PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

20 Questions: Jessica Hopper

Jessica Hopper advises travelers, “Never mind the nuclear reactors in the distance, it’s heaven in the Midwest” – and other tips for PopMatters 20 Questions readers.

Author of the recently published The Girls' Guide to Rocking, music and culture critic Jessica Hopper walks the walk of someone who’s done hard time in the music industry; working as a tour manager, band publicist, DJ, touring bassist, Girls Rock Camp booster, and fanzine publisher before establishing herself as a writer of reputation. But she’s not resting on her laurels, yet. Touring for the book begins now. She advises her fellow travelers through life, “Never mind the nuclear reactors in the distance, it’s heaven in the Midwest”.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

So far, it’s been blockbuster trash this summer. Not a tear has been shed during the course of viewing T4 and its ilk.

The last book that made me choke up was Tony Hoagland’s poem, “Self Improvement” -- the lines:

Sometimes we are asked

to get good at something we have

no talent for,

or we excel at something we will never

have the opportunity to prove.

2. The fictional character most like you?

Casey Jr., the little train car that could from Dumbo. Have to go with cartoons, as the fiction I tend to read normally stars restless divorced new men of the ‘70s or murderous alcoholic trouble girls—neither are very “me”.

3. The greatest album, ever?

As a rock critic, this might be too tough to answer. Van Morrison’s His Band and the Street Choir, but you know, I skip a song or two on the B-side. The backing vocal for “Blue Money” makes me cringe.

Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation is always an indelible epic.

Book: The Girls' Guide to Rocking: How to Start a Band, Book Gigs, and Get Rolling to Rock Stardom

Author: Jessica Hopper

Publisher: Workman

Publication date: 2009-06

Length: 288 pages

Format: Paperback

Price: $13.95

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/misc_art/h/hopper-girlsguide-cover.jpg4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

I recently tried to watch Space Balls, the Mel Brooks Star Wars parody, and it’s almost unwatchable. Rick Moranis and Joan Rivers as the sassy C3P0-esque sidekick can’t redeem it. Just a warning.

5. Your ideal brain food?

Tracey Emin’s Twitter stream, essays and her art really inspire and make me want to make art.

The Bookworm radio show on KCRW is the only radio show that causes me to take notes and listen to certain episodes over and over. The host Michael Silverblatt is an impossibly astute reader.

6. You're proud of this accomplishment, but why?

I made a book that is genuinely useful to young women who love music -- and their parents who are interested in how to best soundproof their basement practice space.

Being in a band, making music and touring is the most fun I’ve ever had, I am grateful for the privilege to be able to share that with teenage ladies.

7. You want to be remembered for...?

Breaking up The Beatles.

8. Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are?

Ellen Willis, though to say I work in the same tradition is to sully her work. But she was the great feminist rock critic, she spoke the truth. I almost can’t read her, she just makes me feel so inspired that reading her work makes me think I need to really step it up.

Terri Sutton, who was a huge influence on me as a teenager. She was the music critic at Minneapolis City Pages, and save for how much she loved Ween, her work is faultless.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

John McPhee’s Uncommon Carriers. To be able to report about shipping, boats, trains and frozen lobsters -- and have it just be poetry. I’d break the law for that kind of talent.

10. Your hidden talents...?

I give a mean haircut. I cut hair for many of my friends on a regular basis.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

“Don’t waste your pretty years on a man like that.” Told to me by my mom in regards to a particularly loathsome boyfriend I once had.

Also, “Don’t trust a boy that calls you after midnight.” Same.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

I heisted a five-LP 25 Years of Motown set from the Minneapolis Public Library in 5th grade, which was really, really terrible of me, but it sparked my obsession with music in a major way. I wanted to be in the Surpremes and be able to wear opera gloves with my outfits, I thought that was the cool part of being a glamorous lady in a singing group. I didn’t know about Patti Smith, yet.

Image (partial) found on eBay

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or...?

An ancient, sleeveless Sub Pop Loser t-shirt I dumpstered from my neighbors trash.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

Wyatt, my cat. He’s never been outside -- taking him to a nice dinner, showing him off, I think would make for a nice time.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

Central Indiana, 1950 or so. I could hang out with my grandma when she was alive and my same age.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

The furthest East beach in Dunes State Park, Hammond, Indiana, is really the only choice. Never mind the nuclear reactors in the distance, it’s heaven in the Midwest.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or...?

I don’t drink or smoke or eat much candy. My vices aren’t vices, unless we count Tylenol, on which I regularly depend.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

Chicago is gross and broken and dirty and the municipal government makes me want to hang my head in shame, but it’s the only place I really feel is home.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

‘Bout time.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

A story about going to Cornerstone, the Christian music festival, with David Bazan, an agnostic singer-songwriter, for the Chicago Reader, which runs later this month.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Music

Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."

Music

50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.

Film

Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.

Film

The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.

Music

Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.

Music

'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.

Music

Matt Berninger Takes the Mic Solo on 'Serpentine Prison'

Serpentine Prison gives the National's baritone crooner Matt Berninger a chance to shine in the spotlight, even if it doesn't push him into totally new territory.

Music

MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Metal Albums of September 2020

Oceans of Slumber thrive with their progressive doom, grind legends Napalm Death make an explosive return, and Anna von Hausswolff's ambient record are just some of September's highlights.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.