Saturday, March 8, 2008

Stephin Merritt is a Disagreeable Fellow

But a damn fine songwriter. Lily and I saw him speak at the Richard Hugo House on Wednesday. We were already acquainted with his reputation as an interviewer's nightmare, but it didn't help things that the interviewer asked the most obvious and obnoxious questions ever. Here's a sampling of questions followed by their answers (all wording is approximate, but close):

I did some research of you on Wikipedia. The website that has entries on everybody and everything...
Famously inaccurate articles, yes.
Well, it listed your most frequent motifs as "trains and railroads, the age 17, the moon, dancing, cities, rain, eyes and faces, and love." Would you like to add or subtract from that list?
(extended silence)
What other motifs are there? Besides, those are motifs that can be found in just my song titles.

If you were trapped on a desert island, what food would you have with you?
(long pause)
You mean, aside from obvious things like coconuts and fish?
Yeah, like what kind of cuisine?
(extended silence)
The kind I could buy in New York or Los Angeles.

What one movie would you have on the desert island?
One movie? Probably something that either taught me how to get off the island, or something depressing enough to give me the strength to kill myself.

What one CD would you want?
(quietly disbelieving that these questions are still being asked)
The Soviet Army Chorus and Band playing "It's a Long Way to Tipperary." That way it would be loud enough to attract rescue planes, but would also not offend anyone's ideology.

To Stephin's credit, he didn't get up and leave, and to the interviewer's credit, he didn't get flustered by the seemingly eternal pauses, but it was still one of the most uncomfortable interviews I've ever seen. But obviously very funny nonetheless.

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