Chuck Klosterman
Arts, music, and cultural critic for Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal
EVENT: Klosterman reads from Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota on Tues July 10 at Elliott Bay Books.

You rate your favorite metal records based on the "Jack Factor"--the amount of money someone would have to pay you never to listen to them again. Are there any reverse equivalents--something you would pay good money not to hear again? "Probably the Dave Matthews Band, because I consistently have to review their shows when they come through Ohio. It's some of the worst music there is, but the most attractive people like them. All the women are gorgeous, and all the guys could probably kick my ass. If I had to choose a girl to have sex with based only on the knowledge of what band she liked, it would definitely be the Dave Matthews Band. But I would gladly pay $400 to never hear them again."

Who was better: Iron Maiden or Judas Priest? "Judas Priest. I think British Steel, while not one of my favorites of all time, might be one of the most definitive heavy-metal albums. It's what I'd play for an alien who wanted to hear heavy metal. Also, now Judas Priest has all this interesting cachet because of Rob Halford coming out--all those songs are open to reinterpretation. But Iron Maiden is still just a little too funny. The whole 'Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter' thing--it's like they're stealing jokes from Spinal Tap."

How did your tastes grow to include more indie rock? Were there any gateway bands? "When I was in high school my friend and I had what we called 'The Bastard List.' It varied, but the top four were usually Bruce Springsteen, our principal, some kid named Gene Hokum, and Michael Stipe. As a freshman in college, I met some people that were much more like me than any of my friends in high school. They were much more interesting people--and they all were really into R.E.M. I ended up buying Eponymous and hiding it from my metal friends."

Can you still do the Axl Rose dance? "Absolutely. That was one of the great things about Axl Rose and Michael Stipe--they made it easier for people who couldn't dance to look cool. You didn't need to have rhythm or even confidence--all you really needed to be was drunk and sort of serpentine. I'm much better at being serpentine than being cool."

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