Tone Glow: An interview with the incomparable Jim O'Rourke

A note about this interview: This interview was modeled after Pitchfork’s 5-10-15-20 interview series. I had initially asked Jim O’Rourke to pick something that defined his life at five year intervals. He told me that everything that had largest impact on him happened earlier in his life, so I agreed to have him choose 10 events or pieces of art (music or otherwise) regardless of his age at the time. The following interview is presented with these ten events that O’Rourke emailed me as headers. While we used these topics to guide our discussion, other stories are mentioned as well. Please read chronologically. At the end of the interview please find a list of 25 albums that Jim personally recommends people check out.


Joshua Minsoo Kim: Hello?

Jim O’Rourke: Hello! Hi, how are you?

I'm good. How are you?

I’m doing fine.

This is a bit funny, but 20 minutes ago my SD card got corrupted,which is kind of horrifying because I had to reformat it and I lost some—

Do you need some time?

Oh, no, it’s fine! It’s fine now. It's just a bummer because I lost a couple interviews that I failed to backup, which, lesson learned now.

Are they things that hadn’t been published yet?

Yeah, they hadn't been published yet. So I'm gonna have to talk with the artists again, and I’d really hate to burden them with that.

(in a playful tone like that of a psychic) Do I see another interview in my future? (laughter).

No, no, we should be good! The SD card is good now and the whole memory is wiped, so we can talk for dozens of hours if you want.

Oh, goodness. I see a long interview in my future (laughter).

Ha, it doesn't need to be super long.

Where do you live?

I'm actually in a suburb of Chicago.

Oh, goodness gracious. Don't tell me Elgin!

(laughs) Ah, not in Elgin, no.

God, not Schaumburg.

Ha, I live around Schaumburg!

NOOO! You’re doomed, get the hell out of there!

(laughs) Well, I’m a teacher and also teach in the North Shore, in Skokie.

Oh, God almighty! You're hitting all the hot spots. Schaumburg!

(laughs) Do you have any specific thoughts on Schaumburg?

I spent way too much time in Schaumburg. Oh boy oh boy oh boy.

What sort of stuff do you associate with Schaumburg?

Schaumburg was sort of the center of the tape, cassette noise scene in the ‘80s. That's where all the noise bands from Chicago kind of… what would you call something that grows like a mold? (laughter).