The End: The Essex Green

"Heaven is where the 'I'm so in love' dopamine taps are never turned off." - Sasha Bell

Jul 20, 2018 Web Exclusive
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To end out the week, we ask The Essex Green some questions about endings and death. The indie-pop trio (Sasha Bell, Jeff Baron, and Christopher Ziter) haven't released an album in 12 years, since 2006's Cannibal Sea, but last month they released a new album, Hardly Electronic, via Merge. The Essex Green formed in Brooklyn in 1998 and released four albums between 1999 and 2006. In the decade since we last heard from the band, Baron built a houseboat and navigated the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers, Ziter returned to his home state of Vermont to lead fermentation efforts there, and Bell moved to Montana to study elk rutting. The band reconvened in 2015 and wrote and recorded the album on and off over the next two years.

Read on as the band talk about their favorite endings to movies, TV shows, and books; what songs they'd like played on their deathbeds and at their funerals; as well as their personal versions of heaven and hell.

What song would you like to be playing at your deathbed?

Sasha Bell: "Clap for the Wolfman" [by The Guess Who] Not because this is such an amazing song. In my baby book it's recorded that this was my first favorite rock song, so it seems like a good song to cross the River Styx to: "Clap for the Wolfman/He gonna rate your record high/Clap for the Wolfman/You gonna dig him 'til the day you die."

Jeff Baron: "Music for Airports" [by Brian Eno].

Christopher Ziter: Haven't you read Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity Is Near? Not gonna happen.

What song would you like to be performed at your funeral and who would you like to sing it?

Sasha: I'd like György Cziffra to return from the dead (!) and perform Scarlatti's "Sonata K 96" in D major. It's joyful and manically peppy just like a good funeral should be.

Jeff: "Early Morning Rain" performed by Chris, Sasha, Kate Tighe, and Zach Ward.

Chris: See above question/answer. 

What's your favorite ending to a movie? 

Chris: It would have to be from Back to the Future but I don't exactly remember how that ends at the moment.  

Jeff: My least favorite was The Deer Hunter. Too sad.

What's your favorite last line in a book?  

Sasha: This question made me open a lot of old favorites on my shelf, mostly fiction, and what I found was that the majority of last lines are deliberately understated, maybe even a bit disappointing, to wit : "Even now I can't altogether believe that any of this is happening" (Berlin Stories). I guess this is a non-answer. I'm sorry.

Chris: Is it too obvious if I picked James Joyce's "The End" from The Dubliners? Because it really truly is one of my favorite stories/books. "He heard the snow falling through the universe and falling, like the descent of their end, upon all the living and the dead."

Jeff: "After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain."

What's your favorite series finale episode of a TV show? 

Chris: Who shot J.R.?  Come on!  

Jeff: I rue the day The Partridge Family went off the air. 

What's your favorite last song on an album?

 Sasha: "Green Blood" is the last track on Sonny and the Sunsets' Antenna to the Afterworld. It's a great last track and a great video.

Jeff: "Here Comes a Regular." The Replacements.

What's your favorite last album by a band who then broke up?

Chris: Odessey and Oracle [by The Zombies].

Sasha: Let It Be [by The Beatles].

Jeff: Never Mind the Bollocks [by Sex Pistols].

What's your favorite way a band broke up? 

Chris: The Essex Green-they didn't

Jeff: The Stones (never).

Whose passing has most affected you?

Jeff: Musically? Joe Strummer, George Harrison. My grandparents.

If you were on death row, what would you like your last meal to be? 

Sasha: A Friendly's Reese's Pieces sundae. Large.

Chris: Raw Kibbeh (Kibbeh Nayeh). 

Jeff: Ben's Soho Pizza with mushrooms and green peppers. Miller High Life. Chocolate cake, a glass of whole milk, a whiskey, and a cigarette.

What's your concept of the afterlife?

Sasha: My concept of the afterlife is getting my own hotel room after every show, with free HBO!

Chris: There's a beach, a boat, some kind of racquet sport, wine, and lots of good friends who happen to carry instruments with them.

Jeff: I'm one of Chris' friends in aforementioned afterlife.

What would be your own personal version of heaven if it exists?

Sasha: Heaven is where the "I'm so in love" dopamine taps are never turned off.

Chris: There's a beach, a boat, some kind of racquet sport, wine, and lots of good friends who happen to carry instruments with them. Sound familiar? 

Jeff: Playing guitar in Elvis's big band, circa 1972.

 What would be the worst punishment the devil could devise for you in hell, if he exists?

Sasha: Having a hangover and minding an active toddler for all eternity

Chris: Stuck in the CBGB's bathroom.

Jeff: Trump.

If reincarnation exists, who or what would you like to be reincarnated as?

Sasha: In the spirit of panpsychism I'd like to return as the mysterious Mount Shasta in Northern California. It would thankfully be a finite existence as the mountain is bound to blow one day, but while busy being Mt. Shasta I'd finally have the chance to meet aliens.

Jeff: Odziozo.

What role or achievement would you most like to be remembered for? 

Chris: Booby Chevalle.

Jeff: Human Compass.

What would you like your last words to be?

Chris: "Say goodbye to me for them." Oh wait... that's taken.

Jeff: "Wait, but I used electric scissors..."

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