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Hissing Obama, Are You The Destroyer? Micah P. Hinson Interviewed
Laura Snapes , June 17th, 2010 05:37

Laura Snapes talks to Micah P. Hinson about proposing on stage, racism in comic books, and his contempt for Barack Obama

When the Texas born and raised Micah Paul Hinson and his wife, Ashley Bryn Gregory, started talking about their contempt for Barack Obama's presidency as we were sat outside Islington's Hope and Anchor last month, part of me started to wonder whether I'd ever met a real life Republican under the age of 30 before (Micah is 29). In the email follow-up questions I'll send him later on - the face-to-face interview is cut short by a soundcheck - he says he's not a Republican of the capital R persuasion. But anyway, whether I'd ever met a young, outspokenly conservative musician making the kind of music that finds favour amongst perhaps a predominantly liberal audience? If they exist, they're certainly not talking about it. There's almost certainly a Black Sky Thinking piece on why that is - apart from the obvious factors - that's too long to get into here.

I didn't quite recognise Hinson as he eventually walked down Upper Street - boyishly skinny, but with grey flecks in a gelled, bedraggled mohawk, pasty white, a thick curly Lazarus tail through the lobe of one ear, a clear disc with a star in it in the other. The press shots (as above) for his new album, Micah P. Hinson And The Pioneer Saboteurs see him looking like an emo kid dressed as a cross between Hunter S. Thompson and a 1950s gangster, and he's the same in person; crisp white blazer, Ray Ban Clubmasters, a ring bearing a pistol on his right hand, white tipped cigarettes in a shiny black filter in his left, tattoos up both arms. You can kind of see why Ashley's father didn't want his beautiful daughter - long hair, the same sunglasses, pageant white smile - to marry this guy. But that didn't stop them.

Tonight, Micah is playing at the Union Chapel for the first time since he proposed on stage here in 2007. They got hitched in 2008, yet still flirt like newlyweds - his the charming pat and flatter of an old time gent well aware of the potency of his own wiles, hers the mock tiresome but still charmed reception of a girl who's heard it all before, but likes it all the same. They're magnetic to look at, as proven by the eavesdropper who comes to sit on the end of our bench (amidst empty benches all around) to “catch the sun”. He fails at trying his hardest not to listen when the Obama talk starts, and comes up to me after they've left, asking, “Who was that?”

The first part of this interview was done face to face - any inserts in italics are comments he added by email later that happened to fit into the dialogue we had in person. After the break are the questions I sent him by email some time after the gig.

Is Ashley playing in your band on this tour?

Micah P. Hinson: No, it's just me. She's a licensed therapist, y'know, so she can do therapy professionally. And so she quit that job and was able to come with me on tour. We're going to do some other stuff in July, and she's played with us before. She's working on learning how to play the drums, and we're working on using some sampling and stuff. For monetary reasons, we're trying to go a bit fake with some of the stuff. This is the first record - the Pioneer... record - where we can actually pull that off. Even though they are real sounds and they're going through real delays and real reverbs and that...

[Ashley comes back with a Coke for her and a very underfilled glass of orange juice for Micah.]

MPH: Why the fuck couldn't they fill that up, man? The fuckers.

Ashley Bryn Gregory: They poured it out of the bottle.

MPH: I got such a bad attitude, sorry. So yeah, this record, it's such an odd album that I think we could use samples and use certain things to get that sound across.

Do you mean doing the orchestral parts on keyboards and samplers?

MPH: Probably we would leave out the orchestra stuff, I would more be talking about some of the drum stuff. I did a lot of loops with the drums. And then with some of the extrenuous sounds - on ‘The Returning', the last song, there's a lot of reverb... fuck, what's that thing called when you put your guitar up to...

ABG: Feedback.

MPH: Feedback! A lot of feedback, loops and this kinda stuff. As far as the strings, that's really going to take getting some string players together. I've just got through a meeting with my label Full Time Hobby, and we were talking about doing a show in London with strings, and then doing a show in Paris with strings... The first one will probably be in December in Spain, with me, some string players, and the band Centro-matic - I don't know if you've heard of them. They're from Texas and they're the reason I sound part of the way I do. They're beautiful, and amazing, amazing people. Matt Pence, the drummer of the band, records all Centro-matic records, and he also worked with me on mixing the ‘Pioneer...' record.

The album was recorded all over the place - how did you get everyone to do it and bring everyone together?

[Ashley laughs]

MPH: This is probably the first record that I've recorded the majority of the stuff myself - the bass, the drums, the guitars, a lot of the backing vocals. Some of the backing vocals were done by this sweet lady [nods to Ashley], some were done by a guy called Michael Perkins, some by a band called TECHANKO, my backing band in Spain. They're an amazing band - they hail from Zaragoza. They are amazing musicians and stellar guys - El Guapo on gyt fiddle, Scissorhands on bass fiddle, The Dude on the twinklers, and The Guru on skins. And then a veteran of my band called T. Nicholas Phelps, he worked on a couple of songs. We recorded some in Abilene, and he did some in New York City, and he's married now, and having a child. He sort of fell out of the music game.

It's beautiful, I think it's my favourite of yours.

MPH: Thank you, thank you very much.

What's your relationship with Spain like? Aren't you putting out two Spanish EPs and you've written a book in Spanish?

ABG: Ha, well... He did not write the book in Spanish! He can't speak Spanish, so I'd be shocked if he wrote it that way. But it's being released...

MPH: There's a label over there called Houston Party Records, and they're just really, really good to me. So we released these EPs - we've done one called ‘The Dream of Her' and one called ‘The Surrendering', and we have another one that I've finished, and we're going to release that in December. Then I'm going to get all those songs, re-record them and put them in a different order, then release them as a full on record so then I guess whoever is interested can get their hands on it. But yeah, the book I wrote - it's called ‘You Can Dress Me Up But You Can't Take Me Out' - and I wrote it in English, but I'm getting signed by a Spanish publishing company, out of Madrid or Barcelona. They're publishing my fuckin' book, man!

ABG: But only in Spanish...

MPH: Only in Spanish. And we're working on getting an English translation... ha. But that's a dream come true. Before I got signed to a record label, I'd given up on music and I just typed a lot on old typewriters, and I dreamed of being - I read Bukowski and all this stuff. So for that to actually happen, it really is a dream come true. Hopefully I don't read like the people I admire so much, but we'll see.

What's it about?

MPH: It's as simple as... It's just a story about a man, and we drop in on his life and we have no idea what's happening. We watch him through different means and methods turn into a boy, and then we go away. And not like physically turning from a man to a boy, but spiritually and mentally, all these things.

ABG: It's not ...Benjamin Button or anything.

MPH: No. And it also wasn't something that I set out to write. I wrote it about eight years ago, I had no purpose, I just wanted to get something down, and it wasn't until this year that I realised that I'd finished it, and fuck, this is what it means. I thought it was shit, but I don't think it's so bad, and they don't either as they're gonna publish it.

ABG: You didn't think it was so bad since you made me read it after the first time we started dating! I liked it, I thought he was really, really smart.

MPH: I was just trying to impress her.

ABG: He was, and he did.

[They both laugh]

It must be a pretty special date for you guys - is it the first time you've been back to the Union Chapel since you proposed on stage here in 2007?

Both: Yeah!

MPH: Definitely.

When did you get married?

ABG: We got married four months after that, so April 6th 2008. It's been two years and a bit!

MPH: We got engaged on a winner, and we were just not fucking crazy about waiting around. My parents were pretty supportive, not financially, but in spirit.

ABG: My parents didn't want me to marry him. They thought he was a loser!

MPH: And I was. But I've changed a little bit. It's kind of the opposite of the book - I've turned from a boy to a man. And then at the end, they really helped us financially, they really helped us out. We got married at an old -

ABG: - theatre -

MPH: - called The Paramount, in Abilene.

ABG: So we did it backwards. We got engaged backwards and married in a theatre!

MPH: Ah, that's a good one. So we didn't have to put any flowers up or make it really ornate. We just put a playlist on our iPod of songs like Sigur Ros and songs that we like that are beautiful...

ABG: And I walked down the aisle to a part of one of his songs, the strings of -

MPH: - ‘I Keep Havin' These Dreams'.

ABG: So every time he plays that, it's really special for me.

MPH: And me. I opened up for Iron & Wine here eight years ago, and then I guess that night [of the proposal], we played with Alasdair Roberts, Emmy The Great and The Mountain Goats. A lot of people were fucking mad that The Mountain Goats opened up for me. I'm not sure why, but I had nothing to fucking do with it.

ABG: And Emmy thought that proposing was a publicity stunt!

MPH: Like we're celebrities or something!

I can really see you on the front of People

MPH: I was in People once, on the cover with Will Smith and his little son.

ABG: That was Entertainment Weekly.

MPH: Goddamnit! [Kidding] They reviewed The Opera Circuit. That was fucking amazing, a dream come true...! [joking] Being reviewed in Playboy would be a really cool thing. Maybe not now, but in the 1950s when things had class.

ABG: Naked women had class...

MPH: They were classier than they are now! They were very attractive. So we try to [siren goes past, Micah sticks his fingers up at it jokingly] The fucking fuzz man! We definitely try to live our lives in an old style way. In our house, we have a reading room where we have a record player, and I have a ridiculous comic collection that she hates, and we generally try to keep off the television. We read a lot - it's just better than staying on the fucking internet and playing video games all day, that kind of nonsense.

How did you two meet?

[Micah nods, hmms, and lights another cigarette]

ABG: Well, his father was my professor at the university I went to. He was always bragging about him, and forced him - somehow - not forced him, but coerced him into playing a house party at his parents' house -

MPH: My dad plays guitar too, he does John Denver songs.

ABG: So I went and met him there, but he had a girlfriend at the time. He was smitten with me from the get go, he broke up with her promptly [very tongue in cheek] and we got together at SXSW really, that year, in Austin, Texas...! The festival was probably unofficially our first date.

MPH: I guess so, it was the first time I was properly flirting with someone. I was like, ‘Do you have a boyfriend...?' [mock leering]

ABG: I'd actually gone there with a boy!

MPH: But I pissed that guy off. I think your older boyfriend was there, and I almost fucking kicked him, was that that day? He was trying to talk to Nick [Phelps] on stage, my banjo player, and I was like, ‘Stop fucking talking to my band members man, you motherfucker!'

ABG: That's how we met. Actually I grew up with Nick.

MPH: His mom was her paediatrician.

ABG: So she's known me since I was a baby. And so when they were in the band together, I somehow ended up joining!

Were you musical before?

ABG: I was musical, my mom had me in all sorts of lessons when I was young, and I had a band at school. I'm more technical as opposed to genius [laughs]. I can't just pick up an instrument and just play it like he can. I can read notes and play ‘em, and he can read notes, he's the opposite.

MPH: That's not genius, that's just illiterate! I'm basically illiterate.

I didn't realise that you still work in a comic book store. Can you tell me a bit about that - what kind of comics are you into?

MPH: Probably the main stuff... Well, the comic store I work in, it really doesn't have a name. The guy that works there is probably the holiest man I've ever met in my life. He says things, he knows things - his name's Larry - he's absolutely amazing. He's this chippy little white man and he's married to a black lady, and that's a very interesting thing to happen in Texas - not to be racist. They are fucking hilarious together. They are goddamn funny. But as far as comic books, I was into it when I was a kid, when I was younger - Batman, X Men and that shit. Then I sold everything for drugs. But then I had back surgery for a problem I had, I started getting into all the old stuff - the main writers would be like Frank Miller, artists like Jack Kirby, Jeff Darrow. Amazing stuff. I definitely like the golden age, I really like the old ‘Kill the Communists', ‘Kill the Nazis' shit, and I really like the Jewish New York propaganda - they were doing that stuff before the war was even started. We were fighting these people, months and months and months before. In a comic book, the Communists, the Japanese were bombing Pearl Harbour, and then nine months later, this happened. Maybe not Pearl Harbour, but they bombed a marina or whatever. I don't know how racist I sound, but...

ABG: Comic books are very racist.

MPH: Very racist. But I think that stuff is amazing, and that one thing that's wrong with the modern day is that we always try to distract ourselves, as opposed to comic books back then - they were all about what was happening then, all about patriotism and it was about... and even into Watchmen and Alan Moore, and Dave Gibbons, even English stuff, that was all during the Cold War, so that had to do with the time as well. I think that's something that's kinda lacking, that we don't do now in comic books. It's all about fighting bad guys, and there are stupid stories about rings and shit, I don't know, Batman dying or whatever the fuck.

[A homeless man comes over asking for change, Micah gives him a cigarette instead, then realises he just wants change, which Ashley gives him.]

MPH: I usually have a very good attitude to... Well no, I gave him cigarettes, that's a good attitude. It's very interesting how - and we have this in Texas too - how the problem with a lot of society is that a lot of people don't want to work for what they get. Maybe in America you hear about health care and how it's so expensive and all this bullshit. The people who don't get healthcare in America are the people who aren't willing to go and work their asses off to be able to afford that kind of stuff. I work my ass off with music and things like this, so I'm able to afford things that cost a lot of money. So yeah, back in the day, let's say it's the 1800s; a lot of these people would be left on the trail. We wouldn't pick them up and drag them along. But then again, I'm very anti-tolerant. But at this point, I'm rambling, I'm very sorry.

What do you think about the healthcare proposals - particularly with you, Ashley, working in the field, and Micah, with all the back problems you've encountered?

MPH: How do I think it's all going to go down?

ABG: Well in America, they already have free healthcare, and no-one advertises it over here.

MPH: And it's already broke.

You mean Medicaid?

ABG: Medicaid, Medicare...

MPH: There's one for mothers that get milk and...

ABG: There are a lot of people on it, for disability...

MPH: A lot, fucking aye man, and proper welfare...

ABG: I worked at a psychiatric hospital for a long time, and most of our patients were Medicare and Medicaid, and they were there riding free off the government. Medicare is about to go under anyway, so I don't think that the government can afford free healthcare.

MPH: We have something that's already the same, and it's already going fucking broke. Even Social Security man, they say that we're not going to have any money when we're older. To get benefits when we're 60 and 70, we'll have to retire when we're 95 or some crazy shit.

ABG: In America, we have healthcare based on work. Like pension schemes, and it's part of your benefit package. So even if you're working at some place like McDonalds or Starbucks or...

MPH: Wal Mart...

ABG: are getting healthcare. Those are pretty... anybody can work there. So it's really just a matter of getting up off your rear end and doing something.

[The nosey guy asks if he can come and sit on the end of our bench to catch the sun]

ABG: Well it'll be interesting. Loads of my family works in the medical field and they're not - nobody's happy about it.

MPH: But I think it's gonna change. There's like four years until everything starts going down. Some things are gonna change. I don't think we should be afraid too much in America, I just don't want to see the death of the American Dream. That's my big thing. And I think Obama is... he is the murderer of the American Dream.

Why do you say that? Feel free to not answer this, but I guess you didn't vote for him?

Both: No.

ABG: Definitely not.

Are you happy for that to go into the interview?

MPH: Sure, as long as they let me back in the fucking country!

ABG: They will.

What is it about him that you don't like? It's easy over here to get a very black and white view of American politics.

ABG: Oh no, we don't care if he's black or white...

No, sorry, I mean two dimensional.

MPH: I think the thing with Obama is - first off, I really don't feel that he has the criteria that is needed to be a president.

ABG: In America, he's more of a celebrity.

MPH: I was going to get to that. Talking about comic books, there's like five comic books about Barack Obama...

The Spiderman special edition...

MPH: Yes, they also had one about - and that's worth a lot of money -

ABG: Michelle Obama's in every Vogue magazine...

MPH: Yes, so they seem to be celebrities, and I don't think he particularly knows what he's doing. I know that he was given a shit sandwich. I know we've gone downhill since the Reagan administration, and maybe we were going down before then with the Clinton and the Bushes and stuff, which is fine, but I think he kinda - and maybe it's not him, but the people that surround him - but I really don't agree with what he's doing. I really don't agree with the healthcare stuff, [gaining momentum] I really don't agree with the buying out of the banks and the buying out of the car companies, because that is fucking socialist -

ABG: It's anti-American.

MPH: ...and if a country wants to be socialist, then more power to them, but that's not what America is. America is not supposed to be about fucking the poor and all about the rich, but it's about a place that you can go and you can make some amazing things happen, or you can make some terrible shit go down. And I find a massive beauty in that, and I know that people that work very hard and who have gotten to the top have forgotten what it's like to be at the bottom, so they've gotten very, very selfish. So there's going to be a downside to everything, but I like the American Dream, and I think Hunter S. Thompson chronicled that a whole lot, and did it very, very well, and I think it's very, very true in saying that the hippy movement and free love and all this kind of stuff, and going on with Nixon in the 70s, Nixon's whole thing about instead of killing free speech, he just made it more expensive to send newspapers and magazines through the post, which brought tons of subscriptions down, which was kind of controlling the first amendment, the freedom of speech anyway, just in a different fucking way.

And so I think a lot of stuff is happening, a lot has changed throughout the years, so I don't believe in what he's doing, and I don't... give a fuck if he's black. I don't give a fuck if he's purple. I don't give a fuck if he's green and has nine fucking eyeballs and three bell ends. I don't give a shit if he shoots fire out of his dick. Though that'd be impressive. Every single one of those things. I just want someone who's controlling America to be a very good person, and an honest person, and I know that's not going to be too possible, but at least - McCain on the other side, he knew what it was like to live and die for his country. He was in a PoW camp for... I don't know if I could ever do that. I don't know if I could ever be in Korea, like in a foreign country, and be stuck in a little cage for six years and fed rotten rabbit meat. God knows what the fuck happened over there. And getting bamboo shoots under your fingernails and shit. So that's how I felt about that whole election thing. But a really funny thing that's gone around America now is a sign that has George Bush, y'know, the younger one, and it goes like this [sticks his thumbs up and makes a gimpy smile] and underneath it it says, ‘Miss me yet?' [He and Ashley laugh] It's really good, it's really good.

Do you miss Bush?

ABG: Yeah, I do.

MPH: It's kind of like marriage - you have to...

ABG: Take the good with the bad?! [laughing tellingly]

MPH: No, you have to pick the crazy that you can handle. Everybody's crazy. At least with Bush, we knew how crazy he was, and we knew what he was capable of. With Obama, we don't know how crazy he can be, and we've seen some pretty fucking crazy shit so far, man. [laughs] But to go with that, being in Abilene and walking around, just like this, just sitting at a restaurant...

[Another homeless man comes up, this time offering names twisted into wire in exchange for cash. Ashley gets the name of one of their Chihuahuas' names done, Bandini, and Micah gives him £2.]

ABG: I'll put it on his collar, he'll just chew it! Thank you, that's perfect.

MPH: But the last thing that I was saying... He worked really fucking fast, Jesus. In everyday American life, we'll be riding our scooters around Abilene, that kinda stuff, you don't see a huge difference. You probably only see a difference on bumper stickers. But even though things change, the population is still a population. We're still humans, and just because different people are in charge, or different laws are changing, that doesn't mean anything. So yeah, fuckin' America. I've never been so patriotic until someone came and started fucking it up. That's all I gotta say about that.

So would you say your new record is a protest record? Or an inherently political record - that's how it seems from the press release.

MPH: They did an interesting thing with the press release. I think with the title of the record - The Pioneer Saboteurs - I very much feel that that is a very political name.

ABG: And the artwork.

MPH: And the poem that I used, by Walt Whitman. So I think with that, it is very, very political. And I think with the music, it is... um, maybe political in that it is an outcome of the society in which we live. I think it's a very sad record. It deals with a lot of suicide, a lot of stuff about...

ABG: The degradation of self...

MPH: The degradation of self, and soul and body, y'know, coming to terms with a God-type figure, this kind of stuff. And so yeah, I guess it's political in the sense that the name is for political reasons, I suppose, but the music itself is for the people that are affected by this stuff. This is shit I make up as it goes along - it wasn't my intention at first. I thought it was just a good name. Or maybe you made it up [gesturing to Ashley]. Did you make it up? I can't fucking remember.

ABG: No, I remember, but I don't know if you want to say or not.

MPH: What is it?

[The two of them whisper...]

MPH: Oh no, no, I don't want to say that... [Ashley laughs]

Where did you first come across the poem?

MPH: The first time I came across it was when I was in college, university, at Abilene Christian. A little Christian university in Abilene, as you could tell by the name. I studied English, I was going to be an English professor, and so I had this Norton English anthology, which had that and Yates, Shelley and Byron, all those people - the Brontës... I remember it from then. So that's where it came from. It seems to be kind of inherently... for some reason, Hayley's calling me.

[At this point, they have to go back to the Union Chapel to soundcheck, and the interview is curtailed. What follows are the replies Micah sent to my email questions]

I was quite surprised when you and Ashley talked about how much you dislike Obama - the way the press release for your new record is worded is very vague, and my naive assumption upon reading it was that this album is protesting against the mess left behind by the previous government. How does it feel to be a young Republican musician in an overwhelmingly liberal music scene, particularly given how strongly some of your musical peers crusade against conservative beliefs?

MPH: First off, I ain't no fucking dirty Republican. And I ain't no fucking Democrat. I ain't anything. I stand for the rights of people, but I am neither Socialist nor Communist. I am a firm supporter of the American Dream. I am a firm supporter of the Human Soul [sic]. And I am stoutly against Tolerance [sic]. This new LP represents politically, in a small way, the confusion and foolishness of the new American Regime [sic]. I know Obama was handed a shit sandwich, but so was Bush, and so was Clinton, and so was Lincoln, and so was damned Washington. Obama is like some strange celebrity and I'll have none of that in my White House. And as far as my peers, I don't know what they think. I'm sure they all have flowers in their hair.

Have you ever been discouraged from talking about it?

MPH: Of not saying anything in public? Not really, but I know I gotta hold tongue, which I do to a certain degree, but I dreadfully refuse to be a ROBOT [sic]. The New America [sic] don't like shit talkers and naysayers. But, of course, I get discouraged by the whole thing. It's my fucking homeland. I was born and raised, bruised and bashed, and rose like a damned crippled phoenix outta that glorious land. So when I see it changing, and for, in my opinion, for the worse, it's gonna get this blood of mine boiling. I'm sure most all people would feel this about their own nation. I'll admit America is not perfect, but find me one country that is pitch perfect and I'll jump off the highest building I can find, simply from the joy I would get [from] some place actually achieving peace and hope. I am, and always will be, ‘til the day The Great Magnet in the Sky [sic] takes me away, a PATRIOT [sic]. Come sweet death, come sweet glory.

When you had to go and soundcheck, we were just getting onto the subject of protest music. How relevant do you think it is today?

MPH: It doesn't do much. Who really cares what some drugged out guitarist thinks? We ain't got no Woody Guthrie! We don't got no Joan Baez! We have no Pete Seeger! Yeah, some might be alive, but none in the modern age that I see actually do a damn. What would protest do for us now? Who would be listening? And if they did, and stood up, and tried to do something about it: who would die?

Do you think it's still possible for music to be politically effective?

MPH: Again, not that I've really seen in my days. But that shouldn't stop people from trying. Nothing can be anything, if no one tries to make something out of everything.

Even a lot of the old guard who made really famed political music seem to have diluted their message - like Neil Young going from ‘Cortez the Killer' to the insipid stuff he's putting out today.

MPH: I wouldn't know what he's doing now, but he sure is a badass. At least when I used to stay up, drinking cheap beer and smoking cheap fags, hearing him blare over me while I laid on the ground drunk at 4am listening to Rust Never Sleeps on an old tape deck. I think people get tired. They get worn out. It gets beat out of them. It seems to me as if to fight would be to stand up against a brick wall. There's no way around it. It's too tall. Too strong. Also, these are people who tried, and, I think, have seen all their spirit and hard work turn out to be a pipe dream in some ways, and turned out beautifully in others. It's a true shame to say, but that's just how I see it. But always keep in mind, I appreciate and admire everything those geniuses had and have accomplished. The world would be some strange off color if they never existed.

Can you tell me a bit about your family's political involvements in the Chickasaw Nation?

MPH: My fifth great-grandfather on my ma's side was the Chief of the Chickasaw Nation. We were part of the Five Civilised Tribes of the US of A. We did our best to integrate with the new American white men. We had towns, sheriffs, religion, all the White man bullshit, then everything began to look sour, so his son, Levi Colbert, cut his hair, got a nice, new suit, a new horse and travelled from the Carolinas to Washington DC. Things didn't go well, but we made it out better than some tribes. I'm sure that's what Levi thought, if you can't beat the white-skinned bastards, might as well join them, peacefully. The US government did not agree in peace and took our land and our tribe, which at the time still included the Choctaws, which my lovely wife is a descendent of, and they walked us across The Trail Of Tears and many of [the] family died. They eventually made it to the worst part of America, Oklahoma, and they dropped us off. We are doing as well as we can now. We are a proper nation. We have a proper government; our hearts were just stolen away, but they couldn't, and will never be able to, take our souls. Now, in the modern age, my brother has been working heavily for years to bring our native tongue from near extinction, by becoming fluent himself and starting complete immersion schools, to where students only speak in Chikasaw. My nephews can speak it. My wife and I are learning. My father works for the Nation as a director of mental health. He's in charge of starting drug rehab clinics for the natives and counseling and other family systems that will make, hopefully, for a happier future for the Chikasaws. We have been a beaten down society since the White man turned us into carnival animals, stole everything that wasn't rightfully theirs, stole almost all that made us the proud Nation we once were, then never did anything to make it better.

On stage that night at the Union Chapel, you talked a lot about your relationship with God. 'My God, My God' seems to hint at a disillusionment with faith - how would you describe your relationship with religion? In a similar sense to your political tendencies, religion is something you hear musicians talk about very rarely these days...

MPH: I suppose people don't wanna talk about religion cause it ain't hip. "God is dead"; don't you know that? I love that one, cause people forget to read on. It says, "God is dead, because we have killed him." But in the end, I don't know why people don't bring up religion, much less spirituality. Seems to me to be a pretty damned important part of this life we lead. And, in the end, even if the God or Goddess we believe in is a sham at least it gave us hope and a sense of joy in this desolate and grimy existence. My views on God, or The Great Magnet In The Sky, are as a faulty God. He says it himself, "I am a jealous God." Last time I checked, jealousy is a fault, and in ways, therefore, a sin. But with this, it gives me great hope. If we are to be like a perfect example of God on earth, no matter what religion, how can we be when he isn't? I feel it gives me breathing room. I don't think God minds getting cursed. I don't think he minds getting blamed. I don't think he minds being a scapegoat. It's just what we do with this that matters. Love is of dire importance to me, so how could a God not be? He gives and takes, and so do we. I can trust him because I know he is just as wary of me as I am of him.

On a totally different tact, I heard rumours that you're going to be collaborating with the Twilight Sad - is there any truth in that? What kind of project do you have in mind?

MPH: We've been knocking this around for literally years now. What I want is some strange form of a hillbilly/Scottish Simon and Garfunkel - simple, pretty guitar parts, with massively intricate harmonies. We'll see if it ever works. I'll keep trying at it. I know we both as musicians are dead into getting it done, we've just gotta find the time, ha. And there ain't ever enough.