"An Ecstasy is a thing that will not go into words; it feels like music, and one cannot tell about music so that another person can get that feeling of it." - Mark Twain

The Three Terrors are LD Beghtol, Dudley Klute and Stephin Merritt - three men who, on their own (see links to select discographies below), possess the ability to pen songs to put many to shame.

On occasion , the three choose to spend rare and beautiful evenings covering "the saddest songs they know" to the crowds who have gathered to hear them. Just two weeks before this day, T3T joined for one of these mesmeric nights of homage - playing a sold-out show at the 2nd Annual HOWL! Festival.

Read on dearest lover of the loveliest, for the time will soon come again - and you should take notice now.

Is The Three Terrors name a spin on The Three Tenors?

DUDLEY KLUTE: Yes, because we employ a similar method of presenting our songs - solos, trios and duets. But since we're two baritones and a bass with a somewhat frightening collective knowlege of music, it obviously had to be The Three Terrors.

LD BEGHTOL: Well, when Dudley first thought of it - he's brilliant with naming things - I immediately thought of the book THE PRINCESS BRIDE, actually. By William Goldman. You know, the "Three Terrors in the swamp.. ."

Is there a 'rehearsed' set list going into the evenings?

STEPHIN MERRITT: Ours is an extensively rehearsed set list, meticulously assembled. Taking requests would be mad, as we already know exactly what we should be playing next and the audience doesn't.

DUDLEY KLUTE: Also we often take songs out of their original context, and play them with radically re-worked arrangements so that the audience can hear the songs in a new way. The point being to experience the songs as compositions - and not just nostalgia. We try very hard not let anything be too close to a karaoke version, or have that piano bar lazy familiarity.

Would you, or have you, taken requests from the audience?

LD BEGHTOL: Only wedding bands take requests. Oh, and those Long Island cover bands.

On that note, do you reinterpret ("cover") your own songs as The Three Terrors? (Flare, Magnetic Fields, The 6's, Kid Montana...)

DUDLEY KLUTE: The Three Terrors concept forces us outside our normal comfort zones as singers and performers since we often do songs that might at first glance seem preposterous, or which we might otherwise think impossible to accomplish. It's also a way for us to express and share our love of music which lead us to be musicians in the first place. And perhaps to direct the attention of our audience to artists they might not be familiar with.

STEPHIN MERRITT: Covering our own songs shifted the focus too much for my taste. For the New York show we will perform songs culled from our own painstakingly, painstakingly, painstakingly laborious researches. We often think it would be easier to simply write the show ourselves.

LD BEGHTOL: But since we're so terribly philanthropically minded we perservere. Actually, we did my song, "Measure of a Man" at the "Saddest Songs" show. That was the show where someone tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide in the bathroom during the show. Silly cow. And we've done Dudley's gorgeous ballad, "Anywhere (like the Moon)." And we've done several from the Stephin songbook as well. Oh, and we did Dudley's brilliant translation of the Moth Wrangler's hit, "Over & out" ("Je hais ma vie / et je peut morir.. .") at the the French Pop show. The person we played with that night later printed up handsome cotton tote bags with that phrase printed on them. I wonder what the words for "thieving pig" are in French? (possibly "le fait de voler le cochon", but it may need a second opinion.. - k)



As The 3 Terrors, you draw from a wide range of songs from traditional gospel right up to current pop. What can be expected, and what has been interpreted in the past?

DUDLEY KLUTE: We never reveal our set lists before a show since the element of surprise is a great part of the fun for all of us. Our previous set lists are available online for the curious

LD BEGHTOL: Or those unfortunate souls who missed the shows! Without giving anything away, I usually do a Victorian parlour ballad, or something that sounds like one, like last year's "Have Some Madeira, M'Dear" by Flanders & Swann. And we seem always to do Sondheim, Marc Almond, some Brill Building stuff... And this year we'll do our second Crash song - Crash being a swell New York band from the 80's that I love and almost no-one has ever heard of. We do try to keep the song list for each show very broad and to include current stuff when it passes muster.

STEPHIN MERRITT: The lengthy eclectic set list is a secret until the show, but in the past we have performed the theme from DEEP THROAT, "The Silver Swan," "Tiny Bubbles," and "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall."

LD BEGHTOL: All 99 verses!

Have you been subject to any negative feedback/lack of press in NYC given the term "Terror" in your name?

STEPHIN MERRITT: No.

DUDLEY KLUTE: The Three Terrors existed long before 9/11 so the use of "terror" in our name has never been an issue

LD BEGHTOL: Aren't people likely to write about or read about us smarter than that?

You have a new addition to the 'Terror' personnel for 2004's show, Miss Pinky Weitzman, as well as the past additional players Kenny Mellman and Ernest Adzentoivitch. Most are aware of the main T3T's past & present bands, but what can you tell us of these other fine musicians?

LD BEGHTOL: Pinky and Ernie both play in my bands Flare and LD & The New Criticism. Ernie's been in Flare since 1997, and I found Pinky via craigslist last year and she's since bcome a permament member of our lives. She's just terriffically talented. And decorative. She also plays with another stringy ensemble led by New York composer. Rebecca Moore.
Ernie has an electronic project called Plexus that's very interesting and nothing at all like what he does for me or T3T. He also writes and records music for games, television and commercials at his studio in Brooklyn, and does lots of session work and teaching. He's a major talent, and has a super range of interesting noises he can make on any sort of bass, saw, whatever.. .
And Kenny of course is the madly gifted pianist who performs as the Jew 'tard fag "Herb" in the cabaret duo Kiki & Herb. He's a complete original. We adore him.

Any chance of taking the show to further venues, like a T3T tour?

STEPHIN MERRITT: God, no.

What would be the conditions to make this grand illusion possible...

LD BEGHTOL: We've had several offers, including a show at the Royal Festival hall in London two years ago, but anything like this would have to involve vast amounts of cash to cart all the ukuleles, percussion instruments, harmoniums, washboards, and costume changes around.. .

DUDLEY KLUTE: And our shows are really set-up to be one-off events, so for us, doing those shows night after night would lose the sense of surprise and excitement [for the audience] that are essential parts of the whole experience. I've come to liken T3T shows to the Tibetan Budhist monks who work for a year making an elaborate and beautiful sand mandala, and once it's finished they sweep it away. The Three Terrors is also based on a sort of impermanence: It's a gift for us and for whoever happens to be in the audience. That's a big part of what makes it so special.

LD BEGHTOL: And thus impossible to repeat.


[vis it]

LD BegtholDudley KluteStephin Merritt

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