In conversation, singer-songwriter Stephin Merritt, whose innumerable musical projects include the Magnetic Fields, takes deliberation to extremes. He reacts to most questions with a lengthy pause, and if the phrasing of a query doesn't meet his standards for precision, he'll pick it apart like a slightly dyspeptic linguistics professor rather than answer it directly. Nonetheless, his soft-spoken, dauntingly formal demeanor can't entirely mask an arid sense of humor. When asked to describe his average fan, for example, he says, "I have no idea. I only know the people who I see in the front row at concerts, and they always seem to be the same: 21-year-old straight white boys who aren't smart enough to sit farther back from the speakers and don't mind being spat upon... More >>>