R/S: In order for you to desire more unusual records, your esthetics had to expand—
STUART SWEZEY: A guy from Germany stayed with me and looked through my records. He said, “Your records are very interesting, but this one is terrible.” He was holding Hafenmelodie by HEINO. I asked, “What’s so bad about Heino?” and he said, “This is too conservative.” I guess Heino is identified with the vaterland feeling of German oompah—he offends the hell out of the younger Germans. But he’s a major sex symbol to middle-aged German women. Basically, he does lively beer-drinking songs which are the MOR (middle-of-the-road) music of Germany, but he throws in a little marimba or steel guitar. And he has an imposing voice which doesn’t quite go with the light tunes he selects.
BRIAN KING: He looks like such a swinger—black turtlenecks, shades, Wally George haircut.
SS: I found out about HEINO when I was in Germany. I saw an album cover showing a guy who looked like Andy Warhol with sunglasses and white hair. I thought, “This is wild—who is this?” Apparently he really was a Warhol fan and that’s where he got his image.
Once you start opening up to these possibilities, you lose your embarrassment about buying some “square, dorky” record because you know you want it.
BK: A lot of this is just instinctual. If I like a Michael Jackson song, I like it—even if it is Michael Jackson. And he’s becoming more perverse: the Howard Hughes of the music industry.
SS: I started out immersed in rock’n’roll. First it was punk rock, then SUN rockabilly records, like WARREN SMITH. Brian and I saw the BLASTERS countless times. Then I realized that rock’n’roll isn’t getting people off the whole societal control thing—the rebellion that it’s supposed to be is such a packaged con.
BK: And so much of it now is remakes—why listen to Tom Waits when you can listen to Louis Armstrong? Unless the remake is perverse. SS: Plus, music today is self-conscious.