An interview with Willy Vlautin of Richmond Fontaine

Photo Jul 19, 2 52 11 PM

Photo by Vivian Johnson

Richmond Fontaine is a band that was formed in 1994 in Portland Oregon when Willy Vlautin (singer/songwriter) and Dave Harding (bass) discovered their mutual love of bands such as Husker Du, X, Willie Nelson and The Replacements and decided to begin playing together. The band’s career has spanned over two-decades and the release of 10 full-length albums. According to the band, the recently released You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To go Back To will be their final album.

The alt-country band, who has received much critical acclaim, particularly overseas, has peppered its songs with stories of the working class, the down-on-their-luck and the lonely.  Vlautin, who is also the  author of four highly acclaimed  novels- The Motel Life,  Northline,  Lean on Pete and The Free- is an expert at the craft of creating a character. And the characters he writes about are ones that you have a hard time forgetting about, even if they aren’t necessarily people you’d like to meet up with yourself. One of his characters, Pauline Hawkins, from Vlautin’s novel The Free, made such an impression on fellow musician Patterson Hood from the band Drive-By Truckers, that he wrote a song by that name for the bands 2014 album English Oceans. 

I asked Willy to speak to me about a range of subjects, including his writing, how he crafts a character, Richmond Fontaine, and his other band, The Delines.

J. The new album  You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing Left To Go Back To, seems to have a theme about people being lost and trying to find their way back home, or at least to a place where they once had peace. As we approach the midpoint in our lives, this seems to be something that happens to a lot of us. What inspires you to write about characters like these?  And have you experienced your own midlife “crisis”?

W.V. I have had a few midlife crises, but shit, I think I’ve always been in a bit of a crisis. With the new record, I kept thinking about how all of the friends I have had have lived rough, or lived to hard and are now starting to pay the price. The bill’s coming due for their bad ways. That and also the idea of being tired, of always looking for the next place to solve your problems, only to find it’s your own self that’s the problem. Hell, I guess those are all middle-aged themes. But RF is getting old.

J. Your songwriting has always struck me as the kind that sucks a person in, makes them empathize with the characters and want to know more about them You always want to know what happens next. As an author, is it harder to condense the essence of a character into a three-minute song?

W.V. They’re both hard to do well. I struggle with both. Songs are harder to grab on to. There’s more magic to getting them. I often feel that you write song after song, just so that one good one will appear and you just grab it. Writing books is more about your work ethic. If you have something to say, then it’s just about putting in the work to say it in a way that you can get behind.

J. Some of the characters from your novels, turn up in your songs. Hell, Pauline Hawkins from your novel The Free, even turned up in a Drive-By Truckers song. Does it feel natural to intertwine your novel writing and your songwriting?

W.V. Pauline Hawkins was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given. It was like finding fifty grand in the street. I’m a huge DBT fan, so I was blown away by the character becoming a song of theirs. As far as my own stuff, the two do combine. I go through so many songwriting jags while writing a novel that the two can’t help but influence each other .I always think of them living in the same apartment building.

J. How do you come up with such strong characters in your songs and novels? Particularly the women?

W.V. Thanks for saying that, about my women characters.  I don’t know. I was raised by women and all of the best people in my life growing up, or should I say the ones that cared about me the most, were women.

J. What projects are you working on now?  Writing?  Your band, The Delines?

W.V. The Delines have a new record but we are on hold until (singer) Amy  Boone (recently injured in a car accident) gets rolling again. Other than that I’m finishing a new novel that will come out in about a year.

J. Do you think you will always need to write both novels and songs, or do you see a time in your life where you’d be okay with leaving one of them behind?

W.V, I hope to keep writing novels for as long as I still have my mind together. It’s my favorite art form and I love the process of it, the work of it.As far as songs, shit, I’ve been trying to quit being in a band since I was 15, so I don’t know what to think.




An interview with Clint Conley from Mission of Burma

Mission of Burma is one of only a handful of musicians or bands that you can find on my weekly playlist.  Although the band had its original run from 1979-1983, their music never sounds dated.The band originally consisted of Roger Miller (guitar), Clint Conley (bass), Peter Prescott (drums) and Martin Swope (tape manipulator/sound engineer). Miller, Prescott and Conley share singing and songwriting duties.The band has always been unique in its approach to style, content and technique. They’re that rare band that never sound like anyone but themselves.

From 1979-1983, Mission Of Burma released an EP,  Signals, Calls and Marches , and the iconic full length album, Vs.

The band disbanded in 1983, citing Miller’s worsening tinnitus as a primary factor. During their farewell tour, they recorded the live compilation, The Horrible Truth About Burma.

While Mission of Burma was never really recognized by the mainstream, many bands have cited them as a huge influence and musical inspiration. Among them are Dave Grohl and The Foo Fighters (who the band opened for at Fenway park in Boston in 2015), Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, Sugar, Guided By Voices and Pixies.

The band has toured and released four more studio albums since 2004.Their sound, which varies greatly in style and content, ranges from technical and structural masterpieces to songs filled with hooks and grooves that make them almost anthemic.

Clint Conley has written some of the most widely covered of the bands songs. “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver” and “Academy Fight Song” are probably the most well known songs written and performed by the band.

I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Clint recently.

J. Mission Of Burma formed in Boston in 1979 when punk was very big. Although the band is often categorized as post punk, to me, Mission Of Burma defies classification. In what genre do you consider the band, or is defining a particular style something the band was never really interested in?

C.C. We were certainly called punk or post punk because of the time frame we were playing in. In reality, we weren’t really very punk at all. Particularly Roger’s stuff, which was sophisticated and very technically challenging at a time when a lot of the music being played was very basic. Much of the music of that time was being performed by people that weren’t really musicians, as such, and didn’t consider themselves to be. Roger was a very much a masterful musician and not afraid to show it. I’ve never thought we really fit comfortably into any particular category.

J. The band has a unique and timeless sound. It’s rare to hear music that never seems to get dated. Did you put thought into sounding timeless as a band, or was it just something that happened?

C.C. Oh, God, no. Not at all. There was no thought given to posterity. We were focused on trying to get a gig at the local clubs and trying to crawl up the grubby little ladder we were on. No. We weren’t self conscious about it in that way. I think I took my cues from Roger, who was such an incredible and masterful musician. He was so intent on breaking new ground and not doing things the same old way. He has a very critical approach to music that I really admire.I felt that, as the songwriting went, I was like his little brother. I was just starting out and he’d been writing for years. I think that when you’re writing music, you want it to sound authentic to yourself. I think you can always tell when someone is making music and they are trying to be something that they’re not, or trying to imitate people or play something that’s more popular. We resisted those urges. The bottom line is that we are extremely, extremely fortunate that we were able to find our voice. There are a lot of musicians out there, better musicians than us, who were never able to find the right vehicle for their voice.

J. How old were you when you started to play music? And what inspired you to do it professionally?

C.C. I was about 10 when I got my first guitar. I began by playing the Beatles and the Animals, things like “House Of The Rising Sun”. You know, when you stand in front of the mirror and pretend you’re a rock star.

When I went off to college, I was going into New York to see the new music. Glitter rock was big at the time and I was seeing  bands like the New York Dolls. It was such a circus. So much fun and so crazy. But when the bands Television and The Ramones came out, it was life altering for me. I had to be part of it, somehow. I hooked up with a guy named Eric Lindgren, who was starting a band. I was so grateful to be in a band, and sort of dip my toe in the water. Roger Miller ended up joining that band, Moving Parts, and he and I just vibed right off the bat. We just both looked at each other and said “We need to start our own band”. So that’s how it happened.

J. Who were your biggest influences in life, musically and otherwise?

C.C. The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks and The Animals had a profound effect on me. I was in elementary school, so I guess you could say I was a kind of precocious kid. Music just seized me in a way it didn’t do with my classmates. Later, it was Hendrix and Cream, but some other bands that were much more obscure. When I was in 5th grade in New Jersey, I was accidentally at the Velvet Undergrounds first gig at Summit High School. I don’t remember anything about that gig. It was only many years later that I realized “Oh, that was the band I saw there?” But I think they must have planted some dark seed in me, given the path I took. In high school, glitter and glam rock were huge. I started going into the city to see The Dolls and Wayne County. Then that morphed into the puck scene. I feel incredibly lucky. I was there for some of the biggest revolutions in rock. There has been plenty of great music since then, but that time really upended everything.

J. How about your family? Were your parents supportive of you being a musician?

C.C. My parents probably just thought music was a passing thing, and in some regard, it was. My Father was a huge and passionate jazz fan. Music meant a great deal to him. He used to take me into New York to share it. I’ve always considered that an amazing gift for him to have given me. 

Both my parents were very cool about the band.

J. Mission of Burma has been a band that never became overly popular in the mainstream, but has inspired countless other musicians. Are you satisfied with the bands cultural status? Would you have liked to have become more mainstream, or was it more important to you that the band be relevant and respected by its peers?

C.C. I think we wanted to be popular. It became pretty clear early on that we were going to be more of a niche band. We were pretty surprised and gratified to get a following around Boston that first time around. We weren’t so noble that we would have rejected a major record deal. I think that’s kind of the way history has portrayed us. REM, X, some of the other bands we considered our peers, they got deals at the time. We were still pretty small potatoes is the larger scheme of things. But looking back, I have no regrets at all. I feel rather proud.

As far as mainstream, I was always kind of a music snob growing up, listening to a lot of obscure bands. Those that were overlooked and undersung. The fact that I wound up in one of those types of bands is not just coincidence. It’s an amazing thing to make music and have people listen to it.

J. What are the bands plans for the future?  Any plans to release new music or tour?

C.C. No plans at the moment. Songwriting has slowed down considerably. I’d say we are in the middle of a holding pattern right now. We just came off a great trip to Europe in May. Everybody is on great terms. For all I know we could have played our last gig. I guess we just need to see what the future brings us.






















An interview with Jason Narducy (Bob Mould Band, Superchunk, Split Single)

Photo Apr 29, 10 46 12 PMJason Narducy is far from a household name. But in my opinion, he should be. Jason started his music career playing clubs with his band Verboten at the tender age of 11. Dave Grohl, who’s 13-year-old cousin was in the band with Narducy, credits him with inspiring him to become a musician. Jason is featured in the Foo Fighters documentary Sonic Highway.

A decade later, Jason and cellist Alison Chesley started an acoustic duo, Jason & Alison, which later morphed into the 4-piece band Verbow, and signed a record deal. Bob Mould (Husker Du, Sugar) became a fan of Verbow and offered to produce their record Chronicles. Jason was the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter on this album, as well as the band’s second release, 2000’s White Out.

Somewhat disappointed by the reaction to White Out, Narducy decided not to put his all into something and become that vulnerable again. Verbow officially disbanded in 2003. Narducy settled down with his family and began to run a successful painting business and play a handful of local shows on occasion. This all changed in 2005, when Bob Mould asked if he would be interested in playing bass in his new touring band. Jason, who was primarily a guitar player, practiced his heart out all summer until he knew he was ready for the gig as Bob’s bass player.

The following year, Jason was asked to play bass for Robert Pollard (Guided By Voices). Jason has also played with the bands Superchunk and Telekenisis and is in the process of recording his second album with his band, Split Single, where he teams up with drummer Jon Wurster (Bob Mould Band, Superchunk, Mountain Goats) and bassist Brit Daniel (Spoon, Divine Fits). Narducy once again took over the role of guitarist and lead singer. Split Single released its first album, Fragmented World, in 2014.

Jason is one of the hardest working musicians in show business, currently recording his own album as well as preparing for the second leg of Bob Mould’s tour. If this weren’t enough, he still has his painting/handyman business and 3 kids. All of these responsibilities don’t seem to slow the 45-year-old musician down. I recently saw him play with Bob Mould’s band and his energy and love of playing were clear. This man gives his all to his music. And it shows.

I was lucky enough to be able to ask Jason some questions recently. Not a man to take himself too seriously (follow him on Instagram and Twitter and you will find yourself laughing out loud at his frequent comedic posts), he responded in true form.


 J. You started your first band, Verboten, at such an incredibly young age. What inspired you, and did you always imagine yourself being a lifelong musician?
J.N. My dad took me to see The Kids Are Alright when it was released in theaters. I was 8. I liked Kiss, The Ramones, and The Beatles already, but The Who were a whole new level of intensity and importance to me. A year later, my mom and step-dad bought me a guitar. I started writing songs and looking for musicians to play with. By age 11, I had a band (Verboten) and we were playing clubs. It’s sort of absurd when I think about it now—the level of intensity I had.
J. Dave Grohl credits you as one of his main inspirations for becoming a musician. In your own music, particularly Split Single, I think I hear some Big Star and Guided By Voices influence. Are these some of the bands that have influenced you? What other bands influence the music you write?
J.N. Yes, I love GBV and Big Star. Cheap Trick is huge for me. They are from the Chicago area (Rockford) and I saw them often as a kid. Now that I’m older, I find inspiration from less obvious sources; a lyric I think of, a synth part I hear on a college radio station, a drum beat I hear but misinterpret where the “one” beat is, etc.
J. You are certainly well known in the music world, but your name seems to escape those in the mainstream. Is this frustrating or is it nice to be a professional musician that can fly under the radar and avoid many of the pitfalls of instant face and name recognition?
J.N. I would say I am most certainly not very well known in the music world. I know this because I’ve been to all of my shows. I would say I’m comfortable as a working musician who’s sometimes not working.
J. I took my 18-year-old son to see you, Bob, and Jon recently in NYC. I insisted he wear the earplugs I brought, knowing full well the volume at a Bob Mould show. How do you handle that kind of volume night after night?
J.N. You made the responsible decision.
J. You’ve toured with so many different yet amazingly talented acts. Do you have a favorite band or musician to tour with or do you enjoy changing it up and playing to different types of audiences?
J.N. The three bands I play in now have very similar audiences. I love my three current bands.
J. What are your plans now that the first leg of the Bob Mould tour is over? Are you planning anything new with Split Single?
J.N. I’m making a new Split Single album right now. Very excited about it. I’ve heard rumblings about a potential Superchunk show. Lots of Bob Mould Band shows coming up in the fall. We are thankful and excited that Bob’s new album Patch The Sky is doing so well.
J. You’ve had such a varied and interesting career so far. What would you like to do next?
J.N. I’d like to go get a sandwich.

Subhumans interview, Cafe Nine, New Haven, CT 6/7/16

The Subhumans are one of those bands from my early teens that epitomized classic British anarcho-punk. With songs such as “Mickey Mouse is Dead” and the punk classic “No” (“No I don’t believe in what you say, you’re just part of what I despise. Yes you’re part of the fucking system, I ain’t blind, I can see your lies”), the band sang about all of the classic punk themes: oppression, mental illness, class structure,apathy, and angst. Between the release of their first album in 1981 and their breakup in 1985, the band began to experiment more with their sound. They cited musical differences and disagreements in direction as the main reason for their split.

Singer Dick Lucas joined the band Culture Shock in 1986 and then formed the punk/ska band Citizen Fish in 1990. The Subhumans remained fan favorites and briefly reunited in 1991. They had a more extensive return in 1998, where they played shows in both the U.S. and the U.K. The band continued to tour together on and off for many years. In 2007, they released their last album, Internal Riot, and have remained a semi-regular touring band ever since.

I consider the band one of my favorite punk bands from the U.K., and was thrilled to learn they would be playing at Cafe Nine in New Haven. I was even more thrilled when Dick Lucas agreed to a sit down for an interview with me before the show. I met Dick and the rest of the band ( Bruce Treasure on guitar, Phil Bryant on bass, and Trotsky on drums) in a dimly lit band room. Dick was instantly recognizable to me, and as he had told me via email, he is generally the one band member that does the talking during interviews. I found him to be passionate about his beliefs, well-spoken, and well-informed about the issues going on in our world today. He is also still really enjoying the fact that he gets to continue doing this for a living.

J. What was it about the punk scene that first drew you in?

D.L. Well, when it all started I was about 16. I was hearing bands like The Clash and The Sex Pistols, and it was really just good music. They were singing about things like bored teenagers, anger at the system. It just seemed a lot more realistic than anything that had come before. And all of it packaged up nicely in little 2 and 1/2 minute blurts.

J. Were you more influenced by the British punk bands, or did you get any inspiration from the punk scene going on in the U.S. at the time?

D.L. I was definitely inspired by the British ones. The only time we had access to listening to anything else was on a radio show by John Peel. He was the only one that would play things we couldn’t hear anywhere else. So, I didn’t even really start hearing that stuff until later on.

J. You’ve always had a passion for writing songs about some of the evils of government and the people in charge. What are your feelings about politics in the world today?

D.L. How the people in charge interact with the people in their own countries, the other leaders of the world, economics, war … there just seems to be too much macho symbolism. I think that if there were more women leaders there would be less war and strife. However, when you take into consideration people like Margaret Thatcher, that hasn’t always been the case. We’ll see what happens when Clinton gets in, if she does. Lyrically speaking, the basic idea is to question attitudes that seem to dominate the status quo of how the majority of people behave in society and how that affects the positives towards working with each other, and the negatives, which seem to be the dominating force in keeping us apart. I write more about the negatives so that people are more aware. Knowledge is the first step in any kind of change and making things better.We are becoming a dumbed-down culture.

J. When I was first drawn into the punk scene, the lyrics were what drew me in. Do you think there are still bands out there today that speak to addressing the evils of society, or is it becoming less prevalent?

D.L. There are plenty of young bands that are emerging that sing about the evils of society and what’s right and wrong in the world. The days of singing just about beer and fighting are a thing of the past. I’d like to think that the kids are still hungry for messages in their music. Hopefully they always will be. It brings you together, makes you feel like a community.

J. I can only imagine, coming from the U.K., how the current political climate in the United States must appear to you. What is your take on U.S. politics at the moment?

D.L. It’s completely horrific. It’s the same way Hitler got into power, that Trump. By putting the blame for everything that’s wrong on minorities, using language that draws in the most gullible, the least educated, and extending it into racism and bigotry. Playing the racist card seems to work, because all racists like to think they aren’t alone in their thoughts. These are the same kinds of people that’ll believe anything if you feed it to them in a way that makes them feel superior. It’s shocking that a man like this has about a 50/50 chance of becoming president of the U.S. There are some really dangerous right wing groups coming into power, Golden Dawn in Greece, etc. It’s scary, actually. These right wing groups are getting support by promoting a patriotic backlash against refugees and people who aren’t white and have money. The fear factor, the scaring people into thinking these minority groups are harming the country as a whole. But that’s how people like this not only stay in power, but make all of their money, too.

J. Back to your music. You haven’t released an album since 2007. Any plans to release any new music, or do you plan to remain a touring band exclusively?

D.L. We are hindered by where we live.Our drummer lives in Germany, so we aren’t together in the same place very often. Makes it harder to make new music.We have about 2 completed tracks and 3-4 semi-completed ones, so it’s a work in progress. Slow progress, but we haven’t dried up creatively just yet.

J. Does touring get tiring?

D.L. It depends on whether or not we let it get tiring. How much whiskey we put down that stays down. You know, sometimes you still have a hangover from the day before and get up on that stage and sort of sweat it out. But over the years, you learn to be a bit more moderate. It’s so much more fun not being moderate!

J. Is there anything you’d like the readers of my blog to know about where the band is going or what your plans are for the future?

D.L. We don’t like to plan too far ahead into the future. We just keep on going and that’s what has appeared to work for us so far. The more plans you have the less they come into fruition. We are lucky enough to still get asked to play for people. I plan on doing this for as long as I can. There is no retirement age for us.We’re just going to keep on going.





Forever Wild: An interview with Willie Nile

Photo May 28, 12 10 08 PM

Willie Nile and my friend Joe Macbeth before a show at City Winery

Willie Nile is an artist that first started making music in 1980. His first album was so well received that he and his band were asked to open up for The Who just two months later. He counts Bruce Springsteen, Lucinda Williams, Pete Townshend, and Bono as some of his biggest fans and has been described by many in the industry as one of the best songwriters of all time. Perhaps Lucinda Williams summed it best when she said “If there was any justice in the world, I’d be opening up for Willie Nile instead of him for me.”

I was lucky enough to interview Willie recently. I found him to be thoughtful, kind, and compassionate. He was soft-spoken and reflective, very different from the super-energetic persona you see up on stage. As he spoke is was very clear that his passion for his music hasn’t wavered.


J Your songwriting is often regarded as some of the best in the industry. What really strikes me about it is your genuine understanding of people, what they go through, and how they feel. Have you always been this way? Able to really connect to people’s emotions?

WN I think so. How I feel now is how I’ve always felt. I’ve always had sort of a sensitivity to how people are feeling. It always struck me if someone was feeling sad or lonely—I could always pick up on it. Even as a small child. I feel I have that ability to feel what people are feeling and it’s reflected in my songwriting.

J You took some time away from the industry but have been releasing one really great album after another in recent years. What made you decide that it was time to make new music again?

WN Once I started putting records out on my own label, on my own, and realized that there was such a freedom in doing that. You didn’t have to wait for major record labels to come along and back an album. The record industry has changed so much. Realizing I could do it on my own gave me such a sense of freedom and independence to just put records out. I’m always writing. I realized I could just put them out as my collections came together. It totally freed me.

J  World War Willie is so full of passion and energy and so different from your last album, If I was a River, which was so intimate and reflective. And so different from your other albums. How was it that you decided to take such a turn from your normal sound in that album?

WN I think after I made American Ride, it was very successful and got me to a point where I reached a goal. I had been wanting to make an intimate piano-based album for many years. And after the success of American Ride I felt I had a small window to finally do that album and knock it out pretty quickly. I had all the songs. It was such a labor of love. They all are. I felt that since I had success with American Ride I had the time and opportunity to make a left turn and do something I’d wanted to do for a long time. I’m really quite happy with how it came out. It sounds like a heartbeat. You can hear a heart beating there. I’m really proud of how it turned out. Those songs were just ready to come out and I’m so glad I got to do it.

J Your live shows are a favorite of mine. I recently saw you at City Winery in NYC and as usual, you really brought the house down. Your shows always feel like a party to which the entire audience has been invited. Why do you think your shows have such amazing energy and just inspire the crowd to have a great time?

WN If I wasn’t going to give it my all I wouldn’t walk out there. What would be the point? And if I’m tired or a little bit under the weather, the music and the crowd always picks me up. And the audience picks me up. Life is difficult and I like putting a positive spin on things. I like the crowd to have a great time, my band is absolutely incredible. The audience always makes me feel so welcome and so I get so much back. I give everything I’ve got every single time and I get so much back. I don’t do it to get so much back, but the audience gives me that. It’s always so satisfying and so much fun. If I didn’t think it was special I wouldn’t step on the stage. The audience deserves that. I always tell people if they come out to see my show and they don’t have a great time, I’ll happily give them their money back. One of the best things that I ever hear is when a fan tells me that they had no idea who I was, came with a friend to a show, and became a fan for life. I think the audience can tell when you’re faking. It wouldn’t be fair.

J (Question by my friend, Joe Macbeth) Many of your contemporaries from the ’80s that found mega stardom seem to have peaked and now are more of a novelty act, just playing their hits. You, on the other hand, seem to continue to learn and grow as a songwriter and live performer, perhaps more so than ever. Late bloomer? Patience? Resilience? Despite never really achieving the mega stardom that people like me think you’ve been cheated from? Is this a blessing in disguise as it’s led to such a long and fruitful career?

WN I think it’s sort of a blessing in disguise. I think that not having mega hits, I always had to work really hard and it made me keep my edge. I never got soft. For some reason my inspiration is still very strong. I’m mindful of that, that I’ve had a really good run with new album after new album and the quality is so strong. I’m really happy about that. I think I’m just really lucky and I’ve always just followed my heart. And the music reflects that. I also have an incredible band behind me and the support of a lot of other musicians. And my fans. So I just keep working hard and making music.

J Your understanding of human emotion is clear. In this really ugly time in American politics, connecting through music is more important than ever. Why do you think you appeal to such a wide variety of people?

WN Absolutely. I think you can come to one of my shows no matter what your political leanings or affiliations are and have a great time and help me raise the roof. Classic style rock and roll, it’s real and we give it everything we’ve got and people respond to that. And the content of my music is about compassion and helping one’s neighbors, and “let’s try to make this a better world as best we can.” I don’t beat it to death, but the songs and music can be uplifting. It certainly lifts me up. And if it can make us come together and lift us up, all the better.

People can disagree on this or that. My general feeling is that if everyone had the same information—information we get is so scattered and all over the place—that we’d come to a better understanding. It’s hard to know what to believe. Some people out there are basing things on fear, and while it’s a scary world out there, life is about compassion and looking out for our fellow man and coming together. That’s what we need to get. It’s what life is all about.

J What would you like the world to know about Willie Nile? And your plans for the future?

WN I’m alive and well and on fire making music I care passionately about, and I have one of the best bands on the planet, and I’ll be playing more shows and putting out more music as long as I can. World War Willie came out beyond my wildest expectations. It’s really something I’m proud of. These are glory days for me, no doubt about it.

The shows are so much fun and people that come know that. And the word seems to be spreading about that, which makes me so appreciative.

It’s not your normal story in that I’m an older artist and seem to be at the top of my game. I’m putting out what I think is my best music and these are really inspiring times for me. And it’s not always an inspiring world out there, so if people want to come down and forget that for a while and have a really great time, I think they can do that at my shows. I think they’ll be glad they did.

An interview with Henry Rollins about the importance of Dinosaur Jr.

It’s no secret that Dinosaur Jr. is a favorite band among its peers. On any given night, you will be likely to find at least 2 or 3 other musicians who are either in attendance at the show or getting up on the stage to play along with them. There are very few bands in the industry that garner such widespread respect.

Henry Rollins is among Dinosaur Jr.’s biggest fans. He has seen hundreds of their live shows, traveled with them extensively, and touts their excellence whenever possible. Because Dinosaur Jr. was really the band responsible for my writing this blog and immersing myself back into the world of live music, I knew Henry would be exactly the right person to ask about why this band has enjoyed such a long career and why seeing them live, no matter how often, never gets repetitive or old.

I particularly enjoy Henry’s response to the mainstream question. That, my friends, is the real Henry Rollins.


J How long have you been following Dinosaur Jr., and when was it that you realized just how special they are?

HR I have been seeing them play since 1986. I thought their first album was one of the coolest first albums of any indie band. I remember when it came out. It was different than anything around at the time.

J What is it about Dinosaur Jr. live shows that make them so incredible?

HR Their songs fill the room very well. It’s a band that’s not just taking up time. They are really putting something across. Their songs are very well written and quite memorable. The band has a signature sound, which is quite rare these days. They crush it live.

J You have seen so many Dinosaur Jr. shows in your life. What about these shows keeps you coming back night after night?

HR It’s a perfect combination. The rhythm section meeting J’s guitar and voice. There’s nothing like it. I will never tire of seeing them, not even close.

J Why is it that Dinosaur Jr. is so well-respected amongst their peers, but have never taken off in the mainstream?

HR They are a band’s band. A career that long would make most bands very envious and most bands will never get it. They get to all the people that they should get to. Screw the mainstream and their half-time Superbowl music. That’s cowpen music for box wine listeners. These people would never get something like Dinosaur Jr.

J What do you think about the new album? How does it compare to previous releases? I’m really looking forward to it.

HR The new album is really good. It seems extremely focused, and in a way, mature. I think it’s a perfect record coming off I Bet On Sky. There are no bad Dinosaur Jr. records, anyway. Give a Glimpse is excellent.