Puck Talk with Nardwuar

Last week I was lucky enough to get a chance to speak Nardwuar the human serviette. Nardwuar is known for his flashy style of dress, his unique sign off "Doot Doola Doot Doo… Doot Doot!" and his always entertaining interviews with rock stars and various other celebrities. Simply put, Nardwuar is something of a national treasure. He’s also a massive Canucks fan, with some really funny hockey stories. What follows is the conversation we had:

Thomas Drance (aka Artem Chubarov): Hey Nardwuar, so who is your favorite current hockey player?

Nardwuar: Hullo-ho Artem! I guess my favorite current hockey player is Eric Nesterenko, my great, great uncle who played with the Blackhawks. He’s still at it! He was actually at the award ceremony a few years ago when Chicago won the cup, he was brought in their because he won the cup with Chicago in 1961 and he’s still athletic. I mean, he’s still a ski instructor in Vail, and you can see him in the movie Youngblood – what more can you want?! So he’s my favorite current hockey player, cause he’s still doing it!

TD: Whoa the complete package! So, I guess he was your favorite hockey player growing up too…

Nardwuar: Totally, cause that’s what my parents said. They said that I must like the Chicago Blackhawks cause of Eric Nesterenko, though, by the time I started following hockey he had actually retired, but he did play for like twenty years, which is pretty amazing.

TD: And so whose your least favorite current player?

Nardwuar: Probably any player that won’t do an interview with me, which is probably like THE ENTIRE LEAGUE. It’s probably one of those legendary guys like Billy Smith. Like I just loved the fact that Tiger Williams was able to rip the chain off of Billy Smith. So those kind of goalie guys you don’t really like, those kind of guys really get on your nerves. So probably some goalie somewhere that’s making the Canucks not score goals, yeah any goalie that’s not letting the Canucks score goals is probably my least favorite player.

TD: Well then, you’ve got lots of least favorite players!

Nardwuar: BABOOM!

Billy Smith, total jerk.

TD: Nardwuar, what’s your favorite Canucks moment?

Nardwuar: I guess it’s probably going to be the same one that everybody says: Burrows scoring in game 7 against Chicago. Partly, it’s my favorite moment of the Canucks because the picture of it actually includes my buddy Fred from Mint records, because he’s there in the crowd cheering. And Mint records has released a whole bunch of Evaporators records (my band the Evaporators) and also a bunch of Nardwuar DVD’s and they’re releasing an upcoming Evaporators record – so it’s just amazing. Canucks score, they win, what an amazing moment and there’s my buddy Fred! It’s hard to see him, he’s way in there, but yes, he’s there! And he’s a long-time Canucks fan, so it’s kind of cool to see a long-time Canuck fan finally get some kind of like acknowledgement, even if it’s just a little photograph and they’re barely in it.

TD: So you think the Burrows goal has replaced the Bure OT goal on Vernon from 1994?

Nardwuar: In 94 the Evaporators were on tour, my band, and all I remember is that Ginger Spice left the Spice Girls, so I wasn’t really following hockey then because we were on tour. It’s harder to keep up and get into it when you’re on tour, nowadays it would be easier, so that’s what I remember most about the 94 Cup Run – that Ginger Spice left the Spice Girls. (Editors Note: Ginger Spice left the Spice Girls in 1998, but that must have been one hell of a fun tour!)

TD: Okay so what’s your least favorite, and most painful Canucks moment?

Nardwuar: That would be, personally, the 82 final against the New York Islanders… Game 1! It was tied, and then it went into overtime, and overtime began and I started brushing my teeth cause I was a young kid at the time brushing my teeth (I still brush my teeth!). And I thought to myself, “if I stop brushing my teeth there’s going to be a problem, and the Canucks will lose!” So I kept brushing my teeth and I kept in all the tooth-paste in my mouth cause I didn’t want to spit out the toothpaste… And it was REALLY hurting me. Then of course the Islanders scored so it was totally painful cause my tooth and my teeth and my gums and everything was totally wrecked because I’d been sucking on this toothbrush for like, a long time. I can’t remember exactly how long that overtime went, it seemed like a long-time to me cause I guess my teeth were hurting.

TD: Oh man, all for naught. So on a scale of 1-10, how bad was Messier as a captain? 

Nardwuar: Probably 3, like 3 out of 10.

TD: Really?

Nardwuar: Yep, I’m giving him 3 out of 10.

TD: Now retiring Naslund’s number, you for that or were you against that?

Nardwuar: Oh I’m for that. Totally. He came to Vancouver, he did his thing, he did his job and I couldn’t do any better. So I think it’s amazing. He was very graceful.

TD: He was a nice guy too. Bure in the hall of fame – Yay or nay?

Nardwuar: I would say probably NO, because he wasn’t really the highest level and he has like so much baggage with him. It’s so hard with all that baggage to get in.

For instance Doug Gilmour, he just got into the hockey hall of fame didn’t he?

TD: Yes, on Monday.

Nardwuar: And years ago I was on the Ralph Benmergui Show, do you ever remember the Ralph Benmergui Show? It ran late night on the CBC, in the mid-90s, and I was invited to go to the Ralph Benmergui show – it was like a late night TV talk show. So I went there, and they had me there as a guest, you know “college radio guy, does interviews on cable access” and I said: “why don’t you play some clips of the interviews I’ve done because people don’t know I am and it’ll help explain who I am, otherwise I’ll have to explain who I am!” It’s just like you Artem Chubarov are having to explain this to everyone reading this right now, like, “who the hell is this guy?”

So I’m in Toronto and I was like “please play some clips” and they said “no” so I was like, “oh god, I’ll have to tell the story of one of the clips.” And one of the clips was an interview of me talking to Anthony Robbins – the motivational speaker. Didn’t the Los Angeles Kings, like Barry Melrose, bring in Anthony Robbins as a motivational guy?

So anyways I was telling the story about Anthony Robbins, infomercial dude and motivational guy. As I was saying, I interviewed the Preacher Ernest Angley and I interviewed the Real Estate Mogul Tom Vu. So when I had the chance to interview Anthony Robbins, I thought I’d ask him about those two people, cause those two people are on late-night TV, and had infomercials as well.

So I went up to him and I said “Mr. Robbins!” And I’m like running after him, “What’s the difference between you, and Ernest Aingley, and Tom Vu?” And he goes “Well, I don’t sleep with teenagers!”

So I thought that was a pretty funny answer, unfortunately I was telling that story on the same show that Doug Gilmour was a guest! And afterwards all these people ran up to me and they said, “don’t you know what you did, don’t you know what you did!?” And I’m like “what the hell are you talking about?” “Doug Gilmour was allegedly accused of doing some apparently naughty things with some younger people and you were making a joke about him!”  I said “NO! I’m not making a joke about Gilmore, I was actually referring to what Anthony Robbins said in the interview!” But they didn’t believe me. So now every time I think of Doug Gilmour I think of…

TD: Anthony Robbins?

Nardwuar: Anthony Robbins, and the baggage that’s associated with that. So when I think of Bure I think of the same thing, too much baggage leaving Vancouver.

I also remember the very first time Bure came out to Vancouver. He was at UBC working out in the pool, and I do remember running after him. He was actually walking out of the pool with his shirt off! Was incredible! Like he left the pool cause it was pretty warm with his shirt off. And all these people were running up to him, so I go up to him and am like “CAN I DO AN INTERVIEW! CAN I DO AN INTERVIEW!” And he was like “No you have to talk to Canucks, you have to talk to Canucks.” But yeah, it was really amazing to see him, what a specimen! But yeah, too much baggage I think.

TD: When you interviewed Alex Burrows and Don Cherry, you brought up a lot of hockey music – what do you think is the best all-time hockey song?

Nardwuar: I would say it’s the music for the record, “Canucks: With a Little Help From our Friends”, it’s like called “Hockey: With a Little Help from the Vancouver Canucks” it’s that instructional record. And there’s music that begins on it, and I just love the music on that record, it’s incredible. It’s like “HE’S THE PRIDE OF SOUTH PORCUPINE ONTARIO: DON LEVER.” I just love the sound effects and I just love the music on there, it is by far the absolute best all-time hockey song.

Though you mentioned the Don Cherry interview, I was listening to the Rick Vive Penalty Box Blues – and that one is pretty amazing too.

TD: Those are great songs, so which Canadian musician have you spoken with that comes across as the most knowledgeable hockey fan?

Nardwuar: Well it would have to be Dave Bidini of the Rheostatics, just because he’s written so many books about hockey and sports in general. Also the Rheostatics have that amazing song, “The Ballad of Wendell Clark.” I love that tune.

I recently saw Dave in Vancouver he was promoting a recent book that he’s put out about Gordon Lightfoot. And Dave was telling some stories about Wendell Clark, and he told a story about how he FINALLY got to meet Wendel Clark!

Dave Bidini was up in the Yukon at some book event and Wendel Clark was there, and he got a knock on the backstage door cause Dave was backstage waiting to go out and speak. And the backstage guy is like “hey, Wendel Clark is here, he wants to come backstage” and Dave is like “OH MY GOD I’M FINALLY GOING TO MEET WENDEL CLARK! I MEAN I’VE WAITED YEARS! MAYBE HE’S HEARD THE SONG!” This is seriously, like, twenty years after he’s written the song, and he’s in the Yukon, so it’s totally random, just at some book event. So Wendel opens the door, walks in, walk right past Dave, doesn’t even look at Dave, goes into the washroom, takes a shit, leaves and then closes the door and doesn’t even talk to Dave at all. And Dave said it was the most smelliest shit he’s ever smelled in his life. And that’s all that happened.

So that kind of symbolizes my life, but I just love that. So, eventually you do meet your heroes, but sometimes you don’t get to meet them really, you just get to schmell them.

Schmell Ya Later, Wendel!

TD: Unbelievable! Now, do you hate Chelsea Dagger as much as I do?

Nardwuar: I always think it’s important to play songs, I’m part of CITR UBC Radio, and at CITR UBC Radio you’re not a DJ – a DJ is told what to do – you’re a writer, you’re an operator, you’re a producer. The purpose of CITR is to expose people to music they’ve never heard before. There’s nothing wrong with commercial songs like Chelsea Dagger, but why would I ever want to play that song? It’s been played to death! That’s the same way that I feel about it, it’s like, can’t you play something new?

Especially in Chicago, didn’t they have that wonderful organ there? Can’t they just have some more organ playing? In fact that’s how I came up with doot doodaloodoot…

TD: Doot doot!

Nardwuar: I came up with doot doola doot doo doot doot, after listening to hockey games and I would hear the hockey organist go doot doola doot doo and the whole crowd would go…

TD: Doot doot!

Nardwuar: So I thought, “that would be a great way to end interviews!” So yeah, I’m totally against Chelsea Dagger as well.

TD: But is it objectively terrible, or just overplayed?

Nardwuar: It’s probably a great song and it’s good that it has got some play, but I just hate the same thing getting played over and over again! Although, I do like the idea, that it’s called Chelsea Dagger, cause it’s kind of sounds like Chelsea Handler – so that’s good.

TD: You interviewed the Hives, and asked them about Peter Forsberg, and they had no idea who you were talking about. Why don’t you think the Hives care about Peter Forsberg

Nardwuar: Maybe I didn’t say his name correctly…

TD: Yeah you used “Foppa”

Nardwuar: and maybe they just didn’t know who that was. I’m not sure, but I do know that the last time the Hives were in Vancouver, they got to skate with the Canucks! So I think they do know what’s going on, they are like the smartest of any of the Swedish rock bands that I’ve ever interviewed, aside from the heavy metal band Opeth. And in case anyone is wondering who I am, just type Nardwuar into youtube and you can see all that type of thing.

TD: Don Cherry is to hockey as who is to rock music?

Nardwuar: Puddle of Mudd, maybe? But I do love the fact though that Don Cherry is so knowledgeable and everything. I love the history angle, like you can talk to him and he can answer any question cause he remembers all that sort of stuff. Like I was able to ask him about my great uncle Eric Nesterenko, and he remembered that he was a good penalty killer and all that. So I do appreciate that.

On the curmudgeonly side, I’d probably say like Lou Reed is probably a guy whose comparable to Don Cherry.

I was just lucky to speak to Don Cherry, and I really appreciate the CBC media types for setting it up. People ask me “well how did you speak to Don Cherry,” well kindly the CBC types enjoyed my interview with the rapper Drake from Toronto. And Drake basically got me the interview with Don Cherry!

Now what’s weird is, I got in contact with Drake because I was at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin Texas. And a DJ from HOT97, a hip-hop station in New York, “THE NUMBER 1 HIP HOP STATION IN NEW YORK” recognized me, I became friends with him, Peter Rosenberg, and I said “hey Drake’s coming to town, can I do an interview with him, do you have any contacts” and he just gave me Drake’s cell phone number. Then Drake sets me up with Lil’ Wayne, and then my Drake interview helps me get to Don Cherry. So it really goes back to Peter Rosenberg from Hot97 in New York for hooking me up with Don Cherry, so thank you so much!

Nesterenko – Nardwuar relative/PK Specialist.

TD: Team Schneider, or Team Luongo – Nardwuar?

Nardwuar: SCHNEIDER! Because he’s way cheaper.

TD: Have you been following the team closely this season, and do you like what you see?

Nardwuar: Yeah! I mean, we’re still in the game! I think that’s the important thing, we’re still in the hunt, we’re still in the game!

Years ago I did an interview with the rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg, you remember Snoop Dogg?

TD: I’ve heard of him.

Nardwuar: He’s still in the game! Like Katy Perry is looking for him to do a hook on a song and stuff like that! So he was in Vancouver shooting a movie called Bones, and I went down to the set the movie, and I did an interview with him. And I was thinking Snoop Dogg, so you know NWA has a song called Straight out of…

TD: Compton

Nardwuar: Straight out of Compton! Now when that song came out, there was a rapper called Tim Dog and he had a song called Fuck…

TD: the police?

Nardwuar: No! Fuck Compton! Yeah it was like YEA cause he was a real tough, and you know with the East-West rivalry, and he was just like YEA and he was an amazing rapper too just like YEA Fuck Compton and I just love the way the song begins just YEA YEA I just love the tune!

So I said to Snoop Doggy Dog “Hey Snoop, there’s a rapper out there called Tim Dog who has a song called “Fuck Compton” what do you think about this? “Fuck Compton” man, your boys, NWA, telling them to go fuck themselves!” And he said “Man, he’s not in the game anymore, it doesn’t even matter.” And I’d never heard that expressed before.

So basically Snoop was saying “yeah he might have said Fuck Compton but what’s he doing today, you know, what’s happening right now?” So to me it’s like, the Canucks are still in the game, they’re still in the playoff hunt right now, so nothing is settled until we get there man, you know what I mean? We’re still in the game!

TD: I do indeed, alright Nardwuar, thanks so much man!

Nardwuar: Well thank you Artem, I really do appreciate your interest in discovering all this stuff. But yeah, if people are interested at all they can check out: www.nardwuar.com and my handle is @nardwuar, and thanks so much Artem Chubarov, keep on rawking in the free world and doot doola doot doo

TD: Doot doot!