In tomorrow’s print edition, we have a review of the sophomore CD from out 40something recording artist John Grant, Pale Green Ghosts. (Quick preview: We really liked it.) Before you check out the review, though, you might wanna read up on the Iceland-based Grant himself. Our Chris Azzopardi sat down with the musician for a tell-all interview in which he discusses his HIV status, his addiction and the new album.
“Who wants to hear about some diseased faggot and his disease that he got that he deserved because he’s living this horrible lifestyle?” Grant says outright when he explains his HIV catharsis piece “Ernest Borgnine,” a self-proclaimed “expression of anger and absurdity” that sorts out his behavior through the perspective of the track’s actor-namesake — a song he says isn’t a fit for radio audiences. No matter; it wasn’t for them anyway. It was written for Grant.
“I needed to explore why I allowed myself to get HIV after I spent so much time getting sober and turning my back on self-destructive behavior,” he says. “Why did I have to keep the self-destructive behavior in the realm of sex for myself?”
It was always some realm for Grant. The realm of drugs. Of alcohol. Of sex. “It didn’t matter what I could get my hands on to achieve that different state of mind,” he says. “I can do it with food, or with spending money.”
He could do it, unprotected, with an HIV-positive man. And he did, resulting in his seroconversion. “This shouldn’t have happened — and yet, here we are. And what does it say about you that you still allowed this to happen?” By turning the song’s perspective onto Borgnine (an actor Grant adored and once met at a New York restaurant), he found his answer: “That you weren’t completely willing to let go of your self-loathing. That I still had a long way to go … and still had many things that I needed to let go of.