Interview: WFMU's Tom Scharpling on His Twitter Novel, the New Scharpling and Wurster Album, and His Antipathy Towards Sleep.
"Fuel Dump is going to be like Magnolia. Or Crash. It's going to be like Magnolia meets Crash."
Obligatory caption: "What I Do On The Weekends For Disposable Income."
What Tom Scharpling, host of The Best Show On WFMU with Tom Scharpling, might lack in modesty, he makes up for with his impressive time-management skills. When Scharpling isn't busy chatting with guests like Patton Oswalt, Aimee Mann, or Paul F. Tompkins he uses his radio show to ask, and answer, the big questions. After all, someone has to proclaim that songwriter Gary Puckett is officially the sleaziest musician of all time. (Have you read the lyrics to "Young Girl" recently?)
When Scharpling isn't hosting The Best Show, which airs from 8 to 11pm every Tuesday on the non-commercial station, he's busy writing Fuel Dump, the internet's greatest Twitter-based novel, starring debonair rock journalist Kurt Beaudreau and the treachery of Kid Rock. He also works with Superchunk drummer/man of a thousand imitations Jon Wurster as the prank-phonecall duo Scharpling And Wurster, whose spot-on parodies of grouchy music know-it-alls and corporate alt-rockers are as incisive as anything you'd read in a Da Capo Anthology.
Somehow, Scharpling still finds time in his busy schedule to write and to executive produce the USA Network's neurotic detective comedy Monk. Despite his packed schedule, Scharpling is going to attend the first ever WFMU Fest, which kicks of tonight and runs for three days at the Williamsburg Hall Of Music. Faust, Cold Cave, Pissed Jeans, TV Ghost and even Teenage Jesus and the Jerks are on the bill.
Ever the multi-tasker, Scharpling recently found time to discuss with us the WFMU Fest, the next Scharpling and Wurster album, and the importance of priorities.
We've all read a million stories about how audiences are fragmenting and it's harder and harder for media outlets reach a mass of people. How important are events like this in reaching your listeners and getting them involved with the station?
Things like that are great to just reach out. It's the station taking a very active role in things, bringing a version of what they do to people rather than expecting people to just find the station and figure out what the station does. Shows like that are an embodiment of what WFMU does. I think it's a good way to bring people on board.
I know WFMU has partnered with All Tomorrow's Parties and the Primavera Festival, but this is the first time the station has done their own festival.
Yes. It's kind of the station finally putting its name on something...and I think you can't minimize the value of what WFMU is and what it represents. I think there's only one of it, even though there's other stations across the country that do stuff similar to it, there really is only one. WFMU does it best, and it's good to see the station take some pride in that and put its name on something.
Is there anyone you're excited to see, just as a fan?
I'm interested in seeing how Faust are. I love the first few records. I love Pissed Jeans. I think it's going to be great.
So, I hear Faust may or may not have sheep onstage? It wasn't confirmed at this time.
I'm not there for the sheep. I come for Faust, I would stay for the sheep. We'll see if the sheep make it. I've heard conflicting reports about whether the sheep are going to be there.
I was curious if you were even going to be able to make the festival, as you're obviously busy working on the Great American Twitter Novel, Fuel Dump.
I'm going to do everything I can to get there, I think I'm going to get there for at least one of the nights, hopefully two. I tend to bite off a little bit more than I can chew, sometimes. And Fuel Dump is now one of these many things where my reach is exceeding my grasp. But I'm trying, I'm going to see it through. I am taking it seriously, it is going somewhere and I know where it's going.
Where did the idea come from? Was it just another way to try to get more Twitter followers than Ted Leo?
No. Everybody was doing different things with Twitter, and some people were using it as a great venue to try out jokes and one-liners. And I was just trying to figure out what's the most ambitious thing you can do on this thing that is so small? What is something big you can do on something small? Oh, write a book on it. So, I figured I would try that, and we're getting there. Line-by-line.
Do you have an endgame for when the thing will wrap up?
I don't. We're not into the meat of it yet. We have yet to reach the shank of what Fuel Dump will be. But we are getting there.
The last part with Kid Rock was pretty intriguing. It's going to get meatier from there?
It's just beginning. You have to realize, there's not even sentences in this thing. They're like, each sentence is like a paragraph, or a page's worth of action in any other book because that's how you have to write it on this thing or it would be the most boring thing you've ever read. So, they're like hyper-sentences. Something has to happen in each sentence. But it's coming. All the pieces are coming closer, they're all going to intersect. It's going to be like Magnolia. Or Crash. It's going to be like Magnolia meets Crash.
Or maybe just like Magnolia?
Crash is horrible. Magnolia is awesome. Let's just say it's more like Magnolia, even though I'm probably...I might be closer to the Crash dude than the Magnolia dude on the spectrum of talent.