Matthew Wayne Selznick Interview
What type of computer do you use?
A: My desktop computer is a Windows XP machine. My laptop is Ubuntu Linux. As soon as audio and video editing applications for Ubuntu Linux match applications like Sonar, Sound Forge and PowerDirector, I’ll abandon Windows for Ubuntu on my desktop, too!
You write great movie reviews that are always thoughtful and honest. Given that, what is the worst superhero movie you’ve ever seen? The best?
A: I do? Awesome, thanks! Maybe I should write some more….
The worst superhero movie I’ve ever seen. Hm. Toss-up between The Fantastic Four and Watchmen. But I haven’t seen every superhero movie, and I’m not counting old-school stuff like the Captain America or Doctor Strange movies.
The best? That’s a tie with Spider-Man II, the Dark Knight, and Iron Man. For different reasons; each one raised the bar for was to follow.
Favorite: movie, book, food, comic book, and song?
A: These kinds of questions are almost impossible for me to answer, because I don’t think anyone has just one favorite anything… and those things they do like more than others change over time.
So… answers I give you are going to be pretty arbitrary and in-the-moment and might not apply in a year, a month, next week or even tomorrow! Given that:
Movie: “The Lion in Winter”
Book: “City” by Clifford Simak
Comic Book: The Preacher series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon
Song: “Chemical Wire” by fIREHOSE
And now, the most profound and important question for a bass player: Jazz or Precision?
A: Um, neither. I’ve played a 1972 Gibson Ripper since the early nineties. Before that, I had a variety of basses that didn’t quite feel right. Playing the Ripper is like wrestling with your lover. Nobody gives ground, you come away satisfied and sweaty, and no matter how it turns out, everybody wins.
You once noted that your religious and political views are similar to those of Brad Pitt. Do you also share the same taste in women (more specifically: Angelina or Jennifer)?
A: Oh, you mean how we’re both godless liberals?
My taste in women is hard to categorize. I’m a whole package kind of guy – I don’t really have a “type” that I automatically gravitate toward, although a woman could be dripping pheromones and drop into my lap fully formed and aesthetically perfect from the brow of Zeus and she won’t keep my interest if she’s not smart and funny.
Between Angelina or Jennifer… I find a lot to like about both of them. No preference.
What, if any, modern bands do you like? If there aren’t any, who is the newest?
A: Hm. I love Aimee Mann. I like what I’ve heard from the Arcade Fire. I don’t listen to the radio, so my awareness is pretty limited. Ryan Adams – is he still modern?
You must give up either music or writing. Which one, and why?
A: Well, I’ve gone long stretches not doing one or the other. I don’t really see them as different; I’m driven to make stuff and sometimes it’s this, sometimes it’s that. I guess if we have to do this kind of one-or-the-other thing, I’ll say music. I’ve gone longer not playing music than not writing.
It’s obvious from your writing that you were at an impressionable age in the 1980s. Given the love-it-or-hate-it attitude people tend to have towards that decade, what are some of the highs and lows, in your opinion?
A: Heck, I don’t know. I know you asked for my opinion, but that’s such a subjective thing… Also, I was in high school living with my parents for the first half of the eighties and working and living on my own in the second half, so it’s like two different lives.
Okay, here goes.
* doing whatever I wanted, even if that meant falling on my ass or being hurt
* meeting people who had different formative experiences – different towns, schools, etc.
* waking up on Saturday mornings, stumbling out of bed, making French press coffee, eggs and bacon with my girlfriend and then eating it in bed while we watched Mighty Mouse and PeeWee’s Playhouse on TV.
* Living walking distance from the beach
* playing rock and roll
* always being broke, exhausted and on the edge of unemployment
* relationship drama (counts in the nineties, too…)
* stressing that my car would break down
* living the Ben Folds Five song “Brick” and the Dave Alvin song “Plastic Rose”
An adolescent dream is answered when Band X calls and says “Matt, come play bass/guitar for us.” Who is Band X?
Well, this kind of already happened, and it’s funny you should say “Band X.”
I was in a band; we had a gig opening for the Knitters, which is a hybrid alt-country band made up of members of the seminal Los Angeles punk bands X and the Blasters. The music of X has been a huge influence on me, and the Blasters represent another side of that same scene.
At that time, bassist / guitarist / singer John Doe was also playing a recurring role on the television show “Roswell.” He was the alien kid’s human dad, or something. Anyway, he was filming the day of the gig, and as it turned out, it was running long and he wouldn’t make it to the show.
We found this out during the sound check. Exene, the singer, said, “If any of you boys know any Knitters songs, we might call you up on stage..!” We did our set, they did their set (and did a fine job even without half of their singing contingent) and Exene put the call out for someone from Running Erin to come on up. So I got on stage… we did a duet of the Jerry Lee Lewis song, “Breathless,” which X had recorded on their album “More Fun In The New World.” That was a good day.
So now… well, it would be a lot of fun to jam with Mike Watt. We’re Facebook buddies, so anything could happen.
I’ve found that most productive authors don’t give much credence to the idea of writer’s block. What’s your opinion on the matter?
A: I don’t know. First of all, I’m certainly not on that list of “most productive authors,” that’s for damn sure. I have no problem writing when I sit down. There is never any shortage of ideas. If anything, I get bored or distracted, but that’s not being blocked.
I did a guest essay for the Writing Thyme podcast; the transcript is
here. In it, I talk about what I call being counter-productive. Everything I have to say about not writing, I probably said there. For now, anyway.
What do you have going on that people should know about?
A: Everything you want to know about me is at mattselznick.com. I redesigned the site recently and I’m still adding and updating content, so watch for potholes and drywall… but it’s where my blog is, and where you can experience a lot of what I make.
Everything I create has at least one version available to experience for free. As I write this at the beginning of November in 2009, there are three short stories, about thirty songs, a novel and an ongoing serial fiction project on the site… all available to enjoy for free. It’s my hope that people will consider the time and effort involved in making these things, balance that with how much they like what they read and hear, and compensate me accordingly.
Additionally, the short stories and the novel have print editions available – those, of course, are not free.
In addition to the ongoing serial fiction project, “Hazy Days and Cloudy Nights,” which sees a new installment roughly twenty-five times a year, the two latest creative endeavors in my world include a collaboration with author J. C. Hutchins and a fiction / music project called “Twelve Ideas.”
J. C. Hutchins and I created “Anyman,” a mini-album of six songs ostensibly written and performed by John Smith, one of the characters in Hutchins’ novel “7th Son: Descent.” The six songs are being rolled out one at a time through J. C. Hutchins’ podcast feed at jchutchins.net, and in late November the album will be available to purchase in CD or digital form through CDBaby and wherever digital music is sold. For more on the creative process of our collaborative effort, check out Episode Three of Hutchins’ Beta Clone Army podcast.
“Twelve Ideas” is in-progress right now – it was in part inspired by the experience of working with J. C. Hutchins. Each of the twelve ideas will be realized in a song I will write and record and a short story I will write. The twelve ideas themselves will come from ideas submitted by… anyone! I’ll select the twelve ideas that resonate strongest with me and write the songs and stories from them. The twelve folks whose ideas I use will each get signed copies of the CD and book when they’re published, and of course I’ll credit their inspiration in the introduction of the book and the liner notes of the CD. I’ll list everyone else’s ideas, with attribution, on my website.
“Twelve Ideas” will come out some time in the middle of 2010, assuming I get enough ideas!
Oh, and I’m doing National Novel Writing Month right now. Working on a fantasy novel called “Light of the Outsider” that I’ve back-burnered for about a million years. No matter if I win or lose National Novel Writing Month, I’ll have more written on that book than before, so that’s a win to me.
Finally, at the beginning of October I was appointed Chief Evangelist for a very cool site, retroland.com. It’s a resource and community for folks who love to celebrate and share retro culture. We’re nose-to-grindstone designing the long-awaited version two of the site, and we hope to officially re-launch at the beginning of the year. Swing by there now, though – lots to see and do!