Dining with Musicians: Interviews with Derek Joe Brockett & Buddy Blutpug
by Paul Crime
Special to the Corpse from Oaxaca, Mexico
Here at El Naranjo restaurant in Oaxaca City, I met up with Derek
Joe Brockett and Buddy Blutpug to discuss their histories, their mysteries,
their current projects, life in the tropics and their love of fine
PC: So you guys eat here often?
DJB: No, I can't speak for Buddy
but I am not able to get up to Oaxaca City very often, not nearly
as often as I'd like. It is a terribly taxing trip over the
sierra madre del sur from where I live on the coast in Zipolite. It
is only maybe 90 miles but the trip can take anywhere between 6 to
8 hours or more if there is trouble.
PC: What kind of trouble?
DJB: Well I have my personal automobile
but I almost never drive this trip. I take a bus and they're
old and filthy and break down often and you stink when you get off
of them. One time, at a pee stop on top of the mountain, I fell getting
off the bus because the step was broken and I broke a rib,
There are bandits too who roll logs
out onto the highway and hop on the bus and rob the passengers of
their belongings and kill you if you don't have anything that
they want to steal. They killed, even killed me once. Those types
of things, like dying, can cause the trip to be prolonged. You ache
when you get here.
BB: I am filthy rich so I fly up fairly
often. I have an office here too right on the zocalo. The
flight from airport Huatulco on the coast takes only 30 minutes. Yes,
I eat here often. At least once a week. Every day they have a different
mole dish and all the ingredients come from small organic farms.
DJB: I only eat here when Buddy invites
me. This place is one of the most expensive restaurants in the city
and I am dirt poor. But it really is worth every centavo.
Just look at this soup! It is a cream of chipotle chile and walnut
soup. And this salad has hibiscus flower, jicama, and real
live bacon bits!
PC: So Buddy, you have played on all
of Derek's 'solo' records. How did you two meet?
BB: We met in Southern, Oklahoma the
year 2000 when Derek and his wife Delia were living there. Derek is
pretty much from Oklahoma but he had been living here in Oaxaca for
some years. He had gone up to Oklahoma to record his first solo record,
the ¿my strength is hatred? E.P. for Will Oldham's Palace
Records. We met one morning at our mutual friend G's kitchen
table. I was trying to get a gig with SADE at the time but it didn't
happen, so I took the job with Derek. He doesn't pay shit but,
like I said, I am rich so I don't need any money. He almost
always writes solid songs and the recording process is very fun with
him because there is no plan or strategy or talent, really, in terms
of what we think of when we say 'recording artist'. I
mean, really these recordings are pretty crappy and we both know it.
But he has a lot of songs and for some reason that I don't even
know he is hell bent on recording them all as quickly as possible.
PC: Why the urgency Derek?
DJB: Well, I don't have anything
written on paper and my brain is nearly full or nearly dead I don't
know. I am getting older and I can't remember things very well.
I have this terrible fear of dying and, not of dying because we all
die and we are all dying, feeding our deaths one way or another, and
that is great, unavoidable. But this fear that I fear is of dying
and not having finished recording all of my songs. And I am nearly
constantly writing songs too so this is sort of like the war on drugs
or war on terrorism. Just an excuse to create a perpetual enemy to
prolong the oppression of the people, in this case I am the perpetual
enemy and the oppressed is myself.
PC: And that record you spoke of, the
¿my strength is hatred? 10 inch vinyl e.p. was never put out
by Will Oldham's Palace Records. What happened?
DJB: Well, a lot of miscommunication
between the two of us. Buddy and I with the help of some other friends
in Oklahoma had already recorded it and so then we met up with Oldham
at one of his shows to discuss the deal. Well, he wanted to meet after
the show at 2:00. And because I hadn't driven to the show, I
was basically at the mercy of other people in a city I am not familiar
with. So because they had to leave after the show, so did I. Will
was surrounded by many people after his show at his merchandise booth.
I couldn't even get to him to say bye-bye. He got sore about
it. And that is that. No hard feelings from me. My wife is damn sore
though because she helped me finance the recordings.
PC: And those records? You pressed them
up, so where are they?
DJB: Mainly in boxes in various locations
in the USA. I have friends who have tried to find a home for the records
but no one wants them. I think someday I will build a hen house out
of them. I am very interested in raising chickens and becoming as
self sufficient as possible. Food security, you know.
PC: Well, good luck with that one. So
then you two recorded trembling things album.
BB: Basically as soon as we got back
to Mexico we realized that we were, how do you say, sheet utu look,
so Derek wrote a new album while I attended to my many businesses
in this city. Derek saved up enough money and got some recording equipment
finally, and some instruments and we recorded this album at his 13
baktun studio in zipolite.
PC: And what happened with that album?
DJB: Well, as I have said I am shit
gravy eating poor so I didn't have the money to press up the
records and put them in boxes again. I made a few copies and the covers
are hand made by me out of papaya and banana leave pulp and recycled
paper. Arguably the coolest thing about trembling things
is the paper cover.
PC: I don't know. There are some
pretty bitching guitar solos by Buddy on there.
BB: What? You think so? I like the one
on you don't know what pleasure is on which I was basically
employing Ornette Coleman's harmelodic theory of playing in
all modes at the same time. But the rest is pretty much just drunken
hack work. Thanks though! Have some more of these appetizers Paul.
They're crickets fried in garlic and salt!
PC: Taste good with this beer we're
drinking. So that album trembling things albeit a work of
sheer genius, went nowhere slowly. Why?
DJB: For a number of reasons, for better
or for worse, my family and I reside in Zipolite, Oaxaca. Now you
would think that a place that is a traveler's haven full of
international visitors and beach cafes where all kinds of decadence
is permitted, any old pinche gringo could play and people
would like it. Not the case. No original music in English will ever
be liked by anyone here. Not by locals or travelers or beach riff-raff.
This is the law of the land. And every time we have made an effort
to play out at a bar or café or what have you, a literal band
of gypsy psychedelic juggernauts shows up with their little horns
and drums and pills and ale and weed and they basically, in my eyes
anyway, ruin the event with their ridiculous merry-making. So, if
you don't have a big following or a band that tours you can
send your 'brilliant' recordings out to 10,000,000,000
people and record companies looking for a way to legitimize what you
do, get it to the people, you dig, and no one will pay you any mind.
PC: Too bad for you guys. So does that
mean that is it? No more albums?
BB: (laughs) yeah right.
DJB: Actually we just finished up a
new album called 'hollín' which we are mixing now.
It is a shorter album, ten songs, but it clocks in at about 30 minutes.
We have posted three of the songs on the website: www.bands411.com/derekjoebrockett
Sadly, Buddy wasn't able to participate as much on this one
as he did on the last one but I can say, his guitar solo on 'of
murdered feelings mislain' will make your urethra throb with
joy. And simultaneously I have begun basically a mop-up of unrecorded
songs that I have written over the last decade but never recorded
called 'later days, better lays' which I expect to be
some 3 brutal dreadfully boring hours in length. Then I might take
a vacation and finish writing this political manifesto I've
been working on since 1998.
BB: I am working on a solo album of
my own. Basically instrumental. I can't sing or write lyrics
but I am a multi-instrumentalist. This is just in the composition
stage. I can't say much about it but it will be a guitar player's
sort of record.
PC: So Derek, why do you keep writing
& recording if you are fairly certain that you will never achieve
DJB: So my boy Samuel can have something
to be proud of. He can say, 'Would you look a here, my paw writ
all these tunes'. That is if we ever move back to Oklahoma.
Here in Oaxaca he would say, 'Miren, mi papi compuso un
chingo de rolas.' But again, being where we be being, no
one will care.
BB: Here's the food, Buen provecho!