Interview with Lindsey Verrill


LIz chatted with Lindsey about opossums, her bands, her multiple creative disciplines, and why everybody should hate Malcolm Gladwell.

LB: How did you start drawing cartoons?

LV: It was something I did to pass the time when I was younger, when I was a kid. I always drew stuff, I guess. I haven’t been drawing many lately. But I used to draw them a lot.

LB: I saw your drawing of an opossum — did you know they eat 95% of the ticks that land on them, thus protecting us from Lyme disease? I love this fact.

LV: Oh wow. That’s cool. I don’t want to get Lyme disease. I know this girl who got it and had to move to Idaho. I don’t want to move there.

LB: Owen Egerton, the curator of this series, mentioned instruments you make…what are those?

LV: Oh, he thinks that because I gave his daughter a banjo I made out of a cookie tin and some wire.

LB: So, no handmade instruments…but it does sound like you’re a musician.

LV: Yes! I’m a musician. I play the cello and the banjo. I play in a band with a girl named Dana Falconberry, called Dana Falconberry and Medicine Bow. We’ve been playing together for about five years. We travel all over the country playing our songs. We’re releasing an album this Saturday. I’ve been practicing nonstop for the last two weeks, and we just did South By Southwest.

I also have a solo project called Little Mazarn where I play banjo and sing — it’s kind of experimental music. Like, I play the banjo, but I'm more inspired by jazz and improvisation. Banjo is a folk instrument but I play it differently than that. I really like John Coltrane and drone-y sort-of spacey music. I made these pick-ups on the banjo so I can plug it in to an amp I made. It sounds really groovy. My next thing I’m going to work on is making a visual element with lights. But I haven’t figured that out yet. I’m in a bunch of other bands, too, but those are the ones I’ve been working on a lot.

LB: One of my interests in art of all types is how the different forms can talk to one another.

LV: Yeah! So there’s this horrible writer named Malcolm Gladwell. I just see his stuff as pop science. But he wrote this book called Outliers that has this chapter in it about how to become good at something youhave to put in 10,000 hours.

LB: Yeah, I’ve heard of that.

LV: It’s a pockmark on my intellectual development, but ok, it sticks in your mind. Anyway. People say that to me a lot, like, oh you must be close to having your 10,000 hours on your cello. And it’s a crushing thought for someone like me because I’m spread over lots of disciplines. So, I think I’ll never get to that 10,000 hours on anything.

I have a degree in upright bass. I play the cello and the banjo. I write these poems. I used to draw all these comics. I do printmaking, like letterpress. I have a few little chapbooks I’ve made that way, mostly art books made of prints. So, I don’t think I’ll ever get to 10,000 hours on anything, not to mention the fact I’ll probably start doing something new. If you think about it that way it can spiral out of control into a crushing depression.

So, I just realized recently that all of those things I do really are the same practice—tapping into what I call “the source.” That’s what I think. I feel like sometimes I can access parts of myself that I couldn’t before, through doing all of those different things. Every now and again I see something I couldn’t see before, from within.

LB: Do any of them strengthen the other disciplines?

LV: I think doing the Typewriter Rodeo made me a better thinker. And when I’m trying to be more creative in playing music, I try to use the skills I learned from quickly typing all of those poems without judging the thoughts and product. I think that’s helpful.

LB: What is the Typewriter Rodeo?

LV: They’re this group in Austin that does events where they go and type poems on typewriters. People give them directions like, I want a poem about bunny rabbits, and so you type a spontaneous poem about bunny rabbits.

LB: Who are some of your influences?

LV: I like Tom Waits. He’s pretty great. But honestly I’m inspired mostly by my friends who are all not necessarily full-time artists but I have a lot of friends who do a lot of art and music for themselves. That’s really cool. I have a friend — — he’s pretty good at those.

LB: So, I don’t know why, but after looking at your drawings and reading your poems, the question struck me—are you cynical, or hopeful?

LV: Ohhhhh. That’s really good. Because that’s the person that I hope to portray.

LB: Which one? Of both?

LV: Yeah. Of both. I have a pretty cynical nature, but I teach middle school and I can’t be cynical with my students. I just can’t.

LB: Why not?

LV: They just see through it.

LB: Well the question just struck me.

LV: That’s what I want my audience to be thinking! I’m also in a gospel band. We just got back from a little tour. And the thing about that is it’s a fake gospel band. No one is Christian. But, you wouldn’t know that. We just love Gospel music. Not only is no one Christian, everyone is an atheist except one person who is Jewish. People always ask what’ s the deal with these cynics playing the music of super hopeful believers?

I made all of these signs for SXSW that I wanted to be dark but also sort of like motivational posters. I put them all over downtown. I made one that said “Rebel! Like yourself!” Another one said “Delete your Facebook page and write some songs.” And another said “Streaming killed the radio star.” I thought of it as my art installation.

LB: One last question, why do you hate Malcolm Gladwell?

LV: Oh, it’s just fun to have someone to dislike. I’m just like ahhh…that guy.

To see more of Lindsey's work, check out her page here or purchase her chapbook below.