Beck Q&A
April 2000
pp. 100-101
Jeff Johnson

Beck wasn't down with the idea that he interview himself. So he let Jeff Johnson ask the questions. Sucker.

"The idea is a little narcissistic, you know what I mean?" Beck said as he bounced the ball back into our court. He was on his bus outside Chicago, touring in support of his R&B orgy Midnite Vultures. Beck mulled these questions over like a game-show contestant. As he frequently paused and laughed, I felt like asking, "is that your final answer?"

Do you ever get really depressed?
Definitely. I'm probably too serious in my life. My music allows me to be stupid and foolish. It's an outlet for me in that way.

So what bums you out?
Being in a position where you have to please people. Especially when you're on the road. A lot of times you're put on the spot and expected to be something you're not.

Like right now?
Ahh, it depends on who you're talking to. Some journalists set up this letdown, and you won't be adequate.

Is there a recurring nightmare that haunts you?
I have a lot of nightmares when I'm on the road. Sometimes when you're performing you churn up some things that are recessed deep, and they'll come out in dreams and you'll just wake up grinding your teeth and swearing. But I never really remember what the dreams are about, they're just completely awkward, disturbing situations.

Like you're onstage and nothing works?
That happens to me all the time. I don't need to dream about it. One of the first things you learn onstage is to keep things afloat and forge ahead, despite the boat sinking.

In "Sexx Laws" on Midnite Vultures, you sing "I'm a fullgrown man but I'm not afraid to cry." Is that true?
I don't need to cry so much. I think whatever you let loose with crying, I let loose with singing. I tend to be the one who wants ... I'm trying to say this without sounding too touchy-feely. I'm usually the one who's better at comforting the person who's crying, you know?

Describe a boyhood experience that made a lasting impression on you.
I remember having a dream that there were all these loud cannons and these really violent sounds. Then when I woke up, I went out and there were all these bloody bandages all over the sidewalk. Me and my brother were playing with them. Later I found out some guy got gunned down with a machine gun. I guess the grisly things stick in your mind. Other experiences besides that ... just getting a bus pass and riding crosstown, with nowhere to go. Checking out the people. Feeling mobile. L.A. is a place where you need a car, so getting that $4 bus pass was the ticket.

What should never be uttered on a first date?
I'm not good at the protocols of dating. [Laughs] I'm not really experienced in that. My girlfriend is my second or third girlfriend. I think in the past none of us really knew when we were "dating"-we were just hanging out and doing things. I didn't go to high school so I missed the prom.

Have you ever been on the "good ship menage a trois"?
No, I haven't. I don't know why I put that in a song ["Peaches and Cream"]. I don't know why I wrote this whole album. At the time it seemed like the thing to write about.

Korn, Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit: Are we heading down the savage-music highway to hell?
I love music that's savage. I don't know if I think of that music as savage, though. I think it impinges. There's a difference. Like a meal that's sadistically spicy: It can still be spicy and make your mouth burn, but does it taste good or are you just feeling it burn your mouth?

How do our VJs rate in all this? They're pretty sterile these days. Carson Daly is like Robert Young from Father Knows Best.
In a way, it is an update on 1952, where people just wanted to get the creature comforts and convenience. Everybody works so much harder these days. The little time you get to yourself you just want to go into suspended animation, and not have to think any thoughts. Some people venture for something a little more dangerous. I try to make my time-the time I have for myself-be not as blank.

Should we be concerned if a teenage singer's breasts are real or not? [Note from Jeff: No one is referring to you-know-who.]
It's a turnoff for me, but I can't make any judgment. People gotta do what they gotta do to make themselves feel good. Ultimately the question is, how does that affect kids? I've met so many teenagers who are so success-oriented. It's disturbing. When I was 14, I was fairly clueless about the workings of the world. I guess with each generation, it's a gradual scale of maturity. They're harder to impress. How can you compete with a multilevel, interactive death-anddestruction computer game?

Is that why a computerized voice says "thank you" at the end of a song on Midnite Vultures?
It just fell in there. When I'm laying down a song, I'm laying down dozens of tracks. Then it's a process of elimination, and that was just left there at the end. Actually it says "fuck you." Which is more, I thought, of a rock 'n' roll moment than a computer moment. But don't tell anybody, 'cause then we'll get a sticker.

If somebody heard your music in a sensory-deprivation tank, what would they feel?
They would feel molested.