This week, Faces of First Ave interviewed an incredibly charming giraffe.
May I borrow a moment of the giraffe’s time?
Of course! I’m David. I’m from Rochester, New York.
Did you come all the way just for the Flaming Lips show?
I did. I’m a pretty hardcore Flaming Lips fan. This is my 19th Flaming Lips show since 2011.
That’s amazing! Have you been to First Avenue before?
I was here last year when they did the “Transmissions From the Satellite Heart” show so this is my second time seeing them in this venue. It’s a cool place to see them because no matter where you are, even if you have your back to the wall, let’s say you’re in some weird corner, you’ve still got a great view of the stage. That’s something I really respect about the place.
What was it that drew you to the Flaming Lips?
When I was living in Germany, I started listening to their music and thought it was really cool. When I came back to the United States, they had a show in my hometown so I went and was blown away by it. Then they had a New Year’s Eve Freakout that year where Yoko Ono was playing and a bunch of other people, so I just went and I met this group – we call ourselves “the Love Pit.” The guy in green over there? It’s his birthday today. Two friends of ours are coming from Japan to be here. NOBODY KNOWS THEY’RE COMING… So the Lips are great, they do some really cool stuff, and the band’s been super nice to us, they really value having us follow them… but it’s the people we meet, this artistic self-expression that just really ignites something in me. I’m a straight-laced IT guy back home, but then I get to dress up like a giraffe at First Ave and hang out, you know?
Yeah! It’s so great! Flaming Lips day is the best for me because I get to walk in and go “Fuck yeah, there’s a giraffe in the restaurant!” The joy really emanates.
That’s what I love about it! I was walking down the street and people were clapping out their car windows for me. Then I saw a lady wearing a cow hat and I was like, “I like your cow hat!” and she’s like “I like your hat!” and we both start laughing because we both have ridiculous things on, but everybody’s happier because of it. That’s really why I love the band.
You said that you’re a straight-laced IT guy back home… Do they know what you’re up to when you take off for these things?
Oh yeah. I tell everybody. My manager has seen me in the New York Times at festivals and he looks at them and laughs and goes “No, but that’s really cool.” I go to work with my nails painted. It’s a casual workplace and they like seeing people bring joy back. I wear my sparkly boots to work and everybody compliments me. So it’s like this band, doing this… I even get to bring that back to my workplace, and everybody there, even if it’s just a quick smile or a laugh, they’re happier. It’s just that effect, that wave, that ripple.
I’m beaming just listening to all this… How did you pick the giraffe?
On Instagram Wayne mentioned we’re looking to do a film, a documentary, does anyone know any weirdos we could interview or film? And then later on he said “Oh by the way, we really want people to come in giraffe costumes, or fetuses, or brains.” And I was like, “I don’t really feel comfortable with the fetus thing; somebody who’s pro-life is gonna get mad at me. The brain would just be hard to do because then I’d be taking myself seriously like I’m a smart guy. But the giraffe is cuddly and warm!” So that’s why I went with the giraffe.
You’re so good at this!
Why, thank you! I enjoy it. We have this whole community of weirdos, but weirdos in the sense that we’re artists and we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
What did you do before you found the Flaming Lips? What was your outlet before this?
You’re not going to believe this: I loved the band Ramstein. I still have a place in my heart for them because they’re part of the reason I wanted to learn German. Then I learned German and it went beyond that band. I had all these other experiences, but it was one of the catalysts that said, “Man, I really want to know what they were singing about and be able to speak German.” But then you know the lyrics and you’re like, “Jesus Christ, that’s something I would never actually want to actually say to people” but there’s still a part of me that really likes that. There’s part of me that really likes a band like Radiohead, that they can talk about complex, troubled, depression and make that into an artform, and in sharing that with their fans, we all experience that together. Even when you listen to Ramstein, it’s about these hard, human lyrics with really graphic sexuality and dark themes, or Radiohead with these nuanced, depressed, angsty ideas, you celebrate it with other people, and you can acknowledge there’s a part of my heart where yes, that is true and I identify with, but I’m not alone and this is normal. This is something that’s part of humanity. So that’s why I draw strength from that, which other people would say, “Well that’s just sad!” I say, “Yeah, but that’s being a human!” We all have bad days, we all have our good times too, and let’s just hope we all stick through it ‘til we get to the good times and we don’t take the bad times too seriously.
(Interview: Sarah Brumble)