Greg Prato Answers 20 Questions and Finally Admits Grunge is Not Dead!

In the early 19th Century, Marcel Proust was given a questionnaire called "an album to record thoughts and feelings," also known as a  "confession album." At the time it was popular among English families to assure that the man or woman was marriage worthy and bona fide. Written in 1890, it was discovered in 1924, and in 2003 auctioned for over 100,000 euros. 

The TV show The Actors Studio had their own version that the host would use, asking the actors questions while live in the studio. 
For many years it has been a favorite of Vanity Fair magazine readers, and they now have an online version that you can do and compare your answers to celebrities. Their version is fairly basic, but a lot of fun to read, and not at all like the usual questions people get asked, which are typically more specific, about a certain book or movie. 

So, when I decided to start doing interviews, I thought the Proust Questionnaire would be the perfect template from which to create an interview for our writers, artists, and musicians. Just a little pin prick into their minds. 

 Greg Prato is a really special person to me. He interviewed me for his book "Grunge is Dead." It was at a time in my life where things were not looking so good. It has been a very long road for me fighting off my own demons and trying to rebuild my own life, and so I truly am grateful for the people like Greg in my life that continue to support and inspire me, as I'm sure he does for many of us rock and roll refugees, for which I'm sure he knows grunge will live on forever! 

The Xanaland Proust Questionnaire 
for Writers

1. In the age of social media and the internet, not many people pick up a book or a newspaper first thing in the morning. What do you read first thing in the morning? And don't lie -- we may quiz you on this later...

About a year or so ago, I actually made my home page a blank "Google search" page, because I was so sick of all the sensationalist/panic-inducing news stories (or stories about idiotic celebrities). I've noticed I do my best writing in the morning, so usually, I go right to work when I wake up on my latest book project or whatever interview needs transcribing, or a news article that needs writing. 

2. What living writer do you identify with the most? 

Probably Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain because they both co-wrote my favorite my favorite rock and roll book of all time, "Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk." They also introduced me to the wonders of the "oral history" book format, which I discovered by reading the book numerous times.

3. If you could write in any other language what would it be and why? 

Italian because both of my wife's parents are from Italy and speak and write in Italian, along with their perfect English. Italian English that is. 

4. What is your most treasured piece of memorabilia~ a photo, autograph or something else special you have kept from or belonging to someone you've written about? If the answer is nothing, shoot us your address and we'll send you a Xanaland T- shirt immediately! 

I would say an incredibly nice and complimentary handwritten letter I received from Shannon Hoon's mother, Nell, saying how much she enjoyed my first ever book, "A Devil on my Shoulder and an Angel on the Other: The Story of Shannon Hoon and Blind Melon." She gave me the OK to post part of the letter for others to read which said, "People who know and love Shannon will enjoy reliving the moments chronicled. Anyone who didn't know him will certainly know him now. You managed to capture the personality of Shannon, the good and the bad, I'm thankful it was mostly good. Thank you for immortalizing my son in print." 

5. What would be the ultimate honor for you as a writer? To have something you wrote made into a film, used for scholastic curriculum, or to win a prestigious award? 

It would be great if one day a book of mine was made into a film -- I actually had two different people get in touch to discuss the possibility of film rights for "A Devil on One Shoulder and an Angel on the Other" and "MTV Ruled the World: The Early Years of Music Video," but... it didn't go so well. 

6. If you could bring back any writer from the dead to further enjoy their writing, who would it be -- besides Hunter S. Thompson...

I'd go with Charles M. Schulz, and try to find out why he chose to keep Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, Snoopy, Woodstock, etc. the same age throughout the duration of the Peanuts comic strip. It must have been a difficult decision.

7. What trait do you most deplore in others? Something that really gets your goat... chaps your hide. 

Each era has phrases that get overused, such as "simply put" or "comfort food."  Those really get my goat. Another modern-day overused phrase is "soul mate."  Whenever that phrase is uttered, you may as well start the clock ticking towards when a break up or divorce will occur. 

8. What about in yourself? 

Every musical style has good and bad artists, and I spent too many years taking bad heavy metal artists seriously. That's how much I loved and longed for good yet heavy music. This was during the late '80s. I should have been going to see cool punk and indie bands in clubs instead of going to arena shows. My first club show was in March of 1990. It was Faith No More, Soundgarden, and Voivod in Brooklyn, N.Y.  I also played guitar seriously during the late '80s/early '90s and committed the flub of practicing for hours on end in my room (a golden rule that a lot of Seattle bands taught me -- that the quality of songwriting and what you have to say is the most important thing, not lame guitar solo shredding). 

9. Do you have a living muse or someone that inspires you to write? 

I've been lucky re: the books I've written because they've all been on subjects that I enjoyed immensely and always wanted to read a book about. So you could say the subject of each book that I write is my inspiration. 

10. Name one event in your life that made you want to be a writer.

I took a job at a music publication as a "customer service rep," and I saw how bloody easy it was to write after I became friendly with some of the writers there. Once it became clear that they were not going to give me a shot at writing for them, I jumped ship and went out on my own. I've been a happy camper ever since. 

11. If you could change one thing about your past, what would that be? That tattoo no one knows you have, that girl you wish you'd called back in Philly... that gay moment you almost had with Lars Ulrich... stuff like that. 

I wish I knew I was going to be a writer back in college, so I would have majored in journalism instead of lame liberal arts (or as it as it was called at my school: "multidisciplinary studies"). I also regret never seeing Queen or Nirvana in concert. 

12. Who in your life has stood by you and supported your writing the most? 

Me, Greg Prato! Thank you Greg. 

13. What is your current state of mind? 

Cool, calm, collected and composed. 

14. What phrase or word do you overuse the most? 

" Gunther " 

15. Is there someplace special you have always wanted to spend time at to "write your memoirs" or a new book? And don't say the hotel in The Shining.

I've always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise but I don't know how much writing I could get done on vacation. 

16. As a music writer, is there a band or artist that you simply can't listen to? 

'80s hair metal, a la Bon Jovi, Poison, Warrant, Skid Row, etc.  The resurgence of those foolers and their cronies over the last few years have rained on my parade. Rap metal was pretty foul too, and the majority of mainstream music today stinks to high heaven as well. 

17. You clearly love Seattle music. Besides a Seattle band, what artist or band can you listen to over and over... besides Led Zeppelin? For me, it's Elton John. 

Queen is my all time favorite rock band. All four band members were great songwriters. But there are other bands that I never grow tired of listening to. Faith No More, Meat Puppets, Blind Melon, Soundgarden, (I know you said no Seattle bands -- it slipped!) 
Thin Lizzy, T-Rex, early KISS. I also never grow tired of listening to Jim Croce. 

18. If you were not a writer, what career do you think you'd have? And if it's being a musician what instrument would you play? 

Tough to say. Perhaps a boring office job that would allow me to listen to my music of choice on headphones. 

19. If you could interview the spirit of Kurt Cobain, Shannon Hoon, or a deceased rock star of your choice, what's one question you would ask them? Feel free to pick several and elaborate... inquiring monkeys want to know.

I'm always curious to know what my favorite artist's albums are, but Mr. Cobain was pretty vocal in the press about his favorite bands/albums. The meanings behind certain songs and what inspired them to write about them is always a cool thing to hear as well. 

20. What song will be played at your funeral? 

Instead of something glum, how about something groovy -- "Electric Avenue" by Eddie Grant and/or "Der Kommissar" by Falco -- not the shitty English version by After the Fire, either. Or perhaps the best-fitting "Another One Bites the Dust." 

For more information about Greg's books, visit Amazon~for which there is a direct link here on the blog, to buy both of Greg's books. Simply click on the ad/book image in the sidebar on the left. 

* Follow Greg Prato on Twitter and to read his latest interviews and see what fabulous rock stars he's interviewing in publications like Rolling Stone and many others:

All original sketch/ drawings by Hannah Christine Nicholson. A beautiful person, unique and inspiring artist and supporter of Xanaland, who we will indeed be honoring and interviewing in an art blog very soon! 

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