Inbox: Girl Talk

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Sure, we're always curious to know about an artist's upcoming release, most recent tour, or arsenal of analog gear, but XLR8R's also got a curiosity for quirk. Thus, each week, we email a different artist and find out what makes them tick, in the studio and in life. Today we talk water-balloon launchers and Blues Traveler with Gregg Gillis, the inimitable force behind Girl Talk.

What are you listening to right now?

I'm listening to an album by this band called Pivot. This is my first time ever hearing them. Someone gave me this CD while I was in Europe last week. It jumps around from prog-y experimental stuff to magical-sounding dream music. I'm into it.

What's the weirdest story you've ever heard about yourself?

Sometime around 2003, I was scheduled to play at show at Earlham College. Some friends and I went to the college the day before the concert to hang out and party on the campus. We were raging pretty hard and we ended up on the roof of some building. It had rained earlier and you could slide down the roof, like, 40 feet or something. We were having a great time when the campus police busted us. We had open alcohol containers and they blamed us for some other crazy stuff that went down on campus that night. It wasn't a huge deal, but they would not allow me to perform the concert the next day. I ended up filming an apology that they aired on a TV and VCR combo during my time slot at the show. Anyway, I think the legend of that story [has been] built up a bit over the years. I met a girl last year who was currently going to Earlham and she heard that I got into a fist fight with three police officers and was put in jail for a couple days after smashing one of them in the head with a beer bottle.

What band did you want to be in when you were 15?

I was friends with a Pittsburgh electronic pop group who played computer keyboards on guitar straps; they were originally called Revo, then [they] changed their name to Operation Re-Information. I met them when I was 14 at a Silver Apples concert at Carnegie Mellon University. They were definitely the people I was looking up to when I started to get involved [with] my first bands. They were amazing and I would have loved to be in that band.

Worst live show experience?

There have been so many rough ones over the years, it's hard to pick! In recent years, one of the worst was opening for Blues Traveler at Red Rocks on the Fourth of July, 2007. I thought it would be interesting and potentially funny, but it was just rough. The people who booked the show basically expected me to play background music, which is something I've never done. I like to go 100% from the get-go and always make a performance out of it. I was forced to start a few minutes after they opened the doors. So it's 6:00 p.m. in this giant, beautiful venue, and there's, like, 15 people casually rolling in and I'm already sweaty and ripping my shirt off. I just went nuts with it and everyone was kind of like, "What the hell is happening here?" The sound guy kept me at a barely audible level. It got dark for everyone involved, especially me. Blues Traveler ripped it up that night though.

What was the most someone's paid for Feed the Animals?

I got an email today from the guy who runs Illegal Art, the label that releases my music, and he said someone dropped $100!

Favorite venue to play in?

Local shows are the best! Pittsburgh! I like being able to take a cab from the venue to my house at the end of the night.

What is your favorite thing you own?

I just got back from Best Buy. I have been using the same TV since I was in high school. I bought a flat-screen TV. I'm pretty pumped about it. That's my favorite thing that I own tonight.

Name one item of clothing you can't live without.

I have a t-shirt from a rap group called Dogg & Pony. It's been my most worn shirt over the past eight years since I got it. There's a logo on the front, and it's all in spray paint. The shirt was really stiff when I started wearing it, but, over the years, it has become really comfortable. It's kind of falling apart and I'm worried about living without it at some point down the road.

What’s more annoying: copyright laws, gas prices, or airport security?

I have the most problems with airport security. Let me keep my shoes on, man!

What did you always get in trouble for when you were little?

My friends and I had a three-person bungee water-balloon launcher. This thing could shoot water balloons over 100 yards. It was serious. We would light up every house on the block.

Which pop star would you most like to work with?

Michael Jackson. I want to help with the comeback.

What's the last thing you read?

Queen's A Night At the Opera liner notes and lyrics.

Complete this sentence: In the future...

Current YouTube quality will look so 2008.

Stupidest thing you've done in the last 12 months?

I haven't had a haircut.

What's next?

I have no plans for anything beyond watching Bloodsport on DVD tonight.

Last Week: Steve Bug