Interview: Baron Von Raschke

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One of the great villains of professional wrestling from the mid-’60s through his 1994 retirement, Minnesota’s Baron Von Raschke terrorized opponents with his German-accented roar, scowling swagger, and signature move, a punishingly painful head-grab known as “The Claw.” Outside the ring, though, he’s Jim Raschke, a quick-witted, gentlemanly, and surprisingly humble schoolteacher and father. The two sides of Raschke both get their due in a new stage play, The Baron. The comedy, playing at St. Paul’s History Theatre through May 20 and narrated by the Baron himself, covers the Baron’s career from neophyte to king of the ring. The A.V. Club’s Twin Cities editor sat down to chat with the Baron, wife Bonnie Raschke, and playwright Cory McLeod.

Originally published April 19, 2007 on Read the complete article.

Interview: Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low

Duluth trio Low has been tagged as “that slow, quiet band” for most of its 14-year career, but that’s only part of the story. On recent albums like 2005′s The Great Destroyer and the new Drums And Guns, Low has found ways to capture a bigger, denser sound without sacrificing a minimalist ethic. The A.V. Club spoke with singer-guitarist Alan Sparhawk, drummer (and Sparhawk’s wife) Mimi Parker, and new bassist Matt Livingston about Drums‘ take on violence, the band’s 2006 hiatus, and the experience of eating an entire cake in three minutes.

Originally published April 12, 2007 on Read the complete article.

Permanent Records: Robyn Hitchcock, I Often Dream Of Trains

I Often Dream Of TrainsAfter Robyn Hitchcock’s horrible experience on the bloated, big-budget sessions for his second solo album, Groovy Decay—still the weakest album of his career, and one he says he’s never listened to—the former Soft Boys leader took a page from his musical heroes Syd Barrett and Bob Dylan, and dropped out of music almost entirely for two years. When his songwriting muse eventually reasserted itself, he went back to the basics, throwing out all previous pretensions to pop slickness for a set of largely acoustic, introspective material recorded almost entirely by himself on piano and guitar.

Originally published on April 10, 2007. Read the complete article.

Interview: Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan LethemMacArthur “genius grant” recipient and novelist Jonathan Lethem ignores the boundary between literary fiction and “lower” pop-culture or genre work, drawing inspiration from Raymond Chandler, Philip K. Dick, and comics. Lethem stayed mostly in science-fiction territory in early novels like Gun, With Occasional Music, and found wider success with 1999′s National Book Critic’s Circle Award-winning Motherless Brooklyn, about a Tourette’s-afflicted private eye. He drew on his Brooklyn childhood for 2003′s The Fortress Of Solitude, both a detailed reminiscence of the 1970s and a literary superhero tale. His new You Don’t Love Me Yet follows the romantic entanglements and unexpected success of a nameless young L.A. band. The A.V. Club recently talked with Lethem about kangaroos, the importance of escaping the familiar, and the question of who really owns an idea.

Originally published on April 5, 2007. Read the complete article.

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