One Man and His Toupee

21 Jun


There’s a man in New Orleans with a voice. It’s a voice that you could get lost in, that’ll get you drunker than you’ve ever been before, that’ll take you away from all the sick, horrible nonsense you gotta endure every single goddamn day of your life. But it’s also a voice that’ll sucker-punch you, shove you into the gutter, and steal your girlfriend away into the night. Laughing all the while.

But don’t worry: that voice has its own issues, ones your girlfriend wasn’t banking on and won’t be able to handle without spiralling down into sick, horrible nonsense herself. So she’ll leave that voice, and come back home. Leaving the voice more alone than ever.

That voice is owned by GLYN STYLER. He’s a man possessed, when he’s not trying to sell you orthopedic mattresses. He’s done what Lou Reed woulda been capable of, if only Lou had never ever left home for money-driven Manhattan; what Scott Walker coulda been, if only Scott’d had found a sense of humor; what Frank Sinatra might’ve accomplished, if like the Tinman, he’d found his heart.

The good news is that EVERYTHING this man has recorded (The Desperate Ones EP featuring Lydia Lunch, the solo Live at the Mermaid Lounge EP, plus a few stray compilation cuts) sparkles out of a musical void not unlike a lost gold cufflink winking up at you from a trash-strewn stormdrain. The bad news? Well, his total output numbers less that a dozen tracks, and a number of those are quite difficult to come by. Need I say: we want more!

For those starting out, your best bets are the EPs, available through Truckstop Records. If you don’t happen to live within stumbling distance from the Circle Bar in New Orleans, you’ll have to settle for seeing him lipsync to his hits in Doris Wishman’s Satan Is A Lady DVD, or check out the short PBS video interview clip included here. But come you must; his hungry voice is waiting.


Q: Glyn Styler would seem to be equally motivated by equal parts beauty and perversity. Who or what gave you the idea that this would be such a winning combination?

GS: Rene Coman and I were hired to tour with an 80’s band called GREEN ON RED – I was the drummer and Rene played bass. During the tedious soundchecking of the drum kit, Rene would sit at the organ and I’d sing absurdly as a distraction. We started writing intentionally tasteless jazz/pop songs. We decided to do a public access TV talk show with an obnoxious singing host (like Mike Douglas or Merv Griffin) and named him Glyn Styler (with sidekick Tommy Baldwin on the piano). This is how GS got started.

Q: Give us an idea of who your influences are/were.

GS: Isn’t it obvious? Lou Reed, David Bowie, Jacques Brel, Frank Sinatra, sex, love, life itself. It’s a tradition. Everything is beautiful and everything is horrible.

Q: Authenticity is clearly an important concept down in New Orleans—I’m thinking here of all the original blues, jazz & zydeco music that folks associate with that part of the world. Yet Glyn Styler seems fly in directly the face of all that. What are your thoughts on this?

The only thing authentic in New Orleans is the crime and stupidity. There’s no good music here. Louis Armstrong would have loved me but I’m not appreciated here. I do understand your comment and agree with you – I am subverting tradition, but these morons don’t get it.

Q: How do audiences react to you?

GS: Most people just love the live show. I light the fuse and there’s an explosion of emotions and everyone basks in the fallout. Everybody understands a nervous breakdown. Only single guys get upset with my show which makes sense.

Q: How did you come to hook up with Ray Davies, and what is your favorite post-Muswell Hillbillies Kinks record?

GS: Ray’s girlfriend saw me perform at the South by Southwest showcase in Austin a few years ago and told Ray about me. He came to see me in New York and we’ve been friends ever since. The music industry doesn’t give a fuck about either one of us. Nobody wanted to fund a Ray Davies produced Glyn Styler album. My favorite post Muswell album would be (definitely) Preservation (Acts 1 & 2)!

Q: What’s going on with your new recordings?

GS: I have three albums worth of demos that I want to record, but can’t find a record deal. I have no manager, no help whatsoever. Ray did all he could. The industry doesn’t want me. They want Justin Timberlake. I refuse to put out my own record. I’ll sell mattresses instead.

Q: How does Rene Coman figure in to Glyn Styler?

GS: Rene is my songwriting partner and bassist.

Q: Some of us heard a great protest song “No Newts” you did for an obscure Mermaid Lounge compilation in the mid-90’s. What motivated you to record that?

GS: I hate what has happened in the last 20 years. Everyone has accepted so many blatant lies and stood silent. The media is so demented. The empire is falling AND IT SHOULD but I’m terrified because I’m so much a part of it…

Q: There’s been talk that you may be headed overseas, this time for good. Are you still making plans to leave this sinking-ship-of-a-nation of ours?

GS: The entire world is saturated with American anti-culture. There’s nowhere to run now. One can only hide.


*originally published in the now-defunct DIE CAST GARDEN webzine in 2004, hence the slightly dated questions. But my love for GLYN still stands.


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