In yesterday’s Village Voice Music Blog, Chris Weingarten asked members of the band Pop. 1280 about their new song, “Bedbugs.” It was written by Ivan Lip who is a social worker working in housing.
What is “Bedbugs” about?
Ivan Lip, guitarist: I think it’s just about bedbugs.
Chris Bug, vocalist: The I-man wrote the lyrics for this one, but when I sing the song I always imagine a desperate person, sitting by themselves in some Blade Runner-esque urban wasteland.
What inspired the song?
Lip: I work as a social worker doing housing for low-income/disabled adults. One problem that you have when people live in large buildings packed closely together, when a building is run by a slumlord, or when people in the building don’t have enough money to deal with bugs properly, is infestations spread fast and are hard to get rid of. Throughout New York right now there’s a bedbug epidemic, and it’s something that I deal with regularly in my day-to-day work. During the period we were writing this song I had a bunch of clients who had bedbugs, so I would spend hours a day in a protective suit throwing people’s furniture out, doing their laundry, etc. Eventually, it got too hot to wear the suit, so I just went into the apartments in my street clothes. Some of these apartments were so infested that you would see the bedbugs crawling on the wall during the day, which is weird because they’re normally nocturnal. I would work and then go home and wonder if I was infesting my apartment. I think that had a lot to do with the song. Laying in bed, not able to sleep, imaging a crawling sensation coming up my legs.
Have you or a loved one ever personally experienced bedbugs?
Lip: Thankfully, I haven’t had them. I got all sorts of gross stories though. I had one client who lived in Flushing. She had her brother and mother living with her. The brother seemed to have some mental illness of some sort. I would be talking to him to try to get him to bag up his laundry and stuff, and there was a language barrier that we had to get through on top of whatever mentally illness he might have had. He would just smash the bugs with his hand and smear blood on the wall while I was talking to him. It was pretty weird.