What Happened to Adam Goldberg
Published June 2, 2009
The first thing that comes to mind when listening to “Eros and Omissions: Sycophantastic Confessions & Renditions of Contrition,” the new album by the LA-based LANDy, led by indie darling actor, writer, director, and musician Adam Goldberg, is Bill Murray’s classic line from the 1982 film Tootsie. “I don’t like when somebody comes up to me the next day and says, ‘Hey, man, I saw your play. It touched me; I cried.’ I like it when a guy comes up to me a week later and says, ‘Hey, man, I saw your play… what happened?'”
“What happened?” here registers a new level of surprise, after considering that the man who may be too well-known for playing the farcical Jewsploitation “cult” superhero the Hebrew Hammer is behind these spacey sounds.
So Goldberg faces a challenge. Is he just another actor heeding the “But What I Really Want To Do Is Sing?” impulse? He’s committed to obliterating that prejudice with his debut fastidious freakout, recorded over the course of six years in his home in the Hollywood Hills. You can hear the otherworldly touch of his recording partners Steve Drozd of the Flaming Lips and members of the Black Pine on the John Lennon-esque ballad “I Believe In Jack,” the mixtape-ready single “BFF!” and the hypnotic “I’ll Be Around,” which I can’t seem to get out my head.
ALEX SHERMAN: I get the impression this album owes a lot to Brian Wilson’s thwarted opus “Smile.” It’s a psychedelic smogasbord and you seem to have named your band after Wilson’s controversial psychiatrist Dr. Eugene Landy.
ADAM GOLDBERG: That’s subject to interpretation. This LANDy is your LANDy, this LANDy is my LANDy. Over the years I had become not so much Brian Wilson obsessed, but more for that era of the Beach Boys career and what it did to him. “Smile” was his greatest achievement and he never felt higher on life. Whether it was a combination of some mental illness and the pressures of recording, all of these forces just sucked the life out of him.
AS: So “Eros and Omissions” was a total personal immersion for you, like Wilson’s?
AG: Over the years I had mixed other records I had made, but nothing of this scope. I got a couple of songs down in decent shape, and it was getting kind of cool that I was losing all sense of time and space and the sun was rising and I had no idea. Towards the end of 2007, my friend really started pushing me to do something with it. She implied that it was neurotic that I was holding onto all this stuff, that it was this project I’d never be done with.
AS: I remember really digging your cameo in the Flaming Lips movie “Christmas On Mars,” another one of those epic productions that seemed to never have an end. When did you hook up with them and Drozd?
AG: Before I started shooting [the second movie I directed] “I Love Your Work,” I kept hearing from people that Steve Drozd wanted to meet me. I found out that Steven had this man-crush on me. I was up there right under Thom Yorke. It was very flattering. He’s very open about it. Steven ended up writing some music for the movie, and when I was in Austin for SXSW to promote it, the Lips had brought some of the spaceship set-piece they were using from Oklahoma to their DP’s house outside of Austin. That was kind of the apex of our overlapping.
AS: You’ve made some movies that, for whatever reason, have achieved this sort of “cult” status. Do you think LANDy has the same fate?
AG: For my own projects, I feel I have a technical understanding of how to create a look or sound that I imagine. But either I’m not capable of applying it to a more mainstream sort of framework — I don’t know how to adapt to it or I don’t have the wherewithal to apply myself in that way — or at the end of the day, there’s only so many things that you can do in this life.
AS: Do you anticipate a backlash against the album because most people know you for your acting career?
AG: If I had a job that wasn’t public, if people weren’t aware of how it was that I made my living, I think the story would be — if there was any story to be told — ‘Oh, that’s interesting, where has this guy been? He’s 38 years old, he hasn’t put any music out there…’ I’ve always felt I’m just about as well known as I can handle and any more than that would really fuck with my head. If this record was designed to do anything, it was designed to kind of introduce myself in this way and then deal with whatever skepticism and potential backlash I get from music snobs.
AS: But this music seems like it was made for music snobs.
AG: But that’s the thing! Part me always felt like I was making movies for movie critics yet I would get shit from movie critics. I needed to just reframe myself psychologically and actually feel like I could do this and not feel guilty about it- like buyers’ remorse. It’s hard to say, ‘It’s OK, I’m allowed to be doing this’ and not be so concerned, for instance, with what my business manager thinks.
AS: That’s why I’ll never get a tattoo.
AG: Well I have a lot of buyers remorse in that regard. It’s like being beholden to somebody else, like a TV show where you have to do a two-hour radio tour at 6 in the morning and our ratings are so bad does it really make a difference? Then you’re sitting there and you’re giving this two or three line pitch. Maybe you’re proud of it, maybe you’re not. It kind of doesn’t matter. You’re going to say the same thing either way.And ultimately it’s about somebody else’s vision. Actually talking about something you care very, very deeply about is very exciting and cathartic. On another level, it’s totally surreal.