Wednesday, May 5, 2010

3?aK (Three Questions as Kip) - The Origin

The story behind "Three Questions as Kip" begins in early 2007, back when I was the music writer at College Times.

A recently reunited Winger was on tour in support of their first album of new material in 13 years -- an Iraq War-themed album unassumingly titled Winger IV. They were scheduled to make a stop at Martini Ranch in Scottsdale on March 6, 2007, and their publicist wanted to set up an interview with frontman Kip Winger to preview the show.

Despite the fact that most College Times readers were either in diapers or not even conceived when Winger were at the peak of their fame, I agreed to the interview anyway, partly because I thought it could be kind of funny and partly because I was actually somewhat impressed with the then-new album.  Admittedly, I was never a Winger fan back in the '80s (I've always been more of a Slayer guy), but I thought Winger IV was a pretty solid effort that sounded modern enough to not be labeled a blatant cash-in on '80s nostalgia, while still retaining enough of the band's original sound to avoid alienating any die-hard Winger fans that might still be hanging around.

Much to my chagrin, Kip's publicist e-mailed me the day before the scheduled interview to say that Kip would not be available to talk, due to his being on "vocal lockdown." To make matters worse, an interview with one of the other (less prestigious) members of Winger also fell through, so I ended up scrambling at the 11th hour to put together an alternate music feature for that week's issue.

With my back against the wall, I reached for the promo CD that I had received a few weeks earlier from a relatively unknown band from Virginia called the National Lights. It was an album of haunting, lo-fi folk songs about love and murder titled The Dead Will Walk, Dear, and I couldn't stop listening to it. I e-mailed Jacob Thomas Berns, the singer/songwriter behind the National Lights, and he was kind enough to do a last-minute e-mail interview and turn it around extremely quickly, totally saving my ass in the process.

As an afterthought, I sent a followup e-mail to Berns, half-jokingly asking if he'd be willing to get into character and answer three questions as Kip Winger, since I'd already prepared questions for the Winger interview and hated to see them go to waste. He agreed, and the results were funny enough that we included them at the end of the feature that week. Then, the proverbial light bulb clicked on over my head: I should start asking everyone I interview to answer three questions as Kip!

And for the next year, I did just that.

What started as a whim became a personal and professional mission. At the end of every interview I conducted, I asked everyone -- unsigned local bands and multi-platinum rock stars alike -- to get into character and answer my soon-to-be-infamous "Three Questions as Kip."

Surprisingly, damn near everyone agreed.

From indie rockers to headbangers, from improvisational jazz musicians to zombie gangsta rappers, from insult comics to satellite radio shock jocks, almost everyone I talked to was more than happy to take an imaginary walk in Kip Winger's shoes and answer three questions as the erstwhile hair metal heartthrob. (Oddly, of all the people I interviewed, the only person who refused to participate in "3?aK" was System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian. Go figure.)

More surprisingly, the answers were almost uniformly hilarious.

It even got to the point where my College Times colleagues were more interested in my latest interview subjects' responses to 3?aK than my standard-issue interview questions. After I'd compiled a dozen or so "episodes," we started publishing one 3?aK a week as a small sidebar in the print edition of College Times.

They've never been available online until now, but the publishers at College Times were gracious enough to let me put them all up here on Tempe Carnivore. So beginning tomorrow at 8 a.m., I'm going to post two episodes of 3?aK a week -- one every Monday and Thursday -- until we get to the climactic grand finale (it'll be good, trust me). Some of the more risqué episodes have never been published anywhere before, so I hope to God this doesn't generate any lawsuits.

Granted, they're not all home runs, but rather than try to rank them or pick out the cream of the crop, I figured I'd just put them all up here in chronological order and let you, the reader, decide which ones you like best.

As a caveat, just keep in mind that this was all in fun. I don't bear any ill will towards Kip Winger, and neither do any of the people I interviewed. For all I know, he really did have a terrible sore throat that day. Regardless, I'd like to thank Kip, both for inadvertently giving me the idea and also for (hopefully) having a good sense of humor about this whole thing, should he ever stumble across this humble little blog.

I'd also like to thank Jacob Thomas Berns of the National Lights for being the first to play along. Thanks also to Ed Baker and David and Jackie Goodwin at College Times for giving me the go-ahead to post all of these, especially since I did all the original interviews on their dime.

Finally, many thanks to all the interviewees who agreed to participate. I was extremely surprised at how clever so many of the responses were. Not to get all philosophical on your asses, but in a strange way, I think this series really speaks to the innate creativity and spontaneity of the artists involved. Thank you all for taking this very strange ball and running with it.

So here it is -- probably the closest thing I've had to a "million dollar idea" -- and I'm giving it away for free. I probably should've held out for a book deal or something, but oh well.


Go to Episode 1

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