Shuffler: Sean Daley, a.k.a. Slug, frontman for Minneapolis rap group Atmosphere. A deeply personal, sardonically funny lyricist, Slug is at the top of his game on Atmosphere's most recent disc, You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having. The group's never-ending tour takes them through the U.S. and Japan this summer.
Slug: When I discovered rock—because, you know, I discovered it—the Pixies were one of the first five bands that I picked up on. I was living with a girl who was listening to shit like Pixies and Bettie Serveert. I got into the Pixies because of "Monkey Gone To Heaven," and I started listening to the whole record and even went out and bought some more of their records. I wound up being a fan of Frank Black, and I even liked The Breeders for a minute. "Dead" is not my favorite song on the album. I do like the way the vocals are recorded, which I think more rockers should have done during the grunge era, as far as using cool, strange, fucked-up vocal effects.
Antena, "Camino Del Sol"
S: Not the Antenna that sounds like a bad version of Thrice. I believe they're from somewhere in Europe, Sweden, or Norway, or maybe Germany. I didn't actually buy this record—it was on a mix-CD given to me by a really mean ex-girlfriend. This song is the best thing about that year. Everything else in that year was full of negativity. When I look back at that year, this is one of the few things where I can say, "See, it wasn't all bad." You've got to keep a positive attitude, and I love this song. I don't even know what language she's singing in. French, maybe? So maybe they're from France, then. It would be weird to be Swedish and sing in French, wouldn't it? I guess if guys from Boston can sound English, fuck it, anything can happen. But this is a great song. It reminds me of Black Heart Procession, but with a female singer.
Tom Waits, "Swordfishtrombone"
Slug: I am a big Tom Waits fan. I totally stole his style for my second record—I tried to steal as much from him and Craig Finn [of Lifter Puller and The Hold Steady] as I possibly could. I actually got to meet his son, who looks exactly like a late-teen version of him. The resemblance is amazing—when you see that resemblance in the kid of a celebrity, it's kind of scary-looking, kind of weird. I shouldn't say scary, because that's kind of mean, but it's very odd and actually quite fresh. He came to see us play in San Francisco. He got on the guest list because he contacted the people from Epitaph, being that Tom Waits is on Anti, which is connected to Epitaph. So he came to the show, he was like 17 or 18, and we promptly pulled him backstage and got him really drunk. I got a phone call a couple days later from Epitaph, saying that Tom Waits was really upset with me. Which I thought was horrible, because I was totally going to exploit my new friendship with his son to do a song with Tom Waits. It turned out I pissed him off by getting his kid drunk—which I think is perfect, because Tom Waits has gotten me drunk so many fuckin' times, I think it's only fair.
Lifter Puller, "Starwarships"
S: Not my favorite song by Lifter Puller, but easily one of my favorite titles. This is off their record The Entertainment And Arts. Here [Craig Finn] rhymed "restaurant" with "debutante," which is okay because the last syllable of each word rhymes. But in rap, when we're doing the multi-syllabic rhyme, more than one syllable has to rhyme, so "restaurant" should rhyme with, like, "the chest you flaunt," you know what I mean? It's okay, because he's not a rapper, he's a singer, so we'll let it go.
The A.V. Club: You and Lifter Puller have quite a history.
S: It's kind of a three-legged race. We were racing each other because we both started getting popular around the same time, only I was getting popular with the rap kids and the kind of jazz, jam-band fucks that were around the city, and these guys were getting kind of popular with the indie-rockers. When punk-rockers start to get old, they start to go, "I actually kind of like melody and arrangement," then they start getting into indie rock. So it wasn't until about '97 that I started seeing people like [Dillinger Four bassist] Paddy Costello and others from the punk-rock elite around the city start to come see me play. And you also started to see some of the jazz, jam-band fucks come to see Lifter Puller. I honestly believe that my friendship with Craig Finn and [music photographer] Dan Monick was written in blood on a stone somewhere by baby Jesus. We are the reason the Minneapolis community is friends with each other as far as music goes. We are the reason why it's okay for me to go and have sex with some bass player's girlfriend. What am I trying to say? The bottom line is, me and Craig used to smoke weed together, and that's about it, that's kind of our history.
Built To Spill, "I Would Hurt A Fly"
S: This is actually my favorite Built To Spill song ever, and it's totally because of a rapper named Cage. He sampled this for a song about how his girlfriend had gotten sick and was dying—I think maybe she had meningitis or something, I can't remember—and how he couldn't leave her side even though her parents had pretty much left her for dead. And he sampled the line "I can't get that sound you make out of my head." I wasn't really that familiar with Built To Spill at the time, but the part in that Cage song was like one of the few hip-hop songs that touched me in a way outside of making me want to bop my head or punch a cop. It was real personal, I loved the song. So when I tracked down where he got the sample from and realized it was Built To Spill, I bought some of their records. This song—actually the whole record, Perfect From Now On—was great, but the "Hurt A Fly" song is easily my favorite. I like how these guys play the game where they're like, "We're melodic and minimal like Pavement, but then actually, no we're not! We want to be Ornette Coleman." They turn every fucking song into some big jam thing where you wonder if this is written, or if they're just fucking making it up as they go along. I like them for that.