Last Saturday night I found myself caught up in one of those time-wasting YouTube loops that usually spiral into another wasted evening. It all started with me searching out the 90s MTV show “Squirt TV,” a late night talk show that was filmed in the bedroom of teenager Jake Fogelnest. What originally started as a cable access show was turned into an interview show that brought the likes of GZA, Liz Phair, and Sean Lennon into Fogelnest’s bedroom. I thoroughly enjoyed this shortly run program. Maybe it was because I was around the same age or maybe it was because I liked the idea of having my music heroes visit my bedroom. Whatever the case, that strange little show has stuck with me after all these years (as a side-note, Fogelnest is a great follow on Twitter: @JakeFogelnest).
After viewing his interview with Beck and Mike D, a suggested video appeared for a “120 Minutes” episode featuring the same musical acts, plus indie rock God Thurston Moore as the special guest host. This blog may not even exist if it wasn’t for “120 Minutes” in my formative years. Growing up in a small, isolated Iowa town, this Sunday night alternative rock show nurtured my interests in music that strayed outside the lines of the mainstream. Matt Pinfield was my musical spirit guide, and I was his acolyte. It got to the point where I’d record each episode on a VCR and then commence re-watching the video throughout the week. With the closest indie record store being 200 miles away, I went so far as to hook the VCR up to a stereo where I could tape songs from the episodes onto a cassette tape. I can still remember playing Archers of Loaf’s “Underachievers March & Fight Song” in my car for some friends and how they scrunched their noses in a mix of disgust and confusion. I knew even back then that I had a unique musical palette.
Despite my weekly allegiance to “120 Minutes,” I do not remember this specific episode, and based on the strangeness of the interview, I think I’d remember it vividly. It starts off with just Moore and Beck. It’s an early interview with “Loser” just being released as a single; Mellow Gold hasn’t even came out yet. It’s obvious that the duo are having fun with the interview, although Beck’s weirdness feels a bit forced. He would go on to hone his quirkiness in years to come, but it’s interesting to see this early, awkward version of Beck on the cusp of worldwide fame.
After the break, Beck returns to perform “Pay No Mind (Snoozer)”, early evidence that this strange kid wouldn’t simply be a one-hit-wonder. All of the silly weirdness is quickly forgotten as Beck reveals his modern twist on Bob Dylan’s imagery laced folk music.
Mike D joins the duo later, performing much of the interview via a megaphone with multiple references to Johnny Cash and Oprah Winfrey. After a break, the threesome take to the stage and perform what can only be described as an art-hip-hop mash-up. The fact that this actually aired on TV shows how the 90s were much simpler times. Oh, how I miss those wacky days.