Q&A: With Hampton Sides Author Of “Hellhound On His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the International Hunt for His Assassin”

  Hampton Sides is an acclaimed bestselling author and a National Magazine Award nominated journalist. He won the PEN USA Award for nonfiction and the 2002 Discover Award from Barnes and Noble for Ghost Soldiers, a historical narrative following the rescue of WWII Bataan Death March survivors that was later adapted into the Miramax feature film The Great Raid. His next book, Blood and Thunder, was adapted into an episode of the Public Broadcasting Service’s American Experience series. Hellhound On His Trail, is a taut and thrilling account of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 65-day manhunt […]

TOMMY GETS HIS TONSILS OUT: Q&A With The Replacements/GNR Bassmaster Tommy Stinson

  BY JONATHAN VALANIA Tommy Stinson was the bass player in the The Replacements. He also played bass in Guns N’ Roses for nearly 20 years, and Soul Asylum for two albums, and played guitar and sang and wrote songs for Bash N’ Pop and Perfect and made solo albums. (For the in-depth 411 on Tommy Stinson’s life after The Replacements, check out this Rolling Stone profile from a couple years back.) But above all things Tommy Stinson was — along with his brother Bob on guitar, drummer Chris Mars and singer-guitarist Paul Westerberg, arguably one of the greatest songwriters […]

I WAS A TEENAGE SEX PISTOL: Q&A With Legendary Punk Rock Guitarist Steve Jones

  EDITOR’S NOTE: This week we will be re-posting choice Q&As from the past year. Today we present this reprise edition of this in-depth interview with Sex Pistols guitarist/songwriter Steve Jones, which originally posted on January 17th, 2017. Enjoy. BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR VICE  Steve Jones has been a lot of things in his 61 years: a love-starved bastard, a smooth criminal, a peeping tom, an insatiable man-slut, a master thief, an insufferable prog-rocker, a wouldbe Yacht Rock A&R rep, a SEX shop clerk, Chrissie Hynde’s pre-Pretenders fuck-buddy; a teenage Sex Pistol, a 23-year-old has-been, a sticky-fingered junkie, a shit-hot […]

THE KING OF COMEDY: Q&A With Judd Apatow

EDITOR’S NOTE: This week we will be re-posting choice Q&As from the past year. Today we present this reprise edition of this in-depth interview with Judd Apatow, which originally posted on February 17th, 2017. Enjoy. BY JONATHAN VALANIA By this point, everyone knows who Judd Apatow is, or at least everyone who’s had even a glancing interface with a cineplex marquee or has a non-delinquent cable account and a functioning funny bone. With writing, producing, directing or acting credits in nearly 40 films and 24 television shows, Mr. Apatow has become the Starbucks of comedy — dark-roasted, fairly-traded, consistently reliable, […]

IN ORWELL WE TRUST: Q&A With Pulitzer Prize-Winning National Security Reporter Tom Ricks

  EDITOR’S NOTE: This week we will be re-posting choice Q&As from the past year. We start with this still-timely interview with nat-sec reporter Tom Ricks, which originally posted on May 25th, 2017. Enjoy. BY JONATHAN VALANIA Under the darkening skies of the late 1930s, liberal democracy was on the ropes and fascism and totalitarianism was on the rise, reason and common sense were overwhelmed by racist entreaties, economic misery and nationalist fury, press freedoms were under attack and the facts had become a matter of opinion. Sound familiar? Two less than distinguished men rose to the occasion: a tarnished, […]

THE X-MAN COMETH: A Q&A With John Doe, Frontman Of The Legendary L.A. Punk Band X

  BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR VICE “The west is the best,” Jim Morrison sang in 1967. “Get here, and we’ll do the rest.” In 1976, John Doe took Mr. Mojo Risin’ up on the invitation. Fed up with the bleak fatalism, shitty weather and general played-out-ness of the East Coast scene, Doe loaded up the truck and headed to the City Of Angels, where he would soon meet fellow East Coast exile/aspiring punk poet Exene Cervenka. Together they would form the legendary X — arguably one of the few bands that could convincingly stake a claim to The Clash’s status […]

BOOKS: Q&A With John Waters, Lord Of The Trash

[Illustration by ALEX FINE] BY JONATHAN VALANIA This conversation with celluloid-transgressor-turned-authority-on-all-things-wicked John Waters originally ran back in 2010 upon the publication of his book Role Models. We are re-running it today to mark the auspicious return of his beloved one-man Christmas show at Union Transfer on December 9th. DISCUSSED: LSD, outsider porn, fuzzy sweaters, uptight gay bars, Charlie Manson, Johnny Mathis, censorship, why the Chipmunks are far superior to the Beatles, and why he hasn’t made a film in years. *** PHAWKER: Before we get started, I want to enter this little fanboy anecdote into the record: My first real […]

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 […]

BOOKS: Q&A With E.J. Dionne & Norm Ornstein

  BY JONATHAN VALANIA These are dark days for American democracy. The combination of gerrymandering, dark money, fake news, voter suppression, foreign interference and a deeply divided electorate have had a profoundly corrosive effect on the credibility of America’s claim to be governed by majority rule — that the outcomes of our elections accurately reflect the will of the people. The result is a president with a 67% disapproval rating after just 10 months in office, according to a recent Associated Press poll, and a Congress that has repeatedly tried to ram through a repeal of the Affordable Care Act […]

AFTER BERN: Q&A With Senator Bernie Sanders

EDITOR’S NOTE: A shorter version of this interview appeared in the Sunday November 27th, 2016 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer we present this reprise edition on the occasion of Senator Sanders’ 76th birthday. BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR THE INQUIRER In the fullness of time, future historians may well declare Senator Bernie Sanders the biggest winner of the 2016 election, arguing that although he lost the battle for the Democratic nomination he won the war of ideas. Meanwhile, his one-time nemesis Hillary Clinton will almost certainly lose the Electoral College on December 19th despite winning the popular vote by a margin […]

2000 LIGHT YEARS FROM HOME: Q&A w/ Brian Jonestown Massacre Cult Leader Anton Newcombe

  BY JONATHAN VALANIA If you’ve not seen Dig, stop reading and go watch it. We’ll wait. [two hour pause while the reader watches Dig and learns everything he/she needs to know about The Brian Jonestown Massacre and probably more than he/she needs to know about The Dandy Warhols] I know, right? Told ya. Anyway, Brian Jonestown Massacre play Union Transfer tonight. To mark this auspicious occasion we present this reprise edition of our 2012 interview with BJM main man(iac) Anton Newcombe. Discussed: drugs, mental illness, early 70s disco, Dig, Dandy Warhols, the CIA, and Marilyn Monroe fucking John F. […]


  BY JONATHAN VALANIA In advance of his appearance at the Haverford Music Festival on Saturday September 9th, we got power-pop legend Matthew Sweet on the horn. DISCUSSED: making Girlfriend, life in Athens GA circa 1983, Richard Lloyd, leaving Los Angeles, Robert Quine, moving back to Nebraska, Michael Stipe, Kickstarter, teaching Peter Buck the chords to “Femme Fatale,” Tomorrow Forever. PHAWKER: Honor to speak with you, long time fan. Actually, I was getting my start in journalism when Girlfriend came out; I was working for the Allentown Morning Call. I think it was Altered Beast that came out when we […]

I WAS A TEENAGE SEX PISTOL: Q&A With Sex Pistols Bassist & Principal Songwriter Glen Matlock

  BY JONATHAN VALANIA Glen Matlock was the original bass player in the Sex Pistols, and he was also one the band’s principal songwriters — all the classic Pistols tunes (“Anarchy In The UK,” “God Save The Queen” “Pretty Vacant”) bear his imprimatur. So why haven’t you heard of him? Because he left the band — whether he quit or was fired depends on who you ask — just before the Pistols went supernova and was replaced by human car wreck Sid Vicious whose onstage self-mutilation, epic dope appetite and ignominious demise (dead from a heroin overdose while being jailed […]