INTERVIEW: John Buccigross: SportsCenter Anchor. Music Lover

In addition to being music nerds, we here at ChunkyGlasses are also rabid hockey fans. We’ve attempted to fill the void the lockout has created with lots of live music, but it’s depressing to walk by an empty Verizon Center and/or not have the option of skipping work to watch the Caps practice in Ballston. The lockout has had another adverse effect – no “vlogumns”  from ESPN SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross, whose encyclopedic knowledge of both hockey and music is unparalleled. We decided to be proactive and reach out to John for an interview.

CG: Which came first, your love of hockey or your love of music?

JB: I came out of the womb singing Roger Miller's "King of the Road."       

CG: You’ve said your first CD was (appropriately, it would seem) the Outfield’s Play Deep, but what was the first album that totally blew you away?

JB: ELO's "Discovery" Cassette. That was before the CD technology, kids. "Diary of Horace Wimp" should be in the Hall of Fame. ELO not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a brutal, sad, joke. Creative, unique, big.

CG: We’re coming up on that time of the year when music geeks start mentally compiling “best of” lists. Have you locked in a favorite album and song from 2012?

JB: Avett Brothers, The Carpenter. I haven't decided which is the best Avett Brothers song from this disc, "February Seven" or "A Father's First Spring."

CG: This could be the same answer as the last question, but what music has been most helpful to get you through the lockout?

JB: I don't think about the lockout. It's stupid, shortsighted, selfish, with a dash of hubris.  All things I abhor. It hasn’t affected one cell in my body. It hasn't dented any part of my soul. It has not been felt by any artery. I just put on "Jesusland" by Ben Folds and sing away.

CG: Throughout October our writers picked out some of our favorite years in musical history – years when we had a musical awakening, or when there was simply a massive amount of music we still love. (For me it was 1989 3 Feet High and Rising, Paul’s Boutique, Doolittle, Mother’s Milk, etc.) What was that year for you?

JB: May 15th, 1986- May 25th, 1987. Run DMC's Raising Hell was released in May of 1986 and The Cure's Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me in May of 1987. In between these were released: U2's Joshua Tree, REM's Life's Rich Pageant (my all-time #1 disc), Bruce Hornsby and the Range's The Way It Is, Randy Travis' Storms of Life, Lyle Lovett's debut record, Paul Simon's Graceland, They Might Be Giants debut record, Psychedelic Furs Midnight to Midnight, and Pete Townsend's White City USA release album. This was a massive shift in the music I would go to consume.

I was raised with Top 40 radio, a prisoner to the packaged commodity of the business. The 86-87 run was influential like no other period. It was a seismic shift that had a direct effect on how I lived and looked at my life. It is led by REM's and U2's releases. These were energetic, introspective, desperate, hopeful records that fueled me to THINK BIG. These were records with Big Ideas. Things are achieved by thinking and visualizing big. The other records contributed to my Big Bang musical moment. My life has been a battle of loving urban and rural living. Run DMC, Psychedelic Furs, They Might Be Giants, The Cure, Pete Townsend is the grungy, city lover in me. Randy Travis, Lyle Lovett, Bruce Hornsby, feeds my predilection for wide open spaces. This era didn't just give me a plethora of music to enjoy for a lifetime, but it actually shaped my life from that point forward. I give all of my success to these artists.

GREAT taste in music is something we have in common

CG: There are seemingly endless debates about the quality of American hockey players versus Canadian players. Mutating that debate to music, Canadian indie rock is giving the US a run for its money. Everyone knows Arcade Fire, and bands like Japandroids and Metric are poised to break here. What are some of your favorite Canadian bands?

JB: I love Arcade Fire but I don't see them as a Canadian Band. Win Butler, the principle architect of the band is undeniably American. Shaped by living in multiple regions of the contiguous United States. He did marry a French-Canadian woman which I heartily endorse. I dispute Canadian indie rock is giving US a run for its money. It's still a rout.

CG: I’ve heard that the Caps’ locker room is filled with Russian techno music pre-game, per Ovie’s request. What’s the strangest song you’ve ever heard being played in an NHL locker room?

JB: I haven't been in NHL locker rooms since ESPN televised NHL hockey which ended in 2004. During that era it was almost exclusively country - which I don't mind. I don't turn my nose up to country. As commercial pop music slid into the coffin where it now rests, country and rap filled the void with cleverness, humor, anger, and poignancy. Today in locker rooms it's either hip hop or earnest, Swedish metal.

CG: Related question – do you have warm-up music that gets you ready for being on the air?

JB: No, I pray. For a good effort and that I don't drop an F bomb.

CG: Can you provide insight into what Barry Melrose has on his iPod? I have a mental image of him digitizing a large collection of Kansas and Blue Oyster Cult CDs.

JB: Barry is 100% Country. Grew up on a farm and lives there in his mind.

CG: In your hockey season previews you do a mind-bendingly good job of assigning a few lyrics to each hockey team that you feel best describes their season. (The 2011 Caps were given “Business Time” by Flight of the Conchords but at some point their business socks apparently got lost in the dryer.) Do you find yourself listening to lyrics with an ear toward that preview?

JB: Yes, I do. I start in the summer. It's entirely too much work for the hundreds that I get paid for that column. And that's what sucks about this lockout. There won't be one of those this year even if they return. I won't contribute one ounce of my creative juices to the NHL until they return.

CG: You once proposed that each player be assigned a song that’s played every time they score a goal. (I’m stunned that this hasn’t caught on, just as I’m stunned that the chorus of “Fresh Blood” by Eels hasn’t been adopted as a post-goal song by arenas that are still bafflingly playing Gary Glitter.) What song would play when John Buccigross scored a goal?

JB: “Rockin’ the Suburbs” by Ben Folds.  #rockoutwithyourNHLockout

When not watching him on SportsCenter, you can find out what John thinks about everything under the sun in 140 characters or less  at @buccigross.

When we're not at shows, ChunkyGlasses hockey refugees can be found drowning their lockout sorrows in NHL 13, Gamertag: ChunkyGlasses. BRING IT!