What a pleasure it was to speak with Simon Pegg, an actor and writer whose work I’ve long admired, for my day job with Air & Space / Smithsonian magazine. I’ve been overseeing a special section of our September issue commemorating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, and I was especially keen to have Pegg — as the co-screenwriter of the new movie Star Trek Beyond, as well as one of its key cast members — be a part of our coverage. He was as enthusiastic and smart and funny as I’d dared hope. You can read the interview here, and my NPR review of Star Trek Beyond will be up Friday. Continue reading
I spoke with the great singer-songwriter (and Ke$ha song-improver) Lydia Loveless for the Washington City Paper’s Arts Desk in advance of her show at the 9:30 Club Saturday night in support of Old 97’s, (sic) one of my favorite bands. Read a gently edited transcript here.
When the 97’s last came through town, in October 2012, I had a really good talk with their frontman, Rhett Miller. In 2008 I talked to their second singer-songwriter, Murry Hammond, too.
I’ve written about monologuist Mike Daisey a lot in the last four years, but especially last year, in the wake of damaging revelations about his show The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.
He and I met again at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, his performing home here in DC since 2008, last Friday to talk about his new piece, American Utopias, which I review in this week’s Washington City Paper. I’ve just posted an edited, partial transcript of that talk up on Arts Desk. Continue reading
If Uncle Sam is now reading PARADE magazine, we’re screwed. Photo by Heidi May.
I’ve had the privilege of speaking with the great raconteur Henry Rollins a few times now. When I interviewed him in 2008 about his plan to play the Birchmere on Election Eve, we spoke in September, several weeks before the show. He was predicting at that time John McCain would be elected president. A few days after our conversation, Lehman Brothers collapsed, the fiscal dominoes started falling and the dynamic of the race changed dramatically.
Once again, Rollins will be speaking here in DC — in DC, where we don’t have voting representation in Congress; not the “DC area” this time, at the 9:30 Club — the night before America chooses a president. I’ll be there. I was surprised to learn when we spoke the other week that he hadn’t heard of Mike Daisey.
The interview is on Washington City Paper Arts Desk today.
Old 97s play their best album, 1997’s “Too Far to Care,” at the 9:30 Club tonight. Miller is second from the left.
Formed in Dallas in 1993, the alt-country act Old 97s combines the heart-tugging wordplay of Townes van Zandt with the attack of The Clash. After a couple of indie releases in the mid-90s, the group were the beneficiaries of a bidding war, signing with Elektra Records. Their major-label debut, 1997’s Too Far to Care, remains their best and best-loved album. Despite retaining a substantial following — their show at the 9:30 Club tonight is sold out — the group never reached the level of stardom their big label demanded. Since 2004, they’ve been recording for the New West label.
Their current tour supports a 15th anniversary reissue of Too Far to Care, which they’re playing in its entirety in sequence, along with a selection of other songs. I spoke with singer-songwriter Rhett Miller (whose career as a solo artist runs parallel to that of his band) by phone about the quest for perfect setlist, the excesses of major label recording contracts and the perils of singing songs you wrote at 25 when you’re 42.
This interview appears today on the Washington City Paper’s Arts Desk. Continue reading
Posted in interviews, music, Uncategorized
Tagged 9:30 Club, David Bowie, Exene Cervenka, interviews, Linda Ronstadt, music, Neil Young, Old 97s, Rhett Miller, The Pixies, The Wedding Present, Washington City Paper, X
(Okay, my questions. But still.)
The Drive-By Truckers are one of my favorite bands, and I’ve had the privilege of speaking with singer-songwriters Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley on several occasions during the last three-and-a-half years. I talked to them again, separately, for Washingtonian about their plans for their year-ending three-night stand at the 9:30 Club, which kicked off last night.
One of the things we discussed was Cooley’s two-night-only battlefield promotion to full-time frontman when Hood fell too ill to perform just before a weekend of 9:30 Club concerts in February 2009. I reviewed the first of those shows for the Washington Post. Continue reading
Hayes Carll's devotion to the songwriter's art entails contemplating sex with Ann Coulter if necessary.
I’m a big fan of Austin singer-songwriter Hayes Carll
, whose work I have written about before
. I talked to him last week for Washingtonian; you can read that here
. In honor of his appearance at the Birchmere tonight, I’d like to share a question I asked him when last I interviewed him, in June of this year. I wasn’t able to use what he said in the piece I wrote then
, so here it is now for you enjoyment and/or edification. Take it away, Me. Continue reading
Matthew Sweet, photographed by Matthew Sweet
I chatted for a minute with Matthew Sweet about the 20th-anniversary-of-Girlfriend tour he’s bringing to the Birchmere tomorrow night, for Washingtonian. It’s my first piece for them.
Hayes Carll's devotion to the songwriter's art entails contemplating sex with Ann Coulter if necessary.
I’ve been doing the Capital Fringe Festival and not a ton else this month, but I did cheat on Fringe & Purge long enough to write this little ditty about Hayes Carll, a country singer-songwriter whose KMAG YOYO is one of my favorite records so far this year. Fun fact: He grew up in The Woodlands, TX, which are the very suburbs that inspired one of my favorite records from last year, Arcade Fire‘s The Suburbs.
So I’m pretty pleased about finally getting to talk to Mike Cooley, who writes and sings songs in Drive-By Truckers, a band for whom I have great, abiding and at this point, very well-documented affection. I’d already had the pleasure of talking to Patterson Hood, who co-founded the band with him, on several occasions. You should never expect it, bu it’s always a wonderful thing when someone whose work you admire turns out to be friendly and accessible, too.
The interview is up at the City Paper’s Arts Desk blog. Continue reading
The great raconteur and renaissance man Henry Rollins turned 50 yesterday, and expounded on that milestone from the stage at National Georgraphic’s Grosvenor Auditorium. Actually, he didn’t discuss aging so much as his memories of growing up here in Our Nation’s Capital with future Fugazi frontman Ian MacKaye (who introduced him) and his recent, harrowing visits to Costco in Burbank and Pyongyang, North Korea. More inspiring was his visit to South Africa, a country he praised for its efforts in recent years to get on the right side of history. He even recited from memory the preamble to that country’s constitution. Continue reading
I teach a boxing class on Wednesday evenings. It’s at a general-interest gym, not a boxing gym, so we’re not equipped or insured for sparring, and we don’t have a speed bag or a double-ended bag, though I’m working on that. We drill with heavy bags and focus mitts with lots of calisthenics stirred in, and people looking for an intense and unique workout really seem to like it. Most folks who try the class once come back.
Anyway, I interviewed Frederick Wiseman, director of the new documentary Boxing Gym and more than three dozen others, for the Washington City Paper. You can read that here.
A young Chuck Close with one of his many portraits of Philip Glass, from his 1969 photo of the composer.
Man, it is just crazytown that I’m blogging semi-prolifically over at the Washington City Paper’s Arts Desk and forgetting to update my own Internet sock drawer with linkage. Here’s my interview in two parts with the wildly versatile and adventurous composer Philip Glass. I still haven’t transcribed the part where we talk about his film-score work, but I promise I’ll get to it. Movies are always relevant.
Which reminds me: I also blogged about a very funny and inventive critical dissection of Star Trek, the youthful, sexy 2009 version. Always relevant, like I said.
So I’ve been blogging for the last month or so for the Washington City Paper, primarily at Fringe & Purge, their Capital Fringe Festival blog, which I had the duty and the privilege of editing this year. I’ve written lots of stuff for them in the past month, some of which I don’t detest at all, that I’ve not linked to from here just because — well, because making one blog worth reading is voraciously time-consuming. Two? Forget it.
Before you ask Mike Daisey’s opinion on a subject, make sure you’re sure you want to know! (I am, and I do.)
Remember when I wrote that Daisey, raconteurius nonpariculus, was “one of the most imaginative and entrancing talkers in America”? Dude, I was totally right. Daisey generously gave me an hour of his time, and he had way more interesting things to say than I could possibly use in my preview of The Last Cargo Cult, his latest solo show at Woolly Mammoth.
After the jump, luxuriate in the cogent and persuasive glow of a few more of those glorious “lucid, flowing paragraphs” I mentioned, which Daisey freestyled live and uncut into my iPod one week ago.
Enjoy. I’m seeing the show tonight. Can’t wait. Continue reading
I spoke with the the great novelist and essayist Nick Hornby about a month ago, just prior to his swing through Our Nation’s Capitol to promote his swell new novel Juliet, Naked, which we discussed at some length. His other current release, the film An Education, for which he wrote the screenplay, opens here in DC at the Landmark E Street Cinema tomorrow. I haven’t seen it yet, but the great and good Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune and At the Movies tells me it’s “awfully charming.”
Herewith, the second part of our conversation, wherein we discuss his thoughts on the movies derived from his books, favorite music of the moment, and wither The Believer. Continue reading
Mike Birbiglia, dressed for success.
Mike Birbiglia remembers when the room was a lot smaller. He’s headlining Saturday night at the Warner Theatre, where he’ll tell some stories he’s considering for inclusion in his next one-man show. But he cut his teeth at the DC Improv in the late 90s, while a student at Georgetown University. By the time he was 25, he’d done the The Late Show with David Letterman and had his first album and Comedy Central special.
Birbiglia’s act grew more distinct and involving a couple of years ago, when he began to segue from traditional stand-up into more personal storytelling. Continue reading
Nancy Updike photo of Ira Glass appropriated from This American Life's marvelous website.
It’s not every day you get to talk with one of your heroes for half an hour. I interviewed Ira Glass 16 months ago for this thing. Presented here for the first time is the (mostly) complete transcript from which that piece was excerpted, albeit still edited to excise boring and/or redundant material. 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .
Ira Glass began his public radio career as an intern at NPR in DC in 1978. But it was This American Life, the Peabody, duPont-Columbia, and Edward R. Murrow Award-winning weekly story anthology — mostly nonfiction, but with some fiction, too — he created in 1995 that’s made him famous, at least among public radio listeners. Continue reading
Jeff Tweedy maintains that Wilco is a collaborative enterprise, though he's the man who wears the hat.
I conducted this interview with Jeff Tweedy on June 17. It was excerpted for a “Conversations” box that appeared in the Paper of Record on Sunday, July 5. Here’s the interview in something close to its entirety, albeit lightly edited for clarity. It’s up on Post Rock, too. Wilco are at Wolf Trap tonight with Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band.
There are bands that have sold more records during the past decade than Wilco, but few have been the subject of more discussion among rock’s cognoscenti. Guided by the songs and voice of Jeff Tweedy, 41, every Wilco album since 1996’s Being There, (with the arguable exception of 2007’s Sky Blue Sky) has explored new subjects, textures, and song structures.
I’ve never been a big fan of Ron Howard’s films, though the word on his upcoming adaptation of Peter Morgan’s fine history play Frost/Nixon is that it’s good. If you can afford it, though, I heartily endorse the touring production of the play I reviewed for DCist. It’s at the Kennedy Center through Sunday night.