Interview with
Jay Farrar
07-18-97 Frankfurt Germany

The interview was made for my first radioshow named 
"insurgent country,americana rock" on 
Radio RUM 90,10 FM,Marburg, Germany.

Q: "We here in Germany call your kind of music insurgent country music. Now this sounds
    a little bit rebellious. Is there something rebellious about your songs and your music?"

A: "I don't know how much we fall into that category. I mean, you know, I've always 
     been a little bit uncomfortable with categorizing bands. I mean someone just 
     came up with this term arbitrarily, I think, so as far as there being  something 
     rebellious about what we do, I guess that's sort of a subjective thing. Maybe some 
     people might think     so."

"Maybe in comparison to the regular country music."

A: "Yeah, relative to Garth Brooks."

"Now there is a question a Great Britain guy had this morning on E-mail. And he wanted
    to know something  about your political ideas.

A: "The question here where the person wants to know where the line "fireman saves the
    millionaire's mansion and when he's done he sleeps on the side of the road" that was
    just from a newspaper article that had a picture of these firemen sleeping on the side
    of the road out in I believe it was in California. So they were, you know, days without
    sleep saving these rich peoples homes and then they're sleeping on the side of the 
    road. That was what that was about. As far as the question about the song "Coalminers", 
    that was a traditional song, so that sort of speaks for itself. As far as the,... I mean the
    area I come from, St. Louis, is sort in a post-industrial state. You know lot of the
    industry is broken down, no longer in operation. So there has,... the economy is
    slightly bad in the area, I come from."

"But they say here in Europe that the United States are doing real good economically."

A: "It is now, I guess in reference to some of these songs that they are asking about those
    are about five or six years old, so that represents a period of time, when the economy
    wasn' t doing quite as well as right now."

"Now it is doing good?"

A: "Yeah, I believe it is."

It seems that in your songs and in your interviews you are critical of the American way
    of life, in some ways. Do you feel like a patriot. Do you love your country and if you
    do, what do you like about it?"

A: "I don't think of patriotism in the traditional way, I mean I do like the country a lot.
    Certainly when I spend a lot of time away from it, I begin to miss a lot of things about
    it, even things that I hate about it when I'm there."
Q: "If you had to name three things that you like about the United States, which ones would
    you name?"

A: "Three things, one thing would be the interstate system, it's nice, then the diversity
    of the landscape and culture, and the third thing is sports, yeah, hockey is my favorite

"In an interview you said that you like to listen to old country and old blues. Why do
    you like this music? Which of the musicians you like best? Who are your idols?"

A: "Certainly artists like Johnny Cash, I recently got to see George Jones for the first
    time. He puts on a good show. As far as blues musicians I have been listening to a
    lot of  them are no longer alive, artists like Skip James and Lightenin' Hopkins."

"We think that your music was influenced by Gram Parson, Hank Williams and Townes
    van Zandt and the Sex Pistols. All of them were connected with drugs and alcohol.
    Do you see problems for yourself there."

A:" Certainly those guys, the ones you mentioned, some of them died young. 
      I necessarily see there is a problem for me, a lot of ways they serve as an 
     example what not to do." 

"We know that you are on the road a lot, travelling around, giving concerts. Do you
   sometimes long for peace and quiet, for a family and a home? Or do you feel like a
   Woody Guthrie or a Jack Kerouac of the nineties? Do you have a place you call home?"

A:" Yes, I do. I mean, you just have to try to find a balance between the two. 
      Certainly when you are on the road you sort of long to be stationary and when 
      you are at home, you sort of long to be getting out on the road. Just try to find a 
      balance between the two."

"Can you tell us something about your development as a musician. Was it hard work to
   get were you are now. Or did it everything happen more or less by chance and without

A: "Certainly in order to make a living playing music you have to put alot of work 
      into it. It is not easy. Maybe I haven't put as much work into it as a lot of other 

"Now you make a living playing music?"

A: "Yeah."

"How long did it take to reach that point?"

A: "On the first, throughout most of Uncle Tupelo, probably, you know, for the last year
    or so pretty much we were working side jobs to support ourselves.

Q: "Everybody has his certain ways to cope with times, when you don't feel so good. What
    do you do, when you get the blues?"

A: "During hockey season I sometime go and see the Blues, when I get the blues. Just
    listening to music i guess, or reading a book. Certainly listening to blues, is
    one way exercising the demon."

"When you grew up the music you listened to was more Led Zeppelin and Black Flag?"

A: "Led Zeppelin were on the radio. I didn't necessarily like them at the time. I've sort
     of  grown to like some of what they do now. But growing up, like in high school, it 
     was refreshing to hear a lot of punk rock and American alternative bands, Axe and 
     Minutemen, Meat Puppets, bands like that. Black Flag one of the ones I went out to 
     see a couple of times." 

"What other interests to you have besides music?"

A: "Hockey is one of them, reading books is another."

"What is your favorite book right now?"

A: "Right now I'm trying to ploy through some Dostojewski's short stories."

"Do you find enough time to read when you are on the road like this?"

A: "Yeah, there is enough time to read. It's just a matter of getting down and doing it.
    And walking has become a hobby on the road."

"Well walking around Frankfurt is not too enchanting, is it? Do you like the country
    more than the city?

A: "No, I don't like it more. I mean I live in a city, so I prefer a city environment.
    But it's nice to have the options, to have both at your disposal."

"Here in Germany is not listen to too often, most people don't know you. They know Country
    and Western, they know Johnny Cash and Garth Brooks. And the young people listen to
    Techno. How would you explain to Germans, what your kind of music is all about?" 

A: "I guess it just represents that grey area between Techno and Garth Brooks and 
      whatever else there is. It's another option."

"There is another question from the Great Britain guy who wrote to us on E-mail. He wants
    to know when Son Volt is going to go to Britain. He wants to see you live."

A: "Yeah, we'd like to go. Probably, maybe before the end of the year, hopefully. 
      But we're not going to make it there during this tour, ending up in Norway, ending 
      up in Hamburg actually."

"Hans is doing his first radio show in July and it's going to be a series about American
    Roots Music. What do you suggest what he should play in his first show, besides of course
    Son Volt?"

A: "Older artists or contemporary?"

"Maybe more the contemporary, like Haynes Boys or Slobberbone?"

A: "I'm really not that well versed on contemporary roots influence. It's not something I
    spend my time listening to. "

"And the older ones?"

A: "Yes certainly I spend a lot of time listening to them."

"So should he play Hank Williams."

A: "Yeah definitely, and Jimmy Rogers."

"Could you give us a greeting to the listeners of our radio station, it's called
    Radio Unnerhurt. It means radio never heard of. It is pun, It's a non-commercial radio
    station. Not too many people listen to it. But it is something very special. And
    that is the second meaning of the name."

A: "OK, just a greeting. Alright I'll try one here:
    This is Jay of Son Volt and you are listening to Radio Unnerhurt."

Thank you, Jay.

 copyright 1997 by
Hans Settler