Dec 29, 2020
What does your band name "The Little Wretches" mean?
The Little Wretches. What does the name mean? It's a convergence. When the band was coming together, I lived near the University of Pittsburgh, and we had access to a lot of inexpensive movie-series within walking distance. One night, we saw Francois Truffaut's THE 400 BLOWS at Carnegie Museum of Art. I recently downloaded the movie to look up the exact moment. In THE 400 BLOWS, the subtitle at the 1:00:09 mark reads, LITTLE WRETCH.
Combine that with John Newton’s hymn, AMAZING GRACE, composed as he renounced the slave trade.
Combine that with Fritz Fanon’s 1961 THE WRETCHED OF THE EARTH, an analysis of the effects of colonialism.
Combine that with Victor Hugo’s LES MISERABLES, Jean Valjean, Fantine, and the sewers of Paris.
Combine that with Matthew’s telling of the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes.
Put it all together, and it was the only name for our band. That's what I am, and what we are--THE LITTLE WRETCHES.
Who would you consider to be a non-musical influence?
Well, the story behind the name of the band says a lot about my non-music influences. I'm a Hunky. I descend from people who came halfway around the world for the possibility of a better life. My grandparents were not destitute in Europe. My distant relatives in the Slovak Republic are doing well. But my grandparents were not satisfied with good. They wanted BETTER.
And that's the question that drives me. How can today be better than tomorrow? And how can tomorrow be better than today?
I'm part of history. Am I going to float along, or am I going to navigate? I'm not content to be a product of circumstance.
I'm a transformer, a creator, an explorer.
I had a high school teacher who speculated that Michelangelo was the last person to possess all the knowledge of his age. But that's what I aspire to. What does that make me, a Renaissance Man?
Who do you sound like?
My favorite description of the band said, "The Little Wretches play the kind of music to win a jaded girl's heart." The same writer compared us to Mott the Hoople. Somebody else said we sound like Lou Reed and Paul Westerberg meeting in a car crash. What do we sound like? We sound like John the Baptist camped out in the desert, singing around the campfire, keeping an eye out for wolves and lions. Sometimes we have amps. Sometimes we have pounding drums. Sometimes we have furiously strumming guitars. Or sometimes we're in a quiet room. You have to listen for yourself, then you can tell me what we sound like.
Are you currently earning a comfortable living from your music?
Talk about opening a can of worms. Our album, UNDESIRABLES & ANARCHISTS was added at something like 115 radio stations. Under ordinary circumstances, I'd be booking gigs in every town where I'm getting airplay. At each of those gigs, I'd be selling CDs or some kind of merchandise. As it is, I'm locked down. My only income is from downloads and streaming, and I don't make anything from streaming. But you said COMFORTABLE living. What you have to understand about me is that I'm not in the least bit concerned about comfort. I'll always find a way to survive. I'll always find a way to create. Who said artists deserve a comfortable living? Comfort is your worst enemy. The future is created by those with no stake in the present. If the present is killing you, your fight for survival will make a better tomorrow.
What is the most useless talent you have?
I can argue about anything. I can rationalize or justify anything. I'm one of those kids who believed professional wrestling was real combat. You could not convince me that it was an act with a predetermined outcome. Whatever you said, I had a counter-argument. I have a song called THE TASTE OF DIRT with the line, "You can't talk to an idiot without sounding like an idiot." I'm afraid that I have a talent for getting into arguments with idiots. I think that if I present them with sufficient information and logic, I can convince them of something. Then I look at myself. You can't tell me nothing. I have an answer for everything. I can't quit and I can't be wrong. That's a deadly combination. I lead the league in stubbornness.
What is one of your favorite albums?
I'm trying to think of a good answer that isn't obvious. Okay, how about KIND HEARTED WOMAN by Michelle Shocked? It's very stark, mostly just her voice and guitar. A lot of albums that sound like they are just voice and guitar, when you listen more closely, you hear a lot of very subtle production in the background. This album came out right after Michelle had split from her record label. It's like she recorded it, pressed a truckload of copies, and hit the road. She was touring, playing these previously unheard songs for audiences who wanted to hear her hits. Michelle Shocked is a warrior. KIND HEARTED WOMAN is not going to be everybody's cup of tea, but it is as powerful a collection of songs as you are going to find.