Last year I came up with the idea for an interview conducted over the Internet where fans could submit questions to the band. So Jim Mckay and I set the wheels in motion and the band graciously accepted. Below are the results in no particular order. 

Quite frankly when we started working on this concept we did not realize just how difficult it would be to "filter out the good ones from the bad ones" as one individual puts it. Considering all the inane interviewers the band has subjected themselves to over the years, we figured the fans would come up with the hard-hitting questions. Well, after talking with many of you and poring over some 450 submissions, we came to the conclusion it was going to be a challenge...

Anyway, sit back and enjoy the results, some of which I'm sure you'll find quite amusing. Perhaps our next project might be to hold a contest as to which stamp you think the US postal service should use. Personally I'm liking the more mature version best. Thanks to my other partner in crime, Eric Schuttler, for the stamp graphic.  

Finally, speaking for the entire "Greater Dandom" Jim and I just want to say thank you to Walter, Donald and the Webdrone for everything. A class act in every sense of the word. 

StAl 5/21/00


Question:

Would you ever consider singing the National Anthem at a World Series game? Submitted by: Patty Rasmussen

Answer: We have been prepared for this possibility for some time now, in that we have written a new, hip, contemporary national anthem for the U.S. which is entitled "Hell of a Country, Ain't That So!" Our previous anthem attempt, "O Say Can You Dig?", which was more of a rewrite than a freestanding original, has been abandoned in favor of this new exciting tune. We have not heard back yet from Congressman Barr or from Chuck Knoblauch, but we are ready to go.

Question: Walter - Your style of soloing is so beautifully laid-back. I'm wondering
if there is a particular artist that you may have been influenced by with
regard to phrasing. Submitted by: Michael Hutcheson
Answer: No particular artist - but rather the general tradition of back-of-the-beat blowing that is pretty much standard practice in jazz and r&b from before, say, 1970

Question: I've always wondered how Michael Omartian came up with the piano coda to "Throw Back the Little Ones"--the voice leading and harmony sound like Fagen could've written it (especially with that final Perry Mason-like polychord), but then if so, why did Omartian rather than Fagen play the gig? Submitted by: Tripp Everett
Answer: Besides being a superb musician, Michael Omartian drove a splendid Ferrari Dino sportscar. It was a delight to the eyes and the ears of the beholder - what more can we say? Plus, what with Michael playing the entire date based on his general musicianship and playing style, it was natural that he should play the little coda as well.

Question: Walter and Donald, do either of you have any hobbies or special interests 'other' than music; and, if so, what might they be? Submitted by: Michael C. Packard
Answer: Donald is still endlessly fascinated with the woodburning set he got as an eight birthday present in 1956. Walter has an extensive collection of chinese opium bottles which he proudly displays on the dashboard of his 1961 Facel Vega, which was once test-driven by Mr. Vaughn Meader.

Question: Where are you guys at spiritually: down home dogma or open-ended
metaphysics? As a therapist, I'm dying to know! Submitted By: Brian P-C
Answer: Walter is currently studying past life regression with Sherman, a Psychic Tree Surgeon of his acquaintance. On the other hand, Donald is still endlessly fascinated with the woodburning set he got as an eight birthday present in 1956.

Question: What was the last book each of you read? Submitted By Peter Noss
Answer: The Human Stain" by Philip Roth. Although we hope someday to read another one, if we can.

Question: My question is about the song "Peg". I recently saw a documentary on Peg Entwistle, a young actress who committed suicide by jumping off the Hollywood sign, it made me wonder if Peg was about her. So my question very simply put...Is the song "Peg" about a real person, if so then who is she? Submitted By: Susan Johnson
Answer: The song "Peg" was indeed about a real person, but that person was obviously nowhere near as real and compelling as Peg Entwistle. So now the song is about her. Okay?

Question: One of the earliest rumors I can recall hearing about Steely Dan is that,
in your early days, you moonlighted by scoring porn films. I have searched interviews and biographies but never seen this addressed. Is there any foundation to this at all? Submitted By: Maddog Surrender
Answer: When we worked with Federico Loche (a.k.a. Peter Locke) he was still a legit director, or at least semi-. Although we haven't spoken in many years, we too have heard the rumors. On the other hand, Donald's only film performance was a scene in a Locke production featuring then-idealistic - young- storefront-actor now softcore baron Zalman King

Question: Which of your songs would have liked Frank Sinatra to sing? Submitted By: Kurt Schroeder
Answer: Are you kidding? All of them.

Question: Are the live versions of Babylon Sisters a couple beats faster than the
studio version? Thanks for your time. Submitted By: Bill Shaefer
Answer: Not sure, but now that you've raised the issue we'll go a back and check - and if you're right, somebody is definitely fired.

Question: I recently saw Joe Jackson play live. He covered ANY MAJOR DUDE and KING OF THE WORLD and did a nice job. His bassist, Graham Maby, wanted to play Steely Dan all night. Now I realize there's a real Steely Dan influence in Joe Jackson's material, especially his later stuff. I was wondering what you guys think of his music. Submitted By: Anonymous
Answer: I (Walter) have always enjoyed his work from the very first encounter - but, as it turns out, Joe Jackson is so much taller than I thought he was that we have been forced to reappraise his work in the light of the new information. Results to be announced

Question: Some of the lyrics to "Sign in Stranger" were changed as reflected on the "Alive in America" CD. I loved the "scurvy brother" line in the original on "The Royal Scam." Why did both of you decide to change the lyrics? Thank you very much!! Have a great tour. Submitted By: "robin" "mr. lapage" "martindale"
Answer: The lyrics were changed to advance the plot. Not usually the function of the bridge lyrics, but what the hell.

Question: He wears a hearing aid... Why did you make "your rival" have this impediment? Submitted By: Soeren Johansen
Answer: Because "tiny withered dick" doesn't rhyme with "charade." Nor does it scan. Or does it?

Question: I have a suggestion, rather than a question. I'd like to see you either
write a book or create an online site where you could expand (and expound) upon your perspectives on orchestration, harmony, arranging and songwriting. My dad had a Henry Mancini book ("Sounds & Scores," Astor Books) that took this same sort of approach - sort of a Master class on his style of composition and arranging. It included orchestral excerpt scores and an audio CD that matched the excerpts. I know you're busy with the tour, but this would be a real asset to those musicians that would love to learn how you do what you do. Realistically, this could also be a commercial venture. What do you think? Submitted By: Brad Kozak
Answer: We have investigated this possibility and unfortunately we learned that it is not practical to write an arranging book unless your name ends with a vowel. Just kidding, guys, just kidding.

Question: Donald: You have spoken in interviews of your battles with writer's block during the latter 1980s. Could you share any reflections, insights--and especially advice!--based on your experience of overcoming that block? Signed, Blocked for six years now (and open to any advice I can get!) Submitted By: Anonymous
Answer: Walter: Six years? Six fucking years??? Pack it in, you're done for.

Donald: No worries, only two years to go. Keep up the good work!


Question: Not including any of your own, name the 5 CD's you have listened to the most over the past 6 months. Submitted By: Todd Meyer 
Answer: "Sluicing at the BoneBreaker's Ball " Dweeb Harriman and His Unforgettable Allstars

"Chunks" El Zero

"Bells and Whistles" Zulaika

"This is Chafe Pucker...isn't It?" by Chafe Pucker

Question: In your more recent albums (relative term :-)) i.e. AiA, Gaucho, Aja the
drumming has always gone beyond mere time keeping with solos and choice fills that have set a new standard (a la Steve Gadd's Aja solo). On 2vN, you continue to showcase awesome drummers but there seems to be a more "electonic-ized" sound, as if you were looking to replicate a drum machine. What was the goal to such an approach and will Ricky get license to tear it up a bit during the live shows? I noticed during the PBS special that the Josie drum solo was conspicuously absent. Submitted By: Anonymous
Answer: We just wanted to make something that would, you know, hit the people hard. We've already heard all the good drum fills there are and so have you. So let's just get down and shake a tail feather - that's our thinking on this one. Having said that, Ricky can of course do whatever he wants whenever he wants - he just happens to have impeccable taste, same as us.

Question: Do you get more pleasure from fans saying that you introduced them to the world of jazz, or that people like me still buy and regularly listen to everything you've ever released? (I'm in both categories.) Submitted By: Jeff Walker
Answer: It's great to know that our old stuff still sounds good to our fans, just as it's wonderful to think that we've turned a few people on to jazz over the years. But the truth is, we get the most pleasure from hearing a certain sort of fan say "you know, I've never been with two aging rock stars, a hooker and a TV anchorwoman at the same time before!!! It's great!!!"

Question: Donald and Walter, 2vN, as with ALL of its predecessors, continues an amazing Steely Dan tradition, slash skill, slash genius...wherein, no matter how hard one tries to concentrate, I mean really concentrate, on the lyrical content, it is a difficult task. My mind is always swept away by the layering of the music, and I find myself half way through the song before I realize I'm not LISTENING to the words AGAIN! I am certain that this subversive attempt to shift the focus OFF the ""dangerous"" lyrics is purposeful and NOT accidental! Please elaborate! Submitted By: Brad D. Stevenson (aka Jive Miguel)
Answer: There is a medication called Ritalin which you may find helpful with this particular cognitive disorder. Then again, you may not.

Question: Donald and Walter, whatever possessed you to give the authority for StAlphonzo and Jim McKay to go through your devoted fans e-mails. Filtering out "the good ones and the bad ones" I suppose. For god sake gentleman, WHY? Submitted By John J. Kozari
Answer: (WB replies) Jim McKay just happens to be a most wonderful sort of a fellow and he has graciously agreed to go through all my emails and my personal papers as well, just to sort out the chaff from the wheat, so to speak. St. Alphonzo is another story; certain Polaroid photographs which have somehow come into his possession make us his absolute creatures in this matter - so what can you do?

Question: Which song of yours would you most like to hear performed by Weird Al Yankovic? Submitted By: Mark E. Majercik
Answer: Message in a Bottle

Question: Dear Walter and Donald: I've been a fan for about 5 years, since I was
about 15. After listening to your latest album, which by the way I think is
brilliant, I thought about how your music could lend its way towards
musical theatre. Have you ever thought about that? I guess that's basically a yes or no question, but hopefully I'm planting an idea in your heads if you haven't thought about it already. Submitted By: david coll
Answer: It is our abiding belief that musical comedy at its very best can only be heard on the New York City subway system. So far we have had trouble attracting backers for "The Donners!" because it's just too big to fit into a subway car and also because of creative differences with the so-called "Giuliani Administration".

Question: I have been told by highly reputable sources that Steely Dan is the
favorite band ("el supremo") of the U.S. government intelligence community. Why have you do you think the boys & girls at Langley are so intrigued by SD? Is it the lyrics or the attitude? Submitted By: Matthew Andersen
Answer: it's the l'attitude, baby, it's the l'attitude

Question: Throughout the '70's critics had consistently labeled your lyrics, among
other things, "impenetrable." Now, with the release of "Two Against
Nature", and courtesy of the Web, we are treated to myriad interpretations of the new tunes by a proliferation of would-be writers, all purporting to have unlocked the plot, theme, structure and deep meaning contained in your music. My question: Have writers gotten smarter in the intervening years, or have you guys simply become more penetrable? Submitted By: Jon Stone
Answer: Neither. See our essay "Art in the Age of Simulation and Obscenity" in an upcoming issue of "Probe".

Question: Before you leave New York City to go on a world tour, where will you have your last meal before the road food kicks in? Submitted By: Jim Doherty
Answer: Papaya King, 86th and 3rd, same as every other Wednesday night.

Question: Walter - please discuss the writing and playing of your electric bass parts on 2vn. I dig your tone and lines. did they go down before/after your guitar parts? (thanks a lot; good luck on the tour!) Submitted By: Rob Hewett
Answer: drums - electric piano - bass - guitars - fluff. That's the sequence.

Question: Why was St. Augustine right? Submitted By: Anonymous
Answer: Hey, ever hear of the copyright laws? You're under arrest.

Question: Do you still feel the same way about music as you did when you were 14? Submitted By: Victoria Morrow
Answer: No question about it, Vicky - we feel a helluva lot more like we do right now than we did when we first got here - that'sa fo shoo.

Question: When the Postal Service finally issues the stamp, will they be using the
'Young, Long-Haired, & Cynical' Steely Dan, or the 'Older, Grizzled &
Cynical' Steely Dan? Submitted By: Eric Schuttler
Answer: We are holding out for the "Mature, Rich-As-Croesus, Shaken, Not Stirred, & Action-Packed 007" Steely Dan - come on down to venue if you wanna sneak a peek.

THE END


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