BY JONATHAN VALANIA There are two kinds of people in this world: people who love The Monkees and sanctimonious assholes who fancy themselves the arbiters of authenticity. Whatever that is. Never trust anyone who tells you they don’t like the Monkees has always been my motto and it’s served me well. As just about everyone of a certain age knows, from 1967 to 1970 The Monkees were Hollywood’s answer to The Beatles circa Hard Days Night.  These fab four pop primates — Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork — were chosen more for their looks and personalities […]

SET THE WAYBACK MACHINE TO NEVER: A Q&A With Jon Spencer, Legendary Blooze Traveler, Elvis From Hell, Noise-Rock Deviant & A Really Nice Guy

BY JONATHAN VALANIA With all due apologies to The Gun Club, Jon Spencer looks just like an Elvis from Hell. Where I come from that’s the highest praise you can confer on someone. And after 34 years of rocking righteously and outrageously, not to mention prodigiously — more than 40 albums and EPs, and countless singles and comp appearances spread across five different bands — he’s earned it. Back in 1985, his band Pussy Galore crawled out of the noise rock sewer of the Lower East Side and proceeded to define deviance downwards. They sounded like Einsturzende Neubauten raised on […]

Q&A With Holy Holy Bassist And Longtime David Bowie Producer And T. Rex Architect Tony Visconti

Artwork via SHAPERSOFTHE80S.COM EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally published in January of 2016, three days after David Bowie passed off this mortal coil. We are re-posting it because it’s Philly Loves Bowie Week, duh. Holy Holy kicks off a UK tour in February, click HERE for tour dates. BY JONATHAN VALANIA The DJ Murray The K — the Geator With The Heater of his day — was known as the proverbial ‘Fifth Beatle’ for his tireless Fab Four boosterism during the initial waves of Beatlemania. Legendary producer Tony Visconti is the Fifth Bowie. There are others who, it could be […]

Q&A With J.D. McPherson, Retro-Rock Badass

Photo by SAMANTHA FRANKLIN BY JONATHAN VALANIA I have seen the future of the past, and his name is J.D. McPherson, a thirtysomething cuffed-denim Okie with lacquered hair, iron lungs and, goodness gracious, great balls of fire. Back in 2012, McPherson and his gifted retro-rock posse released Signs & Signifiers, a bracing collection of tailfin rockabilly, rawboned R&B and sultry moonstruck balladeering. It was hands-down the feel-good record of the year. He plays Underground Arts Wednesday December 5th in support of Socks, his new Christmas album, which is why we’re re-running this fun and informative Q&A we did with Mr. […]

O BROTHER, WHO ART THOU: Q&A With Actor/Writer/Director Tim Blake Nelson, Star Of The Coen Brothers’ The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs

  EDITOR’S NOTE: On the occasion of the release of The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs, starring Tim Blake Nelson as…wait for it…Buster Scruggs, we are reprising this 2013 interview with Mr. Nelson. Enjoy. BY JONATHAN VALANIA If you don’t know who Tim Blake Nelson is, the short answer is: the guy in O Brother Where Art Thou? who isn’t George Clooney or John Turturro. Any friend of the Coen brothers is a friend of mine, brother. Truth be told, he’s a whole lot more than that, as you’ll soon find out. I recently had cause to speak with Mr. Nelson […]

MAY THE CIRCLE REMAIN UNBROKEN: Q&A With Roky Erickson, Cosmic Psych/Garage/Punk Avatar

  BY JONATHAN VALANIA Cosmic ’60s psych/garage-punk pioneer. Acid casualty. Drug-war martyr. Demon-crazed extraterrestial ’70s solo artist. Patron saint of alt-rock’s fringe dwellers. In 1968, Roger Kynard Erickson, aka Roky Erickson, then singer for Texas’ psychedelic avatars the 13th Floor Elevators, was busted for possession of a joint’s worth of marijuana and offered a choice: 10 years of hard time or a stretch at Rusk State Hospital For The Criminally Insane. He opted for the padded cell. Already half-fried from Herculean doses of psychedelics, Erickson was subjected to a cruel regimen of “experimental” drugs and electro-shock therapy and was released […]

THE GODFATHER OF GRUNGE: Q&A With Butch Vig, Garbage Drummer/Producer Extraordinaire

Photo by AUTUMN DEWILDE EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally published on November 23rd, 2016. In advance of tonight’s Garbage show at the Fillmore, we present this encore edition. Enjoy. BY JONATHAN VALANIAThe Smart Studios Story documents the rise and fall of the legendary recording studio founded by acclaimed producer Butch Vig and his partner Steve Marker, where they recorded Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage, Death Cab For Cutie and, most importantly, Nirvana’s Nevermind. The film tracks the evolution of Smart Studios from its humble DIY beginnings as a glorified punk rock treehouse with free beer to the center of the alt-rock universe […]


EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally posted on November 11th 2015. BY JONATHAN VALANIA Thirty-eight years after the release of Never Mind The Bollocks, the windshield of pop culture is still fogged up with the huffing and puffing of critics of hyperventilating over the game-changing filth and the fury of The Sex Pistols — for which John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, served as acerbic, bug-eyed jester raging against the machinery of a corrupt Establishment and a necrotic music biz with a voice like Godzilla’s death ray — so I will spare you the lecture. Except to say this: in the fullness […]

RULE BRITANNIA: Q&A With Blur’s Graham Coxon

GRAHAM COXON PERFORMS @ THE FOUNDRY THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 27TH BY JONATHAN VALANIA As the guitarist for Blur, Graham Coxon has done battle with: the Gallagher brothers, his own band, and even himself — and emerged victorious. During the Great Britpop War of the mid-90s, Blur and Oasis fought each other tooth in nail for the top of the charts and the cover of the NME, and Liam Gallagher went so far as to publicly wish that Blur frontman Damon Albarn contracted AIDS. Today, the members of Blur are lauded for making smart innovative music with a broad palette of sounds […]

TESTIMONIAL: Q&A W/ The MC5’s Wayne Kramer

BY JONATHAN VALANIA Borne of riots and ruin, under a bad moon rising in the end times of the Age of Aquarius, Detroit’s MC5 were an unholy marriage of jacked-up vintage rawk n’ roll boogaloo, bloozy black snake moaning, free jazz interstellar overdrive, stick-it-to-the-man radical chic and lysergic emanations. Doing their level best to unleash anarchy in the USA, their rallying cry was “Dope, rock n’ roll and fucking in the streets” and their guru/manager was John Sinclair, self-appointed leader of the White Panther Party, a caucasoid analog to the Black Panthers. The original line-up was as follows: haystack-haired blooze […]

Q&A: Talking Funny w/ SNL’s Melissa Villasenor

Photo by ROBYN VON SWANK BY JONATHAN VALANIA Comedian/actress/impressionist extraordinaire Melissa Villasenor was born 30 years ago in Whittier, California. By the age of 12 she was doing impressions of famous people. At the tender age of 15 she did her first stand-up routine at the storied Laugh Factory in Hollywood. By the age of 18 she was a regular at comedy open mic nights around town, often hiding under a hoodie to pass for a dude to get her jokes taken seriously in this sexist world we currently reside in. After years of working the comedy circuit, and an […]


  BY SOPHIE BURKHOLDER Thirty years ago, the Posies recorded their debut album Failure in a small amateur home studio in Bellingham, Washington. In 2016, they released their eighth studio album, Solid States, and now they’re off on a 30th anniversary tour (which stops at World Cafe Live on Wednesday) in celebration of reissues of Dear 23, Frosting On The Beater and Amazing Disgrace that will feature previously unreleased bonus tracks. Though they’ve gone through a series of line-up changes in their rhythm sections, the Posies have always included core members Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer. We got them both […]

THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH: Q&A w/ Gen. Michael Hayden, Ex-Director of The NSA & The CIA

Artwork by DONKEY HOTEY EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally posted on March 14th, 2016 BY JONATHAN VALANIA The irony of people like me having to, by law, inform General Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and NSA, that I was recording our phone conversation may have been long ago lost its amusing resonance for the general, but not for me. Given his faintly Bond villain mein — the fleshy Blofeld-ian dome, the piercing blue-eyed X-ray stare, the indomitable ramrod straight, four-star posture during appearances on cable news and at congressional hearings — and status as the architect of the […]