead" because I loved that song "Zodiac" and a couple others. But I didn't really become a fan until "Houdini." That one was normal enough for me to really get into, and then I was able to go back and enjoy their older stuff.

For me, it was - oh.. what was that record where the cover looked like a wrapped present?


Yeah, that was when it finally dawned on me where they were coming from. And I LOVED "Stag" when it came out. We were on tour with them on Lollapalooza when "Stag" came out and we were totally enamored with it. It took me a while though!

The thing about the Melvins and the Cows is that those two bands are pretty much the only ones I can think of that are smart enough to hold my interest AND kick ass too. And I don't mean like classically trained metal guys. By "smart," I mean "innovative."

Actually, yeah, I think you're right. There aren't that many smart loud bands out there. Besides, they were so nice to us. And niceness goes a long way with me.

Do you consider Tomahawk a real band like the Melvins or is it just a side project?

There's another CD coming out, right? Of course it's a real band!

Well, I don't know! You put out two records with that God Bullies guitarist too, and that wasn't a real band.

Teenage Larvae were too a real band!

No you weren't.

I LOVE that stuff! And we're gonna do something else!



What has that God Bullies guy been up to since he left the band?

I'm close with David. He's a - he's like you! He's a writer.

I'm not a writer. I don't get paid for this! It's just a hobby.

Oh I know. You just write for a magazine here and a magazine there, right? My wife does that too.

So what was the deal with the God Bullies? Why did David leave? He's on that last album they did, but only on one or two songs.

Well, they're a weird cult of people. I can't even begin to describe them.

"Mike Hard"?

Mike Hard's a very manipulative person.

How so?

That's not a criticism, just an observation. That doesn't mean he's successful with me, but that's sort of his expertise.

Who does David write for?

David writes for - I don't know who David writes for. Oh wait, I know what he's doing. Web site stuff. He's got his own web site. You'd like it! He's stridently anti-Bush!

Yeah, I'm not much of a Bush man. Hey! Remember that time I parked in the handicapped zone? Wasn't that the best?

You know, I remember that story. I remember that happening, but I don't remember YOU! I keep confusing you with this guy in Texas.

I was leading you up to the radio station and saw a bunch of people I knew, and I pointed at you and said, "Cows!" And you looked annoyed and pointed at me and said, "Radio Guy!"

Ha! I don't remember that at all. I do remember the ticket though.

Was it weird to step into the shoes of a bassist who stole his image from your old band's singer?

(laughs) Yeah, I've avoided getting into the cowboy hat thing myself. Actually, on my first tour with the Melvins, which was on Ozzfest, I had a Hitler mustache and leather Elvis hat, and I heard some guy in the audience say to his friend, "He used to wear a cowboy hat. I don't know what he's doing now!"

That's hilarious! Who was that with?

That was on the Ozzfest. Actually, at my very first show with the band, Buzz introduced me, "Please welcome our new bass player, Kevin Rutmanis!" and some guy runs up to the stage screaming, "FUCK YOU KEVIN! FUCK YOU!" And I'm thinking, "Uh oh! Did the Cows do something to this guy?" And then he went, "Fuck you! LORI TEMPLE BLACK!"

Good lord!

So he wasn't mad at me being there. He was mad because he wanted her to join the band again.

Is there any chance we'll ever see a Kevin Rutmanis solo record?

Uhh. maybe? I'd love to do an album of jingles.

What are some of the craziest things that have happened while you were onstage?

See, that's the thing. If something crazy happened, I was all fucked up and don't remember it. But I can't do that with the Melvins. I can't play that kind of music when I'm fucked up!

I mean like did anybody ever go after Shannon or anything?

No, nobody went after Shannon. They were scared of him! I stand by him - I think he was a great frontman and we got a lot done. I think he was really good. I'd put him up against any frontman. Uhhh let's see, something crazy.. I remember watching a girl masturbate on the corner of the stage in Denver.


Yeah! She was right up on the stage, pushing the corner of it into her vagina. That impressed me. I don't know if it was CRAZY but it impressed me. And Patton does some crazy shit.

Like peeing on people?

I personally haven't seen him do that, but one time when we were playing, he let someone puke into his mouth.


Yeah! It was in Norway. And after the show, we were backstage and everybody was really quiet, getting everything packed up and finally Duane says to him, "You're a better man than me."

Why does Patton do all that crap?

It's just entertainment. I think somewhere in his mind it's stimulating to him.

Does he have Attention Deficit Disorder?

No - he's alright. He and Buzz are equal in patience. Well, about different things.

Is Ipecac doing well?

They're doing really well. They're able to put out records and pay the bands and they're honest and easy to deal with. We're really happy to be on that label. We talk about that a lot.

Between Tomahawk and Melvins, do you have time to do anything else? Do you have any other projects or hobbies or anything?

I just wrote a jingle. I was serious when I said I want to do a record full of jingles! I have Patton vaguely interested. I did one for (laughs). You can see it's funny; I just cracked myself up. I made this really short community radio shot for teenage pregnancy. It's really sad and introspective. Have you seen the movie "The Intruder," with William Shatner as a Klansman?


Lots of Klansmen in this interview. Anyway, in the movie, there's a character called Patton. So in the middle of this sad commercial, you hear Shatner yell, "Patton! You and your nigger better listen to this!"

(laughs) There's that hilarious "n" word again!

That's TWICE now that you've laughed at it! Let's see, what else do I do. I do various things - I write and do art junk. And I read a lot.

What do you read?

Fiction, nonfiction.

Anything good recently?

Lately I've been stuck in these Flannery O'Connor letters, then she got me into these weird Catholic mystics. I've been reading lots of weird stuff. The Oedipus trilogy -

Any nonfiction?

Yeah, I've read some really good Vietnam books - one about the My Lai massacre and another one that's just oral histories by Vietnam vets who have - what's it called.

Post-traumatic syndrome?

Yeah! "From Vietnam To Hell." It's just them talking, and it's fuckin great! They're so matter of fact about everything. "Then both my arms and legs got blown off, then I saw a village of gutted children, then I came home and a hippy called me a babykiller, so I snapped his neck but they didn't throw me in jail; they just put me in a mental institution."

Okay, one last question - since we've been on the phone for about an hour and a half now. If somebody said to you, "Say, Kevin! I've never heard any of your music and I only have enough money for one record," which one would you tell them to buy to get the most Rutmanisest experience?

Which one - to hear me?

Yeah, the one you'd want them to hear to hear what you can do.

I think I would actually pick Hostile Ambient Takeover.


Yeah! But then I'd want to sit down with them and explain everything I do on there.

Ha! Okay, well thank you so much for taking the time -

Now let me ask YOU something.

What's that?

As an interviewer, do you think much about any theory of approaching your subject?

You mean in my reviews?

I don't know - sometimes an interview just feels right. About a year ago, I spent a few hours on your site. I think Freddy showed it to me. You're very good at it.

Oh wow! Thanks!

So you don't have any - my wife reviews too, so I'm interested in that side of things. The way critics approach music.

Well, for me, if I just wrote straight reviews, I'd be bored to tears.

How long have you been writing about music? How did you get into it?

I've always been into rock music since I was a little kid. My first choice would have been to play in a band, but that didn't work out. So when I moved up to New York with my brother, I was just talking about how much fun it would be to write a book about my feelings towards every album I owned. And he said, "We could make a web site." So he created it, and I'm still doing it.

I read reviews a lot in the L.A. Weekly and it's always just people talking about themselves and not the music. And your reviews strike me as being more than that.

Wait a minute. I don't talk about myself? That's all I do!

But it's different - you seem genuinely interested in the music you review.

Well, I do try to explain how it sounds. And then I throw in lots of jokes about ass dildos.

So how do you keep on a regular writing schedule?

My obsessive-compulsive disorder does that for me.

You have obsessive-compulsive disorder?


I mean, have you been diagnosed with it?

Yeah. My Dad has it too. I found out just recently that when he gets ready for work in the morning, he has to do everything in a certain order. And his father had it too. And anxiety. His father had to drop out of college because he couldn't take tests - they made him too nervous.

Wow. I know a lot of people who throw the term around, but I've never met anybody who's actually been diagnosed with it.

It's more obsessions than compulsions.

What's the difference?

Compulsive means you have to do things - obsessions just -

You just can't stop thinking about them.

Yeah. But it helps me get stuff done. Like I haven't reviewed an album yet today, and after we hang up, I know I won't be able to go to bed until I review one. Because that's a rule I set for myself. It will stay in my head telling me something's wrong until I review an album.

I see. Have you always had it? How long have you known you've had it?

Well, looking back, I can remember having obsessions all through my life. Being a little kid and having to count all the steps I took and stuff like that. But it wasn't until maybe five or six years ago that it was affecting my life so much, I went to a psychiatrist. I actually recorded an entire CD of songs about every obsession I've ever had.

I'd like to hear that.

I can send it to you! Freddy has all four of my CDs.

Yeah, he told me he had them actually. So you went to see a psychiatrist and what did he do? Give you medication?

Yeah, I've been on all kinds of medicine. I don't even know whether it does anything at this point. But mine isn't really THAT bad. I mean, it is when I get upset about something, but I know people who have it MUCH worse than I do. Like I read about this guy who had an obsession that any time there was a car accident in his town, he had to drive out to it and scrub all the oil off the streets because he couldn't stop thinking that another car would slip on the oil and crash, and it would be his fault.

Wow. You know, actually I think Freddy might have OCD. Every time he makes a CD for someone, he has to put his initials and the date on there. And one time I looked at the bottom of one of his drums and saw that he had written his initials and a date on there. I saw initials and a date on the bottom of his dresser drawers when I helped him move once, too!

That's a bit eccentric!

So you would call that just eccentric?

No, I don't know. He might have it. I don't know him well enough to say! He's making me a bunch of Sparks CDs, so I'll check those for initials and dates.

Do you ever review anyone you don't like?

(Sigh) Yeah.

Why do you say it like that?

Because it's usually a result of people sending me the entire catalog of their favorite band and me being obsessed with the idea that I HAVE to review them instead of the bands I actually want to review. Which is why there are reviews for crap like PJ Harvey and Tori Amos on my site. Hey, are the Melvins coming to New York any time soon?

We're playing at Irving Plaza - Tomahawk and the Melvins - on May 21st, 22nd and 23rd.

Wow! Three shows?

Yeah! I'll see if I can get you on the list.

Oh, I can pay. I've got money!

Yeah, but it's nice to help out somebody who I can talk to without getting nauseous.

Ha! Well, I'm glad I don't make you nauseous. Okay, let me - it's gonna take a while to transcribe all of this, but when I finish I'll email it to you so you can make sure it's okay.

There's no rush! Take your time.

Okay - thanks again for taking the time. Have a good evening!

You too!

Reader Comments
I just have to respond to Kevin's ideas about slavery. I'm not getting upset or anything, I'm just here to educate him. He even said himself that "the older he gets the more he realizes he knows nothing." Black people were enslaved for about 400 years, probably the most terrible atrocity man has ever inflicted on another man. But the real truth of it is that black people have been enslaved for longer than that. After slavery we couldn't do anything really except return to the slavery era occupations with slightly more freedom and a tiny bit of money. So basically if a black person tried to go beyond his means as a laborer or nonvoter he was refused or lynched. There were a few exceptions to that rule but those were very few. This after-slavery Slavery existed for a very long time, probably until the 1960s when black people finally hit the mainstream and tried to get TRUE freedom. Not the fake freedom that had existed since the late 1800s but freedom where they could go and sit, eat, work and live anywhere they wanted. Even after the 60's Slavery still exists but more on a mental level. In the Ghetto's black men have been conditioned to believe they will never leave and will never achieve anything. Which sucks but the only reason it exists is because the restrictions put on us in the past which have filtered down to now. A slave mentality created sadly by past assholish white people. Not you or Mark or anybody else but those guys, your ancestors, and more current racist assholish white guys around. If a black person has ever been called a "nigger" by a white person (which is one the worst experiences a black person can go through), they will always have a slight unconscious hate for white guys because it reminds them what happened and is still happening to their people to this day. That sucks but it's the truth. One way to eradicate this ideal is to try to help black people in the ghetto go beyond their means and get an education and become successful, something that had been withheld from them for a long time. Another way is to diffuse the way people think through humor like Mark is doing. But to answer your statement that current Black people have never experienced slavery, well all of them have on some level whether it be mental or physical, we all have.
GREAT INTERVIEW!! I mean really great. Prindle asked him everything about everything and it was really funny too with all the racial stuff and in the end Kevin interviewing Prindle, I loved that part. Besides i thought that Prindle was joking about his Obsessive-compulsive disorder. About a year ago I watch a TV program about it, and there was this case about a lady who didn't take the garbage out from her house, because she felt that if something entered the house it belongs to it and to her. So she had atrocious amounts of paper and garbage piles stuck in every corner of the house, the interviewer can hardly walk through the piles. Let's hope Prindle disease don't reach that point. Bye!

Ps: Prindle please listen to Hostile Ambient takeover again, there are tons of slide bass in there, like the noisy solo in "Dr. Geek" and the introduction of "The fool..." (George G. Hughes)
now THAT is an interview. that is one of the few interviews i've read where you really get a feel for the actual character and thoughts of the person being interviewed, instead of just perfunctory answers to inane questions. certainly rutmanis deserves credit for some of that, but prindle seems to have a knack for going in unusual directions. just thought i'd comment. thanks for the read.
ok Mark Prindle, after reading this interview i want to be a music critique, so i'll make a spanish website about it =) (in fact i just wanna noe if you really read the messages =)) (Dave Deuteronomy, Art Prick)
Great interview, I knew Kevin for years. He did art for my little underground magazine "losingfaith" back in the eighties. I did the layout and filmwork for "daddy has a tail".

The reaction by Mr. Merenivitch is typicall lefty crap, he obviously didn't know that over the course of 400 years some 2 million white European slaves were taken by the Blackamoors back to Africa to become slaves. Shove it!

Add your thoughts?

*I know most of 'em are out of print, but try buying Cows CDs here anyway

Back to Prindle's Rutmanis Interview Archive, Featuring Kevin, Sandris, Others