January 15, 2006
"In your naïvety you want it both ways," he replies. "You want to be able to say something meaningful that will touch people, but you want the whole nation to get it. Maybe that's an incredible conceit. I don’t know if anybody else feels that way, but I do. I'm egotistical. I want to bring people weeping to their knees. I’ve been doing this for a while, and it has gone beyond simply trying to write some fancy rhyming couplets. I want to make a sound akin to a terrific Abba song, or a terrific Blondie song. You don’t need to explain those to people. Bang! It's three minutes of pop ecstasy, it's Phil Spector, it's Roxy Music. That’s what I loved when I was younger: the hits."
Q: Last year was a breakout year for the band in the UK. What has that experience felt like from the inside?
A: It's strange because this time last year we were having trouble finding the money to get petrol to drive back from gigs. And now here we are, and we've had sold-out tours -- ''surreal" is the word. I'm walking [through] Staines now, like I've done a million times before, and nothing's different, nothing's changed. And yet out there, this music I wrote in my head is connecting with people.
What are your feelings regarding the popular theory that MC5 were the first punk band/one of the first bands to introduce the punk vibe/musical style to America?
Hell, I wouldn’t know how punk came out of that, but everything finds its roots in something else, doesn’t it? Perhaps [it was] the anti-social tone of MC5 toward the non-rock and roll world. Maybe [it was] the reckless abandon with which we played, putting it all on the line all the time. We were edgy that’s for sure. If that is true, then I’m really proud to be the prototype.
The girl from Omaha's vocal quality stands easy comparison with the better female vocalists from the past 50 years, a country soul instrument that is more about poise than power.