Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Ian Harris at Futureappletree Too
The morning that this session was recorded here in Rock Island, Illinois, Mike Watt got out of the driver's seat of the van he and his adopted brethren of Il Sogno Del Marinaio were riding around the United States in, as only he can. It was with a bluster and with a heartiness that is typical of the American rock and roll legend. He's a loud, jovial talker. He's one of those men who as manly and as charming and warm as they come. He could be intimidating if he wanted to be, but he'd rather be a gentlemen and part of this, for Watt, is teaching the lexicon of the common American folk to this gang of Italians, whose name translates to "the sailor's dream." He was discussing the phrase, "Close but no cigar," upon arrival before this taping and he was thorough. We're led to believe that after they'd packed up later that morning that they might have been strongly encouraged by Watt to exercise the usage of the phrase in conversation, hopefully leading to its spread back to their home country. I'm only getting a tiny bit off-topic here. The fact of the matter is that, as an artist, Watt has hung his hat on always doing what he wants and in fostering new ground and fresh ports for his fertile mind. His contributions to these pieces of music are wildly explorations of a subconscious mind that is always running, always clipping along, churning out asides and thoughts as fast as the juices flow. He speaks about George Orwell in very abstract ways and turns the phrase "born in a barn" into the more unorthodox "born in a bar." These are moments of beautifully irreverent streams of conscious subconsciousness, taking us into these warped wharfs where every character feels wobbly, exhausted and salty as hell. They feel like sunburnt, Hemingway men, just clawing to get back to the shore for the pour of the nightcap.