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States Pop Quiz #45: Stephen O'Malley

Catching up with the doom metal man about being a Straight Edge, hardcore goth in school and lying to the authorities

As part of our States of Independence summer takeover, 50 American indie icons have volunteered to take the Dazed Pop Quiz; a quick-fire Q&A about what they love and loathe about life in the USA. Check back here every day for more from the series.

The doom and drone metal icon Stephen O'Malley of Sunn O))) fame is a man of many talents; producing music since 1993, forming many bands including KTL, Khanate and Burning Witch, not only that but he has also collabrotated with choreographers, sculptors and perfromances artists on numeroes side projects, icluding 2010's spectical 'This is how you Dissappear'. He is now currator and art director of website and record label 'Ideologic Organ'. Make sure to catch him in November at the Hackney church supporting Boren & Der Club of Gore.

Which living American do you most admire and why? 

Stephen O'Malley: The unknown who are doing whatever they can to truly try to improve themselves and the knowledge and understanding within their society, environment.

Which living American do you most despise and why? 

Stephen O'Malley: Leave the past behind.

Whose face should be on the $100 bill?

Stephen O'Malley: Martin Luther King.

What is your favorite quote about America?

Stephen O'Malley: There are many great quotes, which are much more thoughtful than any I should choose.

What three words define the States today?

Stephen O'Malley: Gross income disparity.

Who gave you your first break, Do you still talk?

Stephen O'Malley: Tiziana Stupia brought a 22 year old me all the way from Seattle to Suffolk to work at her record label. I owe her alot, mainly that first taste of traveling and being inside music. Rarely in touch, regrettably. But paths never run parallel for long.

When and where are you happiest?

Stephen O'Malley: I believe happiness is a philosophy based solely in the present tense.

What high school clique were you in? Do you stay in touch?

Stephen O'Malley: Straight Edge Hardcore and goths. Very little contact, again loss of parallels and the benefits of time, for us all.

What food reminds you of home?

Stephen O'Malley: Clams, wild salmon.

What smell do you associate with the city of your birth? 

Stephen O'Malley: Dry rye covered hills end of indian summer.

What's the best road trip you've ever been on?

Stephen O'Malley: The mid-90s Seattle-LA-Vegas trips with new friends were excellent. Satan’s Fingernail.

Where did you first fall in love?

Stephen O'Malley: Within words.

What would make you leave America forever?

Stephen O'Malley: One is endlessly leaving somewhere, forever is an illusion.

What noise reminds you of the States?

Stephen O'Malley: Loud pavement, explosions, the electrical murmur of Manhattan.

What is your favorite American building?

Stephen O'Malley: No favorite but Gateway Arch and the square in it’s assumed boundaries are fascinating.

Ultimate American film?

Stephen O'Malley: Ultimates are not in my vernacular; But, how about Rambo.

Ultimate American album?

Stephen O'Malley: Again, ultimates are difficult… I’ll throw Nuthin Fancy out there. 

Most overrated US tourist attraction?

Stephen O'Malley: All tourist attractions are overrated, literally.

Most underrated US tourist attraction?

Stephen O'Malley: No tourist attractions are underrated, literally. 

Favorite slang phrase?

Stephen O'Malley: Killer.

What is your ultimate American guilty pleasure? 

Stephen O'Malley: Lying to the authorities whenever possible.

What law would you change or invent?

Stephen O'Malley: American immigration laws need to change, it’s strangling so many aspects of the society, perpetuating the deeply rooted classism which the existence of has always been lied about, in the official American histories. Furthermore these laws are damaging the culture in a massive way, and it will become worse as more and more people are being turned away by the authorities, struggling to even visit the country. Gun and drug laws have to change. There cannot be a generation of prisoners, and the murder and homicide rate is ultimately insane. Furthermore, and it’s obvious, that all of the steps toward the new oligarchy are dangerous, I do not have the knowledge to understand which laws, or lack of laws, allow these transformations.

Where in the States would you ride out the apocalypse?

Stephen O'Malley: Far northwest.

When was your last run-in with the cops, what happened?

Stephen O'Malley: Damaging a vehicle in Holland.

If you could change one thing about the US, what would it be?

Stephen O'Malley: “I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.” – Aldous Huxley

Which fictional American do you most identify with?

Stephen O'Malley: I don’t know.

If you could vote for Obama again, would you?

Stephen O'Malley: They are all the same under the hood.

If you lost it all tomorrow, what would you do the day after?

Stephen O'Malley: Count my blessings and try to begin again.

What will America look like in 2050?

Stephen O'Malley: Very hot, hungry and crowded.

Does the American Dream still exist?

Stephen O'Malley: The American Dream is a myth created by the hierarchy to give the populace a capitalist religion to believe in, and it was never solely American.

Catch Stephen at Recon on September 28 for a rare solo show at the Brudenell Social Club.