Penguin Prison on Touring With Girl Talk: "I Would Like 15-Year-Olds to Like My Music Too"
Todd Owyoung for the Riverfront Times Penguin Prison opening for Girl Talk at the Pageant
Girl Talk shows are the sorts of underage blitzkriegs in which everyone gets hit with more ass than a toilet seat, so one would have to imagine that touring with Gregg Gillis and his neon busload would be, uh, memorable? Penguin Prison, the nom-de-synth of Washington Heights resident Chris Glover, recently returned from a 24-date Southern tour as Gillis's warm-up act, so when we visited the native New Yorker's Sylvan Terrace place a few weeks ago, he told us a little about the trip. Fun fact: prepping Girl Talk's toilet-paper launchers and balloons is a two-man job.
You just got back from tour, opening for Girl Talk. How was that?
I've known him for a while. I've always talked about touring with him. It finally happened. It was mostly the South. I didn't know what to expect, really. But it was actually cool--Charleston, South carolina. We played at this venue where there were seats--and everyone was worried about it. Like, "What are they gonna do?" They were just crazy. It was the rowdiest crowd I've ever played to. They were just going crazy, and everyone had these glowsticks. I don't know why, just random. Everyone was just nuts--they were just doing it even before we even played a note. They were just going wild. That was cool.
There was this venue in Virginia called Nor-Va and the backstage was amazing. There was a basketball court, sauna, a jacuzzi, a pool table, ping-pong. It was awesome. That was the best backstage ever. The night before we were in North Carolina and the backstage was a room with two chairs and no heating. It was a nice change.
I would expect Girl Talk to be a memorable tour.
It's weird because the audience is coming to see, essentially, a DJ play popular songs mashed up together, and then we come onstage. They were pretty responsive. Greg was saying we were the best opening band he had on a tour--on other tours, people booed the opening bands.
A Girl Talk show is a very specific thing. You basically have a bunch of kids drunk.
It's a party. We make kind of dancey music and we were just trying to get them into it. We weren't playing experimental shoegaze, we were trying to get them to have fun. So it worked out pretty well.
How is playing with Girl Talk different than anything you've ever done?
He's not a band. We opened for Two Door Cinema Club, so the audience is coming to see a band, so another band opens for them. But Girl Talk, I don't even know. Some peoiple might not even be that into music. They just want to dance and get drunk, they don't even care if there's sound. Some people were really young at his shows--15 year olds and stuff. That's cool: I would like 15 year olds to like my music too.
Everyone on his crew is nice. He has a surprisingly big crew. He just plays a laptop, you'd think he just shows up by himself. But he has 12 people on a bus and then a semi with all this lighting and video equipment, so it's crazy.
And the toilet-paper leaf blowers?
There's two guys, that's their jobs. Before the shows they're backstage blowing up balloons, getting all these toilet paper launchers ready.
They round up the people that they bring onstage and give them a speech: "You have to stay behind this line, you can't bring this onstage, if you do this, we're gonna kick you off." They kicked someone off the stage once because they weren't dancing enough. They weren't having enough visible fun.