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Interview with David Yow about Baseball and Movies

Jesus Lizard singer David Yow never dug Bad Brains, or baseball, but may be starring in a movie about one.

by Zaphod Weinberger
Jul 28 2012, 6:20pm

David Yow used to sing for the Jesus Lizard, and before that did time in Toxic Shock and Scratch Acid, two Texas punk bands, but now he’s an actor. He has a reel and everything, and, if this Kickstarter happens, will be in a movie about baseball and some creepy shit. Shepherd Fairey wants you to donate to the flick, but don't let that stop you. It's a gnarly movie that should be made. Yow discusses baseball and the Bad Brains and acting, but didn't mention that the Kickstarter wraps up Sunday.

VICE: So, do you want to get into it?
David Yow: Are you in the bathroom?

No, i just have you on speaker. Now the film hasn't started shooting or anything, correct?
"High and Outside"? No, we've shot stuff to make the teaser trailer, but other than that, right now we're just trying to find funding.

So there's a Kickstarter, and it's a baseball movie, right?
Yeah. Evald Johnson, the fella who came up with the idea and directed it, his father was--is--a guy named Tim Johnson, and he was something of a baseball player, and after he played, he was managing teams and stuff and there was some controversy at some point with Tim, and honestly, I don’t even know what that is, I’m sure I could find out but nonetheless, it’s not autobiographical but uh...

It draws on it? On his baseball experiences.
Yeah, completely, and just the way baseball players deal with each other, their relationships with women and stuff like that, you know.

Is it mostly on the baseball field? It seems like most of the trailer was his dad and your character, who works in a nursing home?
Well, to answer the first part of that, I don't think most of it is on the baseball field. At first it seemed to me the occupation that it centers around--baseball--was almost secondary, like if he had been some executive or something like that. But now, since some time has gone by and I've learned more stuff, it is important that it's baseball. But it's not a sports movie.

It's more of a noir...
Yeah, and one of the things that Evald has pointed out, was that very often baseball women, like baseball groupies, or girlfriends, or wives, it seems that they take the beating. Not a physical beating, but they just take a lot of shit and continue to come back. Sort of like groupies, in a way.

How did you segue into your acting career? Did you do any films before the Jim Sikora stuff in the '90s? Did you do that solid up until you got back into it a few years ago?
The stuff with Jim was the first film experience I've done. I haven't really done anything theatrical since high school and college--I did drama then--but it wasn't until the early '90s that I did those thing things with Jim Sikora. And then there were a bunch years when I didn't do anything at all like that, but I stuck my toe in and I really liked it. Since the band is broken up, this is what I want to do. I just got back last weekend from shooting another movie in St. Louis, and I'm completely addicted to this shit now. I just... I crave it.

Do you find it similar to the onstage performance stuff? I remember you saying that the worst thing a front man can be is "Dullsville," and obviously you were the opposite of that.
You know, they aren't nearly as similar as one might think, mostly because, at least as far as I'm concerned from being a in a band, is I have the freedom to do what I want at any time. Particularly live. I could do anything I want, but with acting, there are very very specific things you have to do, you have to say this, look there, and put something on the table and shit like that. I think the biggest--I think I might've said this in a different interview; I hope I'm not being redundant--but the biggest thing to me is that making a movie is kind of like making a record. You work hard and you do so many versions of takes, mix it, edit it, do layout, and then it's going to be like that forever. So that's the only real similarity to me, other than they both have the word "perform" in common.

Has any of this gotten you more into baseball or sports at all? Or do you still kind of have a disdain or disinterest in it?
Well the disdain thing is kind of exaggerated for comic effect, but yeah, I'm mostly ambivalent. I just don't care. When I was married and living in Chicago, my wife was a huge White Sox fan and we went to games all the time. And I enjoyed it, because of the sights, sounds and smells, and stupid food and people watching.

You don't really have to pay attention to the game, either.
Yeah, it's punctuated with some highlights. It's so passive, you know?

Are you still super competitive in Scrabble?
Scrabble? I am. I opened this Facebook page a couple years ago to promote my paintings and drawings, and now I pretty much just use it as a promotional tool for movies, and to play Scrabble. I usually have probably about 20 to 30 games going on any given point.

How often do people beat you, if at all?
Oh, rarely. One dear old friend of mine who lives in Austin, this girl Cindy, she wins almost all the time. She wins 90% of the time when we play. Nobody else beats me regularly.

So you have all the two-letter words memorized and everything like that?
Oh, yeah.

OK, last question. This is kind of a curiosity of mine--were you there during the Tim Kerr-Bad Brains incident? Were you in Austin at the time?
I was, yeah. I sort of was on the scene at the time, I went to that show, when they stayed with Tim and Beth. They played at Texas Esther's Follies and I remember the show, and it's funny, I remember that so many of my friends, they worshiped the Bad Brains, (does a voice) "oh the Bad Brains." And I didn't like them at all musically, or anything like that, and then after I found out what assholes they were, or particularly HR... I mean, I was pretty good friends with Tim and Biscuit and Tim's wife Beth, and all the Big Boys and all that stuff.