Buck 65 Talks Total Control’s Typical System

I’ve only ever been to Hawaii once. I was there for two days about ten years ago. It was a brief visit, but it made a deep impression on me.

I’ve only ever been to Hawaii once. I was there for two days about ten years ago. It was a brief visit, but it made a deep impression on me. I loved it there so much and I’ve been dying to get back ever since.

I had a similar relationship with Total Control. I heard their song “Paranoid Video” a few years ago and LOVED it. In fact, it’s one of my favorite songs from the last several years and ever since, I’ve included it in most of my DJ sets. I can’t tell you how much I love that song. But it’s about all I knew about Total Control.

My trip to Hawaii happened as a last-minute decision to break up the long flight from Sydney to Los Angeles. It was Christmastime and I wanted to look up Tiare, a girl I had a thing for. She and I met after a show in Asheville, a year or two before. She was going to school there. I remember that it was the day the U.S. invasion of Iraq started because there was a big TV in the bar where I was playing. It was tuned to CNN and it showed images of the first bombs being dropped. It was a bummer. At the end of the night, Tiare gave me a mixtape she had made especially for me. She had great taste in music: Gang of Four, Serge Gainsbourg, Górecki… it was a wild mix. We kept in touch.

When I heard the first song from Total Control’s new album Typical System, I wasn’t sure it was the same band that made “Paranoid Video.” “Bloody Glass” is a disco song. I was more confused when I heard the second song, “Expensive Dog,” which is a snot-nosed rock song. Seeking clarification, I looked up Total Control on Wikipedia and learned that, in fact, it wasn’t the same band. In the early days of Total Control, it was just two guys with a sampler and a synth. They decided to expand because, as founding member Mikey Young put it to the Washington Post, “Bands with drum machines and three synths are just not as much fun to watch as bands with drummers and guitars.” I disagree, but anyway… He went on to say, “We realized it couldn’t be good live, so we tried to adapt the songs to work in a rock-and-roll band.” So I fell in love with a song made by two post-punk-loving guys in a bedroom with a sampler and a couple of synths and now I’m dealing with an old-fashioned rock combo.

Tiare met me at the airport in Honolulu and we made our way into the city together. After checking into my room, we hurried out of our clothes and into the bed. We gloried and slept in each other’s arms. The next day, Tiare showed me around the place where she was born and raised. She took me to her home. I met her mom and her adorable little sister. I was shown photo albums. When her mom was young, she was a hula dancer. She was incredibly beautiful. She liked me and I was flattered. After that, Tiare and I drove up to the North Shore where I saw the biggest waves I’ve ever seen. And on the way back, we stopped at the Dole pineapple plantation, which was more fun than it probably sounds.

The song “Flesh War” sounds like Gary Numan, the Cure and Joy Division lurking in a dark alley together. “Liberal Party” features piano and saxophone and what sounds like the samba beat setting on an old Casio. “The Ferryman” is a pretty little instrumental that should be used in a movie for a “nighttime cityscape” montage. I like the way Dan Stewart pronounces the word “hunter” on the song “Hunter.” I don’t think I could pronounce it like that if I tried.  It’s “Hontah!” with a full exhale. Listening to the song, I feel as though I’m dancing with a gun held to my head, and if I don’t dance hard enough, I die. But if I do, the most beautiful woman in the world will kiss me.  I know I could lose my mind in the best possible way to this song. It feels like it’s stuck to my skin.

Before my trip to Hawaii, I liked Tiare a lot. After those two days, I was in love with her. We talked on the phone often. She told me about how she knew the actor/musician/painter John Lurie. About how he was in love with her too. She told him he should go see my show in New York City.

“I think you two would really like each other,” she said.

“How about I go down there and kick his ass?”

He was jealous of our love. I knew John was jealous because he made it clear to Tiare and she made it clear to me. It was all very open. John would talk to Tiare and say, “Yeah, well tell Buck that blah, blah…” And then I’d say to her, “Well, tell John that blah, blah…” There was always humor about the whole thing.

There are no songs on Typical System that sound anything like “Paranoid Video.” Before I listened, I was hoping there would be. But now I’m a bigger fan of Total Control than I was before. Not because they’re a rock band now. Some of the best songs I’ve heard, and shows I’ve seen, were by a guy or a girl with a sampler. I’ve been bored to tears by more than a few four-piece bands. I just want to hear songs that make me feel like I’m someone, or somewhere, else. And there’s a bunch of them on Typical System. I’ll be playing this album a lot.

I haven’t seen or spoken to Tiare in a while now. But John Lurie and I follow each other on Twitter. He seems to be the best dude. I want to buy one of his paintings. Hopefully, one day soon…

Buck 65 is a rapper/songwriter from Mt. Uniacke, Nova Scotia. His family calls him Buck, but the name on his birth certificate is Richard Terfry. He has an album called Neverlove coming out on September 30th. He’s also putting the finishing touches on his first novel, which will be published next year. He posts stories on his Facebook page every day. You can follow him on Twitter here