November 10, 2008

Student Artist Spotlight: Jeffrey Connor and Bruce Hyde

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At first glance, Jeff and Bruce’s camaraderie (their senses of humor complement each other and they finish each others sentences in a way that makes them seem like they’ve known each other much longer than a few months) belies how passionately they play when on stage. Jeff is out of town a lot and is apparently homeless; Bruce, in a complementary way, came to Cornell to run track, and has since stayed, taking on the persona of a talented Van Wilder (at 25, he’s been at Cornell since 2005 and claims his date of graduation is 2012) who also happens to be a pretty talented poker player, and is using his winnings to pay tuition.
[img_assist|nid=33428|title=The Pink Prophets|desc=Bruce Hyde (left) and Jeffrey Connor (right) practice their bathroom etiquette.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]You could say that having a good time takes just as much priority as playing does (the two have a brief rock-paper-scissors style debate over drugs, drinking and girls; none are declared the winner); for Bruce and Jeff, the two aren’t mutually inclusive. In fact, Bruce is recording his album at the end of the month with David Peters, a fairly impressive music producer who recently bought a church outside of Syracuse and converted it into a recording studio. In a time when so many musicians seem more invested in their image than the music itself, it’s refreshing to see two guys who really love to play. See for yourself:

The Sun: So how did you two meet?
Bruce Hyde: I was a roadie on Metallica’s ’88 tour … [laughs]
Jeff Connor: Yea, we were a part of the Seattle Seven …
Sun: What were you, three?
B.H.: We were 12.
J.C.: I was really into hard drugs then.
Sun: But for reals?
J.C.: We met at an open mic.
B.H.: Not true. I was on a porch …
J.C.: We were on a porch.
B.H.: [We were] in college town and it was like 2 a.m. We had one guitar that we kept passing back and forth. We were pretty drunk. And then we got together, but it’s funny because [Jeff] doesn’t use his phone ever, that’s the first [and last] time I’ve actually ever been able to get in touch with him.
Sun: What would you say your genre or style is?
J.C.: Like African techno …
B.H.: [Laughing] Yeah, definitely, some Jamaican Euro, Euro trans… vibe.
J.C.: Write that down [Jeff actually becomes pretty invested in my interviewing skills, and this becomes a pretty constant refrain of the conversation, whenever something important happens … which, in fact, just furthers the Van Wilder comparison in my own head].
J.C.: Just say rock and roll.
B.H.: I play what people want to hear. Basically, I’d say 90 percent of the songs I’ve played were to get laid. Like, I don’t really listen to Dave Matthews, but I somehow know like 15 Dave Matthews songs …
J.C.: That’s important, write that down.
B.H.: My originals and stuff, that’s much more like, Tom Waits …
Sun: So how much of what you play are covers, and how much is original?
J.C.: We play originals early in the night and when everyone comes in we play the songs that they want to hear … it’s all covers
B.H.: It’s not though. I have friends … I’ve probably played “Brown Eyed Girl” about 1,000 times in front of people and I don’t really like the song anymore but every sorority girl is like, “This is my song!”
Sun: Wait, but that is my song. How did you know?
B.H.: I mean it’s about … people aren’t paying when they come in here to see me play [the Palms] but they are when we play at the Nines so I don’t feel bad about playing shit that I hate, pretty much.
Sun: So Jeff, I hear you’re homeless these days.
J.C.: Yea, I … don’t have a home right now.
Sun: So you crash on couches?
B.H.: He actually lives on the porch of Delta Upsilon.
J.C.: But they are starting to get mad at me for not paying or anything? They let me stay there for two months, which is problematic because I don’t have a job …
B.H.: Yea, he got fired.
J.C.: Put “Fuck Statler Hotel” in there. Make sure you write that down.
Sun: So Bruce, why are you still in Ithaca, if you don’t mind me asking?
B.H.: Is that standard interviewing procedure? [Laughs.] You know, it’s mainly your fault, basically … It’s just college girls in general. I keep getting older and they stay the same age, and that makes it exceedingly problematic …
Sun: Where do you see yourselves after this?
J.C.: I’ll probably still be slacking away in Ithaca … I’m probably going to do a lot of farming. I wanna get some livestock … I don’t know, I’m going to play music all my life, it’s going to keep me from going insane, but it’s not anything that I’d want to make money off of … I do it for fun.
B.H.: I certainly would like, by some amazing stroke of luck, [to get] lucky making money doing what I love and playing music, but I’m not looking to do that; it’s so hard to do and I know people … 99 percent of musicians go out there and work their asses off every day just trying to get a little bit, and I make a lot of money playing poker.
Sun: And you, Jeff?
J.C.: I’m good at changing lightbulbs.
B.H.: He’s a troubador.
Sun: If there’s one person you could switch lives with, living or dead, who would it be?
J.C.: Barack Obama … just kidding. My answer would be Keith Moon.
B.H.: Keith Moon’s dead.
Sun: That’s allowed.
B.H.: Keith Moon’s baller. He’s the craziest mother fucker, not even close. Drove a car into a swimming pool and it wasn’t filled with water .. got himself out of the car, ran into a ballroom and was so wet he just fell down and chipped his tooth …
B.H.: I would be … Ronnie Wood … he is 70 years old, OK? And when Shine A Light came out, he was at the premiere of it and he disappeared for two months and they couldn’t find him. And then this Russian model went missing, and they ended up tracking her down in the Mediterrean, in the south of France, on his yacht …
Ronnie Woods had fallen off the wagon — two bottles of vodka a day, almost dead and travelling around with a Russian model. If that’s not rock and roll, I don’t know what the fuck rock and roll is.

You can catch Pink Prophets at the Palms on Tuesday nights. If you’re interested in your own 15 minutes of Sun fame, email arts@cornellsun.com.