While Rufus Wainwright’s second album ”Poses” has sold only 51,800 copies since its debut in June, the 28-year-old singer-songwriter is still hoping to, as he jokingly puts it, ”infuse myself into the psyche of America.” There are reasons for him to be optimistic. He’s a critics’ darling (Rolling Stone named him 1998’s Best New Artist) and he comes from an impressive musical lineage (he’s the son of folk singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle of the McGarrigle Sisters). And even though he had planned to be part of the gay-themed Wotapalava concert tour (which was canceled at the last minute), the openly gay Wainwright found another high-profile platform for his music: opening for the Roxy Music reunion tour. EW.com caught up with Wainwright after his recent New York show.
Obviously, it was a big blow to the Wotapalava tour when Sinéad O’Connor pulled out at the last minute, but were there any other reasons it was postponed?
I think that essentially it was a very daring idea, and the fact that it didn’t work out was probably likely to happen because of the daring-ness of it.
So ticket sales weren’t what everyone was hoping they might be?
Yeah. On one hand the show was about, you know, message, and on the other hand, non-message, as in saying, ”Yeah, sure, we’re all gay,” — or, sort of gay, whatever, queer is a better term — ”but that’s not what it’s really about. We just want to have a good time.” I think something like that would require expert promotion and some serious fireworks or SOMETHING to get it off the road, which didn’t happen.
You’ve said that ”Poses” moves toward a mainstream style. Are you taking other steps in that direction?
I’m trying to get on the radio and that’s a whole battle in itself. I’m going the old-fashioned route, on adult contemporary stations or whatever they call it. The managers I have are very old school — they do Bonnie Raitt and Tracy Chapman. So I’m not trying to be the hippest kid on the block. Yet. I’m building a career based on live shows and records as opposed to haircuts and leather pants, though I still love doing that as well. It IS rock & roll.
Do you have plans to make any music videos?
I’ve done videos for ”California” and ”Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk” [both from ”Poses”], which actually are very funny, sort of harking back to the ”Weird Al” Yankovic ’80s video days — mostly through lack of funding. I mean, I’d love to make a credible video, too, but you know, I’d probably rather be in a movie.