Thomas Wictor

In Cold Sweat: Interviews with Really Scary Musicians

In print for over a decade, In Cold Sweat: Interviews with Really Scary Musicians presents the complete, unabridged, unexpurgated, beginning-to-end interactions between Thomas Wictor and four of the most frightening rock musicians of the past thirty years. They are Gene Simmons of Kiss, Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order, Jerry Casale of Devo, and Scott Thunes of Frank Zappa’s band.

Bassists all, they each commanded a different arena of fear, from Simmons’s implacable will, Peter Hook’s combative indifference, Jerry Casale’s detached-but-seething anger, and finally Scott Thunes’s dark, poetic, extraterrestrial passion that made him seem on the very edge of control. Though each musician achieved spectacular success in his own field, the four had faced vicious critics, tabloid allegations, contempt, deranged adulation, falls from grace, and—in at least one case—oblivion. What all four shared was a justified suspicion of the music press.

Against this backdrop, Thomas Wictor persuaded Gene Simmons to take one of the riskiest leaps of faith in his career. Peter Hook cared so little about the meeting that he arrived the tree hours late, forcing Wictor to try and get enough material for a feature article in fifteen minutes. Though Jerry Casale cooperated fully, his mafioso-impersonal façade was nearly impenetrable until he was asked about creating beauty. And Scott Thunes required that Wictor spend a day with him before he agreed to be interviewed. For over five hours.

Each interview was obviously a test of the author’s ability to adapt and overcome, but it was also a test of the musician, in that he was asked questions he’d not had to answer before. All rose magnificently to the occasion, revealing more of himself than in previous interviews, which was always Wictor’s goal. The challenge was to achieve genuine communication and connection without intruding, overstepping, disrespecting, or presuming.

Thomas Wictor saw interviewing as performance art, being both real and contrived at the same time. He played the part of an interviewer, and these really scary musicians understood and instinctively played the parts of scary musicians. Of all the interviews Wictor conducted in his ten-year career, these are the four of which he is the most proud.

In Cold Sweat is divided into four parts. Each interview contains an introduction and conclusion, and the book is lavishly illustrated with black-and-white photos, many previously unpublished. A full discography for each artist until 2001 is included.