20 Questions: The Von Bondies

Donny Blum, drummer for the Von Bondies, tells us why Star Wars rules, you ought to try yoga and how inspirational Hieronymus Bosch is.

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

That would be Math Without Tears, by Roy Hartkopf. I was boning up on math, because I think it's so important to be able to add and subtract when I'm on tour. Math is so painful to me; it's like pulling teeth. But math is also so important to all of our lives. I also saw a commercial on TV several years ago for the Humane Society. It was about what a dog dreams of at night. It dreams of its owner, a very old man. Then you find out that the old man is dead and the dog is now in a cage at a dog shelter. It is very sad.

2. The fictional character most like you?

I would have to say Taras Bulba from that famous story by Gogol. I feel like the members of my band are like Taras Bulba's sons. And he would do anything for them, just as I would do anything for my sons. If I had any.

3. The greatest album, ever?

The greatest album ever is Beggar's Banquet, by the Rolling Stones. It contains "Stray Cat Blues", which is a song that I think sums up the lives of so many young people these days. I think that Mick Jagger is a prophet and he wrote that song so long ago about the things we see today going on on the streets and in the high schools of the world. Today's youth don't treat safe sex as something that they should think seriously about.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Wars is better than Star Trek because I feel like it probably earned much more money than Star Trek. It seems like you were much more likely to walk into a Burger King or a McDonald's and be able to purchase a Star Wars drinking glass than any other movie ever made. Star Wars dominated the market like Wal-Mart dominates the market. And, personally, I prefer Star Wars because George Lucas stole his ideas from the Japanese classics. You could say that he was paying homage to Asian culture. And I am Asian.

5. Your ideal brain food?

I find that I don't have an ideal brain food. For me, the creative process is much more like making a sausage than anything else. You know how they make sausages? I hear they just dump a bunch of various meats into a grinder and then grind it into a pulp. And then that goes into an intestine. And people eat this! So, basically, when I am creating something -- a song or a text message or what have you -- anything that happens to be lying around goes into the grinder. You see? It might be the latest indie rock I've been listening to or an episode of The Golden Girls. Whatever it is, I am confident that my brain will make something useful out of it. My brain is the grinder and the creative output is the sausage. This disgusts me now to think of it in this way.

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

I'm proud of writing songs for our new record. I am not a songwriter by nature, but I just got in there and did it. Kind of like when you envision yourself doing something you've never done before and then just, all of a sudden, doing it. Like, I've never juggled before, but I took three oranges and, all of a sudden, started juggling them. I juggled the oranges for maybe three or four seconds before I became self conscious and dropped them.

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

I want to be remembered for the longest consecutive time spent in a bathtub.

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

The ones who were highly successful, like Donald Trump and George Lucas.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

I wish I had painted the Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch. I see something new every time I look at it.

10. Your hidden talents...?

I have a good sense of the volumes of objects and how they can be arranged in a limited space. This is handy on tour when we need to fit gear and suitcases into the back of a rental car.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

Wash your hands often.

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

I used to steal step-by-step dance instructional manuals from bookstores, but probably the best things were musical ideas from other people's songs.

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

I know that everybody says this, but I feel best in Armani that has been altered in such a way as to expose one's ass, chest, and stomach, with these areas then filled in with swatches of denim cut from vintage, acid-wash Levi's jean jackets.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

I feel like it would be fun to have dinner at the Ritz with some sort of circus clown. He'd probably jump all around and spill food all over the place and this would make me laugh and laugh. And, plus, the Ritz normally would require you to dress, at the very least, smart casual. Normally, they would not allow a clown inside. But what could they do about it?

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

I would like to travel to the height of the disco era in 1970s New York City. I hear it was a good time. People did drugs and had sex with each other like there was no tomorrow and there were no bad consequences.

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

Could I say that I think yoga might be a good way to manage stress? Christy, our guitarist, is trying to convince me of the rejuvenating powers of Bikram yoga. We have a friend named Silky who goes to Bikram yoga classes, but I'm convinced he does it in order to meet women. Both he and Christy deny that this is possible, though.

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

Essential to life is a good vodka. It reminds me of the steppe deserts of Russia, although I've never been there. I have this romantic vision of Russian peasants drinking vodka that they distilled themselves and dancing to European techno music.

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

I would like to live in Australia. We toured there a couple of times. I found the city of Sydney to be the best city I've ever been to. Everyone is in good shape and they're all friendly and the weather is nice.

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

Be good to us, Jimmy Carter; be kind to us.

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

I'm working on not losing my mind on tour. And yet, at them same time, I'm working on improving my mind as well. This can be accomplished by doing sudoku puzzles.

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