Bill Callahan

The Exclaim! Questionnaire

BY None NonePublished Nov 17, 2016

Bill Callahan (aka Smog) grew up in Bowie, Maryland and is currently living in NYC. His latest album, Rain On Lens, is out on Drag City.

Current fixations:

Nelson Algren, the Pacific Ocean, James Kelman, Tusk by Fleetwood Mac, Rothko, Gaugin.

Mind-altering work of art:

Samuel Beckett, especially his "Fizzles."

Most memorable or inspirational gig and why?

John Lee Hooker. He was like an octopus, the guitar one of his tentacles, his voice another. It was like looking at the beginning of time.

What has been your career high and low?
Career high: releasing my first album on own label.

Low: Crossing the border into Canada.

What should everyone shut up about?

Matchbox 5.

I would drop everything to play a benefit for:

Abused kids.

What trait do you like and dislike most about yourself?

Like: I can do anything I set my mind to.

Dislike: can't keep the house clean.

What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?

Any band member that makes a face like they smelled something bad while playing. Yes.

When I think of Canada I think:

The worst border crossing in the world. The Maple Leaf flag. Nice girls who cry at shows while dancing. Beer coolers at the front of liquor stores.

What is your vital daily ritual?

I don't like ritual. I don't like to wake in the same bed for more than a couple of weeks in a row. I usually need something hot to drink in the morning though. Coffee or tea. Just to demark the day as day. And some vegemite on toast.

How do you spoil yourself?

I'm not afraid of paying full price for movies.

What was your most memorable day job?

Kentucky Fried Chicken cook, being five years older than the rest of the employees.

If I wasn't playing music I would be:

I might try to be a filmmaker. But who knows if I could hack it? Or maybe a beach bum with a shack by the sea.

What is your greatest fear?

Treading water, wasting time.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Stop time.

What makes you want to take it off and get it on?

A girl with a good singing voice, or cute teeth.

Music and sex: Is there a difference? Why?

Both are ineffable powers. But a more coherent connection I can't find. A woman's voice is sex, yes, but music is more than that.

Strangest brush with celebrity:

John Cale asking me for a rubber after a show, "so I can do my business safely, mate, know what I mean?"

Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?

James Brown. Sushi.

What does your mom wish you were doing instead?

Making music.

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