Tonight in Seattle:  

John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants

Photo: Ryan Schierling

Photo: Ryan Schierling

They Might Be Giants have over 20 years' worth of making brilliant albums, performing entertaining shows, and being the subject of fascinating documentaries. The John Linnell / John Flansburgh duo that make up TMBG have the extraordinary ability to write catchy songs that educate and entertain. Along the way they've amassed the smartest and most diverse cult following this side of Benjamin Franklin.

TIG is honored and humbled to present the following "Coffee with a Rockstar" interview with John Flansburgh, the guitar, etc. playing part of They Might Be Giants. Over the course of an hour, Liz was able to learn the intricacies of the coffee bean and hear about the time TMBG opened for Chicago. Oh, and John and Liz have figured out what Sean Nelson should do next.
Read all three parts to get the full scoop:

    PART ONE
    Topics include Chicago (the band), Seattle's best coffee

    PART TWO
    Topics include the Hives, the Seattle music scene

    PART THREE
    Topics include the the new MoveOn.org/Barsuk compilation, the Pixies and Sean Nelson

PART ONE:
igLiz: Hi John! While preparing for the interview, I typed "John Flansburgh + coffee + Seattle" into Google® to see what would come up.

John F: And it brought up your website?

igLiz: Well, yes. But before the TIG listings it brought up an interview that you did in 1999 with a UW student. You said one of the funniest "coffee + Seattle" quotes I've read in a long time.

John F: Well, I would be happy to repeat myself.

igLiz: I might ask you to do that, but then the UW student might get really upset. The quote was, "The people living in Seattle must really resent a place that calls themselves 'Seattle's Best Coffee' "

John F: Oh.

igLiz: It is just that it is so true. Even in the most coffee snob of circles I have found myself in, never has anyone ever verbalized so well. The fundamental reason that Seattle's Best Coffee is so offensive is the fact that they call themselves, "the best coffee in town."

John F: I am from Boston. Imagine how I felt when there was a rock band called BOSTON. Boston is filled with really good rock bands... yet there is a really shitty band called Boston which named themselves Boston! The next worst thing is the band Chicago who we've done a show with. We did a gig with Chicago that should be turned into a one-act play.

igLiz: A musical or a drama?

John F: It could easily be a musical. It basically would be a follow-up to The Mighty Wind or Best in Show type of thing.

It took place in Salt Lake City and the character of the promoter could be played by Fred Willard. It was the 4th of July. The guy met us and he and his wife were both wearing matching sweaters. It was WARM - it was the 4th of July! But basically, they couldn't figure out how to wear another kind of red, white and blue clothing, so they were wearing red, white and blue sweaters.

It was a really unusual show in a bona fide sports stadium. It was a super nutso show. The funniest thing was the schedule that we got the day before. Everything was down to the minute including an air force buzzing of the stadium. Like stunt planes were to fly over.

The whole thing was this endless cavalcade of undifferentiated Americana events. There was a dog frisbee catching competition. There was a thing called pageantry, which was basically 10-year-old girls bouncing on gigantic red white and blue rubber balls. There was a Beatles tribute band. They weren't called 1964 which is a Beatles tribute band with the brother of the guy in the Cramps... I am not sure what they were called. They were a Beatles tribute band that completely reproduced The Beatles Shea Stadium show — note for note, song for song, in order. It was only like 20 minutes long. It was a reenactor wet dream of a Beatles show because they were actually in a stadium on a circular stage, playing archival instruments, playing the exact same set, same stuff between songs... except that instead there being a crowd of screaming teenage fans, it was a crowd of people who basically hated them.

But the strangest thing of all is that we enjoy a very strong and tangible following in Salt Lake City. And I am not exactly sure why. We've always done well there. There is a cynical side of me that has an explanation and noncynical side of me that has an explanation. I am not exactly sure which is the truth. Or maybe the truth is somewhere in between.

igLiz: If the truth is somewhere in between, what do you think it is?

John F: We started playing there very early on in our career. And one thing I've noticed is after playing in a band for 20 years, there is a distinct echo effect of doing a singularly good show. If you do an OK show, you get an OK response. But being realistic, in the course of doing a month of shows, there are only going to be a couple of them that are really really great. If you do a couple of really great shows where you really capture the imagination of the crowd, the places where those gigs happen can enjoy an exponential advancing of the good word about what you do. Those people who saw that really good show are like, "Hey, this band is totally for real. The next time they come around, I am bringing all my friends!"

We've enjoyed an unbroken history of good shows in Salt Lake City. It even showed up in the show in Salt Lake City. Amidst the pageantry and the Beatles tribute act and the air force people buzzing the stadium and Chicago, who were unspeakably lame, there was a point in the middle of our show where the audience broke into a spontaneous wave a couple of times. And not being one to go to sporting events, I haven't really seen a lot of waves. It is one thing to witness a wave in a stadium, which is pretty impressive. It is almost like Chinese. Seeing a wave that is sort of for your benefit is jaw-droppingly exciting. They did it a bunch of times, I think, just to blow our minds.

igLiz: When was this?

John F: It was in 1998 or something. What is funny is that, since that day, we have appropriated the wave into our show. We thought that this is an easy audience participation thing because people know how to do this and it is pretty effective. It is exciting to see an audience do a wave and it doesn't really call on people to do very much. But the spectacle is interesting.

igLiz: Have you ever had a not really enthusiastic wave and pulled out the Salt Lake City card?

John F: We have had discombobulated waves and usually it is because of some physical obstruction or some architectural defect in the venue. When that happens, we tend to talk about how sucky the audience was the night before. A lot of times, that is actually, in fact, a lie.

We just recently started recording our shows (available for purchase). It is really strange because it has made both John and me very self conscious about the stuff we say on stage because a lot of times you are just making stuff up and it is just for dramatic effect.

We were doing a show in Brooklyn and we basically started grousing about how lame the audience was at the Stone Pony the night before. The reality is that the audience at the Stone Pony the night before was a fantastic audience by any measure. We were just trying to prod the Brooklyn audience into being better than they would if the idea of competition wasn't in the picture. It was basically a big lie.

The recording of the shows catches us in lies, which really bothers me. I enjoy the in the moment of it all. I mean, if you can't lie on stage, where can you lie?!

igLiz: I wonder if Chicago lies on stage to rile up the crowd. Didn't the city of Chicago sue the band Chicago for using the name Chicago?

John F: I don't know. They had a strange history because they had that lead singer that accidentally killed himself. And then a guy that sounded exactly like the lead singer came into take his place, which is that Peter Cetera guy.

igLiz: I didn't realize that he wasn't always Mr. Chicago...

John F: He was the second vocalist, the guy that sang the harmonies with the regular lead guy. The regular lead guy was the guy who was the total cocaine astronaut who was playing with guns and doing all the goofy shit.

igLiz: Doing all the rockstar stuff...

John F: Yea, doing the classic rockstar version 1.0 goofball stuff. He actually shot himself with a gun. He held up a gun to his head going, "Ha ha" and then I am not sure if it is one of those things where there wasn't a bullet but there was enough gunpowder, or if there was an actual bullet, I don't know.

igLiz: Wow, that sounds so un-Chicago-ish!

John F: It sounds a lot more rockin'. But, you know, the weirdest thing about Chicago is that when they started, they were kind of a double cool band. They arrived fully formed and very ambitious. They did that whole double album thing, and not naming their albums and songs — an extreme act of confidence. I heard some rock critic talk about how their transition from real band to punch line was one of the weirder things of the 70s. Nobody is going to be thinking of Chicago 20 years from now. But, there are worse fates to fall into than to be forgotten.

PART TWO:
igLiz: And now, for the first question on my list! What is your favorite kind of coffee?

John F: My favorite kind of coffee... that is so interesting to me because I am passionate about coffee. But I am not of the "call out your specific weird confection of Starbucks combo platter thing". I like brewed coffee. And I like very strong coffee that has been made very recently.

I like the very old-fashioned hotel kind, where they make coffee in semi-industrial circumstances in a very big coffee maker at a very, very high temperature.

I have learned more about the nature of coffee over the years... like the reason that McDonald's coffee is so hot is because if you make it a higher temperature, it actually masks some of the lesser quality of the coffee beans involved.

There is a little push-pull there because coffee is essentially as aromatic as much as it is flavorful. If you brew it really hot, it will taste better because your perception of taste is really related to your perception of smell. I do love going into the fanciest hotel of whatever city we are in, and they make coffee in a very old fashioned way.

If that isn't available, I am happy to have some supercharged contemporary coffee. I like Coffee Peoples' coffee which is strange because they kind of advertise it like it is crack. I am not really a cappuccino / espresso guy. I just like the regular stuff.

igLiz: The funny thing about getting just regular coffee in Seattle is that a few of the most world-renowned coffee places don't serve drip coffee. They only make espresso drinks. Drip coffee folks are relegated to the double Americano.

John F: I have always wondered what the origins of Seattle's interest in it really is. Obviously it is a trend that started a long time ago. Where is the population of Seattle from?

igLiz: Usually from all over and the coffee bean isn't really indigenous in these parts. I think it has something to do with the really dull winters when the rain mists for weeks and the days are really short so that we only get light from 9am to 4pm. I think it is a depression thing.

John F: But, you know, that circumstance happens all across the world. There are huge tracks of Europe and Asia that have the same kind of climate problem and their solution is booze. What a type-A personality kind of thing to look to coffee to solve the problem.

igLiz: And we do have some really great chocolatiers that act as another depression remedy, especially for those who don't like coffee.

John F: There are some really good choco... chocolatiers, I can't get use to saying that because it sounds so much like mouseketeer... but there are some really incredible chocolatiers in Brooklyn and in New York City right now. If anyone comes to New York, there is this really great place called City Bakery on 17th Street, which is certainly an easy enough name to remember. They make the most insane hot chocolate. It is super good.

For the more adventurous, there is this place called Jacques Torres. He has a place in Brooklyn by the base of the Manhattan Bridge that is a chocolate shop and they make hot chocolate. The weird thing is that they make hot chocolate for adults and it is incredibly spiced hot chocolate. It is draconically good.

igLiz: In New York do you always make your own coffee or do you go someplace in particular?

John F: I have a morning ritual that as soon as I get into the rhythm of it, I try to; because if you want to write songs, having enforced downtime is a very productive thing to build into your schedule. It is a way to let your mind be free. I could easily get up and start writing emails before I even get dressed and find myself in the same chair at five o'clock at night and I would have gotten a lot done with my business but I would have gotten nothing done creatively.

I have this semi-elaborate walk between my house and my project studio that includes stopping off at the Verb Café on 5th Avenue that is in the Bohemian Mall where the Yoga center is and this place called Mikey's Hookup. Mikey's sells computer cables which is so more practical than it sounds. They basically sell Scotch tape for 20th century life.

I get my cup of coffee there and I say "Hello" to the person who is selling the coffee and nothing else. And I feel vaguely self-conscious that they are going to say, "That is the guy from They Might Be Giants" as I leave. There is a little bit of a Seinfeld episode there. There is a tip jar right there and, what do I do? I buy a $1.50 cup of coffee and I tip a $1 everyday. It is my penance for being a semi-public figure in a place like that.

And what is really funny is that for a long time there was this fellow who worked there. He had a very extreme look. He is one of the guys in the band TV on the Radio. He is a really nice guy, really friendly. It was one of those things where everyday, for I don't know for how long, I would get my gigantic cup of black coffee from him. I would just wander off back to my studio and try to write a song.

I guess, six months ago or a year ago I looked in the paper and there was this picture of a band and they were like, "This band is the freshest breeze out of Brooklyn, New York" and I was like, "That is the guy who sells me my coffee!"

But then he was gone! The second I found out that he was in this band... and they really are an exceptional band, they are a totally terrific interesting thing... and from the second I knew who they were, he just disappeared. He never returned to the coffee place. But, I am happy to say that the Verb Café has plenty more good coffee help, even though he is gone.

So are we running out of question one, entering the second half hour of our chat?

igLiz: Yea, let know whenever you need to move onto your next task too.

John F: I really have very few phoners left today. I am fine.

igLiz: Now you just have them in the time zones west of Seattle?

John F: I have actually done quite a few phone interviews today. So I am a little bit blurry about what I've said. It is good to do this kind of interview because I won't say the same things I've already said before.

I really want to know about Three Imaginary Girls. What is the story behind your project? And I want to see this part of the interview in print.

igLiz: Well, that would be great to print it because we really need to beef up our "About Us" page.

John F: Good, so let's work on the "About Us" page right now.

So who had the idea for Three Imaginary Girls? It started out as a fanzine? Or as a website?

igLiz: Actually, it has always been a website.

John F: That is very aughts {00s} of you.

igLiz: Exactly. It was actually it was a culmination of a series of ideas that Dana and I had and...

John F: And were you in your apartment, or in Dana's apartment?

igLiz: Actually, it involves the Long Winters.

John F: Get outta TOWN!

igLiz: True!

John F: Well that guy {John Roderick} has got more joie de vivre then a busload of Frenchmen.

igLiz: That is true. And he can grow hair faster than anyone else I know besides that.

What happened was that one night, I think it was May 30 of 2002 there were two really good shows the same night. The Hives and the Long Winters... so Dana and I decided to divide and conquer. She went to the Long Winters show and I went to the Hives show.

John F: That is tough though because the guys from the Hives have supernatural rock powers.

igLiz: The lead singer especially. I totally want to give ten percent of my income to him. He is amazing.

John F: As a tribute to Iggy Pop?

igLiz: As tithing. He is an evangelical figure.

John F: I think his whole, "Have you been cheating on the Hives?" thing is... He has an understanding of English as a second language that is more astute than... I mean, how can it be his second language? How can he not know how delicious his weird fractured, damaged English is? He is really aware.

igLiz: It is highly evolved jive talking. That is what he does.

John F: Yeah, he is really good. He is just the perfect rockstar. I don't even know his name, but I think he is a genius.

igLiz: It makes me believe whatever they are saying. I can walk into their show and be like, "Eh, the Hives record is good" and then I'll see them live and I am like...

John F: "Have you been cheating on the Hives!" That is such a funny idea.

igLiz: Are you going to try that in your banter one night? "Have you been cheating on the Giants?"

John F: It would be interesting to try to morph that idea into something else. It is sort of suggests a whole way of thinking that you never really think about: your band and the perception of the audience.

I am more of a straight shooter. I am more in the John Roderick school of stage rap. I am kind of a break through the forth wall like we are all here in this room together. I am not quite so theatrical.

So what was the outcome of the Hives versus the Long Winters.

igLiz: Oh, yea, so late that night of the Hives / Long Winters shows, Dana left a message on my cell phone that basically said, "I've got it! Why don't we start a website?"

And then the next morning while we were instant messaging back and forth talking about the shows and what happened, she pointed out that we had just written a show review for the previous night's activities. Every time we would see a show we would end up writing mini show reviews to each other and our friends or families to recount what was going on anyway... so why not chronicle a sort of historical journal of this "moment in time" in Seattle music in the form of a website.

John F: And who is the third imaginary girl?

igLiz: She is awesome. Her name is Char!

We went with the name because of the Cure song and album, "Three Imaginary Boys".

John F: Oh... OK. You could have called it "Pornography" and you certainly would have gotten more hits.

igLiz: Exactly. We get enough weird search google things as it is. There have been times where we are out and we introduce ourselves and the person is surprised that the site isn't written by some guy typing away in his Mom's basement.

John F: And so there is a third imaginary girl...

igLiz: Yep. We found the third imaginary girl, Char, just a little under a year after we started.

John F: And so as they say in public radio, what is your mission statement? Is it to rock the casa?

igLiz: Our m.o. is something like that. It is that, at the time we started, some of the music journalism in Seattle was taking an overly negative slant on things. They seemed to take pride in tearing bands or shows apart rather than seeing the beauty in it and the fact that getting up there and playing music that you have written is really hard to do...

John F: You know, I have got to tell you that you guys are living in the wildest cultural bubble of recent memory.

I am from New York City and in New York we've got hip hop and that pretty much eliminates everything else. We live in the epicenter of hip-hop culture. The funny thing is that people sometimes say, "Oh you are a New York band, what does that mean to you? Lovin' Spoonful, Velvet Underground?" And is it is like, "Dude, no."

It basically means that you are reminded that being in a rock band is "old fashioned" and out-of-date straight out-of-the-box. There is nothing more irrelevant than rock. And what is funny to me is that Seattle, you guys LOVE the rock music. You guys think that rock is alive!

Rock is actually so not alive. Rock is so dead. Its treble-kicking cross-eyed step child is kicking hard in Seattle. It is so weird to me. You have multiple alternative rock radio stations. It is just really different. I can't believe it. And this is even after Pearl Jam that you think that alternative rock is going to be big.

It is like you went through the whole thing... I mean, I guess Silverchair isn't from Seattle, that would have unplugged the entire idea, but basically I would think that you guys would be reeling from that. It is very inspiring.

I had to interview Death Cab for Cutie a couple months ago for a radio show that I was doing in New York. The one thing I couldn't pin them down on, just because maybe it was just too dumb, but I really felt like these are guys who grew up as teenagers in the shadow of all this grunge stuff. What do you do after that?

I don't know if you have studied modern art at all, but there is this very famous painter called Ad Reinhardt that did these all black field paintings. They are strange paintings because there is a little bit of a gimmick to them. If you stand in front them for an extended period of time, you grow accustomed to what it looks like and then you can actually see a pattern within the painting. It is kind of a two part test. If you just walk in front of it and just say, "I know what this is" and walk on you never see what is really there. It is kind of rewarding for the person with a little more patience.

He was a painting instructor as well and people would ask him what his paintings meant and what the legacy of his paintings was. And he said very definitively, "After me there is nothing."

It sounds very arrogant, but it is actually in some way appropriate and kind of honest. Because he is investigating an idea that can't be built be upon. There is no "next part" to it. There is no, "I was influenced by Ad Reinhardt and then I built this whole new way of painting on top of it."

And I feel that there is something about grunge that is like that. It is sort of the end of the line. It is already Pete Townsend 2.0. It is already teenage rampage to the second power. So it doesn't seem like there should a "new grunge." There should never be a new grunge, but it seems like Seattle has to deal with... the I guess the funny thing is that Seattle is filled with people who love music now more than most people will ever love music because they have experienced this really visceral super exciting-rock thing. I guess they just want more rock music in their life.

Also, Seattle has been lucky since then. You've got these great record labels and these great bands. And who would have thought that that could keep on going? That kind of shocks me.

With They Might Be Giants, basically John and I... I moved to New York to go to Pratt School, and John moved to New York because he was in a more legit kind of pop band. In the back of our minds we were also thinking, "It is 1981, punk rock has been happening for a couple of years and it is all happening out of New York. It is really, really cool so let's move to New York because there will be all this cool stuff happening."

We got here and there was absolutely nothing cool happening here. It was basically all the clubs that mattered had been shuttered, save for CBGBs which had turned into an unpleasant bar experience. It was a very uninspired, essentially dead scene. It would take a bunch of years before things would be resurrected.

It seems like Seattle has just gone from strength to strength.

igLiz: Yeah, it is hard in interviews when we've had to answer questions about, "How did it get this way?" or "What do you think is the magic ingredient?" and our answer is, "Well, great music has always been around and people keep on moving here and people keep on supporting things local and that gives people the inspiration to do it..."

John F: Also, you are lucky, I have just done this MoveOn.org compilation thing with Josh at Barsuk and I've worked with a lot of different people in the music business over the years and, I gotta say, his level of commitment to an abstract idea of what is a cool thing to do sets him so far apart from everyone else. Somehow, it seems like the entire environment has really held on to its idealism in way that certainly doesn't happen in New York and I don't know where else it happens besides Seattle.

igLiz: Yes, we are really lucky to have Barsuk.

John F: Yes, they are super-cool. And they put out so many records. They have a huge roster. It is bizarre.

PART THREE:
igLiz: It is just a consistent mix of quality smart stuff. So speaking of the compilation that you are doing for MoveOn.org... besides buying the CD and voting, what do you recommend the average indie-rocker do to affect what is going on?

John F: I don't know.. I did the project for very nonpublic reasons in a certain sense. I am essentially reticent to even get into it because I think that listening to musicians talk about politics is possibly one of the most suspect things.

I think buying the record is one thing, but voting is something else. The whole idea of the record is to show solidarity with the idea that there is hope, and that is significant. People need to remember how close the election was last time, and it has only gotten worse since then. Bush got in, and he shouldn't have gotten in. We have got to figure out a way to get him out.

All the clichés that people harp on, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" Think about how horrible things have gone in the last three and a half years. It is just unbelievable. As a citizen I feel like people need to focus on the positive and focus on what is doable and figure out a way to make a positive change rather than sitting at home and being angry and cynical. Just get over yourself and register to vote and really vote. A lot of people don't. A lot of people are kidding themselves that they actually are involved when they really aren't. Voting takes a little bit of time and takes a little bit of focus. It is a couple of notches more difficult than paying your parking ticket. It is a chore in a way. But it is the chore that has been given to citizens to make a difference. It is really important.

It is the war that really creeped me out and I realized that Bush had become the most destructive president we've had for a really long time. This surprised me, frankly. When he got into office, I was as lulled — as everyone else was — by the sort of weird ride out of the Clinton administration. Politics had become one big trivial pursuit game. It was just like "Monica, OK, whatever." The most important stuff was actually pretty silly. It didn't seem like the challenges of the future were going to be that great.

Now, it seems like the challenges of the future are almost impossible. Now is an important time to have your voice be heard. I find our conversations about people being in swing states and stuff like that to be very wearisome. Everybody knows what the real deal is. We have to get this guy out. I choose not to be too calculating about it.

And you know what? I am from Massachusetts. I am liberal. I am your classic tax and spend liberal. I have got no problems with Kerry. It doesn't have to be perfect. It just can't be what it is right now. That is just the relativistic world of me. It is a very strange thing.

Doing this MoveOn.org compilation has been a very interesting education in the whole ways of political speech. I don't think anyone realized how difficult the whole PAC thing was. I ran into ideas that you just never really thought about.

igLiz: With the John Kerry and John Edwards ticket, are you tired of the John and John jokes?

John F: The John and John joke has gotten real traction, I can tell you. That has come up early and often. In fact, I was thinking that we should really make a "Vote for John and John" t-shirt.

igLiz: You should!

John F: Although who knows. You never know who is in your audience. You don't want to alienate people unnecessarily.

igLiz: You could always bring in Linda Ronstadt to do that.

John F: Oh yea. Or Whoopi Goldberg... someone who everyone hates. I always wondered about Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams. Do they realize that everyone hates them?

igLiz: I hope so. That did surprise me about what happened to Linda Ronstadt ...

John F: Yeah, but that has been her thing for forever. She has always been a big liberal.

igLiz: Really?

John F: She is like your friend's liberal mom. She speaks her mind in a very clear straightforward way. But I guess she has graduated to these really snoozy Vegas gigs which are just about making people relax. It isn't really relaxing when you are playing the Golden Circle and you start mouthing off about how much the president sucks. And folks are like "Hey, we are here to gamble and spend ridiculous amounts of money."

igLiz: OK, you should totally come up with "Vote for John and John" t-shirts... I want one!

John F: You know, I actually wrote it down as we were talking...

igLiz: Good, ACTION ITEM!

John F: Things to do tomorrow. Make a Vote for John and John t-shirt. It will sell like hotcakes.

igLiz: You mentioned Massachusetts, earlier. Anytime anyone mentions Massachusetts I think of Frank Black and the Pixies and "UMass" and start singing, "that's educational..."

John F: I always think of Jonathon Richmond because I left Massachusetts before Frank Black emerged. We did shows with the Pixies when they were first starting out when they were a local band in Boston.

igLiz: What did you think when you first saw them?

John F: I was like a character actor on the side like in A Star is Born. They went from being completely unknown to being really big so fast.

We were just plodding along. We had real success all the way through our career, but those guys just blew up in a way that I had never seen a band blow up. It seemed as unlikely as anything. When a band trips over an interesting idea, and there is a certain amount of heat around a band, that... like, I heard about the Pixies from the guy who ran BarNone, Glen Marrow. He was talking about the Pixies demo saying it was really good.

Then the Pixies were opening for us at this place, Green Street Station in Jamaica Plain {in Boston} which was this really obscure club that held about 100 people. Glen wanted to check them out because he wanted to sign them. They had formed like six months earlier and they had the one demo.

We saw them perform and my mother went to the show. It was notable, you know, when your mom goes out to the show. I don't think she really cared for the Pixies. But the X-factor that was really unanticipated was the sheer volume of the band. It was insane. It was like you were pinned to the other side of the wall. They were just playing at arena rock volume level. They were a tremendous band.

A year later they were as big as bands get. They were just an enormous band in Europe and everybody's favorite thing. I got to know Charles {Frank Black}. I felt like we had kind of a unique rapport because there were so few people that were going through the things that he was going through. He found a lot of the stuff a bit insane. A lot of the business of being in a band and the way you are pushed and prodded. He found it very strange and obnoxious. We were slightly more experienced but at the same time didn't have any of the trajectory that they had.

I remember having many long conversions with him about those kinds of things. And I am grateful for that. There are few people that you can talk to about being on a press junket. There is no manual that says, "When you are on a press junket, this is what you are going to have to deal with." It was really interesting and informative. He certainly didn't think very differently than we ever did. It was a really interesting moment.

So who have else you interviewed? Let's ask some more questions for the "About Us" section... Who was the most exciting person for you to interview?

igLiz: Um... I would say... that is hard because I've been pretty lucky in getting interviews. I would say David Gedge from the Wedding Present and Cinerama.

John F: I know about the Wedding Present. Really? That meant more to you than any other?

igLiz: Yep. It was one of those things where it all fell together just right. It was the first time I had lunch with a person whose songwriting I have worshiped for decades.

Mclusky was a very memorable interview. I was a bit intimidated about that one because their music is a bit on the abrasive end of the sort of stuff I like and they curse a lot. So I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into.

John F: Who is Mclusky?

igLiz: They just released their third album. I interviewed them right after their second album was released and it was their first tour of the US.

John F: They are from England?

igLiz: They are from Wales...

John F: So you are kind of an anglophile then...

igLiz: Somewhat... and then there are my other favorite bands like, They Might Be Giants, The Pixies, Thermals, Tullycraft, Bright Eyes... the Atlantic Ocean separates the right and left sides of my brain.

John F: So you like, American-accessible-baby-brother-bands.

igLiz: Exactly.

John F: What about the Death Cab-Long Winters-Vanderslice-Barsuk family?

igLiz: I love them. We did interview Sean Nelson. But that interview ended up going on for four hours. He came over and made us dinner and were talking and...

John F: Were you guys drunk?

igLiz: Um, we were drinking.

John F: I want this part to be in the interview. You were drunk at an interview and you call yourself a professional?

igLiz: It was part of Sean's rider. He said, "I want to have a tig!" {The Three Imaginary Girls' signature drink of Mandrin vodka, soda water and lime}. So I got a gallon of Mandrin Vodka as that is what Sean wanted. Whatever the interviewee wants, I supply.

John F: So you had a jug of vodka with a handle on it?

igLiz: Yes.

John F: Wow!

igLiz: That interview was big fun. It hasn't been posted yet... we need to finalize it. We kept on asking him questions and he wouldn't answer them.

John F: What were the hard-hitting questions? I can answer questions for him. I can answer any Harvey Danger question you pose.

igLiz: Great.

John F: It was artistic differences.

igLiz: He is doing the Harvey Danger thing full time now... and I thought he was a brilliant part of the Long Winters.

John F: I thought he was a tremendous addition to the Long Winters and this is what I've told John Roderick and this is what I've told Sean Nelson.

They opened for They Might Be Giants as a duo in San Francisco and blew the room away. So often when you see bands, what they do as a band might be very interesting. But when you reduce it down to the essential core parts of the songs, it might be really woefully lacking in interest.

It was just the opposite with them. Stripped down, the songs off the last Long Winters record were tremendously interesting and it was a really, really powerful show. I feel like they had a really interesting musical affiliation and I am sorry to hear that they are not collaborating anymore because I feel like there was a lot there.

The Harvey Danger thing obviously has potential, but the problem is that the shadow of the early success of Harvey Danger is always going to be there. Sean is too smart of a guy to get involved in a reunion project... but I don't know if it is just that it is a brand name that they can build on or it could be a new creative project. I haven't really talked to him about it. I have got his most recent recordings and they are really cool. He is a very talented guy. In some ways, I wonder why he just doesn't go out as Sean Nelson.

igLiz: He has played a couple shows around here as Sean Nelson and his Mortal Enemies.

John F: That is a good name.

igLiz: It is very Sean Nelson.

John F: It is Sean Nelson 100%.

igLiz: I think he needs to come up with the next Hedwig. I bet he could write one hellava musical.

John F: Interesting. Not the Sean Nelson Slideshow Players?

igLiz: He could do that. I think it might limit him a little bit. With a musical, he has a whole stage to play with. He could have dancers...

John F: I guess so. But then you have a whole stage to fill.

igLiz: True. Though, he has enough personality to fill a whole stage.

John F: Well, he can certainly fill your mind. But I think, you know, he might just need a couple slides. I think that slideshow format is more versatile than you might think. I think it would work for me or Sean.

igLiz: You could pull in modern art or...

John F: Exactly. You could do it like an art history class.

igLiz: If it ever gets boring, just have someone dance behind the screen.

John F: Nice.

igLiz: And with the Long Winters, do you take any satisfaction in the fact that now the Long Winters have a horn section called, the Long Horns? I think it is a bit of a nod to you...

John F: I have not heard hide nor hair about the Long Horns. I did not know that is part of the master plan. When did that happen? Was it in the last three months?

igLiz: At least, maybe April or May.

John F: Funny.

igLiz: I think you all indie-rock-ized the horn section.

John F: I think it is really uncharted territory for indie rock save for a couple They Might Be Giants records. You know this whole thing about carrying horns, is that there goes your profit margins.

igLiz: Exactly. That is what happened with the ska bands.

John F: Unless they are your friends from band, how are you ever going to carry a horn section and ever come home with any bread money? I don't know.

Oh no! It is getting late! I had better go!

igLiz: No problem! Thanks... this was big fun!

John F: Yes, thank you!

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