Music

Ugly Kid Joe: how we made Everything About You


Klaus Eichstadt, songwriter/guitarist

I was in my last year of high school. Glam rock and pop rock were huge. Bon Jovi and the Scorpions were doing all their big ballads and it seemed like every frickin’ song was about love or sex. Y’know: “Chicks are rad, sex is rad.”

I used to mess around with my parents’ piano and I just started playing that main riff. I was already friends with Whit [Crane, singer] and we’d hang out with this other guy, Farrell T Smith. He was Mr Negative. Farrell hates everything. He’s like: “Man, I don’t wanna go to the beach because you get sand in your shoes.” So I started imagining him and I came up with that first line: “I hate the rain and sunny weather.” I got my Tascam four-track cassette recorder, made this little song – and then it sat on the backburner for four years until we needed a longer live set.

I wanted the guitar solo to have that blues vibe, a little bit of Chuck Berry and CC DeVille from Poison. Writing it was easy, but then I had to recreate it. It’s so simple that, if you make a mistake, it’s very obvious. Every now and then, I’d miss that last note live and it was like: “Oh man, that was my moment and I screwed it up!”

The record company wanted to choke us: “Please put hot chicks in your videos!” But we weren’t that kind of band. We made the video on a beach in Isla Vista, California. There were these two stray dogs running around and pissing on the drums. The director – Thomas Mignone – had this crazy idea to have all these floating blow-up sex dolls. They filled them with helium, but it turned out the plastic was too heavy, so they had to buy a bunch of balloons and tie them on to the dolls. The string broke on one of them – and I heard a news story about planes coming into the local airport and spotting this blow-up doll up in the sky.

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When you get overexposed on one song, it definitely has a backlash. We got a lot of flak for being this obnoxious joke band. But at the same time, hits open up doors. Everything About You made us almost a household name, almost overnight.

Whitfield Crane, songwriter/singer

I was young and I looked up to Klaus. When he played me the demo of Everything About You on a little analogue tape, I was excited that he was showing me something because it meant I could maybe be in a band with him. Back then, I was more than cynical – I was downright negative – and every line made me laugh. The song had humour. We were, like, the last “smile” band to get through the door before grunge came and decimated everybody.

But I remember thinking, “It’s not heavy enough.” I wanted to be in Black Sabbath or Judas Priest. Everything About You didn’t necessarily sound like that. There was another song on the album called Mr Record Man that I made Klaus sing, and Everything About You went through a moment in time when I didn’t want to sing it either. But Klaus said, “Will you please just sing it?” and I’m like, “All right, all right …”

I wrote the rap outro because we wanted to be Red Hot Chili Peppers – of course we’ll never be that cool. It sounds like I made that rap up on the spot – and I think I did. I wasn’t experienced enough to know where I wanted to take the song’s vocal. I was a good live singer, but I was scared of the microphone and the studio.

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When we made Everything About You, the record label weren’t expecting much of us, which gives you a lot of freedom. For the song’s intro, before the music starts, we got the comedian Julia Sweeney do a spoken-word sketch as Pat, her character from Saturday Night Live. I don’t know where the “shave and a haircut” riff at the end of the song came from. I think we were mocking the world. We were always a weird band, and I think we still are.

But once the song blew up, the label wanted to grab hold of us and turn me into Bon Jovi II – and that’s when there was friction. Back in 1995, I wouldn’t play Everything About You live, because I wanted to prove myself as a heavy, badass rock’n’roll singer. Now, there’s a lot of water under the bridge, and it’s interesting to see the joy our old songs such as Everything About You bring. It’s a song that has gone around the world, and pays the electricity bill, thank God.

Whitfield Crane tours the UK, 4-18 September.



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