Years ago, when I was living in Halifax, I took a drive to Mt. Uniacke one day to go to an elementary school. That could be weird, but I was headed there for a reason: Rich Terfry, a.k.a. Buck 65, was being given the key to the, well, I guess Mt. Uniacke is a town. As part of the ceremony, I was witness one of the most fun live performances I’ve ever seen: The school band, a bunch of Grade 5 and Grade 6 students, played the arrangement from Hang on Sloopy while Buck 65 sang Wicked and Weird over the top.
I was curious what brought that song on, so I took a chance and sent a few questions to his manager. A little while later, I got a happy surprise: Answers to my questions!
Read the interview after the jump…
Infield Fly: There have been a few songs about Jose Bautista released this season. Yours stands head and shoulders above the others. I’m curious, did you set out to write a song about Joey Bats, or did it happen more organically?
Buck 65: Thanks for that! It was pretty organic. I’m a big fan. To me, he’s become something of a folk hero. It’s been so amazing to see a player from Toronto be so talked about. He’s everywhere you look these days. Watching him play gives me a genuine good feeling I haven’t felt in a long time. So it was a natural thing for me to look to express that. I hope he hears it!
IF: I’ve read that you were scouted by the Yankees, but a knee injury ended your baseball ambitions. What position did you play and what was it like to be scouted?
B65: I was a shortstop. I was scouted by a guy named Stan Sanders, whose claim to fame was that he scouted Mike Schmidt! When he first told me he wanted to work with me, I didn’t even get that excited. I was looking much further down the road. I knew I had a long way to go. But that plan was more derailed by him having a heart attack than any of my injuries. Maybe they would have hurt my chances anyway. But it kills me because I honestly feel I was good enough to make it. And not just to make it, but to be a stand-out player. Stan assured me I was going to be star. I was really good and fiercely determined.
IF: The transition from aspiring ball player to musician — was it immediate and did your baseball experience aid your music career in any way? I imagine being scouted must have prepared you somewhat for hearing from music critics.
B65: Yeah, I think so. Playing baseball gave me a lot of confidence. That’s helped me as a performer, for sure. I think baseball also made me a very thoughtful person. Tough too. I guess I was lucky because as soon as bad luck caught up with me in baseball, doors started to open in music. I didn’t have a lot of time to brood.
IF: Joey Bats joins 4-6-3 in your library of baseball-themed songs. Any chance we’ll hear more baseball-themed music?
B65: I’ve actually had tons of baseball-related music through the years. My first ever release was called Chin Music. Then there was something called Stolen Bass, which is kinda dumb. I have a song called Caught Lookin’. On an old album called Vertex, there are three songs, the lyrics of which are just play-by-play of a baseball game. I’ve always loved baseball language. I almost always watch Dodgers games on TV just to listen to Vin Scully. I’ll always have baseball references in my music. Sometimes I jokingly refer to myself as the “Turk Wendell of rap.”
IF: One of the alternative weeklies here in Toronto ran a special about things to do alone in the city. You cited going to a Jays game as your favourite activity. What is it about going to a ball game alone that appeals to you?
B65: I love everything about it. My wife and I often go twice a week. I love hot dogs. I love the chatter. I tend to be quite vocal. I don’t really heckle though. I just cheer my boys. I usually go early and watch batting practice and This Week In Baseball on the scoreboard. Sometimes I’ll buy a pack of cards from the shop. There’s always good people watching to be done. But mostly I just like getting close to the action. I like to be able to watch all the things you don’t see on TV. I learn a lot about the game that way – especially when it comes to defense.
IF: Who’s your favourite player? Why?
B65: When I was a kid, I worshiped Gary Carter. When I heard the news about his health situation, I was deeply upset. It was as if it was a family member. My all-time favorite player is probably Ted Williams. Currently, I’d say Jose Bautista. I love watching Scott Rolen play third base. I think he’s the greatest defensive third baseman of all-time. Asdrubal Cabrera has been a lot of fun to watch this year. But I’d have to say Bautista is my favorite all-around. He’s a complete player. A great leader. He plays hard. Oh, and I’ve become fascinated with Jimmy Piersall the last few years. He was a pretty interesting figure. It’s weird that a handful of my favorite all-time players played for Boston given the fact that I hate the Red Sox…
IF: What would you use as your walk-up music?
I think about this all the time. I’d have so much more fun with it than most players do. If I had’ve been as good a hitter as I think I would have been, I might have gone with the opening of Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. Something to strike fear into the opposing pitcher. Maybe I would have written a new song myself every night! Can you imagine?! But I’ve probably considered a thousand songs over the years.
IF: Any closing thoughts?
B65: Well, today I’m feeling pretty excited about this Rasmus trade.
Everyday I day-dream about taking BP down at the Roger’s Centre. I’m positive I’d have no problem hitting a few out.
I killed my shoulder when I was in my early 20s, so now I’m teaching myself to throw with my left hand.
Last week I was offered to sit in Geddy Lee’s seats, but couldn’t take the offer because I had to fly to D.C. for a show. That killed me. I’ve never seen a game from behind home plate.
I have a job at the CBC right now and one of these days I want to go down to the archives to see if I can find the tape of the Expos-Mets game when Strawberry hit the roof at the Big O. Remember that?!
I saw a game at Fenway on Sunday and was shocked to hear that Youkilis’ walk-up music is Just A Friend by Biz Markie. I was not expecting that at all. What a weird-ass choice!
I was lucky enough to see Nolan Ryan pitch at a game in Cleveland at Cleveland Stadium. That must have been ’90 or ’91. I could hear him grunting from left field.
I could go on for days…
Big thanks to Rich Terfry for taking the time to answer our questions. Visit his site, listen to his CBC show, check out his new album, 20 Odd Years, and follow him on Twitter @Buck65 — you won’t regret it.