Listen to “The Actor” and the rest of The Grand Theatre Vol. 2 streaming on kxt.org.
MURRY: This started out as a “talking-blues” style thing — I had seen Rhett do this in LA solo and that was how he was doing it live — y’all should track down an early live take of it done this way, it’s really cool. Anyway, when the 97’s got ahold of it, we initially had trouble with trying to make that talking blues style work — it just didn’t rock. Fortunately (and I’m about to take some credit here), Philip and I were feeling very 60’s garagey that day and he and I just spontaneously busted into this jacked-up speed-fueled beat that you hear, and everyone just jumped in. We did about half a take like that then the whole band took a real crack at it with the tape rolling and we got what you hear here — the keeper take. We left in this wonderful moment of banter at the top where Rhett says “Ok, let’s do one like *that*!” or somesuch, counts it off and we’re done. Rhett yelled his head off, Philip and I channeled The Wipers “Youth of America”, I think, and Ken, I swear he’s channeling Steve Wynn or Karl Precoda from the Dream Syndicate’s “Days of Wine & Roses” for that take. This is our band at our best, when we are truly firing on all cylinders performance-wise and inspiration-wise.
MARIE: Recorded in one take, including a fun bit of studio chatter at the top, the Actor combines the subdued backbeat of “Let the Whiskey Take the Reins” with the frantic pace of “The Dance Class.” Murry’s thumping baseline and Philip’s steady cadence propels us along beneath Ken’s blistering garage-guitar licks. It’s rough and raw and in your face punk that escalates into a frenzy. The perfect frenetic energy to convey the blurred lines behind a performer’s splintered, chaotic life, be he an actor or musician. Or are they one in the same…
He loves his job, but it’s an awful lot
of faking his feelings and fumbling around …
that is life for the next two hours
yeah, he is ours beneath the lights
I love the power and intensity of this song! My attachment to this one grows with each listening. I cannot wait to hear it live!
STEPHANIE: I love this song more with every listen. This dark, bitter character comes to life with his own soundtrack of drunken punk rock. As much as I enjoy blasting this song in my car, I really need to hear this one live. With a shot of whiskey. And I want to be a little bit pissed off when it starts so the song can drive my anger to elation in 3 1/2 minutes. The actor isn’t in a better place by the end of this song, but man… I sure am.