PD: Are people surprised to find you on tour with Cheap Trick?
WK: Before I'd play for 150 hardcore fans, but now I can play for 2,000 people and maybe open their minds to my music. It's my audience. I'm playing adult rock and roll. I'm interested in adult bad behavior, not teenage bad behavior.
Have you mellowed with age?
As a human being, I hope I've mellowed. I hope I'm a kinder and more gracious person than when I was twenty. As an artist, my passion for this work is stronger than ever.
Does it surprise you when bands tell you that the MC5 was an inspiration?
It doesn't surprise me. If we walk back from Blink-182 and Linkin Park, you eventually go back to bands like the MC5 and the Stooges. It means a lot when it comes from other musicians. Musicians are my direct tribe.
Are we any better off now than when Kick Out the Jams came out almost 35 years ago?
We're on the brink of very bad times. The country has been led into a disaster. It's thirty years later, and I'm still singing "American Ruse" at my show tonight.
Have things improved any from Nixon's America to George W. Bush's America?
It hasn't gotten a whole hell of a lot worse, but that's not saying much. It's discouraging that thirty years later we're in the same mess for the same reasons. We're chasing our tail, and our country is still a long way from what we could be.
Are there any bands today that are part of the solution?
Lord yes, son. A lot of kids are working to get rid of these blues. Steve Earle, Tom Morello, Billy Bragg ... there is a huge list of artists today that are stepping up, being involved and carrying a message that encourages people to take action. Quiet as it's kept, this is still a constitutional democracy.
Do you still have the same fire for music?
I enjoy playing music for people, but I don't love getting in the van like I did when I was twenty. It's real. It's fun. But it's not always real fun. A lot of artists only care about their tour bus or cocaine or whores. I don't care about that -- I did my share -- but I want to feel like I'm doing something to make the world a better place.
You reunited with the surviving members of the MC5 for a London show last spring. Any chance of another reunion?
I keep an open mind. It was nice to talk to those guys as grown-ups, as sober adults. It was fun. I've played a lot of music since [the MC5], but when I went back and played some of those songs, it felt like an old pair of shoes. A nice pair of shoes.