SM: When was the last time you had on a set of headphones?
DR: Election night 2004.
SM: What was the last circumstance in which you found yourself that you could not comprehend entirely?
DR: Election night 2004. I was surprised Florida went to Bush.
SM: Barring yourself, what’s the best thing to come out of your hometown?
DR: The summer after my freshman year in college, the Chapel Hill music scene was blowing up and you could go to “Local band night” at the Cat’s Cradle for like, two dollars, and see all the hot new bands, such as:
3. Metal Flake Mother (Randy Ward, R.I.P.)
4. Archers of Loaf
5. Jarvis (only hard-core Chapel Hill rockers will remember this name)
6. Flat Duo Jets
7. Bicycle Face (If you recognize the name of this band, I know you used to work at Pepper’s Pizza.)
8. Zen Frisbee
9. That band the crazy girl was in who used to date Steve from Polvo.
10. Erectus Monotone
11. Finger (I lost my “Rotting in a Cage” 7-inch. If someone reading this
interview can hook me up, I will send you ten dollars and an autographed
copy of “Get Your War On II.”)
12. Vanilla Trainwreck
13. Scuppernong (BOOYAH!!! If you think I’m a poser about the Chapel Hill music scene, please come over to my house and look at my Scuppernong 7-inch and then tell me if I’m a poser!!!)
That same summer I sang in the Hilltop Harmonizers, a barbershop chorus at the United Methodist Church on Franklin Street. After Tuesday rehearsals I would stroll down to the Cat’s Cradle and meet my friends and listen to bands. Then we would head to Time Out Chicken and eat fried chicken and biscuits.
That summer was the best thing to come out of my hometown.
SM: What’s the closest thing you know of to a religious experience?
DR: Hearing God tell me who to vote for, duh.
SM: Regale us, please, with an anecdote.
DR: A few months ago I was making coffee and realized I was out of milk, so I ran to the corner bodega to buy a gallon. I noticed my socks didn’t match! Then George W. Bush refused to hold Donald Rumsfeld accountable for torture at Abu Ghraib and America’s moral authority was further eroded. Or… was it?
SM: Please describe an activity at which you are not very good, but that you hope to eventually be good at.
SM: Please describe an area of expertise you are willing to feign knowing something about to strangers.
DR: What their mothers said last night.
SM: What do you like to do when you can’t sleep at night?
DR: I like to think about my future and shudder with dread.
SM: When was the last really good party you attended, and what did you do all night/day?
DR: My wife and I just were just complaining about how we never get invited to parties anymore. Honestly I can’t remember the last time I went to a really fun party. My housemates and I used to throw raging parties in Boston but that feels like a million years ago.
SM: When was the last time you looked up and took a long look at the sky?
DR: In Lawrence, Kansas a few weeks ago on a book tour. There’s a lot of unobstructed sky out there, and the clouds are bigger than most of the blue states.