acid logicpresents...

An Interview with Mojo Nixon

Part Two

Curtis Armstrong in Revenge of the Nerds


By Wil Forbis

September 16th, 2001
Return to Part One of the Mojo Nixon Interview

Part Two: MTV, Politics and Jello Biafra
Wil: As you probably know, MTV is celebrating their 20th anniversary.

Mojo: Yeah, some people told me that they saw me on there.

Wil: And we're hearing a lot of glorification of MTV in the media, but there's also a lot of people writing articles arguing that MTV hasn't had a positive effect on music and popular culture.

Mojo: Well, MTV started out as real cool around '81. Back then, the bands that had videos were kind of quirky, new wavey and arty. you knew someone in the band went to art school.

Wil: The Buggles, for instance.

Mojo: But as soon as MCA or whatever figured out that Journey could make videos, MTV was over. It was over at that moment. It was just another marketing tool.

Wil: So MTV as an aesthetic concept was over?

Mojo: Yeah, 'cuz MTV was really cool at first. When it started, I was exactly the right age and I was in a band and I watched it all the time. Lots of things that would never get on there now, were getting on there, including me, just because they had to fill it with something. At first they only programmed three hours and then they repeated it three times.

Wil: They also didn't have advertisements, which was nice.

Mojo: Right. In '89 I did the "Debbie Gibson is Pregnant with My Two Headed Love Child" video and I had Winona Ryder in it and I was thinking "This is gonna bust me loose!" Well, they wouldn't play it because I made fun of Tiffany, Spuds McKenzie, - you don't hear much about him anymore - Debbie Gibson and Rick Astley. They were like, "We can't play that. That's how we sell our Skittles ads, our Snickers bars."

Wil: That's interesting, because you actually had made fun of MTV VJ Martha Quinn, four years previous, with your song "Stuffin' Martha's Muffin."

Mojo: Yeah, there was this guy Mark Pellington - he's a movie director now - he and Ted Demme both worked there. It was their idea to, you know, 'screw the man.' They hired the guy railing against MTV. But the thing with MTV is that their ads and their promos superhipped them, but their playlist couldn't be more conservative.

Wil: That's true. That's a good point.

Mojo: A lot of so-called "alt-culture" entertainment is like that. You're average "alt" radio station in the eighties and nineties was acting like they were cutting edge and whatnot, but guess what? A U2 and REM song was coming right up!

Wil: I remember in the late eighties and early nineties MTV was doing a lot with animation for their promos and such. They were doing stuff with the Brothers Quay who were an "underground" animation group. But then they'd play a video by.

Mojo: It would be whatever video cost some record company a half million of a full million to make. It's like a short movie.

Wil: Yeah, the price of these things is mindboggling.

Mojo: Yeah, well, "Burn Down the Malls" cost $1500 and "Elvis is Everywhere" cost, maybe three or four grand.

Wil: How 'bout the "Debbie Gibson" video?

Mojo: That one cost closer to ten grand, or twenty.

Wil: Now was Winona Ryder working on a base pay thing, or was it a favor, or.?

Mojo: Free. Because we'd just been in this movie "Great Balls of Fire" and she wanted to do it. I called her up, and luckily she didn't have anything to do and she came out and did it.

Wil: And not long after that her boyfriend of the time, Johnny Depp, did the Tom Petty video, "Into The Great Wide Open."

Mojo: Yeah, she had dated a few musicians.

Wil: Right, she seems to have a taste for them. I think the last one was Beck.

Mojo: Ah, Beck. He's an enigma, that's what that boy is.

Wil: He's an enigma trapped inside of a riddle.

Mojo: (Laughs)

Wil: And speaking of eclectic people - a friend of yours, Jello Biafra, ran a kind of semi-genuine mayoral campaign in San Francisco in 1979. There was also a Mojo Nixon presidential campaign in 2000. Is that correct on some level?

Mojo: Yes, on some cartoonish Mojo level. "Put another Nixon in the White House 'cuz Mojo's not a Dick!"

Wil: How much of the vote did you get?

Mojo: Didn't get a whole lot. A lot of my people were unable to get to the polls due to their altered states.

Wil: Right, and there's all that pressure against people with prison records voting.

Mojo: I was just thinking about running for mayor right here in Cincinnati.

Wil: Hey, you guys had Jerry Springer, didn't you?

Mojo: Yeah, Jerry Springer was mayor here. But they were having this thing where they were gonna have a straw mayor and whoever came in second was gonna be in the finals, the November election. But there's all these FCC rules and I found out that if you run you can be on the air. And if I can't be on the radio, that's gonna shut down my ACCESS TO THE PEOPLE!

Wil: That's interesting, because Howard Stern was briefly bandied about as a candidate for mayor of New York.

Mojo: If you run, the moment you actually file is when you have to get off the air. Otherwise, every other candidate has the same right to those airwaves.

Wil: Well, I was looking through some of your political views in regards to when you were running in 2000. I don't know how much if this is misrepresented, but it says you would like to "establish friendly relations with the Bobnarian aliens from the planet Meekmock?"

Mojo: (Laughs) Yes, yes. That's just some inside joke at work.

Wil: And you wanted to lower the voting age to eight?

Mojo: Yes, yes, yes.

Wil: Now in this list of rather absurdist views there's actually a few that seem more serious and perhaps a little more Libertarian.

Mojo: Yeah, I gave a speech at the Libertarian Party here in Ohio a couple of months ago. I was a little nervous. Libertarians have a lot of younger guys who wanna legalize drugs and then there's a lot of older economics professors who read too much Adam Smith and got patches on their elbows. But I gave my speech and they laughed.

Wil: It's kind of a strange party because it really has these sorts of fringe groups from the far right and the far left.

Mojo: Well, it's very true that you have to think of politics not as a line but as a circle. I agree completely with the right-wing, conservative nutjobs who just want the government to leave them alone. But I think that has to happen in all areas. You can't bring God, and church and so-called morality into all this.

Wil: Right, because the right wing view is sort of 'Leave my money alone but you can't burn the flag.'

Mojo: Yeah, Colin Powell's son is running the FCC now and he's saying he's a Libertarian and that he believes in free trade and the free market. Well, then he also needs to believe in free ideas and let people say what they want on the radio. If you don't like what somebody is saying on the radio, all you gotta do is cut it off.

Wil: I would think a Libertarian running the FCC is kind of an oxymoron. The first thing he should do is disband it if that's what he believes.

Mojo: Well, you would think so, but he's saying all these free trade things and that's where politics in America get all screwed up. And I'm not sure that capitalism as it's happening here in America is helping things. The analogy I always use is that when you get off the interstate and there's four gas stations that are exactly the same with the exact same price and the exact same stuff inside. I'm not sure that competition is helping us. All four of those gas stations have minimum wage employees who can barely help you and barely do anything.

Wil: Or just don't want to try.

Mojo: Right, they don't care. They don't care because they don't have a piece of the action. It's just like with a hotel. I'd rather go to a mom and pop hotel where the owner is sitting in the other room watching TV and he wants to get me checked in so he can go back and watch the football game. Not some fancy schmancy hotel where the person's being paid a low wage and they can't figure out the computer and it's going to take a half hour to check in. All I want is a MORE EFFICIENT AMERICA! (Laughs)

Wil: Well, I hear you there, and that's an issue I often muse upon myself. But what I always come back to is how everyone's always complaining about Starbucks and how there's one in every corner, but I gotta say: I love Starbucks coffee.

Mojo: Well, obviously they're putting in some secret ingredient.

Wil: It's like legalized cocaine.

Mojo: I dunno if you heard this song of mine "You Can't Kill Me," but I say McDonalds is putting something in their food to make you weak, sterile and subservient.

Wil: Is that from "Disney is the Enemy"? (another Mojo tune. I misheard him state the song title.)

Mojo: That's from "You Can't Kill Me," a similar themed rant. I link up McDonalds, Disney, aliens and the Mormons.

Wil: It really is the aliens, isn't it? It always gets back to them.

Mojo: The alien overlords are the puppet-masters secretly running McDonalds and Disney.

Wil: Exactly.

Mojo: To try and make us what? Weak, sterile and subservient.

Wil: Gotcha.

Mojo: So they can come down and harvest us when it's mealtime!

Wil: Preach on!

Mojo: (Laughs)

Wil: Well, with all that said. and with these somewhat Libertarian views you have, how do you interact with someone like Biafra who's more of a socialist.

Mojo: Ah, you know. we have fun. Me and Jello get along. He's crazy as a shithouse rat but I love him. He's a great guy. We made that country album together. We did this thing in 2000 at South by Southwest (Texas/music art festival.) This friend of mine, Steve, owns this bar called the Continental Club and I hosted this party where we had eight bands play. And we (Mojo Nixon and the Toadliquors) played at the end and then me and Jello had a debate. And Jello did all these things about S.U.V.s and Starbucks and the Pentagon and the prison complex and all the stuff you'd expect him to say.

Wil: Right, I've seen him.

Mojo: And he had some funny lines; people were laughing. And then I said, "I wanna do something for the men!" I said, "I'm gonna give all the men out there two more inches of dick!" And then I said "I'm gonna do something for the women! I'm gonna give 'em two more after that!" And Jello said he couldn't compete and he walked off stage. (Laughs)

Wil: If I can dig down into your pop culture references there, I believe you're referencing the old Richard Pryor routine?

Mojo: Sure, I'm always referencing Richard Pryor. He says "I'm gonna go get some new pussy," and his girlfriend says, "If you had two more inches of dick you get some new pussy right here, motherfucker!"

Wil: (Laughs) That is a great, great line.

Mojo: You should've seen the guys in my band when I first played 'em "Richard Pryor's Greatest Hits." They were going, "Whoa, whoa. We thought you made all this up?!" I'm like, "Nope, sorry." You get your Richard Pryor cds and your Bill Hicks and Rudy Ray Moore and you can find out a whole lot about Mojo.


Continue to Part Three of the Mojo Nixon Interview


Don't forget to check out these recent Acid Logic Interviews that delve deep into the inner psyches of American celebrities and expose them as the senstive artists they truly are:

Curtis Armstrong (Revenge of the Nerds)
Rikki Rockett of Poison
The Great Kat - female speed metal guitarist
Gerald V. Casale of Devo
Teller, stage magician from "Penn and Teller"

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