Interview with John McBain

by Jaroslav for Spark Magazine

Why did you change the album title from Daybed to eponymous?

No reason. Actually I thought that the title was a little too emo. And thats not good.

Do you think this record captures WWC at its best?

I think that it perfectly captures WWC at a specific time in our history. A little leaner, a little meaner and still out of tune.

I think Matt’s singing has notably improved since the first album. Is this the reason you didnt invite any guest vocalists this time?

Sorta. We just wanted to get back to being a band AND having guests means not always being able to play certain songs on stage.

You have unlimited access to the studio. How much time do you and Matt spend there?

Three days a week. We usually show up around noon and stay till 11 p.m. or midnight. Sometimes we’ll even sleep there and start all over again in the morning.

You’ve covered Something in the air by Thunderclap Newman, which could be kind of a hippie anthem. What do you think you would do if you lived and played in the sixties?

Recording engineer or drug dealer. Or both.

The pre-apocalyptic album closer is called Dresden Overture what does it mean?

I’m not sure. Thats Glenns tune but I’m sure that its not very upbeat.

The heaviest song WWC has ever released Sullen Glacier has no vocals (or heavily distorted vocals? I’m not sure) though it sounds a bit soundgardenish or monstermagnetish Were you afraid of revisiting your past?

Not at all. It was our past. Plus its fun to play.

It’s strange to hear an almost purely electronic track Rebirth keeping in mind that you started as a strictly lo-fi band. What’s the story of this track?

Matt. He put that one together in his home studio. It was so un-Wellwater that we HAD to include it. Our next batch of songs are going to be almost exclusively electronic. The garage purists will hate us even more.

How much time does it take WWC to invent song titles? They are quite funny.

The song title usually appears rather quickly in the recording process. Sometimes we’ll even start with the title. Wimple Witch began that way. I had just listened to a couple of tracks by Wimple Winch, a sixties U.K. band, and I scrawled my variation of it on a tracking sheet. I never got around to changing it. And now it’s too late.

You did something similar to WWC in the eighties with the Dog of Mystery what is the biggest difference between these two bands?

There really isn’t too much of a difference. Like the Dog stuff, early WWC was recorded on cassette. And both are two man bands with occasional guests. Matt’s lyrics are a little more upbeat than Tim’s but both of them sing about the same things; drugs, violence, confusion and brain damage.

Is it harder to write songs when you know as much old stuff as you do? Arent you afraid of creating what has already been done?

No. I really don’t think of other songs when I’m writing. I tend to not think about anything. I just sit down and play my guitar until something appears. Sometimes its a good riff, sometimes a bad one and occasionally its my wife tapping me on the shoulder and telling me to turn down.

Do you listen to todays rock at all? Do you think there are some clever songs these days on the modern rock radio?

Yes and no. I have to admit that The White Stripes are catchy in a Waylon Flowers and Madam sort of way. They were a popular showbiz act from 1970s American television.

Are you still in touch with Monster Magnet?


Do you understand why there was the personal earthquake with Jon Kleiman a Joe Calandra leaving?

I understand it completely. I expected it to happen years ago. Its all attitude, ego and emotion wrapped up into a big ball of rock n roll twine. I’m sure that all paries are happy with the decision.

Is there a chance of Tim Cronin or Dave Wyndorf doing vocals on a WWC record?

Probably not. But maybe. But they are welcome to contribute to my upcoming solo record.

I got to know that the second Hater album is coming out. What was the reason that it was left unreleased back in 1997?

The band broke up and Ben held onto the tapes until he felt that the time was right for a proper release. There will be no reunion.

Does Ben Shepherd still write songs or perform?

He sure does. He has his own studio and is always recording.

You have been present at the birth of Queens of the Stone Age do you like the music they make today? I suppose you wouldnt like WWC to be as big as QOTSA, would you?

No. I’m not cut out for it. I’d rather read a book or make marinara from scratch. I’m good at both of these tasks.

WWC has had every album released by a different label. Are you going to go on like this?

Yeah. Labels tend to get fed up with our lack of get up and go so they stop returning our phone calls.

How many records do WWC sell and how many would you like to sell?

I’ve never checked the totals. I’d like to sell 247 million but I’ll be happy just to recoup our advance.

Now that you have your last record distributed worldwide, is it interesting for you to tour Europe?

We are planning on for next year. Can we play at your next birthday party?

[SPARK is a Czech magazine]