More Q&A with Dr. David Thorpe
Which album was more important - Nirvana's Nevermind or NIN's The Downward Spiral, and why?
Clearly, both albums had a monumental impact on popular music, but I think the real question is: which one inspired more suicides? Surely they both put a lot of losers out of commision. I don’t think there are any reliable statistics on this sort of thing, but we might be able to work it out if we look up the police reports of teen suicides from April of 1994 (Cobain shuffled off his mortal domepiece on April 15th, only about a month after The Downward Spiral came out) and determine how many of the ill-fated youngsters were wearing flannel and how many were wearing black mesh t-shirts and nail polish.
Is punk dead?
Of course! “Punk” as a noun was destroyed sometime in the late Seventies and was eventually replaced with the adjective “punk rock,” which means “covered in metal studs.” The two concepts are, as far as I can tell, entirely unrelated.
Can you pinpoint the exact time and location where punk died?
Not really, because to do that I’d have to pinpoint the exact time and location when it started. Its birth and its death were a simultaneous event. A lot of people claim that it was over before it started, but that’s not exactly accurate, since it never actually had time to start or end before it destroyed itself. Does that make sense? No? That’s what’s so punk rock about it (ugh, I just made myself shudder).
Why the hell is emo called "emo"? Isn't all music emotional?
Emo is short for “emocore,” not “emotional.” Emocore was the brand of hardcore which had lyrics about being personally pathetic instead of politically pathetic. As for all music being emotional, haven’t you heard She Wants Revenge? That dude affects disaffection so hard he sounds like a whiny Vulcan.
What album would you play for the insurgency in Iraq to convince them that America is awesome and not out to kill them?
It’s pretty hard to stay mad while listening to Boston, but maybe that’s just a cultural thing. I have a feeling those guys could stay mad listening to anything, even The Turtles or Dueling Banjos.
When does a band "sell out?" It is even a viable term?
A band has “sold out” when their fans no longer get feel like part of an elite clique. This generally happens when a band attracts interest from a major label, who provides them with a higher recording budget, which results in just enough polish to make the band acceptable to a slightly wider audience; unfortunately, the better production generally reveals the band’s basic lack of musical talent, which hipsters could previously not see because it was hidden behind a blurry cloud of “lo-fi.”. What hipsters once assumed were “fractured pop songs” are revealed to simply be “bad pop songs,” and the hipsters aren’t smart enough to figure out why their favorite band suddenly seems to suck way more than before, so they blame it on “commercial production” and this mysterious and ephemeral force of “selling out.”
Can you tell me where you were and what you were doing the exact moment when Green Day saved rock?
I was in hell, practicing my double axel.
Music during sex: yes or no? If yes, what kind of music?
Yes. “The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down,” when played at 45 RPM, can greatly enhance any romantic encounter. Try it during your next coupling for increased performance and a firmer anatomy.
Will rap music ever receive the same level of critical acclaim as mainstream guitar-based radio friendly songs?
Hey buddy, next time you go back in time to 1989, bring me back a sports almanac like Biff in Back to the Future II so I can get rich.
Do you think the attractiveness of a bands members has a bearing on how popular they become?
Of course not. That’s why Christopher Cross is still such a major force in the music industry.
Which instrument is the most lame and/or spells doom for your band, the keytar or those basses without heads or bodies?
People nowadays mostly seem to use the keytar for ironic purposes, which is lame enough, but the headless bass is just such a dorky goofball disaster that there’s simply nothing funny about it.
Musicians have a history of dying young. If you could choose one musician from history to actually live out their lives until old age, continuing to write music, who would it be and why?
Ian Curtis, because as bad as his singing voice was, Bernard Sumner’s is worse.
Did the band members of Journey ever have souls?
Perhaps, but like Robert Johnson, who sold his soul in exchange for guitar virtuosity, they sold them to Satan in exchange for the ability to write The Ultimate Ballad. You know which one I mean.
If The Beatles were ever revived somehow and reformed, how long do you think it would take before the inevitable synth-based funk album?
They’d have to resurrect Billy Preston, too, or else it would be a hopeless endeavor. But something tells me that the white man would never allow the resurrection of a brother. That’s the only reason Pac is still dead, you feel me? We got to rise up.
What band is going to release the next album that will get 10.0 from Pitchfork Media?
Also, when Frances Bean Cobain grows up and starts a band (and she will, in all likeliness - the call of money will be hard to resist), what kind of music will she perform?
Your second question answered your first question. As for your second question: probably an extremely calculated Garden State-esque stab at indie credibility, the likes of which only someone born automatically rich and cool could shit out.
What are good qualifications to find out if my forest is cold and grim enough for black metal bands to have photo shoots or do recordings in?
There has to be just the right amount of frost and mist. There has to be enough frost and mist to make everything look nice and creepy, but too much mist interferes with the holding power of their ghoulish makeup, and too much frost congeals all the lamb blood.
Answer the age old question: Beatles or Stones?
-Pretty Little Girl
I’d hand it to the Beatles, because two of them had the dignity and self-respect to die. Brian Jones died too, of course, but he forfeited all his dignity points by starting to suck in his prime.
What song would be better if it was twice as long?
John Cage’s 4’33”.
What is the best music to pick up chicks with?
-The Great Catsby
Most guys would have the instinct to try for the Lilith Fair type stuff, but that only makes women think you’re an ineffectual pushover and they can talk to you about their periods and “cuddle” in a totally nonsexual way because you’re just such a good friend. If you really want a woman, roll up next to one with your whip blasting Chamillionaire and give them a warm, heartfelt “holla.”
Where the fuck is Richey James Edwards?
Although it’s less romantic than some notions, I subscribe to the “jumped in a river” theory. Maybe his remains have never been found simply because before he jumped, he whittled off all his flesh with a razor blade so that it could be easily consumed by fish.
If you could have dinner at a fancy restaurant with any musician or group, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
I’d love to sit with mid-90s era John Popper and maybe pre-stomach-stapling Carnie Wilson and just watch them eat. It would be like a circus act.
What do we need to see more of and less of in popular music?
I’ve noticed a definite swing in the past few years away from T and toward A. Ideally, we’d have both T and A in copious volumes, but if we had to have one or the other, I’d personally prefer a little more T and slightly less A.
If you HAD to choose (under the threat of eternal torture), which Heavy Metal band would you say is/was the best ever?
Every metal band I’ve never heard is tied for first place.
What exactly are the major contributing factors to the metalhead disorder?
I think it would be foolish to claim that there is such a thing as the metalhead disorder; being a metalhead involves a vast collection of disorders influenced by a wide variety of factors, including but not limited to: social awkwardness, tin ear, low standards, lack of aesthetic sensibility, ill breeding, taking Scott Ian’s beard seriously, poor hygiene, general ignorance and just plain bad taste. If you should catch your son slinking home with a Metallica tattoo late one night, immediately confiscate his record collection, his dragon shirt and his skull-shaped bong and enroll him in counseling.
What is the root cause of dragon hatred among power metal bands?
The “dragon” is simply a metaphor for all the terrifying foes that metal fans must vanquish in their young lives: dads, English class, their dickhead bosses at Subway, school picture day, running out of weed but being totally grounded for saying “fuck” in front of their moms so they can’t score any, having to pick up Amber for the prom in their grandma’s 1981 Pontiac Safari and looking like a total douche, and so forth.
Why do people look at me funny when I tell them I like ska?
Because you’re wearing a stupid fucking checkered fedora and suspenders and you listen to the worst music ever in history.
Am I justified in hitting a person in the face only because they like ska music?
Violence is never justified. But yes.
If you were presented with the opportunity to fuck ALL the Corrs, would you take it?
The three sisters are pretty hot, but I’m sharp enough to realize that you’re trying to entrap me into saying I’d have sex with that squirrelly little Liam Neeson-looking keyboard guy as well. The worst part is that they’re all siblings, so the dude would certainly not want to be touching his sisters, so it would basically be totally up to me to satisfy him (I couldn’t just let him fall in with the orgy at large and get his kicks parallel to me without us becoming “involved”). So, basically, I’d do it under this condition: I would have sex with the dude first, and I wouldn’t even try to do a good job or anything, I’d just be getting it over with. Then I’d wait a month or two to clear my head and get all my puking out of the way, and then I’d do one of the girls, probably Caroline, individually just to get back into the habit of it. After that, I’d wait another week to get my strength up and then I’d do Andrea and Sharon both at once as a reward to myself for being patient and having to fuck a dude.
Are there any two bands that you feel should merge to form one better band?
AFI and… does a volcano count as a band? But seriously, one of those stale guitar and drums duos like The Black Keys should merge with Morphine (which might involve resurrecting Mark Sandman) so they’d have a great rhythm section and a fuckin’ saxophone. It might work!
Why the fuck are all the "hot new bands" getting big in recent memory choosing to name themselves The _________? It just seems stupid to me.
-BAN ME PLEASE
You mean like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Doors, The Velvet Underground, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Jam, The Buzzcocks, The Replacements, The Dead Kennedys, The Smiths, The Cure, and The goddamn Notorious B.I.G.? Just because “the” names dropped off for a while in the 90s doesn’t mean whippersnappers with no sense of historical context get to whine about them now.
Will Scritti Politti ever get the critical acclaim they deserve?
Judging by the fact that they get very little critical acclaim, they already do. Have you heard the new Scritti single? It’s called— and I cannot tell a lie— “Boom Boom Bap.” Green Gartside sounds like your dad “discovering” rap.
If the 90s was alternative rock and electronic, what will the 2000s be remembered as?
The VH1 Presents “I Love the 00s” Decade. Our culture has lost the ability to reflect upon its past without phony ironic nostalgia and pithy commentary by Michael Ian Black.
Considering that Tegan and Sara are identical twins, how is it possible that Sara is so much hotter?
Tegan often wears a terrible Diamond Dogs mullet. Perhaps her reduced hotness is self-imposed; they drew straws to decide who would be The Hot One, and the loser had to get a really bad haircut. As a side note, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but the first time I heard “Walking with a Ghost” on the radio, I thought it was one of those Ween songs where they speed up the tape to make their voices sound all high.
After the bomb is dropped and the music industry ceases to exist what will people still be rocking out to?
Have you ever seen those guys in radical flame shirts and jester hats doing freestyle street-corner drum rockouts on buckets and bottles and blocks of wood and shit? Basically, what I’m saying is that I hope the bomb kills me.
After all this time, when so much ground has been covered, what can avant-garde and shock bands do that is new or interesting?
What type of music does God listen to?
I’d imagine he has to listen to all of it, all at once, the poor, miserable bastard. That’s why he’s always killing U.S. soldiers and causing space shuttle disasters. It’s not because of “fags,” like Fred Phelps says, it’s because he’s in a terrible mood. You would be too, if you had to listen to Jet and The Black Eyed Peas at the same time.
Who is most likely to take the mantle of 'Best Band Ever' from the current holder, U2? Wolfmother, or the Trans-Siberian Orchestra?
This is one of those loaded questions (like “do you still beat your wife?”) that would force me to accept an outrageous premise merely by answering it. Therefore I cannot dignify it with a reply, but I can tell you with supreme, infallible confidence that you have godawful taste in music and probably in everything else.
If animals (humans don't count in this case) could play music, what species do you think would have the most talent and why? What about ambition, longevity, or failures?
-BAN ME PLEASE
Whales are supposed to be pretty damn smart, but A) smart people don’t have a history of making great music and B) we’ve all heard whale songs and they suck, unless you’re into new age bullshit. I’d give it to Raccoons, because they have all the hallmarks of a great rock band: they come from working-class backgrounds, they’re not afraid to get down and dirty, they have an awesome gimmick (wearing masks), and they’re cute as heck. They’ve also got those little hands, so they could probably play guitars. As for ambition, I’d give it to dogs. They’re eager to please and desperate for love, so for a dog, getting famous would be the best thing ever. I’d hand it to tortoises for longevity, since they live a hundred years but manage to stay hip pretty much the whole time. Elephants would be total failures because they simply don’t have the disposition for rock and roll. Sorry, Babar, maybe you could work in promotion or something.
What could a band like Nickelback do to salvage some sort of artistic credibility?
Ever heard of a writer named Mishima?
That’s all for this edition of Q&A with Dr. David Thorpe. I’d like to thank my beloved Something Awful Goons for all the great questions. If anyone has further questions for me, they can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and their letters shall be promptly destroyed unread.