At Home With Buck 65

Throughout your youth, how many times did you try and get into something out of a purely misguided effort to impress and ultimately make out with a boy/girl? I won’t lie for a moment – Buck 65 was that for me. Initially.

Thankfully, however, it turned out that this girl I liked had particularly good taste in music. I still vividly remember our clammy hand-holding, drinking warm beer at The Night Gallery (RIP) in Calgary, Alberta, wishing he’d do "Food Song" because at the time that was the only jam I knew any of the words to (truthfully, I still drop it from time to time when I’m getting hangry). Crooning into a work lamp, he christened the audience with glitter pulled from the pocket of his sport coat, a move I always thought was Tom Waits, though he now informs me was more Dean Stockwell à la Blue Velvet. But yeah, she was my first girlfriend and we made out a bunch. Awesome. Thanks, Rich!

So you see, if I told 19-year-old me that I’d one day have to clean up some piss from Rich Terfry’s toilet seat in his Toronto home, I’d have called 29-year-old me a filthy liar. Thus went my nostalgia-laden internal monologue, standing there in his bathroom, as I prepared to sit down with The Legendary Buck 65 for an evening of storytelling.

“See that painting there? I’ve had some nice gifts over the years from fans. This painting just showed up on my doorstep when I lived on Crawford Street maybe three years ago in this giant box in that frame and the painter said that it was inspired by one of my songs. He titled it Blueberries and Bulrushes, which comes from a song called Cries a Girl. But yeah, that’s just about the nicest thing I have. I think if this house was on fire that would probably be the one thing I would grab.”

Judging strictly by the warm, yet forlorn girl painted on the old yellowed newspaper, I’m assuming we have similar taste in women. The ghostly Christina Ricci portrait from the same artist, Sean Luhring, suggested further evidence of this. “He’s good. I want him to be world famous.”

We talk about some of his other gifts, artwork, and discoveries, including a delicate crocheted baseball bearing his name, a giant knife that allegedly saw some action in Vietnam, and a suspiciously vagina-like stick – The Vagina Wand, it was called – with decidedly magical powers. In talking with Rich, you quickly realize he’s experienced so many different things and has so much to say about them that it’s almost surprising he doesn’t have an album out every other month (if you follow him on Facebook, you’ll know what I’m talking about). Not to say he isn’t keeping busy, though. I ask him about one of his latest efforts, SASs (an acronym for Short Attention Spans, free to download on his soundcloud), an exercise in keeping the foundations of great ideas untainted by filler.

“If I said ‘hey, do you know that song Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones?’ and you said ‘oh, no, I don’t know which song you mean’,” says Rich in explaining the inspiration behind Sass.

“If I was going to explain it to you or if you were going to explain it to someone else, we’d probably go [mouth guitar]. Or, if that song is stuck in your head, it’s maybe just that part. So, I thought if that’s what we remember, […] then what is everything else? What is the rest of the song? There’s just the one nugget of it that’s the good, memorable part and then you either repeat it or just fill it up with other stuff. So let’s not do that. Just leave the essential part. But that still requires a lot of thought.”

In a bout of supreme eloquence I assure him that the first 14-track collection is ‘four and a half minutes of fucking awesome’, in an almost Six Word Story Hemingway kind of way, suggesting that the world could do with more.

“There’s been quite a bit of demand so I might have to do a third one soon. And I like doing things in threes, so that’ll come and I’ve got a few little ideas tucked away for that.”

We talk about his upcoming September tour with Wax Tailor and the new album, under the working title Nomenclature. He mentions some of the different artists/musicians/producers he’s been working with including Alias, Justin Peroff (Broken Social Scene), and Sunclef. Ever the gentleman, he gestures to the lovely Francesca Anderson (photographer, collaborator, and friend) sitting quietly on the staircase behind us, adding, “And then Francesca here on…how many? Three or four songs? That’s the most exciting collaboration!” Ensuring not to forget anyone he continues, “My friend Joe from Halifax, he’s the guy that I started out with making music twenty some years ago. We made a rather absurd song called NSFW Music Video, which was inspired by a writing course I took on search engine optimization [laughs]. So I took this course and thought ‘all right, so if I could use any of these ideas and skills, practically, in a song somehow, you know, how would I do that?’” My interest was also piqued.

“It seems like now, more often than not, if I see a news story pop up on my Twitter feed from a music magazine I follow, it’s a NSFW Music Video from, you know, The Flaming Lips or whatever. And, of course, that’s all you need to say. Even if it’s a band you never heard of people are like ‘Ooooh, NSFW you say?’ So, I thought if I just make a song called NSFW Music Video, then once this record comes out maybe it will pop up when perverts are searching for these things. [laughs] That was the whole idea…I tried to think about it as little as possible.”

The best thing about talking to Rich, apart from his effortless storytelling, is his apparent telepathy. See, I don’t even need to ask questions anymore, he already knows what I want to hear. Francesca, meanwhile, can’t keep from giggling into her sleeves as they give me a little taste.

B65: NSFW Music Video
F: Hey!
B65: Watch for the crotch, little bit of titty-o. NSFW Music Video
F: Hey!

Dancing in his chair, he continues, “There’s actually three hooks, I wanted to make the most hook-laden thing ever. The second one goes, ‘Titty titty titty titty right in your face, titty titty titty titty all over the place’ and then the third part goes, ‘Naked and nude, naked and nude, naked lady – naked dude’! That’s most of the song.”

This was not the last dancing I would see, as later, his crotch gyrating in my face, he sang Animotion’s Obsession and recounted the story of meeting Bill Wadhams at a Moby concert. “Good ole Bill from Animotion. We stayed in touch and follow each other on Twitter and stuff like that, but haven’t had a chance to get together. I’ll be going to Portland on my tour, so maybe I should look him up.” Surely I can’t be the only one who would love to see that collaboration happen?

Following a crash-course in Dadaism and having Marcel Duchamp’s L.H.O.O.Q. explained to me, we arrived at his latest brainchild, a commemoration of social media milestones. “I’m about to hit 20,000 Twitter followers and 25,000 likes on Facebook. I just feel like I wanted to show my appreciation to people for that. I figured when you hit milestones and people are sort of sticking with you…give them something for it.” Since our conversation, this milestone has now been achieved.

Rich, long taken with Dadaism throughout his time in Paris and now past relationship with the great grand-daughter of Francis Picabia, expresses his desire to make his own ultimate Dadaist statement.

“The Musical equivalent of the Mona Lisa. What would be the most sacred song? Forget about classical music and just look at pop music. I bet if you thought about it for a little while you’d probably come up with the same song I thought of.” We threw around a few obvious ideas between The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bob “The Rip-off Artist” Dylan before he brought me back to The Beatles.

“What’s one that has a real sort of heft or quote-unquote importance? I eventually went to Imagine by John Lennon…Imagine’s subject matter is so heavy because it’s world peace and it’s religion and it’s all this stuff. So once I identified Imagine, I just kept thinking, ‘how do I put a mustache on it?’ That’s what I’m working on right now. And I haven’t exactly figured out what I’m going to do, but my assignment for this week is to put a mustache on Imagine. Yeah. I have to figure out how to draw that mustache.”

I safely feel as though I speak for us all, Rich, when I say that we anxiously await your L.H.O.O.Q.

Photos By: Jenna & Tristan Shouldice | ATRIA Collective

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