What do you think the change was with Please Kill Me?
Well, now every band sounds like the Ramones, and no bands sounded like the Ramones before that book came out. In a way, I think the book is really so great, but it has a very specific worldview, a very specific value system, an ideology that it proposes. It's basically latently conservative, this whole "partying" thing. It's very conservative, in a sense.
Do you think popular musical movements are always going to have this drastic swing between music that is considered "radical" and that which is "conservative"? Especially the way that so much music is sort-of secretly conservative, conservative in a coded way. I mean, someone like Iggy Pop, or the Ramones, as being part of a conservative musical movement, because they were so "shocking"!
Well, if you read someone likeDan Graham- in the punk era, he wrote about the Ramones as if they were this cunning deconstruction of conservative values. But they're just a bubblegum band, and he's mistaking their intent as this real arty thing. It's interesting. It's kind of--I mean, I guess - I'm sorry, can you ask your question again?
Well, I guess what I'm really asking is: is there something inherently conservative about sticking around for a really long time playing music, turning your music into a brand, something easily recognizable and identifiable. Is that "conservative"?
Well, I don't know, because I think that the whole idea of rock and roll as being this youth thing - from the time I was a child, all I ever heard about the Rolling Stones, my whole life, is how old they are. And it's like give them a break! Because we let Miles Davis get old, we let Howlin' Wolf get old and play music. It's kind of absurd, especially because when you do see old people play music, they're usually pretty good, they've learned something over the years. I mean, if you see Al Green play, he has such mastery and presence. I'm sure when he was young and lithe there was something else going on, but he's great. And I don't think it's conservative to keep playing music into your old age, actually I think it's a rebellious action because society has such disdain for it. So in a contrary sense, people are so disdainful toward - our country only respects success, or I should say they only respect success based on monetary or chart success. If you try to tell your family that you're an artist or a poet, it's pathetic. After your 26 or so, I mean.
I do think that rock and roll might be inherently conservative, though. Because it's based on a lot of ideas of - it's so stuck up it's ass, I guess. It's hardly revolutionary, I think. It's stuck up it's ass in the sense that it's constantly referring to itself, and every permutation is - if it's not about some new gizmo, like jungle music or some new drum machine, it's usually based on getting conservative. It's a lot like religion, where the new movement is always "Let's get more strict!" "Let's bring it back to basics!"