A 300-pound homeless schizophrenic man who sings stream-of-consciousness rants, Wesley Willis is most certainly unlike any other musician out there. Fond of head-butting strangers, he has recorded more than 40 albums worth of material. While there is certainly some debate about whether he is a victim of exploitation or whether he simply enjoys performing, Willis has built a remarkable fan base and cult following which includes many notable rock musicians: the late Kurt Cobain, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, the Smashing Pumpkins, and the Beastie Boys. Jules Lipoff had the chance to talk with Willis about his music before his Yale Record sponsored appearance at the Tune Inn last night.
When did you start writing songs?
I just do this so I don’t be busting people outside with folding chairs. I just write songs to keep my butt busy and to stay out of trouble. I don’t have time to be arrested by the police. I don’t have time to get threatened with death. I just write music to keep my butt busy and have some fun.
How do you come up with your songs?
I write my songs any way I want to write them. I write them because of my illness and I write them because I want to have fun. I dig them out of my head. That’s why I raise my fists up and hit my head.
Does writing songs silence your demons?
It does. The head silences the demons.
Does it make you happy?
I just do my rock ‘n roll, it’s my art.
You share many strong opinions in your songs. Do you really feel that strongly? For instance, do you really hate mullets that much?
I hate mullets.
You also repeat many corporate slogans. What’s your favorite one right now?
Rite Aid’s. (“It’s not just a store, it’s a solution”)
Do you think you’re a rock star?
I’m a rock star. I’m not a lunatic. I’m not ruthless. I’m not a ruthless villain.
What kind of music do you listen to?
I listen to rock… I listen to Aerosmith. I listen to Poison, Metallica, and many others. I like rock ‘n roll.
Do you like other kinds of music?
I like rock, not hip-hop. I don’t like hip-hop. Hell, no. It’s not my favorite culture.
What do you think about your fame? Are you glad that you’re famous?
I like being famous. I just don’t like being put away in jail.
Have you been in jail before?
I’ve never been in jail in my life and I’m not going to be. I don’t feel like getting my ass rocked up. That’s as bad as it gets when you get you’re ass rocked up. That’s why I keep myself busy and stay out of trouble. I do not carry weapons. I carry my music–
I’m not going to get my head blown off. I just try to keep my butt busy. Outside, I try not to get killed or shot to death. My cousin Henry got killed. Bob got killed. My momma almost got killed, but cops were near. The guy got 55 years in prison. He was an asshole, he wanted to kill my momma over $55. He didn’t murder my momma, but he murdered somebody else.
You head butt people when you meet them, why is that?
I like to have fun. Give me a head butt. Say rock.
Gimme a head butt! Say rock!
Are you excited about tonight?
I’m glad I’m here tonight–This is my rock show. I wouldn’t ditch it.
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”1243″ ]