ADDICTED TO NOISE, September 1997

A conversation with Negativland's Mark Hosler and Don Joyce

By Michael Goldberg

Somehow, it seemed quite appropriate to be conducting a conference call interview with members of Negativland located in two states, with a microcassette recorder capturing their every word. Of course for all I know, they were recording the call too, with the intent of incorporating samples of my questioning in some future project.

For nearly 20 years, Negativland have been refining the art of audio collage, making use of audio samples grabbed from radio, TV, even cellular phone calls to create new recordings that comment darkly on modern life.

Their latest target is advertising. Focusing on Pepsi, this subversive art collective has delivered a work that is as hilarious as it is scary. "The influence that corporate money has is incredibly disturbing," Negativland's Mark Hosler says at one point during our interview.

Best known for their U2 single, and the legal quagmire that ensued (see "The Subversive Art of Negativland," also in this issue for more details), Dispepsi is the second full-length album released by Negativland since their legal problems were settled (the first being Free).

I've spoken with Hosler on the phone, off and on, for the past six years. I've found him to be a smart, intellectually curious young man intent on pursuing his art at all costs. In fact, he makes his living doing work unassociated with the entertainment business, and thus is not dependent on record sales or live performance for his livelihood. Like Hosler, Don Joyce, who I've also spoken with in the past, is a hard-core artist out to challenge political, cultural and religious beliefs through Negativland's art.

Addicted To Noise: Why Pepsi?

Don Joyce: You know, you're not the first person who's asked that question.

Mark Hosler: [laughs] And I don't think you'll be the last.

Joyce: Uh, do you wanna take that Mark or should I just say "Why not?"

Hosler: Well, because. . . Coke just doesn't taste right.

Joyce: Yeah. No, I think there's no particular grudge here against Pepsi-Cola. . .

Hosler: No, let me take this one, Don. The, um, first answer I would give to that question to anybody would be "Why do you think?" I really would rather that that be a question in the minds of people who hear the record. That is one level at which this work will engage people who hear what we're doing. I think that once you've taken in the whole project, and you've listened to it from beginning to end and if you really actually really carefully listen to what we're doing I think it's pretty clear that what we're addressing in the Dispepsi, uh, project is something that's a lot bigger than just Pepsi.

We've picked one particular consumer product company because it was a good way to make a larger point. I hope that by the time you get to the end of the record you're starting to get sick of hearing about this one product. I don't know what happened to you, Michael, when you were listening to it. But I actually want something to happen at the end that isn't anything intellectual. [I want] a visceral reaction from the people hearing the record. "Okay I like this record by Negativland but, God damn it, will they please stop mentioning Pepsi!?"

Because that's how I feel when I go out every day into any part of any city in America! "God damn it, I'm really sick and tired of having all these messages shoved into my brain from all over the place." Think back 10 years ago or 20 years ago. Were there the same amount of ads in billboards and on the side of buses and product placements in movies 10 years ago or 15? No. Every year that goes by, they are figuring out more and more places to put them and intrude into our public space. So that's another answer as to "Why Pepsi?" [We wanted] to actually make an aesthetic experience that's kinda simulating that in a way.

Joyce: I think the whole record simulates Pepsi's multinational corporate form of advertising, which is basically saturation. They're trying to get that name in front of you over and over again, as many times a day as they can in as many media as they can all over the world. It's a bit frightening. So I think that focusing in on one corporation like this is a good way to both get into the details of their many campaigns over the years that supersede each other and also to simulate their technique of advertising, which is to overload you with this one brand 'til it never leaves your brain.

Hosler: I think that in the end, Pepsi ought to like what we did. Because, when you finish listening to this record the one thing you do remember is the name Pepsi. And ultimately, I think that's all advertising is really trying to do. I don't think that the simpleminded criticism of advertising, that it is trying to brainwash you, I don't think that's true. I don't think anyone really believes that, nobody falls for that, there's nobody that's that stupid.

Nike is a fantastic example lately of the kind of saturation advertising that the giant corporations do. Human beings like the familiar. So, when you go into a store and you are trying to decide what to buy -- what soft drink to buy, what shoe to buy, what kind of aftershave cologne to buy or toilet paper -- you're probably gonna pick the one that's sort of more familiar to you. And I think that that's how they achieve that.

Joyce: Yeah, and especially if you don't really care about toilet paper you'll just pick a brand you've seen because that somehow legitimizes it for people: this is an official product or something. I think it is just the natural human tendency to remain with the familiar. But there's definitely two levels here. There's focusing in on Pepsi as Pepsi, as a corporation you can study and analyze their commercials and make some points about the specific logic involved in those commercials. But it's also at the same time symbolic of any large corporation and the kind of advertising they do. And I hope people take it both ways.

Hosler: I think that in terms of the aesthetic content and the political content of Negativland's work, we've pretty thoroughly dealt with the particular culture industry that we're in, the music business.

Joyce: [laughs] Moving on now. . .

Hosler: In a way, I see this as a pretty logical projection from what we were dealing with in the U2 single and the Fair Use book [Negativland published a book, Fair Use: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2, documentating what happened after they released their U2 single]. It's kind of an expansion outward, of dealing with a lot bigger things. I follow the news, I see what is happening to our political process because of the influence of multinational corporations, because of political action committees and all that. The influence that the corporate money has there is incredibly disturbing and the influence it's having on how our laws are written and our environmental laws and in our media frame of reference in North America.

In our visual environment, you see the stuff everywhere. People are getting the Nike "swoosh" tattooed on their arm. It's cool! Because we've been conned, we've been actually conned into the idea of being walking billboards for these people.

ATN: Have you actually seen that? Someone with a Nike tattoo?

Hosler: Yes, yes. And the number of people I actually see lately wearing Pepsi t-shirts and Nike t-shirts is kind of unbelievable. And it'd be real interesting to kind of sit down with them and try to have a nice, non-confrontational conversation and ask them: "What are you doing when you wear that shirt? What does that mean? What's that about?"

Joyce: Yeah, it's like that Pepsi stuff, you know that campaign to send in and get all this Pepsi stuff?

ATN: Or the Bud stuff or the Camel gear or whatever.

Joyce: It's advertising. They want to get names all over bodies and beaches and everywhere. It's just more of that everywhere syndrome, where they've got to have that brand in front of you all the time.

Hosler: I do have this sort of gut, intuitive reaction that this is wrong. I also have an intellectual explanation of why I think it -- the commodification of selling and corporatization of everything -- isn't a good thing. But then another part of me thinks, "Maybe this is just a change. It's just different and just I don't like it because it's different. And it's just, uh, a different style that I'm not familiar with, like when bell bottom pants came in in the '70s."

Joyce: Oh, it's bigger than that.

Hosler: [laughs] Oh, I know. I know it is. But sometimes I just wonder that.

Joyce: Well, it is the style. There's not much you can do about it, except make little records like ours, I guess, in reaction to it. But it's certainly a way of life now. Everything is advertising, most entertainment is now advertising. If you really analyze what you're looking at on television, almost all of it is some form of promotion. Never mind the infomercials and all that stuff, it's like all talk shows, any guest has just written a book or has just been in a movie and they've really been booked because of that and they're there to plug it. So, all the media use this promotional advertising excuse to make up their content now.

Hosler: Every single film I see now that comes out of Hollywood, I can't think of one that I've seen in the last year that doesn't have numerous product placements in it. It has just become the way they make films in Hollywood now. That wasn't true even five years ago. See, Michael doesn't even have to ask us any questions! [laughter]

ATN: This is great!

Hosler: The thing is that the way we work together, these kind of conversations that we're having with you, we don't have it with ourselves very often because I think every one in Negativland has a pretty intuitive understanding of what we're doing and why. It's actually really interesting to me when we do interviews to get to hear each other explicitly articulate what we're trying to do.

ATN: When you get together it's a pretty intense work environment.

Joyce: Yup.

Hosler: Yes. Mixing those records we do just fries my brain. It's really, really hard work.

Joyce: Yeah, they're very complicated and very dense and we mix by, you know, the inch. We'll do a few inches and then, you know, we'll have to stop and reset stuff and so it's pretty tedious.

ATN: What's your feeling at this point about the level at which advertising and brands -- soft drink and running shoe companies, etcetera -- have gotten into everyone's face?

Hosler: We just wanted to accelerate it! We figured product placement hasn't made its way into rock 'n' roll and so we wanted to help it in a direct, big kind of way. There's a whole bunch of levels at which Dispepsi is working, but certainly one of the other ideas was bringing product placement right into the music. And what is that like as an aesthetic experience?

Joyce: It's the one place left that hasn't succumbed to that really, the idea of product placement; though I wouldn't be surprised if that had happened. So we're just making that ridiculous extreme example for people. That music is next, the only thing left. As far as how that all works into the culture as a whole, which I think is the main reason for reacting with a record like this, it's all desire mongering. All advertising is desire mongering. To put a desire in you, to make you feel insufficient, inadequate, unhappy, dissatisfied. That's what all commercials do.

And then when you consider the amount of commercials we see, the amount of that kind of influence on us day to day, any one doesn't make a dent, but what's happening with this year in, year out saturation of this kind of a message all the time about everything? It's meant to build this society up into an amazing consumer society, where everyone is consuming all the time, and what's the result of that on the planet and on the resources?

Hosler: Yeah, I agree. It's not any one single ad, it really isn't. And I'd be afraid reading this in print people would see what we're saying and dismiss us as being cranks about this. It's not that simple. it's not just any one ad, it is what happens when you're seeing this five hours a day, seven days a week, year after year after year after year after year after year; that does something!

And what is that? That's something that needs to be examined and thought about by each person. It's not for us to tell them what to think. We worked really hard with this record to keep it from being didactic and finger wagging, but I hope it brings stuff up and perhaps besides being fun to listen to and peculiar and perplexing and all that, I hope it actually prompts people to consider some of this stuff more and then draw their own conclusions.

Joyce: And that kind of mass campaign of status seeking and desire mongering really does have a serious and dangerous side to it which has already come up, you know, killing kids for their running shoes. Kids killing each other to get the shoes and that kind of stuff. That has become so desirable -- a shoe, a piece of rubber shoe -- that people will kill for it. Murder for it. That's not what's happening everywhere, it's very rare. But it is an example of how far an effect this can have on some people.

ATN: The effect of what's gone on is this feeling of unsatisfaction that one feels and that buying something. . .

Joyce: Solves their problems.

ATN: Yeah, you'll feel good.

Joyce: It's all about feeling good. All these products are about feeling good. Pepsi and all the rest. Nobody's advertising with information about their product anymore, they're just giving you little fantastic surreal scenarios about feeling good. Whatever they're selling. Most commercials aren't even about anything anymore. They aren't even about their own product.

Hosler: Don, here's a question. I'll answer this first. Here's a question for you: In what ways do you notice that this affects you? Because I know none of us are immune to it. And I notice in myself, for instance, that I don't buy that much stuff. But I really enjoy music. I'm always on the look out for new music and I really can't afford it. [laughs] And I'll notice that sometimes when I'm almost out of money or I'm feeling depressed, I'll have this urge, I don't know where it comes from, but this urge to go out when I can't afford it and spend money on buying some new CDs or some new music.

Joyce: You're buying something that makes you feel good. Well, some things do make you feel good. I mean, it's not a black and white situation.

Hosler: I still feel like that urge to do that, it doesn't make sense, it doesn't feel like it's rational or makes any sense. I actually feel like it's coming from some place in me that's just been conditioned to do that as a response. It's like, to cover up thinking or feeling some kind of pain, emptiness or dissatisfaction or something in yourself or your life, I'll wanna go out and just distract myself, you know, by buying the new Julio Iglesias CD.

Joyce: I don't think that that is really something unnatural brought about by a commercial environment. . .

Hosler: Well, you didn't used to be able to do that though! Hundreds of years ago you couldn't go out and buy. . .

ATN: But Mark, don't you have a house full of records and CDs?

Hosler: Yeah, oh yeah, I have tons of 'em!

ATN: Have you listened to every one?

Hosler: Oh, at some point, sure. We don't get free CDs like you do, Michael. [laughter] We don't have the thousands of thousands of CDs you get thrown at you.

ATN: Right, but the thing is I have all these CDs and all these records and I have a lot of things that I never have listened to. . .

Hosler: Send it to us! We'll sample from them!

ATN: And yet I have that same desire to get another CD. Or to go into the record store and find something interesting. Or whatever. And you can rationalize it, but ultimately it is an irrational thing...

Joyce: Yeah it is. But I think that also all of us have listened to some music that has impressed us, made us feel good. So there is a really real reason. There is a hope that if you're not feeling just right, you could go buy a CD and get inspired or whatever. Or be made a little happier by listening to it, because it has happened before to all of us.

ATN: Do you think that's different than going out and buying, you know, a shirt? A Nike shirt?

Joyce: For some people that may be it. For some people that may be what actually does the...

Hosler: Don, I don't really agree...

Joyce: My point is that I don't think advertising is making this up in people. I think they are playing on something that actually is real that they've discovered, and it's the main way to sell things. To make people desire it. And people do desire things. They just have, long before any kind of advertising started. So, it's hyping it, but how it's doing it now is hyping it to a degree that is beyond anybody's imagination in terms of the effect. They are exaggerating it in people, but I think there's a basic element of that in everybody, to desire material goods. There's nothing wrong with that. I mean, that's where progress came from, I guess. The point is now it's being hyped up in this sort of psycho way that is very strange and I'm not at all sure what the overall effects on a culture and a society are.

Hosler: I don't know what the overall effect is either, but I, again, I'm 35 years old and I have to say that just within my memory of my adult life, this isn't staying the same. We're not in some stasis, status quo, this-is-how-things-are. It just keeps accelerating all the time. It's pretty spooky, it's pretty bizarre, it's pretty unnerving and I guess from Negativland's perspective it was some stuff we really thought should be dealt with in music and in art and I don't see it being dealt with too much in the arts. It is some, but not too much and I think we have a pretty unique approach to it.

Joyce: It's also one of those things that's profoundly prevalent everywhere and affects everybody, yet it's one of the hardest things to have any effect on. The whole mechanism behind mass advertising seems so remote from any recourse or any effect on it by the common person. It's one of those things that is extremely frustrating that way if you're not enjoying it.

Hosler: An interesting thing is when you think of how many people are out there writing reviews of books and movies, how many critics there are of the culture and the media and the information we get and how much is said in the op-ed pages... Where's the daily column about advertising and talking about ads and critiquing them? I mean, the only person I know who does that is Leslie Savan of the Village Voice and she's great! Her stuff is really great. But, you'd think for the amount of air time that advertising occupies and the amount of mental, psychic space it takes up in our brains and everywhere we go in our daily lives, it's extraordinary, it's extraordinarily invisible in regards to how little it's actually discussed.

Joyce: There's all kinds of aspects to this. All advertising in electronic media is basically an interruption. Our lives are filled with these constant interruptions of programs and I don't think we even do notice anymore. [We don't think of the interruption as] anything unusual. It didn't have to be that way. Programs could have been sacrosanct and not interruptable, which would seem to make sense to me. But, somehow, the whole influence this thing worked its way into the degree that it's now able to interrupt everything, anything, you know, every seven minutes.

If you came from Mars, you'd say "Why? This is stupid.! You're ruining everything!" But people actually do not notice that anymore; the fact that everything is constantly interrupted! And that in turn has probably in turn contributed to other things like the whole popularity of the cut-up aesthetic and the disassociation of things and how you don't have to make sense anymore and all that kind of stuff. It's like, who knows? It spreads throughout everything.

Hosler: Yeah. Actually what we've been seeing in the last few years is the kind of aesthetic approach we've been taking since 1980 has been making its way [into the mainstream]. It's really solidly entrenched in a style of advertising and MTV and everything! That's been really interesting to see happen, too.

ATN: Are you concerned that you could get sued by Pepsi?

Joyce: Um, yeah, we're concerned.

Hosler: Can I start with that one, Don?

Joyce: Yeah

Hosler: Okay. We've talked with a whole bunch of lawyers in working on this record and they certainly haven't had any effect on how the music turned out at all, but we've certainly been consulting with them about what we're doing and we really feel very strongly that if something did happen, we have a very good defense and that we would fight very hard to protect this record. But, the reason, one of the reasons why we've worked the way we have is that I personally would like to live my life and act as if I'm living in the kind of world that I would like to see exist. And in the world I'd like to see real, it's gonna be OK for a small group of grass roots audio artists to mock a gigantic company. To ridicule them. To take their media that we don't ask to see or experience, their commercials and their propaganda, and to take it and chew it up and spit it out and throw it back at them. And that there shouldn't be anything wrong with that.

In the end, if Pepsi perceives this as an actual threat, they're being pretty silly. But who knows? Who knows the minds of the attorneys of companies like this? Who knows what they will actually think? And as far as people thinking that Negativland enjoys being sued, please! That's a ridiculous idea! Being sued is a horrible, horrible thing. When we dealt with the U2 lawsuit, the aftermath lasted every day for four years. It's a horrible, horrible thing. On the other hand, I just absolutely refuse to turn around and say "Okay, sorry, you guys were right. We won't do anything anymore that is pushing the envelope of anything. We won't follow our ideas. We won't do the kind of art we want to do. I'll just write folk songs about making tape loops and I'll play it on an acoustic guitar and hopefully then you'll all leave us alone."

Joyce: And speaking of folk songs, I was thinking about this today. This record, particularly this Pepsi record, is, if you had to define it, a kind of protest music. It's a modern form. Unlike the '60s stuff about war and government...

Hosler: It's a little bit different than Woody Guthrie!

Joyce: Yeah. But, basically the principle is the same. And just because it's about a private corporation, I don't think we should be prevented from doing protest music about that any more than people were prevented from doing protest songs about mining companies, cave-ins, sinking ships and governments and war and all the rest that that's been about in the past. I think this is sort of a modern slant on that.

We're taking on the powers that be today, which is really the world of corporate business. They're the powers that be! More powerful than government, more world wide influential than any government. And these are the powers that be and they have made themselves, through a whole set of copyright and trademark laws, practically immune from criticism. It's something like the monarchs of old at this point. I think the American spirit of grass roots protest is not going to ignore something like that . It has got to be dealt with, it's going to be and although I suppose it's dangerous in terms of current law, it should be done and current law should be expanded to allow that or else you're going to have the corporate entities absolutely untouchable. It's not right!

Hosler: So, I hope you print some of this stuff, because Pepsi's going to read this article. We sure hope we get them to think a little bit more before they make their next move.

ATN: So it sounds to me like, in a certain sense you had no choice in terms of risking being sued again...

Hosler: [laughs] We. Are. Following. Our. Aesthetic. Intuition. And Our. Creative. No, what did I say? Our artistic imperative. We were commanded. It is a mission. It's like everyone always says in the arts. They always say: "I don't know where the idea comes from, you know, it comes from God or something." It's been handed to us and we've been entrusted with this mission to take on the world's second largest soft drink manufacturer and I don't really want to do it but somebody's got to do it and only Negativland is brave enough or crazy enough or stupid enough to do this thing. So, let's do it.

Joyce: Dispepsi was not a really calculated, conscious decision made at some point to do this thing on Pepsi. We actually have been dealing with advertising for years. I've been doing "Over The Edge" shows called "Advertising Secrets" for years, a whole series. I've been collecting advertising for years...

Hosler: Can I interject?

Joyce: No, not yet.

Hosler: Okay.

Joyce: And it was much more of an intuitive thing of having been interested in advertising for years and years and having been doing pieces involving advertising. If you go back over our past pieces, a lot of it includes little ad clips. It's been part of our mental environment and our aesthetic for a long, long time and Pepsi is just sort of a congealing of that at this point into something that focuses on that specifically. But we've been doing it for so long and getting in no trouble about that. And so it's almost a natural progression that it should come to this.

Hosler: This particular project started out, like a lot of our projects, as just a small group of pieces and it just developed very organically. One of the reasons that I personally feel a lot of our projects turn out as good as they do is because we don't sit down with a calculated idea. It's a real intuitive thing. And it's also why these records take so damn long to make, because we really want them to grow organically and to feel right. This record took pretty much three years to do.

ATN: What was the first thing that you did? Tell me a little bit about where this started.

Hosler: The very, very first piece...

Joyce: "Voice Inside My Head," wasn't it?

Hosler: No, the very first piece was the one that's called "Why Is This Commercial?" I was going through a bunch of material that Don had collected that related to celebrities in advertising and thought that was an interesting area to work on for a piece and I happened to notice there was a lot of things about Pepsi. And I thought, "That's interesting, there's a lot of Pepsi things." Then I saw a copy of Boycott Quarterly, which talked about the boycott of Pepsi because of their involvement in Burma. I started going through more of our stuff. I remember talking to Don and asking him to dig through the archives and see what else we had and it turned out we had quite a lot of material that was relating to Pepsi.

So then I put together a few more sketches of some pieces, played it for everybody else and the idea slowly went from there. And of course, once we've got our minds open and our ears up and we're looking for stuff, things just started coming to you. We then got in touch with the people who were actually organizing the boycott of Pepsi here in the United States, told them about our project and they were very interested. It turned out, in fact, that some of the people of the Pepsi-Burma Boycott group were actually Negativland fans. They got a hold of a whole bunch more Pepsi material for us. We got a whole bunch of ads out of them that we didn't have. And, of course, by the time our record was done, the boycott was called off because Pepsi finally did decide to pull out of Burma. So, that's some kind of, I don't know, some background on the record.

ATN: I'd like it if you could talk about some of the pieces on this album. Like, particularly, let's start with the thing about, the piece that's mostly focused on Coke, The New Coke, Classic Coke...

Hosler: .You mean "All She Called About."

Joyce: Yeah.

Hosler: The introduction of the New Coke.

ATN: Right.

Joyce: Cola Wars.

ATN: The idea that that was sorta calculated to get, um...

Joyce: Well, that's not our idea, that's Larry King's idea [that Coke introduced the New Coke specifially to generate an enormous amount of publicity]. One thing to remember is that anything you hear on the record, other than when you hear someone singing, it's all stuff we got from somewhere else. So, it may be Negativland's opinion and it may not be. It may just be something we think is interesting to throw up in juxtaposition of something else.

Hosler: Right.

Joyce: Essentially, one of the fun things about collage is that you can really evoke these really complex implications and inferences between or by how you juxtapose things together. But in the end, does Negativland really think Christianity is stupid and Communism is good? Well, we used those tapes in an old song of ours because we thought they were great vocals for a song. But it doesn't mean that's what we think.

ATN: Sure, sure.

Joyce: It doesn't mean it's what we don't think either.

Hosler: I actually personally do kind of agree with what Larry was saying, though.

Joyce: Yes, it's an interesting point that he made at the time. That was all recorded during the time of the introduction of New Coke many years ago. I was interested in that even then. And I recorded that stuff off the "Larry King Show" and what interested me at the time about that was the degree to which this purely commercial event, the introduction of a new product, was making all the newscasts, was making all the public affairs and news areas of media! So, it was like all this free advertising going on because this was something important for America, apparently. It was just strange to me, so I started recording all these debates about it that were going on on talk shows. It was there too! It was everywhere for a while. I thought the whole event was monumentalization of trivia that was quite amazing. So, that material comes from way back then when it actually happened and was dredged up for this. It's an interesting point that, yes, how much of that did they know? How much did they realize that they would be getting newscast reports and how much of a topic this would be on talk shows and stuff when they did that? It's interesting, though. Maybe they didn't have any idea, but it happened.

ATN: What's your process for putting these pieces together and what makes you decide that "Okay, this does work, this thing is finished."

Joyce: That's a really tough one.

Hosler: Each piece is different.

Joyce: It's all just laying it down and playing it back and taking something out and laying something else down and playing it back over and over and over again. And how that works into my mind as being "Okay, that section's done," I don't know. It's just a feeling. It's just a sense of it's dense enough or it's. . .whatever. It makes its point, the rhythm is right, the amount of information that goes by is absorbable or just barely too much to absorb, which I kinda like.

Hosler: Do you know what else I find? When you lay tapes down, you play around with it. You have an idea of some stuff you want to try. But, a lot of the times the real humor or the surrealism there's something that will happen in the meaning of the juxtaposition and it only happens when you're fucking around with the tapes and you play this guy speaking next to this woman. And they resonate with each other in some way that you couldn't have even thought of! I think that happens a lot. I think Don will sit down with tapes, he has an idea of what he wants to use, but he'll just put something in just to see how it sounds and lo and behold -- it's really funny!

Don put the tape in of Michael Jackson at the beginning saying "My penis, my buttocks..." and I can't even explain why that works but it works perfectly in terms of what it's coming after and what it's referring to, but it's more like this intuitive "A ha!" And when I heard that, I just fell over laughing. I just thought it was so funny and such a brilliant thing he did. But, how could he have even thought of it? I don't even know if he did. I bet Don was just playing with the tapes and that suddenly seemed like it went there and it worked.

Joyce: I believe the guy, just before [Michael Jackson] says that is saying, another guy is saying "You can replace their message with one of your own." Some line like that. And then the penis and the buttocks is like what you might be replacing. [laughter]

Hosler: Right, right.

Joyce: That's my impression of it.

Hosler: It's sort of like the last thing in the world you'd expect to hear within the first 30 seconds of the Negativland Dispepsi record.

Joyce: I just thought it was real funny in a good way to throw people off in a nice way.

ATN: That wasn't from Oprah, was it?

Joyce: It was one of those, yeah, TV interviews.

Hosler: Was it with Elizabeth Taylor?

Joyce: It could've been. I think it was Oprah, actually. Or it was Diane Sawyer ["Prime Time Live"]. I don't remember. See, this is one of the reasons that our list of sources is very generalized. Both because I like anonymity and I don't like being specific about stuff. Even our stuff. We don't list ourselves as band members or anything. We aren't any kind of cult of personality or cult of celebrity or anything. I take the same attitude towards all the stuff I record off media. It doesn't matter to me who it is or what it is or where it came from. In terms of the way I'm going to use it, I only care what the specific thing is and how it's going to work. And so, I know vaguely where things came from, but I don't record the source or who owns what. I don't wait for the credits! I'm on to something else! So, I really have no idea.

Hosler: However, I should add that since we did the fair use book, we have taken the suggestion of John Oswald, the fellow who did the Plunderphonics CD. He has suggested that we ought to list all our sources. You're not asking for permission to sample them, but just as a sort of ethically right gesture. And we've been doing that now.

Joyce: If we use creative sources that is other art, as source, we do identify it specifically and I think that's a good thing to do ethically. But if I'm using public media, if I'm using talk shows and newscasts and stuff that's just out there and not specifically a creative effort or something you might call somebody's art, but more like media filler; all that stuff where most of my stuff comes from, I think that all you have to say is "This came from television, I got this off the radio." That's all anybody cares about. And, so, that's what we do.