Idiot Glee is 23-year-old Kentuckian James Friley, a one-man-band who surrounds himself with keyboards, effects, and a looping device. But it would be inaccurate to say that Friley is Idiot Glee, or even a gleeful idiot. Rather, idiot glee is something of a personal affliction as described by Brian Eno in his essay “Into the Abyss.” Friley phones during the homebound commute from his part-time job cashiering at a Cajun restaurant; he says he first heard the term used during a YouTube interview from 1983.
“Somewhere towards the end, Eno just starts talking about, like, this sense of being overwhelmed with joy and excitement because you just had what you think is a significantly awesome idea. Maybe it’s not, actually, but that feeling you get is idiot glee and I was, like, I get that feeling all the time.”
At least one of Friley’s ideas, significantly awesome or not, led to Paddywhack, his first full-length CD as Idiot Glee. It is an echoey collection of sad, pop-flavored songs. “I needed a contrast between what I was doing before I started Idiot Glee,” he says, “which was loud-ass rock and roll.” That would be his previous band, Bedtime, which he started when he was 16. “[Bedtime] totally devolved into more of a Doors/Sonic Youth hybrid as I got older.”
What’s after Paddywhack? “I’ve got a handful of new songs [that] I’m not sure what to do with.” Friley worries that the new material sounds too different. “I think it all still has [my] sound. People [tell me] it sounds like Idiot Glee...the next step in Idiot Glee, just a little more upbeat this time.”
IDIOT GLEE: Tin Can Ale House, Saturday, October 1, 1863 Fifth Avenue. 619-955-8525.