This will be your first time on Saturday Night Live. Does it feel different from other shows?
SNL is, to me, the pinnacle of TV. That’s the show I grew up watching. It informed my sense of comedy, and I discovered bands through that massive platform.
So will you be changing your approach at all?
There’s some choreography that I was already doing in my show — and when I say choreography, I mean basically me bastardizing [late German modern-dance legend] Pina Bausch. TV is a tough medium, actually. With a concert, you have the lights and things you can create mystery with, but with TV, the cameras are in your face, so you have to work a bit harder to maintain that same mystique. It’s a fun challenge.
How did you end up singing ”Lithium” with the surviving members of Nirvana at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony recently?
I had met Dave Grohl once at a party, but I didn’t know them. Like everyone, I wished that it was Kurt up there singing, but unfortunately that’s not going to happen again on planet Earth. So I was really touched and honored to be asked. It was kind of coming full circle, because I don’t think I would be playing music if it wasn’t for Nirvana. Those guys changed my life forever.
You’re a guest on To Be Kind, the new album by post-punk icons Swans. What was that like?
I was asked to sing one note for as long as I could hold it, then take a breath and sing it again for the length of a song. By the end, I was singing two notes for about 50 minutes straight. Your body goes through a lot of changes; it feels punishing but also like this big release. My brain went to this whole other place. That band, it’s crazy the stamina they have. It’s a lot of violence — violence that really pays off.