When LL Cool J emphatically raps “Don’t call it a comeback!” on his song “Mama Said Knock You Out”, he was not only issuing a warning to the haters who had listed his career as DOA, but throwing down the gauntlet for any band or solo artist whose career lasts longer than the allotted 15 minutes most are allowed.  Like life, musical careers have their ups and downs.  Sometimes an artist’s creativity peaks and they are appreciated, other times it does and they are ignored, and in some cases it abandons them all together.  That is the roller coaster nature of creative pursuits.  The trick is to weather it all and persevere, because all true art is a journey.

Let’s Not and Say We Did (LN&SWD) is one band that has not only mastered that trick, but also embraced the journey.  With a career that stretches over 30 years, LN&SWD have certainly had their share of ups and downs.  The band’s three members met in high school and have been making music together ever since.  They were critics darlings in the 80’s, ignored in the 90’s, and sanctified with cult status in the aughts, but its the recent re-release of some of their earliest recordings that has spurred a resurgence in the band’s popularity and catapulted them to heights they’ve never experienced before.  So what do they think of the seemingly never ending thrill ride that is their career?  We sat down with them at the Hawkins Springs, KY headquarters of their record label, Heiroglyph Records, to find out.

Figment News:  You’ve been together as a group for over 30 years.  To what do you owe your longevity?

Lambert Rice “Thrice” Knightley:  I think it’s because we haven’t chased musical fads or really even fit neatly into one musical style. To be honest, when we first started out, we weren’t even all that aware of what was going on in music. We just played whatever we wanted whenever we wanted, and when you enjoy what you do, that’s when you’re going to be your best — and most successful, if you’re lucky.

Stella Delcielo:  Plus we’ve been friends — best friends, really — for a lo-o-o-o-ong time!  We don’t all live in the same town anymore, and the time we do get to spend together is precious, so we spend it having fun.  And for us, making music together is as much fun as shooting a game of horse or hanging out and drinking a beer with your buddies would be for some.

FN:  Is it hard to maintain your passion for the old material after all these years?

Dustin “Dusty” Rainwater: No, not at all! A lot of the old stuff was inspired by something one of us had done or some in-joke that we all shared. When we were deciding on what old material to include in our set for our tour this summer, we’d start to play a song and then start reminiscing: “Do you remember the time Thrice freaked out on the Ferris wheel?” or “Do you remember that time in the high school band room when Stella yelled — at the top of her lungs — ‘What’s mastur–’”

Stella: Yes, we ALL remember that. The whole school remembers… Of course, you NEVER did anything embarrassing, Dusty…


FN:  Speaking of your older material, you’ve been reissuing your back catalog through your new label Heiroglyph Records.  What was the genesis of this reissue project?

Stella: Some of our old recordings had been unavailable for years, so we came up with the idea of starting our own record label to release our new material and make our old stuff available for all our fans. We’ve slowly been buying back the rights to our old recordings and releasing them on Heiroglyph.

Thrice: Do either of you remember why we misspelled “Hieroglyph?”  I’m sure we had a good reason at the time…

Dusty: I thought it was some kind of tax dodge.

Stella: “No, that was when we claimed buying your sister a rabbit was a work expense.”

FN:  Your early records like “My Science Project Disaster” and “Mashed Potatoes & Groovy” charted back in the 80’s, but are selling even better now.  Why the renewed interest?

Thrice: I think there is certainly a nostalgia component, but I honestly think that stuff doesn’t sound like it was recorded in the 80’s. Who else back then put out a record where all the percussion was played on pots and pans and hair combs?

Those records could have been released last week. That’s an advantage of not paying attention to musical trends: the music seems timeless.  I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant — I just mean that, for better or worse, we did things our own way.

FN:  In the 80’s you college radio darlings and a working band that toured on a national level.  What happened in the 90’s?  Were those lost years?

Dusty:  Our musical output slowed way down, that’s for sure. People asked us if we broke up, but the truth is, we just got involved in other things and didn’t find time to record as much. Stella’s acting career took off, and Thrice went to graduate school…

Thrice: And Dusty fell down that mine shaft and wasn’t pulled out for two years… I’m still not clear on why it took so long to get you out… What were you doing there??

Dusty: It was lonely down there… Let’s talk about something else, shall we?

FN:  But your band is far from a nostalgia act, you’re working on new material as well right?

Stella: Definitely!  We’ve got lots of stuff in the pipeline.  Keep watching Figment for details!

FN:  Any plans to tour?

Dusty:  We have plans for a tour this summer.  I think you’ll hear more about it in the coming weeks.

FN:  You just re-released your 1987 album “Out of the Picture”, which is a unique album to say the least.  Can you tell us a little about the album and what inspired it?

Thrice:  Just because we were known for putting out records that were fun and even kind of odd, some writer for Rolling Stone once called us “the only light-weight band that matters.”  While it was good to be called a band that mattered, we bristled at being called “light-weight.”  So we really challenged ourselves with our next album, Out of the Picture. Stella had been reading a lot of William S. Burroughs, and Dusty had been dying to put his own spin on the Doors’ “Break On Through.”  Plus, I had always liked the idea of someone stepping into a mirror or out of a painting.  Somehow it all just clicked, and that record has been one of our most popular ones ever since.

FN:  Stella, I understand you that you are the primary designer of all of the band’s album covers, is that true?

Stella: Well, I think it’s mostly Thrice and me. One thing we do is, if someone has a really good idea for a cover, that person mocks up that cover, and the other two will make suggestions that might improve the artwork or composition. Only if we all agree on a cover idea is it used, but, I can’t think of a single instance where anyone has said no to a cover.  We are so alike in our humor and our tastes, it seems that whatever ideas we do come up with, the whole band is like “Yeah!”. I think so far in the re-issues, the only cover that can be attributed to me is “Merry Stinkin’ Christmas.” There are some upcoming ones, such as In Glass Houses, and the double release of new material, and some more that were my ideas, but so far most of the work you have seen is that of Thrice.

Thrice:  However, Stella did design our logo which is on nearly every album.

FN:  Your sound is eclectic to say the least, with forays into electronic, country and even punk.  How would you describe your sound?

Dusty:  I don’t know. I think we just try to do stuff that people haven’t heard or seen before, whether it’s unusual subject matter, or unconventional composition techniques or fun cover art.

Stella: Goomy. That describes our music best.  It’s our own made up word, and it is difficult to tell you what it means. It has its roots in the Beverly Hillbillies. Granny said “some goomer” was coming to see them or some such. And we took that word and ran with it, and it evolved to mean silly, fun, creative, having a good time and a bunch of other things all rolled into one. When we all go out together, we say we are going gooming. Charlie Sheen’s recent outbursts — that’s goomy. The time we went through the drive thru at DQ and the girl inside didn’t believe I was a real customer and thought I was a coworker and called me a bunch of foul names, then fell to her knees behind the window when we pulled up to get my milkshake and she realized we were real customers — that’s goomy. So, our music is goomy.

FN:  Do you think that the resurgence of the indie rock scene has made it easier for a band like yours to find a new audience?

Stella: Perhaps so, but people are nostalgic creatures and they want to see what they have missed. So basically, I guess the answer is yes, because that is what resurgence is all about. Finding out what you have missed and liking it.

Thrice: Plus the Internet means you can get your music to a much wider audience without depending on some radio programmer.  But honestly, whatever the reason for us finding a new audience, we are grateful.  It’s very satisfying to know that people still find our music worth listening to, whether it’s the old stuff or the new stuff.

FN:  Switching gears a bit, I’ve got to ask you about “Merry Stinkin’ Christmas” your 1985 Christmas concept album of sorts.  What’s the story behind that album and in particular the song “You Should Just Be Thankful That Dog Crap Is Too Hard To Wrap”?

Thrice: I can tell you about the song, but Stella was the real mover and shaker behind that album. Anyway, when I was eight years old, my older brother gave me a box of toenail clippings for Christmas and told me “You should just be thankful…blah blah blah…”  It turned out that the real gift was the idea for that song!  Stella and Dusty had their own memorable Christmas stories with their families, too!

FN:  What do your parents think about that record?  I’m sure it’s a big yuletide favorite in the Knightly, Delcielo and Rainwater homes huh?

Stella:  You bet! As the three of us are similar in our sense of humor, our families are also similar in their senses of humor. Basically we are a bunch of weirdos who were raised by super-weirdos. Merry Stinkin’ Christmas is the epitome of our particular sense of humor, and though from the outside it looks like the remembrances of kids who came up in perhaps some unfeeling households, it isn’t. The statements in those song titles…you have to be VERY sure of your family’s love, very sure that the person you are making the statement to KNOWS, without question, that you love them, or…well the joke is lost. Things along these lines were said in each of our households, but we always knew that despite the seeming harshness of your mom’s statement of, “Relax Santa Won’t Get Here Before I Finish This Cigarette”, underneath she was really saying, “Don’t worry Honey, I won’t let Santa pass you by. If he did I would hunt him down and bring him back here!”

FN:  So you’re all from Kentucky right?  Any plans to jam with My Morning Jacket?

Dusty: You know, when they were just starting out in the late 90’s they opened for us at a concert in Louisville.  They’re great guys, but mostly we jam with bands from western Kentucky where we’re from — Government Cheese and Straydaway especially have been good friends of ours.

FN:  With 3 decades under your belt, what do you have planned for your 4th?

Thrice:  I think we’ll just keep challenging ourselves and our fans and having fun in the process.

Stella: And maybe even win a Figgie!

2 Responses to “The Goomy Way: A Talk With Let’s Not and Say We Did”

  1. TMTYTF Says:

    Interesting interview. This group really seems to work well together and they’re actually quite funny. Up until now, my favorite release is “Out of the Picture”

  2. theHoseman Says:

    Timeless is absolutely the right description for LNaSWD’s music. The older material stands up and sits beautifully next to the new stuff. I had a couple albums back in the 80’s. My college roommate turned me on to them. It’s great to be able to revive my collection with the reissues as my vinyl is pretty beat up. This is a challenging band that may not appeal to the lowest common denominator, but for anyone willing to step out of the binds of mediocrity, Let’s Not And Say We Did are a shining example of experimental yet accessible greatness!

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