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Interview with Caleb Guillotte of Deadeye Dick

May 5, 2011

 
     

Deadeye Dick's "A Different Story" (1994) featured their hit song "New Age Girl"

We had the pleasure of talking with Caleb Guillotte of Deadeye Dick recently about his time in the thick of the 1990s music scene. This New Orleans native was the front man of the band that had the 1995 hit song “New Age Girl,” which hit #27 on the charts after being selected for the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack. Read about his time with the band, their hit song, his take on the 90s and what the band members are up to now.

1. You were in your early 30s

 

when Deadeye Dick hit it big. What were you up to before that?

Well, I had been playing music professionally since I was 15 and both Mark & Billy had also been playing for quite some time. Fun fact: all three of us, at one time or another, sold women's shoes, so I guess we were destined to play together.

2. How did you decide on "Deadeye Dick" as your band name? We read you took it from a Kurt Vonnegut novel. Did you just like the sound of it, or is there something about that book in particular that you were drawn to?

Truthfully, I don't think any of us ever really loved the name-it is the title of the first Kurt Vonnegut novel I ever read, but it does not loom large in my or any of our psyches.

3. I want to start this question with a "thank you." Thank you for writing "New Age Girl." I cannot listen to this song without smiling. It's just great -- good music, intelligent lyrics, and a recurring dog barking sound that makes me happy. We at 90s411 love it and have it in heavy rotation. What is the inspiration behind the song? Is there an actual Mary Moon? Where did the "rraahhhh!" come from?

"New Age Girl" had no really direct inspiration; I had an ex-girlfriend with whom I and my parents were still friendly. One day, when I was visiting my folks, I noticed she had given them some crystals (though, when we were dating, she was a pretty dedicated elegant preppy girl with a taste for Gucci bags and diamonds). I never met anyone named Mary Moon until our song was a hit; then, I met several ladies who showed me their licenses to prove it was their name, and many more still who felt the song was about them (despite the fact that they had always lived in, let's say, Lima Ohio and my first time there was when we played the town's one live music venue).

Deadeye Dick (1994)4. What was the idea behind the pumpkin heads in the video for "New Age Girl?"

The pumpkins were actually in the second "New Age Girl" video (a first had been shot on the cheap in Atlanta and never made it on MTV. The pumpkin video was paid for by RCA, who licensed the song for the Dumb & Dumber soundtrack -- if I'm not mistaken, there was a bit of a pumpkin thread running through the film.

5. I saw you reference your music as something that sounds like "the wind whippin' past your face as you blast down a winding road with the top down on a perfect cool spring day." Well put. That's exactly the appeal. To what extent do you think your New Orleans roots are responsible for that?

I have to say I never characterized my/our music as such-they might be Mark Miller's words (he took over the Deadeye Dick MySpace page from a fan who was kind enough to set it up in the first place. If asked to describe our music, I think I would be far more prosaic and just call it power-alterna-pop that wears it's Brit influences on its sleeves. As far as N.O.La. being an influence, that is inescapable. I have travelled much of the world (both before, during, & after Deadeye Dick) and have never visited a more musical place. New Orleans drummers are a special and magical breed, as are our trombonists. Obviously, several legendary trumpet players and progenitors of rock & roll, R&B and funk have come from here. One common thread is most of us actually tend to play a hair behind the beat, with what a record producer pal of mine refers to as a "greasy" feel. That said, the breezy, bouncy vibe of A Different Story owes as much to our love of the great bands of the 60's (Beatles, Kinks, Beach Boys, The Who, etc.) and the 80's (The Police, U2, Elvis Costello, XTC, etc.) and an unintended resistance to the dourness of the burgeoning grunge scene/sound.

6. How did it come about that "New Age Girl" was chosen to be on the soundtrack of 1994's Dumb and Dumber? Do you like the movie?

"New Age Girl" was already a hit and climbing up the charts when RCA approached us, and I think it's safe to say the soundtrack helped the song get even bigger. The first time I saw the movie, I was dating a woman who was a Rhodes Scholar and she suggested we "see the movie with your song in it" -- I thought neither of us would care for it (and was right at the time, though the rest of the audience was roaring).

When the film came out on DVD, we watched it in the band van all of the time and it was much funnier with repeated viewings and the suffocating giggle of our soundman as he orated every line of dialog along with movie.

Caleb Guillotte of Deadeye Dick (2001)7. Did you get to meet Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, aka Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne?

We were invited to the premier, but were on the road and had to defer, so no.

8. What is your favorite Deadeye Dick song to play live?

My two favorite Deadeye Dick songs to play live are both from the second record, Whirl; they are "It Doesn't Really Matter" and "I Know Better" which are both jangly and bouncy musically while being fairly acerbic lyrically. From the first record, I'd say "Sentimental Crap;" before we were signed, Mark and I played tons of open mics in N.O.La. all the time and I loved playing "Your Love Is Killing Me" in those settings.

9. Since 90s 411 is dedicated to all things 90s, we'd love for you to weigh in with your favorites from this very cool decade.

I agree the 90's were a great decade for music-that brief period in the earlier years when alternative terrestrial radio stations popped up all over (before they all fell under one of two corporate overlords).

  • 90s TV: I was pretty busy in the 90's and didn't watch a ton of TV. I adored Sports Night and was really bummed when it went away.
  • 90s Fashion: I'm very into clothes and fashion (never leave the house after 6 without at least a sport coat). I had been into Giorgio Armani since the 80's and really fell for Paul Smith of London in the 90's.
  • 90s Music: I fell in love with Radiohead when I heard the bends and still think they are one of the greatest rock bands of all time.

10. What are you and your fellow Deadeye Dick band mates up to these days? Do you still keep in touch?

Mark Miller and I both work in the bustling Louisiana film industry (me in the Art Department, Mark as both a Production Supervisor as well as a fairly busy actor (as Mark Adam). Mark is also both writing and performing country music and his debut record has done very well on the alternative country charts (again as Mark Adam) I play acoustic shows with my friends for fun and produce and write songs for other artists. Billy is an anesthesiologist (his father was a doctor and as the band was winding down, he developed a desire to pursue medicine. We do stay in touch (Mark and I are occasionally on the same film) and do a rare reunion show now and then. Both Mark and Billy live on the Northshore of Lake Ponchatrain, so I don't see them socially as much as I'd like ( I live in the historical New Orleans neighborhood known as the Irish Channel).

Billy Landry of Deadeye Dick (2001)   Deadeye Dick (2001)   Mark Miller of Deadeye Dick (2001)
Billy Landry    Deadeye Dick (2001)    Mark Miller 

 

 

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