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Getting to know: Drew Gardner.

May 27, 2011 \am\31 10:10 am

[In which WWAATD asks vapid questions culled from various teen magazines to non-vapid, non-teenager types.]

Full Name: Drew Gardner

Age: 42

Height: 5’10

Currently Live: Harlem

Hometown: Titusville, NJ

Instruments: Drums, vibraphone, piano, guitar, Casio VL-Tone

Car: Subway and taxis. I hate limousines. They stink and their drivers have been driving dead people to the cemeteries.

What is the best thing about your job?

That I don’t need anybody to tell me how to be alive.

What was your most embarrassing audition moment?

Why should I do any interviews? It is all shit, Why me? Because I am what they call a poet? It is me or someone else, a murderer or a conductor, or anybody, anybody, anything, that can be consumed. They consume everything — art, executions, hamburgers, MP3s, Jesus Christ. It is all supermarket talk. It is consumer SHIT to fill up their pages. Do you feel free in this interview? Freedom! That’s what every shitty autocratic despot promises you before he takes over!

If you could live in any past era which would it be and why?

There is no logical impossibility in the hypothesis that the world sprang into being five minutes ago, exactly as it then was, with a population that “remembered” a wholly unreal past. There is no logically necessary connection between events at different times; therefore nothing that is happening now or will happen in the future can disprove the hypothesis that the world began five minutes ago. A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men.

What do you do for fun?

Fun? There is no fun. I am like a wild animal who is behind bars, I need air! I need space! I make poetry and music for money, exclusively for money. So I sell myself for the highest price, exactly like a prostitute. There is no difference. Poetry imprisons me. Sometimes my heart hurts so much, I beat it with my fists. I try to run. But you cannot run away from this. You cannot run from it. Wherever you run, it waits for you. Even when you think you have escaped it, it is there, where you have run to, it waits for you, to ambush you. It is like those vines called lianas, those tropical creepers that grow around you and strangle you. You cut off one branch, but there is another that grows. You leap over the wall of one ghetto and find yourself in another ghetto. That’s why the good poetry imprison me as much as the bad. It is only a different kind of cage. I am like a wild animal born in captivity, in a zoo. But where a beast would have claws, I was born with talent.

Do you have a good luck charm?

Yes, the ocean. Experiencing the ocean is an experience of liberty. When you talk about the ocean, is it liberty? Even looking at the ocean is not liberty. It is like a wounded bird looking at the sky and asking, “Why are my wings broken?” Or even worse: putting a bird cage near the window so that the bird can see the sky. But, of course, it’s much better to look than not to, even if it hurts. But words — words are not enough. But sometimes spontaneously bringing words out can be outscreams — outscreams of joy or pain or whatever you want. Or sometimes you can describe. But you aren’t there. Or you’re someone else for a moment. When you are there, you are. With words, you aren’t. It is true what Rimbaud said once; It’s absolutely true; I proved it. He said, if you think a book is strong enough, try it at the ocean, in the wind, at the waves. If the book can resist the ocean, the elements, then it exists. Otherwise, throw it away.

Wackiest fan encounter:

Fan encounter? Don’t keep mixing in these other things. You need a framework so bad? What is this, a framework? You don’t need a framework. They told you you need this. Or you believed you needed it for some reason. You don’t need this. You need a painting, not a frame. You are going too slow. Just go.

Before I die, I want to:

Just really physically growing in myself and happening, but it’s a jungle, so I can’t distinguish things so much. I know there is, in myself, the souls of millions of people who lived centuries ago — not just people but animals, plants, the elements, video games, even, matter — everything that’s ever been thought — that all of these exist in me, and I feel this. OK, this pushed and pushed and pushed. OK, that was the beginning… And through the years it’s became clearer and clearer, this thing; it started to separate itself. I could make it come when I had to concentrate on, let’s say, a poem I had to write — this thing will become stronger. And take more of me. In this moment, I let it do it, because I wanted, I had to write this poem. And as I was led to doing it, there was then no way back. And the more I tried to do it, the more I hated it. But there was no way back anymore; it was always going farther and farther and farther. All who are not lunatics are agreed about certain things. That it is better to be alive than dead, better to be adequately fed than starved, better to be free than a slave. Many people desire those things only for themselves and their friends; they are quite content that their enemies should suffer. Humankind has become so much one family that we cannot ensure our own prosperity except by ensuring that of everyone else. If you wish to be happy yourself, you must resign yourself to seeing others also happy.

When I fly I have to have:

I wind up looking at the clouds the whole time. You’re not supposed to see that if you’re not a bird, and this rule breaking creates a text. It’s impossible to pay attention to reading a book — the cloud-writing outside the window is so much more interesting.

Where on earth are you most dying to go?

The truth is, I can never die. For I will be in everything and see you in everything and watch over you. I am your reaction in the water of a mountain lake.

What’s the last thing that made you cry?

One day, when I was walking through the streets of New York I started crying, because I could look at a man, a woman, a dog, anything, and receive it, anything, everything; there was no difference between physical and psychological. I felt like I was breaking out, breaking up, receiving everything, every moment, even things I did not see. There is no turning back from this. But this danger is the power you have. It is this same power that lets you hold an audience when you are on a stage and hold a reader when they read your poem. Then it is a concentration, the same concentration that in kung fu is used for the kick that kills or to break a table with your hand. It means that you are sure of the power and that you relinquish yourself to it.

Do you ever wish you could just be a normal kid?

I don’t know. Why have I had this life? If I knew, I wouldn’t have done it. Do you know what I mean? You cannot even say, I cannot even tell myself, Why did I do it? I shouldn’t have done it. It’s ridiculous. It wasn’t a choice? It wasn’t my choice. Poetry is valuable because it is not eloquent. To acquire immunity to eloquence is of the utmost importance to the citizens of a democracy.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Know about me? It should not be necessary to explain things. I don’t know… maybe it comes from this fucking occupation that they call art. I don’t know what the meaning of that is. And they call me musician and poet and I know this is shit, OK, because it just means that some idiot, absolutely imbecilic, cretin, illiterate editor or club owner can say what he wants to me, can even harm me. So I say to him, FUCK OFF! Or I go home or whatever. And then they say, He is mad; he just happens to be an artist. These people who do not see the terrible things and therefore do not see the beautiful things, either. But I cannot dump, dump this thing. They think you can dump all this and be a poet. You do a performance or publish a book and then they say, Good job. Do you say “Good job” to an earthquake?”

If you had to name one song as your theme song, what would it be?

“Love is All Around,” the Husker Du vers.

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2 Comments
  1. May 30, 2011 \pm\31 5:55 pm 5:55 pm

    In the mid-90’s Drew and I were in a two-person band called Blue Lizard. It was polyrhythmic and commercial. One day he decided he wanted a French lead singer so I went to med school and never looked back, until today, now I wonder: what if?

  2. Steve Ormrod permalink
    May 31, 2011 \pm\31 3:02 pm 3:02 pm

    The original Gardner/Colby line up of Blue Lizard was far better than the later one with the 2nd singer- she was Belgian, not French I think. It’s impossibly to find their records anywhere, they were all hand painted in editions of 50 or something. I saw them at CBs Cantina in 95– totally killed it. It was like Taylor Mead and Angus Maclise showed up to fill in for Alan Vega and Martin Rev.

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