Skip to main content

From the Archives: Gene Simmons

Leader and bassist of the band Kiss, Gene Simmons. The band rose to prominence and popularity in the mid 1970s. They were known for their Halloweenish face paint, black-leather outfits, eight-inch platform heels and grandiose stage shows where Simmons spit out blood, belched fire, and stuck out his seven-inch tongue.

20:47

Other segments from the episode on August 31, 2007

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, August 31, 2007, Interview with Christopher Guest; Interview with Michael McKean; Interview with Melissa Cross; Interview with Gene Simmons; Interview with Michael McKean.

Transcript

DATE August 31, 2007 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
NETWORK NPR
PROGRAM Fresh Air

Interview: Christopher Guest discusses "This is Spinal Tap"

DAVID BIANCULLI, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, TV critic for the New York Daily
News, sitting in for Terry Gross.

Today on FRESH AIR, we're continuing our hard rock and heavy metal series,
starting with a visit with two members of Spinal Tap: Christopher Guest and
Michael McKean. It's hard to believe that the rock mocumentary "This Is
Spinal Tap" is 23 years old now, because it still seems so fresh, and its
satire of overly earnest heavy metal rockers seems just as spot on.
Christopher Guest co-wrote and co-starred in the film as Nigel Tufnel. In
this scene, he's showing off his guitar collection to Rob Reiner, who plays
the director of a documentary about the band.

(Soundbite of "This Is Spinal Tap")

Mr. ROB REINER: (As Marty DiBergi) Do you play all--I mean, do you actually
play all these or?

Mr. CHRISTOPHER GUEST: (As Nigel Tufnel) Well, I play them and I cherish
them.

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) Mm-hmm.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) This is at the top of the heap, right here. There's
no question about it. Look at the--look at the frame on that one.

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) Yes.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) I mean it's just, it's quite unbelievable. This
one--this one is just perfect, 1959, you know? It just--you cannot--listen.

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) How much did that...

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) Just listen for a minute.

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) I'm not.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) Just sustain, listen to it.

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) I'm not hearing anything.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) You would, though, if it were playing because it
really...

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) Yeah.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) It's famous for its sustain...

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) Yeah.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) I mean, you can just hold it...

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) Yeah.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) Well, I mean so you...

(Soundbite of Guest singing sustained one note)

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) I see.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) And you can go, go and have a bite.

(Soundbite of Guest singing sustained one note)

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) You'd still be hearing that one.

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) Yeah.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) Can you hold this for a sec?

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) Yeah, sure.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) This is amp to, you know, what we use on stage. But
it's very, very special because if you can see...

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) Yeah.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) ...the numbers all go to 11. Look, right across the
board, 11.

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) Oh, I see. And most of the...

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) Eleven, 11.

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) And most of these amps go up to 10.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) Exactly.

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) Does that mean it's louder? It it any louder?

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not 10. You
see, most blokes, you know, can be playing at 10, you're on 10 here, all the
way up, all the way up.

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) Yeah.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) All the way up. You're on 10 on your guitar. Where
can you go from there? Where?

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) I don't know.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) Nowhere, exactly. What we do is, if we need that
extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) Put it up to 11.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) Eleven, exactly. One louder.

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) Well, why don't you just make 10 louder and make 10
be the top number and make that a little louder?

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) These go to 11.

(End of soundbite)

BIANCULLI: Christopher Guest, like his "Spinal Tap" bandmates Michael McKean
and Harry Shearer, is a former cast member of "Saturday Night Live" Terry
spoke with Christopher Guest in 1989 and asked how he developed his "Spinal
Tap" character of Nigel?

Mr. GUEST: I had spent time in England. My dad is English, although he's
not that kind of English. And I'd been playing music with Michael McKean for
many years in bands in New York and elsewhere. I started developing this guy,
I guess, in the mid-'70s, and fooling around with the idea of playing somebody
like this. Then when I was living at this hotel in Los Angeles when I first
moved out there, called the Chateau Marmont, I saw a band arrive. I was
standing at the desk, for some reason, and this heavy metal band showed up to
stay there. And there was a great scene that sort of prompted this whole
movie for me, which was the bass player couldn't find his instrument. They
were checking in and the manager said, `You know, where's your bass?' And he
said, `I don't know. I think I left it at the airport.' `You left your bass
at the airport?' `Yeah, but I don't know where it is. Do I?' And this was
played out over about 15 minutes where he was in such a daze, he didn't even
know where his instrument was, and I got very inspired by that little moment
of pathos, I guess.

TERRY GROSS, host:

I want to play a very short clip from the movie, and this is part of the film
where the director Rob Reiner is interviewing you.

(Soundbite of "This is Spinal Tap")

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) Do you feel that in collaboration with David that
you are afforded the opportunity to express yourself musically, the way you
would like to?

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) Well, I think I do, you know, in my solo...

Mr. REINER: Yeah?

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) My solos are my trademark.

(Soundbite of music)

(End of soundbite)

GROSS: That's a great solo you're playing there. Did you do your own music
for the film?

Mr. GUEST: Yes, we did. That was played live, in fact, at a venue. I think
it was in the Valley. We shot it at a number of different theaters. Yes,
Michael McKean and Harry Shearer and I wrote all the music and played it, and
produced the album subsequently. And then we went on an actual tour of
America after the film had come out. Yeah, it was a lot of fun.

GROSS: What were some of the stadium rock gestures that you knew you wanted
to get in your character?

Mr. GUEST: Well, I mean, we went to see a bunch of heavy metal bands, and we
actually started playing around LA even before we started shooting the film
just to see what that that was like. And they're rather limited. I mean,
this isn't, you know, like a repertory company thing happening here. I mean,
it's either you're shoving your fist in the air or you're grabbing your groin.
It's kind of one or the other. And you turn around and you kind of moon
people and you stick your tongue out, and it just kind of comes naturally when
you're standing in front of a lot of people. The last gig we played was in
Seattle. There were 15,000 people. And then it was that weird thing where
the line is now being crossed into reality because they were screaming and
jumping up and down, and we thought, `Well, is this real now?'

GROSS: Did you ever study music?

Mr. GUEST: Apparently. Yeah. I went to the High School of Music and Art in
New York City. I studied classical music and eventually started getting into
country music, the natural progression, of course, from studying clarinet. I
started playing the mandolin and I played guitar, with Arlo Guthrie, because
we went to the same school. And then I started playing in blue grass bands
and then rock and roll after that.

GROSS: You've done so many parodies of rock songs and rock bands. Did you
ever have a fantasy of being a rock star yourself?

Mr. GUEST: I don't know. Maybe very early on. Maybe when I was, you know,
15 or something. I guess, when you're playing in a band, I guess you must
think that. But I also remember thinking, you know, the Beatles had come out
and I was just starting to play, and I remember thinking, `Well, there's just
no way. I mean, this is just too hard to follow here.' And I'd always done
funny things, I suppose, sort of comedy in some sense, even from when I was
small. And it just naturally evolved that I was going to combine it with
music. So that just then had its own life where I would combine two things
that I liked: playing music and comedy.

GROSS: OK. Well, I thank you very much for talking with us.

Mr. GUEST: Thank you very much for having me.

BIANCULLI: Christopher Guest, speaking to Terry Gross in 1989.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Interview: Actor, comedian, composer and musician Michael McKean
discusses his career and role in "This Is Spinal Tap"
DAVID BIANCULLI, host:

In 2006, Terry spoke with another starring co-author of "This is "Spinal Tap,"
Michael McKean.

TERRY GROSS, host:

Would you talk about creating your character? David St. Hubbins is, you
know, singer and guitarist.

Mr. MICHAEL McKEAN: Mm-hmm. Yeah, and full-time dreamer. Yeah, he's this
guy who kind of entered the spiritual side, and there is no shortage of
specimens of this guy. Of, you know, for a guy who fancies himself the
intellectual among a bunch of not very bright people, I think he fills the
bill. And he does a lot of kind of half-reading. And like he says in the
film, he believes pretty much everything he reads and finds that broadening.

I have found--you know, I have met people over the years--and this is not to
knock people who have a spiritual side, obviously. But I've noticed that
people will incorporate 10 or 12 mystical disciplines in their lives, a lot of
which seem to be pulling against each other. And I don't know how they manage
it, you know? What I'm saying is a lot of people kind of fall for everything
at the same time, and it makes a real loud thud, and they're the only ones who
don't hear it. And I think that's what David is. He kind of--he tries to be
spiritual every which way, and that doesn't work.

GROSS: What was it like performing on stage, because you actually did
concerts as Spinal Tap, in addition to doing the mocumentary?

Mr. McKEAN: Yeah.

GROSS: So what's the difference between like doing it for the film and like
doing it on stage in front of a real audience that came to hear Spinal Tap?

Mr. McKEAN: Well, in '84 when the film came out, the film had been out about
two months, and we did just a few cities. We played in Boston where the film
was, you know, still running, San Francisco, New York, and LA. And in between
there were cities that didn't really get the film. We played Detroit, for
example. And the film kind of limped along for two weeks and then
disappeared. So people thought we were real. And it was kind of an odd gig.
It was just sort of like, you know, these people just kind of out in the
audience saying, `Now, who in the hell are these people again? Where is the
real act?'

But by '91 or '92, rather, when we kind of launched a full-scale tour with the
new album and everything, we ran into our meat and potatoes audience, which
is--I think the theory goes like this: We pretend to be this rock 'n' roll
band, and they pretend to be our fans. So everyone is sort of role playing.
And it's win-win. We really have a great time and people get the jokes and
laugh at the jokes, but they also, you know, it's a pretty tight band.

And, you know, it's the joke that's hopefully more than a joke. I mean, it's
really a fun concert.

BIANCULLI: Michael McKean, speaking with Terry Gross last year. We'll hear
more from Michael McKean in the second half of the show.

(Soundbite of "This Is Spinal Tap)

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) One thing that puzzles me is the makeup of your
audience seems to be predominantly young boys.

Unidentified Actor: Well, it's a sexual thing really. Aside from the
identifying that boys do with us, there's also a like a reaction of the female
to our music.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) Really, they're quite fearful.

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) Yeah.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) It's my theory. They see us on stage with tight
trousers. We've got, you know, armadillos, in our trousers. I mean, it's
really quite frightening. Besides...

Mr. REINER: (As DiBergi) Yeah.

Mr. GUEST: (As Tufnel) And they run screaming.

(End of soundbite)

BIANCULLI: Coming up next, Melissa Cross, a vocal coach to heavy metal
singers.

This is FRESH AIR.

(Announcements)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Interview: Melissa Cross discusses her career as a vocal coach,
teaching metal and punk performers how to scream without ruining
their vocal cords
(Soundbite of heavy metal song)

DAVID BIANCULLI, host:

That kind of heavy metal scream singing sounds like it hurts. And maybe it
does. But vocal coach Melissa Cross teaches hard rock vocalists how to sing
loudly correctly. She has an instructional DVD called "The Zen of Screaming."
Terry spoke with Melissa Cross in 2005.

TERRY GROSS, host:

Melissa Cross, welcome to FRESH AIR.

What's some of the typical damage that, you know, metal and punk singers have?

Ms. CROSS: Well, it starts out with, like, chronic swelling, and that
swelling often turns into nodules, polyps, cysts. And that is because of the
just overuse--in other words, the vocal cords tap together. And when you bang
them together because they're always swollen--in other words, to get a
result--the scar tissue develops on the actual vocal fold. That's called a
nodule. And sometimes it's a fluid-filled injury, which is a polyp. And the
results of those two things are the same; the actual polyp or nodule closes
before the vocal cords close together, and you get this air, so it goes like,
(with initial breathy squeaking) `Hi, hi.' See, like, there's the delay on the
cord closing.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Ms. CROSS: So they walk around like that and try to finish a tour, and
basically they end up not being able to say anything, just like (hoarsely
whispering) `Hi, how are you? Blah, blah,' that kind of thing.

GROSS: Is there a way to scream without shredding your vocal cords? Maybe
you could give us a demonstration of a scream that you think is not damaging
and a scream that you think is damaging.

Ms. CROSS: OK, I'll explain. The scream that does not damage is the scream
that identifies the false vocal cords, which are actually located higher in
the throat. The true cords--(sings note)--those are the ones that sing,
right? The false cords are just distortion, and they're located higher in the
throat. It's almost as if the powers that be, whoever, whatever created us,
started an operation for vocal cords a little higher up and didn't finish
them. So they're--it's actually, like, higher up, and it sounds like
shrieking; it sounds like an animal. (Makes distorted vocal noises) Right?
That's the correct way. All I...

GROSS: Now that sounds to me like it might hurt.

Ms. CROSS: It doesn't hurt a bit.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Ms. CROSS: If it hurt me, I would be able to say `It doesn't hurt a bit,'
because I would say (very hoarsely) `It doesn't hurt a bit,' because I didn't
use too much of my true vocal cords.

Now if I get all excited and try to sound really bad, you know, like, really
violent and put the feeling in my throat that actually even I get when someone
takes my parking space, then I'll tighten everything up in my body and go
(screams) like that or (screams), like, and then using too much gag reflex and
too much pressure on my larynx, and that's what causes the swelling.

GROSS: Now the first way you did it, the way that you screamed that wouldn't
hurt your voice, it did sound kind of like a weird beast. Can you actually
make that into singing?

Ms. CROSS: When it has a note to it, I call that "heat." And one of the
advanced applications that I try to teach my clients so that they can really
step up the bar on this particular genre of music is to be able to transfer
from scream to singing within a note. So it's like (sings syllable which
transitions back and forth between singing and screaming), you know, like to
keep going back and forth...

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Ms. CROSS: ...so it's not all (screaming) `Doh, doh, doh' and then (singing)
`Ahh,' (screaming) `Doh, doh,' you know, not back and forth like good cop, bad
cop. But I really like the art of actually bringing that stuff in and pulling
it out and bringing it in and pulling it out and doing it very artistically.

There is a faction of the genre that does not appreciate any kind of pitch at
all, and you will find as in any, you know, tribe-oriented music, that they
have--you know, they have, like, your death-metal tribe, you have your
metalcore tribe. You have these factions of kids that have separated
themselves by virtue of the sound of their music. There's all these names
they have for it. It's very funny.

GROSS: Now you were a trained singer, but then you ended up in a punk band
in--What?--the '80s.

Ms. CROSS: Yes, first time around, in the late '70s.

GROSS: OK. So how did you go from being a trained singer--I mean, what did
you expect you'd be doing? Probably not being in a punk band.

Ms. CROSS: Well, you know, it was my spirit that was, you know, going the
punk way. And, you know, it was just around that time that, you know, we had,
you know, the Sex Pistols. That was beginning, and I wanted to be a part of
it. Now what I had learned in vocal training absolutely had no context in
that at all. There was singing; there was notes. But what I had learned to
do was, like, all head resonance, which is the difference between what--any
kind of contemporary music involves more chest resonance instead of head
resonance. Chest resonance...

GROSS: Demonstrate the difference for us.

Ms. CROSS: Chest resonance is when I'm speaking to you.

(With different tone) Head resonance is this. Now that's in the speaking
content. This is head.

Now in singing, if I go from my head resonance, I go (sings notes). And if
I--my full chest, it's like (sings notes), right? It's a whole different
sound. It's a higher larynx position. It sounds more like talking. Doesn't
sound like (sings notes); it sounds like (sings notes), you know, more of that
and the rock sense--remember the rock sense? I can do it, you know, a little
less, you know, extremely. I mean, I can go (sings notes). You know, there's
a different--you know, I don't have to go straight to the rock thing to the
opera thing. There are some things in between.

I had such a--there is a right way to do this, and my teacher taught me this,
and therefore I am supposed to do this and that to make a good sound. And
that is what I had to throw out the window to get on stage and scream at
CBGB's, and I hurt myself. I got a polyp. I did not have surgery. I healed
myself through speech therapy. And it was through the speech therapy that I
actually found out the missing link between the two. And that's why...

GROSS: What did you find out?

Ms. CROSS: The link between speaking and singing is the use of head
resonance in speaking. If you use head resonance in speaking, then you are
actually balancing the placement of the voice so that the throat is open. The
overtones are there. Head resonance is overtone. If you take out the head
resonance and put it all in your throat--you see, now I'm talking without any
head resonance whatsoever. I didn't change the pitch, but do you see? It's
like really brassy, you know? It's like really (makes noise) you know? But
now I moved it up with head resonance in my speaking, and I was able to
understand in a sensation way what it is to utilize head resonance without
singing opera.

GROSS: You give your students certain images to use to help them really
inflate their lungs and to take deep breaths from the diaphragm so that they
get that full air supply. What are some of the images that you use?

Ms. CROSS: I absolutely tell them never to think about the diaphragm. The
diaphragm is actually a large muscle that is located up inside the rib cage,
and its sole purpose is to draw air in and release air. Now in exercises, you
might want to, like, focus on how that works, but in performance, you would
never, ever think about your diaphragm. I prefer the Wagnerian school or the
German school of singing, which I think is more conducive to rock singing. By
the way, the diaphragmatic training is bel canto. That is a very common
classical--it's the way I learned how to sing classical music. It's the most
common vocal training.

The other German school involves the lower rib cage, and it is by virtue of
expanding the lower ribs out to the side while taking a breath and not
engaging the muscles in the upper chest, that you get a full breath. And it
doesn't feel like a full breath because it doesn't--what people normally
associate with a full breath is the lift of the upper chest. You take that
big (inhales loudly), right? And your breasts come up into your chin, right?
You think that's a big breath. Actually, that is--that's too much air,
because you don't need that much air. Too much air makes you hold your
breath.

Just the right amount, which is determined by the expansion of the rib cage
coordinated with the intake of air--just the right amount is manageable for
this consistency. And that image--for women, I call it strapless bra, and the
breath is called a by-the-way. Now these two go together. A by-the-way is
if--say you forgot to say something, you go (inhales) `Oh, by the way'--hear
that little breath? (Inhales) `By the way'--it's just a little tiny sip of
air. And at the same time that I take that relaxed little sip, I boost my rib
cage as though I need to keep a strapless bra from coming down under my
skirt--under my dress. So a by-the-way and strapless bra is all the thinking
my students are ever allowed to have about breathing.

GROSS: Well, Melissa Cross, thanks so much for talking with us.

Ms. CROSS: Thank you so much for having me.

BIANCULLI: Melissa Cross speaking to Terry Gross in 2005. She has an
instructional DVD demonstrating her vocal techniques called "The Zen of
Screaming."

(Soundbite of heavy metal song)

(Announcements)

BIANCULLI: Coming up, for those who missed Terry's famous bout with Gene
Simmons of Kiss, or for those who just want to hear it again, keep listening.
And, we get back to Michael McKean of Spinal Tap.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. MICHAEL McKEAN: (Singing) Stonehenge, where the demons dwell and...

(End of soundbite)

(Announcements)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Filler: By policy of WHYY, this information is restricted and has
been omitted from this transcript

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Interview: Actor, comedian, composer and musician Michael McKean
discusses his career and role in "This Is Spinal Tap"
DAVID BIANCULLI, host:

Michael McKean has a lot in common with is Spinal Tap bandmates, Christopher
Guest and Harry Shearer. They're all gifted at improv comedy, they all like
to adopt different accents and personas, and they're all musically inclined,
which really helps when your act requires you to write and play such musical
anthems as "Big Bottom" and "Armadillos in Our Pants." Terry spoke with
Michael McKean in 2006

TERRY GROSS, host:

I want to play one of the songs from "Spinal Tap." And I thought we'd hear
"Big Bottom."

Mr. McKEAN: OK.

GROSS: Would you talk about...

Mr. McKEAN: A medley of our hit, is what you're saying.

GROSS: Would you talk about the process of writing the song?

Mr. McKEAN: Of that particular song?

GROSS: Yeah, or another if it's more vivid.

Mr. McKEAN: Sure. Well, there's not much more vivid than that. No, it was
actually--there was a song by Queen called "Fat Bottom Girls," you know, who,
it is alleged, make the rocking world go round. And, you know, we kind of
wanted to take, you know, do another version of that. And so we did. The
stuff we threw out, we are sworn to secrecy about that. But we put in the
lines that fit and rhymed.

GROSS: And...

Mr. McKEAN: That's it.

GROSS: And your voice on this, what did you try to do to get the right kind
of voice?

Mr. McKEAN: I was still just trying to establish who David St. Hubbins was
vocally. You know, I didn't really have the right pipes. You know, you need
that kind of upper register, you know, which I didn't really have. I'm more
of a barry than a tenor. So, you know, I was still just trying to find his
timbre that was believable. I couldn't get way up there like Mr. Daltrey,
and you know, I didn't have like a really, really great rock 'n' roll voice,
so I was pretty much just trying to find him and be as, you know, to let the
voice kind of drip with innuendo. Which you don't really need when you got
lyrics like this. You don't need innuendo.

GROSS: OK.

Mr. McKEAN: Innuendo is just gravy.

GROSS: Well, here's "Big Bottom" performed by Spinal Tap, with my guest
Michael McKean as the guitarist and singer David St. Hubbins.

(Soundbite of "Big Bottom")

Mr. McKEAN: (As David St. Hubbins) (Singing) "The bigger the cushion, the
sweeter the pushin', that's what I said. The looser the waistband, the deeper
the quicksand, or so I have read.

My baby fits me like a flesh tuxedo. I'd like to sink her with my pink
torpedo.

Big bottom, big bottom, talk about bum cakes, my girl's got 'em. Big bottom
drive me out of my mind. How could I leave this behind?"

(End of soundbite)

GROSS: That was Spinal Tap, and my guest is Michael McKean, who played the
part of David St. Hubbins, the guitarist and singer.

It must have been so much fun to do this. Whenever I hear the music or see
the movie, I just think, `God, that's fun.'

Mr. McKEAN: Yeah.

GROSS: One of my favorite lines of the movie is when Chris Guest is talking
about how a lot of young girls are afraid of the band because, `We have
armadillos in our trousers.'

Mr. McKEAN: Yes.

GROSS: You guys must have had such a good time kind of talking about and
making fun of that kind of heavy metal band...

Mr. McKEAN: Fan base?

GROSS: ...conceit about their sexual prowess and their sexual endowment.

Mr. McKEAN: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Yeah, well, that's--yeah, I guess we did. We tried not to think about it too
much, but that's, obviously, you know, something. It's kind of a 14-year-old
boy's ideal of how to be a sexy man.

GROSS: That's perfect.

Mr. McKEAN: That's really what it is. Girls have very little to do with it
because, you know, the girls are, you know, with any luck, of age. And--but
it's really about the fantasy more than anything else. It's like, you know,
when you're 14, you think, `Boy, when I'm grown up and I can go to bars and
like, you know, be sexy and take, you know, go home with women, this is how
I'm going to do it. I'm going to, you know, wear the Spandex and, you know,
this fur collar and, you know, I'll have eye makeup and long hair.'

GROSS: Michael McKean, thank you so much. It's really been really fun to
talk with you. Thank you.

Mr. McKEAN: You're so welcome.

BIANCULLI: Michael McKean of Spinal Tap, wrapping up today's installment of
our hard rock and heavy metal tribute. But there's more to come on Monday.

(Credits)

BIANCULLI: For Terry Gross, I'm David Bianculli.

(Soundbite of song)

SPINAL TAP: (Singing)
When there was darkness and ruled the elements.
When there was silence and the hush was almost deafening.
Out of the emptiness...

Salvation.

Twas the rock and roll creation
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

You May Also like

Did you know you can create a shareable playlist?

Advertisement

Recently on Fresh Air Available to Play on NPR

42:59

Monkey thieves, drunk elephants — Mary Roach reveals a weird world of animal 'crime'

Roach researched animal misbehaviors for her book, Fuzz. She says animals tend to ignore the rules we try to impose on them — and they often have the last laugh. Originally broadcast Sept. 14, 2021.

08:31

'Blonde,' the new Marilyn Monroe biopic, is an exercise in exploitation, not empathy

The movie turns Monroe into an avatar of suffering, brought low by a miserable childhood, a father she never knew and an industry full of men who abused and exploited her until her death in 1962, at the age of 36.

52:30

Extreme heat, flooding and wildfires: How climate change supercharged the weather

Washington Post reporter Brady Dennis warns our aging infrastructure systems weren't built to withstand the stresses of climate change: "There is a certain amount of suffering that we can't avoid."

There are more than 22,000 Fresh Air segments.

Let us help you find exactly what you want to hear.
Just play me something
Your Queue

Would you like to make a playlist based on your queue?

Generate & Share View/Edit Your Queue