Photo by DOUG SEYMOUR
BY JONATHAN VALANIA The year is 1984. I am sitting Indian-style on the floor in my freshman year college dorm room along with a half dozen other self-styled punk-rock refugees from the stultifying conformity and bourgeois pieties of mainstream campus life. Incense burns to mask the sweet leafy odor of burning marijuana from the nostrils of our RA, or resident administrator, the closest thing to a sheriff on the first floor of Burnside Hall at Moravian College. Crumpled cans of Piels litter the floor. The ashtray overflows with clove cigarette butts. On the turntable is the debut album from The Violent Femmes. My jaw gapes in amazement at the rawboned simplicity and irresistible catchiness of the music and the brutal honesty and taboo-tweaking transgressiveness of the lyrics. The music sounds like the Velvet Underground at a campfire hootenanny. The singer talk-sings about unspeakably naughty things with a snarly Lou Reed-ian bleat. This is, I remember thinking, the most painfully, exhilaratingly confessional songwriting I have heard in my 18 years on Earth. I can’t help but think he is singing my life back to me. Better still, he is singing his own life back to me, and that means I am not alone in thinking the things I’m thinking and feeling the things I am feeling. I am fed up. I am horny. I am confused. I am lost. I am on the verge. I am half a boy and half a man. I am teenager, hear me roar.
My roommate, a self-styled jazz drummer and an insufferable musical snob who prized virtuosity above all things, is not impressed. “These guys can’t even play their instruments,” he scoffs.
“I know, isn’t it awesome?” I say. But wait, we are getting ahead of ourselves.
The year is 1981. August 21st, to be exact. Beneath of the marquee of the Oriental Theater in Milwaukee, three grinning weirdos decked out in retro ragamuffin thrift store finery are entertaining the line of people outside waiting to see The Pretenders, with little more than an acoustic guitar, a mariachi bass and a snare drum. They call themselves The Violent Femmes. The front door opens and out comes James Honeyman-Scott, the erstwhile guitarist of The Pretenders. He stops and listens for a few moments, before grinning and walking off to purchase cigarettes at the drug store next door. On his way back he stops again to listen for a few minutes. At the end of a song he calls out to the band. “You blokes sound just like this band in the UK called The Stray Cats.” The three buskers exchange shrugs and puzzled glances. “Not only did we not know who the Stray Cats were, we didn’t know who The Pretenders were,” says Victor DeLorenzo, who was playing drums that day. Honeyman-Scott disappears back into the theater only to re-emerge five minutes later with the rest of the Pretenders who promptly lean up against a car parked in front of the theater and assume arms-folded airs of bored expectation. The buskers quickly disarm their newest audience members with a long-since discarded song called “Girl Trouble,” which features the profane yet catchy refrain of “Have mercy on me, I’ve got girl trouble up my ass/don’t tell me no jokes ‘cuz I ain’t gonna laugh.” The Pretenders laugh hard. “Hi, I’m Chris,” says Chrissie Hynde, introducing herself. “Do you guys want to open for us tonight?” After a summer spent busking in doorways and on sidewalks, playing house parties and faking their way into a Tuesday night residency at, of all places, a jazz club, The Violent Femmes have been officially discovered.
In less than a year, the Violent Femmes will record their self-titled debut and in the process unwittingly create a masterpiece of teen alienation and post-adolescent psychodrama with the same trans-generational reach and undiminished cultural potency of Rebel Without A Cause, Romeo & Juliet and The Catcher In The Rye. The album indelibly mapped the frantic vicissitudes of teendom — the nihilistic angst, the desolate anomie, the hormonal riots — and scored the late-night dorm room soundtrack for a million private rebellions. These are the fight songs of James Dean’s James Stark and J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield. They contain multitudes. The entire social history of the motorcycle gangsters, the beatniks, the greasers, the mods, the rockers, the surfers, the hippies, and the punks fight and fuck and laugh and cry inside these songs. The Violent Femmes debut is an undeclared concept album about the gloriously juvenile delinquency of a rebel with an urgent cause: sex with someone other than his left hand. Please Lord, just this once.
Perfection is in the eye of the beholder, of course, and nearly impossible to quantify, but by every objective measure, Violent Femmes is a perfect album, beginning to end, from song selection (the vast array of songs in the Femmes repertoire was whittled down to the choicest chestnuts) to sequencing (which gives shape to the ‘Road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom’ narrative arc of the lyrics) to the production values (invisible, like all the best production it is heard, not seen) to the cover art (an arresting image of a child in white peering into the shuttered window of an old decrepit house, i.e. innocence peeping into the abyss of experience). And it endures. The Femmes reliance on acoustic folk instrumentation and their antediluvian disregard for the modern miracle of electricity afford the songs of their debut an enduring timelessness that transcends the generational barriers that maroon lesser works in their era of origin.
Obviously, in the ensuing 32 years a lot has happened, including DeLorenzo quitting the Femmes in 1993 and rejoining the band from 2000-2009 and then again briefly in 2013 before quitting the band for good. But all of that is a story for another time. Today we have called up Mr. DeLorenzo to discuss his wonderful, new-ish self-titled solo debut album (currently streaming on our Spotify player) — think early Wall Of Voodoo, Eno, Kraftwerk, Metal Machine Music, Suicide, skinny tie neon-and-manhole-steam jazz — and maybe excavate a little ancient Femmes history. DISCUSSED: Why his new solo album is so goddamn wonderful; Art Blakey’s The African Beat; why Willem Dafoe is his buddy; Hallowed Ground; how he became a Violent Femme; Don Cherry & Ed Blackwell’s Mu Parts 1 & 2; Ken Nordine’s word jazz; Milwaukee’s experimental theater scene; the making of a modern classic, i.e. the Violent Femmes self-titled debut; NINETEEN THIRTEEN; his new column; Vietnam; being discovered by Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders; the invention of the Tranceaphone and how it changed the world and saved billions of lives; why he quit and life after the Violent Femmes.
PHAWKER: I really like the record, it’s hip enough for adults but I think honestly that children could get into a lot of these songs. I could totally see you performing these songs on Sesame Street.
VICTOR DELORENZO: *Laughs*
PHAWKER: And I don’t mean that in a bad way, I don’t mean that as an insult, in fact I would say that’s my highest compliment.
VICTOR DELORENZO: You know what’s funny is that, just a little preamble to our conversation before we get a little more in depth here. When I originally decided to put this collection together, I have, because I own a recording studio here, I have over the years just recorded stuff willy nilly not really thinking that I had a direct home for it. But I just like to record music because I had a studio and I could. And then when I started to formulate the idea a little bit more firmly in my mind I figured what I wanted to do was create a recording that paid homage to a lot of the great drum-centric recordings that I’ve come to know and love through the years.
Three of them in particular are…there’s a record by Art Blakey called The African Beat which is another drum-centric record that uses a lot of ethnic percussion and chanting and then there’s a Tony Williams Lifetime record called Ego which is the same, a lot of drums a lot of percussion, some vocal stuff and some bona fide song structures as well. And then the last one is a duet recording by Don Cherry the trumpeter and Ed Blackwell the percussionist/drummer extraordinaire called Mu Parts 1&2 and that is another record that featured a lot of drums and percussion and a lot of trumpet from Don Cherry.
So, kind of a stripped down approach but nonetheless my world is music and I wanted my record, this record to be kind of built up from the building blocks of those three records I just mentioned. And the lyrical content is based around this idea of creating a self-help book that you would listen to. But not like in a “do this and you’ll be saved” kind of way but more of a pop culture kind of take on a self-help book or a self-help recording. I had a bunch of these little books here that I collect like 50 Ways to See Through People or Things You Don’t Want to Hear and all of these obscure and weird kind of titles that all deal with trying to get some comfort and solace outside of religion, and that was the format I used for the lyrical content. That’s why when I asked Gordon [Gano, Violent Femmes frontman/songwriter] to write for me something about the healing power of drums and percussion, that’s how he came up with the real witty and intelligent idea of “Dr. Um,” and I thought he did a great job on that.
I collected all of these tracks over a nine-year span, so things weren’t really just put together for the album. I kind of combed through my collection of unreleased audio. So it went from the record was going to be just percussion, drums and voices but then over the years I had other people piece in guitars and keyboards and other vocals and stuff like that.
PHAWKER: The album really has this very cool “black turtleneck and shades” jazz boho beatnik vibe I was wondering what the vibe and inspiration was for the sound of the album and those albums that you mentioned totally make sense. I would add one more, Ken Nordine, the word jazz guy. He always had a very cool jazz accompaniment to what he was doing and embodied that early 60’s ideal of the cool cat existentialist hipster who wears sunglasses indoors and smokes too many cigarettes.
VICTOR DELORENZO: I can see that now that you mention it. I am well acquainted with his work.
PHAWKER: Getting back to the children’s music thing, have you considered doing something like drum/music presentation thing that you would take around to elementary schools? I mean, I could totally see that being a huge hit and think you would be the right guy for something like that.
VICTOR DELORENZO: It’s funny you say that because just yesterday I was talking to partner in the group NINETEEN THIRTEEN, Janet, and I was saying to her that as of late I would have to say for the entire span of this year I have just fallen back in love with the drums and with drum sets in particular, and I’ve been playing so much and I think my playing has really increased in leaps and bounds over the course of this year but one of the things I was explaining to her was that I have another notebook which is filled with all these ideas for a one man theater piece involving me and a drumset.
PHAWKER: That’s a good idea.
VICTOR DELORENZO: Even though I say it’s a one man piece there would be other actors and actresses that would accompany me for different things onstage as well as other musicians. But the impetus and the whole background would be from my vision. But yeah that’s along the same lines of putting something together that I could take around and present to people, not necessarily children’s oriented but I used to be in a theater company where we used to do outreach to kids so I’ve already done something like that.
PHAWKER: Yeah, I’m just saying it’s a lucrative market and it’s you know probably the best audience you could have is kids, I mean bringing drums to kids is like bringing them candy.
VICTOR DELORENZO: I know right? Yeah no that would be great.
PHAWKER: You started out as an actor before you got into drums and you were involved in a number of experimental edgy theater groups and somewhere along the way you became friends with or worked with Willem Dafoe. Let’s talk about your life before the Femmes, when your creative outlets was theater and acting.
VICTOR DELORENZO: From the very beginning I looked at music as a secondary endeavor because what I was interested in was actors and acting and film and television. And I from a young age my mother had me involved in certain promotions as a child. Almost as like a model I should say for print and also in the early days of television I did some stuff on local shows out here in Wisconsin.
But I always really gravitated more towards in the performing realm at least, entertaining this idea of being an actor. So little by little I kind of fell more into that to the point where in high school I had a real important teacher who really guided me as far as wanting to be an actor by giving me good roles in plays being done at the high school and also taking me and other groups of students up to Milwaukee to see the professional theater company here called the Milwaukee Rep, where they do a lot of really great classics and original plays. So that certainly fed my appetite. And then when I got into college I was studying at the University of Wisconsin right here in Milwaukee and I was studying comparative literature, music, and also theater. I was going to the theater department the one day I noticed on the bulletin board that Theatre X, which was a world famous avant garde theater company, was holding auditions and they were looking for a new man and a new woman to join the company and so I thought “What the hell I’ll go audition.”
I had never done an audition but wasn’t scared. So I got something together a little piece and I did the audition and the reason why they were holding auditions in the first place was that they needed somebody to replace Willem, who was leaving to go to New York and pursue his acting career. And so I went and auditioned and I floored everyone and out of the 35 men that they auditioned they gave me the part and also a place in the company. So that led to my work in Theater X and I was with them up until the time leading up working with the Violent Femmes and for a few years after that. Whenever I would have some time being off the road with the Violent Femmes I would go and do a piece with Theater X. So that’s the long answer.
PHAWKER: Tell me the story about how you became the drummer in the Violent Femmes.
VICTOR DELORENZO: I originally started off in grade school where you were given the choice to play a string instrument and so I chose a viola for a couple of years and after that I kind of fell out of music and after that I was really interested in acting and television and film so music kind of took a backseat for awhile. In the summer of 1969, my cousin Michael called me and said his friend Mark was going to Vietnam and had a drumset to sell and did I know anyone who was interested in buying it? So I thought for a minute and kind of surprised myself in that I said to Michael ‘well I’ll buy it’ and I was thinking what the hell am I going to do with a drum set and I’m wasn’t really interested in playing drums because I don’t know anything about it. So I figured okay maybe I’ll be a good guy and help out his friend so I bought his four piece drum set.
And I came home to my parents house where I was living at the time and I put the drums in the corner of the basement for a period of about two weeks and I would come home and walk past the drum set on the way to my room and the drums set was not set up because I didn’t know how to set it up and it kept giving me the evil eye until finally one day I figured okay I gotta find someone who knows how to play drums to come over and help me set this up and show me what to do. That’s exactly what I did and I got interested in it because I love learning and I was one of those people who figured I should learn the right way. So I started studying with this drummer in town by the name of Joe Pulice, and Joe was an older man at the time I would say in his mid to late 40’s and he was a drummer in Chicago during the time of the Big Bands so he was a contemporary and was friends with people like Louie Bellson, Rich Haynes and all kinds of jazz drummers. So I started studying with Joe and he got my brush technique together which I went and bastardized so I could use it with the Violent Femmes and then he also taught me how to read drum notation and I thank him to this day for those two qualities I have, or disciplines or however you want to talk about them. So that’s essentially it and so I started playing drums more religiously practicing sometimes up to eight hours a day and then it was time to go to university and I declared a major in music and at that time I started studying symphonic percussion, mostly concert snare drum.
PHAWKER: And did the fellow who went to Vietnam, the man whose drum kit you bought, did he make it back safe and sound?
VICTOR DELORENZO: He did, he made it back safe and sound, and he never asked for his drum set back. I wish I still had that drum set man that was a beautiful drum set.
PHAWKER: So, now you’re a drummer. What comes next? Tell me about the evolution of your dawning musical career leading up to you meeting Brian Ritchie, who you started the Violent Femmes with.
VICTOR DELORENZO: Well, Brian and I met through a mutual friend named Jerry Fortier and I think within the first week or so of us knowing each other we started playing together as a rhythm section. Eventually, one day he came to me in my practice space, which was in the basement of the apartment I was living at the time. He said: “Hey Victor, I have a name for our rhythm section.” And I said “oh, really? What’s that?” He said, well someone was asking me about whether or not I had any brothers or sisters and he said “Yeah, my brother’s name is Peter.” And they said “Oh, well does your brother play in a band?” And for whatever reason Brian lied said “Yeah, he plays in a band. It’s called Violent Femmes.” So then he kind of used that term to describe our rhythm section. For a long time, even when we were playing with Gordon, we were still known for a short period of time as Gordon Gano and The Violent Femmes.
PHAWKER: Violent Femmes is such a great band name.
VICTOR DELORENZO: And to us it had a particular meaning because the idea of some someone who is feminine and being very violent just was humorous to us.
PHAWKER: So what inspired the unusual drum kit you played in the Femmes?
VICTOR DELORENZO: Well, Brian and I were up in an attic of our friend Jerry Fortier’s house. Jerry was a filmmaker and we were working on a soundtrack for a film he was working on and we wanted something a little out of the ordinary. So, up in this particular attic sat a metal bushel basket, a floor tom-tom with no legs and only one-sided, the bottom head was missing, and there was a snare drum stand I brought along with a snare drum. So, mother of invention told us to put the tom-tom on the snare drum stand and then put the metal bushel basket over on top of the floor tom. At that point I was still playing metal brushes, metal bristles on the brushes, so I was playing this particular thing which we eventually dubbed the Tranceaphone in honor of Jerry’s band, The Trance and Dance band. We liked the sound because it was a very particular ping sound and also if you would scrape the bottom of the brush, it had a metal ring on the bottom of the drum brush, there was kind of a corrugated or ribbed bottom on the underside of this bushel basket so we could get kind of a percussive, scraping sound out of it. So I was incorporating that sound with playing it almost like a snare drum on the top and the side. So you’d get more of a defined ping if you played the side of the Tranceaphone but if you played the top it had a little bit more of a hollow quality because there was some distance in-between the bottom of the bushel basket and the top of that floor tom. When we started playing on the street it was more imperative that we be very portable so in that way I just started playing snare drum and I had a stand and a case it would all fit in. And then later I just started bringing the Tranceaphone.
PHAWKER: Where did the idea for you to stand come from?
VICTOR DELORENZO: Because I’m a performer, and I didn’t want to sit behind a drumset. And also being on the street. Literally being on the street and be very portable.
PHAWKER: And you couldn’t carry a stool right?
VICTOR DELORENZO: Yeah, it just made sense. I could walk around with a snare drum case that held my brushes and sticks and mallets and held a snare drum and also a snare drum stand. And I could be packed up and gone, literally within two minutes.
PHAWKER: Did you ever get run off by the cops or anything like that?
VICTOR DELORENZO: Umm, sometimes they would tell us to move along or we would be in front of a business that wasn’t too happy that we were out there attracting attention. But for the most part, I think people were charmed by it. You know, here are these three young guys and we were all pretty good looking, and it was just a phenomenon, here in town, here in Milwaukee people thought we were nuts, but at the same time they knew us. They knew we were going to be a force to be reckoned with, especially after all the publicity started happening. Of course though, the whole story with Chrissie Hynde though — inviting us to open for The Pretenders.
PHAWKER: I was wondering if you wanted to give my your version of it — for the record.
VICTOR DELORENZO: Okay sure, we had gone first to play underneath the marquee of the Downer Theatre, which was another space that we liked to inhabit because it had a nice sound underneath it — this marquee and we could make a few bucks here and there when we played there.
PHAWKER: I bet it was pretty resonant underneath the marquee of the movie theater.
VICTOR DELORENZO: Yeah, there was a sympathetic bounce to the sound — the resonance, right. So we had played underneath the marquee of the Downer for a while and then we were walking around and figuring we were going to head over to the Oriental Theatre, which was another place we would go play under that marquee. And along the way we stopped at a place called Century Hall, which was a live music venue and a restaurant. And I figured, hey let’s go in there and audition for them. We’ve got our instruments let’s go play. See if we can get a gig here at Century Hall, where a lot of different national acts and a lot of the more well-respected Milwaukee acts would perform. So we go in there, we’re directed towards this office, this fellow who books the bands was in the office and we walked in and we said well, we would like to see if we could play here at Century Hall. And he said, well just leave your — if you have a demo tape — just leave it with me and I’ll get back to you and we’ll see if we can work something out. And we said ‘Well, we have our instruments right here, can we just play for you right now and you can just see what you think?’ And he just said “Oh no no no, we don’t do anything like that, no. We can’t do that. You gotta leave a tape for us.’ And so dejectedly we walked out and figured okay, well that was a useless endeavor. Let’s continue on to the Oriental Theatre and do some playing.
So we get to the Oriental Theatre and we’re playing underneath the marquee and this guy comes out and he’s listening to us for a second, and he just kind of smiles and makes his way to the corner, which was where the Oriental drug store was, which was part of the Oriental Theatre. So he was going to go in there and buy some cigarettes or something. So on his return trip he passes by us again and stops and he listens to us, and he goes [talks in English accent] ‘You know, there’s a band in England right now called The Stray Cats, and they kind of have the same setup you blokes have,’ and he’s talking to us and we said “Oh, interesting.” But we didn’t know who The Stray Cats were. And looking up at the Marquee that said The Pretenders — we didn’t know who the hell The Pretenders were, either! And this guy goes back in and we’re playing again, and all the sudden the doors to the theater open, and this little group of people come out. There’s three guys and a girl. And so they’re leaning onto this car, listening to us and we made this song called “Girl Trouble,” and I don’t know if you know the song, it has a refrain “girl trouble up the ass, girl trouble up the ass,” and the woman is just laughing like crazy, like maniacally. She can’t believe it.
So, we finish the song and she comes over and she goes ‘Hey, what do you guys called?’ And we said ‘Well, we’re called Violent Femmes.’ And she said ‘Well hey, my name’s Chris, do you guys want a gig tonight?’ And we said ‘Yeah sure, where?’ And she points at the marquee and goes ‘Here.’ And we said ‘Oh, are you playing here tonight?’ And they just kind of look at us like we’re from Mars and they said ‘Yeah, we’re the Pretenders. We’re playing here tonight. We can’t pay you anything, but you can have anything you would like backstage to eat, or anything to drink or something like that’ and we said ‘Oh sure, we’ll do that.’ And she said ‘Well, why don’t you come out before us and you know play just three songs and it’ll be just like a micro gig.’ So we’re all excited and we’re telling people and nobody wants to believe us, ‘Yeah, you’re playing with The Pretenders, yeah sure, Victor, sure you are.’
So here comes the night and then the lights go down, the lights come up and here are these three dorks walking on stage. And people are looking at us — some people are going ‘Oh that’s those guys that play on the street!’ And then other people are going ‘Oh my god it really is Victor, Brian and Gordon, they are playing! So we played three songs, and I can’t recall which songs. It was probably “Blister,” “Kiss Off” and “Add It Up.” The Oriental Theatre held close to about 1,500 people or something. At first, everybody’s just going ‘What is this shit? Get out of here! Boooo!’ But by the end it was almost like maybe we had won over a portion of the audience and some people were clapping and laughing and they couldn’t get over it and all that stuff. So after the show we stayed and watched The Pretenders and we talked to the band afterwards and they just really got a kick out of it and they thought it was fantastic and then afterwards for weeks on end we’d hear from certain people that really thought it was great that we did it and other people just despised it and said ‘Why couldn’t a real band open up for The Pretenders? Why did they have those three dork farmers? Why the hell were they given that position?’ And it’s funny now years later, sometimes I’ll run into some people who tell me that they were there that night and tell me ‘Oh we loved it. You guys were great that night!’ And the whole time I’m thinking, ‘Yeah, did you really love it or were you one of the people booing?’
PHAWKER: So have you guys ever played with The Pretenders after that?
VICTOR DELORENZO: No. There was a time when they came to Milwaukee and Brian and I called up and got a hold of the tour manager and got tickets and went to see them, but then afterwards we were excited to see if maybe we could talk to Chrissie, and we’re hanging out backstage and they took us in this room and then they said, you know, ‘Chrissie will be back here in a minute,’ and we’re waiting, waiting, waiting, about an hour goes by and then we find someone and say ‘Hey, we’re waiting for Chrissie from The Pretenders’ and they said ‘Oh, they left about a half hour ago.’
PHAWKER: A classic backstage tragedy. You’ll never get that hour back, trust me. Tell me about NINETEEN THIRTEEN, that’s your latest project?
VICTOR DELORENZO: Yeah, NINETEEN THIRTEEN. That’s the group that I have with Janet Schiff [pictured, below right] and myself and then we use various other members depending on what kind of material we’re trying to interpret. Right now, we’re working on a piece for a dance company and creating all original music. And that piece is going to be premiered here in Milwaukee in February of next year. But we have a SoundCloud page with all of our stuff up there and I think I sent you the link, we just did a version of Gershwin’s “Summertime.”
PHAWKER: You were in the Femmes from 1980–1993, and then from 2002–2009. Two years ago the original line up got together for a tour but you only lasted four shows. What happened?
VICTOR DELORENZO: Oh, no. It’s funny how time flies it was 2 years ago. Yeah, we played 4 shows as the original lineup of the Femmes, of course our ad hoc auxiliary systems called the Horns of Dilemma, but we got together and the idea was to maybe do more shows or even a recording after that but I think as I’ve told you before I just figured out at the end of those four shows that I really was a lot better off just doing what I was already doing and I didn’t want to enter back into that world, it’s just a dark place that I really don’t want to go into unless there’s a lot of money involved or I feel really comfortable with it and at that time there was some money involved but I wasn’t very comfortable.
PHAWKER: So, but on the new album there is a sort of New Age-y cover of “Good Feeling” from the Femmes debut and also a song that you did with Gordon that you co-wrote with Gordon, I’m wondering looking back is that bittersweet for you or were you able to compartmentalize your bad feelings about the Femmes and not let the bad memories poison the good memories?
VICTOR DELORENZO: Well you know the bad feelings still don’t color my thinking about it all that much, sometimes it has an effect. But you know my mind is usually pretty civil in those terms I certainly appreciate all the great things that happened for us and also our place in music history but beyond that I’m happy to be doing what I’m doing now and I was lucky in that when I asked Gordon if he wanted to write a song with me for this record that was gonna have to do with self-help principles that he came up with this idea of drums as a therapeutic, you know something to utilize in a therapeutic way and wrote “Dr. Um” for me. Then we recorded it together and that was great. The “Good Feeling” cover was just a lark. I was in the studio with my friend Kim Manning, she plays with George Clinton and she of course has a heavy funk background. I said “Maybe we should do a Eurotrash version of “Good Feeling” because she loves the Femmes and she said “Ah, that would be fantastic let’s do that!” so that’s the version that you hear on the record and it was you know kind of tongue in cheek but you know I like the approach of it as part of that record it kind of ties things together very nicely at the end.
PHAWKER: Agreed. So, what comes next?
VICTOR DELORENZO: I just started writing a column for an online magazine called On Milwaukee and that has a readership of about 100,000 every month.
PHAWKER: Alright so let’s end on a high note here, what is your favorite Femmes song/song you’re most proud of and/or why?
VICTOR DELORENZO: Hmm, well I mean for the purposes of limiting it down to one it’s probably one you would never imagine but there’s a song on the record Three called “The Outside of The Palace” and it just has a vocal, bass guitar, acoustic guitar and I believe I’m just playing a hand drum on that recording but it’s very simple but I’ve always really loved all the lyric of that song. And then, I guess if I can pick two, there’s also another one that’s on, oh boy, I think it’s on the second album, no it’s not on the second album I think it’s on Hallowed Ground, you’ll have to check me. It’s a song called “I Know it’s True But I’m Sorry to Say.”
PHAWKER: Yeah, that’s on Hallowed Ground.
VICTOR DELORENZO: It is on Hallowed Ground and I always liked that one for a different reason because I’ve always liked the way Gordon and I sang that together. So maybe that’s a little bit of a selfish reason, but I just feel like our voices blended together well on that track.
PHAWKER: All right, since you already broke the rule and picked two, what’s your favorite song on the classic Femmes debut album?
VICTOR DELORENZO: Well of course I’d have to say “Gone Daddy Gone” because that’s the most production oriented song on there and I love it for that reason because it really filled the song for that reason and it also tipped our hand towards things we were going to do on the second album Hallowed Ground.
PHAWKER: Now, did it occur to you at a certain point that we were never going to make another masterpiece like we made on that first record, that you know, that was our moment — that it’s already happened.
VICTOR DELORENZO: Well, I think maybe because of my curse, or maybe it’s a blessing that I’m the proverbial pseudo optimist. I’m always thinking of things to come and hoping for the best — so no, to answer your question, I never looked at it that way. I find parts of all the records that we’ve made really enjoyable and also touchstones in which I can take pride and think about how this maybe influenced other music to come from other people. So, no, I mean. I don’t know if anybody ever really does that. In the liner notes to the 20th anniversary reissue of the first album, Brian said he knew we were making a classic record when we made that first record. But I would disagree with that. I think we were just putting down songs that we knew that we wanted to record. I never thought it was going to turn out to be what it is today to so many people.