Doubting Thomas Cruise Control – “Lillehammer” (Stereogum Premiere)
Judging by the title of Doubting Thomas Cruise Control’s forthcoming LP and its first single, it wouldn’t be unprecedented to say that this is a band concerned with paying homage to decades past. Named after a town in Norway that hosted the 1994 winter Olympics, “Lillehammer” is the first conceptual single off the Brooklyn-based band’s forthcoming LP, Remember Me John Lydon Forever, and true to its name, the song ponders the implications of the infamous Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan scandal that colored the competition. If you’re unfamiliar with the scandal, here is a truncated history: Two of the United States’ top-tier figure skaters are poised to compete against each other at Nationals. Kerrigan’s leg gets bashed by a hired hit-man during the Olympic trials, and Harding is implicated. The two later end up on the U.S. Olympic team, and Kerrigan takes silver while Harding finishes in eighth place in Lillehammer. It’s presented as a story of good versus evil that grows more and more complicated with further investigation, and the members of DTCC aren’t alone in their fascination; just last April, comedians Matt Harkins and Viviana Olen opened a museum dedicated to the event in their Williamsburg apartment. DTCC’s lead singer and lyricist Bobby Cardos told us about his interest in the scandal, and larger themes that inspired the song:
I watch a lot of random documentaries, and this song is kind of an interpretation of the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan scandal around the 1994 Winter Olympics as told through one of the Sports Center 30 For 30 films. I really liked the sense of defiance Harding had as a young skater who was much poorer than figure skaters tend to be, and how she would get derided by judges for wearing homemade costumes that weren’t “fashionable” or whatever… which I imagine must sound ridiculous when you’re barely eating enough because you can’t afford to, since you participate in a fucking expensive sport — and are still somehow one of the best in the world at it. Obviously her (probable) involvement re: Nancy’s injury is unacceptable, but I still respect those other parts of her character. And I think the crapshoot nature of athletic competition translates to other pursuits as well. Something as stupid as a busted skate two minutes before you’re supposed to compete can ruin you. Or, like Nancy, you can make a miraculous recovery from your injury and give one of the best programs of your career, and still lose because some judge decides that the scandal that wasn’t your fault has too much baggage to give you a medal.
There’s also this book Sean (guitarist) gave me on my birthday called A Short History Of Decay, by some cynic philosopher E.M. Cioran. He originally gave it to me hoping I’d write an album about it. I think the jacket of the book said something to the effect that Coiran is like Nietzsche except he makes Nietzsche look like an optimist. It’s outrageously bleak, which to me can be really funny, but I think it got to be so much that I put it down about halfway through. “I accept life out of politeness” is an actual line in the book, so that’s how that got into the song.
DTCC’s Remember Me John Lyndon Forever was recorded by Dara Hirsch and Kegan Zema in Gravesend Studios, located in Brooklyn’s multi-purpose performance space, Silent Barn. Listen to the first single below.
[Photo by Alycia Kravitz]