Comedy is more enjoyable to me than music at times. It’s the best transmission of the things that go on in our individual monkey-brains that we assume are singular to ourselves.
story by John Taylor
Any producer, comedian, or journalist knows the following: Take something out of context and you can make that excerpt sing any note you want it to. As Javelin, Tom Van Buskirk and George Langford have made a name for themselves doing just this. Pulling from the stacks of dusty old vinyl that most overlook at flea markets, the dancey duo artfully compose compelling little Jemz that will shake your booty while tickling your funny bone. Auteurs of timing, Buskirk and Langford know precisely when to pair the avant-garde with the ordinary for side-splitting results. They know how to laugh at us, but more importantly, they know how to laugh at themselves.
Chicago Innerview: Do you ever get sick of people asking whether or not you guys are cousins?
Thomas Van Buskirk: Not at all. Facts is facts. We’re cousins.
Chicago Innerview: Could you explain how your live performances work? I read something about boomboxes and FM transmitters.
Thomas Van Buskirk: We used to transmit parts of our tracks to boomboxes around the stage with an FM transmitter, and mic the boxes as if they were guitar amps. We don’t do this so much anymore — we’d probably bring it back if we had like 200 boomboxes instead of 20. And if we weren’t getting on planes to play shows.
CI: You obviously collect a lot of records. What was the record that got you into collecting? And are there any gems you’re spinning right now?
TVB: We are actually getting rid of records now! We used to bring home so much cultural detritus and sift through it like gold panniers, discarding 75 percent of it and using the covers for scrap CD sleeves. I still love all my good records. Right now I love the way The Pixies sound on vinyl.
CI: Vinyl or cassette. What’s cooler? Why collect physical releases in a digital age when everything’s merely a torrent away?
TVB: Physical releases have to be pretty special/nostalgic/timeless/unique to want to own. That raises the bar for ‘stuff’ taking up space around the house. More room for other plastic things.
CI: Sampling obviously leads to a lot of legal headaches. What’s the craziest thing you’ve cleared so far?
TVB: We’ve never cleared a sample.
CI: I read somewhere where you were mentioned in the same sentence as Dilla, which, in my mind, brings an entirely new dimension to your music. What are your thoughts on that?
TVB: We love Dilla, possibly more than anyone who uses the tools we do. Best ears, sounds, love of irregularity in recordings.
CI: Plenty of cuts from Jamz and Mas are hilarious. ‘STD Fury’ comes to mind. What are your thoughts on comedy as an art form?
TVB: Comedy is more enjoyable to me than music at times. It’s the best transmission of the things that go on in our individual monkey-brains that we assume are singular to ourselves…Louie C.K. is the best, obviously.
CI: Why a Western? Your latest release, Canyon Candy, is a companion piece to your Western film project. How is production going, by the way?
TVB: The film is well neigh finished. We’re psyched! As for why cowboy stuff? It’s the prime example of an American art that has been established, recycled, beat down, made psychedelic, been passed around, won’t die, is made of clichéd images that were never based in reality…the perfect fantasy.
CI: Speaking of films, what have you been watching on Netflix lately?
TVB: I just canceled my subscription. A totally crazy idea.
CI: Finally, what makes Javelin Javelin? How do you brand yourselves apart from a sea of producers and mash-up artists? (Besides, of course, the brand that you made from your recent 10-inch. Where is that brand, by the way? Are you using it for anything?)
TVB: The brand is safe in our possession to be busted out at bonfires and biker bars for willing participants. I think what makes us us is that we do whatever we want and rarely attempt anything like a ‘brand.’ Hopefully, the music speaks for itself.
Javelin :: with Future Islands :: Lincoln Hall :: October 30.