UTG’s Billy T Interviews HEALTH! [at Harvest of Hope 2009!]


Evenings at the Harvest of Hope Festival brought discussions of remixes, Peter Pan and all things that are good when Billy T and HEALTH get together.


John from HEALTH: I’m John Famiglietti and I play bass and other noise stuff

Jake from HEALTH: Hi I’m Jake Duzsik and I sing and play guitar and do other miscellaneous stuff

[UTG] Billy T: What is happening recently with HEALTH?

John: We’ve got a hot new single coming out april 7th on 7-inch

Jake: 7-inch is in the UK

John: And no, not 7-inch for you but it will be on the internet and I know you have that. There will be a new album later this year

Jake: We finished recording and mixing, probably, but for all intensive purposes it won’t come out until early September.

UTG: Who is putting it out?

Jake: Love Pump out of New York.

John: Maybe someone different for Europe.

Jake: We hope we’re proud of it. It will come out soon enough.

UTG: What has touring been like?

John: This is us getting back into touring and we will be for all this year. The time we did this album, holidays until now, we had not been touring. This is the second show we played in months.

Jake: This has been the longest stretch that we ever not played shows since we’ve been a band, so we’re trying to get our legs back under us. We’re finishing the record and trying to figure out what its like to be a band again.

(BJ joins the interview)

BJ from HEALTH: I’m BJ, I play drums.

[UTG]: Your live show is so energetic – what fuels that?

John: TODAY? On stage we were fucking miserable. Sometimes it’s hard to play under certain conditions.

Jake: For me personally things are problematic – we have a lot of pedals and if its light out you can’t see the led displays on the pedals and you don’t know what is on or off and that wouldn’t normally be a problem. I’d say my mood today on stage would be characterized by being super pissed.

BJ: I was exhilarated because I went from being super pissed to super happy to super pissed again. I would forget that we were pissed then I would look at you guys and realize we were pissed still.

Jake: You were pissed because we were pissed.

John: The energy comes from passion, just pure passion. The spiritual window opening in my ass, that’s where it comes from kids.

Jake: I will say that sometimes when everything is right and it feels good and sounds good and you’re not super aware, that’s great. Additionally we’d like to say that any neuroses that we express are our problems not the festivals.

BJ: Professor Eddie is really cool, and its only a few people that put this thing together which is really cool.

[UTG]: A little more about you guys as a band – what are the individual influences that make your sound?

John: For myself its mostly music, recording music, the love of music and just gear, because that makes the music for me.

Jake: I wont speak for anyone else, but I would typically call bullshit who say well you know, I’m really inspired by the philosophical writings of Schopenhauer, and abstract painting and raw vegan cuisine. I’m not reading Gerta and being like oh, this song really needs to extend the boundaries of philosophical thought. I’m just like I want this song to rock and if that part doesn’t rock then Im not like lets rethink this on another level. I’m not like lets get out some charcoal draftsmanship pens and think about the color blue. Thats bullshit to me, I think as far as influences go you write something and then evaluate it and say that feels good or doesn’t feel good.

[UTG]: And then you bring it to the other band members and collaborate?

Jake: We write totally together all the time. We don’t so much write in separate spaces. There might be a vocal element or drum element but essentially everything is written in conjunction.

BJ: The only thing I really write is drum parts, and when I come to the group its with a beat. Coffee, a little weed, early in the day, maybe in the shower. I write good beats on that. Drumming for me is a release and if I don’t do it for a few days I freak out. It’s like squeezing the hose. These guys know what I’m talking about.

[UTG]: What is your ideal non-music related profession?

John: I’d be a pirate. No, I’m not hard enough for that.

Jake: Like a Peter Pan pirate?

John: And hang out with young kids all day? Like I normally do?

Jake: Subquestion: Here’s the thing that always fucked me up about Peter Pan, especially “Hook”. You know the one with Dustin Hoffman? Ok, so weirdly enough anyone ever find disturbing that the little kids just kill pirates? They kill grown men. They’re like, I like to ride skate boards and eat imaginary food and I just threw a rock and his head cracked open and he died.

BJ: It was on the other day and it occurs to you that there is a war between adults and children.

Jake: And by the way, as far as the Hoffman/Robin Williams movie, Rufio is the most flaming gay dude.

John: I thought Rufio was cool.

Jake: No he’s cool, he’s sexy, but when you watch it again, he’s like on Santa Monica and El Grand at night. So you need to edit this whole part…

John: I thought thats where this interview got good.

Jake: I think you should just have the intro, then the whole Peter Pan Freudian violence analysis.

John: Did you ever think about that as a girl?

[UTG] Billy T: I was mad that Peter Pan and Wendy never got together and I was jealous because I had a crush on Peter Pan.

John: Well yeah, it’s funny because Wendy just wants it but girls mature faster than boys and Peter Pan doesn’t get it.

Jake: Classic example – she wants him to kiss her and he gives her a fucking thimble. Maybe thats the ultimate symbolic gesture because you’re there long enough and then you’re like I have to fulfill my evolutionary duty and go back to London and fuck someone. There’s fish women and pirate guys…

[UTG]: Why does it gotta be about sex? Shouldn’t fairy tales be sexless?

Jake: It’s this fairy tail universe, and its not sexless, and this one’s more fucked up than usual because there’s no way for reproduction. There’s no fathers, no mothers and everything has been decried. You cant make kids. All you can do is live in a tree and kill people. Think about that Under The Gun Review!

[UTG]: How’d you come up with the band name HEALTH?

BJ: Basically, it was sexual frustration. Jake met John and couldn’t have sex with him. After Jake couldn’t have sex with Jupiter after reading Peter Pan.

John: It’s really hard to name a band in the 21st century. Koala T was a bitch wasn’t it? We wanted a name that was an everyday word, like Television and Magazine. We tried to name the band Medicine and we go on the internet and oh, there’s already a band named Medicine. You want a band name with 3 syllables because all the best band names have 3 syllables. Second place was HEALTH because Jake came up with Medicine.

Jake: Also there is a Robert Altman film that uses “H.E.A.L.T.H.”, but its an abbreviation with dots in it and its all caps and it looks good.

John: If there was another band called HEALTH than its plan b to use the all caps version.

[UTG]: Tell me more about Europe.

Jake: It’s a confederation of states.

[UTG]: Your plans for Europe?

John: We love touring Europe and we’re going back in April and probably going back in August and we’re going to play festivals no ones heard of and ATP.

[UTG]: Do they react differently to you versus the American audience?

John: I feel that we are possibly more popular in certain parts of Europe than America, but I don’t know.

Jake: I think we’re better received in London than any American city.

John: I don’t know if thats it but there seems to be a different level of respect or mystique that our bands and bands in our genre have in Europe.

[UTG]: What was it like to start out in the L.A. scene?

Jake: Early on being a band in L.A. there wasn’t a focused limelight where you’re talking about The Smell and a lot of shows you would go to would be noise shows, like pure noise, like a guy with a mixer and playing white noise and manipulating it. We always thought that was really cool because its so overwhelming sonically. You can’t really be talking to your friend and have the going on. We wanted to have a band and we said there’s no fucking way we’re not going to have drums, they’re magical. We wanted to incorporate those noise elements into actually having a band and that was a big thing and figuring out how to have rhythmic elements and pure noise.

[UTG] Have any of your songs been remixed?

Jake: We have more remixes than we have songs.

John: Are you fucking kidding? we put out a remix album 6 months ago, and its a long album too. It just came out on double 180 gram LP.

[UTG] Billy T: No I was kidding.

John: Oh, you’re very clever. The first one was the Crystal Castles one, and we met purely through the internet very early on before they are the household name that they are.

Jake: We just asked them and they gave it back and we were like fuck, that’s great. The irony is that we heard it a year and a half before anyone heard it and were like thats a hit and then it was.

[UTG]: I heard you guys because I heard the remix.

Jake: We have to give our undying allegiance to CC for that.

[UTG]: What is the song writing process like for HEALTH?

Jake: Sometimes we write a song based on a new sound we figured out and we write around that and it’s experimental. It’s not just about being inspired by a melody or percussion but what is very important is our gear, our pedals and what we use to make sounds. If we discover something that sounds really new we just write a song featuring that element and then as far as why or how we switch between certain parts is dictated by the function of the song. Jupiter’s here.

Jupiter from HEALTH: I’m Jupiter, I play guitar and synths and stuff.

[UTG]: Full house! Ok. Tell me what your daily lives are like.

Jupiter: Day to day life… I wake up around 11 or 12, I go upstairs to grab a kombucha to get my head clear – that’s the fermented mushroom tea. John and I make it at home.

[UTG]: I want to make that!

John: Its so easy seriously once you do it you’ll be like why didn’t I do that before.

Jupiter: We all live within walking distance of this park so we go for hikes after we have our kombucha then we come home and make homemade burritos then after that a taco salad in the evening…

Jake: I get up around 1:30 or 2, I don’t sleep a whole lot. I don’t make kombucha and I don’t go for hikes and I get my bearings for a hour or two, then I call these guys and they’re like do you want to meet for a hike and I’m just destroyed. As the hang over quells I try to drink a lot of water and not to have a panic attack.

[UTG]: If you could meet with one person alive or dead who would be and what would do? …and you have to have sex with them.

Jake: I think if got the chance to have sex with Abraham Lincoln I would. If I got to go back in time and the other caveat of that is that I have to have sex with them, then fuck it. I would value meeting them over the sexual part. I’d meet Jesus, and I know everyone always says Jesus.

BJ: I look like Jesus.

Jake: Yeah, but I already had sex with you and you’re not Jesus. Jup says Jesus. I’d be down with one of the Caesars.

BJ: But they liked the young boys.

Jake: So I’ll go back when I’m 15, and I’d be treated really well and put up like a king. I’d love to see ancient Rome.

Jupiter: If I get with Eve, then you all are my seed.

BJ: If I go with who my mom wants, then Venus. If I go with my sexual instinct, then Medusa.

John: I really love the thought of Jake being the last temptation of Christ. Like he went through everything, he was on the cross, and you show up and you’re like hey, I’m from the future. You give him a really long winded talk, it was my wish to come back in time and meet you, but this girl from Koala T, pretty rockin band, said I have to fuck you.

Jake: And he would think of all these different excuses, like your dad might get mad… But really what are you going to do, let’s go hang out and he’d be kind of unsure and I’d say like mostly, you just need to relax.

[UTG]: Do you have any plugs, political messages, shout-outs to close the interview?

John: We have a new single coming out april 7th and its pretty awesome… might say its the final frontier, and its coming out on 7-inch later this year and a new album later this year. I also really want to promote Pictureplane who is coming out on tour with us and Love Pump and we really think he’s the shit. We are bringing him to FSU and he’s a great new artist and kids are going to go crazy for them. And don’t be a byitch when everyones into Pictureplane and you didn’t check it out.

Jupiter: I wanted to say fuck Rush Limbaugh.

BJ: Another current event is that there have been a lot of random shootings and gang violence in L.A. and I don’t want to get killed and I think thats a lot of bullshit, and they should respect life. It’s in a half mile radius from where we live that people have been shot for no reason and killed.

Jake: Yeah I’d say if you see a green flash in your windows, fill your tub with water and cork it, and buy a lot of canned products and if you can, still buy our records.


*Written By: Billy Table*

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Kyle Key

    That picture looks so old, haha. And this must’ve been a bitch to type out.

  • Yeah, it totally was. And the product above is with about 1,000+ words edited away.