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Gay singer Roddy Bottum on tours, Courtney Love
NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2012-05-29

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Rock group Imperial Teen released Feel the Sound, making it the band's fifth studio album. The band consists of Roddy Bottum, Lynn Truell, Will Schwartz and Jone Stebbins. Although all are from other bands, Bottum's might be the most well known with rockers: Faith No More.

The openly gay singer talked to Windy City Times about how the Teen's newest project is tops in Bottum's book.

Windy City Times: How are you, Roddy?

Roddy Bottum: Good. I'm in the airport flying to New York.

WCT: Well, you need to visit Chicago while you are heading this way.

Roddy Bottum: A pit stop? How is the weather there?

WCT: Freezing.

Roddy Bottum: You know, Lynn, our drummer, lived in Chicago for almost three years, in between our record On and the one after that. She got married and lived with her husband, who is in medical school. She lived in that really big building called the John Hancock right on the lake. She talked about a big rope that they would put around that building in the winter months for people to hold on to because it was so windy. Have you heard of that?

WCT: I was thinking it was to rope off the falling ice but it doesn't surprise me.

Roddy Bottum: I felt like she was telling stories, but that makes a good one.

WCT: It could be true. I hope you all go on tour and come here for this album.

Roddy Bottum: Me, too. I think we are doing like short tours in San Francisco with music festivals. Then we can head to the East Coast with a stop in Chicago. That is what we did with our last record.

WCT: Great. Lollapalooza would be good for the band, also.

Roddy Bottum: I know. I love a good festival.

WCT: You focused on the piano growing up, right?

Roddy Bottum: Yep. Not so much in school, but when I was kid from the age of 5 I got into classical piano. My mom is a very good piano player. I did piano up through high school.

WCT: Then you moved to San Francisco when you were 18…

Roddy Bottum: Right.

WCT: You are originally from California?

Roddy Bottum: Yes, Los Angeles.

WCT: I didn't put it together about you being part of Faith No More. Are you still working together?

Roddy Bottum: In the past few years we have been doing reunion tours. We played a bunch in Europe and South America then a bit in California.

WCT: I love that you did a song with them called "Be Aggressive," about oral sex.

Roddy Bottum: That is a popular one with the gays.

WCT: But you did it with a primarily straight band.

Roddy Bottum: It was a good point to make back in that era. That was the era of such macho crazy hedonistic bands like Guns N' Roses. We had gone on tour with them and Metallica. It was such a highly charged testosterone macho environment that it made sense to sing a song about blowjobs.

WCT: What made you want to make a band with Lynn and do your own thing?

Roddy Bottum: That was reactionary for me, too. Lynn, Jone and I had been friends for many years so we thought about it for many years. I had gone through a lot of shit at that point in my life and had met Will in Los Angeles when I was going through it. Several people I had known had died and my father had passed away. Will and I became really close really fast. Our friends were having a party and they asked us to play. We got together and started writing songs. We performed them at this fundraiser party for a fanzine. Eventually that became our first record. It was really fast.

WCT: The "Yoo Hoo" song, from Jawbreaker, is classic.

Roddy Bottum: Oh, cool; a lot of people like that one.

WCT: I have heard Rose McGowan can be difficult…

Roddy Bottum: Looking back on it, the video was an early one for us. It was Will's first experience with dealing with a diva type of personality. The video was funded by the people that made that movie, it wasn't us calling all the shots artistically. That gives fodder for head butting. To her credit, it was her movie and she stuck up for what she wanted. I think we all really liked her at the end of the day.

WCT: Talking about making videos, when are you making one for the new album?

Roddy Bottum: We just shot one over the weekend at my house for the first single called "Runaway." Some friends of ours from Los Angeles helped us make it. We are not in the video but we make cameos in it. We are sort of masked without getting too into it. It is playful and has a party scene with a lot of cross-dressing and kids having fun.

WCT: It will be out by the time this interview runs.

Roddy Bottum: They are editing it now so I want to see what is captured. I think it will be really neat. We try to make a video these days that makes a splash, you know?

WCT: It has the whole band singing at the same time, which is different.

Roddy Bottum: I think that is a good way to kick off the new record with everyone singing on it. It represents who we are.

WCT: I noticed switching on the vocals on the album. I heard Lynn on one song.

Roddy Bottum: I think we have always kind of done that. We started off switching instruments when we played songs just because of what we had done before. Lynn wanted to get out from behind the drums. I have always been a keyboard player so it was fun for me to play the guitar. That sort of thing has always been out style and that is what we continue to do. Everyone switches up and shares responsibilities with instruments and singing chores.

WCT: Do you have a favorite song on the album, Feel the Sound, right now?

Roddy Bottum: I really like track number five. It is called "Hanging About." When that one comes on, it always sort of gets me.

WCT: Are there specific gay lyrics in this album?

Roddy Bottum: On "Last to Know" it is about a break-up. If you listen to the lyrics you might pick up on that. It is about a failed gay relationship.

WCT: I will have to listen to that track again. So that means you are single?

Roddy Bottum: No, I am not single.

WCT: You California guys move fast!

Roddy Bottum: Yes, well I am older and ready to settle down.

WCT: The music scene is thriving out there. I interview bands from California all the time.

Roddy Bottum: I think California has always had a strong musical history. There are like a million bands. I know less these days but I think that is probably true.

WCT: Do you want to do more soundtracks like Adam & Steve?

Roddy Bottum: That is what I do mostly when I am not doing band stuff. I work on scores. I am working on a show for Nickelodeon that is a kid's show. It is called Fred: The Show. Have you heard of this kid? He was a YouTube sensation called Fred Figglehorn.

WCT: No; I will have to look him up.

Roddy Bottum: He is this super-annoying kid from Nebraska. He made YouTube vignettes and made a big name for himself. If you ask an 8-year-old, they all know this kid. He is a modern-day Pee Wee Herman or Ferris Bueller. I am working on the TV show.

WCT: I read that you dated and are friends with Courtney Love. How did you meet her?

Roddy Bottum: We met in San Francisco when she came back to town from Japan. We were swapping around singers for Faith No More and she weaseled her way in for a while. We became close and have been ever since.

WCT: Wild. What an interesting guy you are. This was a great chat.

Roddy Bottum: Thanks for talking.

Watch the "Runaway" video and follow the band at www.imperialteen.com .


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