All words: m.m. zonoozy
In anticipation of Penguin Prison’s co-headlining show with Class Actress this Saturday, May 19, at H Street’s own Rock and Roll Hotel, I decided to catch up with the arctic birdman himself. The last time I chatted with Penguin, né Chris Glover, was about a year ago. Fortunately for him, we became Twitter friends, and ever since, his star has been rising.
Fortunately for us, he’s been frequenting the District, including a couple layovers last month. Some of you may have seen Penguin’s riot DJ set during a soiree our BFF’s at All Things Go threw at the Water St. Project in Georgetown. Others may have caught his pitch-perfect, “Dude, he sounds just like his album!” performance opening for Miike Snow at t he 9:30 club. The rest of you have a chance this weekend.
You can also find Penguin dinging the blogosphere with his new single, “Hollywood,” in partnership with Portland “Hipster” Oregon’s own Remix Artist Collective. The third RAC-Penguin collaboration marks a hat trick of poppy melodies created by a pair of artists who had never met face-to-face until very recently, which just hasn’t seemed to matter. The RAC-Penguin Prison slang an ode to some girl “with her high heels on, she kills the sun, I’m not your friend anymore.”
Simply put, that song is rad – it makes you rock with a lisp, like thisss.
So, without delay, here’s me freewheeling questions to the dude that is Penguin Prison:
Everyone with me was very impressed with your last performance in DC. What’s your secret?
I should do warm-ups before I play. Ideally I should, but I haven’t been doing it but it’s been working out fine. I usually do a routine where I do jumping jacks and push-ups, and run in place for 12-minutes straight and then I do all these vocal exercises before we go on stage. But I didn’t do that before that show.
Obviously that rigor must’ve led to some nifty performances. What’s the best set you’ve played?
That DJ set at the Water St. showcase is the most fun DJ set I’ve ever played. In front of the live bands, there have been some good shows in Washington DC to be honest – like at U Street Music Hall. We’ve played there a couple times and people have been going crazy. I like to feel that the audience is into it.
How does that affect you as a performer?
The audience is really important. I don’t know if they realize it, but they are more important than people on stage in a lot of ways. The entertainer is performing for the audience, and trying to make them have a good time. If they are, then that makes the performer better.
Well put. Last time we spoke, you told me how sometimes you just wake up with a melody in your head and you have to jot it down or record it. Is that still going on now that you’re on tour – are the songwriting juices always flowing?
I feel like with creativity, you never know when it’s going to hit you. That’s why I sleep with a tape recorder by my bed, because you can wake up in the middle of the night and something will be in your head . . . When the brain is kind of not even aware of what it’s doing, that’s when things start to come to it. That’s when the creative juices flow the most.
I’m going to get a bit off-topic – is that cool?
What’s your fondest memory?
I like to go to that place Martha’s Vineyard. I’ve been there a bunch of times, and every time I go there it’s really peaceful. Also, when I was little, my dad would take me to a bunch of basketball and baseball games.
What’s your go-to dance move?
In terms of dancing, to me it’s about my feet. That’s the most important thing. If I’m dancing with someone, I’m just like, “Look at my feet,” and then I’ll do some crazy shit. Also, my shoulder – it’s all about my feet and my shoulders.
Penguin Prison, Happy Feet – that’s funny. Okay, back to topic: who’s the all-time musical idol?
Michael Jackson is the ultimate pop song artist, and Prince. In a modern version, I think James Murphy is the best at what he does.
How about boy bands? Now that they’re coming back in steez, are we going to see a Whitest Kids at Bard comeback?
It makes more sense for teenage boys to be in a band that’s ridiculous like that. Grown men should know better. We were doing that as a joke where I went to college – at Bard College. I sang well but the other two guys had horrible voices, so it was funny. And all the lyrics were making fun of the boy band format.
So what’s the plan then?
I feel the live show is the way I’m going to get people to know about us. So we’ll be touring nonstop.
That non-stop “Golden Train” will hit DC’s Rock and Roll Hotel and discotheque this Friday. Quick, think of a penguin joke!