The Chain Letter Interviews: 4Knots Festival

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Kurt Vile

One day, one chain. In this single-shot version of our Chain Letter interview series we headed to Village Voice’s 4Knots Fest on June 29 to play Never Have I Ever with Hunters, cackle with White Lung and appreciate the subtle flavor of Bud Light Lime with Kurt Vile. As the boats swayed on the South Street Seaport, we asked each of the bands to give us three questions to ask the next band, who give us some for the following band, and so on. Let the mini-chain remain unbroken, and may Kurt Vile’s awesome guffaw never die.


Trapped in the press room without air conditioning, we kept our eyes peeled for the unmistakable pink hair of Hunters’ Isabel Almeida. We chatted appropriately about sweating to Wakka Flocka, the perils of headbanging and local color, and everyone learned a fun new party game.

What’s the most disturbing thing that’s ever happened during one of your shows?

Derek Watson: When you got a concussion at Death By Audio.

Isabel Almeida: Oh yeah!

Derek: I felt her head hit the floor. I thought someone had dropped something, but it was actually her head hitting the floor. And you know how the floor there is all checkerboards and everything…I looked over and she was on the ground. But she, like, popped up, and I thought she’d bit her mouth because her mouth was bleeding.

Isabel: And I kept playing, I was fine. I was drinking all night. And then the next day I woke up and I was like, “Woah, I totally don’t feel right.” My eyes were all puffy. I went to the doctor and he told me, “Dude, you have to take the week off from work,” and I was like, “YES!” [Laughs]

Derek: Yeah, it was more disturbing afterwards because I was worried something stupid had happened.

Did you just fall, or…how did you and floor come into such intense contact?

Isabel: I don’t know what I was doing! I was just headbanging, and I guess I was too excited and didn’t realize how far the floor was, and it was closer than I thought. It happens a lot at shows. You get really caught up in the moment and fall on each other or…we always hurt ourselves. We don’t really feel it on stage because of the adrenaline, but the next day you’re like, “Woah!” But yeah, other crazy things – there was also that guy. Remember that Harley Davidson guy that came into the show and started requesting songs? Where was that?

Derek: Oh yeah! That was in Texas. Yeah, this big biker dude came in –

Isabel: And he was WASTED and had no teeth –

Derek: And he was standing there, shaking his head “no” during some songs.

Isabel: Then we started playing the heavier stuff and he was like, “YEAH! Everything should sound like that!”

Derek: “Do another one like that!” So we had a big-time heckler, but we ended up hanging out with him afterwards.

Isabel: That reminds me, too – we played a show in Detroit that was in, like, a Polish restaurant.

Derek: That wasn’t disturbing, but it was fun.

Isabel: It was kind of disturbing. During soundcheck, this lady –

Derek: This 78 year-old Polish lady came up and started grinding our bass player. It was REALLY funny! I enjoyed that, not disturbing at all.

Isabel: I enjoyed that too, but I’m sure it was disturbing for him.

Awesome, making friends! So have you guys played Never Have I Ever?

Derek: No, but we can start now.

Really?!? Oh man…I want to hear your best Never Have I Evers, so here we go: You just have to say something you’ve never done, and if the other players have done it, they have to drink. Derek, you start!

Derek: Cool! I got this beer…Never have I ever seen Titanic.

Isabel: I have, unfortunately.

[Isabel and Kerri drink]

Isabel: Never have I ever driven a car.


Isabel: Yeah, I don’t know how to drive. I’ve always been terrified of driving, and then I just got to a point where I got too old, you know? Where all the rest of your friends have been driving since they were 16. And now I feel like the weirdo who never drove, so I don’t trust myself anymore.

[Derek and Kerri drink]

Derek: Your turn.

I’m going to say one that I’m going to break pretty soon: Never have I ever been on a big-ass boat.

Isabel: Man, just today!

[Derek and Isabel drink]

Alright, last question: Now that it’s hot outside, what’s your favorite song to sweat to?

Derek: Oh shit. Maybe Waka Flocka “Bustin At Em” is probably my favorite, or “Hard in Da Paint” – that’s a good one too.

Isabel: Or Riff Raff – what’s that one that I love?

Derek: “10 Is What They Rate Me.” We’re going all hip-hop on this, even though it’s not what we usually listen to. But it’s good to sweat to!

Isabel: To be totally honest, some Rihanna.

Derek: No, that’s a lie. I’m drinking for that because it’s not true.

Isabel: [Laughs] He hates it, but I like it. I don’t have it on my iPod or anything, but when they play it in the store I’m like, “Yeah!!”

Derek: We got the new Roomrunner from those dudes the other day, and that’s pretty fucking awesome, so we can say that as well.

Isabel: And Bleached.

Good summer tunes. Before you go, what three questions do you want to ask the next band, White Lung?

If you HAD TO bang anyone in your band, who would it be?
Would you rather have to skip everywhere for six months – even in awkward situations like a funeral or something – or have someone chew up your food at every meal and spit it into your mouth so you’d eat like a baby bird for six months?
What was the worst show you ever played?

White Lung

Still glistening indoors, we re-grouped to chat with White Lung where singer Mish Way bounced off the booth in her tight leopard pants, a ball of energy even in the oppressive heat, and drummer Anne-Marie Vassiliou confronted her fears of kissing Mish and public humiliation via skipping.

If you had to bang anyone in your band, who would it be?

Mish Way: Anne-Marie! Anne-Marie definitely. [Ann-Marie laughs] Kenny’s like my brother, and no. We’re close. We know it would be fine.

Anne-Marie Vassiliou: Do we all have to answer? No way! We’d all take Mish, yeah sure, fine. [Laughs]

Mish: One time, though, actually – remember at Chrissy’s bachelorette party – we had to kiss as part of a game.

Anne-Marie: I couldn’t do it.

Mish: Anne-Marie’s look of disgust! She’s like AUGH!!! Could not get close to me. I’m like, “Am I THAT gross?”

Kenneth William: There’s no way I can win here.

Mish: EW! I don’t want to know. Next one, next one.

Would you rather have to skip everywhere or eat like a baby bird for six months?

Anne-Marie: I would do the bird thing.

Mish: No I would skip.

Kenny: Skip.

Mish: Cause I would be getting exercise too.

Anne-Marie: But you know how you would look? [Laughs]

Mish: I don’t give a shit.

Kenny: Do you know how you would look in a restaurant with someone spitting in your mouth?

Anne-Marie: I wouldn’t go to a restaurant! I’d eat at home.

What was the worst show you ever played?

Anne-Marie: I feel like there’re a few, but what’s the absolute bomb?

Mish: Oh, I know! That show in Houston! I hated that.

Anne-Marie: Well, there were, like, five people there. I feel like there have been worse crowded ones.

Kenny: Yeah, that one was awful, but I feel like it was the audience that was awful. But for us being terrible, two weeks ago we played North by Northeast, I was blackout drunk. That’s the worst I’ve ever played in my life.

Mish: Oh I don’t even remember being on stage!

[All laugh]

Mish: I do not. I started drinking and partying at, like, 4pm. I crowdsurfed – give me a break!

Anne-Marie: No, no we’re talking about the night before.

Kenny: That one was good!

Mish: But I don’t even remember being onstage!

Kenny: [Laughs] No, you were fine.

What three questions do you want to ask the next band, Kurt Vile?

What is the golden rule of maintaining a successful marriage or romance?
What was the most traumatic or impactful moment of your childhood?
Do you remember when we hung out after your show in Vancouver the first time you played there?

Kurt Vile

After another half-hour of slowly soaking through our clothes, we could finally behold the epic wonder of Kurt Vile’s locks bobbing towards us in tiled backroom, slightly hunched over and quick to let out a huge, goofy grandpa-style guffaw when confronted with White Lung’s queries and the delicious magic of free Bud Light Lime.

I’m supposed to ask if you remember the blonde from White Lung – over there. She said you met in the back room at the Biltmore in Vancouver…?

Oh. OH! Crazy! If she’s who I think she is, she’s very nice. [Laughs]

Cool, well I’m glad you remember Mish, she’ll be happy to hear that. Her other question was: What is the golden rule of maintaining a successful marriage or romance?

Oh man, I don’t know because it just depends on the two people. It’s not like there’s this perfect potion, you know. I can’t give the – you got to be with the right person, you know?

Rule #1.

Rule #1. [Laughs]

What was the most traumatic or impactful moment of your childhood?

Traumatic or impactful. Oh…frick. These are tough questions.

Usually they’re more fluffy, funny questions than these, but what can I say? Everyone wants to get deep with you.

Yeah…maybe, like, being told not to chew hard candy because you’ll choke, and then I just swallowed hard candy but it didn’t go into my windpipe, and I called my cousin and I’m like, [shrieking] “I’M CHOKING!” and I’m, like, crying really loud the whole time. Like, as if I could cry if I was choking…[Laughs] That’s the punch line.

Do you consider yourself a goofy person?

Well, I guess deep down I’m a serious person, but I’ve totally sugarcoated it my whole life with goof upon goofiness.

Okay, so I don’t think we’ll be talking to another band today, but I’m curious…what three questions would you want to ask the next band?

What do you think about these new Bud Limes?
Uh…fuck, nothing’s as good as that question [Laughs]…uh…How do you feel about Australians? [Laughs]
What’s your favorite Rolling Stones song?
We’ll let them off easy.

So how is that Bud Light Lime?

It’s delicious. It tastes better than Bud – a lot better. It’s refreshing. It’s really good and refreshing, but it tastes like the kind of thing that might come up and bite you if you have, like, ten or something. But a few on a hot day…it’s perfect.

For more 4Knots Fest coverage go to our Photos Section.