Sitting on a curb with BP Fallon
There we were, sitting on a curb in L.A. with an old man from Dublin, smoking cigarettes and talking rock n roll. I’d seen BP Fallon before at random shows, and I knew a lot of people respected the hell out of him, but I didn’t really have any idea who he was outside of a guy who seemed like a character. I was stoned, drunk and had just fallen asleep in the bar when someone recommended I interview him, so after convincing Jon Larsen, one of Milk’s long time traveling photographer weirdos, to record the whole thing. The three of us took a seat in the gutter and started talking. Sometimes kindred spirits are cast in such scenarios. The tape recorder catches Jon saying at the end of the interview, “BP Fallon is the most inspiring person I’ve ever met,” and Jon doesn’t hand out compliments undeservedly. This is how our conversation went.
Milk Made: So give us a little background…
BP: BP Fallon is a rock n roll ne’re-do-weller who has traversed many a rainbow. No spring chicken. I’m been lucky, blessed by magic many times. I sing and write songs for and with BP Fallon and the Bandits. That’s what I do.
MM: You DJed tonight, right?
BP: I did a set tonight at the Writer’s Room for Electric Milk.
MM: Cool man. Anything in particular you were spinning?
BP: It’s just a big sort of cornucopia of music that you love and like sharing with people. I don’t ever have anything planned… I don’t necessarily even know what I played. You just do it and it’s never the same. It’s a privilege to make any kind of music that people can enjoy, whether it’s DJing, singing, playing guitar or whatever. I’m a very lucky man.
MM: That’s what’s up. Did you go to Coachella last weekend?
BP: I’ve never been to Coachella—I’m a Coachella virgin. Have you been?
MM: Yeah, I went for the first time last weekend.
BP: Did you like it?
MM: Um, it was fun…
BP: Why do you sound so surprised?
MM: Uh, because I’m not really into festivals usually, and I didn’t know what to expect. The fact that it went as well as it did was one of those things that was… well, pretty awesome. Were there any bands playing that you would have liked to see?
BP: No, no. There are a few I don’t care about, but I wouldn’t be so unkind as to single them out.
MM: Fair enough.
BP: I think there’s a lot of shit rock n roll.
MM: I think you’re right.
BP: You know? For one, it’s so accessible now. It used to be something that you had to run around the corner and not get caught listening to. Now it comes out of elevators like a tempest. Is that necessarily a bad thing? No. What it means is you’re being drowned by all kinds of stuff, and the quality of a lot of it is substandard.
Who do I like? I like The Kills, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine… I don’t like wimpy white boy music with guys looking at their shoes moaning. Go somewhere else, you know, I don’t want to hear about it. You’re lucky to be in a band. Stop whining like a wimp.
Mind you, it’s a way to become quite successful. Look around you. Not my story.
MM: Not my story either. So what’s your take on the current state of rock n roll?
BP: Rock n roll is alive and battered, largely homogenized and cleaned up. Rock n roll is continuing, but it may be limping a little bit. Most of rock n roll isn’t rock n roll, its wimpy shit. It’s not hard-on music, its dribble. Rock n roll is meant to be full on muscle, even the tender stuff. It’s got to be passionate. If there’s no emotion in music, it’s completely pointless. It’s time for everyone to have a mental breakdown and fall in love again.
MM: That’s the plan.
BP: Another thing is, if you’re in band and it’s good—it’s completely pointless. Every band is more or less kind of good, and there’s trillions and trillions of bands, so you either have to be really fucking brilliant or really fucking shit to be memorable. If you’re really, really, supremely dreadful, then you’ve got a chance. If you’re good, forget about it. You know? How high the moon? Very high.
Me: Here’s a personal question—did you ever meet Joey Ramone?
BP: I loved Joey, a very nice fellow. Kind of a hippie really, if the definition of a hippie is someone who has some sort of utopian dream that everyone could be happy—that’s Joey. And I miss him walking down St. Mark’s Square, towering above the little Japanese fans, this human crane of smiles…lovely man. Fucking great singer as well. If you listen to “Baby I Love You” on, um…
Me: End of the Century.
BP: End of the Century. Not only is Spector having the audacity to record a song he’s already recorded beyond superbly with the Ronnettes, he’s taking Joey’s voice, a voice of pure popdom… and well, Ronnie Spector sang the song with lust and sensuality, but Joey sings it with longing and amazement. Yes, I loved Joey. Loved him. I did two tours with the Ramones…
BP: Yeah, it sounds like, “When I was in the Boar War in 1901, before electricity, they just invented the gramophone…”
Jon Larsen: I would have thought you were 36.
BP: I am, I’m not—I’m beyond time now. It’s a fantastic feeling. I never thought it would happen. Cause like all of us… oh god, 21 is so fucking old, right? It is with a lot of people, and it isn’t for a lot of people. Some people are old at 17 or 18, you know? And then you see a little old grannie and grandpa, walking down the road hand in hand, 90 years old and it’s beautiful. That’s youth, not old age.
JL: That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed.
BP: I don’t want someone to grow old with—I want someone to stay young with. Please. PO Box 9173, all applications treated with confidentiality, respect and lust.
Me: Classic. So you’ve toured with a lot of different bands, right?
BP: Yes, I’m very lucky, tons and tons and tons of them. T.Rex, as our friend here has said.
[He pointed to a girl who was eavesdropping]
Femme Fatale: Dude, you were on tour with them, right? With T Rex… or Led Zepplin?
BP: Both of them.
FF: That’s what I heard!
BP: Just two little groups, little bands.
Me: Slider had a huge impact on me.
BP: Great record isn’t it? [Singing] “I have always always grown my own before”… It’s a great record. Recorded in the Château d’Hérouville actually, Paris. It was great. I was having some tricky moments with my girlfriend at the time. My own fault of course, but there you are.
[Suddenly, a lady yelling with desperation walked up to us]
BP: What do you want Madame?
Distraught Lady: I need three dollars! I have a job interview and a 14-year-old daughter—please help me! You guys want me to work right?
BP: I’ll give you one dollar if I have it.
DL: I need two more.
JL: I think I might have a fiver.
DL: Guys, I just came out right now cause I’m desperate! I don’t know what to do, I cried all night! I said, go out and beg! Please help me! I want to support my daughter…
JL: Here’s five dollars.
[Jon handed her a crumpled bill. Her tone shifted from frantic to grateful]
DL: What’s your name?
JL: I’m Jon.
DL: Jon? I’m gonna put you in my prayer book, okay? What’s your last name?
DL: Jon Larsen? Okay. Jon Larsen! [She kept yelling his name as she walked off]
BP: Oh, so this is what I think. When we go to sleep each night, if we do go to sleep, it’s an act of faith that we’ll wakeup the next day. It’s a miracle to be alive, because not everyone is. And if we don’t celebrate it to the max, if we don’t get as much juice out of the lemon as possible, then we’re not really using our time here.
What does that mean? Does it mean you have to do things and work really hard, things you hate to do? No it doesn’t. It means try to find your way as benignly as possible and get on with it.
You see, we were brought up with the Ten Commandments or that sort of idea, which is a very good way by and large of running society. You know, don’t murder people, don’t steal, don’t set fire to someone’s house, etc. Very good. The thing is, it’s couched in censoriousness, i.e. “Thou shalt not, Thou shalt not…” Very good, but very censorious. My thing is much more simple and much more positive—do whatever you want to do but don’t hurt anybody. If you have to hurt yourself, I’d prefer you didn’t, but it is your prerogative. It doesn’t mean it’s a way of life, but it might simply be a rite of passage.
JL: This man is giving me hope in the world.
Me: Jon, you got a smoke?
Me: Word. [We pause to light up cigarettes]
BP: Do you want to know what I think about Rassi?
Me: Go for it.
BP: In every environment and in every sort of social situation, you have people who are catalystic, who have their finger on the button of what’s coming up and what’s going to happen before it is happening. (Mazdack) Rassi and Nur (Khan) are two of these people. They seem to have this unbelievable ability to spot things before hand. Not only that, they have the ability to shine the spotlight on it and make things more in the public eye, and I salute both of them for doing this because it’s not simple. They do it with taste and instinct, and there aren’t many people like the two of them. So a doffer the darby to you gentlemen, take a look in the mirror and take a bow. Good luck, may the road rise to meet you, and may every bird sing your song, human or otherwise. God bless you.
[He got up and went back inside the Writer’s Room, leaving Jon and I on the curb]
MM: Seemed like a nice guy, yeah?
[Jon took a long drag]
JL: BP Fallon is the most inspiring person I’ve ever met.
MM: You said that about Alice Cooper.
JL: But I mean it this time.