The Believer: After I listened to a little bit of death metal I was cooking dinner and I put on an Isaac Hayes album. My wife hates Isaac Hayes and she came upstairs and she said, “When you listen to this, is it a joke or is it for real?” I find that to be a confusing question. On the one hand there’s so much stuff that’s ridiculous about Isaac Hayes, his whole gooey “I want to make love to you” rap, but on the other hand I was alone when I was listening to it, so I’m not listening to it to impress others, and it’s not part of a skit I have going on in my head.
John Darnielle: The campy-listening thing, I think, is false. I don’t think that there is any such thing, actually. This happens with age, that at some point you might have told yourself and others that you listened to the Backstreet Boys because it was funny. But in fact, you were enjoying it; it’s just a different kind of enjoyment for you. But I don’t think that ironic-distance appreciation is actually a different or lesser appreciation. I think most of that irony is an attempt to say, “These aren’t exactly my kind of people, and I don’t picture myself sounding like that, but I still like it.” I don’t believe in ironic appreciation. I think if you like something, the core of it is you like it.
BLVR: One time I saw you perform live and you played an Ace of Base song at a time that was sort of the height of Ace of Base’s fame.
JD: I love Ace of Base. That’s part of why I used to do that song. I thought it was a great fucking song. I suspected everybody else also thought so, but that everybody would want to say, “I like that song, but it’s really stupid.”