Adam Goldberg Talks About West Coast Romanticism And Living Anxiously

Adam Goldberg Talks About West Coast Romanticism And Living Anxiously (photo)

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Adam Goldberg was staying under an assumed name in a hotel that tried to charge him $20 for some toothpaste when I caught up with him about his latest record, The Goldberg Sisters. He got out of the crowded LANDy business after confusing debacles with a Taiwanese pop singer, a Mexican troubadour and another Landy who was already on Myspace featuring Auto-Tune raps with titles like “I Just Wanna Fuck.”

Thus, out of a necessity to differentiate himself, The Goldberg Sisters were born. Incidentally, there really are two Goldberg sisters, but it’s clear at this point that they have nothing to do with this record. We talked about all the twiddling that went down, and then moved on to some mutually favorite subjects, like David Lynch film scores, and the little moments in films that stay with you forever.

The last time we spoke you had just released a record as Landy, and it had been a labor of love born of many years. But The Goldberg Sisters was much more sudden, are you finding your stride?

I think a little bit. The thing with Landy was that I was recording just because I was recording, you know? And every so often I would take stock and think, oh it would be great to make this all reside in one place. It wasn’t conceived as a thing where I got so immersed that I couldn’t see my way out of it. It was just that I was recording for many years and at a certain point thought I should try and do something with all this stuff. Once that kind of barrier of putting out a record, calling it a record, was broken for me, I think it allowed me to feel like I could move on – and experiment with something that was a more proper studio production.

You worked again very closely with Aaron Espinoza (Earlimart) on this. Which one of you is the bigger knob twiddler?

Geez, man, we’re both, pretty bad [laughter]. But, it’s also why I think it works. We were working in such a tight time frame that it doesn’t get excessive. I think this is a testament to his mixing ability — I mean granted we would do some redos here and there, but his initial mixes were like a song a day. Taking in a lot of fuckin’ material. I don’t mean the length of the songs, but we amassed, or I tend to amass, a lot of stuff, and a lot of layers. Making sense of all that and just filling it just becomes its own version of playing music. He and I definitely have fun with that. And I think it’s probably in a way liberating for him too because it’s not, you know, his music, and I think he’s likes that I like to take a less learned and pretty twittily approach.

Which technical feat or bit of wizardry were you most, were you most pleased with?

That “BFF” song from the LANDy record was in many ways like a model, the sorts of drum sounds and the way that we would do strings was really similar. It’s actually the more organic stuff that I found challenging. It’s this sort of thing, I’m maybe more proud of because [we took] an organic approach to something that we could have just done with synthesizers. Most prominently on this record, “The Difference Between Us,” it didn’t sound like this, per se, but I had in mind modeling it after Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick string arrangements. So we would just track, and track, and track that stuff. And, then we’d start pitching stuff up and down. And we kinda did that with the trumpets too, to kind of create a little mini orchestra basically. We’re using Andrew Lynch who plays trumpet, Merritt Lear and Roxanne Daner on violins, and then I would play harmonium. We’d pitch that down and that kinda gave a lot of the songs this big bottom which sounds uncannily like a baritone sax or something. And then there’s all the usual sort of stuff, a lot of tape echo. Shit like that, all over the record. You know, the more analog echo-y stuff.

I know you feel a necessity to expose yourself. And I don’t mean physically, but in an emotional way.

Mm-hm. I have exposed myself physically too. So, I have no problem with that either. But, go on.

Um, Well, you’ll don’t have to share with me later. You could say it’s true of many creative people, but you’ve always struck me as being exceptionally confessional. What are you confessing on The Goldberg Sisters?

Yeah…. There’s another kind of way of being artist which I completely appreciate, envy in some ways, but don’t entirely understand how it’s motivated. I mean I would have to venture to guess that the large majority of people who consider themselves artists are dealing with their issues through creative means. I responded to those sorts of filmmakers and musicians as I was growing up. As a kid, I always felt sort of less alone really, if I felt someone was revealing their own kind of solitude. I found it to be a source of comfort — which is not like I feel like I’m doing anybody a service. It’s just something I’ve always responded to. So what am I confessing to? I would actually say that this is a slightly less diary-like record, then the first one. If were to have conceived of that LANDy record from the start, I don’t know that it would be like so fucking lovelorn you know? The first song [on The Goldberg Sisters] is about somebody that I knew, the second song is completely narrative. And then there are other songs that are blatantly revealing about meditations on mortality, which seems to be kind of a running theme, if I had to pick one.

[Laughter] And you were playing a guy on TV in, “The Unusuals,” that had a brain tumor at the time of recording your last record.

Yeah, right. And we never really found out what the hell happened, cause the show got canceled. But yeah, exactly, tapped into my own insecurity about that sort of thing. It was an ironic part. I actually chose that. I was initially offered a role of my partner, who is the hypochondriac [laughter]. And I thought it would be more interesting for me to play the guy who actually is sick. [laugh] Even though it made me a little anxious.

Speaking of your TV work, I know you were busy with Robert De Niro and this pilot.

Well, I mean he’s an executive producer on this television pilot [“Rookies”] that I’m doing.

I don’t want to be indelicate, especially if you don’t know exactly what’s happening but what can you say about it, about “Rookies?”

Oh, no, yeah. It’s totally out there in the world. I don’t see why they give a shit because a pilot is nothing until it’s picked up, but, especially these days every single pilot and every single casting decision is discussed, and you know, in a tweet or blog. But it’s a cop show in New York. It’s very different than the one I did [before]. I play a guy who was fired from a newspaper actually — as crime reporter — you know because basically there’s no newspapers anymore, and enlist as a rookie cop. And I’m like the oldest guy there [laughs]. All the people involved are just really fucking cool. Richard Price wrote it, who wrote “Clockers,” and “The Wire,” and “The Color of Money.” And James Mangold is directing the pilot, he did “Walk the Line” and “3:10 to Yuma,” so that was a big incentive to me.

I hope it gets picked up, everybody knows you were the best part of “The Unusuals.”

Oh, come on now. Hey listen that was a great cast! I mean they could have had a two-time Academy award nominee on their cast if they had just held off for like another two months.

[Jeremy] Renner.

Yeah, anyway, he would be miserable now though. I mean, he wouldn’t be doing no Mission: Impossible [“Ghost Protocol”]. Mission impossible would be him doing a movie [laughter].

By the way, I didn’t know you had a sister. Is she hot?

I can’t really… [laugh]. I have two half-sisters. I mean my Dad had another wife. Well, you know how it works. People get remarried, and so when I was in my 20s, my Dad had two daughters.

I kind of gathered that you didn’t actually have a hot bearded sister working on the album with you…

Yeah, well, that remains to be seen. Let’s just, we’ll just leave it at that.

We could hope.

Though I think that my father is taking some credit for the band name, which, he’s entitled to do. I mean, he has created me in part, so he’s more than welcome.

What film would would you inhabit if you could?

Goddamn good question. I would say “Double Indemnity.” It’s such a tragic, it’s a train going… well literally, such a stupid metaphor because it’s about a train there, but the thing is going off the tracks the whole time. That tension and anxiety shouldn’t be a place that I want to reside but obviously, A: is. And B: there’s something super specific about the locales in that movie — which I only recently discovered are almost all in my neighborhood. Like his apartment, I’d always been obsessed with his apartment. And it’s raining. These little moments in that film, I’d absolutely want to live in, particularly in his apartment. For years growing up I’d modeled my living situation on it. So I had these sort of dingy, ’30’s and ’40’s Angelino apartments.

The sort of West Coast romanticism that maybe New Yorkers can’t quite fathom, but I follow you.

Exactly, that’s right, that’s right. It’s one of the reasons I get defensive about Los Angeles because I think there is this incredibly rich, kind of mood there. It’s just not quite as tactile and it’s more subterranean or something. And maybe it only really exists in those movies and books. I mean when I went to college, I was sure I was going to leave LA, I was a fish out of water and I made no sense in LA and all that. And I left for college in New York — and then I ended up dropping out after a year — but point is, I started reading all this Raymond Chandler, and then Bukowski, and John Fante and I started seeing LA through that scrim. It’s not necessarily all that evident, I mean most of what you see driving through LA are a lot of, you know, mini malls with frame shops in them.

What film scores do you love — given that you’ve scored some of your own films?

Tindersticks did two movie scores that are just incredible, two French movies.

“Nenette and Boni?”

Right, “Nenette and Boni” and “Trouble Every Day” was the other one. I used to go to sleep to both of them, but “Trouble Every Day” particularly, every single night. It’s also when I smoked. I feel like it lent itself to the lights going out and having a cigarette in the dark. Now I’m less inclined to put on anything that would make me want to smoke or drink when I’m trying to go to sleep. One of my favorites — and I actually used some of this in “Scotch and Milk” — is “Elevator to the Gallows,” Louis Malle movie that Miles Davis scored. Haunting, beautiful score. Another one I incorporated into “Scotch and Milk” was the score to “Touch of Evil,” which is maybe one of the best movie scores of all time. Almost all of Lynch’s movies. Where his sound design ends and Badalamenti’s score begins, that crazy marriage is really the kind of thing that excites me in a score.

Absolutely. You quit smoking? That’s great man, you’ll live longer.

I don’t know. I mean, it’s very possible the damage has been done and I’m just gonna live more anxiously.

You can find Adam Goldberg and the Goldberg Sisters at: www.thegoldbergsisters.com, @goldbergsisters, and @theadamgoldberg.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.


IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines


The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.


Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.


A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.


Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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