“I’ve just received a hefty volume aboutElliottSmiththat’s been put together by the photographer Autumn De Wilde. Flicking through, it looks great, and it really hammers home something that bugs the shit out of me when people often talk or write about Smith. It’s just too easy to write about him as this “troubled”, “unhappy”, “doomed” figure, to spend an hour with a profoundly shy man and divine from it that he was somehow not long for this world. Of course, Smith had problems: at times, when I was never quite sure whether he was talking on or off the record, he was fairly explicit about them to me. But really, the habit of simplifying his life into one inexorable downward spiral winds me up time and time again; it reminds me, too, how glib writers can come across – and i’ve certainly been guilty of this – when they try and psychoanalyse their subjects. Continue reading →
“Tonight we had another morale raising performance here on our camp, a band named “Brickfoot.” As I have explained elsewhere in this blog, Armed Forces Entertainment contracts with a variety of musicians and comedians to tour camps and bases around the world in an effort to provide a temporary distraction for soldiers. I can honestly say, that this was the best AFE sponsored show I have seen, partially because of their brand of music, some of the artists they chose to cover, and for the unfettered support they showed the troops. This evening, the band played a variety of cover songs, from the Beatles and some other classic rock favorites, to originals they had written, to some more obscure modern “indie” songs. What impressed me most about this band was their covers of the White Stripes, Radiohead, Coldplay and most of all Elliott Smith.
“It is simply this: my name is Eric Dover. I perform under the moniker Sextus.
My brief history in a nutshell is joining Jellyfish in 93, singing for Slash’s snakepit in 95, and Imperial Drag Sony/Work in 96. It was at the end of the album touring that I began to have what might be called by some a rather nasty Saturn return’ depending on whether or not you are into such things.In any event, it was at a rehab in Arizona that I first met Elliott. Sierra Tuscon was the name of the facility just to authenticate.I had come off of two years straight of life on the road and I was quite distressed, my new marriage was unfamiliar to me, Roger Manning, my partner in Imperial Drag was anxious for us to get the second record out. Nobody could understand that I was suffering from extreme exhaustion and poor nutrition and that I needed time to establish my environment. Enter my meeting Elliott Smith. Continue reading →
“We’ve been lucky to play with a lot of great bands. One of my favorite memories was when we were asked to open for Elliott Smith at the Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa, CA. At the end of his set, he invited us on stage with him to play, “Can’t Make A Sound” which was a dream come true.
He had a big smile on his face when we were playing that I will always remember.”
“He told me he didn’t need heroin anymore. I was there in the transition period between the well-documented problems that were going on and during his rehabilitation at the institute. Paranoia? For sure. But it wasn’t constant. Granted, I wasn’t with him 24-7, and I was in no position to interrogate him, but what I’ll say in general is things were really fucking bad prior to the rehabilitation institute, when he was moving out of the Snow White castle, or whatever you want to call it. Then – into the institute and then over to Jen’s – dramatic changes. Russ Pollard would be like, ‘I can’t believe it. I haven’t seen Elliott looking this good in so long.’ He was a new person, and he was groggy and irritable and, yeah, paranoid, but then he was funny and warm and vital… still frail from the treatment, which was very radical. It was a rebirth – it was all about reclaiming his greatness and his identity and everything. Yeah, obviously he was still suffering some problems but he was doing better and everyone was taking note.”
“Some years ago, when a couple of friends ‘ were turning 30 and were all bummed out, I was like, who cares? It’s like nobody cares but them. But then, it happened to me a little bit, too. A few months before my birthday, it started to be on my mind. Then, two months before, it started to be a drag. Up until the last moment it seemed like, well, maybe I’ll get hit by a truck and I won’t have to turn 30. Then it happened and it didn’t bother me anymore.”
“I’ve never been to mardi gras. I have a friend who lives there who says it can be kind of gross and I’m interested to see it, but I don’t have any real plans. Probably drink a lot of hurricanes or something. I’m not going to be running around in the street telling people to take their clothes off or anything like that.”
“I just wanted to do something with him, and between Either/Or and XO, he came down to my studio. I sat him in front of a binaural head, which is this grey foam sculpture of a human head with two specialized microphones in each ear hole that has this incredibly realistic stereo effect. So we sat down in front of this ludicrous device and he sang two songs, which became other songs later—one was “The record that plays over and over/ There’s a kid in the story below” lines from “Bottle Up and Explode!” The other one ended up as “Going Nowhere”. I didn’t have anything good to add to them, but I have these a cappella versions. I wish I knew where I put them.”
“Elliott was a shy person, and he took a little while to open up. There’s a better word than “polite” or “courteous”, but he was the kind of person who certainly did not ever want to offend anybody. On the other hand, he did what he wanted. He was fragile in some ways, but he could always pull himself up by the bootstraps.
After his death, people said to me “You must not have been surprised. You must have seen this coming.” Well, no. Your parents get old and they’re going to die. Then when they do, you’re shocked. You hope against hope it won’t happen. I last saw Elliott in May or June. Through September, we’d been playing phone tag – he wanted me to come out and see his studio and hear From A Basement on the Hill. That was the week before he died. We were talking about the possibility of me helping him mix the record, but we didn’t get to hook up.