10 Questions for rock musician Chris Isaak

PHOENIX - It isn't always the big events that make us turn our head when we hear about politicians, celebrities and athletes.

Sometimes, we just want to know that when you boil it down, they're all ordinary people like us.

What's in their fridge? What are they reading? What do they do in their off time? ABC15.com asks the same 10 questions of a newsmaker. But don't jump to any conclusions; these aren't the typical interview questions.

They are not meant to be probing or controversial. Instead, they're fun questions that let you get to know the person - in ways you probably don't already.

This week, we're getting to know Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Chris Isaak.

Isaak grew up in the blue-collar town of Stockton, California as the son of a forklift operator. Borrowing his brother's guitar, Isaak taught himself how to play and started writing songs as a teenager. He found early inspiration in country musicians, such as Hank Williams.

His 1989 album, Heart Shaped World, became a hit on the Billboard charts and earned Isaak widespread fame. Now an accomplished musician and actor, Chris Isaak maintains a vigorous touring schedule, stars in critically acclaimed films, and released another album, Mr. Lucky, in February of 2009.

Best-known for his song "Wicked Game," Isaak  ranked #68 on VH1's 100 Sexiest Artists.

This summer, Chris Isaak is touring the country and will be performing LIVE Friday, July 15th at Celebrity Theater in Phoenix. 

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10 Questions for Chris Isaak:

1. What is your all-time favorite movie or song?

That's a hard one...I love old movies. I watch old movies in the back of the bus when we are driving out on the road on tour. In fact, I'm watching TCM right now and they have on an old Elvis film, Jail House Rock. I love the movie ''Face in the Crowd.'' It stars Andy Griffith in a role that he really should have got the Oscar for. He is an amazing actor who could play a friendly good guy or pure evil.

I think my favorite song would be ''Forgot to Remember to Forget''. It is an old song, and it was cut by Elvis, Jerry Lee... I think everybody who came through Sun Studios cut this song. I just finished an album of my favorite songs from early days of rock and roll, you know, Elvis, Carl Perkins, Orbison, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee, and the first song I put on the list that I wanted to do was ''I Forgot to Remember to Forget Her.''  The record comes out in September but I can't wait to play the songs so I have been throwing them into our live set. It's a ball to sing this stuff live with a swinging band.  I think that's why I got into music, to get the chance to get up and sing with a great band! (and wear those flashy, sparkly suits)

2. Do you have a Smartphone? If so, what's your favorite app?

I have a dumb phone. In fact I might be the only guy I know who still has a rotary dial phone in his house. Because I sing all the time I rest my voice when I'm not on stage, I talk and stuff but I don't get on the phone hardly at all. I don't have any additional ''App'' but I did find that you can use my phone for a bottle opener in a jam.

3. Who do you count as your mentor(s)?

It's a long list of singers and players. First would be my dad who has great taste in music.  We always had Jerry Lee, Elvis, Orbison, Cash, and Perkins playing in our living room on a crummy record player that you had to put pennies on to keep it from skipping. Then later my older brother Nick learned how to play harmonica and guitar by teaching himself and I copied everything he did.

4. What was your very first job?

Nick and I got a job playing at a college for some sorority. I was still in high school and the girls all seemed beautiful and unapproachable (nothing's changed) and Nick and I got paid $50 bucks to play for a couple of hours. I was hooked because it took me two days to make the same amount of money throwing hay. I also remember Nick after the show teasing me because some girls were paying attention to me and he casually broke into the conversation with ''This is my brother Chris. He ain't never seen no full growed necked women." I think my face must [have] turned beet red, I couldn't get my stuff in the truck fast enough.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

I would be made entirely of a non-stick, non-corrosive material and be immortal, but I guess everybody feels that way.

6. What do you consider your greatest success?

I have had the same band for more than 25 years. The guys in the band are all really one of a kind, funny, eccentric, really talented guys who are fun to hang with and I learn a lot from them. When you are in a band and you travel around the world you get to really know someone. If you still get along after 25 years then you must have good people. I'm really proud of the guys. They play a great show every night, they LOVE putting on a show!

7. Tell us something about you most people don't


I draw three or four hours a day, mostly really ridiculous cartoons, but sometimes I do other things. I turn on the radio and sit down by the washer dryer when I'm doing laundry and I just draw. It's amazing how much time you can waste watching TV or on the computer and it feels good to do something fun that at the end of the time you have something to show for it.

8. If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would they be?

Well the living ones of course! I don't think I could eat with three dead people sitting at the table. I wouldn't mind having a minute with the "almighty" so I could ask what happens after we go, do I get to see my folks again and why are we here, but I think you only get the answers after the test.

9. Have you come up with a a list of things you'd like to do before you die - a so-called ‘bucket list'?

Not really a list, I don't have the usual 1. twins. 2. drive a racecar 3. dance the Macarena. But I do have a lot of things that I would love to experience. I would love to do a film with my band, I think it would be fun. I want to learn how to cut stone, everything from making a stone wall to being able to sculpt a figure. When I meet somebody and they can do something I can't I am interested, doesn't matter if it was art or making soap it's all fun. I wish I could learn to dance, I love watching Fred Astaire. But I'm always carrying a guitar when the music's playing!

10. If you could have a different career, other then what you're doing now, what would it be?

Jewel thief.  Like Carey Grant. I would wear a turtleneck sweater and climb vines up to the second story of fancy villas while the rich folks party inside. I would open safes merely by listening to the sound of the tumblers and would always have something witty to say... nah.  I can't even imagine a job that could be anywhere as fun as what I actually do. I have a piano player whose piano catches fire during the show, a 20-foot tall inflatable pin up girl that blows up on stage, a band that is dressed in suits so fancy Liberace would be jealous, and I get to wear a suit covered in 35 pounds of mirror. All I have to do is stand in the middle of the party and sing! Life is great, and I got NO complaints!


Who will get profiled next week? Check back for a new "10 Questions" each Tuesday here on ABC15.com.

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