Independence Day is here again. Turns out we've been free for almost 230 years, which is a pretty kick-ass record when you think about it. So what is it that makes America...you know...America? Well, the best way to solve that mystery is to ask a rock star. Not only do they know how to roll a great joint and score some serious tail, but they can pontificate brilliantly on the merits of American beer, American anthems, American wars and, apparently, why reborn Christians are pretty damn scary, too.
So what makes America great?
"We're the prototype society, the one that everybody loves to criticize, but everyone wants to come to. Plus there's a 7-Eleven and a Starbucks on every corner." -- Alice Cooper
What makes America America
"If you can't say it in public, you can always voice your opinion on a bathroom wall in the East Village like everybody else does." -- Gavin DeGraw
"MySpace.com." -- Kristen Henderson, Antigone Rising
"Interviews like this one." -- Nate Bott, Big City Rock
How are you spending Fourth of July this year?
"Shooting Roman candles at Bill O'Reilly's house." -- Brandon Reilly, Nightmare of You
Best song to celebrate America's ass-kicking greatness?
" 'American Girl,' by Tom Petty. It gets you really revved up. And girls are good, too." -- Patrick Carrie, Limbeck
"Springsteen's 'Born in the USA,' 'cause it's BRUCE." -- Kristen Henderson, Antigone Rising
" 'I Love America,' by me." -- Alice Cooper
" 'Sweet Home Alabama.' It's a rebel song for a rebellious country." -- Nate Bott, Big City Rock
" 'We're Not Gonna Take It.' The message isn't in the lyrics, but in the frizzy hair and bad dye job." -- Gavin DeGraw
Best American beer?
"Pabst. It won a blue ribbon. What other beer can say that?" -- Patrick Carrie, Limbeck
"Miller Light. They paid my rent last month." -- Gavin DeGraw
"Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss is the best American beer out there! Like Budweiser, it goes well with hot dogs OR pasta OR a steak...and it does wonders for a dessert, too!" -- Nick Wheeler, All-American Rejects
"Budweiser...'Cause it tastes delicious to be drunk. That didn't make any sense." -- Matt McGinley, Gym Class Heroes
"Miller Light, because it's the rocker's choice." -- Nate Bott, Big City Rock
Stupidest thing you've ever done with fireworks?
"I lit a firecracker up my butt." -- Nate Bott, Big City Rock
"Throwing a live M-80 into a subway. Everyone thought it was a terrorist attack." -- Matt McGinley, Gym Class Heroes
"Put a shotgun shell in a pipe, and a ball bearing in the other end of the pipe, had two friends holding it, put a nail to it and hammered away. When you're 12 years old, it seems like a good idea." -- Alice Cooper
"Put an M-80 in an empty Coke can as an adolescent without thought of the shrapnel it was going to create." -- Gavin DeGraw
"Shot them at people bigger than me." -- Brian Venable, Lucero
What would your pick be for an Iraq War theme?
" 'Satisfaction' by the Rolling Stones, because we're never gonna get any." -- Nate Bott, Big City Rock
" 'Homeward Bound,' by Simon and Garfunkel, 'cause everyone over there should come back home." -- Patrick Carrie, Limbeck
" 'Danger Zone', by Kenny Loggins. It works for any war." -- Mike Kennerty, All-American Rejects
Who was the last musician you met who supported Bush, and what was your reaction?
"I don't talk to those people." -- Mike Kennerty, All-American Rejects
If it wasn't for the French, we would've never won the Revolutionary War. So why do we hate them so much?
"I think it had something to do with toast." -- Kristen Henderson, Antigone Rising
"Because they are almost as proud of their culture as we are of ours. This gives us 'jingoism envy.' " -- MC Lars
When was the last time you worried about a terrorist blowing you up?
"Five minutes ago. Every time I step on the stinky subway." -- Kristen Henderson, Antigone Rising
"September 12, 2001." -- MC Lars
Why do so many other countries hate America?
"Because they love our stuff. We have swimming pools, showers, air conditioning, ice in our drinks, butter in our popcorn. If I couldn't have that, I'd hate the people who did." -- Alice Cooper
"We have enormous appetites. Most people eat food. We eat countries." -- Brandon Reilly, Nightmare of You
"Because we have air conditioning, ice and flavorful food. I'd be pissed, too." -- Mike Kennerty, All-American Rejects
"We're lazy and wasteful. America might be the only place where you can get a 72-ounce soda and free refills on french fries." -- Patrick Carrie, Limbeck
Greatest protest song ever?
"Eve of Destruction," Barry McGuire -- Alice Cooper
"Murder the Government," NOFX -- Matt McGinley, Gym Class Heroes
"Something's Got to Give," Beastie Boys -- Nate Bott, Big City Rock
"With God on Our Side," Bob Dylan -- Brandon Reilly, Nightmare of You
What scares you more: Reborn Christians or Muslim extremists (and why)?
"Reborn Christians. They're much closer to me." -- Nate Bott, Big City Rock
"Reborn Christians. I hate anyone new to a cause." -- Brian Venable, Lucero
"Reborn Christians. When someone is really reborn, then I'll be impressed." -- Patrick Carrie, Limbeck
What makes you proud to be an American?
"Coney Island hot dogs and all-you-can-eat buffets." -- Matt McGinley, Gym Class Heroes
"The new Times Square." -- Kristen Henderson, Antigone Rising
"Gas prices." -- Nate Bott, Big City Rock
"Roe v. Wade." -- Brian Venable, Lucero
When were you most ashamed to be an American?
"When Dennis Miller went all right-wing." -- Nate Bott, Big City Rock
Best firework and why?
"The Texas Cyclone. Best five bucks I ever spent." -- Nate Bott, Big City Rock
"M-80s, because they celebrate freedom." -- MC Lars
"Anything that explodes in the colors red, white and blue, resulting in massive applause by people in some bizarro town that I will never hear of." -- Brandon Reilly, Nightmare of You
"Roman candles. They're interactive." -- Patrick Carrie, Limbeck
Between the Cracks
Artist name: You(genious): The misfit of R&B
What's in a name, particularly yours? My name was given to me by the infamous Houston DJ Gov. Good Grief -- I think you can figure out the rest by listening to my music.
Web site: www.thelovemachine.org
Personnel: Just me and the M-I-C.
Native or transplant? I am a transplant/native. Does that make sense?
When did you start performing? I have been performing music for about four years now but have "been on stage" my whole life. William Shakespeare said it best: "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." I apply that quote to all aspects of my performing as well as my life.
Releases/discography: Coming up 'round the corner: Greatest Hits Vol. 1. Also be on the lookout for Lust, Love and Time: The Death of a Man as well as Stages.
Who or what do you think you sound like? I like to think my sound is completely original...No, scratch that. It is completely original! Just ask my fans!
What are some of your noteworthy recent feats? Well, recently I just finished a project with a new supergroup. We call ourselves Playa Phi Playa. It consists of Mr. L.I.U., Catalyss and me.
What albums have had the biggest impact on you? I have very broad musical taste. Everything from Johnny "Guitar" Watson to Nine Inch Nails. There's not enough space in this column for me to list my favorites.
What artists have had the biggest impact on you? Definitely Babyface and Raphael Saadiq.
How do you pay the bills? What is your day job? Well, if you all would kindly purchase my albums, I could focus on only making high-quality music. Basically...I'm not saying.
Finish this sentence: If I didn't have to worry about money, I'd...be touring the world, blowing minds from Australia to Japan.
Finish this sentence: I'd rather be...singing...That's just what I do.
Who would play you in the screen adaptation of your life? You(genious). Who else? No one could ever play me like me.
Where do you see yourself in five years? I want to have my own variety show in Las Vegas. Fire breathers, acrobats, live musical acts, theatrical interludes, things like that. Very "Vegas"! You feel me?
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Give us a random factoid about yourself: I love chocolate...and long, passionate kisses. Is that random enough?
Football or foosball? Sorry, I hate sports and bar games.
Parting shot? Ladies...If you log on to www.thelovemachine.org, you can win an evening with me and I promise to do all the things your man won't do (within reason, of course. I'm a singer, not a gigolo)! Check the site for all the details. P.S. Come to the show and see what the Hype is all about. I promise not to disappoint. After all, I am an entertainer.
See him at: Super Happy Fun Land, 2610 Ashland, 713-880-2100, Saturday, July 1, with Quintron and Miss Pussycat.