If you've ever been kicked out of Winstons in Ocean Beach on a rowdy night when a popular reggae or blues act is onstage, chances are you were bounced by Ted Washington, front man for Pruitt Igoe. "Formed in June 2004, from combining the acts that I had working at the time," says Ted. "Before, it was always Ted Washington with 'fill in the blank.' I had a gig at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood and had all the different components set up. While I stayed onstage, everyone else would come up, play their part, and leave. Then the next person would come up. It was a circus of activity and lacked an overall cohesion. That's when I knew it had to change, so Pruitt Igoe was born."
Pruitt Igoe (the name comes from an infamous public-housing project that once existed in St. Louis) plays the Casbah on Thursday, July 6, with the Legendary Pink Dots.
TRICKIEST PROBLEM PLAYING LIVE?
"Sticking to the set list. Our shows involve a lot of acting and improvisation, so we tend to roam through shows. We change what we're doing to suit our mood, the audience's mood, or whatever. It's not that we're random onstage, but when the fun gets going, you can throw the set list out and do what you feel in the moment."
"The core is Matt Kerr on keys, samples, and toys; Jon Cordova on guitar; Chad Farran on percussion; Coco Campbell, dancing; Molly Wilmott on vocals (mezzo-soprano); and yours truly on vocals. Having an opera singer and dancer in the band is inspiring. One day we will write and perform an opera/play/musical."
YOUR TOP-FIVE CDs?
1. Brian Eno and David Byrne, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. "This was the beginning of sampling. There's a Lebonese mountain singer, there's Muslims chanting from the Qu'ran, there's an exorcism -- it crosses cultures and makes art out of displaced sounds."
2. Björk, Homogenic. "The power of her voice, the weirdness of the music...and the lyrics are so personal. 'All Is Full of Love' -- so soft, but when she bites it hurts."
3. Kruder and Dorfmeister, The K&D Sessions. "Downtempo at its best. I drove from San Diego to St. Louis listening to this over and over and over. A CD meant for chilling and smoking and driving -- under the supervision of a trained professional, of course!"
4. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Exodus. "The band was on fire when they made this. Bob Marley could write about war, love, partying, and religion, and it all is classic."
5. Marvin Gaye, What's Going On? "It's sad to say, but all the topics he covered are still here: drug abuse, child abuse, war, racism, poverty. But the story of his fight with Motown to get it released is even better. Artists have to stick to their guns and do art that is true to themselves, and maybe you get to make something that sticks. Better yet, you wake someone up."
"They are all best. We have such a good time -- every time we go on, it's on. We write for the venues and stay current with our subject matter, so the shows always change. Once, in Palm Springs, we played an art reception. The crowd was thin, and we didn't have a full band lineup, so we had Molly's nine-year-old son sit in with us on a small keyboard. The show was out there. We would tell him a mood to set, or a pacing, and let him go. He had fun, we had fun, the audience had fun. Worst gig? No such thing. Not every venue is perfect, but the spaces are never the problem, people are. There are assholes out there, but we address them when we play -- right then, right there. That is always a rush when you can hit back."
BRUSH WITH THE FAMOUS?
"I met Woody Harrelson in Santa Monica behind the club 14 Below. We were in a circle, puffing, I looked over and there's Woody passing the spliff. Cool guy but shorter than I expected. Just like Jack Black, who was at the Casbah -- I said to a friend, 'That guy looks like Jack Black, but he's too short to be him.' He must have overheard because from behind I hear, 'I am Jack Black. '"
"It is clear; still disturbing. I take the turtle out of the plastic habitat, play with it for a while, and then watch it crawl under the stove, where it dies. At age two, I learned that freedom kills. But I tell you this: I never saw that turtle move as fast as it did until it was out of that habitat."
FAVORITE PLACE TO HANG OUT?
"Cabrillo National Monument. Peaceful and close to the city and nature at the same time. Good place to clear your head."