TMR: You left school after the ninth grade, yet you publish books, write with great erudition. Would you consider yourself an autodidact?
SE: Yeah, I guess I'm what that word means. I mean I read way, way, way more nonfiction than I do fiction because I feel guilty about my lack of education and I feel like it's necessary.
Maybe that's what fuels your ambition and that's what probably pushes you forward, that sense of not being or not having what others have.
Yeah. Oh, yeah, no, absolutely. It's funny, when I do read fiction it's like I spend a lot of that energy rereading Harry Potter books. That's what I do instead of take dope, I reread Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings.
You seem to explore a little cosmology on this record. One of your songs warns you can't run from destiny. Are you of the mind that there's some bigger truth out there?
Well, I don't know. I just think I was put here to do something. I do believe that. But I'm just no longer arrogant enough to think that I'm going to know what it is when I do it. All I can do is suit up and show up every day. You know, until I'm not here anymore.
You are a restless creator. You seem to do more than just show up. Are there any instances where you allow yourself to just relax?
Very little. Very little. I mean I wish I could. That's probably my biggest weakness. I mean I don't know how. Even when I try to chill out it's like there's stuff to do. The way I chill out is to work out and listen to Harry Potter audio books. Or I watch the Harry Potter movies over and over again. I'm still in mourning because the books are over. I love 'em.
Since I have only read the first one, what do they mean to you and what do you get out of them?
They're about death. They're about the same thing that this record is about. They're about dealing with death. I think if you got your children to read those books, I think they'd be a lot less scared of dying when their time comes. You'd have to have read them all, I think, to understand that, but I think they're about the same things that this record and my book are about. They're about mortality. That it's about death as something that everybody has to do.
Is there some reason you're thinking about your mortality right now? Or has that always been like a concern in your psyche?
Well, I was just terrified of death, I mean just like anybody that grew up in the west. Except I did grow up kind of a hippie and so I've been exposed to enough stuff and I knew that I could make a choice and to try to prepare myself to not be as afraid as I've seen other people be when they inevitably had to go. I just want to make a note to self that maybe you don't fight so hard when you know that's what's happening. It's going to happen to everybody.
Following her rather low-key appearance as a mentor on American Idol this week, Lady Gaga will spend this week no doubt figuring out what shoes to wear when she makes her appearance on The View
on May 23, so she can impress Elisabeth Hasselbeck. It seems Gaga was a
big fan of the super conservative co-host back when she was the wardrobe
dominatrix on The Style Network's Look For Less, back when she was Elisabeth Filarski.
Not only did Mark Foster from Foster the People write rather inflammatory lyrics in his addictive "Pumped Up Kicks" on FTP's just about to be released Torches album, about a homicidal teenager ("they are NOT autobiographical," Foster tell us), but he's not shy about speaking his mind. He told the Daily Star last week that Foster the People isn't his first brush with stardom. "Dr. Drew wanted to sign me when I was doing a soul project but I was also writing electronic songs and I didn't want to be a puppet."