Talking with Tulip Sweet Part 2

Continued from “Talking with Tulip Sweet Part 1”

These dark tongue-in-cheek love songs you write are very funny, but what keeps me coming back, and I think what keeps a lot of people coming back is that ultimately it rings true: we can all relate to these ridiculous feelings you write about. So, when you’re writing your songs, are you laughing at yourself or are you trying to tap into something more honest?

Steph: We go through this world crying when we should be laughing and laughing when we should be crying. We live in a world where people drive in their cars on the freeway with billboards next to that freeway with advertisements for coffins. What can you do?

Tom: Pedestrians jump out from in between cars concentrating on a piece of fried chicken.

Steph: What can you do? You just gotta keep on laughing.

Tom: And crying.

Steph: And crying.

Tom: No, they’re serious; these songs are all serious, I would have to say, because when we’re writing them, we’re not trying to write comedy at all.

Steph: I mean, what makes anything funny but the fact that it’s true–

Tom: It’s true and it’s uncomfortable so you have to laugh.

Steph: I try to not laugh.

Tom: I don’t laugh.

Steph: Sometimes I just want to frown so hard I think I’m gonna end up in the ground.

Tom: I do our whole set and I don’t laugh ever hardly. It’s not even funny anymore.

With all your antics and non-sequitur banter between songs, onstage costume changes, handmade squirrels and other absurd props, your performance can seem a little bit like a circus act. But your buffoonery does more than simply entertain, it shines a sympathetic spotlight onto all the dark and pathetic corners of the psyche the rest of us are too embarrassed to put on parade in front of an audience of strangers. I think what gives your work its power, and the real source of the comedy is that you’re not afraid to be identified with the things people are laughing at.

Steph: Well, I think especially in New York, people are such pussies. They’re so afraid. They’re just conformist pussies. They’re so afraid–

Tom: New York?

Steph: Yeah, they’re walking around with giant—

Tom: How about the world?

Steph: Okay, the world. People in the world are walking around with giant billboard clothing on themselves that says “Nike” or “Adidas” and “I like this” and “I like that” and–

Tom: –because even France they were that way.

Steph: –they’re fucking nasty and I hate them. I hate everyone.

Tom: Even in France.

Steph: I hate everyone, even in France.

Tom: It’s true. We went to France and it wasn’t any better.

Steph: Everyone’s a puss the whole world over. And in France they’re even worse because not only are they pusses: they’re content pusses, and the reason why they don’t rock ‘n roll in France is ‘cause all they do is eat cheese and drink wine and you can’t turn around without [someone] offering you some more fucking food and wine and they’re sitting on their asses being comfortable and then they’re gonna go jerk off and have sex and look at the trees and eat some fucking shit and they can’t—

Tom: They don’t work enough.

Steph: They don’t suffer.

Tom: They don’t work enough.

Steph: They don’t suffer.

Tom: They need more factories.

Steph: They don’t do the dirty work in France. They don’t do the dirty work.

Tom: They did record the Dirty Work in France though.

Steph: Did they?

Tom: They recorded the Dirty Work in France.

Steph: That’s hilarious. The Rolling Stones album Dirty Work, best known as their worst album.

I haven’t heard that one.

Tom: They started it in France.

Steph: Yeah, that started in France. That’s why.

So you guys play a lot of music venues. Will this be the first time you play a more theatrical venue?

Steph: No way, Jose!

Tom: No, we’ve been mixed up with that business forever.

Steph: We opened for Yoko Ono man, but she wasn’t there.

Tom: We played with Yoko…

Steph: Yoko, Jim Carroll.

Tom: Jim Carroll.

Steph: What other artists?

Tom: What’s her name, that vampire girl, remember? At Ground Zero.

Steph: Oh, Exene Cervenka and Lydia Lunch.

Tom: We’re always in with those people, but they don’t know us.

Steph: They’re confused by us just as everyone else is.

Tom: They think that they think people are pussies, but–

Steph: But they’re pussies too.

Tom: –but they’re also part of the people that we’re talking about.

Steph: Did you know that Antonio Banderas is gonna play Puss ‘n Boots?

So what’s with the squirrels?

Steph: I don’t know–

Tom: I wouldn’t mention the squirrels if I was you. You don’t want it to get out of hand.

Steph: –just something I like.

What do you like about them?

Steph: They’re feisty. They store things away. But see, now it’s been ruined by the White Stripes, so don’t even mention it, because he does that song–

Tom: It’s out of hand.

Steph: It’s already been destroyed.

Tom: It’s out of hand.

Steph: The squirrel thing’s been destroyed.

This is cheesy, but do you know Desert Island Discs?

They shake their heads.

You know, you’re trapped on a desert island and you have five records you can bring with you.

Steph: Lou Reed: Take No Prisoners, Growing up in Public.

Tom: Leon Russel: Carnie.

Steph: Neil Young: On the Beach.

Tom: Wow, this is a whole worm can. Neil Young On the Beach really?

Steph: Yeah, I love that album

Tom: The Strokes. The new Strokes album. Not the first one; the new one. Kick ass, totally kick ass. Top that!

Steph: [The] Vitamen.

Tom: Yeah.

Steph: I like that album.

Tom: Bob Dylan Live at Budokan.

Steph: No, no. Royal Hall, [Live at] Royal Albert Hall.

Tom: No. Live at Budokan. We’d have to live on different islands for sure.

Steph: Yeah, I’d beat you up.

Later on in the evening, after a second set and a few more rounds, Steph summed up her feelings about life and music:

Steph: I’m not Nick Cave. I mean there’s a place for Nick Cave in the world, but everyone can’t be Nick Cave. Everyone feels heavy-hearted right now because of all the shit going on and everyone feels like it’s the end of the world, and it probably is, but why waste your last days being sad and upset?

Tulip Sweet and her Trail of Tears will be playing the premier of Schoolhouse Roxx on Saturday March 6th with Becky and Noelle, Organatron, Kate Brehm, Oh De Twirlette, and Parade, hosted by Becky Yamamoto. Doors open at 10pm, show starts at 11pm. Tickets $7.

For more information on Tulip Sweet and her Trail of Tears, go to

For more information on Schoolhouse Roxx, go to

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