Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Very Candid Conversation With Gary Wilson



The seventies was an era where musicians, such as KISS and Alice Cooper, dressed up in crazy outfits, wore makeup, and performed wild stage shows at their concerts. Yet, no one could match solo artist Gary Wilson when it came to dressing up and putting on a stage show. While KISS and Alice Cooper performed heavy/hard rock, Gary’s music was more avant-garde and experimental. His music mixed lyrics of sexual frustration with Steely Dan-like melodies. At shows, Gary would dress up in cellophane or duct tape, or had paint or flour spilled over him.

Gary also played with his own band, the Blind Dates. The Blind Dates would dress up and sometimes pour flour or paint over Gary mid-song.  While the Blind Dates performed with Gary, they never recorded on any of Gary’s albums. Some of his stage shows were so off the wall that the electricity would be cut off so Gary and the Blind Dates would stop playing.

In addition  to an original look and stage show, Gary had a unique process of recording his 1977 avant-garde rock album You Think You Really Know Me. He played nearly all of the instruments (bass, keyboards, guitar). Gary recorded and edited the album in his parents’ basement. He released the album, pressing 300 copies in 1977 and then another 300 in 1979. Well known songs on the album are “6.4=Make Out,” “Groovy Girls Making Love on the Beach,” “Chromium Bitch,” and “I Want to Lose Control.” He continued playing shows and released a few singles in the 1970s. A native of Endicott, New York, Gary would move to San Diego in 1978 (where he still lives today) to find a record label deal. In the beginning of the eighties, Gary had ended his stage shows and no longer recorded music.

Although Gary was no longer pursuing a solo career, he continued to play professionally for other artists such as Roy Bird and the Coasters. In 1996, Beck mentioned Gary Wilson’s name on his hit song, “Where It’s At,” on the Odelay album. As a result, fans were interested in Gary Wilson again. Motel Records wanted to re-release You Think You Really Know Me, but Gary was difficult to find. Motel Records had even hired a private detective and were unable to find him. Eventually, in 2002, Gary was found in San Diego playing piano for lounge singer Donnie Finnell (whom he still plays with today) part-time and working at an adult film theater at night.

Motel Records re-released the album in 2002, and Gary’s solo career would “resurrect,” as he calls it. In 2005, a film documentary titled You Think You Really Know Me: The Gary Wilson Story, portrayed Gary Wilson’s life and was shown at the Lincoln Center in New York. Gary released more albums and toured during the 2000s. Some of the albums were released by Stone Throw Records, a hip-hop label run by DJ Peanut Butter Wolf. In addition, Gary had quite a few famous fans, such as Beck and the Roots. The Roots invited him to play with them on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2010. Simpsons creator Matt Groening and rapper Earl Sweatshirt were other famous fans as well. Sweatshirt sampled Gary’s song, “You Were Too Good to be True” for his song “Grief.” In 2015, Gary would appear with Sweatshirt and BadBadNotGood on Jimmy Kimmel Live! At the time of this writing, Gary continues to tour with his own outrageous shows.

In this interview, we talk about the beginning of Gary’s music career. We discuss his album You Think You Really Know Me, as well as his shows during that time. In addition, we talk about his solo career ending and being revisited decades later. We also talk about what Gary is currently up to. I want to thank Billy James from Glass Onyon PR for setting up the interview, but mainly I want to thank Gary for his time. 

Jeff Cramer: What inspired you into the world of music?

Gary Wilson: My father was a string bass player. He had a good gig. He played in an old house band with a quartet at a hotel for twenty-five years. All the Wilson family played instruments throughout our school years. My sister played the cello, and I loved cello and bass.

When I was eight or nine years old, my father would go to a store on the weekends and buy me some singles. At that point in time—it was 1960 or 1961, I believe—I became a big fan of Dion and the Belmonts. I was a big fan of him and his song:  “Runaround Sue” and “Lovers Who Wander.” Anyway, I was in fourth grade and that’s when I wrote my first song, which was very much influenced by Dion. My mother would curl my hair to look like Dion.

The Beatles came out when I was in sixth grade. I saw them on The Ed Sullivan Show. I was still a Dion fan at the time, but I quickly changed by the seventh grade. I was twelve years old and played with a band. At that point, my dad bought us a Farfisa organ, a piano with an electro-amplifier. We had a Lowrey organ in the house as well. The Wilson family had a few instruments: string bass, cellos, a tuba, and a big old Lowrey organ. In the beginning, we used to transport the big old Lowrey organ, but that was a pain in the neck.

By the time I hit the eighth grade—I was thirteen—I joined a rock band called Lourde Fuzz, and they played a lot of gigs. They were good. They were a bunch of Italian kids who lived within a four-block radius of Endicott. They needed an organ player, and in the late-sixties, there was some of the best rock music. Our mothers or parents would take us to the gigs. We worked all the time. Lourde Fuzz actually had a good chemistry. You know, bands can sometimes look good, but if they don't have a good chemistry, you can sometimes hear it or see it.

In the late-sixties, there were a lot of places for kids to play with bands, with psychedelic lights, for example. I remember playing the Hullabaloo Club. I think we played there with 1910 Fruitgum Company, which had a single, “Simon Says,” a bubblegum song [1967].

I was in a rock band and we were playing all the big stuff—some Stones, some Jimi Hendrix, Grass Roots, the Turtles, you know, all those bands back then, and we did them well. Plus, I was playing in our school orchestra.

Then all of a sudden I became interested in more weirder stuff, weirder music. I gravitated toward bands like the Mothers of Invention and Captain Beefheart. That was fun, because when I was in high school— I was fifteen or sixteen—I got a chance to meet Captain Beefheart and give him a demo tape. He came to Ithaca, New York.

Then I became interested in painting—Robert Rauschenberg and Pollack—all those avant-garde artists. I was interested in anything avant-garde, so it could be jazz, it could be theater. Back in those days, they used to have cultural shows with hosts and my dad would wake me up on a Sunday morning to see Allen Ginsberg or Robert Rauschenberg. It kind of fascinated me (we had cable in a very small town in upstate New York, but a lot of people didn’t). That inspired me to be interested in Varèse and Schoenberg, so I started writing classical music and eventually I became interested in John Cage. [Note: John Cage is one of the most influential avant-garde composers of the twentieth century.]

JC: Obviously, John Cage would be a huge influence.

GW: That became a real turning point, you know. My brother was going to SUNY [State University in New York] Binghamton. They had a good music library, so I went there and listened to music on headphones. I put on a piece from John Cage called “Concert for Piano and Orchestra with David Tudor on piano.

It was recorded in 1958 at Alice Tully Hall, and I’d never heard anything like that. So, when I heard Cage and that particular song with David Tudor, who was my favorite piano player, it was just . . . wow. I brought my tape recorder and taped it. They allowed you to do that—tape off a library recording.

I would listen to that all the time, in the shower or other places I used to hang out at home. That got me into the stranger music. I was in a rock band, but Cage just kind of drifted into my direction, incorporating influence into my rock band.

JC:  You would meet John Cage.

GW: I met John Cage when I was fifteen. I was in the tenth grade. I had been writing music for our high school’s chamber orchestra at that time. My violin teacher said, “Well, why don't you try to get ahold of him [Cage]?” I got ahold of a New York City telephone book because I was from upstate New York in Ithaca. And lo and behold, Cage’s number was listed in the phone book, so I gave him a call and he gave me a post office box to send some scores to him. I followed up the conversation two weeks later by calling him and he invited me to his house. My mother drove me up there. He lived in Haverstraw, New York, at the time, outside of New York City.

I still look back at that incident. I was just talking to somebody last night about that story. I can't figure out how that all came about. There I was, a kid from upstate New York, one hundred fifty miles away from New York City. The finest music colleges would love to have a one-on-one with John Cage—

JC:  Yes.

GW: —let alone to be invited to his freaking house.

JC: Yes.

GW:   My mom drove me up there, and we got lost in the woods. There was a general store in that area, and I called John Cage from the store and said, “Hey, Mr. Cage, I can't find your house.” So, he came down in his car. I think he had a Thunderbird—a big Thunderbird, not the sporty one. He picked me up at the general store, and my mom followed behind in her car.

I was making small talk with John Cage as we’re driving to his house, and then for hours we went over my scores and he would correct me. He'd say, “Okay, how do you think a trumpet is going to interpret that?” Or, he would scribble something out of my score and tell me to do it a certain way. That was probably one of the more magical moments of my life. He had a big influence on me.

JC:  How did the ideas come up for You Think You Really Know Me?

GW: Well, that took a few steps. I was still searching for who I was—Gary Wilson. I would even go sometimes to a John Cage show in New York or at the local university wherever he was showing. I thought, “Wouldn't it be nice to see somebody in front of this John Cage show with a bucket of flour on him and wailing about some chicks?” Or, “Wouldn't it be nice to see Tony Bennett come out in front of the John Cage show with a sack of milk over his head or something?”

Everything was kind of developing in my brain. When I got out of high school, I recorded my first album, Another Galaxy [1974], which was  just re-released on Feeding Tube Records [2016], where I was playing acoustic bass. It was an instrumental album. At that time, I wrote a lot of fusion music. At that time, you only had to be eighteen to get into bars, so I could go to New York City to see Don Cherry or Pharaoh Sanders in these small clubs in the Bowery. I would go see all these guys and then the fusion thing was happening, so that led to the first album. I did a single called “Dreams.” The B-side of “Dreams” was “Soul Travel.” Both “Dreams” and “Soul Travel” were a fusion-oriented instrumental. [To hear the single for “Dreams,” click here.] I still wasn't quite famous.

At the same time, I joined a band led by Peggy Lee's piano player playing bass. Peggy’s piano player was a real good jazz guy. I joined his lounge group which had a girl front singer. I learned a lot from the piano player. Like my dad, I’m a professional musician and a bass player.

We played the better places around the area. I had a lot of things going on. There were some moments where I wondered if the band would do a total avant-garde show even though they weren’t an avant-garde band.

So, on my own time, I would do these shows, very John Cage. I would dress up in duct tape and paint straw and hay—it was total avant-garde.  I'm thinking, “Okay, I got to put a little more musicality into this somehow.”

All of a sudden, I made these demos and tapes of songs like “Chrome Lover” and “I Wanna Take You on a Sea Cruise.” I still wasn't ready to make You Think You Really Know Me, but my solo stuff had taken a turn, and I focused on my solo stuff more than my professional gig.

I had submitted a couple of demos to Bearsville Studios, which was near Woodstock. Robbie Dupree, a singer-songwriter from the seventies, had a few hits like “Steal Away,” “Brooklyn Girls,” and some other songs. He was the producer who produced me because he liked the demos. He brought me up to Woodstock. Bearsville Studios was the best studio I'd ever been in. I always tell people about it. I don't use studios that much, but that was just insane the sound of it.  I was around twenty-three at the time and we ended up recording the “Groovy Girls Make Love at the Beach,” “6.4,” “I Wanna Lose Control,” and “Chromium Bitch,” but we had the drummer from the band Orleans [Orleans is best known for the hits “Still the One” and “Dance With Me”]. He was on drums, and we had a vibe player [the vibes are a percussion in the mold of xylophone or glockenspiel]  and the most beautiful piano.

We finished four songs and I stayed in Woodstock for about four nights. I remember that it rained every night. Then I came back home and Robbie Dupree’s career took off. He didn't have any more time to devote to this project. To make a long story short, I said, “Well, I'll just go back to my cellar, and since I did the demo, I'll just do the whole record.” So, I started the process and returned to You Really Think You Know Me. There was a lot of editing, scissors, you know . . . just cutting the tape.

Gary making You Think You Really Know Me (1976 or 1977)

I was finally liking it and actually wanting to put my name on something. [To watch the official video for“6.4=Make Out,” click here.]


You Think You Really Know Me album cover (1977)

It was always, “Where's Gary Wilson?” I did all these funk instrumentals, but I needed to find who Gary was, and that was the turning point of growing up. I finally reached a point where I felt happy to have my name on the album. When I put that out in 1977, I pressed it myself, tried to promote it myself, sent it out to radio stations, and then I got my first gig at CBGB.

JC: That was in 1977, at the time when punk bands, such as the Ramones, were often playing at CBGB.

GW: Yeah.

JC: And you mentioned writing jazz fusions on the first album. There was a lot of jazz fusion music on You Think You Really Know Me. A place like CBGB expected straight-ahead punk music, rock like the Ramones, but they weren’t getting that kind of music with you.


Gary Wilson at CBGB (sometime during the ’70s)

GW: Well, it's funny, because a lot of the New York City audience would yell at me. I don't like to use words like “punk” and all that, but a lot of the audience members would actually get mad at me because I'd drag up a Fender Rhodes piano or something like that. They'd start yelling at me. Back then, a lot of guys didn't like Woodstock. Things change, but I have to say New York City was always pretty good to me.

JC: One thing I want to say about the album is that you played a majority of the instruments on You Think You Really Know Me.

GW: A few of the tracks have a drummer named Gary Iacovelli. He played the more technical parts of some of the stuff. I used him on my first album, Another Galaxy. He was a real jazz funk drummer. He could play anything. We basically grew up together. I tried to play everything. That's kind of the way it always seems to work best for me. I don't know why, but I can concentrate better when it's mostly me and my vision. I kind of picked up some instruments along the way, so that's the way it works.

JC: Okay. But you would tour with the band, the Blind Dates. With the whole stage show, how did the idea of being covered in flour or covered with plastic wrap start?

Gary covered in plastic wrap

GW: Well, when I got interested in weird music, classical and all that other stuff, one of my favorite painters was Robert Rauschenberg. As a teenager, I got into a lot of painting shows—these big shows where I would take six-foot-by-six-foot plaques of wood and chairs and tires and hay and red paint. I remember a few of these art shows where I'd be in these arenas and I'd have these huge six-foot three-dimensional things. I would stand in the distance and watch. There was a lot of fine art there and potential art buyers would walk by everybody's art. The buyers would always stop at mine. I'd have titles like, She Kissed Me Last Night, and I'd have an eighty-thousand-dollar price tag on it. Nobody ever bought them, but I was learning how I could make myself into one of these messy paintings that I used to make. 

The Blind Dates, with Frank Roma and Vince Rossi, was a band I played in, and we all grew up together. Because we lived in a small town, it wasn’t easy to find outlets. Luckily, we were close to New York later, but as a young kid, I was looking for any outlet I could get into and I tried places where we shouldn’t have been in. The Blind Dates and I were looking for kicks. So, I'd go into a place where they were expecting a polka band and I'd bring in the Blind Dates. Frank Roma liked to put contact mics on chalkboards screeching with fingernails and do that for forty minutes. I guess we were having a good time.

Gary Wilson (2nd from left) and the Blind Dates

JC: Obviously, you had a good time, and I'm sure the Blind Dates did too, but I was reading that at times during these shows, people were pulling the electricity to try to get you to stop.

GW: Yeah. Well, that happened quite a few times. I remember we'd need a police escort. We'd go into these small towns in upstate New York where they didn’t even want us, and crowds would just want to kill us or something. We encouraged it in a sense that we would irritate the audience while they wanted to nail us. Our guy would pick up his mike stand and try to get out. It was dangerous in some ways.

You know what's funny about that too? The Blind Dates and I did a show with Arial Pink at the Echo a few years back and they pulled the plug on me. That's funny because I got to play the Echo on Sunday, but all I could remember was that I was on the ground and the bass player had some kind of waterproof paint that he was pouring on me. The feedback was going off as that was happening. One of the bouncers was screaming in my ears and I couldn’t see him because I was covered in paint. There was stuff in my eyes and he was yelling at me to shut up, and he was screaming at the bass player. Of course the Blind Dates were enjoying it. Now we were really fucking aggravating the guy. Next thing they yanked the plug on us.

That's what John Cage told me in one of the small talks: “If you don't irritate the audience, you're not doing your job.” Somehow, that stuck in my brain.

JC:  While you and the Blind Dates were having fun, the fun ended in the eighties.

GW: I started playing and people weren't interested anymore. I never really quit even though people say I did. Funny enough, I never really listened to blues much growing up, but I ended up being in a blues band in 1980 because they had the gigs and they needed a bass player. That led me to play bass for the Coasters and Roy Brown and Big Jay McNeely, and all these real legends of blues. One of the real gigs we did at the Whiskey a Go Go was with Roy Brown. I don’t know if you’re familiar with him. He had “Good Rockin’ Tonight.”

JC:  Oh, yeah. Elvis did a cover.

GW: Yeah, Ricky Nelson did a remake. A lot of guys did remakes, but he had hits like in ’49 to ’51, so I had the privilege of playing with him. He was trying to make a comeback. So I ended up playing bass with him for a while and that was real interesting. People talk about Chuck Berry. I thought Roy Brown was doing rock and blues before Chuck.

Roy Brown was headlining at the Whiskey a Go Go and it was a good one. I think we had Sir Douglas Quintet opening for us. It was electrifying. It was wild. It was the real thing. The original sax player from all of Roy’s old albums was playing with us.

During the 80s, I met my long-time girlfriend for a while and she was a student at UCSD. She was into the visual arts. She and I would do a lot of performance art. She lived in California and she made two films. I was in the center of the film wearing a wedding gown. We were just a real avant-garde show. We kept doing that. We did public access and once in a while the Blind Dates would play a reunion show, but that was pretty much it. In 1997, Beck came out with the Odelay album. Then people got a bit of interested in Gary Wilson all of a sudden.

JC: When were you aware about Beck’s interest in you?

GW: Well, that's what was funny—the whole thing. At the time, I was getting into my depressing years where I was working the midnight shift, and I was duct-taping my goddamn sneakers together—that's how bad it was sometimes. I would get on the bus at midnight and head up to my old job at the theater.

Gary sometime during the 90s or 2000s 

I was watching the MTV Music Awards when all of a sudden Beck comes out and starts quoting “6.4” and “I Want to Lose Control.” I'm like, “What the . . . ?” That was before I even heard that he knew about any of my work. I didn't even know my name was on the album because I didn't have the album, but I knew he was talking about me.

So around that time in the 90s, some record company from Olympia, Washington, came down because they went to some Beck shows and he was playing “6.4” or something, and they wanted to re-release You Think You Really Know Me. But nothing came of it. All of a sudden, they all disappeared and that's another story in itself.

It’s 2002, I was still working the midnight shift at the old store and I didn't have a phone. I was at work when my guitar player from the original Blind Dates, Vince Rossi, contacted me from Endicott. He still lives in Endicott. He said, “Yeah, some guy from a record label in New York is trying to get ahold of you. They can't find you. Can I give them your number at work?” And I said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” So Motel, the New York record label, gave me a call. I didn't know how serious they were or anything, but they promised me a little bit of money, so I said, “Yeah, sure. It’s fine if you want to re-release You Think You Really Know Me.” They said, “You know, you were name-checked on [Beck’s song] ‘Where it's At.’” I was surprised to hear that.

Motel Records re-released my album You Think You Really Know Me in 2002 and it just overwhelmed me. All of a sudden, everything exploded. The New York Times ran a story with Neil Strauss writing. People from the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and all these papers were coming over to my apartment and interviewing me. Then all of a sudden, I made my first trip back to New York. [Documentary film maker] Michael Wolk  shot a documentary about Gary going back to New York in 2002.  The documentary would be released three years later.

You know, I'm real thankful that everything kind of worked out that way. It's persistence in some ways, you know?

JC: Right.

GW: I always call it my “resurrection” in 2002.

JC:  Having the 2005 documentary, You Think You Really Know Me: The Gary Wilson Story, play at Lincoln Center is a tremendous thing.

You Think You Really Know Me: The Gary Wilson Story documentary film poster

GW:  And, like you say, the Lincoln Center thing. That's watching your story on a state-of-the-art screen. One of the film screenings was  sold out, and Lincoln Center Film Society threw a big shindig for me at the Lincoln Center. I was hanging out with these ninety-year-old Russian ladies and all kinds of people. It was really neat. I've had some pretty good moments in my life.

JC:  One of them had to be going on the Jimmy Fallon show and playing with the Roots.

GW: That was really a marvelous time, for sure.

JC:  How did all of that take place where you got to be on the Jimmy Fallon show?

GW: Well, that was because of Questlove [drummer of the Roots] who has been a big supporter of mine for a while. I released one album, Electric Endicott, [2010] and then the label told Questlove I had a new album out. Next thing, I’m on Jimmy Fallon. Yeah, that was really neat. I still remember Questlove walking into the dressing room, and right before we went on he said, “Gary, you know, I've played with a lot of different people, but you're the one I'm most excited about,” or something to that effect.

 JC:  Yeah.

GW:  Rehearsing with the Roots was a real kick. You know, it’s hard to tell these musicians how to play your music, because they do it real well. They would put my record on the computer and each track would be each musician within the band, so they would try to match up as close to the original track when you're playing. So, I felt a little intimidated trying to correct the Roots. [To watch Gary play with the Roots in 2010, click here.]

I just thank God all the time, you know? It's great. As a matter of fact, I did the Jimmy Kimmel show, too. Remember the one with Earl Sweatshirt? [To watch Gary play with Earl Sweatshirt in 2015, click here.]

Gary (2nd from left) on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

JC: Yeah.

GW: That association with Sweatshirt came from Stone Throws Records. They’re a big part of my being resurrected. Actually, Stone Throws Records, or shall I say Peanut Butter Wolf [Peanut Butter Wolf is a DJ who runs the hip-hop label Stone Throws Records] wanted to re-release You Think You Really Know Me.

JC:  Really?

GW: That kind of blew my mind as well. In 2004, I read an interview with Peanut Butter Wolf, and he was saying, “I wanted to do that album and then Motels Records beat me out of it," and then we hooked up and he ended up releasing Mary Had Brown Hair. He’s a good friend of mine, actually. I've done some shows for a Stone Throws Records party. Some of the crowd didn't like me or something.

JC: Really?

GW:  Peanut Butter Wolf jumped on the stage and scolded the audience [laughs]. A few times, Stone Throw Records threw a shindig at an LA club. I would come in with a sheet on my head or something and they wouldn’t let me in. I remember one time the band was vamping. They were playing my intro and the doorman wasn’t letting me in. All of a sudden, I had to make an emergency call to Peanut Butter Wolf to help me [laughs]. [To watch Gary and the Blind Dates perform “Linda Wants to be Alone” for a Stone Throw Records party, click here.]

JC: But in general, how's it going on the stage now? For the most part, the audience must be expecting a wild performance from you this time around.

GW: Well, when I was resurrected, I wasn't sure how far I could take it. What I find now is the wilder the better in some ways. But when I played at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco, the owners got mad at me. I don't know if you're familiar with that club, but—

JC:  No.

GW: That club docked me because of the mess we made up there on the stage, so the Bottom of the Hill still hates me [laughter], but that's the owner. With the audience, I can do what I want now and totally know it’s acceptable. The people want it and that's kind of neat.

I always try to think, "Well, what do I want to see Gary Wilson do? What do I wanna see him play?" And I kind of throw that into the context of what I'm doing with usually an enthusiastic audience. It’s been great. I mean, it's been what, thirty years since I started?


Recent picture of Gary (center) and the Blind Dates

JC:  Do you also play with other musicians besides your own shows?

GW:  Yeah, I play with Donnie Finnell. I’ve been with him since ’85. He's a little older than me. I would just play piano and bass behind him. Sometimes left-hand bass, on a separate keyboard of a piano, or another keyboard. And we got a trio with a drummer, and then he sings. We do music like Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole and Mel Torme, you know, all of the standards. We play lots of stuff. He likes jazz. He’s a jazz pop singer.

I always did keep my music persona with Donnie separate from my persona for my solo stuff. I play with these real conservative bands that are playing real straight music. And that’s an audience that doesn't even know anything about Gary Wilson. [You can hear Gary play with Donnie Finnell by clicking here.]

JC:  Yeah.

GW: They're just thinking about their Johnny Mathis song [laughs]. Then, I will do my other thing with my original music and the two music personas would keep my sanity, one way or another.
I appreciate good musicality—my love for Debussy and the well-organized song. Some of my favorite music is impressionistic classical music. That can bring a tear to your eye. I'm just fascinated with how it can make emotion happen within the chord structures. It's such pretty music. I guess you could say that’s how Gary Wilson happens.

JC:  What was the wildest gig? Can you recall the one that had the most volatile reaction?

GW: Well, one of the top three wildest performances was actually a conservative gig. I was playing a New Year’s gig for the president of a top timeshare country in the world. It was situated in San Diego, so we played at their New Year's Eve party. I was at the president's house, you know, this mansion. He and his wife had the whole place decked out beautifully. The men were wearing tuxedos. The women wore gowns.

Also, my band was finishing the night and it was nearing midnight. Suddenly, we hear all this crashing going on in the other room. I look up and all of these women wearing gowns—and they’ve got blood on them—are running down the hallway. It’s getting noisier and noisier. Then there’s the sound of breaking and raging, and all of a sudden there's a fight between the son and the owner or something, and one the guys goes flying through this huge picture window. Boom!

JC:  Oh my goodness.

GW:  They go through the glass and are rolling along the glass outside. Some people are trying to break it up, getting cut by the broken glass. The band is like, "Holy Jesus. Let's get out of here."

JC:  Wow!

GW: But as far as my own show, I'm not sure which one sticks out. In one Blind Dates’ show, one of the Blind Dates was smashing his keyboard right next to me. I was on the ground and I had to move out of the way or I was gonna get hurt. I did fall off the stage in Seattle not too long ago. That was an injury, actually. The shows all have their own characteristics, I guess. I can't think of which one was the wildest.

JC:  What’s next on the agenda for Gary Wilson?

GW:  I've got a Christmas album coming out.

JC:  Oh, really?

GW: That’s my newest one. I think it’s coming out in October on Cleopatra Records, but it's composed, new Christmas-themed songs, Gary Wilson-style, so that'll be fun [laughter].

I’m doing these shows in New York and Brooklyn. I got an eleven-piece band back with me. There are strings and horns, and an opera singer and kind of like a chamber ensemble with a band, so that's kind of neat to hear. As for me, I just grab a goddamn bedsheet or something, throw it on me, and I feel comfortable with what I'm doing, how far I can go with it, and what I should do with it.

Recent picture of Gary in costume



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