Rufus Wainwright The Exclaim! Questionnaire
Published Oct 01, 2003What are you up to?
My tan line and C-Span. I'm also circling trying to finish my opera.
What are your current fixations?
I'm reading the biography of Rimbaud. I'm also into [19th century painter] Whistler because I'm buying a new apartment and I want to design it like the Peacock Room that he made. I'm still trying to get out of the 19th century somehow. I'm looking for a way out. Help.
Why do you live where you do?
I love architecture. Though people say living in New York is tough these days, and unfulfilling, I feel like if I left the country, it would crumble. I'm the glue of America.
What do you consider a mind-altering work of art?
My new album.
What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
I saw Radiohead in New Jersey, which is sort of a contradiction in terms. It was pouring rain outside and they made it fit perfectly. They made the rain feel good.
What have been your career highs and lows?
High: Definitely singing "Across the Universe" on national television a week after September 11, with Sean Lennon and Moby.
Low: When I was opening for Lisa Loeb. The boyfriends of the girls who were fans were mad that I was cutting into the time that they promised to go to the show, so that later on they could have sodomy with their girlfriends. So I said, "Goodnight fuckers" and left.
What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
I had just been singing and this drunk woman in Aspen came up to me and said, "You suck." The next song I had to sing was "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen and the first line was: "I heard there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased the Lord, but you don't really care for music, do you?" So it kind of came out directly to her.
What should everyone shut up about?
The fucking Madonna / Christina Aguilera / Britney Spears kiss. They're just desperate for attention. Also, the liberal media bias, which doesn't exist.
What traits do you most like and dislike about yourself?
I like my sense of humour and I dislike my lack of enthusiasm.
What advice should you have taken, but did not?
Don't masturbate five times in one day.
What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?
Having one hair out of place.
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
I think of Quebec. No, just kidding. I think of Wayne and Shuster, good skin, and that show Bizarre.
What is your vital daily ritual?
Four cups of coffee in the morning while I play piano naked.
What are your feelings on piracy, internet or otherwise?
Morally, I don't have a problem with it, but the reality is that it hurts artists like myself where 100,000 record sales means the difference between a band and no band when touring. More important than piracy is the commercial issue, and that is something that has to become more valued with the power of the consumer and what you spend your money on in general. You should buy more records and less gas.
What was your most memorable day job?
Doing construction. At one point I had to clean out a closet of diapers. People live in weird situations sometimes.
How do you spoil yourself?
I stay out of the fridge longer than my expiry date. I wish I knew how to spoil myself. I don't know how.
If I wasn't playing music I would be:
What do you fear most?
The Republicans of America, and Joan Rivers. I know I will encounter her one day and I'm in training.
What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
The slightest innuendo. I'm pretty easy.
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
I've met so many goddamn celebrities. I think it had to of been when I met [Absolutely Fabulous's] Joanna Lumley and she said, "I love your web site." Just the thought of her on a computer, going to a web site was funny to me.
What would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
Hitler. I would serve him something laced with cyanide.
What does your mother wish you were doing instead?
Recording her music.
Given the opportunity to choose, how would you like to die?
I'd like to die in my sleep at the age of 80, lying next to some 22-year-old.
With the release of his third offering of beautifully-crafted numbers, Rufus Wainwright has upped the ante on the operatic sound he cherishes. The self-proclaimed "glorified gay lounge singer" has put together a brave and bold release with Want One, complete with full orchestration, a handful of guest accompaniment and Wainwright's vocal range competing with the album's symphonic sound. This is a definitive step into new territory for Wainwright, best known for his piano or acoustic guitar ballads and his distinctive crooning.
"I think it's more of a mental condition I have," says Wainwright pinpointing this forceful style of production with Want One. "My ears were kind of fucked at a young age by opera. My voice is vaguely mutated and I require a lot of support. I figure life is short, you might as well live it on a grand scale." Unfortunately, this choice of illustrious lifestyle included some extreme lows for the songwriter, including bouts with depression and more-than-casual drug use; just some of the subject matter that is dealt with publicly through his latest batch of songs.
"My main line and we're not talking about something you snort is that there's no such thing as casual crystal meth use," he admits. "Drugs are really ravaging the gay community and anything I can say or do to help someone in that predicament I'm happy to do. I don't feel like it's my duty to necessarily be an example, but I definitely feel like this album deals with some of those issues." Having just turned 30 and hopefully leaving a darker past behind him, it seems that Rufus Wainwright has come out on top with this majestic new record. Wainwright has learned to widen the importance of certain aspects of his life, and it seems that with some newfound energy towards composition, Want One is the first to feel the powerful effects of this reborn rock star.