I’ve been involved in only a handful of conference-call interviews or reporters’ scrums. Each time, I have come armed with questions. Sometimes I even got to ask them.
With Joan Jett, I was allotted a generous total of two questions. During a Corel Centre (or was it the Palladium?) gathering at the feet of a very approachable Alanis Morissette, I chose to ask no questions. Why? The tone of the media love-in was set early on by a gushing question from one local reporter: “Did you bring a ‘special’ friend to town with you?” I decided my two prepared questions were too good for this crowd; though, I suspect, Alanis would have welcomed them. And as for Madonna‘s press conference in Toronto, I knew chances of my getting in a question amid the MuchMusic and YTV personalities were slim to none.
Some of my stranded questions were shelved as a result of strictly-enforced time constraints. Offered a mere 10 minutes to talk to the great Rev Al Green, for instance, I was ultimately forced to choose between a potential five-minute reminiscence about working with producer Willie Mitchell, or asking for the location of the best pulled pork in Memphis. I of course went the pulled-pork route: short and snappy was the order of the day.
All of which, alas, has left a number of probing questions in search of a home. Some are, to my mind, strong enough that they have stayed with me for over a decade. Surely, they deserve to be aired, for the greater good. And if their original intended interviewees are not available to provide answers, well, they’re still good questions. And good questions deserve answers. Good ones, preferably.
Yet, to whom can one turn for good, memorable musings?
Locals know well that Michael Dubue, whose Hilotrons recently released another gem of an album with At Least There’s Commotion, is always quick with a quotable quote. Peel back the emotional layers of Dubue’s songs and one will find a sometimes-frightening honesty, expressed poetically by one of our city’s true originals. To that end, Dubue will perform a one-man Hilotrons show Friday, March 29, at Kemptville’s funky The Branch restaurant. It promises to be a memorable evening. And with that in mind, let’s take a moment to piece together a memorable interview — one that like the music of Hilotrons provides tomorrow’s answers to yesterday’s musical questions.
And to Alanis, Joan, Madonna and the good reverend… you had your chance. It’s Dubue’s turn now, in a real-time email exchange.
So let’s get on with it.
Are you as pissed with Gary Glitter as I am for making it impossible to ever hear Do You Want to Touch Me the same way again?
Gary Glitter’s version of Do You Wanna Touch Me is sort of like this. Another two words to describe it: Super Lazy — which Joan Jett is not. Maybe it wasn’t his idea…? Ah, whatever — fuck him: He sucks!
How important was Willie Mitchell’s contribution to those Hi Records releases?
Well… I don’t really know the entire Hi Records catalog too well. Yep. But… I would ignorantly say (being a big Al Green fan and without digging for information online to seem cleverer than I am… or think I am) Willie is the shit! And speaking of shit, the biggest piece of shit that he could possibly produce is 10,000 years ahead of everything that’s been recorded since 1995 (and that’s being generous). But whatever — I’m a pretentious fuck who struggles over which $15 Brandenburg Concerto LP set to buy, based on room mic placement… and the answer to that is not the Deutsche Grammophon first pressing.
Do you worry you’ll never reach a point where the public and media will allow your music to speak for itself? Should it?
To be honest, pop music (all forms) is kind of a drag. I could care less about what people take away from a modern songwriter — especially young ones. We’re all just so full of shit! In fact, it’s pretty much the most embarrassing thing: “Look at me! Look at me! I make pop music in 2013! I deserve everything!” Like, who fucking cares… unless you’re Le1f or something. He’s incredible, to me, as I’ve never heard music like that before. What a concept: pushing the envelope, trying to be original… one day, I hope to achieve this, instead of making pop music that sounds like half of my record collection.
In light of the fact that India still sees incidents of such practices as bride-burnings and sexual assault is a constant threat, how do you reconcile that harsh reality with your claim that travelling through that nation brought you in touch with a newfound spirituality and femininity?
Canadian, Broadcasting, Corporation. Tells, Me, Everything. Born, In, 1978. Missed, Everything, Good. Love, Watching, Oprah. Smoked, Quebec, Weed. On, Montreal, Vacation. Never, Left, Country. Then, Left, Country. For, Two, Weeks. I, Learned, Everything. On, India, Soil. This, Is, Because. I, Am, White. Eat, Drink, Bridgehead.
You turned your back on secular music for many years. What brought you back to it? Does it detract from the gospel numbers featured in your live set?
You know, every interview I do, I get asked this question. So, I’ll say it again and I’ll say it proud: It doesn’t matter because my loving, heavenly Jesus is always singing through me no matter what I sing! My fans feel that! They know! God bless them! They know I’m here to serve the lord and the lord only — no matter what direction I take with my music! They’ve been there from the start and they know who I am and what is important to me — the lord Jesus almighty! Hallelujah!
What did Kim Fowley and The Runaways teach you about what not to do in the music business?
What do you miss most about Ottawa?
Do you ever take a moment to look back at something and wonder: What was I thinking? You know, things like the Sex book, the Justify My Love video, Dennis Rodman…
Nope. My only regret about my career is that I can’t do it over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Like, I have so much fucking money… fuck… why am I even sitting here answering questions by some music journalist from some nowhere place called “Ottawa”?
(Needless to say, that last answer probably comes closest to the one I would have received all those years ago.)
And that’s about it. I’m sure I can dig up more unasked questions in search of answers. And, in light of Mr. Dubue’s contribution to the cause, it may well be worth a bit of digging.