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Inside the Issue: #792 (November 2017)

Featuring Midnight Oil, Brian Wilson, Ecca Vandal, Eric Wareheim, King Parrot, the Go-Betweens’ Lindy Morrison, Gordi, the National, Randy Newman, plus Taibbi takes on Tweeter-in-Chief Donald Trump.

Issue #792 (November 2017) is out today, available via the usual stockists and our online store.

For the cover-story, we spend time with Midnight Oil as they criss-cross the United States on The Great Circle Tour (which heads Down Under later this month).

David Fricke:

The long road to The Great Circle began, for guitarist-keyboard player Jim Moginie, in a hotel corridor somewhere on Midnight Oil’s 2002 tour, supporting their 11th studio album, Capricornia. “I was walking down the hallway with a guitar,” Moginie says, “thinking, ‘I’m 45 years old. And I’m still doing this?’

“There was a slight grimness toward the end,” the guitarist confesses. “We were trying to recreate the success of Diesel” — the Oils’ biggest album outside Australia, going Top 20 in the U.S. — “and feeling like our luck was running out.” Moginie could see “the political thing” growing in Garrett too. In December, 2002, the singer announced that he was leaving Midnight Oil. “I had plenty of mixed emotions,” he wrote in Big Blue Sky, “but relief was the strongest; I just had to let it go.”

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The issue also features an interview with Brian Wilson, as the Beach Boy looks back at life lessons and darker days.

Jason Fine:

It’s a month before his 75th birthday, and he seems awed by the milestone. “Goddamn, 75,” he says. “Motherfuckin’ 75. I can’t believe it.” He says this not with dread but a kind of wonder, like a child who one day woke up an old man. In the past, a big birthday might have thrown him into a tailspin, he admits, but “I don’t have valleys or peaks anymore. I don’t get too high or too low. It’s been a long time since I’ve had serious depression, or elation. Mostly I’m just pleasantly depressed.”

Further afield, Matt Taibbi analyses the madness of Tweeter-in-Chief, Donald Trump, posing the question: is he crazy enough to be removed from the presidential office?

Matt Taibbi:

Trump wasn’t always crazy. He wasn’t even always obnoxious. Many Americans don’t remember, but the Donald Trump who appeared on TV regularly in the Eighties and Nineties was often engaging, self-deprecating, spoke in complete sentences and (verbally, anyway) usually lived up to his expensive schooling. He’d say things like, “These are the only casinos in the United States that are so rated”, and use words and phrases like “a somewhat impersonal life” and “money isn’t a totally essential ingredient”.

The difference today is striking. Trump has not only completely lost his sense of humour, particularly about himself, but he’s a lingual mess. In his current dread of polysyllables — his favourite words include “I”, “Trump”, “very”, “money” and “China” — he makes George W. Bush sound like Vladimir Nabokov. On the page, transcripts of his speaking appearances often look like complete gibberish.

“When I did this now I said, I probably, maybe will confuse people, maybe I’ll expand that,” he said to Lester Holt in May, “you know, I’ll lengthen the time because it should be over with, in my opinion.”

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Alongside these stateside stories, Michael Dwyer chats with Melbourne singer-guitarist, Alex Lahey, as she prepares to release her debut LP I Love You Like a Brother, we check with metal-maniacs King Parrot and editor Rod Yates talks to Ecca Vandal about her all-or-nothing, self-titled debut.

Rod Yates:

Eschewing the notion of a plush studio was both a financial reality and in keeping with Vandal’s DIY approach to her career, a value she’s fought hard to protect. “I had to maintain that, but by going through the process of finding a place to release your music, it can start to slip away,” she says. “Being DIY is at the creative centre, it really means a lot to me, and part of [my] development was going, ‘OK, what do I want to maintain, what can I let other people do with my music?'”

The issue also features interviews with Mick Fleetwood, Josh Pyke, our latest Living Legend subject, the Go-Betweens’ Lindy Morrison, the National, Gordi, The Peep Tempel, Robert Plant, St. Vincent and British India’s Declan Melia, as well as playlists from Justin Townes Earle and Randy Newman. Plus, we get up close and weird with comedian Eric Wareheim.

Jonah Weiner:

A few years ago, Eric Wareheim took a photo of his then-girlfriend’s naked ass and sent it to an ice sculptor. Wareheim likes to throw raucous house parties “based on different parts of anatomy”, he says. “I did one called Black Cock [black light and penis-themed]. Another one was Laser Boobs.” The sculptor took Wareheim’s photo and used it to carve an enormous ice butt, which became the centrepiece of an ass-­focused party called Snow Booty. The sculpture had a canal carved into it that served as a conduit for booze, with its lower opening at the butt hole. “My girlfriend made booty juice” — tequila and grapefruit — “and we all did shots out of her ice ass,” Wareheim says. The party also featured a snow machine and a white-apparel dress code, though the latter was rendered moot when people stripped down and jumped into his pool. Clothes have a habit of coming off at Wareheim’s parties: One time, he hired a male stripper, “and then these girls I know who strip started doing these hardcore moves and kind of freaked him out”. How crazy do the parties get? “There are limits,” Wareheim says. “People hook up, but it’s not, like, an orgy.”

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