Friday night, as students began packing into Skidmore’s main gym, the artists were getting ready in the venue’s makeshift backstage. SEC was granted the exclusive privilege of interviewing Eli “Paperboy” Reed. We caught him backstage after the sound check, getting dressed and joking around with members of his band, the True Loves. Amidst tying and re-tying his maroon tie, and complaining that he didn’t have a mirror, he took the time to answer some of our questions.
SEC: So how did you get the nickname “Paperboy”?
Reed: Really? That’s your first question?
SEC: How many times have you been asked that in an interview?
Reed: I would say probably two thousand at this point.
SEC: So you know the answer well.
Reed: [Sarcastically] Boy, do I…So I was having sex with this transvestite hooker and the name just stuck. [More seriously] No, it comes from a hat that my grandfather used to wear; that he gave to me and I used to wear it. Like a newsboy hat, you know.
SEC: That’s sweet. I like the transvestite thing, but that’s sweet, too.
Reed: Yeah, you probably shouldn’t put in the transvestite thing.
SEC: Fair enough. So how did you get into soul music? What kind of stuff did you listen to growing up?
Reed: Uh, you know, my dad had a lot of records around the house, whether it was blues or gospel or country music or soul or whatever and so that was kind of around my house all the time from a very young age so that was my introduction. That was pretty much it – from the word “go”.
SEC: When did you start playing guitar?
Reed: I was like fifteen. I started playing harmonica when I was like thirteen or fourteen, and then from there I picked up guitar, and from there piano and stuff like that.
SEC: How do you feel about playing at Skidmore?
Reed: I’m psyched, man. I’m playing with Janelle; it’s going to be a good show.
SEC: Are you from the area?
Reed: I’m from Boston, so not too far.
SEC: How do you feel about opening for Janelle?
Reed: Awesome. I’m really psyched. All of us are really big fans. And she seems really nice; that’s important.
SEC: Do you think her hair is real?
Reed: Seems real. I just talked to her.
SEC: Would you ever consider fashioning your hair in such a manner?
Reed: I do something that’s not all that dissimilar.
SEC: Yeah, how do you do your hair?
Reed: Uh, it depends on the day, you know. If I have enough shit I can make it really big, but if I don’t then I can’t.
SEC: Fair. And our last question, are your suits tailor-made or off the rack?
Reed: I mean, they’re not off the rack; they’re vintage so I buy them and then I get them tailored.
SEC: Do you dress yourself? Do you pick out your own wardrobe?
Reed: I mean, I do a lot of thrift shopping, whether it’s in New York or on the road or wherever, so finding vintage clothes is a full-time job.
[At this point in the interview, True Loves’ guitarist Ryan Spraker steps up to the microphone.]
Spraker: Can I ask the last question?
Spraker: What do you think of The Eagles?
SEC: You hate the Eagles?
Reed: No, I don’t hate The Eagles. I think that, uh –
Spraker: What do you think of Steely Dan?
Reed: [Laughing] Steely dan…
Spraker: That’s the last question. Eli Reed, what the fuck do you think of Steely Dan?
Reed: You know, I got to say, just to spite [drummer] Mike, I fuckin’ hate them.
Spraker: You fuckin’ hate them?
Reed: I fuckin’ hate them.
Spraker: Put that down as ‘Would not filate [Steely Dan singer] Donald Fagen.’
Reed: [Laughing] That’s not what I said, alright! That’s not what I said!
Spraker: Fine. ‘Would filate Donald Fagen.’
-Interview by Taylor Dafoe and Drew Litowitz