A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of chatting with Jonathan Coulton, the funny, irreverent singer-songwriter who made his name writing and posting a “Thing A Week” in 2006. Coulton is touring in support of his first new album of all new material since 2006, Artificial Heart, and opening up for hipster-nerd icons They Might Be Giants. The first thing that I want to say is that Coulton laughs more than anyone else I’ve ever spoken to, and it was a fantastic pleasure to chat with him. (He’s probably the only musician I’ll ever interview while he was chaperoning a children’s play date, too.)
Sadly, once again, my recording of a phone interview failed, so what you get are my handwritten notes, and some but not all the brilliance from JoCo.
Jonathan will be at the Lincoln Theatre on Wednesday, 2/15, with They Might Be Giants. Doors 7, show 8. $25 day of, and close to sold out, I think. So if you want to go, buy now!
On recording with TMBG’s John Flansburgh, writing for yourself, and Thing A Week.
It was kind of nice … it was like having a boss. Thing A Week, that was just me and my guitar in a room, and it was great but isolating. John would check in, and send me feedback, like, maybe try this on this one. It was definitely more collaborative, and I’d never worked that way, but I liked it.
I think that anyone making anything should … if you’re a writer, you should write every day. I would totally recommend something like Thing A Week to young creatives, to all creatives. It was hard. But sometimes the weeks that I struggled the most, the weeks that I thought what I put up wasn’t any good, those weeks turned out to be the best. If you’re creative, you should always be working.
If you could choose one song of yours to be a lighters-out arena anthem, which one would it be?
I already have one, kind of, with “Re: Your Brains”. Except it’s about zombies … it’s better than an arena anthem, really, because the whole audience is moaning like zombies on the chorus. And at a Bon Jovi show, during the hits, what else is the audience but zombies? This is just more honest!
Tour van smells.
Not much. I’m 40 … I’m 41! Holy crap. And the guys in my band, they’re about my age. We’re pretty hygienic people. We like showers.
If you had a time machine and could see one concert, what would it be?
I don’t know … good question. I think, when I was a teenager, I wasn’t into the music that my peers were into. I was into … I was not into KISS. But I think it would be great to have been there, to have felt that, that love of a band so deep that you … you loved a band that dressed up and painted their faces, and to love them so much that you would paint your face, too, and go to their concert. I missed that, and I’d like to experience it.
Hummus or guacamole?
Guacamole. Always guacamole. All the guacamole. Hummus is great, but guacamole is better.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars. I never really got into Star Trek, though I watched a lot of Next Generation … and Deep Space Nine didn’t do it for me, and I think there were others? I’m not a Star Trek guy. Star Wars.
Stewart or Colbert?
I love Jon Stewart but I think what Stephen Colbert is doing … with the South Carolina primary, it’s just razor sharp political satire. It’s so subtle. So Colbert.