Nardwuar Meets James Brown In Newly Unearthed Interview
Nardwuar The Human Serviette is infamous for his interviews. His resume is extensive: Questlove (on more than one occasion), Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper, Drake, Lil B, the Wu-Tang Clan, Nirvana and many, many more.
Well, yesterday Nardwuar unearthed an archived interview with the one and only James Brown, and it’s incredible. Originally taken on October 28, 1999 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver BC, the conversation doesn’t begin with Nardwuar’s introductory catchphrase (“Who are you?”), but instead an intimate performance of “Try Me” from Brown and his backup singers.
From there the video takes a predictably insightful turn (as is the case with most Nardwuar interviews), and below we’ve selected some of the more interesting parts of the two’s chat.
When being reminded of a previous Vancouver concert Brown did before this one, Nardwuar brings out a record from Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers, with Taylor allegedly being the one that “discovered” Michael Jackson. Brown’s response: “Oh, really? That’s new. I discovered him…Michael Jackson was discovered by a man named Pervis Spann and myself.” Spann (like Taylor) has also claimed to have a role in discovering the Jackson 5 (as well as Chaka Khan). Aside from Brown, Spann and Taylor there’s also Diana Ross, Weldon McDougal III and Gordon Keith, all of them allegedly “discovering” Jackson and helping him become the international icon he’s still known as throughout the world.
When asked about playing drums on his own recording of Jimmy Forrest‘s “Night Train” when his drummer stepped out to use the bathroom, Brown not only calls Nardwuar a “funny guy” but proceeds to say: “That’s true. He had to go to the bathroom and we had to cut the song.”
This might be the most telling aspect of the entire interview. Nardwuar shows Brown a 7 inch record of “Please, Please, Please,” one of the singer’s earliest hit songs. Nardwuar notices that Brown isn’t even on the cover, to which the latter responds: “They didn’t put black men on the covers too much. That’s what was happening, black men were not on the cover. I was not on the cover for this album and I wasn’t on the cover for ‘Try Me.'”
Nardwuar always manages to get artists to reveal something about themselves that they haven’t before in other interviews, and this one is no different. And we won’t spoil if Nardwuar gets Brown to do his trademark “Doot doola doot doo.” You’ll just have to watch and see for yourself.