Donald Cumming, The Virgins: Hi, Jessica. How is Philadelphia?
Jessica, PopWreckoning: Philadelphia is lovely. I’m actually in the suburbs right now, I just got off work so I have to drive home. Where are you at tonight?
DC: I’m in Atlanta. The back of a venue. We’re watching this bus trying to pull in and we’re trying to get the trailer as close to the back of the venue as possible so they can start loading the gear.
PW: What venue is the show at tonight?
DC: Oh, I see what it said in front [laughs]
PW: [laughs] That’s fine.
[lots of background noise]
DC: Hold on one second. I’m gonna move away from the bus.
PW: Speaking of being in Atlanta to play a show tonight, how is the tour with Black Kids been going?
DC: It’s been really fun so far. We’ve played three shows and we’re having a blast. They’re really, really fun and really sweet. They’re really fun to watch live. We’ve just been having a good time.
PW: Excellent. I’m going to be at the show Monday in Philadelphia. I’m looking forward to seeing you guys.
PW: It’s a great line-up you’re on, and you guys have toured a lot.
DC: This is our fifth national tour. It’s the fourth or fifth.
PW: What cities have you found are really receptive to you guys and where do you like playing the most?
DC: I love playing everywhere. I probably like playing New York. I love playing San Francisco. I love playing L.A. and I love playing in Columbus, Ohio. We don’t pick the places based on whether we’ve had a good show or not, we just kind of go everywhere. It’s just fun to play so we try to go everywhere.
PW: Yeah, totally. What does the live show entail for you guys? Is it a big party or what?
DC: We definitely dance and sweat a lot. We try to play as loud as we can. I like to get up there and do some cardio.
PW: Speaking of which, the video for “Private Affair,” there’s a lot of …cardio going on.
PW: What inspired you to shoot the video that way?
DC: Growing up in the New York, we had these public access shows and one of my favorite shows when I was a little kid was called “The Robin Byrd Show.” It was a late night sex program that would have strippers from the tri-state area.
Every kid that grows up in New York, basically, knows about channel 35 and knows about “The Robin Byrd Show” because that’s your first exposure to explicit sexual material when you’re a kid in the city. We just want to pay tribute to that show.
PW: I’ve heard of it because, I guess, back in the late 90s, Cheri Oteri used to do a skit of “The Robin Byrd Show” on “Saturday Night Live.”
DC: Oh! That is so true! She really did. I haven’t thought about that in… Holy shit, you’re the first person to say that. She totally did.
PW: It was pretty hilarious. I don’t know how true to the real Robin Byrd it was…
DC: I don’t remember…I just remember that there was a “Saturday Night Live” Robin Byrd. I have no other memory of it than that. I haven’t thought about it in years.
PW: I kind of remember that she would just phase out at points and stare into space and then jump back into it.
DC: Naw! Yeah! That was her! Robin Byrd was definitely hip.
PW: The video for the first single “Rich Girls” is also very sexy, where you get that hot chick to give you guys a table and a lap dance. What was it like filming that?
DC: It was a blast! We actually filmed those two videos in the same 48 hours. It was just hectic. The filming of the video, especially the “Rich Girls” video, was really, really fun because what we wanted to do was just go to a place where we all hang out all of the time and make something that felt natural and really represented us visually, maybe.
We got together at Lit, which is a bar that we’ve been going to for 6 years or something like that, maybe longer. We invited all of our friends down and basically just had a party there like any normal night, except the catch was the Victoria Secret model. She was really gracious and came down. She’s lovely and she’s so sweet and so cool. She just really made the video. We just knew there was going to have to be something to offset all the testosterone and drunken dudes. That wouldn’t be so interesting for everybody.
So she definitely made the video. Made some contrast to the drunken idiots that we sometimes can be.
PW: It definitely looked like a good time. It’s a very cool video.
DC: It was a blast. I really did have fun. And Bahati [Prinsloo] was really, really, cool. She is a super awesome girl. She’s from South Africa.
PW: At the end of last month, you guys were on “Conan” and next week you’ll be on “Letterman.”
DC: Yeah, I keep forgetting about that. That’s coming up.
PW: [laughs] How do you forget you’re going to play on “Letterman?”
DC: I dunno. Just ’cause we have a show tonight and I just think about the next show.
PW: Since you’ve already been on “Conan,” how different is it to play before a studio audience as opposed to a concert audience?
DC: It’s not really different…or, well… When you’re playing for a studio audience, you’re playing a little more to a camera than you would in a venue when you’re playing to a crowd and people are standing right in front of you. When you play in front of a studio audience, they’re like 30 feet away from you at the closest. It’s like a completely different feeling. Even the atmosphere and the electricity in the room because there’s these cameras between you and the crowd and it’s very formal. It’s very professional.
When we play live, we really try to be present and you can speed a song up or slow it down, the kind of things you wouldn’t necessarily do on television. It really is a pretty different experience. I wasn’t expecting to experience the contrast so dramatically.
PW: Do you think it will make “Letterman” easier now that you’ve done “Conan” and you know what to expect.
DC: Yeah, I mean, now I have a little bit more of an idea about what we’re in for. Yeah, I think it’ll be a little easier.
PW: Will it be the same song?
DC: They’re spaced so close together and we’re still on our first single, so yeah, it’s gonna be “Rich Girls.”
PW: You have a song on the upcoming “Gossip Girl” soundtrack. That’s really cool because they have a lot of great music on the show. Have you ever [laughs] watched it?
DC: Yeah, yeah, I have. I watched the episode that we were in and I watched another one, too. It was awesome. I liked it, I really enjoyed. The girls are hot on that show. I dig it, to be quite honest.
PW: It’d be sweet if they let you guys go on and perform. Then maybe you can hang out with the cast. How did you get involved with the soundtrack?
DC: One of the music directors from “Gossip Girl” contacted us on MySpace and asked if they could use some of the songs on the show. We were really, really flattered and we obviously we were excited. It’s just awesome.
PW: MySpace, the internet in general, is just doing so much for bands to get their music out there.
DC: Oh yeah, absolutely.
PW: Not so much anymore, especially with people downloading music, this is more of a way of promoting yourselves, but even 10 years ago, if a band had put music in a TV show or commercial, it would’ve been considered “selling out.”
DC: You think so? I think it always depends on the band, you know. Putting songs in movies like when Guns ‘N Roses put their songs in Terminator 2, I was not upset. I was fucking thrilled because I love Guns ‘N Roses and I love Terminator 2. When they came together, it was a glorious day for me.
That kind of thing is always, I just don’t think about that.
PW: That’s fair. It works out for me ’cause I like you guys and I like “Gossip Girl.”
DC: There you go! Thank you.
PW: Back to touring with the Black Kids. Are Magic Wands opening on every date of the tour?
DC: Yeah, I think so.
PW: How has it been hanging out with all those kids?
DC: Everybody on the tour has been really sweet and is really, really cool. It’s been super mellow and both Black Kids and Magic Wands are putting on amazing shows every night.
PW: Despite the fact that it’s an awesome tour and you’re having a good time, if you could put together a dream tour where you got to play with anyone you wanted, who would you want to share a stage with?
DC: I can’t think about the past, but I would like to tor with the Rolling Stones, I think. Like now, you know. That would be awesome.