Welcome to Influencers!
I’m here with Stacy, our guest for today. We had an anonymous interview with her in the last episode where she answered some questions to give you a brief overview and some hints about who she is.
We talk to her today about experience VS expertise, the difference between the two in the fashion industry, and how, in today’s culture, experience is becoming more valued than expertise.
Then, the second interview is anonymous. If you can figure out who it is before we reveal it in the following podcast, you could win a coveted invitation to the Influencer Salon.
Listen To The Podcast Here:
Experience VS Expertise In The Fashion Industry with Stacy London
I have with me today one of my favorite people in the entire world. Stacy, thanks so much for coming on.
Thanks for having me, Jon.
You are a legend in your industry. If memory serves, there was an article on Huffington Post that said, “Stacy changed her hair color, the world shakes.”
Right, when I dyed my hair ombre. I’m going to be honest with you, it probably wasn’t my smartest move. Prior to that, I had been known a long time for having very dark hair that was natural in color and a white streak that was natural in color as well. When I started messing with it, people were not all that pleased. I had this reputation for having this streak, which I’ve had since I was 11, along with Rogue and Cruella de Vil. There were very few of us with that awesome streak and I’m very proud of it. Part of the reason that I decided to shake the Earth with dying my hair was because I had been under contract with Pantene. My only rule in my contract was you can’t dye my gray streak; you can do whatever else you want.
I just realized that the listeners don’t know who you are.
Hi. My name is Stacy London. I’m formally the co-host of TLC’s What Not To Wear. I hosted TLC’s Love, Lust, or Run. You may have seen me for five years on the Today Show or Oprah. I work for Access Hollywood and Rachael Ray, mostly as a style consultant but sometimes just for humor. I’ve written a couple of books. I’m working on a new one, which I’m hopefully going to call The Evolutionary Woman; about what it’s like to be a modern-day woman in society today, particularly of a certain age. I do write a lot. I contribute to Refinery29 a lot. I have a dog named Dora. I’ve been friends with Jon now for quite a long time.
I know that you wouldn’t say it but you’re probably one of the raddest chicks in the entire world.
I wouldn’t say that. I would say that I’m one of the OG when it comes to unscripted television and fashion. Certainly wasn’t the first time What Not to Wear had aired, it was written for two women and was shown in London. But then TLC bought the rights to make an American version. I did that for ten years. That is probably how people would know me best. But I had a whole career before that as a stylist, as a fashion editor in magazines. I don’t know if I would call myself the raddest, but I definitely think that I was probably one of the first when it came to connecting the dots between the actual fashion industry and working with real people. I always say I’m at the corner of style and psychology.
When people discover that you’ve accomplished all this, what’s their most common question? Besides, “Can I have a photo with you?”
“How can I do what you do? I want a job like you when I grow up. Or, I love fashion, how do I get in to it?” I get a lot of that. To me, if I get the question, “How can I do what you do? How can I be who you are?” I’m like, “Who would I be?”
I think you spent so many years studying philosophy of self, but of course that’s the question.
It’s got to be some weird existential question; I answer a question with a question. I always say, “What is it that you mean when you say you want to do what I do?” Because there’s a difference between saying you want to do what I do and be a stylist, which I trained to do, or just be on television, which is probably you’re better off being a Kardashian. I consider them two different things. I honed and learned a skill, which a lot of people now in our digital age take for granted; what it means to intern, what it means to assist. Everybody thinks that they’re already an expert if they have an Instagram following. Expertise requires a great amount of studying and being mentored. I would say, that’s not necessarily the society we live in now. We’re much more preoccupied with fame for no reason. You don’t necessarily have to have a skill. You can be rich or thin or young or pretty and that’s enough. That’s different. That’s either being idolized for superficial reasons or there’s something more to it that that person’s experience matches your own.
I talk about this a lot when I say that my generation, which was the beginning of unscripted television, the dawn of unscripted television, was when experts mattered because we were teaching people how to do things. Expertise was important to be able to back that up. I think that reality stars gave way to bloggers and bloggers, not all of them have studied or had experience in a particular area. It’s more that they’re blogging about what they care about, what they feel.
We went from a how-to generation to a me-too generation. By that I mean, expertise is not required anymore, experience is. People can say “I feel this” and their whole following will be based on somebody who has a similar opinion. What I find mostly about millennials is, what I consider to be the biggest population that we talk about today when we’re talking about generally audiences. Millennials don’t like being told what to do, which is what experts did. They like being able to share an experience and validate their own. It’s a different world from when I started. When people ask me, “How do I be what you be?” I feel like an endangered species. I don’t know that my skills are so pertinent to the way the world works at the moment, particularly in style.
Style is not an incredibly favorable subject right now for television. You don’t need it on TV the way that you needed it when I started. You don’t need process anymore. You can see before and after makeovers in a minute on digital. You can Google how to tie a scarf and 50,000 answers will come up. You don’t need my expertise in the same way, that shared experience does the job. It’s just a very different time in our culture. That was a very long answer.
It’s a really relevant answer because in an era where you can search and find out how to tie a scarf in ten seconds from 50 different sources, there’s this expectation that there’s going to be a formula for success. My feeling is that there’s a bunch of best practices but the pathway doesn’t exist in the same way anymore. It’s not that you become the editor-in-chief simply by busting your butt, writing great content over and over again and working your way to the top. Now, it’s not necessarily a glamorous position to be the editor-in-chief of a major magazine.
That’s an endangered species as well. When you say that it’s not a clear road, a clear path anymore, I think that is true but I think that all paths are abstract. Certainly, we can aim for gold but the best we can do in life is steer in one direction and hope to stay in one lane. My feeling is that even best practices, if you started as an assistant, like I did at a magazine, there’s no guarantee that you would move up to the ranks of editor-in-chief. Staying power is essential in the fashion industry. If you can stick around and keep working, eventually, you will be considered a success because it is so hard to do that. I don’t mean that just as an editor. I wasn’t a writer; I was a stylist. I got my writing skills in college.
Also, it’s not just about writing or styling. It’s simply about being able to stay put. It also holds true for designers. Season after season, they are called on to create something new and yet at the same time, there has to be a through line to who they are. You need to be able to see Michael Kors in every Michael Kors collection and yet at the same time he has to evolve what Michael Kors looks like. That takes staying power. Those are things that are very hard to do in this day and age. Staying power and that kind of length of time, 20 years, 30 years in an industry doesn’t really matter anymore.
The thing about digital is it has changed our perception of skill and it has changed our perception of time. If everything is immediate and everybody can watch a fashion show at the same time that Anna Wintour is watching it because it’s being livestreamed, it makes all the playing fields equal. All of the experts are no longer in charge of being the tastemakers. Anybody can be a tastemaker. Anybody can tell you what their style is or what fashion they gravitate towards without being told in a magazine or on a television show. That is a very different atmosphere.
With all of these things changing, what do you think the biggest pitfalls are for somebody who’s trying to get into the industry?
Normally I would have said the biggest pitfall is to think that if you take great pictures on Instagram you’re a photographer, or if you style your best friend’s for parties that you’re a stylist. My opinion about that is changing because what I see is those industries, media in general, is going through such a tectonic shift. That being a writer and just posting a couple of posts on Huffpost or any reputable magazine or online blog or whatever, that may just be enough. Whereas we used to put all of this importance on training and honing skills. To some degree, I’m hoping that the pendulum will swing back to those things being valuable.
But for right now, we’re seeing companies hiring photographers off Instagram. We’re seeing bloggers getting paid more than magazine editors because they have a further reach. They’ve got a bigger audience and they can connect to that audience immediately instead of waiting for a magazine to come out every month and then wait to get the letters to the editor two months later. I would have said that there are pitfalls to not having experience. But to be honest with you, I’m not sure that experience counts as much anymore.
When we look at who’s most successful right now, almost in any media industry, it’s the people who are blogging the most, who are Instagraming the most or Instastory-ing the most, who are Snapchatting, who are creating the most original content on a daily basis. That does not require the same skillset as writing an article or taking a picture or styling a photograph. You want to have vibrant photography or eye-catching photography and interesting, provocative articles but you don’t necessarily need the training to go out and do those things now. You can test them out. You’ve got all the analytics in the world that you can look at on Facebook, on Google, on Instagram, that tells you whether or not you’re connecting with people. That’s very different from how slow that information got to us in magazines and television.
There’s a study done on the great classical composers. Certain ones have this reputation of being just far beyond greater geniuses than all the rest. What was interesting was if you just looked at their total number of pieces composed over their lifetime, they didn’t have more hits than everybody else, they just made more. Some of it was crap and some of it was brilliant, but they just out-produced everybody.
I would say that that is very much the kind of context that we find ourselves in today, that production of content, and no matter how you spin that content, it can be content you’ve heard of a thousand times. As long as it’s just spun a little bit differently or you wait a few months and people forgot the Buzzfeed headline they read, you can do it all over again. There’s a zillion ways to package the same information. That’s the thing, there’s a zillion ways to consume it.
For me, it’s really who’s going to rise to the top in this kind of environment. It was easy to see, when you had fewer people on television and fewer people working at magazines, who could be most successful. Now, the measure of success that we used to use doesn’t really hold for an industry where everybody can be successful. That success doesn’t mean anything. It’s like when all of these schools that think that everybody should get a medal or a ribbon, even if you came in last you still get a medal for trying. That doesn’t mean that it’s good. It means that you’re trying to level the playing field and not give any special dispensation to people who are doing good work or who have a high level of achievement. I think that’s a problem. I still don’t know what that looks like in this age. I don’t know how we praise people who started blogs instead of working at magazines except by the kind of content that they’re producing, the amount of content that they’re producing, and certainly whether or not it has an effect on culture generally.
One of the people that I always talk about when I talk about blogs, because I don’t love many of them, is Leandra Medine from Man Repeller, because she took fashion and turned it on its head. She looks like a model, she is super tall and skinny, she comes from a very, very well to do family. She can wear Chanel and all of that, any designer that she wants. But she chose to inject humor and joy into a very serious, very exclusive industry and broke it open. It has changed the way millennials think about fashion. They don’t take themselves so seriously. They don’t worry so much about perfection. They worry more about experimentation and what’s possible. She’s opened the door where the kind of respect that she garners at such a young age, to me, is entirely warranted because it was revolutionary. You have a lot of people trying to copy her and that’s not revolutionary.
The way things move in terms of style, fashion, media, photography, editorial, all of that, it’s leaps and bounds. If you think about the history of the Earth and there was the ice age and medieval times, whatever part of history you want to talk about, this is the tectonic shift of technology. We are witnessing, in media, one of the biggest changes to ever hit the Earth. This is like the invention of the light bulb and the telephone and the radio and TV itself. We are on to something completely new. The next thing will probably be AI and you won’t even need somebody to tell you what to wear, you won’t even need a suggestion, you won’t even need to look at somebody else’s blog that you like because a computer will do it for you. This is such a fascinating time because, will the bubble burst? How much content is too much content? How do you curate great content as opposed to just a sea of information? That’s what I think where there’s an ebb and flow.
One of the things that really strikes me is, one, your obvious love and enthusiasm of the topic. Two, I don’t know if people from outside the fashion industry realize the level of thought and analysis that someone in your position does; that to be a real icon or a thought leader means re-evaluating everything constantly. It’s obvious from this conversation that the level of conversation that you have about this, both internally and probably with your social circles, is immense. It’s not just like, “This color and this sheen,” and so on. It’s, “What are the implications of this person who can make us laugh or this technology on the entire way that we dress?”
I would then refer to the very famous Miranda Priestly speech in The Devil Wears Prada about why you’re wearing that color blue. That, in and of itself, to me, is rapidly becoming a very antiquated way to look at how fashion is disseminated amongst the public, the masses, people who can’t afford to wear high designer clothing. It’s not about that anymore. It’s much more about individuality and creativity. Of course, you have to work with what’s in stores. When you walk into a store, all you’re going to see is what is trendy, that’s what stores sell. How you put something together or whether or not you buy vintage pieces or how you wear something, it’s much, much more about individual expression than it is about rules.
When I started, it was all about rules. I still think to some extent that they apply in certain ways; like you want to dress for your body type, you want to dress appropriately for the occasion. There’s a huge debate right now about what it means to dress for your age. Some people’s arguments are ridiculous and some people’s aren’t. We are looking at diversity in such a broader way than we ever did before. I believe in that diversity. I believe in calling out every single diversification of style, of person, of industry. I’m not actually interested in inclusion at all because what that represents is that there was this one established circle and now we’re going to let other people in to it. I believe in identifying diversity and then creating community based on diversity, not on inclusion.
Is there a quote that inspires you?
There are so many quotes that inspire me. There is one, I can’t tell you what it is word for word but it’s from James Joyce from Ulysses, about how woman is exactly like the moon. It’s one paragraph and it’s one of the most beautiful passages of writing I’ve ever read.
What’s something completely unexpected about reaching this level of success?
That you have to work harder. Nothing gets easier. I really believe the more successful you are, the harder you have to work. Not to maintain that position, but to keep your interest and your enthusiasm alive. You have to fight and work harder the more successful that you are. Because it’s very easy to become lazy once you think you’re a success.
Is there a book that really influenced you or a specific lesson you learned from it?
There are many books that influenced me. Hermann Hesse wrote Demian. That was all about the concept of self-transformation and that had a huge effect on me. None of these are fashion books at all. It’s not like Chanel or anybody’s autobiography or the conflict between Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. None of that felt substantial enough.
Who’s your hero? Who do you look up to the most?
It changes. But I would say right now, Michelle Obama. It’s the arms, it’s the grace, it’s the style, it’s the strength. It’s who she represents. We are really engaged in so many different kinds of battles at the moment in terms of humanity. One of them, one that is closest to my heart, is the way women are finding their place in society, how they are still fighting for equality in a way that seems a little bit ridiculous at this stage of the game, and that we have to be examples to the next generation and the generation after that. Women are going to rule the world one day. We need people like her to be leading that charge.
What would have you accept an invitation from a stranger for a meeting? An email pops in to your inbox, besides an invitation to the Influencers dinner, but an email shows up in your inbox from a complete stranger, what would they have to be saying that would actually have you say, “Okay, I’ll meet this person.”
I’ll tell you what not to say. I’ll tell you the first thing that turns me off is when somebody emails me and says, “Can I take you out for coffee and pick your brain?” That is, to me, a complete turn off. Picking my brain, it’s taken me a long time to gather everything that’s in my brain. It’s not free. If you want to pick my brain, hire me to do something or pay for my time. I feel like people think that you’re just available to them. I don’t know where that kind of entitlement comes from but it just does not work for me. What does interest me is people who are researching and want to ask questions because they’re writing a thesis or they’re writing a book or there’s something that there’s a goal involved and that they think that my expertise could in some way be helpful to them. That’s always of interest to me. Events, I’m as gobsmacked as the next girl. You tell me it’s something sparkly and fancy and exciting, I’ll go. I’m into it.
Anything you could wear a top hat to?
I’ve seen you in your top hat. You’re looking good.
It’s a vintage top hat from one of my favorite vintage stores. That’s another thing. I was really into vintage when I was in high school because I grew up in the Pretty in Pink era. It was all about trying to look like Molly Ringwald and Annie Potts. It was all weird vintage clothing that I would get, like Screaming Mimi’s and, I don’t know if you remember Antique Boutique, but these were all stores that were such a big deal in New York in the 80s. Now, I found recently that I’ve become in love with vintage again because it is so unique, and it is so inspiring to see people mix vintage with contemporary clothing. That’s a great way to create an individual expression of style.
One of the things that’s really important when I do these interviews is I like to bring awareness to a cause or a commitment that the guest has. Is there a certain organization you try and support or is there a certain cause that’s really important to you?
I sit on the Board of GLAM4GOOD, which is about how the fashion and style industries can use their power and influence to create experiences for underprivileged girls, who either need clothes or that we can give them a day of beauty or they may be sick and we can go in and help them. We work with veterans and veterans’ wives. Mary Alice Stephenson is the founder of GLAM4GOOD and is one of the most selfless people I’ve ever met and has used her influence in the fashion industry really to get designers to sit up and notice and donate just tons of inventory that we’re able to give away on these shopping days for young girls. It really is one of the most wonderful experiences that I’ve been able to be a part of.
I also sit on the Board of JED, which specifically is a foundation that was started by two parents who lost their son his freshman year to suicide. It’s rapidly become much more about the larger picture of mental health in children. Certainly, the most crowning achievement is that JED has worked with MTV, with VH1, with the Clinton Foundation to create programs that colleges can participate in to be fully trained in how to understand the warning signs of somebody who may be depressed or anxious or the difference between just being off your face drunk and a psychotic break. There are about 1,600 schools participating right now. Ideally, every college would have to participate and get a JED seal of approval for the kind of psychiatric care that they’re providing for kids.
I just believe very much in talking about mental health. We have been hiding in the shadows when we talk about mental health, that it’s like some terrible secret instead of shining a light on it for what it is. It’s a genetic disorder just like anything is genetic. It’s like having brown eyes or blonde hair. The more that we stigmatize it, the more people won’t reach out for help. That to me is the biggest tragedy there is. Working with JED has been equally rewarding for me.
In the past, I’ve worked with Step Up. I was on their Board for quite some time, which also serves underprivileged girls, tries to get them mentors and internships so that they have opportunities and can see other women succeeding and give them the hopes and dreams to succeed in any industry that they want to be in. That can be anything from wanting to be an astronaut to wanting to be a court stenographer. Giving them that exposure is so important. I’ve tried to do whatever I can for the American Cancer Society. I work with every single animal charity I can get my hands on.
You brought up a really good point about this human aspect that gets brushed under the rug a little. There are certain things that just shouldn’t be stigmatized. One of the things I ask my guests is, what’s a very human secret you feel comfortable sharing on the podcast?
I feel like all my secrets are already out there. I would say that talking about my skin disease and having psoriasis from a very young age was very hard for me, just because when I was around 11, I was just covered in it from head to toe. I literally looked like a lizard and figuratively felt like a monster. Those scars, they stayed with me. I talk about my reasons for wanting to go into fashion as being not the healthiest reasons. I was deeply insecure and battled a lot of self-loathing that also came out in eating disorders that I had mostly in college. It really took me a long time to like myself, to be honest. To be compassionate with other people taught me that I had to be a little bit more compassionate with myself. That’s something that I still fight, I still beat myself up all the time. There’s a negative voice on loop in my head a lot of the time that I have to shut up in a bad way, not the nice way.
I’m not the only person obviously who struggles with that, but self-doubt is a little bit like fear. It’s what Elizabeth Gilbert talks about in Big Magic. Fear, you can acknowledge it, you can thank it for being there, for warning you. Self-doubt is like, “What are your skills here? Can you really pull this off?” They are allowed to be there and you are allowed to acknowledge them but you can’t let them drive the car. They can maybe change the radio station once in a while but they can’t steer. That’s what I try and remember all the time. I can doubt myself, I can be afraid of a project, I can be worried I can’t accomplish something. That’s not the same as not doing it anyway.
Stacy, thank you so much for sharing that. That’s really incredible that you’ve been so open about it. I know that there’s this general image when people reach a certain level of success that everything’s okay and great. The images from Instagram and Twitter and whatever it is, Snapchat, give us this impression that life is always perfect for people who are in the public image unless there’s a scandal.
I agree with you. Social media is almost like having a publicist. Between filters and what you choose to shoot and how many selfies you’ll take before you publish one, it’s a cultivated authenticity. It’s more like a highlight reel of life instead of being life. Make no mistake, I’m as guilty of that as the next person. I did talk a lot about having spine surgery, but it’s not like I’m showing off my scar that’s six inches down my back. I have a picture kissing my boyfriend that people thought was very sweet in the hospital. Even that is not the entire truth of what that surgery was like for me.
Again I’m talking about millennials as the generation that’s moving the needle at the moment. I really do believe that for all of the things they haven’t done and all the things that annoy me about them, one of the things that they have done that’s fantastic is they have demanded authenticity from public figures. They’ve demanded more transparency from people. It’s in that vein that I have felt a lot more comfortable being authentic and knowing that having been a success doesn’t mean I’m a success now. I feel like I’m very much at the crossroads of TV and I don’t know what’s next. That precipice doesn’t go away.
Especially as a woman, as I’m getting older, does that limit my options? Is that still an issue? How am I going to fight that for future generations? Success is momentary. It’s like the Northern Lights. It just doesn’t stick around. It’s the type of thing that you constantly have to work at. The most success you can have is knowing that whatever exterior socially validated success you have is not the one to be aiming for. It’s the success of feeling good and strong, positive, and successful within yourself. That’s much harder I think than what you’re able to achieve on the outside.
Stacy, this has been such a treat to have you. As the geek in me, I always have to know; if you could be any comic book hero or heroine, who would it be?
Rogue. Just because I already have the outfit.
And the streak in the hair?
Yes, that’s my outfit.
There’s one problem, for those of you who know Rogue, she can’t physically make contact with anybody. You’re such a loving human being.
I know, I like to hug too much. That is a problem.
No, that’s the solution.
It’s too cliché to say Wonder Woman. I would be Catwoman.
You also have the bat symbol in your ear.
That’s true. I like Batman. You know why I like Batman so much? It’s because he’s the only superhero with no actual powers. All of his powers come from accessories. I feel like that’s just true of life.
If you could have dinner with anybody, three people, they have to be living, and my hunch is one of them is Justin Timberlake, who would they be?
Wait, it can’t be three because it’s got to be two couples. It would be Michelle and Barack and it would be Justin and Jessica. If you made me choose to ask one of them to go, it would have to be Barack.
Stacy, thank you so much for coming on. I love and adore you more than anyone. I’m sure the listeners, after hearing you speak, are going to want to start following and tweeting and insta-messaging you. Where can people find you?
It is complicated because I wish it was the same across the board. It isn’t. On Twitter and Snapchat, I am just @StacyLondon. On Facebook, I am www.facebook.com/stacylondonofficial. On Instagram, I am @StacyLondonReal.
Instagram couldn’t hook you up with your own name?
No, because there’s another lady who’s legitimately named Stacy London, who also was slightly irritated when I chose Stacy London Real because frankly I should’ve chose Stacy London Official. She’s like, “I’m just as real as you are.” I had to apologize and I just never did anything about changing it. She said that she was cool with it and she started following me. I felt pretty good about that.
I’ve met countless Jon Levy’s at this point. There are so many of them everywhere. Stacy, thank you so much for coming on. This has been an absolute treat for me.
About Stacy London
Stacy London is one of America’s foremost fashion experts. She is best known as the co-host of TLC’s hugely popular show, What Not to Wear for 10 years, and most recently hosted 3 seasons of Love Lust or Run. She’s also a style contributor on Access Hollywood, Access Hollywood Live! and Rachael Ray’s syndicated talk show, Rachael.
From 2005 – 2010, Stacy joined The Today Show on NBC as a style correspondent. Prior to her career in television, she worked at Vogue Magazine as a fashion assistant and later returned to Conde Nast as the senior fashion editor at Mademoiselle. Stacy has styled fashion photo-shoots and fashion shows, as well as dressing many celebrities over the years. She has had many prominent endorsements with brands such as Hanes, Pantene, Dr Scholl’s, Woolite, Lee Jeans and Westfield Malls.
Her first book, which concentrates on style by body type, entitled Dress Your Best, was published to stellar reviews. Her second book, The Truth About Style, a New York Times bestseller, is both a memoir and a style guide. In The Truth About Style, Stacy shares her story and focuses on the healing power of personal style and using that expertise to overcome past problems.
Stacy has appeared on numerous national talk and news shows. In addition, she has been an expert contributor in countless magazines, newspapers and websites such as Refinery 29. Stacy speaks at corporate and public events and has appeared at ones such as Starwood Hotels, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Oprah University (O You!), Harvard University, Mount Sinai and the 92ndStreet Y.
Stacy sits on the National Board of the non-profits Glam4Good and The Jed Foundation, and is on the Advisory boards of The Li.st and Stylinity. She contributes time as well to charities such as Step Up!, the American Cancer Society, and as many Animal Charities as possible.
Anonymous Guest Interview
We’ve reached the part of the podcast where you get to figure out who this new anonymous guest is. We’re going to ask Brian a series of questions and hopefully several of you will figure out who he is between now and the release of the next podcast. You’ll get to win an opportunity to come to The Salon. Brian, first of all, thanks for joining us.
Thank you. It’s an honor to be on The Influencers Podcast, Jon.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in West Hartford, Connecticut. But my parents are from Brooklyn so I like to say I’m from Brooklyn.
Was there an incident, a teacher, an experience that inspired you to do what you do?
When I was in high school, all of my friends started playing instruments like mandolin and guitar. I was sixteen and I felt very left out, so I became a percussionist by literally grabbing the most dinky pair of bongos I could find. The one on the left and the one on the right sounded exactly the same. They said Mexico on them and they were probably $5. I got good at it and I became a percussionist.
What’s an accomplishment in your career that you’re most proud of?
If I look back at it, we’ve played a lot of great shows and played with a lot of great artists. It’s the wealth of good songs that we’ve written as a collective band is what I’m most proud of. A lot of them are very important to me and hold up for me. Some don’t but enough do that I look back at it with a lot of pride.
In fact, didn’t you write the lyrics for your most popular song or something along those lines?
We do have a song called Satellite and I wrote the lyrics to it. It’s one that just fell into place.
Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?
I would want a younger, more handsome Mark Ruffalo. He’s pretty handsome already, never mind that.
It’s a little bit different asking you this question, but is there a song or a movie that represents your life? You probably wrote a song that represents your life.
There’s a book that represents my life. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth, which is mandatory reading if you’re a young Jewish adult male because you realize why you are the way you are. He just absolutely nailed me in that book. If you haven’t read it and you’re a young Jewish adult male, go read it.
A lot of people have these wacky stories of what lead to their success, do you have some crazy dare, bet or maybe a stunt that you pulled off that you’re like, “I cannot believe that worked.”
There were so many little things that had to fall in place for this to even happen. We had to get one of the guys in our band to quit his college acapella group, which he was pissed about. We had to take a loan to pay for our albums. We had to bus to make a living and quit our jobs at like Bruegger’s Bagels. We paid our dues in lots of ways. It’s hard to think of a singular thing, but along the way it just seemed like if you had the drive, you’re going to find a way to make it work.
Last question, what hint or riddle would you give people to figure out who you are?
I have the longest last name of any drummer in history.
That’s probably true, and near impossible to pronounce correctly the first time you read it. Listeners, you have between now and the next episode to figure out who Brian is. If you can, you could win a chance to attend the coveted Salon. Good luck and stay tuned.