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Sit Down with Chris Squires

the interviews, part four

In keeping with a theme determined long ago. We decided to post a series of interviews of each member of the band. The following is the fourth installment where Gabe sat down with Chris Squires, the drummer for the Helicopter:

Although the first three interviews with the band were fun, each one presented, um...., shall we say, certain "difficulties." The more I learn about the members of the helicopter the less it seems to make sense that these four guys from Norman, OK would be able to stay together so long. But, then again, this is Oklahoma where this is little to do, and you learn to accept the eccentricities of the people you meet.

Luckily, I managed to catch up with Chris one night after practice. He's a busy man, what with the wife, the goats, & his job. For the last past few months he has been living in Stillwater, OK working & commuting once or twice a week for recording and rehearsals with the band. I never really bothered to ask what he does, but somehow I get the feeling it has something to do with engineering & waste treatment... probably not something either of us would really want to talk about anyway.

GW: Chris, it's good to see you. When are you coming back to Norman?
 CS: September, October. I'm not really sure. I'm on an extended temporary assignment with work. I miss being in Norman, but there are a few good things about Stillwater.
GW: Such as?
 CS: Well, school's out for summer, and there is hardly anyone in town. So the streets are clear. I mean, no traffic whatsoever. That's really nice, and there's the Walden Hill commune just south of town and Horse Thieves' Canyon to the east. Actually, I went there last week looking for the graves of some relatives.
GW: What? Do you come from a long line of horse thieves?
 CS: No, cattle rustlers, but the two groups weren't exactly mutually exclusive. (Laughs.)
GW: Anything else that you like about living in Stillwater?
 CS: Not really. I mean, there are a lot of cowboys & crusty neo-hippies, and being a predominantly rural town with an agricultural college, the place smells a little strange... and there are a lot of drums circles. Don't get me wrong I like drums, and I like a sense of community, but most people who join a circle are either too stoned or just don't have any rhythm to add anything except misplaced beats and accents. There are usually one or two guys who can really play, and they sort of have to take up the slack.
GW: I always thought drum circles.... I don't know. They just bore me after about 10 minutes.
 CS: Exactly. It's all about a bad sense of timing & listening to too much Mickey Hart.
GW: So, on the whole, how is everything going?
 CS: Pretty good. I've been meaning to tell you that I liked your interviews with the other three numbskulls in our band. You somehow managed to make them sound halfway intelligent.
GW: Thanks. Are you pissed at them or something?
 CS: Not really, but we just finished practicing. I'm kind of tired, and I'm beginning to hate some of their tastes in music.
GW: Why?
 CS: Well, Jeff's parading around, saying he wants to cover "Build Me Up Buttercup" while giving it that sort of House of Love treatment. I worry about him almost as much as I do about Billy sometimes. Billy still wants to do "Life in a Northern Town" by the Dream Academy? Anyway, I thought that was a bad idea 5 months ago, and Coop.... Man, he keeps playing us those new cabaret songs he's written, and he keeps going on & on about how he saw a copy of Drives Me Crazy with Melissa Joan Hart on clearance for $3.99. Sometimes, I just can't take it.
GW: What cover would you want to do?
 CS: (Laughing) "Living after Midnight" or something like that.
GW: What was your initial impression of the "three numbskulls?"
 CS: I thought they were all right.... sarcastic & strange, but I liked most of their song ideas. I knew Coop and sort of knew Billy, but I always thought he was a bit of an asshole. Now, I realize he's just a very angry man, but he does have a very kind, warm side to him. Once you get past that exterior bullshit, he's pretty easygoing. I like him fine. JR was the one I didn't know at all, and he's turned out to be okay. But I still don't really know him that well.
GW: Weird! Why don't you think you know him?
 CS: I don't know. Let's just say he has secrets. I think the time he spent growing up in South Korea did something to him.
(Suddenly, Chris seems to become very disinterested and starts practicing drum fills with a couple straws on the table.)
GW: Okay. So what inspired you to play drums?
 CS: I liked the Beatles and metal quite a bit as I was growing up. I began playing, and it seemed like a good way to stay out of trouble and expend energy, which I've always had in excess.
GW: What's one of your favorite metal bands?
 CS: I like Nazareth an awful lot, but really there's no contest. AC/DC. I love Phil Rudd!
(At this point, Chris perks up a bit, goes over to the jukebox & plays "TNT.")
GW: Nice selection. Say, can you tell me what's with the thing with squirrels?
 CS: There's really not too much to it. In one sense, it's a rather obvious play on my last name, and then because I have so much energy, I tend to dart around a lot sort of like a squirrel.
GW: Is that it? No untoward sexual implications or anything?
 CS: Nothing like that, but in high school I was in this creative writing class where we had to read something we had written every Friday. I don't know why I even enrolled in that class. Anyway, one week I hadn't written anything and was forced to make something up right then and there. It wound up being an extemporaneous piece about squirrels. It seemed to go over fairly well. (He then seems to get wistful & begins to recite a bit of that important poem.)

Squirrels! This is for the squirrels! who run around in the park
through trees, swishing their bushy tails back & forth... back & forth
in anticipation of Spring, who gnaw on park benches to dull their teeth,
who hide their nuts for Winter in their cheeks paunched out like Marlon Brando
in the Godfather.

GW: Man, I had no idea.
 CS: Yeah, I'm a poet, and you didn't even know it.

With that the interview ended, but we stayed at the local bar, ordering another round of drinks & playing air guitar like Angus & Malcom.


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