Bassist Chet 'JR' White Gives His First (Angry) Interview Since Girls' Breakup
After seeing Chris Owens doing his solo thing in Los Angeles last week, I was curious to read what Girls ex-bassist Chet ‘JR’ White had to say about the band breakup. He just gave a long interview to Paste magazine and spoke for the first time about what happened, whereas he had turned down all requests for interviews about Girls so far. And it is not exactly what you and I thought, White is not cool at all about the breakup. First of all, it’s Chris Owens who announced he was leaving, and, in a relationship, it’s always easier to be the one leaving than the one dumped. These two men have/had a real friendship (not sure at this point), and their collaboration was built around it:
‘The basic idea was that the band was built around camaraderie and friendship, for me at least. At some point the band felt like, as stupid as it sounds, “a band of brothers.” It felt like more than a band. So, when it became a band, it became less interesting and just a failure of our relationship. That was the whole band, him and I, so the failure of one meant the failure of both.’
To clarify, White is not happy at all, and he even says it was a bit of a shock to him, especially because Owens publicly announced the breakup on Twitter, and did a lot of interviews, whereas White would have preferred more ‘mystery’. He even explains why he thinks Owens called it quits:
‘The only thing that upsets me, where I feel like he slighted me, is shit that no one really notices but me. As far as I’m concerned, I produced every record. While we were making the last record, he’s my best friend but we weren’t talking, and I still don’t really know why. To me, I think maybe something happened that he feels uncomfortable talking about, but really, I’ll never know.
But when the record came out and I saw the credit, I was surprised, it was listed as this dude that I hired to be our engineer. And he’s gone on to say I only produced the first record, which is just a crazy thing. People that had been in the band in that era would come up to me “did you see that shit? I thought you produced the record.” I get the feeling that he resented my contribution, or that he wanted to assure he was seen as the mastermind behind it all.’
Isn’t it the usual shit people in a band go through? Everyone wants to be recognized as the main writer, singer, composer… Does it mean Chris Owens has that kind of ego? Effectively, there is some real bad blood between the two men, as White continues:
‘So, for me, for a while I did have a little distaste. I kind of looked at Girls like it was a negative thing. When people would ask lately, I’d just say it was fine, but there was a time where I wasn’t so sure. I still don’t really know how I feel. He told me he was done with the band via email the day before he said it on Twitter. I had asked him for some time to tell my family, but I knew he would do it like that. He was going out of town and wouldn’t be in San Francisco to run into me or have to actually talk to me about it. There seemed to be some anger behind it, and I do have some animosity over how it ended. I guess I could say that.’
And people who are hoping for a Girls revival in a near or distant future, shouldn’t expect too much too soon:
‘I went through a weird period post-Girls where recently I wasn’t happy. I didn’t feel like Girls left a positive taste in my mouth. And like, once you say it’s done, it’s fucking done. I’ve never liked when bands reunite. Even though some of my favorite bands could reunite, I don’t like it. I don’t. And not because I think it’s selling out, but, I’ve seen reunion shows before and I didn’t like it. Like when old punk bands get back together, I don’t want to see Black Flag. Fuck. For me, it’s just the worst possible idea.’
Oh, I don’t know, I’ll take this Black Flag reunion anyway! Things are very fresh between Owens and White, and time can heal everything.