|Interview with Heavy Trash in Japan staythirstymedia.com.
View the full interview with photos, music and links at the following address: staythirstymedia.com/200802-018/html/200802-heavy-trash.html
Deciding The Boss of Canned Coffees: Perking Up With a Jetlagged HEAVY TRASH
By: Michael Lara
“What I don’t know can never hurt me. I live a life that’s working for me… Under the wires somewhere out there.” Bringing together two CRAMPS’ classics is a fine way to quickly distill the brewing between fellow blues-infused astronauts Jon Spencer (vocals, guitars) and Matt Verta-Ray (guitar, vocals), but 70’s spawned superheroes and more were to be discovered in their brimming cups this fine evening:
Thirsty: I know you (Jon) need the coffee. Now, here you go.
Jon: Is this a blind taste test?
No. Neither of you can read Japanese. That helps.
Jon: Yeah, yeah, but the labels have a lot of graphics. Should we get some cups to pour them into? Is it important?
It would be great. I asked Ryuji (Victor A&R) earlier if they had some, but he said they didn’t in this building.
Jon: They probably have some cups here. You know what I mean?
Really? If they did, that’d be best.
Jon: Yeah, then it’d be a true taste test.
Matt: You brought different kinds of coffee? Alright (slight smile).
You do have cups! You said you didn’t.
Ryuji: Ah (nervously smiling), he (Jon) found them.
Jon: Ah, should we leave the room and come back?
Matt: Need a minute?
Yeah, that works. Give me a bit. Thanks.
Jon: Just let us know when you are ready.
(Jon and Matt exit as 8 paper cups are laid out, 4 cans of coffee crack open and are poured)
Okay, come on in!
Jon: You ready?
Yeah, this is going to be fun.
Jon: It’s all the same (concerned).
Ah, you think they are, but only in the same style cups.
Jon: Oh okay. So one is for Matt and one is for me.
Jon: Okay, so what do you want us to do? You want us to go left to right or what?
It’s up to you. You can both decide on that. Now, I don’t know if you are Tommy Lee Jones fans at all…
Well, he’s “The BOSS” of coffee here. You see him everywhere. So a taste test to see which canned coffee is ‘mas macho’ so to speak of these four. Of course there are at least 20 different kinds of canned coffees here in Japan so I had some limitations.
Jon: Shall I go ahead and start?
Jon: Do we have to drink? I mean, like true wine tasters, we’re not really supposed to, we should spit it out right?
Ah, but uh, we have nothing to do that in.
Jon: Hmmm (first coffee sample).
Matt: Well, I don’t know if that’s macho, but it’s all comparative right?
Yes indeed it is.
Jon: Ah, this one is quite sweet.
Matt: It’s got a butterscotch finish.
Jon: This one is watery (grimacing). That’s not very, a lot of coffee flavor in that one.
Matt: Nah, not much bite. That’s caramel.
Jon: This is just sweet.
Matt: Yeah, but wait.
Jon: We may not have the same. I don’t know.
Matt: There’s a little more complexity to this one.
They’re all the same. I lined them up exactly for each of you.
Jon: I’m really down on…
Matt: Alright, here comes number 4.
Jon: Gosh, these are all pretty terrible. It’s sad (both laughing).
Well, this is a desperate measure for the morning commute you know.
Jon: I would have to say the first one. When I went back and tasted it again. Is this the boldest? Is there none bolder? They make black variety, don’t they?
Yeah, they do, but again, if I bought all 20 plus variety that would be…
Jon: Yeah, so what you’re saying is that canned coffee is for commuters?
Well, yes primarily that or after a rough night of drinking which I am sure you have seen here before. I know you (Jon) have been here many times before, but this is your second time right?
Matt: Yeah, that’s right.
And so people will be chugging these like no tomorrow in the morning, but also after a good night out. The canned coffee phenomena in Japan, I think no one else has it.
Matt: Yeah. I think it’s pretty cool. The whole vending machine culture is really great.
So which is number one?
Matt: I think I’d go with number one. I’d go with Jon on that.
Jon: What is number one? Tell us.
Number one happens to be Vintage Label by Georgia (owned by Coca-Cola).
Jon: Oh yes, of course. That’s not Tommy Lee Jones. Which one was Tommy Lee Jones?
He had two here, but a bunch more are out there.
Jon: But Tommy Lee Jones is not on the can.
No, he’s not, but he represents Boss in all their ads, which is owned by Suntory, the famed whiskey maker.
Jon: Oh yeah, it’s relaxing time. “Make it Suntory time (slight smile).”
Matt: I had a request back home for Suntory Whiskey. Is it good whiskey or is it just sentimental?
Well, this is a huge whiskey drinking country. I had no idea until I moved here, but there are so many varieties so it depends.
Jon: Do they have a license for Ray Charles singing “Georgia” for its coffee?
That’s a good idea, but I have no idea.
Jon: Didn’t they?
I don’t think so.
Jon: Maybe time for some Heavy Trash then.
Now since it’s the New Year, here’s a Japanese calendar for you both. So, what’s on the front burner for 2008?
Matt: Cool. Well, it’s gonna start tomorrow morning at 5 am with a trip to the fish market (Tsukiji) and sushi straight after that off the ocean. That’s one of our plans. Um, also I quit drinking on January 1st and today is what, the 16th right?
Matt: 16 days (proudly beaming).
Matt: It’s just an experiment (grinning). Well, I might fall off the wagon tonight.
Ah, that reminds me of my pursuit to be a vegetarian. I made it to about 3 ½ weeks. Then I went on a huge Jimmy Dean sausage-filled breakfast binge.
Matt: You went back on Jimmy Dean, I’m gonna go back on Jimmy Beam!
Jon: Jim Beam (deep voice).
Matt: So wait, how many days you make?
Ah, it was… 24. Yeah. 24 days in total.
Matt: Oh, so I just need to top that then I’m back on the sauce.
You’re almost there! Now Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and time for some sweets (Just Born brand Hot Tamales) for you.
Jon: Were those hard to bring into Japan?
Oh no, but you know, when you’re abroad, you like to bring something back.
Jon: Yeah, on our way over, we saw a woman getting shaken down at the airport. She had 4 or 5 big tubs of JIF peanut butter. She was trying to carry them on.
Jon: They said you can check it, but she was just so angry. She was an elderly Japanese woman. Taking away her JIF peanut butter.
Well, here’s something that both of you will appreciate and can easily bring into any country. I’m not sure if you’ve ever listened to this (handing over a CD titled Raunchy Business: Hot Nuts & Lollypops.).
Jon: Wow (as both look at the track listing).
Matt: “Shave ‘Em Dry”
Jon: Looks great.
It might make it difficult not to drink. Jim Beam time is a coming shortly.
Matt: (with an endless smile) ‘Banana In Your Fruit Basket.’
So what makes it raunchy or clean?
Matt: Well, you know, specifically there are dirty words or concepts like Blowfly or Andre Williams or Rudy Ray Moore or something like that. Then there’s this sort of implied raunchiness that can come from a certain feel on the drums. Drums can sound real dirty. Jon and I both worked with Andre Williams, which is kind of a raunchy fellow (smiling) and ah, I actually had the honor of working with Rudy Ray Moore, ‘Dolomite’ and he was just the coolest guy.
Right on. How did that happen?
Matt: He was asked to sing on an Andre Williams’ record I was producing. What presence. He was kind of quiet and self-contained, but when it was time to record, he turned on like a light switch. He became so dynamic.
Now if we could just get those 3 together onstage with Jon and Matt-a true electric company. If you catch Matt or Jon on the street or at a gig, ask them how Mr. Beam is, but definitely steer clear the topic of canned coffees.