Dave Hill may have the unassuming face of a man who could give you solid tax advice, but be forewarned; he is in fact a snapping Cerberus, a riotous triumvirate of comedy, heavy metal and velvet suits. The comedian whose biographical gamut includes several long-running stage shows, appearances on This American Life, rock collaborations with Moby and a budding bro-mance with Dick Cavett, unleashes his proverbial beast in “Tasteful Nudes…and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation,” a “tell-some” collection of personal essays. At turns hilarious and poignant, blusterous and self-effacing, the book covers some of the misadventures and moments of triumph – after all, we don’t all get to tour Japan — that help form Hill into the irresistibly likable goofball his fans know today.
You’re known as the King of Metal, talk shows and podcasts. Are you now the king of books?
That’s the plan. I wanted to establish my dominance in another medium. I’ve had only like 3 goals in my life. My first goal was to have a rock band, have a record deal and a video on MTV. So, boom, I did that. I’ve been wanting to write a book for 10 or 12 years, but I got so completely sidetracked with everything else. Recently though, I thought, “Oh shit! What if they stop making books? I better get on that!”
It’s 2012, man. The Mayans are coming for the books first.
Yeah, exactly! Books might cease to exist. And now, my only other goal is to get one of those Newfoundland dogs. They just make me so happy. I had an idea years ago for a business called “Rent-A-Pup” where you could rent a dog, but then someone actually did it in Japan. My business model was like, a Newfoundland would be the same price as two terriers.
Two out of three ain’t bad. You met your goal with putting out the book – what next?
I’m hoping to become wildly rich. It would be good in general, but specifically, it would be great to just get the dog. I hope that people that would like the book find out about it. And buy it. And read it. I think it has wide appeal — to young AND old! You probably have to be at least 13 to read it because of all the F-bombs.
There are a ton of F-Bombs. But they’re sweet F-bombs.
That’s the most scandalous thing in the book, I think. There’s the prostitute that I don’t have sex with [the subject of the title story ‘Tasteful Nudes’]. Oh! And, as a follow up, I recently spoke with her and she got out of the business. She got in touch with me to tell me. She started her own business that doesn’t involve having sex for money.
You wrote the book about your more mild-mannered years, not really touching on your now extensive showbiz presence. I mean, you’re buddies with Dick Cavett.
I totally love that guy. In his most recent book, [he] talks about this amazing life and all these crazy people he got to meet. If I were to write a book about my showbiz life at this point, it would probably just be about all the cool times I’ve hung out with Dick Cavett. It’s one of those things that completely blows my mind. It’s not like I go have Sunday dinner with him, though I am completely open to that.
Did you find out anything new about yourself in the process of writing the book?
The book is about prolonged adolescence. I don’t think that “becoming a man” is the right way to say it. A lot of it is about my relationship with my mother and trying to do things that I think would earn her respect. I don’t know if she could have really explained to her friends what I do. But by the end of the book, I realized that it doesn’t really matter what I do. My life is actually pretty simple and none of the stuff I’ve been worried about the past 20 years really matters — it’s more important to be together. As I say in the book… you know, that’s something I get to say all the time now. “As I say in the book.”
While my guitar gently shreds
If Hill can be serious about one thing, it’s shredding the guitar. Who are some of the guitarists in his rock pantheon that need to be on every axe-slingers playlist?
. Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
. Jonny Marr (The Smiths)
. Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen)
. J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.)
. Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big)
. George Lynch (Dokken)
Friends in high places
D: I just did another video, another book trailer that should come out next week, with Dick Cavett and Malcolm Gladwell and we’re hanging out in the back of Tavern on Jane. It’s supposed to be a fake PBS show called Dave Hill’s Also an Author. It’s the three of us just eating cocktail shrimp and wings the whole time. So we’re just chatting. But during the whole thing, Dick Cavett and Malcolm were saying these sweet, complimentary things, and I was thinking “Oh man, this is great for me but it’s not going to make for a very entertaining video.” So we just had to cut out all the compliments for the edit, so it just looks like they’re dealing with a complete idiot.
J: So does that mean you have the compliment-only cut that you play for yourself every morning?
D: It’s my daily affirmation tape.