Savoir Faire of the NJ Burbs

Hey lookie: although it’s not a cover, Les Savy Fav has recorded a Versus song! Close your eyes and imagine it’s 1997.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Les Savy Fav (and most Versus) up to a point. I own LSV’s first slew of singles on vinyl. I saw more than one of their first shows. I saw singer Tim Harrington swing from the lighting rig at Brownies (RIP).

I was also present in the room (12 years ago?) when friend Jimmy Fahrenheit interviewed LSV at the Knitting Factory. While the band (band #1, that is: LSV is mostly Harrington and a revolving door) members were courteous and laid back and possibly high as kites, Harrington was a smartass prick, playing the dark, unfunny artiste to ill effect. His band members seemed to be ignoring him.

Maybe he’s not always like this, we considered, and gave him rope (read on: he hanged himself). It’s not like we were representing Pitchfork, who’s so far up Harrington’s rear-end that they can share his breathmints, but then again LSV was barely into one album at that time, if that, and our mag was one of the first online music ventures and one of the better zines in the tri-state area. We didn’t need respect, we just didn’t need our clothes jeered at.

So the interview was lagging, despite Jimmy’s journalism skills well-honed by covering real topics like murder and courts, until we asked Harrington where he was from, and he answered truly, assuming neither of us had heard of Madison, NJ. Which was hilarious, since we both grew up in a slightly-lower-middle class suburb right next to it, and knew that his Madison was possibly the whitest, most upper-middle-class NJ enclave anyone with Harrington’s reputation wanted as little of as possible in their personal history. This means he grew up amidst yellow labs, volvo station wagons, polo shirts, and crimes as harrowing as vandalism and illegal fireworks. Somewhere, there’s a picture of him on a youth soccer team, no question.

To his credit, he never after that played the tortured artist, and he still is the funniest rock act out there. He seemed genuinely taken aback when we laughed immediately following his answer, but his band-mates quieted up and smiled somewhat. We were soon offered free beers.

And that’s my story this week.