Monday, April 13, 1987
The Michigan Daily
Day in Bombay," and "Bless Me a Lepr
By Matthew Smith For I Have Sinned." An avid film Overal
soundtrack enthusiast, he's even finds S
Phillip "Snakefinger" Lithman included a stirring rendition of Nino splatter
is a guitar hero if there ever was Rota's music from 81/2- variety
one. He plays guitar like nobody Snakefinger's backup band, the Sna
else, with a quirky, spontaneous Vestal Virgins, features Eric Drew Ann A
style that synthesizes a variety of Feldman from the seminal strange guest1
influences and reflects what genius outfit Captain Beefheart and Theatr
sometimes seems to be an "art the Magic Band. The Vestal Having
historian" knowledge of guitar Virgins' musical chemistry is as a k
playing. unorthodox, precise, and brilliant. San Fr
His new album, Night of Snakefinger's lyrics, like "I gave myste
Desirable Objects (on Ralph you my spleen/ you called it remar
Records), alternates between Bul - obscene/ then you split it in two," own se
garian folk music, rock and roll, are delivered with deep conviction. Like th
gospel, old time jazz, Celtic folk His lyrical visions presently remain genuin
music, and other unpredictable more or less in the same far-out poser,I
territory on tunes with titles like field as those in such previous everyt
"There's No Justice in Life," "Bad Snakefinger classics as "Jesus Was Ton
Strange gemus returns
rechaun," and "The Spot."
1, Night of Desirable Objects
Snakefinger's creative juices
ring in a seemingly endless
kefinger was last seen in
rbor as the Residents' special
guitarist at their Michigan
re appearance last year.
g achieved much recognition
ong time collaborator with
ancisco's favorite avant-garde
rians, Snakefinger is a
kable talent that stands on his
eparately from the Residents.
he Residents, Snakefinger is a
ne surrealist musician/com -
finding new rules to break at
night, Snakefinger's Vestal
s will bring Phil Lithman's
e musical visions to the Blind
'his live appearance promises
a thoroughly compelling
ence. In a telephone inter -
Mr. Finger shared some of
oughts on a variety of things.
m obsessed with playing,"
an said, explaining his own
ng tastes. "I almost don't care
it is or who's playing or
ng, but I like to hear the
guitar players. I listen to them
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Phillip "Snakefinger" Lithman
will be playing at the Blind Pig tonight with his backup band, The
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from jazz, blues, modern music,
right through to country swing... I
like the sort of mad aspect of their
playing - they usually put a
slightly loony edge to it. Then of
course, I listen to tons of
soundtracks. There's so much
inherent drama in a soundtrack... It
tends to be more interesting than
your average rock and roll song -
more dramatic and less cliched, as it
But can you make a living being
"Yea, I make a very poor
poverty stricken type of living, if
you can call it a living. I guess it's
so far below the poverty line most
people wouldn't call it a living, but
with my needs being so small, I
can manage to survive off it okay."
What motivates Snakefinger?
"I guess you could almost put it
down to selfishness," he explained.
"I have to please myself con -
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siderably, otherwise I'd probably do
another job. I have to please myself
in the music department and make'A'
sure that the stuff I'm playing is
the stuff that I enjoy and that I want
"I enjoy having fun. I guess my'
meaning of fun isn't necessarily"
what other people would consider
fun. For myself to have fun, fun '.
has to have a little depth to it."
When asked about the pop -
ularity/notoriety he has achieved
through his collaborations with the
Residents, he sighs, "Sometimes I
actually think it's a hindrance.
Some people think, 'Oh, it's just
that weird stuff. I know what that
is, I'm not interested in Snake -
finger. It's just that weird, you
know, Residents chaos-type
When probed about life with the
Residents, who he has known for
17 years, Snakefinger declines to :
give information, in deep respect
for theseriousness with which the h
Residents take their self-imposed
obscurity. In a discussion of old
recordings, he fondly recalls the
classic Residents EP Duck Stab as
his favorite collaboration with
them. He also hinted that another
Residents tour is in the works for
the near future.
Snakefinger's eclecticism has
pushed him to the outskirts of the
mainstream. Reflecting upon his
determination toevade commer -x
cialism, he says, "I couldn't bear to
look back on something and feel
horribly ashamed that I did
something just in an attempt to get
more people to listen to me."
Snakefinger's strange labors may
never launch him to stardom, but
his music for the subconscious
listener is too priceless to be
ignored. His performance with his
Vestal Virgins tonight at the Blind;-
Pig will be opened by the Detroit
acoustic group, The Volebeats, at
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