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Actor Emile Hirsch is an LA native who has received critical acclaim for his performances in films like “Into the Wild”, “Milk”, and “Savages”. He put together an epic list of tracks to share in his Guest DJ set, from the “rollicking romp” of Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” to a trio of grunge-era hits. Emile stars in the upcoming David Gordon Green film “Prince Avalanche”.
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1. Hunger Strike - Temple of the Dog
2. The Suburbs - Arcade Fire
3. Everything In Its Right Place - Radiohead
4. Lithium - Nirvana
5. Zombie - The Cranberries
Chris Douridas: Hi, I’m Chris Douridas. I’m here with actor Emile Hirsch, an LA native who has received critical acclaim for his performances in films like “Into the Wild”, “Milk”, “Savages”, “The Girl Next Door”. Today, we’re going to be playing excerpts of songs he selected that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Emile, good to have you with us.
Emile Hirsch: Hi, thank you for having me.
CD: Absolutely. Thanks so much for being here. Did you have trouble putting together these songs?
EH: It was kind of weird because I didn’t look through songs and I didn’t look through albums, I just sort of sat and thought and just was like 5 songs will grab me and just percolate to the forefront of my consciousness.
CD: What do have up for us first?
EH: First song I have is “Hunger Strike”, by Temple of the Dog. I know and worked with Eddie Vedder on ‘Into the Wild” and he did a great soundtrack for that. I went to one of his concerts and Chris Cornell came out unexpectedly and a friend of mine, who is older than me, was like, ‘ah man, this song, this is amazing’ and I was like, ‘what is it?’ He’s like, ‘you don’t know what this is? This is Temple of the Dog,’ he’s like, ‘they haven’t done this together in, you know, 15-20 years.’ He’s like, ‘this is a really big deal.’
Then I heard this song and something about it grabbed me - Cornell’s wailing and Vedder’s lyrics. There’s just something kind of special about this song to me. I know that it’s inspired by the Bobby Sands hunger strike, which was well documented by Steve McQueen in that movie, “Hunger”, but I think that it’s not exclusively about that. When you listen to it, there’s something very kind of – reaching - about it.
Song: Temple of the Dog – “Hunger Strike”
CD: Is this a song that you would listen to on repeat?
EH: Yeah. I’ll listen to a lot of music if I’m working out, or sometimes when I’m painting, and it’s not just painting, it’s also writing, which is just as important to me. Sometimes too, if I’m writing a certain sequence or a certain scene in like a script, I’ll like want to listen to the same piece of music for like the full sequence. Aligning yourself with the right mojo.
CD: The song is called “Hunger Strike”, from Temple of the Dog. It’s part of Emile Hirsch, the Guest DJ Project here at KCRW.
CD: We’re big fans of “Arcade Fire” here at KCRW. You’ve got a track from them.
EH: Yeah, I’ve got “The Suburbs”. I think this is the first song on that album, and it was just such a great kind of rollicking romp that just had a tragicness to the song.
If you have a kind of sweeping, emotional song, you want it to have that nostalgia and the tragedy to it. Each one of these songs to me has a real emotional chord to it. I’m always excited when I find a song like one of these songs.
Song: Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
CD: You are listening to The Guest DJ Project, put together by Emile Hirsch, a very epic list of tracks. I’m Chris Douridas. Radiohead. That’s a fantastic choice you have on here.
EH: Yeah, yeah. And this song, “Everything in its Right Place”, is off of “Kid A”. I remember I was shooting in Toronto, and my sister recommended to me, my older sister, she recommended to me that I buy this album and check it out.
I went and got it and I really, just enjoyed it. And it was such a different kind of sounding record to me. There was something so awesome about this track.
I don’t necessarily know if “Everything in its Right Place” even makes sense as like a philosophy or something. There might be a little bit of irony to it. One of Thom York’s lyrics is ‘One day I woke up sucking a lemon.’ It’s just kind of like waking up with a bitter, sour taste in your mouth. And I think he, I read some sort of interview where he described that moment of, like, there was something going on in his life that he had distaste for or something.
When I heard that, I kind of viewed that line differently, cause I think at the time when I was like 15 when I first saw it, I was like, ‘he woke up sucking a lemon, like what the hell kind of breakfast is this?’ But, I think aside from the kind of lyrical ambiguities of the song, I just think it’s just a really cool, subdued beat that crescendos really greatly in the last half of the song. You know, I mean when it finally plateaus at the end, it’s just great.
Song: Radiohead -- "Everything in its Right Place"
CD: "Everything in its Right Place", Radiohead, from the album “Kid A”. It's part of Emile Hirsch's Guest DJ Project on KCRW. And what's up next for you here?
EH: Next I've got "Lithium" by Nirvana. I always liked Nirvana and I just enjoy this song. I just picked one off “Nevermind”.
CD: Do you remember the first time you heard Nirvana?
EH: Yeah, I was probably like 8 or 9, pretty young, and then I heard about his death afterwards. I think I'd heard something about it at school.
CD: You know, one of the things about Kurt Kobain, is that he struggled with fame. Is that in any way something that you relate to as an actor?
EH: I don't know. I think that music is a little different because you're putting yourself out there in a different kind of way. Acting is a little bit different, because I think there's the idea of playing different characters.
There's a lot more mystique or something with musicians. And I think there's a lot more living up to some preconceived image with musicians.
It's like, I really like music and I know what I like. I'm not someone who keeps trying to dig deeper into the band. Sometimes I'm just satisfied with the song or with the work of art. And sometimes knowing less makes what they made clearer.
It's almost like if you see a performance from an actor and if you know the actor too well it really kind of muddies your perception of the performance and even what it's supposed to be.
Song: Nirvana – “Lithium”
CD: It's the Guest DJ Project here at KCRW. I'm Chris Douridas and with us in the studio is Emile Hirsch. And you've got The Cranberries on your list.
EH: This is actually a song that…I used to go to my grandma's house in San Diego and used to watch just MTV and just music videos and stuff. This one kind of stuck out to me. You know, the image of the tanks and the kids and the kind of war torn element.
About two years ago, I worked in Sarajevo for a few weeks. Almost every building in it has bullet holes and I think there was an element of that. I don't know exactly what war "Zombie" is really referencing at all, but it just seems like it was a voice of reason against the kind of unreasonable opponent of war. She just seems very wise, above it all in this song and I like that.
CD: The Cranberries track is called "Zombie". It's part of the Guest DJ Project with our guest Emile Hirsch on KCRW.com.
Song: The Cranberries – “Zombie”
CD: Well it's been great having you here at KCRW and we appreciate you taking the time to put the list together.
CD: Emile Hirsch. It's the Guest DJ Project on KCRW.com. For a complete track listing and to find these songs online go to kcrw.com/guestdjproject and subscribe to the podcast through Itunes.