Check which is the shallow end and note the point where you will be out of your depth.
Who: Jeffrey Lewis
Where: Manhattan, USA
What: Singer-songwriter, Comic-book artist.
So, who are you?
Jeffrey Lightning Lewis
Where are you from?
New York City
What time is it where you are?
What do you do?
I make comic books and I make songs and I book tours for my band.
Who or what are you influenced by?
For the comic books I’m influenced by stuff like Joe Sacco, Dan Clowes, Alan Moore, and for the music I’m influenced by stuff like the Violent Femmes, Lou Reed, Yo La Tengo.
Are you one of those people who like really loves technology?
I have a laptop but I don’t have a smartphone, it’s a love-hate relationship. It’s hard to say whether the internet has enabled what I want to do or detracted from it.
Do you still listen to music? If so, what's been the best stuff you've heard all year?
I listen to music almost constantly, especially if I’m home drawing. Any minute in which it’s possible to be listening to music I usually have music on, like if an album side comes to and end and I’m about to leave the house, but I still have to put my shoes on, I’ll turn the record over just so I can be listening for that one extra minute when I’m tying my shoelaces, I usually turn off the lights first just so I can turn off the stereo as the absolute last thing before I leave the apartment. Most of the stuff I’m into is old stuff, 60s, 70s, so most of my “new” album purchases are old things.
Best stuff I’ve heard all year, hmm, well maybe the album “Reachin” by Arcesia, a sort of famously bad album from around 1970, this former crooner guy decided to try to make a psychedelic record and it’s outrageously bad and weird and obscure and all those good things. It’s hard to find but somebody in France sent me the song files. I would have bought the CD if I could have found a copy. When stuff is out of print or the artist is dead I think it’s okay to get the music free digitally. But I always try to buy it legitimately first.
Do you read? Tell us about good books you read this year?
I’m addicted to reading music books, some of the good ones I read recently are Black Postcards by Dean Wareham, Big Day Coming (the Yo La Tengo band bio), and On the Road With Bob Dylan. I also just finished St. Marks is Dead: The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Street, it’s a new book about the history of a street in my neighborhood, written by somebody I used to live near when we were little.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on the new issue of my comic book, it’s issue # 11, I’m hoping to get it finished in time to print it for the New York City “MoCCA” festival, which is a small press/indie comix festival in early April. I’m also trying to book a European tour for my band in May, the sort of thing I’ve been doing at least once a year since 2002 but it sort of never gets any easier! I’m in a middle sort of level with my music and art, I’m successful enough that I can make a living with this stuff but not successful enough to not have to do a lot of the extra work myself.
Who's ever written a great work about the immense effort required in order not to create?
I think the classic Dufus song “We’re Wearing Underwear” is maybe a good example of that?
So do you fancy yourself as some kind of artist or what?
I’m an artist with a lower case a, but not an Artist with a capital A.
'Quit... quit... you should quit... you should quit... you should... you should...'. Should you quit?
Depends what you mean by “quit”… if I quit doing what I do, then I’d have to get a “real” job in order to pay the rent, so that would sort of be the reverse of quitting, it would be getting a job!
Are you just in it for the money?
The money and the email interviews.
Can you give us the names of two other interesting people who you think we may not have heard of but should have heard of and who we can put these questions to?
Robin Enrico is a local artist who’s been working for years on a long comic book about a female rock band, it’s finally getting published, and he also runs the Paper Jam small press festivals.
And Nan Turner, she tours in a drums/guitar duo called Schwervon, lots of DIY tour stuff, she lives in Kansas City.