Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New: Weird Interview From Last Year

THE ZONE OF UNEASE, Oct. 14 - A new interview with me posted earlier this week. The conversation took place this time last year (something not made clear in at least one version floating around) so it reflects the dread of pre-election '08. I come across as kind of a fast-talking crank in the piece, which wasn't the impression I wanted to give. I definitely didn't know I said the word "man" so much in conversation. I'm not a hippie, so I'll have to work on that. Maybe I was nervous.

It's always interesting to see the edits made on long talks like this. Listening to my own MP3 of the conversation, I can pick out a few slips of translation. The phrase "three obese politicians" should read "three obese Harry Potter fans". The phrase "fine misfortune" - which isn't something I would ever say - turns out to be "sorry misfortune". The sentence about reductive thinking isn't actually supposed to be in quotes. And the implication that a serious economic collapse - a societal collapse - would have any good artistic consequences isn't something I believe in, although it's apparently something I said.

Interviews are weird. To produce a usable end product, two strangers have to establish a quick rapport, ignoring the adversarial position they have placed each other in. When I interviewed Janeane Garofalo last April for the Village Voice, I had to decide beforehand if I wanted to play it nice (I'm a big fan), or firm (joining 24 could be considered the worst kind of sellout, if I still thought in those terms). It was a 900-word piece, so I couldn't have it both ways. I went with nice, and the interview posted as a sympathetic, entertaining little chat. Days later, the piece still managed to rack up 139 comments of the mostly vile variety.

Being interviewed is even weirder. It's a situation bathed in constant unease, like talking at a party while trying to figure out if you're boring the other guests. There can be extreme conflicts of interest, and deception, and hidden agendas on both sides. Years before I met him, my friend Joe Preston was interviewed by someone pretending to be me. In 1993 - back when I was a hot commodity to fans of obscure music - I encountered a string of fanzine interviews, with me, that had been faked. I talked about this in a radio interview last year, and, later, read reviews of this interview implying that I'd made up the bit about the fake interviews. I'm not sure what my motive would be for lying, but then, I'm also not sure why the fake interviewers lied in the first place. Maybe that'll give me something to talk about in the future.