Hungry Hungry Hippos (Eric Hsu, Kerwin So, and John Byrd) are a nice pop-rock combo based in Berkeley, California, that your parents wouldn’t mind you listening to. They are also stimulating interview subjects. We caught up with the guys at the local Taco Bell in downtown Oakland…
Kerwin: Why don’t you guys go around and introduce yourselves.

John: Hi, I’m Theodore Roosevelt, I ruled the Presidency of the United States from 1846 to 1850. I was assassinated in 1867 by a stray bullet that was intended for JFK.  

K: OK, and the man in the tie…

Eric: My name is Eric Hippo, and my hobbies are windsurfing and water-skiing.

K: My name is Kerwin Hippo, Box 43. For all you ladies looking for a good time, you won’t be sorry….
J: I can’t remember what this interview is for.

K: Oh, it’s uh, my friend is doing a zine, so I’m just doing…

E: The Heavily Edited Hippos.

K: Oh no, this is not gonna be edited at all. So, when was the last time you guys were drunk?

J: The last time I was drunk would be 3 days ago. I did this thing where, see I’m on this diet and at the time I could only have like 1200 calories. So I figured out that the most efficient way to drink and to use those calories was to take a bunch of Diet Sprite and cut it with grain alcohol, and I figured that grain alcohol with like no mixers was the best possible way, and it was like Diet Sprite except it had this little undertone of Robitussin to it, so I would only recommend this…

K: So New Year’s then?

J: Well, no, this was like 3 days ago.

E: I don’t remember the last time I was drunk, but um… I drank a lot in Australia, I hadn’t had any alcohol for several months.

K: As I recall you don’t get drunk. Can you explain this, this is an interesting phenomenon.

E: Well, before I actually get drunk I get extremely sleepy and become too tired to actually drink any more alcohol. So unless I’m hooked up to an IV or something, there’s no way to get me drunk.

K: Right. Fill in the requisite Simpsons quote there.

E: Uh… "Chicks dig scars"?

K: [in Barney Gumbel voice] "Just hook it to my veins!" [snickers ensue. Mmmm… Snickers.]  

E: In Australia everyone drinks all the time basically, so I had to drink.  

K: Gotta make those cricket matches interesting.  

E: Cricket match was pretty damn boring, but… We didn’t drink at the cricket match… Probably should’ve. Well, the cricket match is pretty interesting because…

K: I never realized how boring this game is.  

E: There’s a regular feature of the game that pigeons will land on the field because they feel no fear from any objects or people moving or anything. And it’s all really class-based, like the rich people sit in one place, like a shaded place, and everyone else sits someplace else, so that when the Wave was going around—they actually did the Wave there, which was actually the most interesting thing at the time—they’re all doing the Wave, and it’d always hit the rich people and they’d never do it, so the whole crowd’d really boo and it’d be like a very small bit of class warfare.

K: Oh, great. Did they ever throw anything at the rich people?

E: I think they should’ve, but I think that would’ve really been bad, they would’ve been ejected or shot at.

K: Oh. Where did the Wave originate, anybody know?

E: I was told it was Seattle.  

J: The Wave is in Ropongi, Tokyo, it’s a place where you can go and hang out with fashion models and compare the relative diameters of their arms. Pretty cool place if you can get someone else to pay to get you in, otherwise I wouldn’t recommend it.

E: Someone told me that one single game of golf in Japan costs $300 American.

J: That’s probably about, it’s usually about 30,000 yen to do it, and getting into the Wave was 5000 yen, which was $50.

E: What?!

J: But it was less if you were female and a supermodel.  

E: Were they Japanese supermodels?  

J: No, they were American. They were as American as apple… well, you know…  

E: Sushi.

K: Condoms.

E: Apple condoms? I don’t know where you’ve been, my friend.

K: Let us never speak of this again. [more snickers]

J: The thing is, if you’re a supermodel you can make so much more money there. I mean, you go to Tokyo, you see Harrison Ford on TV selling Kirin beer and Jodie Foster…

K: Selling Foster’s beer? [Kerwin cackles.]

· · ·

K: What are your guys’ favorite items here at Taco Bell?

J: It would have to be the 7-Layer Burrito, without guacamole and without sour cream. I just go up and say, "Hey Lyn, the usual," and I get it.

K: You just slap your Taco Bell Gold Card down, and they’re at your service.

E: You don’t like guacamole? That’s messed up.

J: It’s funny the things you learn just being with people.

K: With a tape recorder on. Mr. Uh… Cardigan, is that a cardigan? [gestures to Eric’s spiffy sweater]

E: I don’t know what it is. Well, for a while my favorite thing was the Choco Taco…

K: Then they had the Vampire Taco.

E: Then it was surpassed by the Choco Taco Strawberry flavor… and then one horrible day the fridge didn’t work, and they all became weird mutant disgusting things. And not only that, they haven’t had 7-Uplike, literally for a week, so I’ve caved in. I’m givin’ up on my caffeine diet and I’m drinkin’ a big Pepsi… so, I really have no current… Fire Sauce is my favorite.

K: I would have to say the Double Decker Taco Supreme, which Eric himself introduced me to.

E: I did? The Shakeem…

K: Sure. I remember you hunkered down with one of ‘em once, and you were like, "I love these things!" And I had never really heard you voice a strong opinion about anything before that.

E: That was before I discovered the Choco Taco.

K: You were so busy eating that you couldn’t speak… [muffled gibberish]

E: Can’t talk… must eat two layers…

K: Those are basically the only questions I thought of.

  [much laughter ensues]

E: Hope it’s not a very long zine.

K: No, a lot of people are contributing to it, so, I mean we’re not gonna have that much space. Everybody’s thanking the Lord for that.

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