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Like some guy who you thought was dead but who sits straight
up and scares the hell out of you at a scary movie your girlfriend
didn't want to see, the British heavy metal band Spinal Tap has
returned, louder than ever, to mark the rerelease of This Is
Spinal Tap on video and DVD. Playboy.com recently corresponded
with Spinal Tap's mutton-chopped bassist, Derek Smalls, in his
first email interview. To preserve his finger strength for the
band's private September 5 gig at the House of Blues in Los Angeles,
Smalls typed with his nose. You can imagine how long this took.
Playboy: When This Is Spinal Tap was released in 1984,
the band labeled it a "hatchet job." Have you since
come to terms with DiBergi's portrayal?
Derek Smalls: We've come to terms with the fact that it's
the only movie that ever mentioned our name in the title. So,
in a sense, by helping the butcher, we're also helping the meat.
Playboy: One of your many drummers died when he choked
on vomit, but police suspected it to be someone else's vomit.
Has there been any new information?
Smalls: Last we heard, they had conducted DNA tests on
it. The only results to get back to us was that, on closer analysis,
it may not have been vomit.
Playboy: Metallica caused a stir when it sued Napster
and said it had compiled a list of every fan who had downloaded
its songs. Does Tap plan to take action against Napster or the
dozens of fans who have accidentally downloaded Tap songs?
Smalls: We regard every download of a Tap song as a deliberate
act. Only the recording of them is accidental. That's a joke.
We'd love to get a copy of Metallica's list, if only for emailing
Playboy: Tell us about your new song, Back From the
Dead. Was the recording session anything like the rambunctious
America session that DiBergi filmed for TIST?
Smalls: It was a very harmonious session, actually. Having
only 12 hours in the studio may have helped, but so did the presence
of Skippy Scuffington, our latest drummer. He has a very calming
influence on us, which may be because of the spiritual calm that
allows him to take the Tap drummer's seat in the first place.
Or maybe it's the drugs.
Playboy: Any hot groupie memories you care to share?
Smalls: This was footage that was almost in Mr. DiBergi's
"movie," but he somehow decided to leave it out. There
was a gaggle of groupies in some American city, perhaps Chicago,
who were ass-casters, or as we would call them, bum-casters.
They liked to cast rockers' hind ends in some kind of plaster.
I don't know, maybe they liked my ass best (or maybe David and
Nige had already fled the arena), but I spent a long post-concert
evening sprawled on my stomach with my butt-cheeks encased in
very cold plaster. I would imagine those plaster cheeks would
fetch a right pretty penny on eBay now!
Playboy: DiBergi's film was interesting because, despite
being billed as a behind-the-scenes look at a heavy metal band
on tour, there were relatively few scenes that showed drug use
or sex. Did he not include the debauchery, or did the presence
of the cameras keep you in check?
Smalls: I think his attorneys leaned on him. He was a
very prudish sort, anyway, whenever anyone fired up, he'd excuse
himself, saying he had "to go wash his underwear."
I think that was a euphemism, but I don't know for what.
Playboy: What turns you on?
Smalls: Long walks by the beach. Playing louder than humanly
possible. New leather trousers. My turnoffs are short walks by
the beach, people who think rock music causes cancer and new
leather trousers that are a size too small.
Playboy: Between its infrequent albums, Tap remains
quiet, like a volcano on a small island, waiting to erupt and
send the natives screaming from their huts for the beach, where
they are vaporized by the heat despite the many goat sacrifices
they have made to the volcano god. Do you have any messages for
the fans who maintain a vigil for each reappearance of Tap?
Smalls: Burn more goats.