The life of a writer is one of research, with hours (ok, minutes) spent sifting through other people’s words in an attempt to arm yourself with all there is to know about a band, before embarking on your 20 minutes of precious interview time. The pressure is on. Not only do you need to appear knowledgeable in the face of artists who are generally of the opinion that journalists are equal parts enemy/ fan, but your editor expects you to emerge with a bevy of insights and illuminating quotes.
So, upon learning that I am to interview Megapuss’ Greg Rogove, I dutifully turn to my beloved Google. Those hours (ok, minutes) I mentioned earlier quickly become seconds, because all I manage to scrounge up are about 50 references to penis, with headlines such as “Devendra Wears Penis Skirt While Showcasing New Band” and “Megapuss LP Art Features Devendra’s Naughty Bits.” I’m not joking. Now, this would be fine if I were interviewing Seth Rogen or Owen Wilson or another of their suitably juvenile ilk, but come on, this is the new project from Priestbird’s Rogove and Devendra “If It’s Good Enough For Natalie Portman” Banhart, with cameos from such pals as The Strokes drummer slash Little Joy frontman Fabrizio Moretti. I air my concerns to Rogove and he agrees, sagely telling me that he’s “sorry that everything is about penis because that’s not really what we’re about. I mean, it sounds sexually explicit but you dig even a hair deeper and discover it’s nothing like that. Megapuss actually means big kiss, and that epitomises what we’re doing – we’re making contact with the universe.”
Seriously? Megapuss means ‘big kiss?’ In what? Rogove goes on to explain via a sweet little anecdote. “We were on tour and kept getting these messages from this really beautiful Swedish girl, and she kept ending her texts with “puss puss puss.” Eventually that became “megapuss,” and Devendra and I were like ‘that’s our band name!’ Of course, we didn’t have a band at that stage...” So they did what any self-respecting musical geniuses would do and wrote some songs, or in their case, some song titles. Titles like Dr Beaver Mustard and HamMan, again alluding to the fact that Megapuss is all about giving the universe a big ol’ kiss. Two dozen song titles turned into two dozen songs turned into Surfing, a debut album that, while having its origins as an on-tour lark, can be described as nothing short of incredible. Some don’t seem to get the joke. Sure, Chicken Titz is an utterly immature name for a song, and rhyming ‘intersection’ with ‘yeast infection’ is positively cringeworthy. But it’s fun, it’s beautiful and, as Rogove puts it, “it feels like summer no matter what the time of year.”
If surfing’s heyday was about good vibrations, eclectic mysticism, sunkissed singalongs and love, love, love, then Megapuss’ debut album could not have found a better name. Still looking for those aforementioned insights and illuminating quotes? My apologies. I knew it was all going downhill when Rogove asked what I was wearing (a kaftan) and within moments we were bonding over a mutual adoration of India. He told me of the year he spent in Mumbai learning the tabla; I told him of being groped and poked and sloshed in fish guts; and we told each other of the epiphanic moment when the sub continent made us realise that our lives were “totally bullshit.”