In ’90s when he was bombarding unsuspecting artists with his off-the-wall interview stylings (the man was a deep-googler before Google was even a thing), few if any might have placed Nardwuar the Human Serviette as some sort of niche hip hop icon as the new millennium’s first decade drew to a close. Yet that’s exactly what happened. Nardwuar isn’t just comedic relief for Snoop though… (and without getting all Tony Robbins on you) he’s also one of life’s unheralded champions of maximizing personal potential. Doot-doola-doot-doo, do it yourself has been his battle-cry for decades as he’s personally celebrated underground music in his native Vancouver as a DJ and off-again-on-again TV personality, while also performing in goofball-troop Thee Goblins and the Evaporators. With the likes of positivity-guru Andrew W.K. in their corner — not merely as a fan, but occasional collaborator as well — the Evaporators have been Nardwuar’s mainstay since the ’80s.
Released in 2007, Gassy Jack and Other Tales wasn’t just a musical whim thrown together to capitalize on the vocalist’s still blossoming pop-culture notoriety though: its flashes of humanity and courage stick to the soul like peanut butter to the roof of your mouth. Take “Gassy Jack,” for example, where the band lays out a line that would put most “socially-conscious” rappers to bed: “Social housing for the needy, not lofts for the greedy/We don’t need a decree, just action from you and me.” Look no further than the title of “What if I Care About the People Who Live in the Seas Around Me?” for more heartfelt ammunition, but if you want to dig deeper, the song’s lyrics reveal a vulnerability that Nard’s squawky voiced-interviews rarely allude to, “I’m swimming with my emotions [...] Please understand my devotion.” To say that there’s a lot to be learned from Nardwuar might be an understatement, but at least Gassy Jack and Other Tales gives us a place to start.
[This article first appeared at Mills Record Company.]