Canadian Interviews in the Post-Billy Bob Era

Krist Novoselic's column runs every Tuesday on the Daily Weekly.
I was in Vancouver, B.C., last week to help convince the locals that it was time to overhaul their election system. But when I arrived on Thursday night, I felt like I'd walked into a ghost town.

I hadn't been in Vancouver for at least 10 years, and was alarmed to see the streets deserted. Is the economy really that bad? But when we walked into a bar and found the entire joint - if not the entire city - watching hockey on the tube, everything became clear: The Vancouver Canucks are in the playoffs. They won the game, the streets filled with jovial Canuck fans, and I took this as a positive omen for Friday's interviews.

It was a busy day of back-to-back radio and TV interviews, during which I did my best to convince the host--and the province--to vote yes for the Single Transferable Vote system in the May 12 election. I had my talking points down--STV is fair, better reflects a diverse province like British Columbia, and fosters citizen participation--and you can listen here to the CBC for a typical example of what I said.

I think I did eight different interviews, and without exception the hosts asked me if I was going to "Billy Bob" them. I was perplexed by this until it was explained to me that Billy Bob Thornton recently became rather annoyed at a CBC host who mentioned his film career, and subsequently refused to answer virtually any question. Apparently the Canadian journalists were worried I might get mad if asked about Nirvana. But why would I do that? I am very proud of Nirvana and happy to talk about most aspects of my life, including what I did before Bleach.

I was an industrial painter before our group took off with worldwide fame. I know that sounds kind of artsy, like I painted Nine Inch Nails or Einstürzende Neubauten - inspired pieces. But what I actually did was paint factories. I worked in paper mills, aluminum smelters, and aircraft assembly lines putting heavy-duty paint on walls and equipment. Now it's a noble profession, don't get me wrong, but I doubt I would be doing a Canadian media blitz if I'd remained a paint-spray-gun operator.

The interviews dealt with the Single Transferable Vote, but the most wide-ranging hour was the one I spent on the rock radio station CFOX with the Jeff O'Neil Show. I told the campaign specifically to set this up because CFOX's listeners are my people. I'm mostly known as a rock bass player, so why not address my constituency? The CFOX interview was fun--it was a morning radio show, after all--and the DJs got down and asked pointed questions rooted in a firm sense of skepticism. They threw hardballs at me regarding the STV vote, and I was happy to swat them back. I also did an interview with Global TV, and we finished on a light note when I told them that all you need to know about playing bass is on the album KISS Alive. It's true!!!

It doesn't matter if you're a painter, bass player, Oscar-winning actor/musician, or whatever--the way we vote is the interface between citizens and the government. It's not as exciting as a hockey playoff or a rock show, but the Single Transferable Vote will make politics more inclusive and fair.

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