The Punkiest Man in Punk

Lee Ving. Fear him

That was exactly it. It wasn't for the clean air or the beautiful people.

I've seen you called the toughest man in punk and the best actor to come out of punk. Do you agree?

Those who claim they're the toughest usually generate some trailings to those who want to prove otherwise. That not being a wisdom situation for a person who's a gambler, I'll let that one rest. I will, frankly, say that I am the best actor to come out of punk or to come out of everywhere—New York, Philadelphia, LA, Miami or anywhere else you want to say—Stella Adler and Lee Strassberg not withstanding. I never heard of them until I got into this business, but I'm sure they're good people, and I'm sure they make one helluva barbecue.

How has acting come so easy to you?

I don't know, and I wouldn't second-guess it. It's just something I did, what I thought they'd want me to do when someone said, "Roll cameras." After playing for the Fear audience and audiences like that, to emote, as it were, in front of a small crew of 30 people is like water off the duck's back, so to speak. I show up and take the money. Hit the marks, find out how many days off you get, and ask if you can keep the wardrobe when you're finished: that's called devotion.

Which pays better: Movies or music?

Movies, in general, are more lucrative. If you do well enough in the music business, you can also get paid gluttonous amounts of money. It depends what day it is and who you're asking.

Has [X-Files creator] Chris Carter used you yet? I'd think you'd be a natural for him, considering his affinity for punk.

We have good feelings about people in that camp. There may be some contact. If that happens, we'll take advantage of it.

If you spend a lot of time acting, does there come a point when you miss the music?

I think that this time out, we'll keep both areas covered. In that way, we won't have to take time out for either one. As long as there is good scheduling, we will not have to suffer. We'll keep the band moving, get a record out every year, do block touring around the world—there's time for it all.

So, what's the deal with beer?

It rhymes with Fear. Enough said.

Is Bud still Fear's official beer?

No. We had marks all over us from Budweiser not touching us with a 10-foot pole. Now, Shiner Bock is a great Texas beer. Also, Bass Ale and Guinness Stout. With those three, you'd pretty much be able to keep happy any beer drinker who is not with a Budweiser.

I saw—I don't know if you know about it—the newSaturday Night Live music compilation CD, and I noticed there is nothing from the Fear appearance on it. Yet that was the most talked-about performance in the history of the show.

Yeah, people from Saturday Night Live called me to clear the tunes again. It was about a year ago. They said something about an anniversary special and plans to include our footage and music in it. It remains to be seen what will happen. It would be natural to have it included. They have never rebroadcast that footage. It's the most interesting piece of footage of their entire run, of all 1,000 years of Saturday Night Live. If they choose not to show it, it demonstrates the reason why people are watching Mad TV and not Saturday Night Live. They are no longer taking chances. They beat jokes to death even if they're not funny. It was a great show when John Belushi was on it, but anyone with any brains could watch the whole show [now] and not have one belly laugh. They might as well have a test pattern on. If 20 years later, they're not going to show their most interesting footage, that's their problem, not mine. We'll be here long after they're gone.

Is a reunion with the original members of Fear out of the question?

Never say never [laughs mysteriously].

I read some stuff on the Internet about Fear, and one thing critics have said is the band never took itself seriously, that you were more into having a good time than being political.

Can you repeat the question?

Is it fair to say that it was more important to get everyone moving than to think about politics—like the Dead Kennedys without the politics?

Name one band who had politics enter their music?

Uh, I dunno. The Clash?

What politics?

You know, anti-authoritarianism . . .

That's not politics. They were spitting in the eye of the establishment. What you have to remember is our band can play. We've had musicians our whole career. I don't think everyone else did. We're into drinking beer and having a good time; I don't want to bore the audience with politics. But there are plenty of political platforms in this band. We mention them. We make snide remarks about what's going on. People can take that home and think about it, or they can work up a good sweat, have a good time, and go home tired. Nobody comes out to see a fucking punk-rock band for the politics. Most people in punk rock don't know how to spell the fucking word. And if they fell into politics, they would not know how to do anything while they were there, let alone how to get out. We venture into politics—listen to what I say, take it home, and think about it if you're not too drunk.

Okay. I want to ask about some rumors about you. Ready?
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