Michael Fournier, a graduate student and English professor at the University of Maine, hosts the weekly radio shows “The Big Burrito,” Mondays from 9 to 11 p.m. and “The Living End,” Fridays 4 to 5 p.m.
MC: When did you first come to Maine?
Fournier: My girlfriend moved here and it sounded pretty good. I was in Boston for 10 years before this and an undergrad at [The University of New Hampshire] before that. After 10 years of living in Boston and doing the starving-artist thing, I was like “Alright.”
MC: Did you live right in the city?
Fournier: I lived in Alston. Alston is kind of the [Boston University] neighborhood. You can’t swing a bat without hitting hipsters and people in bands, so it was really cool.
MC:How’d you get involved with WMEB?
Fournier: I was involved with WUNH when I was an undergrad but I wasn’t as involved with that as I would have liked, so I was like, “I’m sure Maine has a radio station.”
MC:What has drawn you to punk music in particular?
Fournier: I was 14 and I lived in New Hampshire and didn’t have any neighbors. It was really rural and I was skateboarding a lot because you could do that without a team or something. So as I started skating, I started reading magazines and my favorite skaters always had T-shirts on, like Sex Pistols shirts or whatever. So I was like, “What is this, why do I keep hearing about these bands?” So I bought a Sex Pistols tape and took it home and I remember that I listened to it right before I had to go to church with my mom. So I listened to “Holidays in the Sun” [the opening track on "Nevermind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols"] and all throughout church all I could think about was, “Who is this guy that is so pissed?” It was obvious to me that he couldn’t sing very well, but he was in a band. It really appealed to me that you could create something yourself without having formal training.
MC:Did you grow up around music?
Fournier: Yeah, I did. My dad was a DJ for a long time. But my parents’ progression kind of stopped with like, Judy Collins. My parents were folkies, they were never hippies. There were some Beatles records at the house but that was about as edgy as it ever got. So it made sense that I should learn as much about the Sex Pistols as I could and then sort of spring off from there.
MC:And when was this?
Fournier: That was 1988 . I guess, so that was like eighth grade.
MC:Can you tell me a little bit about the History of Punk Rock course you taught at Tufts University?
Fournier: That was so much fun. I taught that for five semesters. It just occurred to me, “I think I know enough about this, so I could teach it at a college level.” And Tufts has the experimental college so I pitched them the class, and if you can provide evidence that you are an expert on something, they’ll hire you at least once. After the first semester I started using it as a calling card to get people interested. Clint Conley from Mission of Burma came by first and that blew my mind. And then last April, Ian MacKaye from Fugazi and Minor Threat came in and that was like hanging out with the Dalai Lama for me. For an entire day we just rode around and I picked his brain about stuff.
MC:With punk music being such a big part of your life, do you feel like you are still an angry kid at heart?
Fournier: I had thick glasses when I was a kid, and really bad acne and braces and all that. Plus, I was going through puberty and riding a skateboard. I think it’s really natural to feel angry when you are getting into it. It’s a coming of age thing. I didn’t really know why I was angry, I just knew I was angry. I had too much energy, is what it was. I don’t really think I was angry about the economy or the government or anything. That stuff angers me now, but now I can focus my energy on the radio show, my writing or playing drums. Just letting anger sit inside you is toxic, but doing something with it is way more productive.
MC:Do you think that’s why a lot of the artists do what they do?
Fournier: I think so yeah. It’s cheaper than therapy.
Michael Fournier is the author of “Double Nickels on the Dime,” a work detailing the SoCal band The Minutemen’s album of the same name. His shows, as part of the complete WMEB lineup, can be heard on 91.9 FM, online at wmeb.fm and on channel 20 of campus television.