John Cale 'Hated' Regurgitating Velvet Underground Hits for Nostalgia-Act Reunion

Living legend tells Marc Maron he "hated" playing "best of" set for early-'90s tour

john cale, marc maron, wtf
John Cale in 2010 Photo by Getty Images
Kyle McGovern WRITTEN BY
Kyle McGovern

It's been 21 years since the Velvet Underground's classic lineup first reunited, and John Cale still considers the iconic band's brief reconciliation a "big disappointment." In a recent interview with comedian/podcast king Marc Maron, Cale says he "hated" the greatest hits set the Velvets played during their year-long reunion, which ran from 1992 to 1993. 

"We could have done anything we wanted," the 71-year-old virtuoso says on the latest episode of Maron's twice-weekly WTF podcast. "We could have stood on our heads."

Instead, the avant-garde legends became a nostalgia act while touring Europe. "The way things unraveled was very natural and sort of sweet," Cale admits before getting audibly frustrated. "[Moe Tucker and Sterling Morrison would] come along and say, 'Hey, we've got to do this song, and we'll do this song,' and all these songs I didn't know because they were written after I'd left."

Cale, who parted ways with the Velvets in 1968 after recording White Light/White Heat, continues, "It all suddenly became an exercise in revitalizing a catalog. And instead of doing something that everybody would look up to us, and maintain the standards that we had..." At this point in the hour-long interview, Cale lets out a sigh before simply saying, "I hated that." 

The rest of the Q&A touches on the early days of the Velvet Underground, in addition to Cale's experiences as a producer, working with the Stooges, Nico, the Modern Lovers, and Patti Smith. Listen to a snippet of the interview below, stream the whole thing via the WTF website, or download it

Play

00:00 00:00 No Song Selected More info
00:00 00:00
placeholder
Now Playing
  • 1 Paperwhite — Pieces " 03:58
  • 2 Michael Rault — Nothing Means Nothing " 02:56
  • 3 Gold Beach — Impressions " 04:32
  • 4 GENUFLEX — The Last Gods (Mark Stewart And Rambone Remix) " 05:13
  • 5 Sleigh Bells — That Did It Feat. Tink " 02:41
  • 6 Monster Rally & Jay Stone — Recollection " 02:10
  • 7 Little Boots — Pretty Tough " 03:18

SPIN is a member of SPIN Music Group, a division of BUZZMEDIA