Exclusive Eddy Dixon Interview!

With the Lime Green Set finally bringing a host of deleted scenes from David Lynch’s Palme D’Or winner ‘Wild At Heart’ to light, Twin Peaks Archive had a chat with Eddy Dixon. From his home in Virginia, we asked Eddy to spill the beans on playing Rex, one of the Big Tuna locals who give Sailor and Lula such an unforgettable welcome, and his role in one of the most distinctive themes in television...

Twin Peaks Archive: When did you first start playing guitar?

Eddy Dixon: 1957. I was 7 years old and my best friend’s parents bought him a Fender Stratocaster. I would hang out at his house and started playing it and it just progressed from there. I went through the Dylan era and the folk era and the British Invasion era. I was playing in bands through the 60s with crazy names like The In Sex, then I got way heavy into country music towards the end of the 60s. Then in the 70s I moved to New York and started my own rockabilly band. I left Baltimore with 50 bucks, a trashbag full of clothes and a $20 guitar. I started doing all the showcases down on Bleeker Street and started hooking up with the real players, turned professional and started playing Max’s Kansas City and CBGBs.

TPA: When did you first start acting?

ED: I started off with John Waters back when I was a teenager in the late 60s. I did 5 John Waters films. He’s great – he’s very professional and knows what he wants. When I started, he was starting out and we were all art students in Baltimore living in a block in Bolton Hill. It was the most exclusive neighbourhood in Baltimore at the turn of the century, but by this point everything was all run down. There were huge townhouses, gorgeous – 20-foot ceilings, marble fireplaces, mirrors from the floors to the ceilings – and they just sectioned them off and were renting them to the students. Some law firm bought up the whole block and kicked us all out. So we moved down to the docks, where we rented this 27-room double house with a courtyard – the whole deal for about $100 a month. One day my brother brought John Waters down – I think he met him at a party. So every Sunday we would pile into the Volkswagen, go out into the woods and film and that’s how it all started. My brother to this day still does all his sets. I did a Superfly sequel – I don’t know if it ever came out or not. The working title was ‘Don’t Call Me Boy’ and when they finished it they called it ‘The Hitter’. I did Run DMC’s movie – I played a cop in that.

TPA: Is music or acting your first love?

ED: Well music was always it. That was the problem when I got an agent. It was like ‘Well are you a musician or are you an actor?’ And I never really though there should be a division there. But I’ve played around the world a couple of times with the band – that was always my bread and butter. I toured the Greek islands on a charter boat with a bunch of young, rich Wall Street guys who’d signed up for this thing on the pretence they were gonna get laid. We were the band, so any time they wanted music we’d hook up the amps and play. Finally we wound up in Mykonos and we had some bad seas, so the charter people got paranoid and wanted to go back to Athens. I jumped ship and stayed for a month playing in a club there.

TPA: How did you first hook up with David Lynch?

ED: Willem Dafoe’s the culprit – he got me into all that! I had a girlfriend who was way into avant-garde theatre – I moved to New York chasing after her and finally we hooked up. She was working with Richard Forman and then went to work with the Wooster group, which Willem was in. I started working for them, just building sets. I never did a play with them, although I did one score for them, North Atlantic. Anyhow, Willem and I became good friends. He was a great guy and still is, and is still a good friend. He did a movie called The Loveless, which Monty Montgomery produced. Willem said to me, ‘I’m in this movie and the distributors don’t like the soundtrack.’ They wanted it all changed, and William hooked me up with Monty cos I had a good knowledge of 50s rockabilly kinda music. I got together with Monty, screened the film and made notes. They were gonna go with the original artists songs, so I’d say ‘In this scene you should have this Little Richard song and in this scene Brenda Lee’. About 6 or 8 months later I ran into Monty at a party and asked him whatever happened to the soundtrack. He said they went out to LA and they wanted $10,000 dollars apiece for each song, and he asked me if I had anything. I had some songs I gave him. He called me about midnight and said there’s one song he really liked, which was instrumental, and he was thinking about using it for the title song, could I write some lyrics for it? The next morning I was on a plane to LA trying to remember how the song even went! I wrote the lyrics on the plane and the next morning went in and sang it, and nailed it on the first take. That was my song ‘Relentless’, and they wound up using about 8 of my songs in the film. Monty and I became really good friends – he’s my best friend today – so when he started producing David Lynch stuff, he got me in on some of the David
Lynch movies.

TPA: Did you do the stunts on ‘The Cowboy & The Frenchman’?

ED: I did the stuntwork for the Frenchman when he was coming down the hill – I did all the falling. Everybody was afraid to go up there because of the rattlesnakes! So I did that and then I did the little music thing at the end. That was filmed right outside LA on an old Dude Ranch up there and it was really fun to make. Kenny Call and I and another couple of cowboys would be sitting in the middle of the trail going up to the house where the food was, and all the models would rather take their chances going through the briars rather than walk past us! Because anybody who was walking by, Kenny would lasso them. Harry Dean was kinda uptight because he plays guitar and sings, and he heard about me being another guitar player. But we met, got along really great and started jamming. I went up to his house on Mulholland Drive. It was about 100 degrees outside and I walk in and he’s got the air conditioning on full blast and a fire going inside.

TPA: What was it like filming ‘Wild At Heart’?

ED: The ‘Wild At Heart’ thing was cool. I got the call, they flew me out there, rented me a car and gave me a really nice suite that was about 5 times as big as my apartment. I was going to do my day, or day and a half’s filming, but it turned out that David had given my lines to John Lurie, so he had to write new lines for me. It took him about three months! So I was out there for three months, on a $500 per day per diem, and I was getting together with all the musicians around. I did a recording of the Hank Williams song ‘Rootie Tootie’, with Jimmy Inveld who did the guide vocals for the Elvis songs that Nic Cage did. This guy did Elvis better than Elvis – if I was Nic Cage hearing those guide vocals I would be intimidated. There was a scene that got cut out of us at the gas station doing a song with these really cool rockabilly kids. Kenny Call, from ‘The Cowboy and the Frenchman’, had a dude ranch in Seamy Valley, which had belonged to John-Paul Getty. So they got me up there and showed me how to do some bulldogging and steer-roping, and I ended hanging out with these cowboys and doing rodeo stuff. Finally, after about 3 months, I went in and did the big courtyard scene and the next day I was on a plane outta there.

TPA: What were the rest of the cast like?

ED: Laura was really cool. I hung out and watched a little of the filming before I really met anybody. When it came time for the scene, I was sitting in the dressing room and I hear this chick go ‘Man, you’re really a cool guy.’ I turn round and there’s Laura Dern in the next chair. And Nic Cage was great, really a nice guy. The thing with acting is nine times out of ten you show up for an acting scene and the people you’re acting against are trying to fuck you up – when you’re doing your close-up scene, they’re not participating – there’s a really heavy game going on. But there was none of that – I’d be doing a close-up and Nic Cage would be right there, supporting everything. And it was great to finally get in a scene with Willem – he was so great in that movie. There were a lot of really heavy hitters on that night. It was almost like a finale, even though it wasn’t. The crazy thing about ‘Wild At Heart’ is they had a contract for a 90-minute movie and David made a four-hour movie. When he submitted it, all hell broke loose and they weren’t gonna release it at all, so he had to cut it down. A lot of my scenes got cut out of it and a lot of other people, and that’s why when you watch that movie people will pop in and pop out with no reason. There’s probably another film’s worth of material there. On the scene I’m in I had a whole monologue cut out. I had this picture of this couple and I go to Nic Cage ‘See this picture? This is a picture of my cousins on their honeymoon. And you know what happened the next day? Well, they committed suicide.’ And give him a weird kinda look. And then I go into
this thing with Jack Nance about being a rocket scientist.

TPA: What’s David Lynch like as a director?

ED: David’s a cool guy. On the first day I met David, he had that 57-Packard car from ‘The Cowboy & The Frenchman’. And Monty goes, ‘Well, I want to take you over to meet David, but I think it would be a good thing if you went over and detail that car.’ I wasn’t really doing anything, so I went over there and spend the whole day polishing and waxing, getting this car perfect. At the end of the day, David hands me $10 – a little on the frugal side! But he’s the nicest, kindest guy. I ended up driving him to the set every day and we got to know each other pretty well.

TPA: How did you get involved in recording the Twin Peaks theme?

ED: Monty called me and said ‘David’s doing a crazy album and he wants some guitar work.’ It was this rainy, cold December day and I show up at the studio. They played the tracks and I just figured out something to enhance the song. We spent all morning and I would try this and try that, then broke for lunch. I came back from lunch and tried something different and came up with that dang dang. I did about 4 or 5 other songs on the album and about 7 o’clock we finished. Got about 300 bucks and was on my way! And I had totally forgotten about it, because that was about 3 years before Twin Peaks came out, it was for the Julee Cruise album. By that time I’d gotten married and I was sitting there with my wife and this new David Lynch was coming on and I hear this theme song and I go ‘Man, is that a guitar or a bass? Wait a minute – that’s me!’

TPA: Have you done any other work with David Lynch?

ED: I did a Litterbug commercial, a public-service commercial in New York. David came into town and called me and I got the Dixonettes together and we went down under the bridge and filmed this litterbug commercial. David’s a cool guy – he’s very eccentric, but he’s a really neat guy and really fun to work with.

TPA: What are you up to these days?

ED: I bought this old ramshackle 150 year old farmhouse in the middle of 100 acres of land, so I’m rebuilding it and working on my hot-rods and doing a little soundtrack music here and there. Every Thursday night at a little general store down here the old guys get together and play their bluegrass, and I go there and play bass or guitar for them. And every now and then I’ll get together with the Dixonettes and do a gig in New York.

Interview conducted by Graeme Larmour exclusively for Twin Peaks Archive.

TPA thanks Eddy for his time!

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(c) 2009 Twin Peaks Archive


Anonymous said...

Cool stuff. I had no idea of most of this. My old band Bomber (check www.myspace.com/bomberhelsinki) covered Eddy Dixon's "Relentless", excellent song. -Arimatti

Anonymous said...

this guy is my neighbor and plays at a local store every Thursday i fell special now

Mike said...

Eddy can play! I back his guitar playing, on upright bass, almost every Thursday in Craddockville. GREAT guy!