The lead singer of this San Francisco band was born a Prophet. "Hell, if I was going to pick my name, I wouldn't have picked Prophet, that's for sure," Chuck Prophet says of his surname. "As for the Mission Express, no one remembers." When it comes to being a musical visionary, Prophet also had no choice. He was born with the gift of a golden voice. His tower of songs goes back to his Orange County childhood, when he inherited his sister's acoustic guitar and learned to play "Heart of Gold" by Neil Young. "I've been trying to find a guitar that stays in tune ever since," says Prophet, who played in punk rock band Green on Red before going on to collaborate with folks such as Warren Zevon, Jonathan Richman and Cake. In 1990, Prophet released his first solo record, "Brother Aldo," on the British label Fire Records. "They gave me 500 British pounds (about $800). I couldn't believe it." Prophet more recently has played the talk show tour (including Letterman and Carson Daly) for his newest a
lbum, "Soap and Water." Now he is stoked to get back on a San Francisco stage. "I do still get a kick out of playing," he says. "I call my mom every week and say my prayers every night. I still love traveling around and meeting people - to wake up interested in what you're doing is really a blessing. Music is the healthiest addiction I've ever had. And I've had a few."
Lineup: Chuck Prophet, vocals, guitar; Stephie Finch, singing, Farfisa organ; Kevin White, bass guitar; Todd Roper, drums, vocals; James DePrado, guitar, sweater vest.
1. Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express' music should be filed between:
You mean alphabetically, right? All roads lead to Dylan, I suppose. To be filed between Bach and Dylan would be a real honor. That's where you'll find the Beach Boys ... and the Beatles, too, come to think of it.
2. The soundtrack to what movie would your music best match?
You mean like "Easy Rider" or "Sunset Boulevard"? Inspiration is in everything, in everyone. ... How about "Midnight Cowboy"? Boy, that's a great soundtrack. I'd be a fool to put myself next to that soundtrack. I could only aspire to such greatness.
3. If you could collaborate on a song with any person, living or dead, who would that be?
4. If a junior high school asked you to play a cover song at the next talent show, what song and school would you choose?
Washington Junior High, La Habra (Orange County). "Louie, Louie" - that song should be the national anthem. In a way, it already is.
5. What is the meaning of life?
Still searching. You can't see me right now, but if you could you'd see that I'm deep in thought. Deep, deep thought. I'd be happy just to get bumped up to first class on a transatlantic flight once more before I die. It happened a few years ago on Virgin. I was convinced if the plane went down, all the passengers in first class would somehow float away unscathed. It was a glorious flight; I almost didn't want it to end. I thought I saw God in my fresh squeezed orange juice. It was brief, but intense.