John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees is all over the place, somewhat of a multi-tasker. During our recent phone interview with the singer/guitarist, he was riding a bike home from a friend’s house where he had dropped off his pet turtle, named Turtle Buddy; then carrying a large plant down a flight of stairs and later giving away a drum kit from his home (he’s in the process of moving).
“My life is insane," says Dwyer, 35. “There’s been no break with this new (solo) record and I’m moving and I have an art show coming up; so it’s pretty much full-throttle right now.”
Between Thee Oh Sees — who play Bug Jar on Sept. 17 as part of Rochester's indie fest — and his solo project, Dwyer released three albums last year. This year has seen the release of the band’s Warm Slime, complete with 14-minute title track, while Dwyer works on another solo album and shows his pencil drawings and photographs in a friend’s San Francisco vintage clothing shop.
We spoke with Dwyer a week before his garage-punk-pop act took to the road to promote Warm Slime.
You were formerly in bands Pink and Brown, Coachwhips, Yikes and many more, but you’ve been with Thee Oh Sees longer than any band. Why do you think this one has worked out?
With this outfit it’s probably been 5 years. I think it’s … less ego than when we were all younger. This band has — I’m knocking on wood right now — a good sense of cooperation, and I don’t want to say mutual respect (laughs), but we play well together and everybody sort of anticipates next moves with each other and improvisational stuff and, I don’t know, everybody’s cool.
Tell me how Warm Slime came together? You recorded it in eight hours?
Yeah, we did it all in one day, we just played it like a set. Everything was pretty much done in one take. We rented out a club … and had an open bar for 12 hours, some of our friends came by … and it was just an excuse to get drunk really. But we didn’t actually get loaded since we had to record a record that evening. I over anticipated everyone’s desire to drink; I was actually a little disappointed in everybody for not getting Irish wake-loaded.
Where were you finding inspiration for the lyrics on Warm Slime?
Books I read or life in general, I guess. I don’t know, the lyrics come from wherever.
Why was 2009 such a productive year for you recording-wise?
I don’t know; it just kind of worked out that way. We were just writing a lot and we had a ton of material. I don’t think we’ll be putting out as many records this year but I have no qualms about releasing this much material. People always have complaints, some people say “quality versus quantity, blah blah blah,” but … I don’t really care what people think.
It sounds like you just like to stay busy.
This is the kind of environment I thrive in. I felt my heart racing weirdly, lately, but we’re all getting older — who knows? That’d be quite a way to go — my heart bursts while I’m riding my bike with my turtle in the back. That’d be pretty sweet! Everybody would be like, “He what? No! Did the turtle survive?”
Where: Bug Jar, 219 Monroe Ave.
Cost: $8 ($10 for ages 18-21 with proper ID)
For more: www.Rochesterindiefest.com, www.BugJar.com or 454-2966