Eddie Redmayne on ‘Red,’ the Tonys, and Color Blindness

At 28, Eddie Redmayne has perfected a look of fresh-faced innocence masking inner commotion. He’s invoked the expression for various roles, as the chilling young murderer Alex Forbes in Like Minds and as a downward-spiraling, matricide-committing homosexual opposite Julianne Moore in Savage Grace. On stage, he’s played the emotionally charged boy whose architect father falls in love with a goat in Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? Redmayne keeps a copy of the play with him in his current dressing room at the Golden Theater, where he’s starring in the Tony Award-nominated play Red alongside Alfred Molina. Redmayne, who nabbed one of those noms himself (for Best Performance by a Featured Actor), plays another permutation of the plotting innocent—not a murderer, but no less intense as the fictional assistant to abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko (Molina). We caught up with the actor to discuss the fate of Rothko’s famous murals, his own color blindness, and what he’s wearing to the Tonys.

I saw the play last night and am still recovering. It was intense! How do you do it night after night? Well, last night I had some friends in so I ended up going for some drinks after and I woke up this morning with a slightly filthy hangover. So I punished myself by doing tax receipts.

What drew you to the play? I assume it had something to do with your background studying art in college. Well, the theater in [London’s] Donmar Warehouse where the play started is one of the great gems of theaters in the world, and Michael Grandage, who runs it, is a wonderful man. I’ve seen a lot of his work for many years, and I’ve worked at the Donmar before, but never under him. So when the idea of a two-handed play specifically about art—the idea that the arts matters—came up, it was one of those rare moments where everything that I was interested in and engaged in kind of collided, a wonderful little moment of fate. The play focuses on the murals Rothko painted for the Seagram building before he changed his mind about giving them up. A few ended up in the Tate Modern. Isn’t the museum naturally lit, which would seem to go against Rothko’s wishes? The story is that once he withdrew the commissions he had—I think it was 35 canvases— all the museums in the world wanted to get their hands them. So obviously, Rothko was very tentative about who he would give them to. And one of the guys was Sir Norman Reed, who was the curator of the Tate, and for ten years Norman Reed would swear to Rothko that they would build or create special rooms specifically for them at the Tate Britain—this was before the Tate Modern existed. The wall color would be as prescribed by Rothko, the lighting would be exactly as he wanted, and eventually Rothko agreed to that. So ten years after the end of the play, the same day that the Seagram murals arrived off the boat in London, Sir Norman Reed got a call that Rothko had been found by his assistant with his wrists slit. So the answer is that some of these murals, which were originally in the Tate Britain, are now in the Tate Modern in a room that is lit properly. Alfred Molina had source material to draw on as Rothko, but your character Ken is fictitious. Where did you find your inspiration? What’s interesting is subsequent to doing the play in America, I got a letter from a woman called Virginia Foster, who is the widow of a guy called Dan Rice, and he was Rothko’s assistant during the Seagram murals. And whilst the character is not based on him, Virginia sent me this transcript of him talking about working for Rothko. And weirdly, even though I’ve done the play in London and done it here, reading the transcript reinforced some of the character. But I approached it the way I approach any character—I see what’s in the text and flesh it out with references from life. And certainly, I’ve had experiences with elder actors and bosses in the past who I’ve had complex and tricky relationships with. There’s a scene where Ken is talking to someone on the phone, trying to decide whether to show Rothko his own paintings. Who was he talking to? That’s a very good question. I think it’s his girlfriend, and John Logan (the writer) thinks it’s his boyfriend. It remains a bone of contention between the two of us. You did your college dissertation on Yves Klein, who was a big advocate of blue. [Laughs] So this is the sequel.

As an art lover, do you have a color preference? The color that Yves Klein does. Wet paint has a luminosity that dies when it dries and it loses the gloss. So Yves created this color scientifically that retains that luminosity. He was a big showman, so he got it copyrighted. The color is called IKB—International Klein Blue. And it sounds all bullshit-y and ridiculous, but when you stand in front of those canvases, the color is sublime and dumbfounding. So that specific color is my favorite color in the world. Are you going to follow this up with a colorblind question?

No, wasn’t planning on it, but if you want to discuss it. No, I talk passionately about that color and then people go “but you’re colorblind.” And I go, “I know. I don’t know what I see but I see it and I like it.” You must have some confidence because you already have the Olivier award for this role. Are you nervous about the Tonys? Do you know what? It’s amazing how many award ceremonies there are in America. Am I nervous about the Tonys? Genuinely, the nomination was completely beyond anything I’ve ever thought about. You’re being so diplomatic. I wanted to ask who you consider to be your biggest competition. Frustratingly, one problem with doing plays here is that you don’t get to see anything because your schedule doesn’t allow it. But I’ve met all the guys and I’ve heard extraordinary things about Stephen in Fences and Stephen Kunken in Enron is meant to be wonderful. Do you have your outfit picked out? I do. A couple of years ago I did some work with Christopher Bailey who runs Burberry. I’m a huge fan of his so I’m going to be cut out in British Burberry. So what’s next? I see there’s something called The Pillars of the Earth? I’m actually really excited about it. It’s a huge epic medieval story that was a book by Ken Follett and it was one of Oprah’s favorite books and was subsequently a massive international bestseller. It’s being aired on the Starz network in July. It’s an 8-hour miniseries and I play this young boy who is mute and has grown up in the forest and who, over eight hours, becomes a master builder. So it’s about apprenticeship and craft and it’s also set in a historical time, with monarchs changing and war. What I’ve seen looks spectacular.

Canadian Troubadour Patrick Watson Embarks on His Biggest U.S. Tour

Canadian troubadour Patrick Watson is a world-weary traveler. The title of last year’s excellent album, Wooden Arms, was even inspired by a forest he visited in Eastern Europe while on tour with the band Cinematic Orchestra (Wooden Arms is also the name of his backing band, but as for why the naming happened after four years of being eponymous, Watson explains as: “We’re not very good at naming things.”) So with all this traveling it’s a bit of a mystery why the Polaris prize-winning artist isn’t more known Stateside. Well, maybe it’s because you don’t know what the Polaris prize is (a prestigious music prize in Canada that comes with $20,000 cash money). Or maybe because his layered, cinematic pop isn’t easily categorized into a genre that gets radio airplay, unless you count NPR. Or maybe because after playing in bands since high school, this month’s 11 dates will be the longest he’s headlined in the U.S. We spoke to Watson about his experiences touring, using crazy instruments on stage, and unintentionally making people cry at his shows.

I’ve seen you play the Plaza Hotel in New York and Mercury Lounge at CMJ last year, where you waded into the crowd. Has there ever been a venue that you didn’t fee comfortable in?l [Laughs] The only place I wouldn’t go into the crowd, maybe out of fear, would be England. That’s about it. They’re a pretty rowdy bunch.

What differences do you notice touring Europe and here? Differences in audiences and different types of lifestyle too, you know. They’re both fun, they’re just very different. Obviously for a band when you tour Europe, you get spoiled. You get really nice bottles of wine. There’s that little line of difference. At the same time America is fun to travel on the road because of its car culture. So when you drive through America and you see these weird tings, like the biggest doughnut and ridiculous things like that.

You use some rather unconventional instruments, like bicycles tires, when creating your sound. What’s the most unusual instrument you’ve used? Maybe a wind machine?

Is it that you try a whole bunch of different things and it sounds cool, or do you look at, say, a jack-in-the-box and say “that’s gonna sound cool, I’m gonna use that.” It depends on the thing. But one of the reasons we approached this album that way was because we started playing live a lot after [previous album] Closer to Paradise. And Closer To Paradise had loads of post-production effects. In the live context it’s pretty boring, so we were trying to figure out a way of bringing the rich sounds of post-production to the stage in a way that you can play it live so it was interesting-sounding rather than playing samples. So it had to be made by hand. And when we started doing that approach, that’s when we kind of got the knack for doing different things and building up percussions and different sounds. It’s nice because then you get to the stage and sounds as rich as an album but it’s still live.

You were trained classically but your first band was a ska band. How did that happen? Well, that’s like, how did your first boyfriend happen. You’re not that picky at that are, are you? I was a young guy from a small town and my friend was playing in a band and they lost a keyboard player and they asked do you wanna play keyboard and I was like sure. I wasn’t really a big kind of fan—I didn’t even know what ska was at that point. And even back then I didn’t consider the idea of playing in a band. I thought I’d be more of a writer or a composer than playing in a band so even when we started this [Patrick Watson and the Wooden Arms] project we really started making soundtracks for visuals. It kind of became a band when people started coming to the shows all the time and then we started playing without visuals a bit more and then it turned into a band because of that.

Your music has an intense quality. Has anyone ever cried at one of your shows? People tell me they do. I don’t really know. It’s strange because it’s not really that type of music to me—it’s not sad music to me. When I write the music it gets me excited and gets my imagination going. I kind of like making food for the imagination. I like telling strange stories and bringing it into fun spaces, that’s more my goal.

Okay, I want to wrap this up so you can get packing, but I want to get back to your high school ska band. And then we’ll talk about your first boyfriend, and we’ll all have fun. Was he a nice guy? Why’d you pick him?

Oh, he was great, thanks. But you guys were called Gangster Politics. What were your gangster politics? Oh, Jesus. We were like 16 or 17 years old, for crying out loud. It’s a good name, though. They were like 14 or 15 when they named that band. I don’t know if they necessarily had gangster politics but they were a really good band, though. The bass player now is one of the top jazz bass players in Montreal. It wasn’t really a ska band, if you listen to it. It’s much more of a jazz-orientated ska band. It wasn’t like Madness or something like that. It was pretty fancy-pants a bit, I’m not gonna lie.

Are you working on anything right now? I’m kind of want to do some singles, because I’ve never done that before. Rather than putting a whole album together just releasing one song or three songs at a time as little EPs. I’m releasing one soon for the first time on iTunes to see how it works. And then if that works I want to start doing little mini-albums. Because if you do a full album you have to make all the songs work together. So sometimes you have to hold back songs to make it all work together.

Nathan From Gossip Talks Tumblr, Lil’ Wayne, and The Apocalypse

Everything Gossip’s Nathan Howdeshell (a.k.a. Brace Paine) says is charming. It’s not necessarily the content of his words, but that it’s all tinged with an appealing drawl, the result of his Arkansas upbringing. So it’s sweet when he says that “fuck” is his favorite curse word, or when he tells me that if he could he would eat at McDonalds every day. And it’s even sweeter when he divulges his affinity for smoking pot after a long day because, well, yeah. Nathan and his band swing through New York tonight when they take the stage for the first time at Terminal 5 with openers MEN and Apache Beat. But first, he spoke with me about his online ventures, tonight’s show, and what he has planned for the end of the world.

You’re from Searcy, Arkansas, which was apparently the inspiration for Footloose. What was your music education like growing up? Geez, whatever tapes you could buy from Wal-Mart.

I want to talk about your web activities. Besides being a musician, you’re also a visual artist, and you have a tumblr. How do you curate it? Some of the images are things I make; some are things that are just hilarious that I pull of the internet. I love tumblr because it’s to me sort of like a visual diary. It’s really fun.

How often do you update? I try to do it like every day or so. Computers are still a mystery to me, but I try to when I can. The tumblr thing is great to me; it’s kind of like an art diary. I do a lot of the design for us and all of our record covers and stuff like that. I’ve been into curating shows lately. I curated a show for Art Basel in Miami this year for Deitch Projects of new, young, Portland artists. That was really fun.

You were saying that computers are mystery to you. Is there any website you make it a point to visit? Not really. I really enjoy the tumblr thing personally because it’s visual. I look at Pitchfork every once in a while.

And also you’ve been Twittering. I try. But a part of me feels ridiculous when I Twitter. I don’t know, maybe it’s low self-esteem, but there’s part of me that’s like “would anyone really care what I’m doing right now?

People care more about what you’re doing than most of the people on there. Do you also feel pressure to come up with entertaining things to say? No, no. I just feel that’s it’s such a funny thing. Twitter and Facebook and stuff are such a huge part of culture now.

Right, and it’s the way that you guys have promoted this new album too, that’s different from the last one. You did a Twitter interview. Yeah, I’m at the label right now at the corporate office and I just got in trouble for not (in a mocking voice) posting stuff on the band website.

In addition to your band you also DJ. Who can you recommend in terms of musical artists? We’re on tour with this band called MEN, which is a hysterical name. It’s JD [Samson] from Le Tigre’s new band. They’re really cool, I really like them. I like it better than the last two Le Tigre albums, actually. JD has an interesting voice, so it’s good to hear her sing.

And MEN is opening for you at Terminal 5? Yes, I’m kind of nervous about that show because it’s a huge place. It’s weird because I love New York and I’ve played there a bunch, and I’ve never heard of this Terminal 5.

Well, it’s large. It has tiers. But it’s good for light shows. Do you do any visuals with your show? We’ve been thinking about it a little bit, but to me it’s always been like Wow, these people take a lighting guy on tour and they pay all this money just for this guy to come on and turn the lights on while they play certain songs. For some bands it’s been good, but for us it’s just about the raw energy of the show. So I think for us lights could be a little distracting. I get dizzy when strobe lights come on.

Also, some advice: a dance routine couldn’t hurt. You know what’s amazing, we just made up a dance routine for the song 8th Wonder, that repeats over and over. We were watching this Devo video and we were like, Oh fuck, they’re amazing. I mean, just because live they were just doing weird synchronized moves. So we made up a sort-of Devo dance move that we’re all gonna bust into.

Speaking of your songs, you have one on the album Music for Men called 2012, the year the world is supposed to end. Do you have plans for the year? Actually, I do. I’m trying to curate an end-of-the-world festival, actually. You know, the Mayan prophecies say that on December 21st, 2012 there’s supposed to be this radical change in the world. I’m trying to put together a festival of bands that will play on that day. And I was thinking, if it’s supposed to be the end of the world we should be somewhere with our friends and somewhere really weird, like maybe in Montana. I don’t know where it’s gonna be but it’s something that’s been on my mind.

Okay, everyone head out to Montana. Or go to Lil’ Wayne’s party. Oh my god I’m obsessed with that. How weird is it that Lil’ Wayne knows about 2012? Beth has a huge crush on him. She makes us listen to Lil’ Wayne all the time. And I didn’t get it at first—I mean I love mainstream hip hop but I couldn’t get into it. But he’s an interesting dude. And his story is very interesting.

And I hear he’s very polite. Yeah, he seems sweet. He has fucking tattoos on his eyelids. That is badass.

Are School of Seven Bells Brooklyn’s Next Breakout?

School of Seven Bells have Interpol to thank for their togetherness. Alejandra Deheza laughs when I suggest this, but really, it’s sort of true. The New York trio made up of Benjamin Curtis, Alejandra, and her twin sister Claudia, met while supporting Interpol on tour — Ben with the band Secret Machines and the Deheza twins with On! Air! Library!. As Alley tells it, she was enamored with the way Ben played guitar, watching him every night, and amazed that no two nights were ever the same. And though they didn’t leave their respective bands to start School of Seven Bells until a couple years later, the rest, as they say, is history. And so I stand by my suggestion of sending the boys in Interpol some flowers.

Since their full-length LP Alpinisms debuted late last year, it has garnered major critical acclaim and earned SVIIB touring spots with Bat for Lashes, White Lies, and Black Moth Super Rainbow. The most unique praise has been from The Edge of U2, where, in a Rolling Stone cover story, he cites their sound as an influence on No Line on the Horizon’s droning side. The sound: tribal, womanly, warm, and dreamy, is created by a method of total creative immersion. After they quit their respective bands, Alley, Ben, and Claudia set up shop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (they’re regulars at Enid’s), living and working in the same space. “When we’re at home everyone’s always working on something,” says Deheza. “So when we’re in the house we can hear what everyone else is working on.” Songwriting thus is an organic process, melding with the processes of everyday life.

There is an air of mystery to the SVIIB. It’s in their name, taken from the final exam for a South American school for pickpockets, which Deheza saw on a PBS special at 3 in the morning. “There were seven items in seven pockets with bells attached to them, and you had to remove each item from each pocket without ringing the bell,” she explains. “I like the idea of taking something like shoplifting and making it into such an art.” The mystery came alive at their CMJ show last year when the smoke machine broke, flooding the stage with haze, and unexpectedly enhancing the experience. And then there’s Alley Deheza’s lucid dreaming, or the ability to control her dreams, that she experiences and writes about in her songs. “It’s basically something that I’ve been doing since I was really little and I didn’t know it was anything different. I had a lot of nightmares when I was a little kid, so it was something that developed as a way to get out of nightmares,” she says. “It wasn’t until I was about 20 years old, when I was talking to someone about a dream I had and I’d be like, “yeah, and then I got out of it,” and they’d be like “what the hell are you talking about?” And that’s when I knew it wasn’t as common as I thought.”

See what else is uncommon about the School of Seven Bells when they play their New York homecoming show tonight at Bowery Ballroom, before taking a break to record new material.

Pop Quiz: Santigold

Here’s why we love Santigold: She used to front a punk band in Philly named Stiffed, she can work out a tiger-print leotard, and she changed her name and you don’t even care why. This week, she and her fiancé Trouble Andrew took over Terminal 5 with Amanda Blank, and this summer Santi does the Euro festival thing, closing it all out at Lollapalooza in Chicago. For a woman this busy to take the time for our humble Pop Quiz, well, it’s an honor.

When you were in elementary school, what did you want to be when you grew up? I remember watching the movie Secret of My Success with Michael J. Fox when I was really young and wanting to own a big company like that. So I guess it’s safe to say I just wanted to be “the boss” when I grew up.

Do you have any tattoos? Nope.

Are you superstitious? A little. Only when it’s convenient.

First album you bought? The Power Station one with “Some Like It Hot.” I was at a record store with my dad when I was seven, and I picked it because I liked the cover.

If you could have any super power, what would you choose? I would like to be able to travel through time.

What restaurant would you eat at every day if you could? I would get bored eating at any restaurant every day. But right now I like this place called Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco. They should bring it to New York!

How many times a day on average do you think about sex? It depends on what time of month it is.

Have you ever been arrested? Never.

What’s your guilty pleasure? Watching awkward people.

Do you have a favorite bar in New York? No. I don’t really drink.

Ever been star struck? Not in the sense that I wrote about in my songs, where you try to emulate someone else. But just in awe of a star, yes.

When you get good news, who’s the first person you tell it to? There are about 10 people I tell things to. When I’m excited, it takes that many tellings of a story to get it out of my system.

What do you always watch if it’s on TV? E Hollywood True Stories (if that’s what it’s called), anything about aliens on the History Channel, old Sex and the City episodes, The Office.

What do you normally sleep in? Matching pajama sets.

Where’s the craziest place you’ve had sex? None of yo’ damn business!

What’s on your computer wallpaper? A picture of my fiancée’s “GOLD” tattoo on his chest. It’s so bad it’s good.

If you could be any literary character, who would you be? I’d be a character in a Haruki Murakami novel. I like how his characters see the world. It’s like the world cracks and opens up for them.

Where do you really want to be right now? Hawaii … or just home for a while.

What’s the first job you ever had? I worked at my dad’s law office when I was 12. He fired me.

Favorite Muppets/Sesame Street character? I like Kermit.

What’s the best advice you ever got? To live in the present.

Pop Quiz: The Thermals’ Kathy Foster

It’s fair to say that the power-punk trio The Thermals have major credibility. It was Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie that handed their demo to their first label. They just made the move from Sub Pop Records to Kill Rock Stars. They live in Portland. It’s also fair to say that, after seeing The Thermals headline Bowery Ballroom last month, I have a girl crush on bassist Kathy Foster. She’s adorable, her band covers Nirvana, and she has no problem playing in a short dress. Catch Kathy, Hutch, and Westin live as The Thermals are currently on tour in support of their fourth record Now We Can See , and have just been added to the Pitchfork festival in Chicago this summer. But first, check out Kathy’s answers to our Pop Quiz.

What’s the last thing you do before going to bed? Turn off the light. Duh.

If you could take a meal with anyone living or dead, who would it be? Richard Pryor. I would hope he would tell lots of funny stories. I would happily cry and choke on my food.

What do you want to be when you grow up? I’m a grown ass woman and I’m livin’ the dream!

If you could only eat one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Organic Portland cuisine.

How much time do you spend online? Two or three hours a day at home, much less when I’m on tour — I never want to be on my computer.

If you could have any super power, what would you choose? The ability to fall asleep anywhere at any time.

How many times a day on average do you think about sex? A handful. Heh heh.

What’s your guilty pleasure? Watching my Sex and the City DVDs over and over again.

What’s the last restaurant you ate at? Kerbey Lane in Austin. Delicious 2pm breakfast.

Ever been star struck? Kind of, when I met Flaming Lips and walked right by Gwyneth Paltrow on the same day.

When you get good news, who’s the first person you tell it to? Either my boyfriend Mark, or my best friend/bandmate Hutch.

What do you always watch if it’s on TV? Sex and the City, or other sitcoms — Seinfeld, Friends, The Simpsons.

What’s the first thing you think about in the morning? Yeah, like it’s the same thing every morning.

What do you normally sleep in? Depends on the weather — it ranges from thermals to nothing.

Who was your first kiss? Ray Madrigal — my boyfriend when I was 13.

Where’s the craziest place you’ve had sex? Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep (I censored myself).

Who was the last person you texted? My boyfriend.

If you could be any literary character, who would you be? Do I have to?

Where do you really want to be right now? In bed with my boyfriend.

What family member do you get along with best? My cousin Cynthia, but I never get to see her. Sigh.

Where’s your favorite place to eat/go out? My friend’s bar, Tiga.

What’s the best advice you ever got? Watch what you’re doing.

Singer Anya Marina’s Seduction Phase

You may have already been exposed to the charms of Anya Marina and not been aware of it. The Michigan-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has not only had her songs featured on television shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Gossip Girl, but has also had an acting stint in the film 100 Girls, a role which the pixie chanteuse had to appear in sans eyebrows. Her sophomore album, Slow & Steady Seduction, Phase II, was produced by Spoon’s Britt Daniel and Louis XIV’s Brian Karscig and, with Marina’s breathy vocals and sharp lyrics, is best enjoyed with a snuggle companion and a glass of something tasty in hand. Marina is currently on tour with The Virgins and Lissy Trullie, but she took some time out to talk with us about getting topless while recording, her Roman Polanski-inspired video for the single “Move Me”, and gender play when covering T.I.’s “Whatever You Like.”

When did you first decide that you wanted to pick up an instrument? Truth be told, I didn’t ever want to pick up an instrument. My father insisted that I take piano lessons. And that went abysmally. And then he insisted that I take flute and/or clarinet, both of which I failed miserably at. I just had no interest in playing instruments at all. I always really liked singing. I love melodies, I love sitting by my record player and listening to music. And I was always coming up with little melodies and singing to myself.

Do you have memories of your early attempts at songwriting? I never even thought about that until recently, but I used to walk every day on this little route, and it was only about five blocks, but I remember looking forward to that time every day when my mom would drop me off at this particular place every day and I would walk the rest of the way to school. I would always make up a song that would go with the beat of my feet, and I I must have been like, eleven. And every day I would write a new song to a new beat, however fast.

What was the first song you learned all the lyrics to? Do you mean a popular song? The first song I learned on guitar was Freedy Johnston, “Bad Reputation.” I just love singing it from my point of view. I’ve loved doing that ever since — singing songs written by men and not singing the gender when I’m singing it. I’m doing it right now with this T.I. cover I’ve been doing every night, and the crowds seem to love it.

What song? It’s called “Whatever You Like.” I’m sure you know it.

I read somewhere that when you were recording a few songs on this album, you decided to take your shirt off while recording. Why did you feel that you needed to do that? I think it was hot. It was in the middle of summer, and I had the entire studio all to myself, and the engineer was in the other room.

Can you discuss your relationship to Jungian psychology and how it relates to the song “Move You”? Well, my dad is a Jungian psychologist. I read a lot of Joseph Campbell growing up. I don’t know a whole lot about Jung, but I do love that one quote that I read of his, “Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.” I just really like that notion, and I just ruminated on it for a long time, and it got me thinking that sometimes the simplest physical task can help you out of a jam that your mind is struggling with. And then I started thinking about how physically, sometimes getting it on can help you get through it. Everybody knows make-up sex is the best, right?

True. So how did the video come about? It wasn’t my concept but I was thoroughly won over by the concept. Scott Coffey directed it and he sent me this treatment for it which was based on this Roman Polanski film Repulsion. And it had all these beautiful textures in it. I knew his work because I’d seen his film with Naomi Watts called Ellie Parker, which was so good.

The video is beautiful, and you seem really comfortable in front of a camera. Is that because you have an acting career as well? Is there anything coming up that we can look for? I started acting when I was about 17 or so, just trying to go out for things. It never really took off. I have a one-line role in this Kevin Spacey film called Shrink that’s coming out. It was at Sundance, and it was directed by Jonas Pate, who is an upcoming and fantastic director, and it’s written by this guy Thomas Moffett, who worked with Wes Anderson for years. He’s an incredibly gifted writer.

Your song was on the soundtrack to Grey’s Anatomy. Any other TV shows you would love to be associated with? Mad Men would be amazing but that’s highly unlikely. I would love Anthony Bourdain to have me on his show. I know he had Queens of the Stone Age for a Christmas special. But I think he only likes dude rock.

You were a radio-station DJ for a while, so I’m going to appeal to your musical expertise. You’re living in L.A. now. What are the best places to check out live music out there? I love the Hotel Café, and when I can get out to the Troubador that’s always a great room. Sometimes you can catch some great stuff at Tangier and I just played the Echoplex when I was filming this TV show Rockville, CA, which I am going to be in with my band. But you know what, I go out a lot to see more comedy shows. I love going to Largo.

Finally, say I’m looking to have a slow and seductive kind of night. What’s the best drink to pair with your record? If you’re going to listen to my record and get your drink on, I think a nice Beaujolais, and if you’re in the mood for spirits, a vodka martini. Dirty.

Pop Quiz: The Crystal Method’s Ken Jordan

The Crystal Method could have named themselves after methamphetamine or some lucky lady that band members Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland both had a thing for. Either way, it’s a name that has stuck around, with their Grammy-nominated electronica music being heard everywhere from clubs to video games, to the theme from the TV show Bones. The boys from Vegas are back this week with their first studio album in five years, Divided by Night, which not only has Matisyahu guesting on the first single “Drown In The Now,” but also features vocalists Emily Haines (Metric), Jason Lytle (Grandaddy), and Justin Warfield (She Wants Revenge). The duo is currently on tour (check their MySpace page for dates), but Ken graciously took some time out to tell us about his love for Big Bird and give us ideas on places to have sex in our drug-free and dance-tastic Pop Quiz.

When you were in elementary school, what did you want to be when you grew up? Baseball player. I gave it up before high school. I play ice hockey now.

Do you have any tattoos? No. Are you superstitious? No, not at all, knock on wood 😉

First album you bought? The Guess Who (wow, that was a long time ago)

If you could have any super power, what would you choose? Mind control. Not to control people, just to get rid of religion.

What restaurant would you eat at every day if you could? HealthyCA, it’s in North Hollywood, everything they have is awesome! Especially their quinoa salad.

How many times a day on average do you think about sex? Wow, lots, too many times.

Have you ever been arrested? Only a couple of times, and only in Vegas.

What’s your guilty pleasure? Christina Aguilera, “Beautiful.”

Do you have a favorite bar in NY? The one with alcohol.

Ever been star struck? Yes, Wayne Gretzky.

When you get good news, who’s the first person you tell it to? My girlfriend, Janine.

What do you always watch if it’s on TV? 30 Rock, The Soup.

What do you normally sleep in? Boxer-briefs or nude, depends on if I just had sex or not.

Where’s the craziest place you’ve had sex? Elevator in a casino, DJ booth. I should stop.

What’s on your computer wallpaper? Right now it’s Shepard Fairey’s custom Obama image that he did for our “Now Is The Time” remake that has “Now” on the bottom.”

Where do you really want to be right now? Costa Rica.

What’s the first job you ever had? Paper boy.

What’s the best advice you ever got? It was from Marc Geiger (William Morris Agency), he said “Do your own shows and sell hard tickets.” He was right.

Pop Quiz: Andrew Kenny of The Wooden Birds

If you’re looking for a mellow soundtrack to rock you to sleep, you could always try the debut album Magnolia by The Wooden Birds. However, be aware that while the latest project from Andrew Kenny (American Analog Set, Broken Social Scene) draws you in with folky beats and a rhythmic pace, it is also unexpectedly chilling, enlisting help from songwriter David Wingo (scorer of David Gordon Green films) and hypnotic harmonies by vocalist Leslie Sisson. The band started as a concept by Kenny two years ago, with the album released May 12 on Barsuk Records. First, though, the Austin-based Kenny told us about his love for boobs, his affinity for the channel TBS, and having his dreams realized at a bar in Brooklyn in our airborne (but in no way rigid) Pop Quiz.

When you were in elementary school, what’d you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a train engineer, and that’s lasted nearly my whole life. Even now, I’d seriously consider a career switch if the opportunity presented itself.

Do you have any tattoos? I don’t. I can appreciate them on others, and for sure I have a few favorites. But when it comes down to it, I’d probably slip up and just get something like a seahorse parasailing with a dreamcatcher or something.

Are you superstitious? I say no. I’m a scientist. I feel like I’m too practical to enjoy the benefits of being superstitious.

First album you bought? I’d like to say it was Purple Rain because it was the first album that I freaked out over, and I still love it so much. But in all honesty, it was the GoGo’s Beauty and the Beat.

If you could have any super power, what would you choose? Okay, I’m supposed to say “super diplomacy” or something, right? But: no. Sadly it would be a tie for first between invisibility because of boobs or time travel because of dinosaurs.

How many times a day on average do you think about sex? I am often thinking about it, and I’m hoping that other people are too? I don’t even have to be involved. I can just be holding the boom mic or something.

What’s your guilty pleasure? I play both home platform and PC-based video games. It is a horrible waste of time, and I feel guilty every millisecond that I’m doing it.

Do you have a favorite bar in New York? Commonwealth. I lived in the neighborhood for a few years, and they put my music on the jukebox, which was a longtime dream of mine.

Ever been star struck? Of course! I get star struck all the time.

When you get good news, who’s the first person you tell it to? Sheila, my wife. Definitely Sheila. There isn’t a success or a failure that she doesn’t hear about first.

What do you always watch if it’s on TV? Jurassic Park, The Hunt For Red October, or Smokey and the Bandit. Like a moth to flame. My television does get channels other than TBS, by the way.

What do you normally sleep in? At home: Very little if anything. On tour: I’m Dr. PJ Bottoms MD. The doctor is IN.

Where’s the craziest place you’ve had sex? The ear? Kidding. I know what you’re asking, and I’ve never had the desire to have sex anywhere “crazy”. What’s wrong with me? But now someday someone is going to say, “Hey, your couch is crazy comfortable” and I’m going to smile a little smile.

What’s on your computer wallpaper? I rotate every few weeks. Right now It’s a photo of a man walking by some art and a photo of the subway stop in my old neighborhood, both in Brooklyn.

If you could be any literary character, who would you be? Chris Leo is one of my favorite author/musicians, and if you’ll forgive for a moment that the main character in his books IS him (more or less), then I would like to try his shoes on for size.

Where do you really want to be right now? I’m quite fine where I am at the moment, and that’s usually the case.

What’s the first job you ever had? I was a stock boy at Toys ‘R Us. It was the only job I was ever fired from. I was called into the manager’s office and shown a “best of” collection of security tape featuring me not doing my job.

Favorite Muppets/Sesame Street character? This is hard because there are so many great ones. Fozzy’s my favorite though because of his whole “my best isn’t good enough but I’ll keep on because it’s all I know how to do” kind of vibe. Also he’s the saddest muppet.