And there were times where you had to dodge him so that he didn't drain the life out of you. And then he'd be so mad: "You haven't been taking my calls at all." Well, Billy, it's only been a day or so. "My life runs twenty-four-seven! You're a part of Team Ruane!" But I knew him. At this point I knew him inside and out.
The shrink appointments were always double the time Billy thought it was, and we went to shrinks all the time. Billy would walk in and see that this guy teaches at Harvard Medical School, or this guy was Drug Czar under the first President Bush. And Billy had this line: he'd walk in, look around, and say, "All these diplomas, so little competence." Billy had this incredible, incredible mind, and he would study brain chemistry. He'd say something like, "This is called the Doppleman Nervous Reaction, as you know." And the doctor would look at him like: "This is very impressive. There's just one problem. You're wrong." And now, unfortunately, we have very good evidence of that. Because he's dead as a doornail.
One of the reasons I got close to Billy was because he liked music so much – I have a music problem myself – and he appreciated whatever body of knowledge I carry around and I certainly appreciated his. And movies and books, and we would read just forever, the more obscure reference he made that I caught, the more even it made us, I guess.
It's the seeker mentality, the collector's bug – always in search of the next thing.
That's certainly the way it was with him. It didn't matter if it was a $2 million penthouse, or whatever it was: Next. You'd get him something: Next. He always needed a new kind of kick.
What was your experience of how he reacted when he found something new? Did it feel like a pattern repeating itself? There was obviously a genuine enthusiasm.
It's not one or the other. He did have patterns of enthusiasm. I mean sometimes, like in the case of Aly Spaltro and her band Lady Lamb and the Beekeeper, I think she's great. I really enjoyed her music and performances. Other times it would be like, What is Ruane seeing? You couldn't get it at all. And our taste was different, but Billy would get plugged into these things and you'd just be scratching your head. His favorite movie was Contempt, which of course makes sense. It's a Godard movie, and I just think it's a piece of shit. I've watched it. I've tried to understand. And there's this perversity to Godard's nature and that's what I think Billy liked: it seems like he always shows you what you don't want to see. I don't understand Jean Luc Godard at all. I did like Breathless, but Contempt? It was Billy's favorite movie. He talked about one scene where they showed the Neptune's head and it was "devastating." And it was like, Billy, there ain't nothing devastating about this moment of this film. Where is this coming from? I think that Billy would supply a lot of feeling and emotion, and he would do that with bands as well. Even when it seemed like there wasn't a whole lot going on, Billy would supply it himself.