The following “interviews” were conducted on the night of 7 October 2012 at Mohawk, which is a small music venue in downtown Austin. The lights were dimmed low, and there were hot flames coming from the fireplace near the entrance. People seemed happy to be where they were.
The interviewer, Ryan Starsailor, was under the influence of two to four beers, depending on the time at which the conversations took place. We present the piece in chronological order.
• • •
The interviewer spots drummer/vocalist Linwood Regensburg in line at the bar. He is holding two drink tickets and talking to a young woman with short-cropped bangs and black-rimmed glasses. On top of his head is a little orange knit cap.
INTERVIEWER: Oh, hey, Linwood.
LINWOOD: Hey! You look familiar. Have we met?
INTERVIEWER: No, we haven’t. I just knew who you were. I wanted to say I think you’re an all-right dude.
LINWOOD: Man, thanks. [Shakes interviewers hand firmly.] Hey—what should I get? You’ve got a Lone Star there.
INTERVIEWER: Yeah, Lone Stars aren’t very good—
LINWOOD: I wasn’t going to say that outright, but yeah, it’s just kind of what it is: a cheap beer.
INTERVIEWER: Really it’s no different than, say, Pabst Blue Ribbon.
LINWOOD: Right, right.
INTERVIEWER: You should get something local, like Fireman #4 or 512.
LINWOOD: Yeah, I always have this guilt that I’m not trying out more local beers. These days I just want a Miller. [Laughs.] My fallback—my fallback is usually Heineken. Except when I drink too many of those I can’t stand it for a few weeks. Maybe I’ll just get something . . . that, uh, isn’t very good.
INTERVIEWER: I too enjoy shitty beers.
[An older woman approaches Linwood holding a copy of Those Darlins’ sophomore album, Screws Get Loose.]
OLDER WOMAN: Linwood, Linwood—can I get you to sign this for me?! I’ve already tracked down Nikki and Jessi and they signed it.
LINWOOD: Oh, yeah, of course.
[The woman who is with Linwood, with the short-cropped bangs and black-rimmed glasses, turns to the interviewer.]
WOMAN WITH SHORT-CROPPED BANGS AND BLACK-RIMMED GLASSES: I’m Lindsay, by the way. Not sure how I missed out on introducing myself.
INTERVIEWER: I’m Ryan. Hi Lindsay!
LINDSAY: I’ve known Linwood for a long time. He’s one of my oldest friends—so this is so weird to me, to have people come up to him like this. I don’t think of him as being famous at all.
INTERVIEWER: He seems like such a nice human.
LINDSAY: Oh, he is. The nicest.
LINWOOD: [Turning back.] Isn’t tomorrow Columbus Day?
INTERVIEWER: Yeah. And I still have to go to work. Though I guess celebrating the life of a mass-murdering marauder-sociopath is kind of a weird thing to do.
LINWOOD: Was he really that bad?
INTERVIEWER: He was a total asshole.
LINDSAY: Yeah, he was.
[Linwood hands Lindsay a beer and takes a sip of his own. The interviewer thrusts his beer into the middle of the human circle, as if to say, “Cheers”. Linwood and Lindsay tap their beers to the interviewer’s, and everyone takes a long gulp.]
INTERVIEWER: Basically one of the biggest jerks in history.
• • •
Two beers in, the interviewer stands as a lone sentry near the venue entrance, where the fire can be felt, and new faces can be seen. Jessi Darlin is one of those faces. She is 5’3” and dressed in a leotard covered in sequins. She is wearing wrestling boots. Her blood-red lipstick and pale complexion give her an otherworldly appearance.
INTERVIEWER: Oh hey, Jessi Darlin.
JESSI: [Turning to the interviewer.] Hey! What’s up?
INTERVIEWER: I just wanted to say hello—and do this. [Reaches out for a handshake.] I’m Ryan.
JESSI: Hello Ryan! It’s nice to meet you. [Shakes outstretched hand.]
INTERVIEWER: Uhh, do well!
JESSI: Thank you! I will. [Walks away.]
• • •
Nikki Darlin stands at the end of the bar with a grown man who is wearing a paperboy cap. Her eyes are partially hidden behind smoky black eyeshadow and an asymmetrical tangle of bangs. Her lips are dark red and her outfit is the color of charcoal.
INTERVIEWER: Hi Nikki Darlin. I’m just a dude who likes what you do, and is glad you exist.
NIKKI: That’s always a nice thing to hear.
GROWN MAN WITH PAPERBOY CAP: Man, I’ve got to use the bathroom!
INTERVIEWER: Yeah, it’s right there. [Points to the open door next to the bar.] It’s a weird room. There’s purple light flooding out of it, and the trashcan is propping the door open so there’s virtually no privacy.
GROWN MAN WITH PAPERBOY CAP: Weird, man! Totally weird. [Walks into the bathroom.]
INTERVIEWER: [Turning to Nikki Darlin.] Uh, I’ve always wanted to meet you. So it’s nice that that happened. [Motioning towards the bathroom, where Nikki’s dude-friend/maybe-boyfriend is.] Listen, this might be an inappropriate thing to say, but I guess I was always in the John camp. You could have been the next John and Yoko, man.
NIKKI: The what-camp?
INTERVIEWER: The John McCauley camp.
NIKKI: [Smiling.] Well, I’m not. Hah.
INTERVIEWER: Oh, man, yeah I guess that was kind of rude of me to say. I mean, that’s your personal life.
NIKKI: No, it’s fine. We both live in Nashville and we’re still friends. I guess we broke up . . . about a year ago.
INTERVIEWER: Well, that’s sadder than hell, but I guess that’s just some shit that happens.
NIKKI: Yeah, it’s OK.
INTERVIEWER: I think I read one time that you’re from Rappahannock County, right?
NIKKI: I sure am.
INTERVIEWER: I’m from Prince William County, which is something like thirty miles away. So I guess we’re both Virginians.
NIKKI: [Holding up two drinks—one belonging to her special guy.] Cheers to that.
INTERVIEWER: [Pantomiming a toast with an empty hand.] Uh, I don’t have my beer. I gave it to my girlfriend.
NIKKI: [Winking.] Good man.
INTERVIEWER: [Patting Nikki on the shoulder.] Hey, I’m really looking forward to this. Thanks again for existing. [Darts away.]
INTERVIEWER: [Walking backwards towards Nikki Darlin.] Yeah?
NIKKI: What’s your name?
INTERVIEWER: Oh, I’m Ryan.
NIKKI: Hi Ryan. [Extends her hand.] I’m Nikki. [The two shake hands. Nikki has a nice handshake, as far as those go.]
INTERVIEWER: Hi Nikki.
• • •
Those Darlins are about to perform. The crowd waits patiently. They are engaged in friendly conversation, and are sipping drinks and staring ahead at the stage. Linwood Regensburg walks through the crowd to get to the stairwell leading to the stage and the green room. He recognizes the interviewer and raises his eyebrows as a greeting.
INTERVIEWER: Hello again, Linwood.
LINWOOD: Hey man.
INTERVIEWER: Linwood, this is Chantal—
[Linwood shakes Chantal’s hand.]
INTERVIEWER: —and Karina and Javier.
[Linwood shakes Karina and Javier’s hands.]
LINWOOD: I gotta get ready. It was nice to meet you all!
INTERVIEWER: Bye Linwood!
• • •
The show has ended and the members of Those Darlins depart from the stage and head to the bar to get one last drink before braving the cold October night. On the way out the door, the interviewer spots Nikki Darlin, and red-faced and silly from a few beers, has the balls to say good-bye.
INTERVIEWER: Have a good night, Nikki Darlin.
NIKKI: You too, Ryan.
INTERVIEWER: Uh, is it OK if I hug you?
NIKKI: Of course. [Hugs the interviewer.]
INTERVIEWER: Nikki, I’m going to support you in everything you do artistically for the rest of your life. OK?
NIKKI: That’s so sweet of you to say, Ryan. [Turning to the guy behind the merch booth.] Wasn’t that sweet of him to say?
MERCH BOOTH DUDE: It really was.
• • •
The interviewer exits the venue and walks down the sidewalk in the direction of his car. An enormous bearded viking-giant, whom the interviewer recognizes as one of the Mohawk bartenders, makes huge strides in the opposite direction. The two recognize each other as they pass.
ENORMOUS BEARDED VIKING-GIANT: Have a good night, brother.
INTERVIEWER: You too, my friend.