Music » Music Stories

Good Advices

We have an intervention for An Angle, talk baseball and Moz with Joe Pernice, and learn some rock rules by which to live

by , and

An Angle's Kris Anaya! Glad you could make it. Your cousin Mark is in the corner, hanging out with your brothers. And everyone who played a trumpet, mandolin, cello or flute on your albums is here, too. Listen, I'm going to level with you -- this isn't really a "Becoming Conor Oberst" communiversity course. No, this isn't an intervention about your drinking, either. Keep guzzling, buddy. In fact, have a beer on me right now -- as long as you promise not to write a song about it.

It's bad enough that you titled your latest record We Can Breathe Under Alcohol, but slipping a liquor reference into every single song is worse than filling Lance Armstrong's water bottle with vodka. As your friend, we remember every incident you document: that time you passed out in the gutter, the unfortunate occasion on which you locked yourself inside the bar, the misreported instance when your blurry eyes saw us "hugging outside" when we were actually being mugged. We don't need to hear our every memory relived through orchestral arrangements and Oberstian anguish.

Also, about those last few relationships you've had -- women don't like to be told "you're an empty bottle of whiskey," even if it's intended as high praise. Remember when you wrote "You're off to college and I wish I was that computer desk/So I could see you do your tests" on your first release? It wasn't exactly Hallmark, but it was a step in the right direction.

Look, Kris, you're a good guitarist with a knack for symphonic structures. But if you want to build your career on substance abuse, start using a good-times drug like pot. People go to Cypress Hill and Kottonmouth Kings shows to light up while listening to lyrics that reinforce the coolness of their behavior. Folks at bars don't want to hear you whining about your liver and how you're drinking yourself to death while they're downing wells.

Fine, wear that lampshade on your head. I know you can still hear me under there. Just promise you'll think about what I've said, okay? When you sober up a bit, we can talk about your idea to issue simultaneous acoustic and electronic albums next year. -- Andrew Miller

Brothers in Arms
Joe Pernice is quite the Renaissance man. With his band the Pernice Brothers, he crafts lovelorn tunes sighing with angelic harmonies and the ghosts of 1980s Britrock stars -- including the Smiths, about whom he penned a book based on their 1985 album, Meat Is Murder. At the same time, the Boston native isn't shy about his Red Sox love, even going as far as encouraging Beantown slugger Manny Ramirez to go yard with last year's "Moonshot Manny." Calling from Cleveland, Pernice talks baseball, the Moz and those pesky St. Louis allergies.

B-Sides: I'm a Cleveland Indians fan, so I can say this to you -- but congratulations on last year and the Series.

Joe Pernice: I didn't do it, but yeah, I was very happy about it.

Were you watching the game somewhere?

I actually got to go to one of the games, which was excellent. I was in Boston to watch the Series.

I was by Lansdowne Street [behind Fenway Park] at a show. I was like, "Oh my God, I gotta get out of there before all the fans start coming and rioting."

It must have been insane. I was not actually in town--I was watching it on television. Too crazy out there.

What do you think of a Red Sox and Cardinals rematch this year?

I don't know. The Cardinals are really good, that's for sure. It could happen, but there's still a lot of baseball left. The Yankees scare me, they always do. Anything can happen. That's what makes it fun.

Do you have any more books in the works?

Not just yet, but I'm actually working on a movie for my Smiths book. I'm hoping to make a film of it next year. I've been writing a script with a friend from New York. We're closing in on finishing it, and then I can try to just shoot some low-budget thing. I've been writing the music for it already -- as I write the script I'm always thinking of songs for the soundtrack.

Has Morrissey read the book?

I know he has it. My guitar player's good friend is his guitar player. So I went to one of his shows last year. Morrissey never hangs around after shows; he just leaves. His guitar player took some copies of the book, so I assume he gave them to him. [Coughs] Excuse me, I'm just getting over a disease.

It's OK! Especially with this weather -- that doesn't help matters at all.

I got probably the sickest ever in St. Louis just because of the pollen one time. Which was so unbelievable. -- Annie Zaleski

Life and How to Live It
Chris Isaak may be the most likeable man in rock & roll: good-looking, easygoing, funny as all get out and possessor of one of the sweetest voices since his idol, Roy Orbison. Sure, he's never going to lead a revolution or produce an earthshaking, groundbreaking White Album, and he doesn't inspire bootleg collecting or obsessive fandom. But as a rule, you shouldn't trust anyone so black-hearted that they hate Chris Isaak. In honor of his upcoming St. Louis show, here's a list of other rock rules by which to live your life.


If someone says Bruce Springsteen is a poet of the working class, that person is not working-class.

Politics never make music better. Never. But they can make music much, much worse.

People who talk about "real country" usually have no place talking about rural America. Especially clueless are those who only count left-wingers as authentic country, when most country fans are conservative. However, Toby Keith does suck.

(The above is a corollary to the famous adage, "People who say they like all music except country don't really like music at all.")

Matters of the heart (and loins)

If she's into the Doors, check her ID.

The first mixtape -- or, today, burned CD -- he makes you will teach you more about him than the first six months of conversation.

Makeout music warning signs (by age group): Joy Division, Nine Inch Nails, Dashboard Confessional. At breakup time, don't say we didn't warn you.

Choosing Marvin Gaye shows a lack of imagination.

Furthermore, a straight man who chooses female-fronted make-out tunes will be a less attentive lover than a man who chooses male-fronted tunes. Interestingly, the opposite is not true of women -- and both Björk and Nina Simone tunes are exempt from this rule.

After getting dumped, getting really into Exile in Guyville is a sign that you are on the road to recovery.


Never drink with someone with no guilty pleasures. Do you want to have boozy singalongs to Wire?

Jimmy Buffett fans aren't wrong, they are just drunker than you.

The more Phish bootlegs they own, the more pot you should buy from them.

If you're going to puke, you might as well do it to the Velvet Underground's first album. It's like spewing in a movie. -- Jordan Harper

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.