Love, hate and then there's ...

Two weeks before the Von Bondies' first Detroit gig in four years, we caught up with leader Jason Stollsteimer in the group's tour van, which was headed from Portland to Seattle. A cell phone on a traveling van isn't the most opportune environment for an in-depth interview (the static was sometimes unbearable and we lost Mr. Stollsteimer at least twice). But the singer-songwriter-guitarist was nevertheless extremely forthcoming as he discussed his feelings about Detroit and some of the trials and tribulations experienced by the Von Bondies — now comprised of original drummer Don Blum, Detroiter and former Sirens bassist Leann Banks, and guitarist Christy Hunt from Indianapolis ("Well, you know, the Gore Gore Girls kinda snatched up all the local women musicians, so we had to go elsewhere to find the best musicians we could," Stollsteimer laughs) — during the last several years.

Metro Times: So how's the tour going so far?

Jason Stollsteimer: Well, it's been four years, so it's always hit and miss. We've done nine shows so far — half were amazing; the other half were confusing. People have said they thought all the shows would be sold-out but we're like, "No. We haven't played a show in four years. We have no press, and, in some of the cities, we have no record available. So if 150 people show up, that's awesome for us."

MT: So are you excited about playing your first show in Detroit in four years?

Stollsteimer: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We're glad. We were just waiting for something special — and we had total control over the artists and bands playing our night. We picked all the bands for our venue. We got Brad Hales, the DJ from "Funk Night." I went out of my way and hand-picked everybody. Because we've played the Magic Stick like 40 times in the last 10 years with the same songs. So we felt we would be ripping people off if we just did that again.

MT: Well, you played that one gig in Ann Arbor with the new lineup last November. …

Stollsteimer: Ironically, we were trying to avoid playing the Magic Stick again, because we said we'd only do the Majestic or Saint Andrew's. But quite honestly, we weren't ready. That was our first show in a long time and it was really rough. And, of course, that lineup's not even with us anymore. We had to upgrade again. We've always been about moving forward and up. You can't or at least you don't wanna go backwards. So, right now we have the best musicians and the best entertainers of all the people we've had so far.

MT: Has it always been an intentional goal to have a mixed-sex band because you always have women in the group …

Stollsteimer: Oh, it's not a shtick. I write all the vocal parts for female voices. I need girl vocals singing lead on the choruses to most of the songs. We're not trying to pull an ABBA thing. And, of course, they're playing instruments. They're not just standing there.

MT: You've had two lineup changes since the album was recorded and the EP came out. Has that posed a lot of difficulties for you? Did you get discouraged when all this was going on?

Stollsteimer: No, no, no, no. I always want change. Basically, I get bored pretty easily. And so, to me, it's no big deal. Look at the Cobras or the Hentchmen or even the Dirtbombs — all those bands have had numerous members. People should be in the band because they want to be in the band and I want them to be in the band. On top of that, our new record was more of a challenge. We didn't try to do more of the same with the new material — three-chord progressions and such. So we needed better musicians, no matter what. And we have them now.

MT: So, when somebody leaves the band, you don't look at it as a betrayal or anything like that? It's just that you wanna move on.

Stollsteimer: Oh, no. I've never been bitter about anybody quitting. I don't think anybody's bitter about getting kicked out. I mean, we still talk to Carrie and Marcie and Mark. You know [when the Detroit thing exploded], there were like only three bands — us, Electric Six, and the White Stripes — that were really touring a lot. The Dirtbombs were kinda touring but they weren't doing huge places. So it was hard to deal with the pressure. That's the reason I took a break.

MT: I've only heard the new EP. Is that similar to what's gonna be on the new album?

Stollsteimer: Well, only one of those songs is probably gonna make the album. But it's probably a pretty good representation. I mean, it's just straightforward rock 'n' roll. You know, lots of vocals, lots of sing-alongs.

MT: It seems a tad more poppy than the first album was. "Wake Me Up" almost has like a Kinks music hall sorta vibe to it.

Stollsteimer: Oh, yeah, we were doing like the Beach Boys/Kinks thing. But that's the only song like that. "Pale Bride" is probably the best example of what's going to be on the album. So far, that's the song that's bringing most of the people to our shows. That and "C'mon, C'mon." "Pale Bride" is like our most requested song. So we were right on trying [to get Sire] to put that out as the first single, the first representation. So it's been great. All of our old fans, that's their favorite song right now. So we're totally relieved 'cause we were nervous, you know? It's hard to [change]. It's like if the Ramones learned a fifth chord. Would people still respect them? But we're really proud of it, and Don and I knew what we were doing, and we knew that what we were doing wasn't popular at the time or even now. But we didn't care. We just wanted to do what we thought sounded good. Whether or not it pissed off old fans, as long as me and Don were happy, that's honestly what matters most. Instead of writing the record that's gonna make other people happy, we need to make a record that's going to make us happy and then hopefully make other people happy.

MT: So the split with Sire Records. Was that a mutual agreement, did you guys just. …

Stollsteimer: No, that was me. I wanted out.

MT: Any particular reason?

Stollsteimer: Well, [founder] Seymour [Stein] isn't there anymore. Seymour gave up control to somebody else who, ironically, as of last week, doesn't work there anymore either. And for the last two years, they hired lawyer after lawyer and I finally got the deal made, but basically what it came down to was our record wasn't emo enough. And I said, "Well, good because we're not an emo band. I want out." We've always been a do-it-yourself band, and we signed with Sire because they put out some of our favorite bands, from the Dead Boys to the Talking Heads. Even Madonna. They always took chances. But that label did not exist anymore at the time we were trying to put out this record. We were basically being told "You should start working with other songwriters." I was not interested in that, which, I got a lot of shit for. Because, you know, they told us Hot, Hot Heat was working with outside songwriters. A lot of indie bands you wouldn't believe are using other songwriters. These like cool, hippie-girl bands — I don't wanna name any — but they had them working with songwriters. They tried to pair us with a Paris Hilton songwriter. And I just wasn't into it. Hot, Hot, Heat weren't that into it either, since they ended up not using any of those songs. We both got signed to Sire within like six months of each other, so we've always been back-to-back with each other and trying to keep control.

MT: They wanted you to work with Paris Hilton's songwriter? Did I hear that right?

Stollsteimer: Yeah. He was super-nice but, I mean, it was uh, it was surreal. I went there totally with wide eyes, thinking, "OK I'm gonna do this." I don't know. I mean, even Mick Jagger's worked with a bunch of songwriters. But I wasn't having trouble writing. I just wasn't writing emo songs! So I sat down with this guy and within 10 minutes, it was like, "You know what? I don't really wanna be with Sire anymore." Don't get me wrong, though. Everybody at Warner Bros. was great. I went out to dinner with them when I was just in L.A. I'm still friends with all of them. So there's no bad blood. I'm not angry, especially because that guy doesn't work there anymore. So there's nobody to be angry at. And you know, I'm not a 10-year-old. I don't spaz out when something goes wrong. I just move on. And that's why [the new album] won't be coming out till the end of this year if not early next year. Because, there's no reason to rush it out now. We need to rebuild. Rushing into it blindly would be suicide.

MT: So are you going to shop for a new label? I read somewhere that in order to get out of the Sire deal, you had to agree not to sign with another major label.

Stollsteimer: Oh, yeah, definitely. That's part of the Sire thing. Which we were fine with. I don't wanna sign with a major. Most major labels — don't get me wrong, some of them will survive — but they're basically dinosaurs. They have a machine. When they get your record, it costs a fixed amount of dollars to put it through … but it makes no sense nowadays to do that. We don't need certain facets of a major label for our record to sell or for people to hear our music. When our album came out in 2004, we sold 200,000 copies. And that was considered a failure. Now, 200,000 records is a huge success on a major label. Today, 50,000 records is OK sales on a major for a band our size or Hot Hot Heat. Besides, everybody's downloading stuff. There are problems with downloads, but I have no problem with people downloading everything. But it does make it harder for bands to develop a following because most people only download one or two songs.

MT: When I interviewed [former VB guitarist] Marcie Bolen earlier this year, she said that being on a major created a big negative force, too much pressure on what used to be a fun thing. Do you agree with that?

Stollsteimer: Well, before Sire, we would do an interview a day, maybe. When we got on a major, I was doing 10 a day. So it was pressure for me, but not for them — not for them at all. For me, what happened was, I'd get to a venue — at that point, we had loaders and roadies; now we're loading our own stuff again — and I'd be on the phone until we went onstage. That was my trip to Paris! I've never seen the Eiffel Tower, still to this day. So the pressure on me was incredible and I was not having fun. I couldn't stay out all night 'cause I'd lose my voice. I guess that has nothing to do with the major, but we were playing bigger and bigger shows, and we had to go from playing 25 minute-long sets in Detroit and Boston, to an hour and a half shows. So it was too fast, too soon. I mean, bands like the Cobras, they'd been a band for 10 years before we even picked up guitars. So the pressure on us being so young and then being just thrown into the fire as like these flag-carriers of Detroit, well, that was a lot of pressure. And being on a major just magnified it. And we were happy with having 800 people at our show. That was good enough. We didn't want to be like the Rolling Stones or something. We're not crazy. I don't have that kind of appetite. I don't look good dressed in a top hat and a cane. You know, I'm from Michigan. You will never see me in some fancy, funny outfit. It wouldn't make any sense. I'm not from Hollywood. And that's why a lot people move away from Michigan when they become that famous. Because it doesn't make sense to be here anymore. You'll get mugged if you show up with a top hat and cane at a gas station in Detroit! And rightfully so!

MT: I see that you won an ASCAP award for "C'mon, C'mon" as the TV theme to Rescue Me. Since you write most of the songs and it's your band, have you ever thought, "Well, I'm just gonna go as Jason as opposed to the Von Bondies"?

Stollsteimer: Oh no. I write songs specifically to have two boys, two girls in this band. And my drummer, Donnie, he wrote two songs on the new record himself. We also wrote about five songs together, which I've never done before in my 10 years of writing. It wasn't because I didn't want to. But he's been playing for over 15 years, and he'd never written a song before. So, it was a big step.

MT: There was a rumor going around that Butch Walker, who produced some of the new stuff, also co-wrote material.

Stollsteimer: Yeah, he co-wrote a ballad that I did that we're not sure if it's gonna make the record. What happened was I came in with the piano riff and a verse and chorus. And then he wrote the bridge. I wrote all the lyrics and stuff, but I had no melody for a bridge. I suck at bridges. Even "C'mon, C'mon" has no bridge! It's intro, verse, chorus/intro, verse, chorus, and out. And it's cheesy to play a solo over a bridge. Butch is in my Top Ten Friends [on MySpace]. Working with him was probably the most fun I've ever had in a studio. Because I'd play a guitar riff that I'd wrote a week before, but it would be kinda rough. But he'd play it for me while I wrote the bass line. I'd be like, "Butch can you play this riff for me?" And he'd play it perfect, like as good as I could, and I could then write the bass line on top of it. So no no, it's no rumor. We co-wrote songs together. And it was a shit load of fun. But we didn't hire him to write new songs. He was hired to be a producer because I liked some of the Hot, Hot Heat stuff he did. I've never been open to co-songwriting with anybody not in the band. But Butch was like a member of the band for those few weeks and it was great. The funny thing is the verse and chorus and all of those guitar solos were already written. We just needed a bridge and a bridge is supposed to sound different. So it's kinda cool that it came from a joint effort between two people.

MT: Your Detroit fans seem devoted. Last year, we did a Top 100 Greatest Detroit Songs Ever feature and many people complained that "C'mon, C'mom" wasn't on it. So it seemed like Detroit was still really behind you. But some people say that in Detroit, as soon as you make a record or get famous — well, we know one person in particular who says it — that there's all kinds of jealousy and the fans turn on you. But that hasn't been your experience with the Detroit fans, right?

Stollsteimer: Oh, people turned their backs on us but for another incident, which I know you know about. It was immediately. So, I'm not gonna play the venue where that [the fight between Jack White and Stollsteimer] happened, No. 1. But No. 2, almost every Detroit musician turned their back on us.

MT: Oh, really? I was in L.A. at that point so I didn't know that.

Stollsteimer: Oh, yeah. Look it up. There was actually an article by somebody who used to work for The Detroit News, and, word for word, it just slammed us when, two months earlier, they were friends with us. The whole local media seemed to be attacking us. But then, of course, as soon as that other person moved to Nashville, they then started calling us again. But by that point, I was like, "I'm not answering your call anymore."

MT: Well, I don't blame you at all. I've noticed myself that there's sort of that "fair-weather friend" attitude in Detroit. But you still have a big following here, right?

Stollsteimer: Well, we hope. We've been playing for five years now, but yeah, I would say it's our fifth-best-selling city. The funny thing, though, is that when we first started touring, Detroit was one of the hardest places for us to get people to come see us. We could fill up Boston or New York. This is pre-Warner Brothers, by the way. This is back in 2001. We were headlining shows, and we would sell-out in Cleveland. But we couldn't pull in people here. Some people owe everything to their local following — Sponge, for example — but when we were first starting, we couldn't sell out shows here. We owe our big break, actually, to Boston. That was the first place that really embraced us. But, the longevity — it's been Detroit. But, you know, to be honest, it kinda hurt back in those early days because I live here. I live in Michigan, but we didn't have any support for years here. We were never offered important opening spots even when we were selling out cities outside of Michigan. So, it was strange. We actually sold out shows in Ann Arbor before we did in Detroit.

MT: It's been six years now since Detroit got credited with the "garage revival." It became almost synonymous with the city and bands like yours. In retrospect, was it a detriment to your career? Or do you think it was helpful to be labeled that?

Stollsteimer: It was a good thing for most bands. A lot of those bands would have never gotten heard internationally. And we were young — younger than a lot of those bands — and it helps being young because most fans are young. But for us, the problem was we were never a straight-forward garage band. Even on our first record, we didn't play "Louie, Louie" riffs. And I don't even own a Led Zeppelin record. I'm not a blues guy. But the way I tune my guitar, I guess it came out as either punky or bluesy. But I grew up listening to everything from Weezer to Minor Threat. So when we got labeled as part of the garage thing, it was a hindrance for us because we knew that "C'mon, C'mon" is not really a garage-rock song. I mean, listen to it. Garage rock songs do not have things like that in it. It's more like an alternative punk song. But then songs like "Tell Me What You See" on the last record, that was a total garage rock song. It was like….I can't remember. What's the name of the garage box?

MT: Nuggets.

Stollsteimer: Yeah, it was a total Nuggets-like song. And that's fine because I liked Nuggets stuff after a while. But, honestly, I grew up listening to Buddy Holly and that kinda stuff, which was not garage. It was just rock 'n' roll. So we're not a psychedelic band. And we've never claimed to be a garage band. But we were lumped into it. Honestly, though, whatever little push you get, you have to go along with. We're not gonna fight it. People always said, "You're more poppy." And actually, I've always loved pop like the Beatles. The Beatles and Nirvana were my two favorite pop bands. And, of course, Nirvana was the biggest pop band of my generation. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is a straight-forward pop song.

MT: Well, Kurt always claimed he was very influenced by the Beatles and the Monkees. You can't get much more pop than that.

Stollsteimer: Yeah. The Monkees are straightforward cheese pop. You just gotta put a twist on it, which is what we do. But we're no Nirvana. Don't get me wrong. We're not Nirvana. In fact, we're probably a little more Mudhoney than Nirvana.

MT: Well, I guess the collective media sometimes just needs a label to latch on to, and it was easy for them to latch onto that. But it did have an impact in Britain, where they took it even further. You still have a big following there, right?

Stollsteimer: We just did a tour of England. We did 25 dates and 23 were sold-out. With no label, no interviews, nothing. No press photo, no video, no new album — but sold-out shows. I'm not a bragger, but I am so proud of that and so blown away. We showed up, ready to just not even break even. But we had such a great a time. And the great thing was that there are a lot of new fans from "Pale Bride" and the new stuff. It was like half and half. Some people knew all the words to "Pale Bride," but then, like, half the crowd knew all the words to "Lack of Communication" and "It Came From Japan." So we were blown away because, you know, they're very fan-based there. The difference is, because it's a small country, word travels fast. One of the important things is that coming from Detroit, we take pride in being entertainers. If we were just going to stand still and have a light show and not move a muscle onstage, well, we would just play in our basement. That's the difference between a musician and an entertainer. It's a bit of a hindrance because coming from Detroit or Ann Arbor, people expect the Stooges or the MC5. That was actually the biggest pressure on us, apart from the label pressure. Everyone wanted to hear the Stooges when we came onstage. And uh, we aren't the Stooges. You know, I'm stuck holding the guitar,

And I'm not in that good of shape, not like Iggy!

MT: Between the last album and the new one, the first version of the Von Bondies split and your marriage broke up. Does the title of the new album, Love, Hate, and Then There's You, have any significance or play into that at all?

Stollsteimer: Well, it does now. I think the subconscious plays a huge part in everything. But I wrote a song called "Pale Bride" three years before I even thought about getting a divorce. And there's another song [recorded for the new album] that basically talks about wishing to grow old with somebody, although in the end, you know it's probably never gonna happen. You're gonna be alone. I was writing about a fictional character. Same with "Pale Bride." But it's all come true in my own life. Maybe one day, I won't be alone and that won't be true. But right now it is. So both yeah and no. It did not have a direct effect but it kinda came true. And there's always miscommunication in bands. As for the title, though, there are a lot of people from 30 years of being alive that I love. But when you narrow it down, there are 10 or 20 people I totally love and there are 10 or 20 people I despise. And there are tons of in-betweens. And I don't hate my ex-wife. I definitely just don't love her anymore. As for ex-band members, some of them I love; some of them I don't get along with. I don't know how many of your ex-girlfriends you still talk to weekly, but it's sort of the same thing being in a band. It's like having three girlfriends that you're not gonna sleep with but you still have all the drama that comes along with it, with none of the physical benefits.

MT: As far as the EP is concerned, We Are Kamikazes, did that title have any special significance in real life?

Stollsteimer: You know what's funny? The first song that we ever wrote — when we were still called the Baby Killers — was called "Kamikaze." And I forgot all about that. So when I named the EP that, it was just coincidence. But somebody pointed that out and that was actually my favorite song [in the Baby Killers]. But as for that title, "We Are Kamikazes Aiming Straight For Your Heart" is kind of like, you know, we knew we were gonna get off the label. And we knew we were gonna be doing it on our own or with an indie label eventually. And we are kinda flying by the seat of our pants right now. We're on edge because each show pays for the next show. There may not be any big payday in the future but we don't give a shit. So we're flying headfirst and trying to aim at somebody's heart. It kinda sounds cheesy but, for us, it means a lot. I mean, I think about heartache and love all the time. My mom says I'm hopefully not a hopeless romantic. Hopefully, with some help, I'll be just a romantic someday.

MT: You just got that ASCAP award. Do you think there's more of a future in doing stuff for movies and TV show placement?

Stollsteimer: Well nowadays with radio play, that's the only way you're ever gonna get to be heard. You know, I heard the new BRMC track on the Cloverfield soundtrack long before they released a new album. So that was awesome. Without a major label, though, we don't have the financial backing to get [corporate] radio airplay. So our one hope is to get on a video game soundtrack or something. But I mean we're writing songs for ourselves or else we wouldn't make albums. But we think it's good enough for other people to like. So our best intention is for people to be able to hear it. But you know, we got a lot of flak from the local press and other places for giving the song to Rescue Me. Ironically, our friends the Muggs did the "battle of the bands" thing on TV, and they're like, you know, local heroes.

They thought it was funny, too, because, neither of us did anything except try to help promote our bands.

MT: So you got negative publicity for that?

Stollsteimer: Oh, shitloads, shitloads. For everything that we did. I'd say that 5 percent of the comments we get on MySpace are negative about "selling out." The other 95 percent is comments like, "Dude, I heard your song on Rescue Me; I love your band." Or "I saw you in San Francisco yesterday and it was a great show." But 5 percent is scathing … and most of it comes from local sources. It's other local bands, normally.

MT: Yeah, of course, it is.

Stollsteimer: And I'm like "Why?" I mean, we used to take all local bands on tour with us. But if I took one of my friends' bands and not the other, all of a sudden, I had one less friend. So when you mentioned that other person and his feelings about jealousy in Detroit, well, that's kinda how it affected us. It's not so much jealousy. But if we take a local band with us on tour, five other friends will be pissed. So the result is now we bring bands from New Zealand on tour with us and nobody can get mad.

MT: Yeah, I've seen a lot of that kinda stuff since I've been back. It's very disappointing. You would expect the scene to be a little bit more supportive of each other. But it seems once somebody gets a little bit more successful than the others ...

Stollsteimer: Yeah and you know what? I didn't expect it to be like that. We were so young when we started, all that shit just blew us away and it made us not want to play at home. It wasn't the fans, though. That's the whole point. It wasn't the fans. It was the local music community. That's what became very cutthroat. And, ironically, we didn't know it had become that way because we were on tour. When we stopped touring, over the past four years, I'd go to a show and it was very strange for me at shows. Again, not from fans but from other bands. And you know, there are some bands that have been together for 10 or 15 years without the kind of success they deserve, so I guess they have a reason to be bitter. But not at us. You know some people from the scene have moved to New York. They don't want to live in Michigan anymore. The White Stripes moved to Nashville. It became just way too stressful here for some of them. But if I moved from here, it would only be because I found somebody I loved who doesn't live here. If I fall back in love again, that'd be the reason why I'd move. Because there's no other reason. I mean, there's nothing wrong with this city. I mean, the economy's not doing great but …

MT: Well, other than the mayor!

Stollsteimer: I know, I know! It's like having Suge Knight as your mayor.

MT: It is!

Stollsteimer: And his attitude is so thug-ish But, hey, Suge, if you're reading this, don't get mad at me! You're great, man! [laughter] But the thing is, it's embarrassing. Like when you go to another state and people know who your mayor is. That's not normal. I can't believe they haven't kicked him out of office yet.

But I pay attention to Detroit, you know? I've watched every Detroit Pistons game. Detroit will always be in my heart, no matter where I am. I'm in Michigan and that's great.

MT: Well, beyond Detroit, you mentioned that after the fight with Jack White, there was a backlash among Detroit fans. Did you find that there was a backlash on an international or on a national level as well?

Stollsteimer: Well, it was a country-by-country thing. Put it this way: there were a couple of bad apples within the whole bunch. People who saw the incident reported on, say, CNN, there were maybe 200 people that went out of their way to talk shit. But those 200 people blogged so much that it looked like millions of people were doing it. And it had repercussions even with well-meaning fans who'd say to me: "Oh, yeah, one of my friends totally hates you guys. He likes your music, but he just hates you, Jason." And I'm like, "But, I am not that guy!" But no matter what I said, no one was gonna believe it.

And that's why I would always answer "no comment" when asked about it. Because when you're the little guy, when you're David and Goliath is telling everybody that you're the worst person in the world, no matter what they see or no matter what your kindergarten teacher says or what your grandma says or what your best friends say, they're still not gonna believe you. And I just accepted that. I'm not a delusional person, you know? I'm from the Midwest and somehow I've stayed grounded. But certain people have not stayed grounded when they become famous. A lot of people are opportunists, and I'm very proud that my parents raised me not to be that way, not to be opportunistic. It's not always a good thing, though. So when people decided to make a choice between us or the other group, well, that's stupid. Either they like the music or they don't. And I'd get comments the whole time like, "We love the music; we just don't like you because he doesn't like you." And I'd be like, "Well, then, I don't really want you as a fan, to be honest." That's not a fan. And, again, I'd rather have 800 people at our show than have 900 with a hundred people who don't like me personally. Because, they've never met me. I just did an interview with Real Detroit — this is a good example. The guy who did the interview was like 23, and he said, "I was nervous about talking to you because everybody had heard rumors that you're an asshole." During the interview. And I was like, "Are you serious?" I mean, I'd always go out to lunch with interviewers. I wouldn't even go out of my way to promote the band. This whole conversation, how much have I talked about the new album? I'm not an opportunist, and it just kinda broke my heart and made me not want to do interviews. And then getting misquoted a lot was terrible. I just didn't get it.

MT: Well, memories are short, you know. I think things have changed a lot. Locally, these days, I hear more people saying Jack White is an asshole than I ever hear that about you, for what it's worth. As far as the bloggers are concerned, you wouldn't believe some of the attacks and, even worse, outright lies I've read about myself on certain blogs. But they don't have to have any accountability or responsibility and they can write whatever the fuck they want to write, whether it has any basis in truth or not.

Stollsteimer: You're talking about webvomit and five-three-dialtone.

MT: Well, those are two of them.

Stollsteimer: Oh, I know. Believe me.

MT: Well, you can be as thick-skinned as you want to be. But if it's not true and they're posting outright lies about you, it hurts because it's not true.

Stollsteimer: Yeah. I mean, I don't go to local shows anymore because I play music for a living. And it's really tough for me to go to a show because I was just at my own show for the last six months. We're on, I think, our fifth month right now. So it's really hard for me to come home and go to five shows a week in Detroit. But I always get a lot of flack for not going to shows and supporting local music. But that's why I'm so behind this "Rock City" festival. We want Detroit to get back on the map — and not just for a genre of music. But for music in general.

MT: I just read the other day that Madonna skipped Detroit the last three tours and you know, it's like, fuck, Madonna's from Michigan. It just doesn't make sense. So many acts — Radiohead, for instance — just bypass Detroit.

Stollsteimer: That's why I've gotten so heavily involved in this [fest]. I think it's very important. We shouldn't be doing so bad economically that music suffers. Besides, when things are bad, that's when most good music gets created. So we're looking forward to playing. I wanted to do something special in Detroit, and I went out of my way to put this show together the way I wanted it to be. We hope it turns out well. Detroit really needs this festival to go well, so that there's another facet of a music experience for local kids to come to that's all ages.

MT: Well, thanks for your time, Jason.

Stollsteimer: Thank you. You know, I gotta look up that thing about the 100 Greatest Detroit Songs issue because I missed that. It's funny people complained about it because we made SPIN's top 100 songs list…

MT: Of songs in general?

JS: Well, for like the last 25 years.

MT: Well, ours was of all time. We recently got an award for it. But Von Bondies fans surely thought it was an oversight. It's hard when you're competing with Motown or the Stooges — but next time, maybe we'll get even more younger voters.

JS: You need me! You need me as a voter. I won't vote for my own songs, believe me. But if you need some bands, I could give you a list of people that would be good.


JS: People who'll vote but won't vote for themselves.

MT: Well that's great. We've got a music issue coming up in October so maybe we'll do something similar. I'll get in touch with you if you're up for it.

JS: Oh, definitely. I'd be up for it.

MT: OK. Sounds good. And by the way, from this conversation, I don't think you're an asshole at all

Friday, June 13, as part of the "Rock City" festival at the Majestic Theatre, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700. See for a full schedule.

Thanks to editorial intern Cherri Buijk for her assistance.

Bill Holdship is music editor of Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]
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