Published May 12, 2014Bass legend Mike Watt (fIREHOSE, Minutemen) is famous for his collaborations as well as his work ethic, but his latest collaborator comes from somewhat unexpected quarters — Sam Dook, multi-instrumentalist for Brighton, UK's the Go! Team.
The pair first met at the Big Day Out festival in Australia in 2006, when the musicians were on tour with their respective bands, the Stooges and the Go! Team. The pair struck up a friendship over email and occasional chance meetings on the road, and eventually decided to make an album together as CUZ.
"When I started rapping with him about music, I could tell that he was aesthetically on the same page I was, even though I'm 20-something years older than him," Watt tells Exclaim!
Six years in the making, CUZ's debut, Tamatebako, arriving today (May 12) on Bleeding Hearts Recordings, was put together over email but based on sessions from July 2008 in Brighton while Watt was on tour in Europe.
"I would see him at festivals," says Watt, "On the Stooges tours, they only played three days a week, so I'd have time off and I'd come down to Brighton. That's when we got CUZ going."
Watt explains that those initial jams became the starting point for the first CUZ tracks, with Dook sending sketches for tracks over to Watt in San Pedro, CA, to work on, trading files back and forth.
"K [Kira Roessler] from Dos helped me a lot so I know how to use ProTools now," Watt explains. "'Sand and Bones' was constructed by us totally online, trading files, but three of them are completed Sam Dook songs that I just played to."
Making a whole album in this chopped-up way was a new process for Watt, but what really appealed to him was Dook's sound.
"I've never made a record in England before, and I've never made a record with an Englishman. Just playing with a guy from England that sounds like he's from England — nothing against doing whatever you want with music, like the Stones and all those guys that sing with American accents — but this struck a chord in me. He's also the youngest guy I've worked with. That's what the arts are for — they're to bridge those gaps from circumstantial shit like geography or what year you were born."
Watt also makes it clear that this isn't a Mike Watt side project but a collaboration, one led by Dook's artistic vision. "He's the mad scientist, he's the one mixing the chemicals. I can make shit for him to throw on the wheel but he's doing the actual throwing on the wheel."
Several guests also make an appearance on Tamatebako, including Shige Ishihara (a.k.a. DJ Scotch Egg), Kaori Tsuchida (also of the Go! Team), and beat novelist and William S. Burroughs contemporary Charles Plymell.
Not resting on their laurels, Watt says the CUZ project is ongoing, not just a one-off album.
"We've already recorded stuff for part two, two different times, with some of his buddies jamming with us. Last time I played with four different drummers, including him. The second one's gonna be different, more close to the original idea of using your own jams as samples."
As well as the CUZ album, Watt has several other collaborations in the works: an album with Jim O'Rourke, another with Nels Cline (Wilco) and Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) that he plans to mix this summer, and a second Il Sogno del Marinaio album.
"I'm gonna do a tour with them in the U.S, so I wanna get this thing out. It's called Canto Secondo and it's gonna come out August 26 on Clenched Wrench," he reveals of the Il Sogno del Marinaio record.
Check out the title track from Tamatebako below.