STNNNG’s Chris Besinger
There’s nothing quite like seeing Minneapolis punk outfit STNNNG (pronounced “stunning” – apparently there was this Irish band…) perform live. The guitars (Adam Burt and Nathan Nelson) level a dangerous non-stop crunch and grind at the audience’s heads, the bass and drums (Ben Ivascu and Jesse Kwakenat) rumble like an angry machine that could fly into shrapnel at any second. And the singer. At first glance, he’s a little guy with a scruffy beard. And a hat, he’s wearing a hat – some fedora variant, straw in summer, wool in winter (it’s Minneapolis, after all). But there’s something about the way he stalks the edge of the stage, waving the mic like a phallic papal ornament in a whacked out high mass. He looks out past the audience, makes a face, shakes his head, and then the music reaches a point where you just know they’ve crossed a line after which nothing good can happen, and then the singer, he does this:
Chris Besinger is the singer and lyricist for STNNNG, and also does arty punk rock stuff with Group Icky Rats. STNNNG’s new LP, The Smoke of My Will, is out now on the Modern Radio Record Label (and by LP we do mean vinyl!) To suggest that Chris’s lyrics, collected in the 2010 chapbook The Usual Beast, are literate would be an understatement. They reveal a love of words and a jagged sense of humor that owe less to that old bleaknik Bukowski than to The Fall frontman Mark E. Smith. For this wordsmith, 12 Questions are not enough.
1. What is your hometown?
2. With what fictional character do you most identify?
Gregor Samsa or Ray Smuckles (from the comic strip “Achewood”)
3. In the movie of your life, cast an actor to play you.
4. What work of art speaks to your soul?
The Rothko Chapel in Houston, TX, which isn’t a single piece of art but a non-denominational chapel with (I believe) six of Rothko’s huge abstracts in it.
5. What books are you currently reading or recommending?
I recently re-read the novels of Charles Portis, and specifically True Grit & Dog of the South were both even better then I recalled, the line about him being Cormac McCarthy but funny I think is very apt. Otherwise, I’ve been reading lots of Frederick Siedel and Richard Hell.
6. What song or album is currently in heavy rotation on your iPod?
I’ve been listening to a lot of blues lately, especially “North Mississippi” blues like Mississippi Fred McDowell, RL Burnside and Junior Kimbourgh as well as a lot of “Desert Blues” from the Sahara, specifically the “Guitars from Agadez” series on Sublime Frequencies. The new record by OFF as well.
7. What’s the last movie that made you cry?
I think I cried at “Jackass 3D”
8. Cat person or dog person?
Dog person but don’t tell my cat I said that
9. What is more important, truth or kindness?
People say they want truth, I think most of us would prefer kindness
10. How do you define sin?
Putting ketchup on a hot dog
11. How do you define virtue?
Walking the walk, talking the talk
12. Design your headstone: What does it say? What does it look like?
A blood-red 68 Thunderbird crashing through a three times life size statue depicting Andrew Jackson copulating with Maria Callas while an animatronic verson of ZZ Top plays “La Grange” forever and at the bottom etched in gold is a plaque with my name and the legend “Here there Be Monsters”. Also there is a water fountain with one of those fat little kids pissing in it.