Bill Gates will single-handedly spearhead the Heaven 17 revival.
Here at Des Noise, I don't really do interviews. I already have a bunch of writing I'm assigned to do, some of which I ostensibly do mainly because it's fun, so when I'm writing for this completely unprofessional blog (hmm, that doesn't sound right, does it?) I like to stay as far away from news cycles and PR ridiculousness as possible. Jonathan Richman once said the day being a musician started to feel like work, he'd quit-- he never has-- and I hope I can be that way about music writing, too.
But I made an exception when I heard the Mountain Goats were coming to Iowa City and main man John Darnielle would be available for interviews. If you're not familiar with the longtime singer and songwriter's many albums, some great discoveries await you; from his early days recording with just a boombox, to his increasingly orchestrated recent work, Darnielle excels at highly literary (not in that boring wanna-be-Bob-Dylan way) and emotionally complex songs that will stick with you a lifetime-- or at least about seven years, which is how long they've lasted me since I first got into his music. Darnielle used to live in Ames, and he once described his recording style in those days as not lo-fi but "bi-fi"-- I wonder if that's where Poison Control Center's Patrick Tape Fleming, also of Ames, got the name for his now-defunct record label? (Patrick, let me know in the comments...)
Sounds kind of dumb when I say it but it's true.
Anyway, the Mountain Goats play the Blue Moose Taphouse in Iowa City with New York fuzz-poppers the Beets on June 12. Their 2009 album, The Life of the World to Come, titles its songs after Bible verses, and includes some of my favorite entries in the (by now sprawling) MGs catalogue; also check out John's book on Black Sabbath's Master of Reality for the 33 1/3 series. And his Last Plane to Jakarta blog. Oh, and his message board comments on R. Kelly's "Ignition (Remix)" are legendary, too. So I decided to revive my previously short-lived Five Questions With... feature, and John was kind enough to e-mail me his responses on Iowa, the Beets, CocoRosie, health insurance, and cultivating a strong local music scene. (I asked one extra question just in case, so-- bonus!)