12 Questions with Michael Penn

michaelpenn.jpgWith acclaimed singer/songwriters Michael Penn currently touring (at the World Cafe on Friday, April 27) to support his new album Palms and Runes, Tarot and Tea: A Michael Penn Collection., Michael gladly answered a few of my silly questions.

What are you reading, listening to, and watching these days
I just re-read Alan Moore’s “From Hell”, listening to a lot of tango, watching Intervention.

Cat person or dog person?
Dogs are great pets. It’s as if they are programmed to show unconditional love, like they have little to no free will of their own. I’m a cat person.

What about the music industry excites you?

First is that the music industry is in such a massive tumble that I think it is bound to crush all the people doing it just for dough. No dough no more.

And the other thing is that some of the same technology that has contributed to the tumble is a godsend, the corporations don’t have the only printing press. So I am attracted to all the creative potential that provides.

A few years ago you said that any musician going into the music industry should learn HTML – care to revise?

Only to say that I would add Flash and any other protocol used on the internet. My point was “learn the tools”…that if you got creative with your website, or using mySpace or whatever…it was no different hat designing one’s own album cover.

But the main dilemma remains for people who do what I do for a living. We don’t make things anymore. We used to lock our waveforms inside something.

If I forced you to listen to one of your albums – which would you choose?
It will always be the last one.

Coffee or Tea?
One very large iced coffee in the morning. Black tea the rest of the day. Usually.

What should someone expect from seeing you live?
Me doing my best…getting along. Trying to stay out of trouble, trying to make a bit of a difference, quit smoking…oh…LIVE….

What’s it like being married to another musician/songwriter?

East coast or West coast?
Only one of those two choices is the home of The Museum Of Jurassic Technology

We win.

What’s the hardest thing for you to do or accept as a musician?
Hmmm. I’m not sure. I wish I was more prolific, I wish the things I hear in my head could translate to my fingers with less effort, but acceptance of the things I can’t change is getting easier.

Sushi or Pizza?


What should we expect from you next?
Another bunch of songs, probably another score this year. But in the shorter term I want to keep the new web site active and get out and play live as much as I can.

Michael Penn will be playing at World Cafe Live on Friday, April 27 with The Last Town Chorus.

8 thoughts on “12 Questions with Michael Penn

  1. Oh cool – I get first comment privileges – woo hoo.

    Excellent questions, Spencer! Of course, you would know what to ask…

    I’m rather pleased with the answers as well: Cat person, sushi AND pizza, trying to quit smoking and oh yeah, another bunch of songs. Marvelous.

  2. Great job as usual, Spencer.

    I was just musng on (before reading Cyn’s comment) how much I was oddly in agreement with one of my all-time favorite artists, on several unrelated less-than-earth-shattering topics.

    I’ll note though, that Michael said “either/or” on the sushi and pizza controversy… I would of course wholeheartedly choose “AND”, which may explain why Mr. Penn and I are about the same age but I outweigh him by 70 or 80 lpounds…

  3. Great piece, and would’ve been even better if his answer to ‘what’s next’ had included “a trip to the UK for some shows…” – maybe have a quiet word in his ear….? ;)

  4. Coolness, Spencer! I especially love “If I forced you to listen to one of your albums…” Made me laugh out loud. Looking forward to TONIGHT!!

  5. Great questions, Spencer. Different from the standard interview, which allows a bit of the intimacy you provide to the Pennlisters. Thanks again for the inside info!

    (Now… to figure out how to get Penn to Milwaukee…)

  6. Oh Spencer,


    You always know how to cheer a gal up.

    Guess I’m the “Lucky One”…

    I’m so diggin’ the guitar on “version one”…
    “knowing love…[are two notes a riff?]…everyday.”

    Sushi or pizza — I’ve had sushi pizza that’s kinda yummy — although I doubt it’s authentic Japanese cuisine.

    Funny, I also wish the thoughts flying around my head would translate to the page more easily…thank goodness for perspective and acceptance…and magazine deadlines (for motivation purposes).

    (in the hospital — can you frickin’ believe it????)

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