Q&A: Alexander Abnos of Tut Tut on covering Violent Femmes, cult status, and Gnarls Barkley's lame cover of 'Gone Daddy Gone'



Alexander Abnos of Tut Tut.
  • Alexander Abnos of Tut Tut.
Yesterday, we brought you an interview with some of the dudes in the New Riddim about playing Slackers songs at RecordBar's Halloween show on Sunday

Also on that bill: Tut Tut, who'll be performing songs by folk-punk pioneers Violent Femmes. Wayward talked to Abnos on the phone Tuesday to get his take on the band and the show. 

What was the inspiration for the show? 

My friend Charlie [Gokey, of Abnos' other band, Secret Cities], is from Fargo, and he mentioned that there's a venue up there where bands dress up as other bands and cover their songs every Halloween, and I thought that was cool. So I kind of organized things. I asked Grisly Hand to participate, and they asked the New Riddim, and things came together. 

Will you play as a trio? 

It'll be me on ukulele and Charlie on bass, and I think the drums are going to be played by a laptop. But I think we're going to have a friend of ours play air drums up there so it looks like it's real.

On one of those minimal stand-up drum kits like they use?

Yeah, I think we'll rig it up with some pillows so it doesn't actually make any noise when he pounds on it. I don't know. We're still kind of working on that part.  

Why Violent Femmes? 

They're one of the first bands I ever really got into. One of the first CDs I ever got was a compilation with "Add It Up" on it. And their first album is such an ultimate high-school angst album, which I love. My mom even says that when I was like four years old I had a Violent Femmes t-shirt, even though back then I obviously would have had no idea who they were. Plus, the songs are simple enough to learn quickly. You can do them justice without too much hassle. 

What are some of your favorite Violent Femmes songs? 

"Please Do Not Go" is my favorite. I get that song stuck in my head on a daily basis. I also like "Nightmares" a lot. And "Gone Daddy Gone," although I thought Gnarls Barkley's cover of it a few years back was lame and kind of boring. They didn't do anything new with it. 

Do you feel like they're underrated as a band?

Definitely. They existed at a time in the '80s when that sound just wasn't in style. There was only room for their catchiest songs. It's strange, because they're kind of a cult band who never found much success, but they also wrote one of the most ubiquitous songs ever. I mean, everybody knows "Blister in the Sun." But they have a whole body of work that I think is really incredible -- four solid albums that are all over the place. 

Are you still playing with Secret Cities? 

Yes, we're actually working on recording a new Secret Cities album here in Kansas City.

Where are you recording?

Wherever we can. I have a studio space in a building on Wornall, and we're doing some recording there. 

What's new with Tut Tut?

I've been in a few different modes for stuff for Tut Tut -- I've done some electronic songs and also some acoustic stuff. Right now I'm trying to reconcile those two and see if they can work together or not. It's in the beginning stages right now, I guess. But we have a show on November 11 at RecordBar with Mark Mallman, which should be fun.  

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