Q&A: Journey To The Center Of Mike Birbiglia

EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally published back in 2014. On the occasion of comedian Mike Birbiglia’s two night stand at Merriam Theater on Friday and Saturday, we present this encore edition. Enjoy. BY JONATHAN VALANIA Welcome to another round of  Stupid Answers To Stupid Questions. Actually, that’s only half true. Comedian Mike Birbiglia, of Sleepwalk With Me fame, provided pretty smart answers to our stupid questions. DISCUSSED: Getting bladder cancer at 19; what he and Terry Gross talk about when they are not robbing banks; the strangest place he ever rubbed one out; whether the rumors are true that while […]

EARWORM: Trout Mask Replica For Dummies

Captain Beefheart was an enigma wrapped in a riddle: a blues-braying Tasmanian Devil, industrial-strength surrealist, poet, painter, visionary, and charlatan. Stirring together the primal, blacksnake moan of Delta trance-blues and the free-jazz headfuck of John Coltrane and Charles Mingus in the burbling psychedelic cauldron of ’60s West Coast pop experimentalism, Beefheart’s music was the stuff of spells and incantations, fire-walking and levitation. Safe as Milk, from 1967, remains the ideal starting point for Beefheart beginners, with all the trademarks of his sound pitched in perfect tandem: proto-garage snarl, menacing blues, Martian poetry, exotic rhythms and extraterrestrial sound effects. Purists point […]

21ST CENTURY SCHIZOID MAN: Q&A With King Crimson Lead Singer & Guitarist Jakko Jakszyk

  BY JAMIE KNERR PROG-ROCK CORRESPONDENT Prog-rock lodestar King Crimson has made smashing musical boundaries their stock-in-trade since its inception in 1968. Nearly every adjective and superlative has been directed their way in the 49-odd years since they first burst onto the scene, ranging from the fawning to the not-altogether-flattering. They’ve been labeled everything from “pompous”, “bombastic” and “overly-intellectual”, to “brilliant”, “complex”, “challenging”, “futuristic” and “pure genius.” On one point there is little disagreement: From one project to the next throughout the years the band’s transformation has repeatedly defied convention or even definition. Under the leadership of acclaimed virtuoso guitarist […]

KING KRULE: Dum Surfer

NEW YORK TIMES: Archy Marshall, the enigmatic South London singer best known as King Krule, is a creature of the night. Known since the age of 15 as a preternaturally wise and unpredictable songwriter, Mr. Marshall, now 23, has assumed the mantle of a bard for the shrouded underclass, churning his anxiety, depression and insomnia into swampy, after-dark tales for the mischievous and disaffected. On songs that mix jazz, punk, dub, hip-hop and the affectations of a zonked-out lounge crooner, he has cut what he calls “gritty stories about the streets” with a “sensitive and romantic side,” aiming to take […]

KALEIDOSCOPE EYES: A Visit With Photographer Henry Grossman, The Man Who Shot The Beatles

All photos by HENRY GROSSMAN except the final image by JOSH PELTA-HELLER BY JOSH PELTA-HELLER In March of 1967, on assignment for Life Magazine, photographer Henry Grossman found himself sitting in EMI Studio Two at Abbey Road with The Beatles, while they sculpted and shaped the early demos of what would become “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.” “I remember when we walked in that Paul [McCartney] came over and said ‘hey guys, listen to this…,’” recalls Grossman fondly, “and he sat down at the piano and started playing something, and [the other three Beatles] all gathered around, and by […]

CINEMA: Bedtime For Gonzo

EDITOR’S NOTE: Hunter Thompson would have turned 80 today. NEW YORK TIMES: HUNTER S. THOMPSON, who has been lionized in two feature films, served as the model for a running character in “Doonesbury” and is the subject of enough doctoral dissertations to build a bonfire, now has a documentary devoted to him, “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson,” by Alex Gibney. Thompson, who always seemed to keep one drug-crazed eye on posterity behind his ever-present shades, would surely be pleased but not surprised. But how to freshly document the life of a man who was his […]

THE LADY OF THE LOG: Q&A w/ Catherine Coulson

Artowrk by JJUSTINE DEVINE EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally posted on September 28th, 2015. In advance of Sunday night’s long-anticipated reactivation of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, we present this reprise edition. EDITOR’S NOTE 4/25/16: Just found out the sad and shocking news that Katherine passed away today. In tribute, we present a reprise edition of this very in-depth interview we did with her last October in advance of her talk at the Pennsylvania Academy Of The Arts, which was part of PAFA’s David Lynch retrospective, The Unified Field. She was very generous with her time — this was probably the […]

FROM THE VAULT: Q&A With Dean Wareham

BY JONATHAN VALANIA Back in the ’60s, Andy Warhol’s Factory — his studio-cum-playpen situated in a brick-walled walk-up on 47th Street in Manhattan — was the epicenter of all things edgy, artsy and, ultimately, profoundly influential. Dylan, Edie Sedgwick, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Nico, and The Velvet Underground all came and went, and most sat for one of Warhol’s screen tests — a three-minute black and white stare-down between the camera and subject. There are some 500 of them in the Warhol archives. Recently the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh commissioned ex-Galaxie 500/Luna mainman Dean Wareham — whose cred as […]

CAPTAIN’S LOG: A Fanboy Q&A w/ William Shatner

Artwork by PIERRE-LUC FAUBERT BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR PHILLY.COM Pretend, for the length of this introduction, you are me. Your earliest television memory is Star Trek, back when you thought you could talk to the people on TV simply by yelling at the screen. In the ‘70s, Star Trek reruns ran in seeming perpetuity. You watched every episode many times over, your thirst for the show was unquenchable and you became the ultimate fanboy — an obsessive, jock-mocked, girl-repellent Trekkie. You still have your copy of the Star Fleet Technical Manual you bought at the mall with your paper route […]