The Rolling Stone Interview

Hey, at least it's not John Mayer.The first thing you notice as he breezes into the restaurant is that mane, possibly the most luxuriant hair in the whole history of atrocities, a field that has long placed a lot more emphasis on what you blew up than on how you looked blowing it up.  But the times, as a young Dylan, who this casually insolent dazzler resembles more than a little, once said, are a-changin'.  Used to be you could be a musician or a writer or a mad bomber without ever glancing in the mirror.  No longer.  Fertilizer, check.  Blasting caps, check.  Conditioner, check.He arrives with a shuffling glut of men in tow.  Not so long ago this guy was on his high school wrestling team; now he's graduated to the rarified echelon of people who travel with entourages.  Well, prison guards, anyway — same diff.  "Sorry I'm late," he mumbles, sounding not even a little bit sorry, and you don't even mind.  Being young with good eyebrows means never having to say you're sorry; ditto, probably, being charged with malicious destruction of life and property, at least until after the verdict.  The carelessly hot young Chechen slides indifferently into the chair across from you and continues his semi-non-apology: "I had to fire off a couple of Tweets, then getting through security at the prison was a bitch.  Plus, I can't walk too fast in these shackles — took me like forever to get in from the parking lot."  He emits a sheepish snort of a laugh and tosses his head, a chestnut forelock flopping ingratiatingly over his handsome caterpillar of an eyebrow.  "Listen to me complaining.  Felon-world problems, right?"You try to take a sip from your iced tea and the straw misses your mouth.  He smiles patiently.  He's got nothing but time.  For now, anyway.  You scan the handwritten questions you'd jotted the night before and all of a sudden they seem insufficient.  Standard-issue magazine-profile stuff.  You're not even sure you want to keep writing this piece in the second person, which seemed so cool at first but increasingly seems like a lot of work.I flip my notebook closed and firmly, conspicuously, slide it aside — a signal, I hope: Let's Get Real.  He just keeps drilling lazily into me with those espresso-colored eyes, the half-smile never wavering.  He already knows all about getting real.  He got real before I even got here.  Before I ever wrote my first half-page profile of a Barenaked Lady, this guy was in the back seat with Real unhooking Real's bra strap."You made such a huge splash with your very first appearance on the national scene," I say.  "How in the world do you follow that up?"He tosses that hair again.  The hair should have its own show on the CW.  "Well, that's the question, isn't it?" he says.  "That's something everyone who gets a lot of attention right out of the gate thinks about.  The Strokes.   McConaughey.  Eric Rudolph.  This is actually something my brother and I talked about a lot.  We thought about maybe following up with something in New York, as you know — 'if you can make it there' and all that — but that didn't really come together."  He exhales.  "I'm sort of coming to terms with the idea that I may never be able to repeat the impact of my debut."I lean forward, nodding.  "Because of the sophomore slump?""Well, more because I'm probably going to get the death penalty," he says.  "And stuff like that.""Gotcha," I say.  "So, where do you stand on legalization?""Oh, I'm for it," he says."You are?""Yeah," he says.  "Totally pro."  Then he blinks.  "Wait a second — what are we talking about?""This is a piece for Rolling Stone," I say.  "So, I mean, we're talking about weed.  Obviously.""Oh, never mind," he says.  "I thought you were asking about the legalization of bombs.  I'm totally for the legalization of bombs.  I don't really care about that other thing."So much for that.  What next? All I can think of is the litany of questions that everyone in the media already knows he won't answer: about jihad, about whether he'd ever had a relationship with Jennifer Aniston, about whether we could see any pictures of him as a lifeguard.  Am considering switching to third person.We're interrupted when a couple of young women stop at the table.  "Oh my gosh," one of them bubbles, "Are you who I think you are?"He nods with a sleepy smile.  "Yep.""I'm so sorry to interrupt," she says, "but... would you mind?""Go ahead," he says.  The two women spit on him and continue on their way."You must get a lot of that," I say.He shrugs insouciantly.  "Can't really complain," he says.  "No one forced me to get famous, y'know?"Then I realize he'd mentioned his brother earlier.  I tread gingerly:"So," I say.  "About your brother."His gaze turns distant, his eyes two bottomless pits of melancholy-flavored fudge.  "Well, I won't be collaborating with him again, obviously," he says softly.  "But I take comfort in knowing he went out doing what he loved most.  Which was, y'know, hating."The guards step forward; our time is almost up.  He still has to make the rounds to other publications — Details, TV Guide, Tiger Beat.  This is the young reporter's last chance.  She stands and says "I know this is inappropriate but just one thing before youCONTINUED ON P. 49, AFTER SOME BEACH PICTURES OF THAT GUY FROM MAROON 5.