Kick-ass folk troubadour Peter Case celebrates the release of his great new disc, Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John (Yep Roc), with suitably raucous support provided by Alun Piggins and the Quitters at the Dakota Tavern (249 Ossington), tonight (Thursday, October 18). $tba. 416-850-4579. www.petercase.com
For a politically outspoken artist, the time seems right to put out a stop-the-war anthem. Any plans?
Actually, I wrote a lot of really political songs for the album - I must've had about 400 "Bush is a moron" songs. But those things tend not to have much of a shelf life, and you don't really learn anything as a writer from composing them.
Finger-pointing songs about the quagmire in Iraq or the Darfur genocide aren't being released. Why not?
The truth is such a radical pill to swallow that when you start telling the truth in songs, people don't really have the constitution for it.
A few years ago, I did an interview with the big daily newspaper in Barcelona. When I was asked about Iraq, I said we needed new leadership in the U.S. because the people in charge seem to be working contrary to what the country is supposed to stand for. When I got back to the States, the first e-mail waiting for me was from the Department of Homeland Security. It was sent by this guy who wound up coming to at least three of my shows. I asked him if I was being investigated, and he said, "Oh no, you're just paranoid" as he opened his leather jacket so I could see his handgun. Then he let slip a few weird things from my past just to let me know he'd done his homework. That kinda freaked me out. There's definitely a chill.
You're blogging about your day-to-day experiences while on tour. Why?
I was thinking about what Marshall McLuhan said about the content of every new medium being the previous medium. The content of television is movies, the content of film is theatre and the content of the Internet is the written word, which shed a new light on the idea of blogging.
It's been a good way for me to interact with people and discuss things in a different way, and I think posting stuff online regularly helped me sharpen my writing. If Woody Guthrie were alive today, I'm sure he'd be blogging like crazy.
In your blogs, you often allude to films associated with the French new wave. What's your interest in those movies?
A couple of years ago I hurt myself while moving equipment on the road. I rented all these westerns and gangster movies to watch while I was laid up at home. I'm no expert on the French new wave, but I love Jean-Luc Godard's films, as well as François Truffaut's 400 Blows and Jean-Pierre Melville's noir things, which aren't really part of the new wave but they're great nonetheless. That's really where my desire to start making movies of my own came from. I'm working on an idea for a movie right now that's going to be a crime story, but I don't want to say anything more about it.
When do you find time to write?
A lot of songs come to me in that time between being awake and falling asleep. I wrote my entire book, As Far As You Can Get Without A Passport (Everthemore Books), in the middle of the night. It's hard to write during the day because there are so many distractions.