Diamond Rugs: Tasting Blood With Every Lick (Part Two: John McCauley and Hardy Morris)
Yesterday we began our two part conversation with Diamond Rugs. The group will return to the road for a week of shows starting on Saturday at Carnegie Hall. Ryan S. Henriquez sat down with the group’s principal songwriters John McCauley, Ian Saint Pe, and Hardy Morris. Thursday’s installment focused on Saint Pe. Today Henriquez speaks with McCauley and Morris.
I heard that you dined on pig kidney and duck tongue last night.
John McCauley III: Yeah, and ox tripe.
How’s duck tongue? What does it taste like?
JM: Duck tongue is a little too rich for me. I did not enjoy the flavor of it very much. And I don’t know if it’s cartilage or bone or something in there, but it’s crunchy. It’s a little upsetting to my palate. Nobody could even swallow one. Everybody tried it and chewed on it and spit it out. I felt kinda bad because we wasted a lot of duck tongue.
Think of all the ducks who are mute because of you now.
JM: How are they going to make those AFLAC commercials?
Can you just give me a little context as to how the Diamond Rugs project came together?
JM: I guess it started with me and Bryan.
JM: Yeah, [drummer] Bryan Dufresne. We’d wanted to play together for a while and it never happened for eight years.
You guys grew up together in Providence?
JM: I didn’t know him too well for a while but he’s been around Providence for a long time. He played in Six-Finger Satellite for a bit. Vincebus Eruptum too — a metal band — I’ve seen them play a few times. And then I met Ian [Saint Pe] from Black Lips at Coachella a few years ago. We were both pretty fucked up but I just had a good feeling about him. I thought “I’ve got to work with this guy.” But I didn’t see him for a long time after that.
Were they on the road?
JM: Yeah — Black Lips — I think they tour more than Deer Tick! And that’s a lot! Black Lips played Providence and Ian & I hung out after the show. Bryan hung out with us too. We stayed up all night and said “Let’s start a band.” We were going to call ourselves Stoner Drama and make this shitty little punk record. The theme was going to be what stoner roommates might argue about. Bryan came up with a couple of good song titles like, “You Ate All the Fucking Chips,” and “When’s Your Girlfriend Gonna Start Paying Rent?” So it was basically just going to be for fun. And then I went on this magical mushroom trip and went to a Los Lobos concert last summer.
In Providence as well?
JM: Actually in Cranston, Rhode Island. Los Lobos was my first concert ever, ya know.
Where was that?
JM: That was the Newport Folk Festival, in 1989? Maybe 1990, I don’t know. My parents took me because I was crazy about Los Lobos when I was a kid.
What were you like 3 years old at that point?
JM: Yeah. Apparently I danced my ass off through the whole set. I don’t really remember it. But I remember the feeling. I remember having a toy guitar and just rocking out.
So you talked to Steve [Berlin] a little bit at the Cranston show?
JM: Yeah. I went out with them to McCormick & Schmick’s after the show. I had a big bag of mushrooms …
Did Steve indulge?
JM: No, he didn’t. I told the bus boy, I gave him five bucks and said, “Go clean out a couple of those oyster shells and dry them off and give them to me.” I filled up a couple of oyster shells with ‘shrooms and I sent them down the bar to [Los Lobos singer/guitarist] David Hidalgo — “Hey David, you should try the oysters!” I don’t know if he ever ate them or whatever.
Steve is a pretty interesting cat. He was playing in The Blasters in the early ‘80’s and Los Lobos was opening up for them. And Steve essentially sought out Los Lobos and told them he wanted to play with them.
JM: I love The Blasters. Yeah, Steve’s musical history is incredible.
Did you mention to Steve you were trying to get a project together?
JM: Yeah, that’s how it came up. Steve had met Robbie [Crowell] a while ago. I think that was when Rob was playing with The Matinees. So I brought that up and we had all these little connections.
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