David Gunn is a creative intellectual best known for his art in King 810 and Yavid, also authoring the book Summertime in Mudertown. Over the course of our conversation we talked about many different ideas, creativity, and of course a wide range of books. It was a fun conversation that I hope you enjoy reading.
David Gunn: I got held up by a serendipitous occasion. There was a funeral in front of me just crossing.
Matt Bechtel: You know, that’s the first, first lyric I ever heard from King 810. “I grew up in the church on Sunday, back again bury friends on Monday”. Right off the bat, I could tell that you were using metaphors that were a little bit deeper with that song. Where did that term “Fat Around the Heart” initially come from? Did you make that up, or did you read that somewhere?
It’s an old saying, a French Creole thing. Like a West African thing.
Did you pick that up as a proverb from some book in philosophy?
My girlfriend from a few girlfriends ago, that’s where she’s from. That was just a funny little saying and I thought it kind of made sense. I always try to think of something that will kind of grab your attention where you might think “what is this thing?” I like for it to have a stupid meaning, everyone talks about scared or cowardly or whatever, and that’s not interesting. But I also want it to have kind of an intellectual or interesting layer as well, because otherwise you’re just saying what everyone else is saying.
That actually kind of leads into what I wanted to ask as the first question, which was how has reading separated you from others making music?
This is a funny question because my answer would be the same answer that they would give about me. It reminds me of this current predicament that we’re in politically, where you have two sides of people screaming that the other side is guilty of the same thing that the other side is screaming they’re guilty of. So you have a real left-right hemisphere split.
So if I said something like “Uh, well, it’s pretty obvious to me that my peers don’t read.” And then they would say, “Look at this guy, it’s very obvious that this guy does not read.” So that’s kind of funny, but I don’t know. I used to think about things like that, but as time goes by, I pay less and less attention to everything around me, the world around me, not just peers or music or current events or whatever. But everything, which is one of the main reasons I don’t talk to too many people as far as interviews go, you know?
How I would take that is that you have more peace or calmness within yourself. I guess if you know history and you know yourself, then current events are what they are, everything is cyclical I guess. That’s probably why things like COVID don’t rattle you as much as they would other people.
Yeah in a way it was a relief. On one hand it was sad because if you do like your country, and I do. If you’re glad to live here, and I am, you hate to see what seems to be happening with the political weaponization of information. Anything, regardless of what it is, can be equivocated and used for any purpose. It doesn’t matter. There’s no such thing as objectivity. You could take one scientific study and weaponize it per your view, regardless of what your view is. There’s so much information and it seems to all be pretty conveniently laid out. And on the other hand, that’s worrisome to see where that point leads.
But on the other hand, personally, from a selfish type of standpoint, the planning shows and touring to me isn’t my thing. I like writing, going into the studio, creating, and recording something, but it was always a compromise when it came to touring and playing shows since that’s not necessarily my thing.I don’t like to stand up on stage in front of people. I don’t have any of the feelings that people describe as some ultimate high or whatever. So on that selfish aspect, I was kind of relieved. I could for sure pencil off however much time it was.
But then again, I had a real, I wouldn’t say gripe, because it doesn’t really matter to me what anyone does, but an observation, I was thinking of the other day. There’s this mantra that’s repeated in the world of musicians, usually in touring rock bands that you don’t really hear in other circles of music, but they’re always complaining about extensive exhaustive touring. We came out and we did this record. We had all the time and the energy to focus on that. With our first album we hit the road touring for two years, and then when it came down to write our second one, we were kind of caught on our heels. We had just spent two years on the road and we have nothing to write about. They have terms like the sophomore slump and things like this, right?
So yeah, you have narratives, common archetypical narratives that say, bands get worse as they go on not better and it’s because they do so much touring and work so hard and so on. My thought was, these groups have been sitting at home for two years, not doing jack shit but getting paid by the federal government because of a cold, and I haven’t heard one of these assholes do one album. Not one single person has dropped an album besides us. No one’s dropped shit. So your big dream come true. It’s a dream that you will never achieve because you suck.
You’re getting paid to sit at home and do nothing and just be an artist or musician or whatever you call yourself and not one of you have dropped an album. And why is that? I thought this was your big goal, this was your big opportunity, you’re finally off the road, you’re at peace, focus on your art or your creativity or ripping the next guy off or whatever, and no one’s dropped anything.
So what do they do when they can’t play? When they’re up from the extensive touring and exhaustive writing, well, first off they go around saying “No one’s putting out an album, you better be safe and not put out an album. So don’t put out albums because no one’s doing that right now.” Everyone group think, dah dah dah dah.
And what is the second thing they do? They get on their fucking computer and try to play shows. You just sit there like, what the fuck is happening with these people, how can you do that? After spinning these ideas that you’ve been spinning for the past handful of years. That’s not really pointed at anyone directly but I hear it a lot. I hear it usually as an excuse, but when everyone knew they were getting a year off, and then a year turned into longer, why didn’t anyone lift a finger to write a song?
I like that observation. It kind of reminds me of when someone goes to prison and people are like, “oh dude, they’re going to come out with the hottest album when they get out of prison because they’ve got all this time now.” but, to be honest, a lot of the times when they get out of prison, their albums, aren’t that great. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t you write most of your first album in prison?
It was just jail, but yeah. That was a good spot, there was nothing wrong with that spot, that spot is not very much different from being in a home you know?
I guess, David Gunn and Tupac are on the same level huh?
Oh, man. I wish.
Have you ever spent time in solitary confinement?
Yeah, my whole teenage life. [Laughing]
I’ve got a theory about solitary confinement and I don’t know if this is just me being a square who has no idea what he’s talking about, but my theory was if I could read in solitary confinement, maybe it wouldn’t be that bad? Are you able to read books while you’re in solitary?
Sometimes yeah. They’re all shitty John Grisham novels though. [Laughing] No offense John, you’re the man and all, I know it’s hard to write a book and you wrote a lot of them so you’re the man. But that is the book cart that they bring around. They don’t bring around too much nonfiction. The best book they had in there last time I was in was Susan Cain’s Quiet about introverts, but they don’t have a lot of that though. Simple things like The Prince or 48 Laws of Power, those types of books are not in there period.
You you may be surprised by what they have in there. A lot of times you can ship books in there from the bookstores and they take a trade, but the book cart itself has a lot of nonfiction. I’ve read hundreds in there, but one that kind of stuck out to me was American gods by Neil Gaiman. I don’t know why, because I don’t really read fiction very much outside of the classics or three or four fiction authors that I like. But when you’re in there and you’re trying to pick, and you’ve read a rendition of the Bible four times, you’re trying to look for other things. It had God in the title, so I was thinking “this could be cool.” And I really love the idea of “American Gods” the novel is not a standout book to me as I sit here free right now.
But yeah, you can read in solitary, the book choices are limited though. You’re not going to be in there reading through Seneca and anything constructive or helpful, you’re basically in there doing a lot of thinking and reading or writing or whatever it is.
So does reading help? Like all the people that go crazy in solitary confinement, is it possible to potentially beat that by reading and playing mental games?
I’m not sure. I think they go crazy for different reasons because first off, the disclaimer would be some are crazy when they go in there. But a lot of the more scary people I hear of that kind of snapped are just scared kids that can’t be alone. And I don’t mean kids like age-wise, but insecure, immature, underdeveloped, and they can’t sit there by themselves. They always have to have something happening, which is most people in these types of situations, they have to get into something because there’s nothing to get into. What is the saying? “Idle hands are the devil’s playground” or something.
The only thing to do is do bad things. So when you get in there, it’s pretty much the same. It’s just a different world. It’s a little bit smaller and a little bit more confined with a handful more rules, but it’s still the same world and you can still act an ass inside of it. So reading didn’t seem to help. If you’re not there, reading is not going to save you. That’s kind of a fantasy book type of idea. You really just sit there and it rolls by and when your time is over, you will walk out either way. If you don’t understand that idea internally you can get driven a little mad. But the activities that you do between then and getting out of there, they kind of don’t matter as funny as that sounds.
No, that’s interesting because I didn’t want to take it lightly, but I’ve always just thought “well, what would I do if I was in that situation? I’d probably just try to read or try to memorize things and keep my mind active.” I wouldn’t want to just sit there and stare at the walls.
Yeah, it is kind of like when everyone was a kid that used to go skip school, and they’d go sit in the bathroom stall. I was always just thinking, “Why are you sitting in a bathroom stall as opposed to a classroom?” The classroom sucks don’t get me wrong, but if I’m skipping school, I’m just going to leave the building. Why are you going into the bathroom stall to sit and wait for class to be over with? That’s jail.
Yeah, no kidding. So when you were in jail and you had King going, were you thinking “Alright, I just need to get through this and keep to myself so I can get out and play music” or did you just not give a shit about any of that, and you read and wrote because that’s just what you felt like doing?
Um, I guess a little bit of both. At that point, I didn’t know how long it would be and really, it wasn’t even long, just a few months or whatever. But when you first go in there, you don’t know what it’s going to be. You’re just in there and you’re thinking “I’m going to be in here till I’m not in here anymore.”
So if you’ve been in there two dozen times, by that point you just get to jailing. It’s jailing, that’s the life in there. If you know how to jail you start chilling the minute you walk in. But if it’s your first, second or third time or something serious or different, you’re in there thinking you’re going to get out every 10 minutes. That’s how I was when I was like 13, but I gave that shit up a long time ago. So when King had first started and I was in there, I got caught with a pistol and I didn’t know how long it would be. It could have been two years, but I kind of talk about this on the song “Write About Us Remix” on the Midwest Monsters 2 mixtape.
It’s really hard for people to understand the perspective of someone in this situation. When you have cynics, critics, tastemakers, commenters, or journalists or whatever people commenting on other people that have nothing in common with them, it kind of doesn’t make sense. Every time we get arrested, every time we do something, everyone thinks we just threw our whole life down the bin. And our “careers”-big quote around the career- is ruined and all this other shit. But we are the only people that can ruin our stuff and we’re not doing that .So that ain’t it, that jail thing is just a thing, that’s normal. The violence or whatever it is, all this shit is normal, this has been going on for way longer than King. You may know us for making songs and records or doing tours but that ain’t no fucking life.
Us getting to go on tours and signed to a label and all that shit, that’s just something that we did that you noticed and thought was cool. It’s not like we’re a bunch of crazy animals, it just doesn’t go to our head. And I feel like it really gets misconstrued. I think that people’s idea of us is really off. I feel like we are the most punk rock, legitimate, tangible, real thing, that’s doing it. But instead we get sequestered as this other thing that is more comfortable for people to identify us as, because it makes them feel better.
So, do you enjoy getting stuff over people’s heads or does it end up being more frustrating at the end of the day?
I think it’s bittersweet because we kind of kicked off talking about that with something like “Fat Around the Heart”, but for something like “La Petite Mort”, there’s a subtext, “A Conversation with God”. That’s for the layman’s, but the first phrase, the one that I used and the one that I appreciate in the actual name, is something for you to take home and try to read about. I like to have both with everything, songs, lyrics, even art and names of songs and the lyrics. I could release multiple page annotations for one single song. So I like to have the rabbit hole run as deep as you’re willing to go. But I also do not like when something is reaching or trying, or just seems unnatural or too technical, even in musical form. We don’t play too many notes and there’s a lot of space between our notes, and we play kind of slow, which is unusual in the genre, but there’s an emphasis that comes with that. Also, I like to make it kind of multilayered.
The nomenclature is just a cool idea that might sound good if it’s playing in the background and you’re doing something else. It sounds okay, it passes and everything’s fine, it’s on a playlist or wherever, it might be unique, but if you’re not paying attention it’s a sound and it’s audible. But if you’re willing to listen closer, there’s more to it. And if you’re willing to listen very close, it will go deeper than you’re willing to go. Things do have a taproot that are pretty deep, contrary to popular opinion.
Yeah, you’re right. I mean, I’ve heard this stuff probably hundreds of times since the first album came out and when I really pay attention I can still pick up on things I haven’t noticed before. Speaking of that, has anybody ever mentioned or asked about the origins of the term “La Petit Mort” or is that something that’s kind of flown under the radar?
I can’t remember anyone ever asking me.
Did you pick that up from the original Taoism or did you first read about that from the David Deanna book The Way of the Superior Man? When I first heard about La Petite Mort, it was from that book.
From the Tao and a lot of early divinations with the I Ching. It was a combination of two things. The Tao, and the Egyptian and the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Then just a fascination with, and once again, people may have not connected the dots, but the French. This French idea that we talked about, the French Creole origin of “Fat Around the Heart” on the first record. If you noticed, that French settler-ism just made its way onto the second record too.
And also because I’m obsessed with the French cinema, I don’t love their writers at all, but I thought the phrase was cool because it had an intellectual, kind of vivid space that it lived in. It was potent, it had a spiritual space, it was checking all the boxes, and it was what I wanted to talk about on the album. The album is super sultry, like to me, hyper-sexual. We have a porno music video for one of the songs, you know?
But this was basically checking all the boxes for a good creation and the subtext, “Conversation with God” was because it didn’t feel like a complete name. I wasn’t just looking for cool phrases to name albums, it was a complex idea and it’s still a bit of a complex piece as a whole, its super-fast. And the third record was the pendulum swinging to simplicity and the opposite of that. So you have a super dense vast soundscape telling a whole story for over an hour, and then it swings back to 10, very simple songs with a colorful album cover called “Suicide King”.
I wanted to ask about that and the lyrics to “La Petite Mort” because my understanding of that term from The Way of the Superior Man was that petite Mort meant “Little Death”, and he kind of goes on talking about freedom, whether that’s through an orgasm or killing or war or fighting. Is that song really about freedom through that aspect? Is that what that’s about? Or what am I missing?
No, that’s one of the things that we talk about on every album and every song, it’s always freedom. Freedom is talked about from the very beginning. The main theme is always a love and I always find it about two things, obviously the opposite sex, but the most important one is always comradery. The very first song we came out with was about being willing to die for the person next to you, which very few people know what that’s like and I don’t really care to get into that. But the point is when you open the first album, it says “King is Love” and there’s a bunch of people standing there. The first song to the very last song is all about one thing. And the second one is a bit more sexual, but the whole album, first, second, third, and now, fourth, is just about those two. It’s still a love interest, a comradery and a friendship. That’s what I constantly write about.
I started to write a little bit about transcendence and freedom and do what nature would call “the Overman” or the Übermensc, but not for a few records. I only started to touch on that just recently because I wanted to stay grounded into what I thought was reflective of the place that we come from, which is a very violent, primitive, non-intellectual, just very base of the spine, lumbar region desires. I’m talking sex, drugs, rock and roll, that’s it. You know what I mean? It’s those types of things before getting philosophical and all these other things.
At the time, I don’t even think I had read Way of the Superior Man, but I liked the idea, the “Little Deaths”, it was just something I found myself thinking about for years before making the album. I just couldn’t get over how perfect the idea was. But yeah, I talk about freedom in a similar way that he does.
When you were in jail, you had said that you had read the Bible?
[Laughing] Yeah, a bunch of times.
What’s your favorite Bible verse?
I don’t know if I’ve ever thought about this. I don’t know if I have one. I think my favorite story is 12 sentences, it’s the Cain and Abel one. My favorite story is Cain and Able because it’s a dozen sentences and that’s it. I really think about it a lot, because I see it a lot. But I’m obsessed with the book. It’s my favorite book probably, all I do is think about it. That’s just one of like five books that I think about. And they’re all renditions of the same thing, whether it’s the Mesopotamian creation myth, or the epic of Gilgamesh or Genghis Khan or the Egyptian religion or Roman or Greek mythology or whatever, it’s all the same story. I just think they’re so dense. I don’t think I could grab a favorite passage. It would be in the Old Testament for sure, but I don’t know if I have one.
My favorite verse is Mark 16: 17-18 where Jesus talks about how his followers can drink poison, touch deadly snakes, and cast out demons. Growing up, demons scare the shit out of me. When you talk about the demon from the mud in “Fat Around the Heart” is that just a metaphor about yourself being from a dirty city? Is that all that means? Or is there something deeper?
Kind of. From the surface then yeah that’s what it is. The mud is just a shitty place, this town, my neighborhood or whatever. When they say that you get it out the mud that means you just made it from nothing. You made something out of literal shit. But then also I’m obsessed with the idea of Topaz, and old clay beings, and Native American egregores that do spiritual battle when they’re both in hypnotic trances, and they make each other sick and things like that. I thought that sounded like something that belonged to that world and I just like to think about those things.
You had taken some photos looking like Aleister Crowley. Do you find his work pretty interesting?
Yes, I love it. I’ve read every one of his books a hundred times.
So for instance, Jimmy Page doesn’t even like to talk about his beliefs with Crowley because it’s too in-depth to go over with to a journalist, who’s going to therefore fuck it up and make him look crazy. Whereas Ozzy Osborne says in his book that he wrote the song “Mr. Crowley”, because Crowley was misunderstood. So Ozzy takes it from that perspective but then Jimmy Page was all in, supposedly even buying Crowley’s old house to try to summon demons. What is your take, is Crowley just misunderstood or is he legitimate?
I think so, but he was also kind of a troll. He’s misunderstood but he also doesn’t help his case, which I guess maybe the same thing could be said about me. I guess I would take Page’s same opinion that it isn’t really something to dive very deep into with casual conversation.
Are you interested in Led Zeppelin? Have they been any kind of an influence for you?
A little bit. It wasn’t my thing, nothing really against them. I liked their songs and stuff and Page was into Talema, and that’s a good place to be. That’s a good place for anyone to be. But I thought Zeppelin was good. They were never my big thing and I didn’t find them much until I got a little bit older too. So that was actually good, there’s a few groups like that.
Ok, I just didn’t know if you had stumbled across Crowley through them. How about Rainer Rilke, was “Eyes” inspired by him?
No, I just always talk about girls or women or whatever, it’s just what I talk about. If you listen there is a funny pattern that I had to learn myself. Most of my first verses are about my friends. Second one is always about whatever girl. It’s always like the first one gets reserved for the most important thing. And then the second verse, that’s second fiddle. But no, that wasn’t inspired by Rilke, maybe subconsciously because I thought the dudes got it together and I liked some of his ideas.
I thought he had inspired something with the first album, was there any song on that first album that was translated from Rilke?
I just liked the ethos of Rilke. What I was reading a lot of during the first album was Soren Kierkegaard, which was my favorite thing to read during that era. “Eyes” was just about a girl that I was with at the time, but there’s a hundred different songs about a hundred different girls, it’s just a pathetic pattern with me.
[Loud popping in background]
Was that a gun?
No, no, no [Laughing]
[Laughing] On “Anatomy 1:3”, when you write about orchestras of AKs, is that what the title of the new album came from?
Yeah. Me and my girlfriend used to sit on the roof of the house and just listen to it. It reminds me of, I think it was the movie Sicario with Emily Blunt. The guy takes her out onto the rooftop where you could see Juarez right over the border and there’s just a symphony gunshots of all different types of calibers.
We used to sit on the roof when I was a kid, 12 or 13, something like that. It always stuck in my mind. I write about it a hundred different times, another song says “Let’s sit on the roof, the neighborhood’s going to play a symphony for us.” Because it was always a thing you could count on every night when you climb onto the roof and try to fuck whatever girl you’re hanging out with that day. It’s you’re coming of age, you’re there and you’re doing that while someone’s trying to kill somebody two blocks away…or is, and it’s, it’s just something to, it sounds funny to say, but it’s really just something to see. It’s something to behold, it’s dense. I find myself thinking about it a lot. That’s usually how I gravitate towards a subject is when I just can’t leave it alone. It’s just persistent and it keeps appearing.
You’re in an area where there’s a higher chance of violence happening. In my city, not so much, but I still workout and train as if I am going to face violence because I think every able-bodied man should train as if someone’s trying to kill them. What are your thoughts on that?
I think the best way to say it, is it’s okay to be harmless, but it’s not okay to be incapable of harm. I think most people are incapable today and they look down on anyone who is. And I don’t really want to be harmful or want people to be harmed, but that’s not how the world is. There’s a difference between not being able to be dangerous if you wanted to, and choosing to be or not. It’s kind of like the Nietzschean idea. Nietzsche says most people are posing as moral, but they’re just cowards. They’re not moral people they’re scared of the consequences of breaking the law. That’s not the same thing. Those are two very different impulses.
I feel the same about violence or cowardice or capabilities or whatever. You think this about the guy over here and that’s okay if you’re just as effective as him, but if you’re just some bitch and you have these thoughts, yeah you should just keep them to yourself because you aren’t in the same wheelhouse, it’s not for you to decide.
I just don’t like all of the commentary, so many people saying so many things about so many things, but no one seems to know their asshole from a hole in the ground. You should be able to be harmful, and the more harmful the better, the more dangerous the better. But I also think that usually, the more dangerous you are, the more disciplined you are. You have to be disciplined the more dangerous you become or else people that are more dangerous than you are going to take you out in some capacity. Just taking the idea from monkeys, you can’t really be an alpha for very long before two or three betas kill you in a troop.
Yeah, in The Better Angels of our Nature by Steven Pinker, one of the biggest lines I took from it was where he basically says men will rise to the level of violence necessary in their community.
In Better Angels of our Nature today’s state of things was summed up really well in a small sentence that stood out to me more than anything in the book. And I think it’s in the first 20 pages, not even part of the actual book. He says something to the effect of, men aren’t going to stop going to the battle field because of other men, they’re going to stop going to the battlefield when the generation of their sons laughs at them for doing so. It’s not going to take force or might in that sense, it’s just going to take ridicule, clowning, parody. That’s all we see today about being a soldier or a war or battle or whatever, just parody the fuck out of it. It’s become so uncool that no one cares to do it anymore.
I know that you’ve read On Killing before, have you ever read Meditations on Violence or Facing Violence by Rory Miller?
Yeah I’ve read those, those are ok. I like those.
Do you have anything else you would recommend on self-defense, or even health, anything like that?
I like military books when it comes to those kind of things. As far as health goes, I haven’t read shit that I thought was good, but I also stay away from the category because I believe it’s all weaponized information. The health sector is like big pharma as far as the diet thing goes, all of these things are compromised. I think they’re captured, it’s a captured industry. As far as reading about self-defense and stuff, no, just go to a gym, go do it. I’m just a pragmatist. I love reading. I like sitting in peace and reading. I’ve actually made it a point to try to not read. My goal was to read a book a week for the past year and a half. Now it’s going to go on for this year too, because I find that I get way more done than when I read 400-something books a year. So I’ve actually been making a point to just slow down.
Which is not the problem most people have, by the way, most people don’t get to that point.
Right, but I like it as a peaceful activity and obviously I’m curious and like to learn, but certain things I don’t like to read about, and one of them is health. I don’t mind listening to a lecture about health and all that stuff, but fighting or anything pragmatic and practical you have to just do.
Reading to me is like ideas, creativity, entertainment in some senses, and learning. You can read ideas and learn and think and ponder and be all “Yes I’m reading David Hume, I’m reading Derrida, Marcus Aurelius, Plato, Schopenhauer, Aristotle, I’m really thinking”…That’s a fine mental Jack off, but anything about practical things, you should just do them.
You’re not going to read your way into health. Are you fit? No? Then why are you reading about health? You know what you need to do, you know how every human body works. Everyone in the world does, if less calories go in your mouth then come out your ass, you’re going to lose. If more calories go in your mouth in contrast, you’re going to gain. Everybody knows that, if you’re not fit and you’re not in shape, you know that equation. You know what to do. Eat less food, or move your ass more. The idea that you need to read books is just fucking bullshit. You know what I mean? Why bother jumping into all this scientific study when the three things that you should do first, you haven’t even done yet. It’s just a mental masturbation type of thing.
That’s one of the reasons I don’t recommend books to people because I’m not giving you a reason to pacify. I’m not going to keep feeding you lay on couch material. Cause I already know what it means. First off, you won’t even get the fucking book. You won’t read it, but if you do, you’re going to listen to the audio book while you’re fucking surfing on the fucking internet. So fuck you. You know what I mean? It’s not worth it.
No, I get it. This is going to sound pretty cheesy, but I’ve read a few books on working out and as cheesy as it might sound I think the two best books I have read were Sylvester Stallone’s book and Schwarzenegger’s Education of a Bodybuilder. The Education of a Bodybuilder actually helped me gain more mass and strength than anything, while Stallone’s was good for kind of getting in shape. How do you come up with your workouts then?
I do read some of them I just would never recommend them, but if I had to tell you what my favorite ones are, the one that I pay attention to is Pavel Tsatsouline, the Russian kettlebell guy, he has a bunch of books. The other book that I like to look at is called Super Training by Mel Siff and another, I believe Russian guy, Verkhoshanksyand, but that’s a real scientific read that I would not recommend people to read.
What about any Westside Barbell stuff? Are you into them?
No, I try not to be into people. Well, let me rewind the tape. I do like Louie Simmons because he’s just a bad ass Midwestern motherfucker, with a fucking American flag tattooed on his arm just like me. Same exact fucking thing. So I’m with it. I’m fucking with you, Louie, you’re the fucking man, [Laughing] you’re 90 and broke your back 17 times and you’re still creating machines. I own a reverse hyper extension from West Side, I use it all the time. But I guess I just don’t get indoctrinated into the cult of things, I don’t go to the YouTube channel and see the new video they drop, you know what I mean?
I really don’t even like working out to be honest with you. I like combat fighting, being in shape, stuff like that. But working out to me sucks, it’s annoying and I’ve been shot to fuck. I’ve been stabbed a bunch of times, everything hurts. Everything’s in pain. Everything’s sore. There’s nothing that feels good about it. It hurts me to walk up the steps. My metabolic age is very low, like in my early twenties, but my physical feeling, I feel twice my age, everything hurts. Everything has been broken, I’ve broken 20 something bones, and everything hurts.
I’m not a gym dude I guess. You know, when I go to the gym I’m the guy that doesn’t even have headphones but acts like he does. When people talk to me, I act like I can’t hear them when they’re three feet away because I just don’t like that stuff.
I get it, I wanted to ask because once again, it’s not who you are, but it’s something that you’re good at dude. I mean, when “Alpha and Omega” came out, you probably don’t read the comments, but the YouTube comments were just like, “Fuck, this dude has just been working out and getting tattoos for the past two years.” [Laughing]
Yeah something’s wrong with that. Well, I’ll take that. I at least really appreciate that because they’re saying “this guy’s been working out” because at least they know that I’m legit, some people just say I’m on steroids, which makes no sense because I’m not even big. I’m fighting, I’m getting randomly tested, I’m not on anything. So that’s kind of annoying to me, but I appreciate that someone says something like “he’s been working out and getting tats”. I really wasn’t getting tats-well maybe I was- but I actually lost weight for the video because I was going to fight. I weighed 240 and that was close to a fight where I was 210, and then I fought at 200 even. So that was kind of lean and small.
Recently I’ve been doing workouts without any weights, I’ve been doing those Navy Seal Burpees like from that movie Shot Caller, have you seen that movie?
Yeah, I like that, that’s a real archetypical movie. Did you notice that he’s the father in the cave and he kind of gets caught off guard, ends up in this situation, gets a call to action, denies the call to action, has to face it, and becomes the best at what he is. Then he has to take out the father figure “The Beast”. The guy’s name is “The Beast” and he has to go into the belly of the beast to take him out, and by doing so he has to incriminate himself permanently. He has to take his place, not kill him and leave, he is now the beast. I think its super archetypical. It’s awesome. I like that movie a lot.
Me too, but I’ve never thought of it like that. That’s awesome. Speaking of movies, you had made a comment in one of your interviews where you said Eyes Wide Shut was one of the last great movies ever made. I had just watched that movie like a month before I heard you say that and I was just kind of surprised that that was the take on it. I don’t think it’s a bad movie or anything, but what was it about the movie that spoke to you?
It just came to me at the perfect time in my life. I was maybe 13, I was very young and it was a dream world that I knew nothing about and that I wanted to live in. As I got older, I realized Stanley Kubrick was the best director to ever live and I was just obsessed with the dude.
I’ve seen every one of his movies a hundred times. I’ve seen him on every different format. We buy new televisions and we buy reverse negative prints to watch his films in a format that Kubrick himself never even saw it in. All of these things I am just obsessed with. I read the screenplays, I do all of this shit with Kubrick. That all came later though.
It was so crazy to be reached out and touched by this movie and it’s kind of like what we’ve talked about throughout this whole thing with my music where I’ll give you a nice sounding phrase or a nice cadence or a nice sounding tune or something, but when you deep dive into it, you realize that there’s something behind the wall. There’s something behind the door. You open the door and there’s a universe behind there. Luckily enough that happened with that. And that movie was the door for me, and I’m glad there was a universe behind that door because I’ve opened a whole lot of doors and there’s not a universe behind them. Books, movies, paintings, people, personalities, girls you meet, guys you meet, friends, and there’s nothing behind the door, but in this occasion there’s a world that I’m still immersed in. And I just owe it to that VHS tape that I found as a kid and I played it until the ribbon was completely burnt. I was just obsessed with it.
Okay, that makes sense. I felt a bit like that with Cormac McCarthy and No Country for Old Men. Have you ever read that book?
No, I actually haven’t. I just read Cormac McCarthy for the first time and a few years ago, I read All the Pretty Horses.
What I liked about No Country for Old Men was a conclusion I drew that I don’t find other people to have drawn when people discuss the book or the movie. But basically in the story the sheriff of the town has never seen random, pointless evil, and so his response to it is to basically retire. And I loved it because it’s literally saying there is no country for old men. There’s no room. If you can’t adapt, there’s no room for you. So I like that. Have you read The Road by him though?
No, I read All the Pretty Horses and I read Blood Meridian. But I planned on reading The Road because I really liked those books.
Have you by chance seen the movie The Road? It has the dude from Lord of the Rings in it, I don’t know his name.
I think so. That’s the, post-apocalyptic one right? I’ve seen that. That was good.
I read it after Ryan Holiday talked about it and I was getting really shaken up and afraid reading it. It’s just the worst brutality. I won’t go too in depth because I believe you that you’ll read it.
Yeah, I’ll read it.
I’ve wanted to ask you this, I messaged you once a couple of years ago asking if you had ever read The Stranger, because I really liked it. I really love the last sentence where he talks about going to get executed and that he wished that there was more people there to hate him. I always thought that was a cool line and when I had asked you about it, you had said you didn’t really care for that book. It actually kind of caught me off guard, what was it that you didn’t really like?
The style, I don’t like the style. Remember a minute ago when I said “Yeah, La Petite, I really like French cinema, but I do not like French authors.” [Laughing] I didn’t set out to not like French authors, I would just read them you know, Camus, Proust, Balzac, I did kind of appreciate Victor Hugo. I love completely Voltaire and he was French. I just couldn’t get into like Sartor and all the classic stuff, but a book that I do really like is by Stendhal, it’s called Love. That’s a really good old classic, but the French, I just couldn’t get into them, it was always after the fact. I would read them before I knew they were French, when I was a kid, I couldn’t tell what a name was origin-wise.
It was only in my mid-twenties, where I realized “I don’t think I like French authors” and The Stranger just fell into that category where I just didn’t like the style. I don’t know what it is. I could be too dumb. That existentialism, it’s just absurdity and it just doesn’t tickle my fancy I guess.
Honestly, I’m wondering how much did I like the book or did I just love that last paragraph. I thought that was just the most gangster way to go out like “Yeah all these people are here to watch me hang and they all hate me, I wish there was more of them to hate me.”
Yeah. Well I definitely feel that way.
Shifting gears here a little bit, I have a hard time relating with teenagers and people younger than me, the only advice I know to give a younger person is basically to read a lot. What do you think your advice would be to a younger person? If you were talking to a high school kid and they said, “David Gunn, give me some life advice.” What do you think you would say?
Well, I’d be curious as to what they were after. It’s the same thing. When people ask me for a book recommendation, I always ask, “Well, can you give me like three or four of your favorite books? Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, even if it’s a lie, even if it’s who you envision yourself to be, not actually who you are, who you might want to be, or how you see yourself?” Could you give me something, don’t have me out here just saying asinine advice. Give me a little bit of something, you know? What are you after? What are you aiming at? Really?
People do ask me that and that’s what I always ask them “What exactly are you after?” I think people know what to do. I like to listen to people talk more than I like talking to people. We both know people like to talk more than they like to listen. So a lot of people I come across, they don’t even ask me things like that. They like when people just listen. So I’d try to do that first. I don’t try to say “Hey everyone, everyone, everyone gather around, gather around. Yeah. It’s me. It’s me, baby. Come, come here. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I got book recommendations for you motherfuckers.” You know what I mean? I try to listen first and then, then I try to tailor something to them. So when people message me cold, I kind of just say “I don’t give recommendations”.
Even when I post a book, I always say, “This is just a book I like. I don’t know where you’re at and I could probably really help you with a good book if I knew you, but I don’t. So this is just generally a good book and I’m just throwing it up here” and if you comment or message me asking me for a recommendation, I’m not going to know. I don’t know.
Okay, this may be a bullshit question, but I’m going to ask it. If you had to pick one book for the public schools that kids had to read at a certain age, what book would it be?
I don’t know. I feel like my answer is always, “I don’t know”.
When I was in school I was reading the book Lies My Teacher Told Me because it seemed appropriate. I guess I was a bit rebellious, but I was kind of suspicious of the book because there was no internet, it wasn’t like you could hop on and figure out if any of the shit was true. This really could very well be some Joe Schmoe who published his own book and he could just be spewing off whatever. It was really weird to read when you had no way to vet any information, you had to listen to these people tell you one thing, and then you would read this book that told you the complete opposite. You’d just be sitting there with your head spinning, not knowing which way is up. I remember that being really confusing. So I wouldn’t want that because I don’t want people to be confused.
The book I always say people should read? I always have a hard time with this man. I don’t really know. I read all the ancient books because I think they’re my favorite books. I would suggest that people think a little bit more. My favorite novel is probably by Jens Peter Jacobson, it’s called Niel’s Lyhne. I love it.
It’s hard because I’m trying to think of something without offering context. I don’t like explaining the joke. My favorite people are all science writers, but my favorite novelist might be Hemingway or Vonnegut. Those are my two go to guys in America. And I feel like you need context for both of them.
If I was trying to help somebody out and they really cared and they seemed like they really meant it and they were looking for something. Something that they might get use out of practically without being day dreamy and without being artistic and without being dense and without being deep and thoughtful and philosophical and explicit, so you can just please DO something…I would say the handful of recommendations that I usually give is Grit by Angela Duckworth. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. Willpower by Balmeister. Either book called Mastery, there’s one by Robert Greene and another one by George Leonard, both are good. Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware, and I would throw in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow because I like it.
It’s not classic, but it’s modern. It’s recent. It’s a little scientific, but not annoying. You can maybe do something with the information, it doesn’t spread an ideology. I don’t believe in the 70 hour work week with a guy busting his ass, even though I work more than that. I don’t believe in that culture. I think it rewards the wrong things. So I don’t like books that are like “You can fucking do it, man! They can’t stop you, you get up and you do it!” I don’t like motivation, it’s corny. I don’t like self-help really, although you could categorize what I just said as self-help. But those books steer clear of those themes that are unsavory to me. That probably why I’d choose those.
*If you would like to stay up to date with David Gunn and his work, check out the following links below:
David’s only personal social media, Instagram: @dkgunn
King 810’s social media: