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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Eels' Mr. E on Becoming Jimmy Page's Hero, Playing in China, and Making Difficult Albums

Posted By on Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 11:25 AM

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Where do you record?

We usually make the records in my basement, and occasionally go somewhere else. It's hard to get a live string section in my basement in L.A. I can maybe get 20 people playing at once in my basement, but they have to be stacked on top of each other. It's hard to play the violin like that.

In the BBC documentary you made about your father (Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives), you hinted at feeling underappreciated as an artist. Is that something that bothers you?

My father's story actually made me appreciate the level of appreciation I do have. [Mr. E's father, Hugh Everett III, was an American physicist who first proposed the parallel worlds theory, but his genius was not recognized until after his sudden death.] He was totally swept under the carpet by all the physics greats of the time, and it wrecked his life.

You hit China on this tour. How was it playing in Beijing and Shanghai?

It was a strange experience. When we played Beijing it was very surreal, because whenever the music got a little too exciting the Chinese army would start marching between us and the audience, to remind them who's in charge. It was a weird experience, but the army didn't shoot anybody, so that was nice.

How did you enjoy playing London recently? I know you have a lot of fans there.

It was great; Jimmy Page came to the show. It's very unnerving playing guitar in front of Jimmy Page.

Did you bump into him for a chat?

Yeah, I'm good friends with Pete Townshend, and Pete had told me that Jimmy uses the same guitar picks as me, and he couldn't find them any more in London. So I met him and gave him 50 picks, so for a moment I was Jimmy Page's hero.

So a few more dates and then you finish your tour in L.A. next week, after visiting San Francisco. Are you going to be able to drive down the Pacific Coast Highway?

No, we'll be in too much of a rush, plus the bus may fall into the ocean at Big Sur.

If you survived the crash you'd have some good material for the next memoir.

We'll be taking the interstate.

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Andrew Chamings

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