In HateSong, we ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.
The hater: Born and raised in Seattle, Nick Thune moved to California about 10 years ago to really give it a go in comedy. That’s worked out all right for him, as he’s made appearances in several movies and TV shows, including The Tonight Show, Conan, and @Midnight, and just released his second stand-up special, Folk Hero, both as a video available via Netflix and iTunes and as an LP pressed on clear vinyl via Comedy Central Records.
The hated: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, “1st Of Tha Month” (1995)
The A.V. Club: Why did you pick “1st Of Tha Month”?
Nick Thune: In this case, it is not that I dislike the song “1st Of Tha Month.” I love the title right off the bat. It’s got a number, an abbreviation—“tha” rather than “the.” I like that kind of stuff; the reason that this song rubs me the wrong way is the memories that surround this song.
The first time that I ever heard this song I was watching MTV, I was 15 years old and it was 1995. And I was about to make the hour or 45-minute drive from Seattle to Tacoma with my parents to visit my aunt and uncle and cousins.
The house is bustling, everyone is getting ready and I’m watching “1st Of Tha Month” on MTV and loving every second of that video. There’s this crystal ball that they’re looking into. The emblem on one of their beanies lights on fire, and there are great special effects for the time.
Anyway, the guy’s riding on the hood of the car and they’re celebrating welfare. At the time, I didn’t understand welfare. I just thought, “Oh, everyone gets paid on the first of the month.” Now I look back, and it’s welfare—and people can go turn that money into more money because they’re talking about drugs, hustling, all exciting stuff.
Anyway, as I’m watching this video and taking in this song—and I’m just kind of a new rap fan because rap is really starting to get big—my mom walks into the room and she’s got rubber gloves on and she’s holding a sock in the rubber-gloved hand and in the other hand she’s holding a tin of chewing tobacco. And immediately I know what’s happened—she’s snooped in my room and in my underwear drawer has found a tin of chewing tobacco that I was just experimenting with alongside a few friends, and she’d also gone under my bed and found a collection of socks. Now I don’t want to make this a disgusting interview and get into the anatomy of a teenage boy, but when it’s late at night and you don’t want to make the trip to the bathroom, what are you using in your room to kind of seal the deal?
And she basically said, “So you’re chewing tobacco and you’re not doing your laundry.” The line, “You’re not doing your laundry” is, I think, such a total, classic mom bitch-line where you’re like, “Say what you want to say! I’m jerking off into socks, okay?” You don’t have to code it into, “You’re not doing your laundry,” because I’m obviously not trying to do that laundry.
I don’t know when I was going to sneak in and try to do a load when she wasn’t paying attention. Maybe I was never going to use those socks again and make her think I was losing socks so that by the time I was 18, I would have had hundreds of socks under my bed and had to figure out a way to get them out into the garbage can; probably not ours, but one of the neighbors’ garbage cans.
I got grounded for a month for the chewing tobacco and then I got put into this special thing at church where I had to speak to the pastor about why it’s a sin to explore your body and pleasure yourself, when I didn’t really even know. The Seinfeld episode had happened maybe a couple of years before that. I still was nervous about doing it, because I’m from a religious family and it was a lot of pain and counseling I had to go through—and it all stems from me watching “1st Of Tha Month” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. That was the moment, and it was hard for me at tailgate parties and high school parties in the future when everyone sang along to that song to sing about celebrating the first of the month and it’s so great and so exciting.
They sampled Anita Baker in the background of that song, and they’ve got the classic Marvin Gaye “Wake up, wake up” from “Sexual Healing.” It’s just a fun song, and I’m sitting there thinking about sowing my seeds and what it says about that in the Bible and also all the pamphlets my parents gave me about how my teeth were going to rot out and my cheeks were going to be pulled down because of chewing tobacco.
I think that drove me to masturbate more, to be honest. And I think that it maybe took more of my childhood away from me. When I could have been out in the streets playing, I was up in my room figuring out something different besides socks.
AVC: That story really plays on an extreme fear we all have of getting caught doing something bad. No one wants to get in trouble.
NT: It’s mortifying in the sense of, “Come on, mom! This is the sort of thing you’re supposed to find and not bring up to me! You’re not supposed to shove it in my face! Where did you even get rubber gloves?! I didn’t even know we had rubber gloves in the house!”
Also, on top of that, I would always get in trouble for things like stealing chromies off of cars. I would come home from school and there’d be a bag of chromies on the kitchen table—like she’d gone through my closet, found the one pair of shoes I hadn’t worn in a year and searched into those shoes and found a baggie of chromies. She was constantly in my room reading what people wrote in my yearbook. That was another one.
She read in my yearbook where someone wrote, “Channel 61,” which, at the time, was the blurry Playboy Channel. So I come home from school and my mom is just sitting there with Channel 61 on saying, “Hey, what’s this? I saw it was written in your yearbook when you brought it home yesterday.” You can barely see a nipple every 10 minutes.
Anyway, I was sexually repressed and “1st Of Tha Month” was where it really started.
AVC: Your parents really went out of their way to catch you being bad.
NT: I don’t think I was as good at hiding it as I thought I was.
AVC: But it’s also willful. Parents know something’s up. They just have to not go through that old pair of shoes.
NT: Yeah. I mean, who’s searching shoes? Why are we searching shoes? I think my mom just liked me in trouble; that was a fun environment in the house.
AVC: Do you talk to your mom about this stuff now? Do you tell her not to listen to your records?
NT: No, it’s pretty out in the open now, especially considering I’m doing an interview and discussing it. But I think she still likes to ignore things. Like I was just in a movie where I was a human penis. And my dad made my mom watch it and she actually enjoyed it, but the idea of it, for her, that was almost like a slap in the face after the whole finding socks underneath my bed thing. Like, “Hey, Mom! I’m going to actually play a penis in a movie to get you back for the embarrassment you caused me about masturbation when I was 15.”
AVC: Do you consciously think about that stuff or is it just how it happens to work out?
NT: That just kind of came to me right now, but maybe that’s what drew me to the role.
I did The Pete Holmes Show, and Pete and I talked about an experience we had on mushrooms. I guess my brother showed it to my mom and she doesn’t need to know everything, but she was like, “I never knew you did that!” And she’s never going to bring it up to me.
AVC: You’re not going to call her and say, “Hey, this past weekend I did mushrooms. I just wanted to tell you.”
NT: If I was out on the streets because of mushrooms and because of my masturbation habits when I was 15, I get it and I deserve to be in trouble and I need help. But I just released a vinyl and people who are in trouble don’t release vinyls.
AVC: Well, that’s not true.
NT: I guess that’s not true.
AVC: What were these classes that you had to take with the priest? Was it just a one-on-one thing?
NT: It was a one-on-one. There were a couple of one-on-ones and an accountability group that I got put in, which was for other boys my age that go to youth group at church. Then there’s a leader, probably a guy in college or somebody a little older than that, and we all talked about what we were going through and we prayed for each other. Like, “I’m still struggling with masturbation and I can’t stop,” and then they’d be like, “Next time you want to masturbate, call me and I’ll help you not do it!” Or “hang out with a friend,” or, “here’s some tools to use to avoid these desires that you have.” You know, just pray about it. It’s like “1st Of Tha Month” keeps coming on and tempting me to put in some chewing tobacco and masturbate. It’s such a trigger for me.
AVC: Well, it could have reminded you of your mom in that rubber glove and really put the brakes on things for life.
NT: It could have gone both ways. I could definitely see her rubber gloves at that point.
You know, I actually did enjoy the accountability group because it was basically people hanging out and you get the chance to hear other people who are pretty reserved and aren’t necessarily exposing what’s really going on in their lives. Some did, and sometimes if somebody said, “Oh, yeah, I have this masturbation thing,” and then somebody would be like, “Oh, me too! I wasn’t going to say it because I thought it was crazy, but you’re doing that, too?” It was kind of a way just to figure out that we were all normal, we were all experimenting with things, and let’s all pretend like we’re trying to fix this for this guy in the room so he can feel good about fixing us, and now we all just know where to go when we want to have masturbation parties. [Laughs.] And who to invite.
AVC: Did you go to a school that didn’t have sex ed?
NT: I went to a public school, but when I was 14 years old—and this is something else that happened that led to this masturbation thing—there was this day where we were going to do sex ed and they were going to talk about contraceptives. And you had to go home and have your parents sign a form saying, “We’re aware that he is being taught this, and it’s okay.”
And out of the whole classroom, [only] my parents wouldn’t allow me to do that, so I actually had to go into the library for that period while everyone else had to watch someone put a condom on a banana. I was in the library, like, “I guess my parents said I’m not allowed to use condoms because they don’t want me to have sex till I’m married, so I won’t need condoms because we’re just going to be making babies all the time.” That kind of feeling of, “Wow, everybody now knows I’m not allowed to learn about this,” was a very public shaming in a way.
AVC: That’s true. And when you’re 14 years old, it would be hard to explain it.
NT: At least people close to me knew that my family was kind of a church family. My aunt’s house that we were going to that day was the most Christian. When I was 4 years old, my parents left me with them for a day and when they came back, she was like, “While you were gone, Nick accepted Jesus into his heart!” And my parents were like, “Whoa!” And I’m looking back and thinking, “What do you mean? I was 4 years old. What did you do to me?” Not saying that there wasn’t a pure thing that happened—not that I could remember—but kind of going back to that and thinking, “Wow, as a 4-year-old? Really?”
AVC: So you don’t hate the song, but you hate the memories?
NT: The memory, yeah. Because I don’t hate too many songs; I don’t like Toby Keith or people that make this kind of over-produced country now or Avril Lavigne, but I don’t think that stuff is even worth me hating. It’s just out there and it’s just something I choose not to indulge in even enough to hate it. Like Nickelback or all the bands that are so easy to hate.
AVC: That sort of association makes sense. You’re allowed to love songs for because they’re tied to memories, so you should be allowed to hate them for the same reason.
NT: Yeah, and there are a lot of songs that I love because they have a good association. I’ll remember when I was on a road trip and we listened to that song the whole trip. And I probably wouldn’t have liked that song as much if it didn’t remind me of that road trip. And this road trip, I just got caught masturbating. It was a metaphorical road trip.
AVC: And then you all had to go to Tacoma.
NT: And you know my mom told my aunt what she found under my bed and I had to have a discussion with my uncle about it and it’s like, “Ugh! Can’t we just play foosball? That’s the only reason I like coming over here is the foosball table, now we have to talk about me masturbating?”
AVC: Well, now tens of thousands of readers, if not more, will know about how you got caught masturbating.
NT: It just takes one brave person to step out and say something about it to everybody else. We’re kind of all in our own accountability group about it, I think.