You're fairly new to living in Los Angeles. How did you end up here?
Well, I kind of dropped out for a couple of months, and I was living in here...
You mean in this van?
Was it parked down by the river?
Too bad. So you were living in the van...
And I hung out in Los Angeles for a week, and something about it just really resonated with me, especially coming from Seattle, where I was just bored. And being down here and not knowing anyone, it was just really exciting.
So you like it?
My criteria for liking living somewhere is a little weird, but I would definitely say that I like living here. I really like exotic stimulation. And as an entertainer, this is kind of the DNA of the American entertainment experience. And there's something so comical about me being here. Occasionally I like slipping into this mindset like, ‘I'm in Hollywood to make it bbbbiiiiigggggg!’ It's hard to explain how I make myself laugh by thinking about it that way.
When you say it that way, it makes me think of you on a stage, tap-dancing, and getting hit in the face with a pie. Something very old school.
Yeah, people are so glib now. When you look at what passes for entertainment these days, it's rarely ‘The strange! The spectacle! The bizarre! The morbid! The beautiful!’ It's not really that kind of stuff, it's more like [affects boring robot voice] ‘This is what it's like when you get pregnant: The movie.’ Or ‘Getting married is hard.’ Movies are just about middle-class people trying to have kids, and it's so droll. I like the weirder shit.
Hence your videos, which seem to involve tripping at funerals and S&M haircuts, among other things. How involved are you in the videos?
I conceptualize all of them. I can't really make an album right now because of the schedule, but I can make videos, and that's how I'm spending my creative capital right now.
Aubrey Plaza is insanely bad-ass in the video for "Hollywood Forever Cemetary." That video told more of a story than most movies.
There's deep empathy in Aubrey's performance. She's essentially playing me in that video. Part of that song was inspired by the fact that I went to my granddad's funeral. I had missed all of my other grandparents' funerals because I was on tour, and been more or less kind of estranged from my family, and I got an email that was like ‘I don't care where you are, you're coming to this funeral.’ And so I went to it and was like, ‘This is the most awful way to commemorate a human life.’ And I always knew what funerals were like, but attending one for someone who was close to me, I was like, ‘This is awful.’ Which is kind of a selfish thought, but the modern Western style of funerals is the worst kind of funeral in the history of civilization. There's like zero catharsis. It's just you know, some bullshit about Jesus, and I just wanted to destroy the whole thing. It was kind of like impotent rage, which I think comes out in the video.
What videos are you working on next?
There is a video for "Sally Hatchett" that is completely ridiculous. My shirt is covered in fake blood from that video. It takes place in a pizza parlor. There's a lot of blood. I am really fucking psyched.
Not to turn this into an interview about the internet, but your Twitter is really funny.
People really think that I'm, like, a dick, like a total dick. Because the expectations for what that medium is supposed to do are like majorly over-inflated. It's like, ‘Dude, I'm not bearing my heart and soul on Twitter, I'm just saying stupid shit.’ If I was my Twitter account as a person, I would be the most unlikeable person imaginable!
I liked your Tweet that was ‘My favorite part of that story was when you and the other person realized you both love dogs.’
That tirade was from overhearing these banal conversations that you just hear everywhere. And last night, I heard someone say ‘And then, on top of it all, we both realized we love dogs!’ and I'm like, ‘Dude, seriously? That is miraculous to you?!’