Nardwuar Picks His 7 Favorite Interviews From Cobain to Gorbachev
Canada's oddest interrogator explains how his most infamous Q&As went down
Kooky Canadian Nardwuar the Human Serviette may have carved out a bizarre and hilarious niche for himself as the music world’s most idiosyncratic interviewer, someone able to score a chat (and confound) everyone from Kurt Cobain to Lady Gaga, but he’s also a musician — the Tam o’ Shanter-wearing sprite is the frontman for long-running Vancouver punk rock band the Evaporators. Out March 6, the band’s Busy Doing Nothing! is a star-studded compilation that features artists such as Andrew W.K., Kate Nash, and the Cribs covering songs by the Evaporators and other Canuck punk acts, as well as originals performed by Nardwuar and his band. To celebrate, we’re premiering the video for the album’s title track.
But given that interviewing is Nardwuar’s best-known skill, we thought we’d ask the man to select his favorite encounters with music’s biggest icons. His picks are below, along with his commentary. Make some time to watch. It’s worth it, if only for the confused look on everyone’s faces.
KURT COBAIN AND COURTNEY LOVE
“After stalking Nirvana for two days trying to get this interview, I was ready to give up until Courtney Love snuck me backstage, telling security I was her cousin. Sadly, I was never able to talk to Cobain again, as he died only a few months later. I think this is one of his last interviews ever.”
“I was so honored and amazed that Pharrell enjoyed this interview. Jokingly afterwards, I said, ‘Can you hook me up with Jay-Z?’ And you know what, he did! I still can’t believe how all this went down!”
“Every time I have interviewed Snoop, there are surprises. He has tried to steal a Redd Foxx doll I once brought to show him, and he has stolen both a Blowfly and Richard Pryor record from me. But I think the best was when he microwaved a blunt in front of me for 11 seconds. Yes, it helps ‘trap the ingredients in’!”
“Heems from Das Racist tweeted me after seeing my interview with Kid Cudi, and actually wanted me to interview Das Racist when they came to town. After the interview, I emailed Heems to thank him and asked if he had heard anything about Odd Future playing SXSW. Next thing I know he has cc-ed me on an e-mail to Odd Future’s publicist, who ten minutes later, has pre-booked an interview for me with Odd Future. Amazing! Thank you Heems!”
“Although the interview only lasted eight minutes and 40 seconds, Iggy had no problem with me trying to get his entire life story. He laughed and played along with every question I asked, even stuff about his cock!”
“For this encounter I attempted, in Russian, to tell Mikhail Gorbachev to ‘Keep on rockin’ in the free world’ and also to ask him (in English), ‘Of all the world leaders you have encountered, who has the biggest pants?’ Before Gorbachev could really answer, the organizers of the news conference cut off his microphone. However, as I was getting kicked out I could hear the translator say, ‘Sorry, I did not understand your Russian.’ I also spotted a smile on Gorbachev’s face.”
HENRY ROLLINS (1998 and 2011)
“It took me 13 years, but thanks to Otis from the band the Makeup Sex, I had a chance to talk to Henry Rollins again this past December. Thirteen years is pretty much the longest I have waited for an interview. No biggie though. My dad once told me, ‘The first 50 years are the worst,’ so I am in no rush! Doot doola doot doo … doot doo!”