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20 Questions: Ken Stringfellow

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009
by PopMatters Staff
Ken Stringfellow is a well-known figure in the world of smart pop music, having worked with the likes of the Posies, R.E.M., the Minus 5, and Big Star. These days he's playing with the Disciplines and their new album Smoking Kills released just last week.
cover art

The Disciplines

Smoking Kills

(Second Motion; US: 28 Apr 2009)

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
ALL Movies make me cry. I am that kind of guy. From The Terminator to soft porn to, of course, It’s a Wonderful Life, I start crying during the damn previews, for fuck sake.


2. The fictional character most like you?
Pretty much was feeling like Randy the Ram in The Wrestler when I saw that film… old, fucked up never-has-been, “he’s a loser but he still keeps on trying” as the Little River Band would say.


3. The greatest album, ever?
Hard to call. The Shaggs album? It’s really a tough call. The Shaggs is perhaps the most extraordinary. Greatest, maybe Farewell to Kings by Rush.
  
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Either one, but it has to be the original flavor, not the modern ones. I mean, original ‘60s Star Trek is so cool it’s uncool it’s cool. “These… words… were NOT meant for… Yaks… or Coms… but… ONE… Nation… under God… with…” The Star Wars cartoon is kind of cool. Of course, nothing will surpass the majesty of the Star Wars Xmas Special. I mean, prime time MUSICAL with Star Wars, Starship (the band) and WOOKIE PORN.


5. Your ideal brain food?
The most obvious that people forget about, is brains. I like rabbit or sheep brains. The problem is, you end up with a brain the size of a rabbit’s, following the you are what you eat rule. But we eat a LOT of rabbit in France, and I suck the brains right of their cute little skulls. Also, I like sucking shrimp heads. I guess they have a brain, too?


6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
Of doing this interview? Sure, and because I got straight A’s in my two typing classes, so I’m doing this interview REALLY quickly. Other than that, this q doesn’t make a whole lotta sense, bro.


7. You want to be remembered for…?
Being a great father, and having my kids turn out to be awesome. Anything else would just be ego stroking. I don’t need to proclaim, prove or even have acknowledged my greatness. I am much more interested in being of service—to other musicians, to my family, to whomever I can help.


8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
Field medics, in 20th/21st century warfare. To face that pain and carnage, and stay calm and make life saving decisions, and NOT carry a weapon, and run into the line of fire. I mean, are there braver humans?


9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
I wish I could have written the three novels of Tristan Egolf, as I would have chosen to stay alive and write the next ten. I just read a really long piece on him in the Philly newspaper, and it was loving, but kind of slagged off his second and third books. I have to call bullshit on that, Kornwolf was the first one I read and it is GENIUS. I was devastated to learn he had taken his life just after finishing it.


10. Your hidden talents…?
Being a great accountant. which leads me to ask, wasn’t this supposed to be TEN questions…?


11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
Stretch and put as much of your money into your down payment as possible. That was my dad’s advice, and it has made me not rich, but at least given a massive safety net. Other friends of mine who made the same money in the ‘90s as me and didn’t follow my advice are broke.


12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
Well, I put the guitar solo from “In a Big Country” in a Lagwagon song. That was well stolen.


13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or…?
Dude, who dresses you? Crockett and Tubbs? I wear Tiger of Sweden, April 77 and Lacoste. 


14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
Whoever was paying the bill.


15. Time travel: where, when and why?
I am happy here and now, thank you. But, then again, to have been around and perhaps been able to join Crazy Horse after (or before?) Danny Whitten.


16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
Meat, wine, and my family.


17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or…?
Definitely coffee. The only thing on that list that interests me. I have MANY coffees a day, I really couldn’t function without it at this point.


18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
Where I live in summer, Ile De Re on the west coast of France, is paradise. I am lucky I found it, luckier still to have a house there, luckier still to have THAT house, on the beach, with my family in it.


19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
I would ask him about his strategy for Pakistan, a country that currently contains about 51% of the world’s danger. A country that’s not 100% ally or enemy, so you can’t just bomb it and expect it to get fixed. This place will be the key to most of the problems we have internationally. Next up: time to start working with the Palestinians, when will you get around to it?


20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
Promoting the DiSCiPLiNES album, here in South America. Playing shows and blowing minds from Bogota to Buenos Aires.


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