With a little help from Internet fundraising, Chicago-based rockers Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s released their fourth album “Rot Gut, Domestic” last week. Its eighth track is titled “Arvydas Sabonis”. We talked to frontman Richard Edwards to discuss what made Sabonis so intriguing and the idea behind the basketball-centric video for “Prozac Rock”, the lead single off the new album.
Ricky O'Donnell: In an interview you did in December, you were asked why you chose to write a song about Arvydas Sabonis instead of one of the basketball deities from your home state of Indiana, ie: Steve Alford, Larry Joe Bird, ect. You said those dudes were "a bit too pale". Why is Sabonis different?
Richard Edwards: I know Steve Alford and Larry Bird. Those kind of guys were living 40 minutes south, or 40 minutes north of where I was born and bred. When I first saw Sabonis play, besides being blown away by how good even the gravity-bound version was, he also came across as somebody who might double as a foreign government agent or something. There was something strange and alluring that a lot of those earlier European players brought over with them, and I found it pretty mysterious as a young kid. I imagined him drinking scotch and smoking cigarettes after the game, getting into very non-Hoosier trouble. But I hear he's actually a very nice man, and owns a window company or something like that. A lot of my feelings were probably wrapped up in too many spy stories, and Chuck Berry fantasies.
Ricky O'Donnell: Sabonis, at least as far as his legacy is concerned, is almost more myth than man at this point. There's an old Clyde Drexler quote stating that if the Blazers had Sabonis in his prime, Portland would have won "four, five or six titles. Guaranteed." In the chorus of your song, you sing: "Come on back / we miss you." Is that more about Sabonis directly, or maybe the idea of Sabonis?
Richard Edwards: I really miss that myth building, whether in a broad sense culturally, or the wonderful intimate moments of myth building you'd do in your room, by yourself. Imagining John Huston and Bogart's elephant hunting expeditions. The picture of the hunt would be up on Twitter, or whatever it is, now. They'd be getting yelled at and called assholes. I used to listen to Neil Young records and picture him Sullivan's traveling it up in boxcars. All sorts of wonderful stuff. To create those kind of myths now requires so much effort, that it comes off so affected that it ends up being counter productive. It's a bit of an aggressive act to resist these devices of mass information dissemination. Jack White has maybe come close to creating a bit of a throwback mythology, in the relatively present day and age? But, his catalog does pre-date the Internet, I suppose.
I guess I've just described the ways I miss the idea of Sabonis, but I think on an even deeper level, I just really miss turning on the NBA on NBC with my brother, and seeing the dude playing. Maybe it's more a comment on the way I enjoyed watching basketball when I was a kid. I still watch it almost every night, but like most things in life, the rabid passion for it dips every year. Eventually, it'll just be a habit.
Ricky O'Donnell: "Prozac Rock" is the lead single off your new album Rot Gut, Domestic. The video dropped a few weeks ago, and its main character is walking around dribbling a basketball in a full-on uniform. He's also eating what appears to be psychedelic dollar bills. In a recent interview with Paste, you said the song is about your life as a touring musician. What inspired you to make the video basketball-centric?
Rich Edwards: I just thought it would be funny to have a mouse man eating money. I don’t know why. The basketball bit, besides just liking basketball, is inspired, very loosely, by that old "Basketball Jones" cartoon, which I love. The "Prozac Rock" video was just meant to be completely absurd, like most everything else we do.