Prince talks Prince in rare interview—conducted via fax and e-mail


A Prince pop quiz before tonight’s concert in Omaha’s Civic Auditorium:

True or false: He no longer goes by a cryptic symbol that somehow translated into “the Artist Formerly Known as Prince.”

True or false: He no longer has the word “slave” written on his face to protest what he considered bonded servitude to recording giant Warner Bros.

True or false: He no longer cusses in concert.

The answers: true, true and true. (Really, it’s OK, you can call him Prince again.)

A lot has changed since Prince was partying like it was 1999. The paisley popster isn’t necessarily open to talking about all of it, but he did answer a limited number of questions in a rare interview via fax and e-mail.

While Prince skipped the question asking about his decision to eliminate cussing, the fervent Jehovah’s Witness explained his reasoning at a press conference on his 43rd birthday June 7. He said he was rewriting many of his suggestive songs because he had found religion and wanted to clean up the act so kids who haven’t heard his music can listen to it.

With the clean mouth came a clean slate. After ditching Warner Bros., Prince started pitching his music online—not through Napster, but through his own site. On Valentine’s Day, he launched (the npg standing for his band, the New Power Generation). For $7.77 a month, Prince fans can join the club, which offers downloads of unreleased songs, VIP access to Prince concerts and other perks.

Tonight’s concert, which starts at 8 in the Civic Auditorium arena, is one of the first stops on a 29-date summer tour called “Prince: A Celebration Tour,” which reportedly will showcase material from his coming album, “The Rainbow Children.”

Here, Prince speaks—well, writes, using his own shorthand language involving numbers—about the album, the tour and smelling good.

Q. According to your official website, you have been working up two shows for the tour, with some songs featuring “an orchestral section that boasts some of the most intricate patterns since the Lovesexy Band.” What can fans attending the Omaha show expect—old hits, B-sides, material off “The Rainbow Children"?

A. “The Rainbow Children” must be heard in its entirety 2 fully appreciate it. The album plays as one piece of music. The Omaha concert will be a complete surprise 2 all involved including my band. We know enough of my material now 2 spontaneously start playing any song at any time.

Q. Describe the new album—musically, lyrically, conceptually, and where it fits in with your catalog of work.

A. Simply put—it is a mirror. What u R is what u C when listening 2 it.

Q. How do you plan on distributing “The Rainbow Children"?

A. NPG Music Club will get the 1st copies very soon, and then it will spread—however it does.

Q. What was the motivation behind starting your NPG Music Club, what has been the response, and what are your goals with it?

A. A peer 2 peer relationship with my true fans online was the goal— already accomplished. Those who have dutifully supported my art throughout the years should have 1st crack at concert tickets and new music we have 2 offer.

Q. There is so much discussion about popular music today—when the teen acts are going to die out, what the next cycle is, etc. What are your thoughts on the state of popular music today, and what are your predictions or hopes about the next wave?

A. Contrary 2 popular belief. The media dictates the state of art 2 day. Art was supposed 2 inspire us. There is nothing inspiring about computers who pass themselves off as musicians.

Q. Who are you listening to today?

A. The Rainbow Children

Q. After this summer tour, what are your plans?

A. A World Tour

Q. What is the question you wished I would have asked? (Feel free to answer it.)

A. Y do u smell so good all the time?