Spinal Tap: The Unpublished Nigel Tufnel Interview!
GW Do you have any specific jazz influences? I hear so many different players in “Jazz Odyssey.”
TUFNEL The thing is we’ve talked about this before, and I’ll say it again and again and again until someone listens, I suppose. People that play jazz are basically embarrassed and that’s why they generally play very quietly. It’s all hushed. It’s all, “Bloody hell, I hope they can’t hear me.” If you hear the notes they’re playing, they don’t bloody make any sense, do they? It’s just these random sort of squeaking and squalling notes. And sure, yeah, they play fast sometimes. [imitates a fast jazz run] But really if you slow it down it’s a nightmare. It’s like a train wreck. I think it comes from embarrassment, basically. What are they afraid of? Learn how to play the bloody instrument and you can play loud, is what I say. But having said that there are some blokes that can play. There’s no question that there are some guitar players that are good jazzists and can really do it. I like mostly people from a long time ago, but that’s my own taste.
GW Spinal Tap is playing a few shows coming up here in England.
TUFNEL Didn’t you say you were in New Jersey?
GW Yes. I’m in New Jersey.
TUFNEL You said “here in England.”
GW Did I say that? I meant “over” in England then.
TUFNEL You wish you were in England is what you meant to say.
GW I do, actually.
TUFNEL If you need a letter for me to write to your boss saying “he wishes he was in the English office” I’d be glad to do it.
GW That would be very helpful.
TUFNEL It’s fun over there. Anyway, we’re doing Glastonbury and we’re doing the Wembley Arena.
GW Those are good gigs.
TUFNEL Oh yeah. Oh, very big, yeah.
GW Will this be your first time in the new Wembley Arena?
TUFNEL It will be, yeah. We played the stadium two years ago, which holds 75,000. We played that for Live Earth. I think Wembley Arena is 10,000.
GW Oh, I forgot. It’s Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena. The British have a confusing way of naming things stadiums and arenas.
TUFNEL That’s right. It’s not like in the States where you have places like Madison Square Garden.
GW I understand that these three guys who look suspiciously like the Folksmen were out on the road recently playing a bunch of your songs.
TUFNEL Yeah. I found out about that recently, about a couple of weeks ago. My first thought is, “What’s going on?” That’s also my second thought, by the way. I can’t explain it. We’ve had these people do these things once in a while. If they’re getting the music out there, great. It’s fine. Whatever. I don’t know what to say.
GW I’ve always wondered about those Folksmen characters. You’ve been very generous to them, inviting them to open for several Spinal Tap tours.
TUFNEL The folky guys is what we call them. They’re not cruel or evil people. They’re just folkies. They play these acoustic instruments, which is great if you’re playing in a room, I suppose. But they’re harmless, really. They do these bizarre songs. They’re technically nice guys. I wouldn’t want to spend long periods of time on a bus with them, though.
GW I guess having them open for you makes the band seem that much louder when you come out to play.
TUFNEL People notice the difference straight away. If you’re playing acoustic, soft, folk songs it really does set us up quite well. Then we step on stage and just turn it up.
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