Your book just bowed on the New York Times best-seller list. How does that compare with, say, winning a Grammy?
This feels like starting all over again. Nick Hornby posted on his Facebook, ”Has anyone read Questlove’s Mo’ Meta Blues? I’m in the middle of it and I’m loving every page.” That made it worth it. High Fidelity is one of my all-time favorite flicks — it’s basically the movie version of [my life]. But I’m shocked that people have purchased the book, I’m shocked that they finished it in a week, and I’m glad they love it. I’m happy.
Was it hard to get into personal things?
Well, [the Roots] haven’t had any Mötley Crüe or Hammer of the Gods moments, and I’ve never done any Keith Moon Cadillac-in-the-pool stuff. I’m always someone’s costar. It gets hard sharing stories about stuff that happened to you in a Forrest Gump ”I was there” type of way. But Rich [Nichols, his manager] insisted that our story was unique, because I’m one of the few hip-hop stories that wasn’t mired in tragedy or criminology.
You write a lot about how you and [Roots frontman] Tariq ”Black Thought” Trotter met, and how different you are.
The only way I can describe it is that I’m like Jennifer Grey in Ferris Bueller when she meets Charlie Sheen. It took a while for us to just get used to each other. The irony is that we’ve totally changed places: Rich joked that Tariq will spend a couple thousand on his Grammy suit, and I’ll have an old mustard stain on my tuxedo. We’re just opposites.
There are some great passages where you go deep into the music you loved at certain points in your life.
I can honestly say that 85 percent of my life has always had a soundtrack to it. I’m able to recall dates and things, but the things that really trigger my memory are Soul Train episodes and certain records. The first car accident I was ever in, an ex of mine was listening to [Alanis Morissette’s] Jagged Little Pill. We were listening to ”Ironic,” and we just wiped out. So that’s how I remember certain things, always.
You’ve played with legends on Late Night and even backed up the president. Who’s left on your dream guest list?
I would say Sting, but he actually sat in with us. He happened to be in the hallway while we were about to do our warm-up song, and I said, ”I know it’s weird, but if you’ve got 10 minutes, can you sing ‘Walking on the Moon’ real quick, before you go do your interview on MSNBC or whatever?” And he said, ”I got 20 minutes, okay.” But Stevie Wonder I would love, and I wish Kanye would accept our offer. We’ve approached him nine or ten thousand times, and it’s always been a resounding no. But a guy can dream!