Improve Your Taste With… Les Savy Fav

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The charismatically bearded Tim Harrington on Cuban rum
and Swedish textiles.

Improve Your Taste WIth... Tim Harrington

Led by the charismatic and epically bearded frontman, Tim Harrington, Les Savy Fav have pumped out some of the most frantic art-rock of the past decade. Earlier this year, the band released their fifth full-length, Root for Ruin, which combines their manic energy with some of the catchiest indie-punk songs this side of the Pixies. We spoke to Tim about syrupy rum, the virtues of simple design, and the best actor to help you catch up on your Hemingway.

Things Organized Neatly

I love this blog called Things Organized Neatly. It's just what it promises: pictures of things organized neatly. It's so alien to my way of being that seeing all these orderly images is like a kind of exotic porn. It is so soothing to see shit put in place just so.

Josef Frank

Josef Frank was a textile designer who worked in the '40s in Sweden, though I think he was born in Austria. His work is so marvelous. He so effortlessly marries "high design" with humor and play. His textiles and wallpapers are equally suitable in a queen's living room and a little kid's playroom. That's a very tough trick to pull off. So often there's a needless seriousness about art or design. Josef Frank was an expert at giving that whole preconception a big jolly middle finger.

The Old Man and the Sea audio book

I love The Old Man and the Sea audio book read by Charlton Heston. The Old Man and the Sea is one of my favorite books, and the way Heston reads it is so intensely manly and defeated. And he was the lead in Planet of the Apes! And he was against affirmative action! Wait, his politics sucked. But what a voice! I love audio books.

Zentai suits

I'm really looking to stock up on Zentai suits, which are a kind of fetish gear. A Zentai suit is a lycra bodysuit that covers your whole body, even your face, and has gloves, and separate toes. I think the deal is that people like to feel themselves up while all smooth and tight in what are essentially full-body Spanx. I really want to get a dozen different colors and put them all on at once when we perform, and then tear them off one by one, so that I'm like a human Gobstopper. The thing that's even more amazing is when people start inflating their suits from the inside. Another kind of intense variation are Humanimals, who make these crazy semi-nude animal costumes and then just seem to silently move around and pose. Super-weird. Actually, this may not be a part of a fetish at all. Many of the videos link to a circus website. But whatever, it seems fetishy as shit!


I'm a big fan of long, involved, challenging fiction, but I am ashamed to carry around a giant copy of Infinite Jest or whatever on the subway, so I usually buy paperbacks and first tear the covers off or tape over them. Then I cut them into one-hundred-page segments so that I don't have to lug this big book around. My friends think it's a sacrilege. I'm of the mind that until some barbarian race attacks and destroys us back to the Stone Age, paperback books are vehicles for ideas, not old friends you need to let stay in your apartment. I like the library for the same reason. Most of all, I think I'm coming to love my new Kindle. It's my first e-reader, and it is great! It's the anti-iPad/iPhone — Apple's products, while exciting and beautiful, are designed to fracture concentration and put infinite possibilities into your hands. The Kindle supports concentration and focus, rather than further inundating me with choices.

Havana Club rum

Havana Club is a go-to drink. In addition to tasting delicious, it's contraband in the U.S., since it's a product of Cuba. Though the last song on our new record, Root for Ruin, is called "Clear Spirits," I tend to avoid the clear stuff. Except moonshine. I didn't realize the pirate joys of rum until later in life. My wife and I honeymooned way up north in Belize, near the Mexican border at this hotel made of shacks… well, shacks and a bigger shack they designated a bar. There were these shrimp poachers… that's a different story. Then there was also this eccentric, rich, Texan guy trying to carve out a dream house of the mangrove and thickets. Everything went wrong. The boat he'd hired to bring the bricks ran aground on a sand bar about a hundred yards from shore. Wild boars destroyed the tarps protecting his foundation, which was increasingly turning to a weed pit and place for teenage lizards to fuck. I don't know where he slept.

Anyway, this thick-accented Texan was impressively chill, and all day long he'd hang around the bar shooting the shit, staring out at the dudes trying to dig out his grounded boat, and nursing this huge forty-two-ounce foam cup of coffee. It took me a few days to realize that his coffee was one part Coca-Cola and one part Belizean rum. That shit was good. It actually made Coke sweeter. But you can only get the stuff in country, so since them I've been in search of the most syrupy, rummy rum. Havana Club is damn fine rum and tastes like a vacation.

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