Friday, 4 December 2009

Reply Jeffrey Lewis

This is the amazing reply Jeffrey sent us.


1) -The outline of your career development and how they moved towards combining two or more disciplines, for example how your music and lo fi videos come together to enhance your work?

I was always into drawing and making comic books, since I was a little kid, and when I started making songs and playing at open mics I was much older, like around 21 or 22.  Playing music was a good way to make people aware of the comic books I was selling, and in 1998 and 1999 or so when I started playing shows and drawing fliers to advertise the shows I would make these very elaborate tiny comic books that were the show fliers and I felt like the shows were advertising the fliers rather than the fliers advertising the shows. For the first few years the shows were a lot more experimental in the sense that I was always trying things that didn't necessarily work, and I played a lot of bad shows partially due to lack of rehearsal because there were always new things to try without having tried them before, like stuff with reciting movies on top of music (I had Evil Dead 2 memorized), or trying to play along with 4 tape players as back-up, and I was always playing with different friends and musicians and instruments at each show before it became a more stable "band" of guitar/bass/drums so it was usually haphazard and a mess.  One of the things I tried at a show was presenting one of the songs in illustrated form, and this was my first "lo-budget video" in 2001, and it worked so well that I just kept making them and it became a regular feature of my shows even when the shows became a little more normal.  That's one problem of being a band on tour, you can't be as experimental because you are the same three people rather than a changing line-up for every show, but on the other hand it makes you a much better artist to have all of that practice of playing every night for weeks rather than just a number of scattered shows per year. 

2) -To what technical and aesthetic effect have you combined disciplines in one piece of work or series of works? 

A lot of the songs that became my most popular illustrated songs were not very popular in normal song form, like Champion Jim or the story of the Red Hand or the Creeping Brain, they were songs that I might have performed once or twice and then abandoned.  But because I decided to try to illustrate them, they really came alive in a new way and work much better with drawings than without.  

3) -To what extent can your work be considered Postmodern?

I don't know, I'm not an expert in Postmodernism but would it be correct to say that something Postmodern freely incorporates disparate influences? If that's the case then there's definitely something Postmodern about the combination of things that go into my musical and artistic projects, I always feel like I'm not particularly good at any one thing but somehow the fact that I out everything that I love into what I do makes it a good thing.  For example, I'm not the world's best folk song writer, nor the world's best singer, nor the world's best garage punk rock guitar player, nor the world's best comic book artist, nor the world's biggest expert on the history of Communism.  But the fact that at one of my shows there will be all of these elements coming into play in one form or another ends up making my band a better band (at least in my mind) than a band who is perhaps much better at one of those things than I am, and just does that one thing.  

4 )-How do you feel your Audience influence your shows and how you create songs and comics?

It's harder to create when you have too much awareness of the fact that there's going to be an audience for what you're doing, I think a lot of my early songs couldn't have been written if I had had the thought that I'd be performing them in front of a lot of people, they are too embarrassing for various reasons - though I think they are good songs, they are just more private.  Not just the lyrics, but the performance of them, if you listen to the first couple albums, you can tell a lot of the material is just from one guy alone in a room, which of course is something I like a lot in some of my favorite albums but it's not something that combines very well with being a live performer and going on tour and all of that stuff.  I've noticed that a lot of my stuff in the past few years is a lot more outgoing, less self-centered, less whispery, more of an attempt to converse or interact, maybe like the difference between writing in a diary and writing a letter to someone.

5) Also, we were wondering why you changed your comic book series from Fuff to Guff then back to Fuff?

It started as Guff, and I published three issues as Guff, then someone told me there was already a comic book with that title so I just changed it to Fuff starting with issue four.   And then when I started reprinting the first three issues I reprinted them as Fuff.  So, somewhere out there in the world there's a few thousand old copies of the first three issues under the name Guff, but every new issue and every reprinting of the first issues is Fuff.


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