TIME Music

‘The Art of McCartney': The Making of a Massive Tribute Album

Sir Paul McCartney attends 2014 Women's Leadership Award Honoring Stella McCartney at Lincoln Center on Nov. 13, 2014 in New York City.
Sir Paul McCartney attends 2014 Women's Leadership Award Honoring Stella McCartney at Lincoln Center on Nov. 13, 2014 in New York City. Dimitrios Kambouris—Getty Images

McCartney covers LP may have the most impressive lineup ever

This post originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

Over the past two decades, producer Ralph Sall has assembled all-star albums honoring everything from Saturday-morning cartoon themes to the Grateful Dead. In 2003, he decided to embark on his biggest project yet: a massive Paul McCartney tribute record. “I never realized this would take me 10 years,” Sall says.

MORE: In Pics: The 12 Strangest Paul McCartney Songs

The Art of McCartney, a 42-track set out November 18th, took so long for a very good reason – nearly everyone Sall approached said yes. The album has one of the most impressive lineups of any tribute record ever: from Brian Wilson, who covered the 1982 deep cut “Wanderlust,” to Billy Joel (“Maybe I’m Amazed”), to Chrissie Hynde (“Let It Be”). The biggest coup of all: Bob Dylan, who rarely participates in these sorts of projects. Dylan chose to tackle “Things We Said Today.” “I was surprised he decided to take part,” says Sall. “That’s not the song I would have picked, but it sure fits him.”

MORE: Paul McCartney: The Long and Winding Q&A

Willie Nelson contributed a stark acoustic “Yesterday,” though it’s not his first time covering the song. “I recorded it when it first hit the market,” Nelson says. “I had a band in Fort Worth, and I told the audience, ‘Here’s a pretty good song I heard by a little country group called the Beatles.’ I just think McCartney is one of the best songwriters around.”

MORE: In Pics: Paul McCartney – A Life in Pictures

In most cases, Sall personally matched the song with the artist he wanted to cover it, and McCartney’s backing band – whom McCartney loaned Sall for the project – provided the backing. Sammy Hagar, who did “Birthday,” was stunned he was asked to participate. “I might have gone with ‘Let Me Roll It’ or ‘Maybe I’m Amazed,’ ” he says. “But ‘Birthday’ does fit my voice. Great guitar riff, too.”

MORE: In Pics: Behind Beatlemania: Intimate Photos of Paul McCartney

TIME Music

Bob Seger on Climate Outrage, His Internet-Free Life and Hanging With Eminem

Bob Seger performing at 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' on Oct. 14, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
Bob Seger performing at 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' on Oct. 14, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. BRO/Bauer-Griffin—GC Images

"I don't use e-mail," Seger says. "No spam for me! I've had enough commercials in my life"

This post originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

Bob Seger does things at his own pace. The Detroit icon’s new disc, Ride Out – a country-flavored collection that mixes originals with covers of songs by Steve Earle and John Hiatt – is only his second LP in nearly two decades. But it also includes his most politically outraged song ever, “It’s Your World,” marking Seger’s coming-out as a climate-change activist. “I’m sure this will alienate some fans,” says Seger, who’s about to launch an arena tour. “But I’m 69. What the heck can they do to me now?”

Most of your peers tour all the time, but you only go out every few years. Do you just naturally crave the spotlight less than they do?
It’s never been important for me to be a public figure. I just read a book by Susan Cain [Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking]​. I said, “Oh, my God, that’s me.”

You’re an introvert about to go on a huge arena tour.
It’s very strange. The road, to me, is a way to expose my songs and nothing more.

Are you going to play a lot of new songs?
We’ll probably start with just five or six per show. I’ll keep playing ones that people really want to hear, like “Mainstreet,” “Night Moves,” “The Fire Down Below.” But by January, I’d like half the show to be new songs.

How do you get in shape for a tour?
Well, right now I’m 10 pounds overweight. I do a TV spot in Los Angeles in 11 days, and by then I’ll be down to my tour weight. I do a hundred-plus miles a month outside on a bike with big, fat tires that make it hard to pedal. I do weight lifts and sit-ups for 90 minutes every other day.

Do you still smoke?
Oh, yeah.

Are you trying to quit?
No. [Big laugh] Some old people never change.

Have your kids tried to make you?
I don’t smoke around them. and I don’t when I work out. I don’t smoke nearly as much as people think, because a lot of them just burn down to nothing.

What made you decide it was time to write about political issues?
There’s a [recent] U.N. report saying that climate change isn’t coming – it’s here right now. It stuns me that people like Marco Rubio, who seems fairly bright, would say climate change isn’t caused by humans.

A lot of your fans probably agree with Rubio.
I’ve been told a good deal of my fan base is Republican. But I don’t think they all deny global warming. I think with a lot of them, cash is king and they want the jobs. I can understand that, but not if it’s gonna wreck the future for our kids.

MORE: Bob Seger to Hit the Road on 23-Date North American Tour

You cover Steve Earle’s “The Devil’s Right Hand” on this album. Do you see that as an anti-gun song?
I would say that it’s anti-violence. I’ve always liked that song. I saw Waylon Jennings play it at the end of that movie Betrayed. I thought, “Wow, does that ever sum up this movie?” It’s a movie with horrific violence. This extremely radical, anti-government groups are killing black people. It’s a tough movie to watch.

It’s not a country album, but there’s definitely elements of country music sprinkled in there.
Well, I listen to a lot of country music because my wife loves it. It’s permeating the house and there’s some really good songwriting in country. They really work hard at songwriting. If it’s a song you really like, I don’t want to change it. I don’t want to do “Adam and Eve” with an electric guitar. I wrote “Fireman’s Talkin’,” which is another one. You could say that’s country-sounding, but I just called it crazed-bluegrass myself.

You cut Ride Out with session pros in Nashville. Did the guys in the Silver Bullet Band mind that they weren’t invited to play on the album?
They understand. It would have taken longer to work with them, because they’re not used to the studio. It’s so quick to record down in Nashville. It reminds me of Muscle Shoals back in the Seventies. They plug in and sound like a record. I was able to fly down there in 90 minutes, cut two songs and then fly home the same day.

What’s your goal for this album? It’s nearly impossible for veteran artists to get music on the radio these days. Top 40 is just dominated by really young pop stars.
You’ve got that right. I listen to what my daughter plays, and it’s all really young artists. You know, I just try and write good songs. If people play them, that’s great. I still think people buy records, maybe for an artist they still care about.

You make it hard to get your albums though. This new one is on iTunes, but let’s say I want to buy Against the Wind or Night Moves. There are no more record stores.
Well, there’s Walmart, Target and Best Buy. Then there’s Borders…Wait, that’s gone. But there’s Barnes and Noble. There are places you can get it. Of course, you can just buy it from Amazon. There are ways to get it if you really like.

Right, but why not have your whole catalog on Spotify, or at least iTunes?
It’s an ongoing issue with my manager and Capitol Records. You have to talk to him about that. They agreed to something many years ago about new media and they don’t want to live up to it. The record business is 50 percent of what it was ten years ago, so they’re trying to cut costs. Until that’s resolved, we let very little out.

MORE: In Pics: The 10 Best Bob Seger Songs

Does this stalemate frustrate you?
Yeah, it does. I wish people could get any song at any time.

Do you ever use Spotify yourself?
No, I don’t stream. I do a lot of listening to music though. I listen to satellite radio. I might listen to the bluegrass station on Sirius or the BB King blues channel. I also listen to local radio.

Do you ever go on Twitter or Facebook?
No.

Why not?
I don’t know. [Laughs] I just have no desire to be that public, I guess. It takes up too much time. I read a funny thing that said “We’re raising screen-agers now.” That’s because they’re always staring at their phones or their pads or whatever. I want to get a little more out of life than looking at a screen. Wait, I should say my office has a Facebook page for me, but I have no idea what’s on it. Occasionally, they’ll ask me a question and I’ll put my answer on it.

Do you use a smartphone?
Oh, yeah. I have an iPhone 5S. I use it for texting. I like my old Blackberry better because of the typing.

Do you ever use the Internet?
Not really. I don’t use the computer much at all, mostly just to write lyrics.

What about e-mail?
No. No spam for me! I’ve had enough commercials in my life.

The vast majority of your early albums have been out print for decades. When are you going to re-release them?
I’m going to eventually do a collection. I’ve been working on it for years. I’ve got so many albums, but I just keep waiting for the right time to release them. It’ll probably happen when the download issue gets settled.

When do you think that might happen?
Probably in the next few years.

I just looked up your 1971 album Brand New Morning on Amazon. The cheapest vinyl was $200.
Oh my! That’s probably just collectors.

MORE: In Pics: The 10 Best Live Albums of All Time

Right, and it just shows how hard it is to be a hardcore fan of your work. You really gotta search for this stuff.
I’m sorry about all this. But, nevertheless, I’ve had the same manager for 49 years and he’s been right most of the time. And I hate to get into that area. He doesn’t mess with my music and I don’t mess with his area. That’s all I can say about that. [Kid] Rock followed my lead for many years. He didn’t download anything because he thought it would kill CD sales. Of course, we all hope people for the CD because that’s the highest quality.

You’re also the only artist I can think of never to release a DVD, documentary or even a box set.
I’m waiting for the right time. Once the issue is settled I can get everything out there.

How are you adjusting to your kids being out of the house?
They’re not quite out yet. They go to college near us. I’m happy as heck they’re still around because I adore them. I think my daughter is going to be the first to go. She’s 19 and wants to go to Nashville or New York next year for school. That’s going to kill me. She wants to be in music management. You know, I recently took her and her boyfriend to see Eminem and Rihanna. She got to meet a CAA agent there.

How did you enjoy the show?
It was sensational. Em is so good. The agent told us that Rihanna is even bigger than Beyoncé in Europe and Asia.

Do you know Eminem?
I’ve met him a few times. I really like him. He’s got a daughter and we talk about kids and stuff like that. I’ve used his studio and he’s always very gracious about that. He never stops working. He goes five days a week.

Do you mind that when many people think of you, their first image is Tom Cruise dancing around in his underwear to “Old Time Rock and Roll”?
No. It’s an iconic moment. I get a kick out of it. It’s been parodied by many people: Nicole Kidman, Ron Reagan Jr. . . .

When was the last time you watched Risky Business?
It’s been a while. I’m more into Liam Neeson. I never miss anything he does. I liked The Grey, which a lot of people hated. The director is from Detroit, and I was rooting for him.

Are you going to see Taken 3?
I have to see the second one first, but I will.

What’s your favorite TV show?
The Good Wife. I love the writing. I try to never miss it.

So many stars your age do whatever they can to look younger. Why do you think you avoided that mindset?
I messed with hair dye in the Nineties, and it felt so phony. You know that joke about Kenny Rogers? They had a look-alike contest and he came in third.

Are you gonna keep touring when you’re in your seventies?
I don’t know. I’d hate to be one of those people that does a farewell tour. The introvert inside me tells me, “Make the decision slowly.” I’ll know when it feels right to stop.

MORE: Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time

TIME Sexual Assault

Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA

An aerial view of the central grounds on campus at the University of Virginia on March 1, 2013 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
An aerial view of the central grounds on campus at the University of Virginia on March 1, 2013 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Lance King—Getty Images

Jackie was just starting her freshman year at the University of Virginia when she was brutally assaulted by seven men at a frat party. When she tried to hold them accountable, a whole new kind of abuse began

This post originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

From Rugby Road to Vinegar Hill, we’re gonna get drunk tonight
The faculty’s afraid of us, they know we’re in the right
So fill up your cups, your loving cups, as full as full can be
As long as love and liquor last, we’ll drink to the U of V
— “Rugby Road,” traditional University of Virginia fight song

Sipping from a plastic cup, Jackie grimaced, then discreetly spilled her spiked punch onto the sludgy fraternity-house floor. The University of Virginia freshman wasn’t a drinker, but she didn’t want to seem like a goody-goody at her very first frat party – and she especially wanted to impress her date, the handsome Phi Kappa Psi brother who’d brought her here. Jackie was sober but giddy with discovery as she looked around the room crammed with rowdy strangers guzzling beer and dancing to loud music. She smiled at her date, whom we’ll call Drew, a good-looking junior – or in UVA parlance, a third-year – and he smiled enticingly back.

“Want to go upstairs, where it’s quieter?” Drew shouted into her ear, and Jackie’s heart quickened. She took his hand as he threaded them out of the crowded room and up a staircase.

Four weeks into UVA’s 2012 school year, 18-year-old Jackie was crushing it at college. A chatty, straight-A achiever from a rural Virginia town, she’d initially been intimidated by UVA’s aura of preppy success, where throngs of toned, tanned and overwhelmingly blond students fanned across a landscape of neoclassical brick buildings, hurrying to classes, clubs, sports, internships, part-time jobs, volunteer work and parties; Jackie’s orientation leader had warned her that UVA students’ schedules were so packed that “no one has time to date – people just hook up.” But despite her reservations, Jackie had flung herself into campus life, attending events, joining clubs, making friends and, now, being asked on an actual date. She and Drew had met while working lifeguard shifts together at the university pool, and Jackie had been floored by Drew’s invitation to dinner, followed by a “date function” at his fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi. The “upper tier” frat had a reputation of tremendous wealth, and its imposingly large house overlooked a vast manicured field, giving “Phi Psi” the undisputed best real estate along UVA’s fraternity row known as Rugby Road.

Jackie had taken three hours getting ready, straightening her long, dark, wavy hair. She’d congratulated herself on her choice of a tasteful red dress with a high neckline. Now, climbing the frat-house stairs with Drew, Jackie felt excited. Drew ushered Jackie into a bedroom, shutting the door behind them. The room was pitch-black inside. Jackie blindly turned toward Drew, uttering his name. At that same moment, she says, she detected movement in the room – and felt someone bump into her. Jackie began to scream.

“Shut up,” she heard a man’s voice say as a body barreled into her, tripping her backward and sending them both crashing through a low glass table. There was a heavy person on top of her, spreading open her thighs, and another person kneeling on her hair, hands pinning down her arms, sharp shards digging into her back, and excited male voices rising all around her. When yet another hand clamped over her mouth, Jackie bit it, and the hand became a fist that punched her in the face. The men surrounding her began to laugh. For a hopeful moment Jackie wondered if this wasn’t some collegiate prank. Perhaps at any second someone would flick on the lights and they’d return to the party.

“Grab its motherfucking leg,” she heard a voice say. And that’s when Jackie knew she was going to be raped.

She remembers every moment of the next three hours of agony, during which, she says, seven men took turns raping her, while two more – her date, Drew, and another man – gave instruction and encouragement. She remembers how the spectators swigged beers, and how they called each other nicknames like Armpit and Blanket. She remembers the men’s heft and their sour reek of alcohol mixed with the pungency of marijuana. Most of all, Jackie remembers the pain and the pounding that went on and on.

As the last man sank onto her, Jackie was startled to recognize him: He attended her tiny anthropology discussion group. He looked like he was going to cry or puke as he told the crowd he couldn’t get it up. “Pussy!” the other men jeered. “What, she’s not hot enough for you?” Then they egged him on: “Don’t you want to be a brother?” “We all had to do it, so you do, too.” Someone handed her classmate a beer bottle. Jackie stared at the young man, silently begging him not to go through with it. And as he shoved the bottle into her, Jackie fell into a stupor, mentally untethering from the brutal tableau, her mind leaving behind the bleeding body under assault on the floor.

When Jackie came to, she was alone. It was after 3 a.m. She painfully rose from the floor and ran shoeless from the room. She emerged to discover the Phi Psi party still surreally under way, but if anyone noticed the barefoot, disheveled girl hurrying down a side staircase, face beaten, dress spattered with blood, they said nothing. Disoriented, Jackie burst out a side door, realized she was lost, and dialed a friend, screaming, “Something bad happened. I need you to come and find me!” Minutes later, her three best friends on campus – two boys and a girl (whose names are changed) – arrived to find Jackie on a nearby street corner, shaking. “What did they do to you? What did they make you do?” Jackie recalls her friend Randall demanding. Jackie shook her head and began to cry. The group looked at one another in a panic. They all knew about Jackie’s date; the Phi Kappa Psi house loomed behind them. “We have to get her to the hospital,” Randall said.

Their other two friends, however, weren’t convinced. “Is that such a good idea?” she recalls Cindy asking. “Her reputation will be shot for the next four years.” Andy seconded the opinion, adding that since he and Randall both planned to rush fraternities, they ought to think this through. The three friends launched into a heated discussion about the social price of reporting Jackie’s rape, while Jackie stood beside them, mute in her bloody dress, wishing only to go back to her dorm room and fall into a deep, forgetful sleep. Detached, Jackie listened as Cindy prevailed over the group: “She’s gonna be the girl who cried ‘rape,’ and we’ll never be allowed into any frat party again.”

Two years later, Jackie, now a third-year, is worried about what might happen to her once this article comes out. Greek life is huge at UVA, with nearly one-third of undergrads belonging to a fraternity or sorority, so Jackie fears the backlash could be big – a “shitshow” predicted by her now-former friend Randall, who, citing his loyalty to his own frat, declined to be interviewed. But her concerns go beyond taking on her alleged assailants and their fraternity. Lots of people have discouraged her from sharing her story, Jackie tells me with a pained look, including the trusted UVA dean to whom Jackie reported her gang-rape allegations more than a year ago. On this deeply loyal campus, even some of Jackie’s closest friends see her going public as tantamount to betrayal.

“One of my roommates said, ‘Do you want to be responsible for something that’s gonna paint UVA in a bad light?’ ” says Jackie, poking at a vegan burger at a restaurant on the Corner, UVA’s popular retail strip. “But I said, ‘UVA has flown under the radar for so long, someone has to say something about it, or else it’s gonna be this system that keeps perpetuating!’ ” Jackie frowns. “My friend just said, ‘You have to remember where your loyalty lies.'”

MORE: Rape at UVA: Readers Say Jackie Wasn’t Alone

From reading headlines today, one might think colleges have suddenly become hotbeds of protest by celebrated anti-rape activists. But like most colleges across America, genteel University of Virginia has no radical feminist culture seeking to upend the patriarchy. There are no red-tape-wearing protests like at Harvard, no “sex-positive” clubs promoting the female orgasm like at Yale, no mattress-hauling performance artists like at Columbia, and certainly no SlutWalks. UVA isn’t an edgy or progressive campus by any stretch. The pinnacle of its polite activism is its annual Take Back the Night vigil, which on this campus of 21,000 students attracts an audience of less than 500 souls. But the dearth of attention isn’t because rape doesn’t happen in Charlottesville. It’s because at UVA, rapes are kept quiet, both by students – who brush off sexual assaults as regrettable but inevitable casualties of their cherished party culture – and by an administration that critics say is less concerned with protecting students than it is with protecting its own reputation from scandal. Some UVA women, so sickened by the university’s culture of hidden sexual violence, have taken to calling it “UVrApe.”

“University of Virginia thinks they’re above the law,” says UVA grad and victims-rights advocate Liz Seccuro. “They go to such lengths to protect themselves. There’s a national conversation about sexual assault, but nothing at UVA is changing.”

S. Daniel Carter, who as former director of public policy for the advocacy group Clery Center for Security on Campus is a national expert on college safety, points out that UVA’s sexual assault problems are not much worse than other schools; if anything, he says, the depressing reality is that UVA’s situation is likely the norm. Decades of awareness programming haven’t budged the prevalence of campus rape: One in five women is sexually assaulted in college, though only about 12 percent report it to police. Spurred by a wave of activism, the Obama administration has stepped up pressure on colleges, announcing Title IX investigations of 86 schools suspected of denying students their equal right to education by inadequately handling sexual-violence complaints; if found in violation, each school runs the risk of financial penalties, including the nuclear option (which has never been deployed) of having its federal funding revoked.

The University of Virginia is one of the 86 schools now under federal investigation, but it has more reason to worry than most of its peers. Because, unlike most schools under scrutiny, where complaints are at issue, UVA is one of only 12 schools under a sweeping investigation known as “compliance review”: a proactive probe launched by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights itself, triggered by concerns about deep-rooted issues. “They are targeted efforts to go after very serious concerns,” says Office of Civil Rights assistant secretary Catherine Lhamon. “We don’t open compliance reviews unless we have something that we think merits it.”

UVA says it has been complying fully with the investigation. But Carter notes that UVA and other elite schools tend not to respond well to criticism and sanctify tradition above all else. “That’s common to more prestigious institutions,” Carter says.

Prestige is at the core of UVA’s identity. Although a public school, its grounds of red-brick, white-columned buildings designed by founder Thomas Jefferson radiate old-money privilege, footnoted by the graffiti of UVA’s many secret societies, whose insignias are neatly painted everywhere. At $10,000 a year, in-state tuition is a quarter the cost of the Ivies, but UVA tends to attract affluent students, and through aggressive fundraising boasts an endowment of $5 billion, on par with Cornell. “Wealthy parents are the norm,” says former UVA dean John Foubert. On top of all that, UVA enjoys a reputation as one of the best schools in the country, not to mention a campus so brimming with fun that in 2012 – the year of Jackie’s rape – Playboy crowned it the nation’s number-one party school. Students hold themselves up to that standard: studious by day, wild by night. “The most impressive person at UVA is the person who gets straight A’s and goes to all the parties,” explains fourth-year student Brian Head. Partying traditions fuse the decorum of the Southern aristocracy with binge drinking: At Cavalier football tailgates, the dress code is “girls in pearls, guys in ties” while students guzzle handles of vodka. Not for nothing is a UVA student nicknamed a Wahoo, as undergrads like to explain; though derived from a long-ago yell from Cavalier fans, a wahoo is also a fish that can drink twice its own body weight.

Wahoos are enthralled to be at UVA and can’t wait to tell you the reasons why, beginning, surprisingly, with Thomas Jefferson, whose lore is so powerfully woven into everyday UVA life that you practically expect to glimpse the man still walking the grounds in his waistcoat and pantaloons. Nearly every student I interviewed found a way to mention “TJ,” speaking with zeal about their founding father’s vision for an “academical village” in the idyllic setting of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They burble about UVA’s honor code, a solemn pledge not to lie, cheat or steal; students are expected to snitch on violators, who are expelled. UVA’s emphasis on honor is so pronounced that since 1998, 183 people have been expelled for honor-code violations such as cheating on exams. And yet paradoxically, not a single student at UVA has ever been expelled for sexual assault.

“Think about it,” says Susan Russell, whose UVA daughter’s sexual-assault report helped trigger a previous federal investigation. “In what world do you get kicked out for cheating, but if you rape someone, you can stay?”

Attorney Wendy Murphy, who has filed Title IX complaints and lawsuits against schools including UVA, argues that in matters of sexual violence, Ivy League and Division I schools’ fixation with prestige is their downfall. “These schools love to pretend they protect the children as if they were their own, but that’s not true: They’re interested in money,” Murphy says. “In these situations, the one who gets the most protection is either a wealthy kid, a legacy kid or an athlete. The more privileged he is, the more likely the woman has to die before he’s held accountable.” Indeed, UVA is the same campus where the volatile relationship of lacrosse star George Huguely V and his girlfriend Yeardley Love was seen as unremarkable – his jealous rages, fanned by over-the-top drinking – until the 2010 day he kicked open her door and beat her to death.

UVA president Teresa Sullivan denies the administration sweeps sexual assault under the rug. “If we’re trying to hide the issue, we’re not doing a very good job of it,” she says, noting that this past February UVA hosted the first-ever sexual-assault summit for college administrators. It’s true that recently, while under close government scrutiny, the school has made some encouraging changes, including designating most UVA authority figures as mandatory reporters of sexual assault and teaming up with student activists to create a bystander-intervention campaign. Students praise UVA’s deans as caring folks who answer late-night calls from victims and even make emergency-room visits.

And yet the UVA public-relations team seemed unenthused about this article, canceling my interview with the head of UVA’s Sexual Misconduct Board, and forbidding other administrators from cooperating; even students seemed infected by their anxiety about how members of the administration might appear. And when President Sullivan was at last made available for an interview, her most frequently invoked answer to my specific questions about sexual-assault handling at UVA – while two other UVA staffers sat in on the recorded call – was “I don’t know.”

All you girls from Mary Washington
and RMWC, never let a Cavalier an inch above your knee.
He’ll take you to his fraternity house and fill you full of beer.
And soon you’ll be the mother of a bastard Cavalier!
“Rugby Road”

Two weeks after Jackie’s rape, she ran into Drew during her lifeguard shift at the UVA pool. “Hey, Jackie,” Drew said, startling her. “Are you ignoring me?” She’d switched her shift in the hopes of never seeing him again. Since the Phi Kappa Psi party, she’d barely left her dorm room, fearful of glimpsing one of her attackers. Jackie stared at Drew, unable to speak. “I wanted to thank you for the other night,” Drew said. “I had a great time.”

Jackie left her shift early, saying she wasn’t feeling well. Then she walked back to her dorm and crawled under the covers. She didn’t go to classes for the rest of the week, and soon quit her lifeguarding job – the first time she could remember quitting anything. She would never again return to the Anthropology course she shared with one of her assailants. She was constantly on the edge of panic, plagued by flashbacks – and disgusted by her own naiveté. She obsessed over what easy prey she’d been, as the attention-starved freshman who for weeks drank up Drew’s flirtations. “I still grapple with ‘Did I do something that could have been construed as that’s what I wanted?'” she says.

Before Jackie left for college, her parents – a Vietnam vet and retired military contractor, and a stay-at-home mom – had lectured her about avoiding the perils of the social scene, stressing the importance of her studies, since Jackie hoped to get into medical school. Jackie had a strained relationship with her father, in whose eyes she’d never felt good enough, and always responded by exceeding expectations – honor roll, swim team, first-chair violin – becoming the role model for her two younger brothers. Jackie had been looking forward to college as an escape – a place to, even, defy her parents’ wishes and go to a frat party. “And I guess they were right,” she says bitterly.

MORE: UVA Reacts to Rolling Stone Campus Rape Investigation, Promises Chan

She was having an especially difficult time figuring out how to process that awful night, because her small social circle seemed so underwhelmed. For the first month of school, Jackie had latched onto a crew of lighthearted social strivers, and her pals were now impatient for Jackie to rejoin the merriment. “You’re still upset about that?” Andy asked one Friday night when Jackie was crying. Cindy, a self-declared hookup queen, said she didn’t see why Jackie was so bent out of shape. “Why didn’t you have fun with it?” Cindy asked. “A bunch of hot Phi Psi guys?” One of Jackie’s friends told her, unconcerned, “Andy said you had a bad experience at a frat, and you’ve been a baby ever since.”

That reaction of dismissal, downgrading and doubt is a common theme UVA rape survivors hear, including from women. “Some of my hallmates were skeptical,” recalls recent grad Emily Renda, who says that weeks into her first year she was raped after a party. “They were silent and avoided me afterwards. It made me doubt myself.” Other students encounter more overt hostility, as when a first-year student confided her assault to a friend. “She said she thought I was just looking for attention,” says the undergrad. Shrugging off a rape or pointing fingers at the victim can be a self-protective maneuver for women, a form of wishful thinking to reassure themselves they could never be so vulnerable to violence. For men, skepticism is a form of self-protection too. For much of their lives, they’ve looked forward to the hedonistic fun of college, bearing every expectation of booze and no-strings sex. A rape heralds the uncomfortable idea that all that harmless mayhem may not be so harmless after all. Easier, then, to assume the girl is lying, even though studies indicate that false rape reports account for, at most, eight percent of reports.

And so at UVA, where social status is paramount, outing oneself as a rape victim can be a form of social suicide. “I don’t know many people who are engrossed in the party scene and have spoken out about their sexual assaults,” says third-year student Sara Surface. After all, no one climbs the social ladder only to cast themselves back down. Emily Renda, for one, quickly figured out that few classmates were sympathetic to her plight, and instead channeled her despair into hard partying. “My drinking didn’t stand out,” says Renda, who often ended her nights passed out on a bathroom floor. “It does make you wonder how many others are doing what I did: drinking to self-medicate.”

By the middle of her first semester, Jackie’s alarm would ring and ring in her dorm room until one of her five suitemates would pad down the hall to turn it off. Jackie would barely stir in her bed. “That was when we realized she was even there,” remembers suitemate Rachel Soltis. “At the beginning of the year, she seemed like a normal, happy girl, always with friends. Then her door was closed all the time. We just figured she was out.” Long since abandoned by her original crew, Jackie had slept through half a semester’s worth of classes and had bought a length of rope with which to hang herself. Instead, as the semester crawled to an end, she called her mother. “Come and get me,” Jackie told her, crying. “I need your help.”

The first weeks of freshman year are when students are most vulnerable to sexual assault. Spend a Friday night in mid-September walking along Rugby Road at UVA, and you can begin to see why. Hundreds of women in crop tops and men in khaki shorts stagger between handsome fraternity houses, against a call-and-response soundtrack of “Whoo!” and breaking glass. “Do you know where Delta Sig is?” a girl slurs, sloshed. Behind her, one of her dozen or so friends stumbles into the street, sending a beer bottle shattering. (“Whoo!” calls a far-away voice.)

“These are all first-years,” narrates one of my small group of upperclasswomen guides. We walk the curving length of tree-lined Rugby Road as they explain the scene. The women rattle off which one is known as the “roofie frat,” where supposedly four girls have been drugged and raped, and at which house a friend had a recent “bad experience,” the Wahoo euphemism for sexual assault. Studies have shown that fraternity men are three times as likely to commit rape, and a spate of recent high-profile cases illustrates the dangers that can lurk at frat parties, like a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee frat accused of using color-coded hand stamps as a signal to roofie their guests, and this fall’s suspension of Brown University’s chapter of Phi Kappa Psi – of all fraternities – after a partygoer tested positive for the date-rape drug GHB. Presumably, the UVA freshmen wobbling around us are oblivious to any specific hazards along Rugby Road; having just arrived on campus, they can hardly tell one fraternity from another. As we pass another frat house, one of my guides offers, “I know a girl who got assaulted there.”

“I do too!” says her friend in mock-excitement. “That makes two! Yay!”

Frats are often the sole option for an underage drinker looking to party, since bars are off-limits, sororities are dry and first-year students don’t get many invites to apartment soirees. Instead, the kids crowd the walkways of the big, anonymous frat houses, vying for entry. “Hot girls who are drunk always get in – it’s a good idea to act drunker than you really are,” says third-year Alexandria Pinkleton, expertly clad in the UVA-after-dark uniform of a midriff-baring sleeveless top and shorts. “Also? You have to seem very innocent and vulnerable. That’s why they love first-year girls.”

Once successfully inside the frat house, women play the role of grateful guests in unfamiliar territory where men control the variables. In dark, loud basements, girls accept drinks, are pulled onto dance floors to be ground and groped and, later, often having lost sight of their friends, led into bathrooms or up the stairs for privacy. Most of that hooking up is consensual. But against that backdrop, as psychologist David Lisak discovered, lurk undetected predators. Lisak’s 2002 groundbreaking study of more than 1,800 college men found that roughly nine out of 10 rapes are committed by serial offenders, who are responsible for an astonishing average of six rapes each. None of the offenders in Lisak’s study had ever been reported. Lisak’s findings upended general presumptions about campus sexual assault: It implied that most incidents are not bumbling, he-said-she-said miscommunications, but rather deliberate crimes by serial sex offenders.

MORE: The Campus Rape Epidemic

In his study, Lisak’s subjects described the ways in which they used the camouflage of college as fruitful rape-hunting grounds. They told Lisak they target freshmen for being the most naïve and the least-experienced drinkers. One offender described how his party-hearty friends would help incapacitate his victims: “We always had some kind of punch. . . . We’d make it with a real sweet juice. It was really powerful stuff. The girls wouldn’t know what hit them.” Presumably, the friends mixing the drinks did so without realizing the offender’s plot, just as when they probably high-fived him the next morning, they didn’t realize the behavior they’d just endorsed. That’s because the serial rapist’s behavior can look ordinary at college. “They’re not acting in a vacuum,” observes Lisak of predators. “They’re echoing that message and that culture that’s around them: the objectification and degradation of women.”

One need only glance around at some recent college hijinks to see spectacular examples of the way the abasement of women has broken through to no-holds-barred misogyny: a Dartmouth student’s how-to-rape guide posted online this past January; Yale pledges chanting “No means yes! Yes means anal!” And despite its air of mannered civility, UVA has been in on the naughty fun for at least 70 years with its jolly fight song “Rugby Road,” which celebrates the sexual triumphs of UVA fraternity men, named for the very same street where my guides and I are now enveloped in a thickening crowd of wasted first-years. Through the decades, the song has expanded to 35 verses, with the more recent, student-penned stanzas shedding the song’s winking tone in favor of something more jarringly explicit:

A hundred Delta Gammas, a thousand AZDs
Ten thousand Pi Phi bitches who get down on their knees
But the ones that we hold true, the ones that we hold dear
Are the ones who stay up late at night, and take it in the rear.

In 2010, “Rugby Road” was banned from football games – despite a petition calling it “an integral part” of UVA culture. But Wahoos fearing the loss of tradition can take heart that “Rugby Road” verses are still performed on campus by UVA’s oldest a cappella group, the Virginia Gentlemen.

At the end of her freshman year, Jackie found herself in the Peabody Hall office of Dean Nicole Eramo, head of UVA’s Sexual Misconduct Board. This was a big step for Jackie. She still hadn’t even managed to tell her own mother exactly what had happened at Phi Kappa Psi. Upon returning to school for her second semester, Jackie had tried to put on a brave face and simply move forward, but instead continued falling apart. Though a psychiatrist had put Jackie on Wellbutrin, she had remained depressed, couldn’t concentrate, and spent the semester so frightened and withdrawn that her academic dean finally called her in to discuss why she’d failed three classes. In his office, with her mother beside her, she’d burst into tears, and her mother explained she’d had a “bad experience” at a party. He’d blanched and given Jackie the e-mail for Dean Eramo.

If Dean Eramo was surprised at Jackie’s story of gang rape, it didn’t show. A short woman with curly dark hair and a no-nonsense demeanor, Eramo surely has among the most difficult jobs at UVA. As the intake person on behalf of the university for all sexual-assault complaints since 2006, it’s her job to deal with a parade of sobbing students trekking in and out of her office. (UVA declined to make Eramo available for comment.) A UVA alum herself, Eramo is beloved by survivors, who consider her a friend and confidante – even though, as only a few students are aware, her office isn’t a confidential space at all. Each time a new complaint comes through Eramo’s office, it activates a review by UVA’s Title IX officer, is included in UVA’s tally of federally mandated Clery Act crime statistics, and Eramo may, at her discretion, reveal details of her conversation with the student to other administrators. (Jackie was mortified to learn later that Eramo had shared her identity with another UVA administrator.) After all, a dean’s foremost priority is the overall safety of the campus.

When Jackie finished talking, Eramo comforted her, then calmly laid out her options. If Jackie wished, she could file a criminal complaint with police. Or, if Jackie preferred to keep the matter within the university, she had two choices. She could file a complaint with the school’s Sexual Misconduct Board, to be decided in a “formal resolution” with a jury of students and faculty, and a dean as judge. Or Jackie could choose an “informal resolution,” in which Jackie could simply face her attackers in Eramo’s presence and tell them how she felt; Eramo could then issue a directive to the men, such as suggesting counseling. Eramo presented each option to Jackie neutrally, giving each equal weight. She assured Jackie there was no pressure – whatever happened next was entirely her choice.

Like many schools, UVA has taken to emphasizing that in matters of sexual assault, it caters to victim choice. “If students feel that we are forcing them into a criminal or disciplinary process that they don’t want to be part of, frankly, we’d be concerned that we would get fewer reports,” says associate VP for student affairs Susan Davis. Which in theory makes sense: Being forced into an unwanted choice is a sensitive point for the victims. But in practice, that utter lack of guidance can be counterproductive to a 19-year-old so traumatized as Jackie was that she was contemplating suicide. Setting aside for a moment the absurdity of a school offering to handle the investigation and adjudication of a felony sex crime – something Title IX requires, but which no university on Earth is equipped to do – the sheer menu of choices, paired with the reassurance that any choice is the right one, often has the end result of coddling the victim into doing nothing.

“This is an alarming trend that I’m seeing on campuses,” says Laura Dunn of the advocacy group SurvJustice. “Schools are assigning people to victims who are pretending, or even thinking, they’re on the victim’s side, when they’re actually discouraging and silencing them. Advocates who survivors love are part of the system that is failing to address sexual violence.”

Absent much guidance, Jackie would eventually wonder how other student victims handled her situation. But when she clicked around on UVA’s website, she found no answers. All she found were the UVA police’s crime logs, which the university makes available online, but are mostly a list of bike theft, vandalism and public-drunkenness complaints. That’s because only a fraction of UVA students who report sex crimes turn to campus police. The rest go to Dean Eramo’s office, to Charlottesville police or the county sheriff’s office. Yet when RS asked UVA for its statistics, the press office repeatedly referred us to the UVA police crime logs. UVA parent Susan Russell believes that misdirection is deliberate. “When a parent goes to the campus crime log, and they don’t see sexual assault, they think the school is safe,” Russell says, adding that her daughter’s 2004 sexual assault once appeared in the log mislabeled “Suspicious Circumstances.”

Eventually, UVA furnished Rolling Stone with some of its most recent tally: In the last academic year, 38 students went to Eramo about a sexual assault, up from about 20 students three years ago. However, of those 38, only nine resulted in “complaints”; the other 29 students evaporated. Of those nine complaints, four resulted in Sexual Misconduct Board hearings. UVA wasn’t willing to disclose their outcomes, citing privacy. Like most colleges, sexual-assault proceedings at UVA unfold in total secrecy. Asked why UVA doesn’t publish all its data, President Sullivan explains that it might not be in keeping with “best practices” and thus may inadvertently discourage reporting. Jackie got a different explanation when she’d eventually asked Dean Eramo the same question. She says Eramo answered wryly, “Because nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school.”

For now, however, Jackie left her first meeting with Eramo feeling better for having unburdened herself, and with the dean’s assurance that nothing would be done without her say-so. Eramo e-mailed a follow-up note thanking Jackie for sharing, saying, “I could tell that was very difficult for you,” and restating that while she respected Jackie’s wish not to file a report, she’d be happy to assist “if you decide that you would like to hold these men accountable.” In the meantime, having presumably judged there to be no threat to public safety, the UVA administration took no action to warn the campus that an allegation of gang rape had been made against an active fraternity.

All the first-year women are morally uptight.
They’ll never do a single thing unless they know it’s right.
But then they come to Rugby Road and soon they’ve seen the light.
And you never know how many men they’ll bring home every night.
“Rugby Road”

You can trace UVA’s cycle of sexual violence and institutional indifference back at least 30 years – and incredibly, the trail leads back to Phi Psi. In October 1984, Liz Seccuro was a 17-year-old virgin when she went to a party at the frat and was handed a mixed drink. “They called it the house special,” she remembers. Things became spotty after Seccuro had a few sips. But etched in pain was a clear memory of a stranger raping her on a bed. She woke up wrapped in a bloody sheet; by rifling through the boy’s mail before fleeing, she discovered his name was Will Beebe. Incredibly, 21 years later, Beebe wrote Seccuro a letter, saying he wanted to make amends as part of his 12-step program. Seccuro took the correspondence to Charlottesville police. And in the midst of the 2006 prosecution that followed, where Beebe would eventually plead guilty to aggravated sexual battery, investigators made a startling discovery: That while at Phi Psi that night, Seccuro had been assaulted not by one man, but by three. “I had been gang-raped,” says Seccuro, who detailed her ordeal in a 2011 memoir.

That it took two decades for Seccuro to achieve some justice is even more disgraceful, since she reported her rape to the UVA administration after leaving the Phi Psi house on that 1984 morning. “I went to the dean covered in scabs and with broken ribs,” she remembers. “And he said, ‘Do you think it was just regrettable sex?'” Seccuro wanted to call police, but she was incorrectly told Charlottesville police lacked jurisdiction over fraternity houses.

If Seccuro’s story of administrative cover-up and apathy sounds outrageous, it’s actually in keeping with the stories told by other UVA survivors. After one alumna was abducted from a dark, wooded section of campus and raped in 1993, she says she asked a UVA administrator for better lighting. “They told me it would ruin Jefferson’s vision of what the university was supposed to look like,” the alum says. “As if Thomas Jefferson even knew about electric lights!” In 2002 and 2004, two female students, including Susan Russell’s daughter, were unhappy with their sexual-misconduct hearings, which each felt didn’t hold their alleged perpetrators accountable – and each was admonished by UVA administrators to never speak publicly about the proceedings or else they could face expulsion for violating the honor code. For issuing that directive, in 2008 UVA was found in violation of the Clery Act.

MORE: The 10 Most Out-of-Control Fraternities in America

“UVA is more egregious than most,” says John Foubert, a UVA dean from 1998 to 2002, and founder of the national male sex-assault peer education group One in Four. “I’ve worked for five or six colleges, and the stuff I saw happen during my time there definitely stands out.” For example, Foubert recalls, in one rare case in which the university applied a harsh penalty, an undergrad was suspended after stalking five students. Heated discussion ensued over whether the boy should be allowed back after his suspension. Though the counseling center wanted him to stay gone, Foubert says, the then-dean of students argued in favor of his return, saying, “We can pick our lawsuit from a potential sixth victim, or from him, for denying him access to an education.”

The few stories leaking out of UVA’s present-day justice system aren’t much better. One student, whose Title IX complaint against UVA is currently under investigation by the Office of Civil Rights, said that in December 2011, another student raped her while she was blackout drunk, possibly drugged. As she wrote in a student publication, evidence emerged that the man had previously been accused of drugging others, but the information was rejected as “prejudicial.” The Sexual Misconduct Board told the young woman it found her “compelling and believable,” but found the man not guilty. “I had never felt so betrayed and let down in my life,” wrote the woman. “They said that they believed me. They said that UVA was my home and that it loved me. Yet, how could they believe me and let him go completely unpunished?”

Rolling Stone has discovered that this past spring a UVA first-year student, whom we’ll call Stacy, filed a report stating that while vomiting up too much whiskey into a male friend’s toilet one night, he groped her, plunged his hands down her sweatpants and then, after carrying her semi-conscious to his bed, digitally penetrated her. When the Charlottesville DA’s office declined to file charges, she says, Stacy asked for a hearing with the Sexual Misconduct Board, and was surprised when UVA authority figures tried to talk her out of it. “My counselors, members of the Dean of Students office, everyone said the trial process would be way too hard on me,” says Stacy. “They were like, ‘You need to focus on your healing.'” Stacy insisted upon moving forward anyway, even when the wealthy family of the accused kicked up a fuss. “They threatened to sue deans individually, they threatened to sue me,” she recalls. But Stacy remained stalwart, because she had additional motivation: She’d been shaken to discover two other women with stories of assault by the same man. “One was days after mine, at a rush function at his frat house,” says Stacy. “So I was like, ‘I have to do something before someone else is hurt.'” Her determination redoubled after the Dean of Students office informed her that multiple assaults by a student would be grounds for his expulsion – a mantra that Eramo repeated at a Take Back the Night event in April.

Bearing her deans’ words in mind, at her nine-hour formal hearing in June, Stacy took pains to present not only her own case, but also the other two allegations, submitting witness statements that were allowed in as “pattern evidence.” The board pronounced the man guilty for sexual misconduct against Stacy, making him only the 14th guilty person in UVA’s history. Stacy was relieved at the verdict. “I was like, ‘He’s gone!’ ‘Cause he’s a multiple assailant, I’d been told so many times that that was grounds for expulsion!” So she was stunned when she learned his actual penalty: a one-year suspension. (Citing privacy laws, UVA would not comment on this or any case.)

Turns out, when UVA personnel speak of expulsion for “multiple assaults,” they mean multiple complaints that are filed with the Sexual Misconduct Board, and then adjudicated guilty. Under that more precise definition, the two other cases introduced in Stacy’s case didn’t count toward his penalty. Stacy feels offended by the outcome and misled by the deans. “After two rapes and an assault, to let him back on grounds is an insult to the honor system that UVA brags about,” she says. “UVA doesn’t want to expel. They were too afraid of getting negative publicity or the pants sued
off them.”

She’s a helluva twat from Agnes Scott, she’ll fuck for 50 cents.
She’ll lay her ass upon the grass, her panties on the fence.
You supply the liquor, and she’ll supply the lay.
And if you can’t get it up, you sunuva bitch, you’re not from UVA.
“Rugby Road”

“When did it happen to you?” Emily Renda asked Jackie as they sat for coffee at the outdoor Downtown Mall in the fall of 2013.

“September 28th,” Jackie whispered.

“October 7th, 2010,” Emily responded, not breaking her gaze, and Jackie knew she’d found a friend. As Jackie had begun her second year at UVA, she’d continued struggling. Dean Eramo had connected her with Emily, a fourth-year who’d become active in One Less, a student-run sexual-assault education organization that doubles as a support group. Sitting with Emily, Jackie poured out her story, wiping her eyes with napkins as she confided to Emily that she felt like a broken person. “You’re not broken,” Emily told her. “They’re the ones who are fucked up, and what happened to you wasn’t your fault.” Jackie was flooded with gratitude, desperate to hear those words at last – and from someone who knew. Emily invited her to a meeting of One Less, thus introducing her to UVA’s true secret society.

In its weekly meetings, the 45-member group would discuss how to foster dialogue on campus. Afterward they’d splinter off and share stories of sexual assault, each tale different and yet very much the same. Many took place on tipsy nights with men who refused to stop; some were of sex while blackout drunk; rarer stories involved violence, though none so extreme as Jackie’s. But no matter the circumstances, their peers’ reactions were largely the same: Assaults were brushed off, with attackers defended (“He’d never do anything like that”), the victim questioned (“Are you sure?”). After feeling isolated for more than a year, Jackie was astonished at how much she and this sisterhood had in common, including the fact that a surprising number hadn’t pursued any form of complaint. Although many had contacted Dean Eramo, whom they laud as their best advocate and den mother – Jackie repeatedly calls her “an asset to the community” – few ever filed reports with UVA or with police. Instead, basking in the safety of one another’s company, the members of One Less applauded the brave few who chose to take action, but mostly affirmed each other’s choices not to report, in an echo of their university’s approach. So profound was the students’ faith in its administration that although they were appalled by Jackie’s story, no one voiced questions about UVA’s strategy of doing nothing to warn the campus of gang-rape allegations against a fraternity that still held parties and was rushing a new pledge class.

Some of these women are disturbed by the contradiction. “It’s easy to cover up a rape at a university if no one is reporting,” admits Jackie’s friend Alex Pinkleton. And privately, some of Jackie’s confidantes were outraged. “The university ignores the problem to make itself look better,” says recent grad Rachel Soltis, Jackie’s former roommate. “They should have done something in Jackie’s case. Me and several other people know exactly who did this to her. But they want to protect even the people who are doing these horrible things.”

But no such doubts shadowed the meetings of One Less, which was fine by Jackie. One Less held seminars for student groups on bystander intervention and how to be supportive of survivors. Jackie dove into her new roles as peer adviser and Take Back the Night committee member and began to discover just how wide her secret UVA survivor network was – because the more she shared her story, the more girls sought her out, waylaying her after presentations or after classes, even calling in the middle of the night with a crisis. Jackie has been approached by so many survivors that she wonders whether the one-in-five statistic may not apply in Charlottesville. “I feel like it’s one in three at UVA,” she says.

But payback for being so public on a campus accustomed to silence was swift. This past spring, in separate incidents, both Emily Renda and Jackie were harassed outside bars on the Corner by men who recognized them from presentations and called them “cunt” and “feminazi bitch.” One flung a bottle at Jackie that broke on the side of her face, leaving a blood-red bruise around her eye.

She e-mailed Eramo so they could discuss the attack – and discuss another matter, too, which was troubling Jackie a great deal. Through her ever expanding network, Jackie had come across something deeply disturbing: two other young women who, she says, confided that they, too, had recently been Phi Kappa Psi gang-rape victims.

Abruise still mottling her face, Jackie sat in Eramo’s office in May 2014 and told her about the two others. One, she says, is a 2013 graduate, who’d told Jackie that she’d been gang-raped as a freshman at the Phi Psi house. The other was a first-year whose worried friends had called Jackie after the girl had come home wearing no pants. Jackie said the girl told her she’d been assaulted by four men in a Phi Psi bathroom while a fifth watched. (Neither woman was willing to talk to RS.)

As Jackie wrapped up her story, she was disappointed by Eramo’s nonreaction. She’d expected shock, disgust, horror. For months, Jackie had been assuaging her despair by throwing herself into peer education, but there was no denying her helplessness when she thought about Phi Psi, or about her own alleged assailants still walking the grounds. She’d recently been aghast to bump into Drew, who greeted her with friendly nonchalance. “For a whole year, I thought about how he had ruined my life, and how he is the worst human being ever,” Jackie says. “And then I saw him and I couldn’t say anything.”

“You look different,” Drew told Jackie while she stared back at him in fear, and he was right: Since arriving at UVA, Jackie had gained 25 pounds from antidepressants and lack of exercise. That interaction would render her too depressed to leave her room for days. Of all her assailants, Drew was the one she wanted to see held accountable – but with Drew about to graduate, he was going to get away with it. Because, as she miserably reminded Eramo in her office, she didn’t feel ready to file a complaint. Eramo, as always, understood.

Given the swirl of gang-rape allegations Eramo had now heard against one of UVA’s oldest and most powerful fraternities – founded in 1853, its distinguished chapter members have included President Woodrow Wilson – the school may have wondered about its responsibilities to the rest of the campus. Experts apprised of the situation by RS agreed that despite the absence of an official report, Jackie’s passing along two other allegations should compel the school to take action out of regard for campus safety. “The fact that they already had that first victim, they should have been taking action,” says SurvJustice’s Laura Dunn. “That school could really be sued.”

If the UVA administration was roiled by such concerns, however, it wasn’t apparent this past September, as it hosted a trustees meeting. Two full hours had been set aside to discuss campus sexual assault, an amount of time that, as many around the conference table pointed out, underscored the depth of UVA’s commitment. Those two hours, however, were devoted entirely to upbeat explanations of UVA’s new prevention and response strategies, and to self-congratulations to UVA for being a “model” among schools in this arena. Only once did the room darken with concern, when a trustee in UVA colors – blue sport coat, orange bow tie – interrupted to ask, “Are we under any federal investigation with regard to sexual assault?”

Dean of students Allen Groves, in a blue suit and orange necktie of his own, swooped in with a smooth answer. He affirmed that while like many of its peers UVA was under investigation, it was merely a “standard compliance review.” He mentioned that a student’s complaint from the 2010-11 academic year had been folded into that “routine compliance review.” Having downplayed the significance of a Title IX compliance review – which is neither routine nor standard – he then elaborated upon the lengths to which UVA has cooperated with the Office of Civil Rights’ investigation, his tone and manner so reassuring that the room relaxed.

Told of the meeting, Office of Civil Rights’ Catherine Lhamon calls Groves’ mischaracterization “deliberate and irresponsible.” “Nothing annoys me more than a school not taking seriously their review from the federal government about their civil rights obligations,” she says.

Within days of the board meeting, having learned of Rolling Stone‘s probe into Jackie’s story, UVA at last placed Phi Kappa Psi under investigation. Or rather, as President Sullivan carefully answered my question about allegations of gang rape at Phi Psi, “We do have a fraternity under investigation.” Phi Kappa Psi national executive director Shawn Collinsworth says that UVA indeed notified him of sexual assault allegations; he immediately dispatched a representative to meet with the chapter. UVA chapter president Stephen Scipione recalls being only told of a vague, anonymous “fourth-hand” allegation of a sexual assault during a party. “We were not told that it was rape, but rather that something of a sexual nature took place,” he wrote to RS in an e-mail. Either way, Collinsworth says, given the paucity of information, “we have no evidence to substantiate the alleged assaults.”

READ MORE: Caitlin Flanagan: We Need Transparency on the Issue of Fraternity Rape

Under investigation,” President Sullivan insists when I ask her to elaborate on how the university is handling the case. “I don’t know how else to spell that out for you.” But Jackie may have gotten a glimpse into the extent of the investigation when, in the days following my visit to campus, she was called into Eramo’s office, bringing along her friend Alex for moral support. According to both women, Eramo revealed that she’d learned “through the grapevine” that “all the boys involved have graduated.” Both girls were mystified. Not only had Jackie just seen one of the boys riding his bike on grounds but, as Alex pointed out, “Doesn’t that mean they’re admitting something happened?” No warning has yet been issued to the campus.

With a pocketknife and pepper spray tucked into her handbag, and a rape whistle hanging from her key chain, Jackie is prepared for a Friday night at UVA. In a restaurant on the Corner, Jackie sips water through a straw as the first of the night’s “Whoo!”s reverberate from the sidewalk outside. “It makes me really depressed, almost,” says Jackie with a sad chuckle. “There’s always gonna be another Friday night, and another fraternity party, and another girl.”

Across the table, Alex sighs. “I know,” she says. Bartenders and bouncers all along the Corner are wearing T-shirts advertising the new “Hoos Got Your Back” bystander-intervention campaign, which all seems very hopeful. But this week, the third week of September, has been a difficult one. Charlottesville police received their first sexual-assault report of the academic year; Jackie and Alex were also each approached by someone seeking help about an assault. And as this weekend progresses, things will get far worse at UVA: Two more sexual assaults will be reported to police, and, in every parent’s worst fears come true, an 18-year-old student on her way to a party will vanish; her body will be discovered five weeks later.

Suspect Jesse Matthew Jr., a 32-year-old UVA hospital worker, will be charged with Hannah Graham’s “abduction with intent to defile,” and a chilling portrait will emerge of an alleged predator who got his start, a decade ago, as a campus rapist. Back in 2002, and again in 2003, Matthew was accused of sexual assault at two different Virginia colleges where he was enrolled, but was never prosecuted. In 2005, according to the new police indictment, Matthew sexually assaulted a 26-year-old and tried to kill her. DNA has also reportedly linked Matthew to the 2009 death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who disappeared after a Metallica concert in Charlottesville. The grisly dossier of which Matthew has been accused underscores the premise that campus rape should be seen not through the schema of a dubious party foul, but as a violent crime – and that victims should be encouraged to come forward as an act of civic good that could potentially spare future victims.

Jackie is hoping she will get there someday. She badly wants to muster the courage to file criminal charges or even a civil case. But she’s paralyzed. “It’s like I’m in my own personal prison,” she says. “I’m so terrified this is going to be the rest of my life.” She still cries a lot, and she has been more frightened than usual to be alone or to walk in the dark. When Jackie talks about her assault, she fixates on the moment before Drew picked her up for their date: “I remember looking at the mirror and putting on mascara and being like, ‘I feel really pretty,'” Jackie recalls. “I didn’t know it would be the last time I wouldn’t see an empty shell of a person.”

Jackie tells me of a recurring nightmare she’s been having, in which she’s watching herself climb those Phi Kappa Psi stairs. She frantically calls to herself to stop, but knows it’s too late: That in real life, she’s already gone up those stairs and into that terrible room, and things will never be the same. It bothers Jackie to know that Drew and the rest get to walk away as if nothing happened, but that she still walks toward that room every night – and blames herself for it during the day.

“Everything bad in my life now is built around that one bad decision that I made,” she says. “All because I went to that stupid party.”

Read next:

TIME Music

Lorde Talks Hunger Games Soundtrack

Lorde attends the World Premiere of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" on Nov. 10, 2014 in London, England.
Lorde attends the World Premiere of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" on Nov. 10, 2014 in London, England. Karwai Tang—WireImage

"For me it's all about what I want to say with the records"

This post originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

It’s been just over a year since Lorde released her now-platinum debut, Pure Heroine, where she sang wistfully about “getting on my first plane.” The 18-year-old has since racked up major frequent-flier miles, becoming an alt-pop cultural icon (two South Park parodies in one month!) along the way. In October, her tour finally led back to her native New Zealand: “It definitely feels like a bit of a victory lap,” she says. She’s also found time to assemble an eclectic soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – and to give passing thought to a new album of her own. Here’s what we learned checking in with pop’s most talented teen.

MORE: Lorde Shares Alluring ‘Hunger Games’ Single ‘Yellow Flicker Beat’

She’s the Boss
“Everyone my age read the books and saw the films,” Lorde says of Hunger Games. “I got a call: ‘You’ve been asked to write the end-credit song.’ But I wanted ownership in the process. They came back: ‘Would you like to do the soundtrack?’ I was like, ‘Uh, that would work.'” She appeared on five tracks, including a Diplo-produced duet with Ariana Grande and a collaboration with the Chemical Brothers and R&B star Miguel (“He’s the best possible person with vocal melodies that I know”) – and also got Kanye West to “rework” her single “Yellow Flicker Beat.” (“He’s so private I feel weird talking about how he does stuff. I feel lucky to even be in a room with him.”)

In addition to Grace Jones (“this high priestess presiding over us all”) and Charli XCX, the LP spotlights rising artists like Raury, Tinashe and XOV – “artists I heard on YouTube and had 10,000 hits. I thought what they were doing was cool and could be taken to a different, interesting place.”

MORE: In Pics: Lorde: The Rolling Stone Cover Shoot

Nirvana Changed Her Life
Lorde is still processing her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame performance with the surviving members of Nirvana last April. “I knew it was a big deal,” she says, “but I don’t think I really understood how much weight those three minutes had. It was over in the blink of an eye for me, but it’s kind of lasted. There’s a song on the soundtrack that’s just me and an organ, and it’s cool to hear my voice again in that kind of vein that I did with ‘All Apologies.'”

MORE: Rolling Stone’s 25 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

She’s Taking Her Time With Her Next Album
“I’m very tentatively starting,” she says. “I’ve done a lot of writing, lyrically, but I started the soundtrack just as I was getting into album stuff, and that took up all of my creative head. But I have been plotting out ideas. I guess other people don’t write like that, but for me it’s all about what I want to say with the records. I don’t really have any sort of timetable. I’m not in any kind of rush. Part of me thinks that the longer I leave it, the better a musician I’ll be. [Laughs] I used to do the same thing with homework! But I don’t know if I’ll be good at having time off.”

MORE: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

TIME celebrities

Being Bill Murray

Actor Bill Murray goes jogging in black tie outside of "Late Show with David Letterman" on October 15, 2014 in New York City.
Actor Bill Murray goes jogging in black tie outside of "Late Show with David Letterman" on October 15, 2014 in New York City. Taylor Hill—WireImage

When you’re one of the most beloved stars in the world, you can get away with almost anything. So what’s that kind of freedom like?

This post originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

Many of us have random impulses, but Bill Murray is the man who acts on them, for all of us. Consider, for example, the time a couple of years ago when he caught a cab late at night in Oakland. Facing a long drive across the bay to Sausalito, he started talking with his cabbie and discovered that his driver was a frustrated saxophone player: He never had enough time to practice, because he was driving a taxi 14 hours a day. Murray told the cabbie to pull over and get his horn out of the trunk; the cabbie could play it in the back seat while Murray drove.

As he tells this story, Murray is sitting on a couch in a Toronto hotel. Wearing a rumpled shirt with purple stripes, he looks like he’d rather be playing golf than doing an interview. But his eyes light up as he remembers the sound of the cab’s trunk opening: “This is gonna be a good one,” he thought. “We’re both going to dig the shit out of this.” Then he decided to “go all the way” and asked the back-seat saxophonist if he was hungry. The cabbie knew a great late-night BBQ place, but worried that it was in a sketchy neighborhood. “I was like, ‘Relax, you got the horn,'” says Murray. So around 2:15 a.m., Bill Murray ate Oakland barbecue while his cab driver blew on the saxophone for an astonished crowd. “It was awesome,” Murray says. “I think we’d all do that.”

In fact, most of us wouldn’t (although we probably should). Most of us don’t crash strangers’ karaoke parties, or get behind a bar in Austin to fulfill all drink orders from whatever random bottle was handy, or give a kid $5 to ride his bike into a swimming pool. Murray has done all those things, and more. The world has an apparently bottomless hunger for true stories of Bill Murray making strangers’ lives stranger, and he obliges, whether he’s stealing a golf cart and driving it to a nightclub in Stockholm or reading poetry to construction workers. He makes our world a little bit weirder, the mundane routines of everyday life a little more exciting, or as Naomi Watts puts it, “Wherever he goes, he’s leaving a trail of hysteria behind him.”

When Lost in Translation was released in 2003 (Murray got an Oscar nomination for playing an aging movie star stranded in the same luxury Tokyo hotel as Scarlett Johansson), I asked director Sofia Coppola what her wish for the following year was. She looked startled. “My wish came true,” she said. “Bill Murray did my movie.”

Murray, 64, has not made it easy to get him to be in your movie. Unlike any other actor of his stature, he has no agent, no manager, no publicist. If you want to cast him, you get a friend of his to persuade him. Or you call his secret 1-800 number and leave your pitch after the tone. If he checks his voicemail, maybe he’ll call you back. After he agrees to be in your movie, you may not hear from him again until the first day of shooting, when he’ll show up in the makeup trailer, cracking jokes and giving back rubs. Sometimes his inaccessibility means that he misses out on films he would have excelled in – Little Miss Sunshine, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Monsters, Inc. – but Murray isn’t particularly concerned. It’s a worthwhile trade-off for him, considering that what he gets in return is freedom.

“Bill’s whole life is in the moment,” says Ted Melfi, who directed Murray in the new movie St. Vincent. “He doesn’t care about what just happened. He doesn’t think about what’s going to happen. He doesn’t even book round-trip tickets. Bill buys one-ways and then decides when he wants to go home.”

To persuade Murray to be in his movie, Melfi left a dozen voicemail messages, sent a letter, mailed scripts to P.O. boxes all over the country – and then on a Sunday morning, he got a text asking him to meet Murray at LAX an hour later. They drove through the desert for three hours, stopping at an In-N-Out Burger for grilled-cheese sandwiches, and by the end of the ride Murray had signed on. Melfi had one request: Please tell somebody else that this happened, because nobody is ever going to believe me.

MORE: Bill Murray Talks Turning Down ‘Forrest Gump,’ ‘Philadelphia’ Roles

Murray plays the title role in St. Vincent: a Vietnam vet with a weakness for booze and gambling. He becomes the cantankerous baby sitter for the kid next door, in a relationship that feels like a reprise of 1979’s Meatballs, if Murray’s counselor character, Tripper Harrison, had a few decades of hard living under his belt. The movie walks the line of mawkishness, but it works because of Murray’s unsentimental performance.

Like all of Murray’s best film work, it originates in his stress-free mentality. “Someone told me some secrets early on about living,” Murray tells a crowd of Canadian film fans celebrating “Bill Murray Day” that same weekend. “You can do the very best you can when you’re very, very relaxed.” He says that’s why he got into acting: “I realized the more fun I had, the better I did.” On the set, the pleasure he takes in performing doesn’t end when the camera stops rolling.

“It was sometimes challenging to get Bill to come to set,” Melfi says, “not because he’s a diva but because we couldn’t find him.” He would wander away, or hop on a scooter, or drop by an Army recruiting center. The movie hired a production assistant just to follow Murray around, but he was always able to lose her.

Murray’s St. Vincent co-star Melissa McCarthy confides, “Bill literally throws banana peels in front of people.” I assume she’s using “literally” to mean “metaphorically,” as many people do, but it turns out to be true: Once during a break in filming when the lights were getting reset, Murray tossed banana peels in the paths of passing crew members. “Not to make them slip,” McCarthy clarifies, “but for the look on their face when they’re like, ‘Is that really a banana peel in front of me?'”

Murray transforms even the most mundane interactions into opportunities for improvisational comedy. Peter Chatzky, a financial-software developer from Briarcliff Manor, New York, remembers being on vacation at a hotel in Naples, Florida, when his grade-school kids spotted Murray having a drink poolside and asked him for autographs. Murray gruffly offered to inscribe their forearms but ended up writing on a couple of napkins instead. Jake, a skinny kid, got “Maybe lose a little weight, bud,” signed “Jim Belushi.” Julia got “Looking good, princess. Call me,” signed “Rob Lowe.”

Murray grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, the fifth of nine children. His father, a lumber salesman, died when Bill was 17. He spent his 20th birthday in jail, having been busted at a Chicago airport with eight and a half pounds of weed. After he got out on probation, he pursued acting; six years later, he broke through on the second season of Saturday Night Live. These days, Murray spends a lot of his time in Charleston, South Carolina, where he is part-owner of the minor-league baseball team the Charleston RiverDogs. As “director of fun,” Murray will dress up in a hot dog costume, or even run around the tarp-covered diamond during a rain delay, concluding with a belly-flop slide – safe at home. So many people in Charleston have Bill Murray stories and sightings that a local radio station instituted a regular “Where’s Bill?” feature.

MORE: In Pics: A Short History of Bill Murray’s Offscreen Antics

Recently, Murray attended a birthday dinner in Jedburg, South Carolina, invited by the chef Brett McKee. “My youngest daughter used to date his youngest son,” McKee says. “The party was in the middle of freaking nowhere, with people Bill didn’t know, and he was great – he was just hanging out like a regular dude. A couple of the guests were old country people, and they were showing him their moose calls.” After dinner, there was dancing; Murray commandeered the remote control and was captured on video getting down to his selections: Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309/Jenny,” and DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down for What.”

In April, Ashley Donald and her fiancé, Erik Rogers, were in downtown Charleston, posing for their engagement photos in front of historic houses. “As our photographer took a picture,” she recalls, “we noticed a guy standing behind him, lifting his shirt over his face and rubbing his belly.” Then he pulled down his shirt, revealing that he was Bill Murray. The betrothed couple were flabbergasted, but had enough presence of mind to ask him to take a picture with them. Murray posed, congratulated them and kept walking.

Murray made international news in May when he gave a toast at tech-startup manager EJ Rumpke’s bachelor party, at a steakhouse in Charleston. Murray didn’t technically crash – one of Rumpke’s friends spotted him at the restaurant and invited him – but he took the opportunity to drop some bona fide wisdom, telling the guys that just as funerals are actually for the living, bachelor parties are actually for unmarried friends. He advised the guests that if they found someone they thought they wanted to spend their lives with, they shouldn’t plan a wedding and book a caterer, but should travel around the world. And if they were still in love on their return to the States, “get married at the airport.”

“He grabbed my leg and threw me up in the air,” Rumpke says. “And then he snuck out.” Rumpke got married without a global journey, but Murray says that one of his own friends tried the scheme – and it worked out terribly. “The next time I saw him, he leapt all over me, because he was on his way down the slippery chute and he found out that was really the wrong thing,” Murray says with a grin. “He was very happy about it.”

The website urban dictionary defines “Bill Murray Story” as “an outlandish (yet plausible) story that involves you witnessing Bill Murray doing something totally unusual, often followed by him walking up to you and whispering, ‘No one will ever believe you.’ ” Ask Murray about his reputation as the master of surreal celebrity encounters and he grimaces, not eager to explain his motivations. But he will concede that he’s aware of how his presence is received. “No one has an easy life,” he says. “It’s this face we put on, that we’re not all getting rained on. But you can’t start thinking about numbers – if I can change just one person, or I had three nice encounters. You can’t think that way, because you’re certainly going to have one where you say, ‘What did I just do?’ You’re a disappointment to yourself, and others, imminently. Any second.”

Sitting at a table in the upscale Toronto restaurant Montecito, which he co-owns, filmmaker Ivan Reitman laughs as he remembers a day 40 years ago. He was producing a theatrical revue called The National Lampoon Show, starring John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray and Bill’s brother Brian – before SNL. Reitman walked down the streets of New York with Bill, who was totally unknown, but was already treating the universe as his own private playground. Murray adopted what they called “the honker voice” – the obnoxious voice he later used in Caddyshack. “As we were walking across the street,” Reitman says, “he would yell at the top of his lungs, ‘Watch out! There’s a lobster loose!’ He would see somebody in the street and say, ‘Hey, get some hot butter, it’s the only way to get ‘em!’ They would start laughing. They didn’t know who this crazy person was, but they knew he was funny.”

MORE: In Pics: The 20 Greatest Bill Murray Movies

In 1978, when Reitman was putting together Meatballs, he spent a month persuading the 27-year-old Murray to do the movie. At that point, he had a phone number that you could actually get him on. Murray wanted to spend his summer off from Saturday Night Live playing baseball and golf, but Reitman pleaded, and Belushi advised Murray that it didn’t matter what the movie was, so long as he was the star. Meatballs set the template for Murray’s working methods: He closed his deal the day before the movie started shooting and routinely ignored the script. His first day, he improvised his way through a scene where he’s introducing all the counselors-in-training – he showed up, read the pages and threw them away, saying, “I got this.”

When Murray first saw an action scene cut together from 1984’s Ghostbusters, he says, “I knew then I was going to be rich and famous. Not only did I go back to work with a lot of attitude, I was late. I didn’t care – I knew that we could be late every day for the rest of our lives.”

Reitman leans back. “He lives his life to his standard, even though sometimes he’s lazy and sometimes he’s eccentric, and he’s frustrating to other creative people, and, frankly, unfair, because everything has to go on his clock,” he says. “But he’s worth it.”

Melfi says there’s no difference between the public Murray and the private Murray: “What you see is what you get. He throws people in the pool in public, and he throws people in the pool in private.”

Sitting in his hotel room, Murray gently disagrees. “The private me just gets lost and wanders, and is more easily bushwhacked and taken down for dreaming nonsensical stuff. The public me can get a bit more emotional because people are pushing my buttons. But when I’m at my best? The working part of me. I get a lot more done. By really getting into your work, the nonessential stuff drops away.” Through this lens, Murray’s ongoing adventures with the public can be considered an effort to make real life more like the movies.

In 2011, Murray filmed a promotional video for the Trident Academy near Charleston; one of his six sons was a student there. (Murray has been married and divorced twice.) Director David W. Smith was working on the shoot. “He came in hot and a little grumpy,” Smith says. “He was about 30 minutes late, and he complained that there were too many lights. He had a script, but he sat down in the school library and ad-libbed the whole thing. He got all these teddy bears and had a conversation with them. We’re looking at each other – this guy is off-his-face crazy – but there was a method to his madness.”

Murray loosened up as he played basketball with the school’s kids, and stuck around for lunch (his request: a tuna sandwich with no crusts), ultimately signing autographs and taking pictures. Smith recalls, “As the shoot went on, he became more and more like the guy that everyone thinks they know, which I guess is who he actually is.” Smith asked Murray if he would walk down the hall with the crew members so they could make a short film of it. Murray was confused, but he complied – when the camera cut, he kept walking, heading to his car without breaking stride.

Smith played the footage in slow motion, set an old Kinks song to it and had a short Bill Murray film that looked like an outtake from a Wes Anderson movie. Ultimately, about 2 million people watched an online one-minute film of Bill Murray (and four other guys) walking down a hallway in slow motion. Smith had internalized one of Murray’s principles: Don’t accept the world as it is, but find some way to inject life into its most mundane moments.

Another essential Murray principle: Wear your wisdom lightly, so insights arrive as punch lines. When pressed about his interactions with the public, he admits that the encounters are, to a certain extent, “selfish.” Murray shifts his weight on the couch and explains, “My hope, always, is that it’s going to wake me up. I’m only connected for seconds, minutes a day, sometimes. And suddenly, you go, ‘Holy cow, I’ve been asleep for two days. I’ve been doing things, but I’m just out.’ If I see someone who’s out cold on their feet, I’m going to try to wake that person up. It’s what I’d want someone to do for me. Wake me the hell up and come back to the planet.”

Doing a Q&A at a Toronto movie theater, Murray is asked, “How does it feel to be Bill Murray?” – and he takes the extremely meta query seriously, asking the audience to consider the sensation of self-awareness. “There’s a wonderful sense of well-being that begins to circulate . . . up and down your spine,” Murray says. “And you feel something that makes you almost want to smile. So what’s it like to be me? Ask yourself, ‘What’s it like to be me?‘ The only way we’ll ever know what it’s like to be you is if you work your best at being you as often as you can, and keep reminding yourself that’s where home is.” As the audience applauds, Bill Murray smiles inscrutably, alone in a crowded room, safe at home.

MORE: Rolling Stone’s 50 Funniest People Now

TIME Music

Stevie Nicks on Twirling, Kicking Drugs and a Lifetime With Lindsey

Stevie Nicks performs at Madison Square Garden on October 7, 2014 in New York City.
Stevie Nicks performs at Madison Square Garden on October 7, 2014 in New York City. Kevin Mazur—WireImage

"Of all the elite bands of the Seventies, we're the only one touring with the same lineup we had in 1975"

This post originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

You can’t keep a gold dust woman down — and Stevie Nicks is one busy gypsy these days. In the past few years, she’s made two of her best solo albums, toured the world with Fleetwood Mac and sung for the witches of American Horror Story. Her excellent new 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault has songs she’s written over the years but never recorded before, reaching back to 1969. This fall she hits the road again with the Mac — this time with the long-lost Christine McVie back in the fold. “The five original cast members,” Nicks says proudly. “Of all the elite bands of the Seventies, we’re the only one touring with the same lineup we had in 1975.”

The rock goddess took a break from band rehearsals for a late-night chat, calling from her house by the ocean, gazing out onto the waves in Santa Monica while discussing music, memories, drugs, hats, ponchos, band politics, her “Crackhead Dance” and the essence of twirling.

What’s it like playing with the whole Mac again?
We’re starting from scratch. The Christine songs are brand new to us after 16 years, and God bless her, she has to learn them all over again. She came up with that part in “Silver Springs.” [Stevie sings piano solo] She hasn’t played those songs in 16 years. And I am here to tell you that none of us just sit around listening to Fleetwood Mac records. We’re always moving forward, so once we finish something, we’re on to the next thing. It’s not like we have record parties and listen to our old stuff.

So you’re back on the road with Fleetwood Mac — a week before you release your solo album.
I’m running two careers at the same time. But I don’t walk into band rehearsals and expound upon the record I just made, because I am a smart woman. I’m not pushing it down their throats — I’m not trying to cause any trouble here. Nobody from Fleetwood Mac has heard this record yet. When the time comes to hear it, they’ll like it. Lindsey will love it — half of these songs are about him!

Lindsey actually likes that?
Well, of course! We write about each other, we have continually written about each other, and we’ll probably keep writing about each other until we’re dead. That’s what we have always been to each other. Together, we have been through great success, great misunderstandings, a great musical connection. He has more appreciation for that now — I think it’s because he has two little daughters and a lovely wife, so he’s really in Girl World now. That’s gotta soften him up a little bit. He’s more aware of a feminine point of view.

How did you record these songs so fast?
Fleetwood Mac took a three-month break, and I thought, “I don’t wanna just sit around. But I don’t have time to make a record. Or do I?” So I called Dave Stewart and we went to Nashville. We cut all the tracks in three weeks.

We should all have your energy level.
And without drugs! [Laughs] If somebody had told me back then, “You don’t really need to do barrels full of cocaine — you have the energy. You were born with it. You never need drugs to do your work.” But we got thrown into a bad time in the world when everybody said cocaine was inspirational and safe and non-addictive. And everybody was having fun, until they weren’t. It sort of backfired.

MORE: Hanging Out at Stevie Nicks’ House: An Intimate Interview With the Iconic Singer

When you did “Stand Back” on the last tour, I counted 18 twirls during the guitar solo. Are you ever tempted to just stand there and take it easy onstage?
Well, I’m very practiced at twirling. I would be so bored if I was up there just standing. I took a lot of ballet — I always wanted to work the dancing in. The reason I wear the ponchos and the big shawl-y chiffon things is because I realized from a very young age, if you were 5 foot 1, and you wanted to make big moves and be seen from a long way away, if you weren’t twirling a baton of fire, you needed something that was gonna make you show up. Like a Las Vegas showgirl, really. You need big moves. If you’re gonna dance, you gotta really dance.

I do this long dance during “Gold Dust Woman” — we call it the Crackhead Dance. It’s me being some of the drug addicts I knew, and probably being myself too — just being that girl lost on the streets, freaked out with no idea how to find her way. Years ago Lindsay would have said, “You can not do the Crackhead Dance onstage. Lose that.” But now he likes it, because it gives him a chance to jam and play guitar. When Christine saw it, she said, “Wow, we’ve always known that ‘Gold Dust Woman’ was about the serious drug days, but this really depicts how frightening it was for all of us and what we were willing to do for it.’ We were dancing on the edge for years.

“Mabel Normand” on the new album has a sad story. Why did you relate to her?
Mabel Normand was a movie star from the 1920s. A beautiful girl who had it all at her fingertips, until she got into the drug world. She was a really bad cocaine addict — and this is the Twenties. I watched a documentary about her in 1985, my worst time, six or seven months before I went into Betty Ford. She was like me: If I bought coke for me, I also bought it for 500 of my closest friends. And if you’re buying drugs for you and all your friends, and you’re the only one who has money, and then somebody’s trying to get you off drugs, the seedy side of the drug-dealer world isn’t happy about that.

MORE: Stevie Nicks Details Release Plan for New Solo Album ’24 Karat Gold’

Did you ever think Christine McVie would come back?
Never. We reformed with The Dance in 1997, but that only lasted a year before Christine flipped out and said, “I just can’t do this any more — I’m having panic attacks.” She sold her house and car and piano and moved back to England, never really to be heard from again. Then last year she called me and said, “This is crazy — I don’t need to sit out here in this castle 40 miles outside London watching gardening shows. I’m ready to come back to the world.” So I said, “Chris, it’s your band and we’d love to have you back. So meet up with us in Dublin and see the rock monster we’ve become. And get a trainer.”

One of the great moments in the Mac live show is when the roadie brings out your top hat for the encore. Does the hat have its own roadie?
Absolutely, because that’s the one. It’s a very special top hat — it’s from the 1920s, that one, and you can’t find another one like it. So the hat has its own roadie, its own box and its own cage — it’s always protected.

People really lose it when you sing “I’m getting older too” in “Landslide.” Yet you were so young when you wrote that song.
I was only 27 — I wrote that in 1973, a year before I joined Fleetwood Mac. You can feel really old at 27.

MORE: In Pics: Stevie Nicks’ Life in Photos

My favorite song of yours is “Ooh My Love,” from 1989. People always forget that one.
That’s one of my favorites too. In fact, The Other Side of the Mirror is probably my favorite album. Those songs were written right before the Klonopin kicked in. “In the shadow of the castle walls” — that song was very important to me. I was lucky those songs were written when they were, before that nasty tranquilizer. It was a really intense record. People don’t talk about that record much, but it was different from all the others. It was a moment in time. I had gotten away from the cocaine in 1986. I spent a year writing those songs. I was drug-free and I was happy.

Then the Klonopin really kicked in. To go from The Other Side of the Mirror to Street Angel…that was difficult. I was a wreck and the album was a wreck. They’re called “tranquilizers” for a reason. You stop being so committed. This doctor had me on it for eight years. Forty-seven days in rehab to get off Klonopin was way more horrific than 30 days to get off coke. The word “tranquilizer” should scare people to death. Xanax should scare people to death. My godson died three years ago at a frat party — Xanax and alcohol, goodbye.

This doctor was a groupie — he just wanted to hear me tell stories about rock & roll. So he kept upping my dose for years. Finally I said, “I’m taking enough Klonopin every day to sink a boat. That’s why I gained all this weight, and that’s why my writing is terrible, and that’s why The Other Side of the Mirror was the last good record I made. This was all your idea.”

How do you get past that anger?
That doctor — he’s the only person in my life I can honestly say I will never forgive. All those years I lost — I could have maybe met somebody or had a baby or done a few more Fleetwood Mac albums or Stevie Nicks albums. So I’ll never forgive him. If I saw him on the street and I was driving — well, I don’t have a drivers license and it’s good, because I would just run him down.

You’ve been on such a creative roll lately. How does it feel to revisit these old songs?
It’s always intense to look back, but it’s always good to remember who you were and what it was like then. It makes me remember how beautiful and frightening it all was. So many of these songs are about me and Lindsey moving to L.A. in 1971, asking each other, “Now what? Should we go back to San Francisco? Should we quit?” We were scared kids in this big huge flat city where we had no friends and no money. But we didn’t quit.

I believe Lindsey and I would have made it if we’d stayed in San Francisco. He does too. If we never joined Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham Nicks would have taken off. We would have stayed together, gotten married, had a kid — and then we probably would have gotten divorced, because it would have been too hard. There’s this whole other way it could have gone.

But all those little songs, all that pain I went through — it got me here. I look around me now — I’m in my little house right now, looking out at the beautiful ocean, picturing my dad leaning against the wall over there like a ghost, saying, “Do you realize what a lucky girl you are?” I’m lucky that my favorite evening is still going to a grand piano in a beautiful room with incense and candles and sitting down to write a song for the world.

MORE: In Pics: The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Songs

There are so many young new rock artists who are obviously hardcore fans of yours — Sharon Van Etten and White Lung and Sky Ferreira.
It’s sweet how that happens. It’s crazy to think about all these people listening who weren’t born back then. We put “Seven Wonders” back in the set because of American Horror Story. Our monitor guy said, “I’m not familiar with that song.” I said, “Because it came out when you were two.”

You’re like David Bowie that way — every generation discovers you.
Well, I’m a big fan of David Bowie. Especially his movie The Hunger, with Susan Sarandon and Catherine Denueve. Just creepy and strange and amazingly beautiful. I’m always surprised Bowie didn’t make more vampire movies.

TIME Music

How Meghan Trainor Became 2014’s Most Unlikely Pop Star

Meghan Trainor attends the "All About That Bass" #1 Party on October 14, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Meghan Trainor attends the "All About That Bass" #1 Party on October 14, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. Ed Rode—Getty Images

20-year-old star discusses her biggest hit, celebrity encounters and songwriting breakthrough

This post originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

For the past seven weeks, the Number One song in the U.S.A. has been “All About That Bass,” Meghan Trainor’s catchy pep talk for those who don’t have model-skinny bodies. Trainor, who grew up in Nantucket, Massachusetts, had long aspired to a career in music – but she always thought it would be as a songwriter, not a singer. Now, the 20-year-old Trainor, who is brash enough to refer to herself as “M-Train,” is also modest enough to say of hitting Number One, “It’ll be OK if it never happens again.”

Her label Epic Records, however, very much wants it to happen again, so on a hot Tuesday in Los Angeles, an army of filmmakers descends on an abandoned downtown movie palace to shoot the video for Trainor’s upcoming single, “Title.” Because Trainor’s version of feminism is roughly the same as that of Sixties girl groups like the Shirelles, the song is about making sure that a guy you date gives you the title of girlfriend. Trainor, wearing a sparkly dress and a lime-green fake fur, winningly lip-syncs her way through a ska-inflected bridge while flanked by hunky guys with sashes (the video’s concept is a “Mr. America” pageant).

Between takes, Trainor is surrounded by hair and makeup people, blotting sweat and adjusting every loose strand of blonde hair. “It’s a thousand degrees in here,” she says during a break, “but I look good and I smell all right.”

What was the spark behind “All About That Bass”?
My producer Kevin [Kadish] had the title “All Bass, No Treble,” but he hadn’t figured out what to relate it to. And I was like, “What about booty?” At the time, my slang was that I’d say “I’m all about that” about everything. Kevin grew up as a chubby kid too, so he totally related. We wrote it in 40 minutes, and we were just laughing while writing it. He was the one that wrote the “skinny bitches” line. And that’s when we said, “We’ll never make a dime off this. No one will like this, no one will cut this.”

You were looking for someone else to sing it?
We tried. Labels were like, “We love this, but what do you expect us to do with it?” But L.A. [Reid, head of Epic] was the first one to say, “Who’s singing it? Go find that voice.” I met his A&R guy Paul Pontius and I sang for him. A week later, I was in L.A. and I texted him, “Wanna get some coffee?” I was just making up stuff to get his attention. He was like, “Wanna play for L.A. Reid tomorrow?” All I had was my ukelele. I was so nervous, but L.A. was doing the shoo-wop-wops and dancing with me. Then they made me wait in the conference room for 20 minutes with no cell phone, and I almost killed myself. I thought I had screwed up my whole career. Finally he came back and said, “We got you a record deal, girl!” That was one of my goals. Even if I wasn’t a pop star, I wanted to at least say I got a record deal and I got dropped.

Do you think of yourself as thick?
I ain’t teensy-weensy, but I think I’m regular. One person wrote, “I really like your song, but I wish you were bigger.” Sorry, thank you. I don’t know if that’s a compliment or not.

MORE: Meghan Trainor Beats Out Superstars on Chart With Leftfield Hit

Tell me about the first song you ever wrote.
It was for my aunt and uncle. They got married when I was 11. My uncle is from Trinidad — we went there on a family vacation. We took my aunt, who was young — around 21 — so she could babysit us. This carnival performer on a truck jumped down and danced with my aunt. Apparently, I walked up to them, at age seven, and said, “You should get her number, she’s totally single.” They went on a date, and now they’re happily married with three babies. I wrote new lyrics to “Heart and Soul” on the piano and played it for them at a party.

What was the first song you wrote for yourself?
It was called “Give Me a Chance,” and it was about my brother’s friend. I wanted to dance with him one time: “I’m older now and I’m wiser. Give me one dance, I’ll kill it, you’ll love me.” I was 13. It never happened, probably because his best friend was my brother. I never let them know it was about him — that was a big secret, and now it’s out [laughs].

From there, what was the point when you thought you could do music professionally?
At 18, I got a publishing deal, so I was like, “I can do this for real and not go to college.” When I was a teenager, my parents dragged me to a lot of songwriting conventions. It’s hard on the island [Nantucket], because it’s an hour boat ride and a two-hour drive to Boston just to get on the plane. We’d pay $300, and I’d sit in a room of 20 other songwriters who would listen and judge. I’d be like, “I’m 16 and I produced that myself. Don’t hurt me; I’m very delicate.” Eventually, I got signed from one of those things, so it all worked out.

MORE: In Pics: 25 Must-Hear Albums for Fall 2014

Tell me about a mistake you made.
Growing up, I didn’t get the talk of “Make sure boys take you on a date and treat you right.” So I was the girl who wasn’t dating and would just text. I dated these guys who didn’t have jobs and I would always be paying. At one point, I remember looking in the mirror and thinking, “You’re too pretty and cool to be treated like this.” That was when I changed: “You wanna talk to me? Okay, I need food and a movie.” So when I started writing an album for the world to hear, that was one of the main concepts I wanted to get down.

What’s the best advice anyone’s ever given you?
My dad gives good advice: “Being yourself always wins more than trying to pretend you’re someone else.” Now everyone’s coming up to me, trying to give me advice on the famous life: “You don’t know who your friends are, don’t trust nobody.” It’s supposed to be fun, right? You’re making it sound scary.

Has it been fun?
Oh, yeah. I met Cody Simpson last night. He’s, like, the Australian Justin Bieber. I haven’t met a lot of celebrities. But the guy from Workaholics, Adam DeVine, was dancing in front of us, and I was pretty starstruck. I saw Macklemore walk by at the IHeartRadio festival. Hilary Duff was the best: I got to talk to her, and I was a Lizzie McGuire fan forever. And T-Pain called me on the phone: He didn’t know who I was, but he said he wanted to do the remix. I am such a big T-Pain fan, I was trying so hard not to cry. I’d love to write with him — I think we’d write a smash.

MORE: Rolling Stone’s Top 25 Songs of 2014 So Far

What’s your favorite book?
Ah. I don’t read books. I read On the Road in high school, and that was awesome, so I guess that’s my favorite book. To Kill a Mockingbird, even though I didn’t read it, that’s the greatest story. SparkNotes came in when I was in high school, and that was the greatest invention. Reading is too soothing for me: No matter what time of day, if I’m reading a book, I’m going to fall asleep. I wish I read books because they help with talking. I want to say something in a cool way, and I can’t think that fast, especially in interviews. And if I get nervous, I stutter. If I read this and it sounds stupid, I’m going to be pissed [laughs].

Are you a confident person?
I got to be, overnight. I was so insecure, and I hated myself. I would sit in class, and I wouldn’t be bullied, but I would go in a mental cycle of “My God, he’s looking at me and I look awful right now and he hates me and I’ll never have boyfriends.” My mom would tell me, “They probably don’t think about you as much as you think.” And I have this habit of picking my skin when I’m nervous. But now? Hair and makeup helps a lot. I am finally at a point where I look in the mirror and think, “I’m looking on point today.” I never had that.

Even when the song first hit Number One, you weren’t feeling good about yourself?
When the video first got sent to me, I cried. I remember being like, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” And I edited the crap out of it: We need a different shot there, my face looks weird. And they did it for me, which is amazing. And now I look like a pop star! When I got signed as a songwriter, I immediately thought, “Oh, no one sees me as an artist because I don’t look good enough.” So I shut down the whole idea. And now I hate that I ever doubted it. This is what I’m supposed to do.

Are you dating anybody these days?
I’ve never been so single! I don’t understand! If you know anyone, let ‘em know.

MORE: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

TIME Music

Julian Casablancas’ Radical Reinvention

Musical guest Julian Casablancas and The Voidz perform at the Tonight Show on September 23, 2014.
Musical guest Julian Casablancas and The Voidz perform at the Tonight Show on September 23, 2014. NBC—NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The Strokes frontman on getting sober, lefty politics and his wild album with a new band

This post originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

This place is pretty cool,” says Julian Casablancas. It’s a late-summer evening, and the 36-year-old Strokes frontman is browsing through a volunteer-run radical bookstore a few blocks from his Lower East Side apartment. There’s a pet white rat perched on the shoulder of the spiky-haired woman near the checkout counter, and Jimmy Cliff is on the stereo. Casablancas is leafing through a copy of Noam Chomsky’s How the World Works, then notices a book about CBGB, the historic punk club that closed in 2006. “We were about to play ‘Modern Age’ for the first time, and the sound guy shut us off,” he says, recalling an early Strokes show from 2000. “They were such dicks. I mean, the place is obviously legendary, but I didn’t cry for it when it closed. I’m like, ‘Just open one in Times Square.'”

The Strokes’ days as a club act didn’t last long: The year after that CBGB gig, Casablancas’ band would reinvigorate New York rock with its debut, Is This It, and pave the way for a generation of rockers from the Black Keys to the Arctic Monkeys. (“They opened doors for us, because we started getting booked into clubs for being a garage-rock band,” says the Keys’ Dan Auerbach.) Casablancas would become famous as the deadpan, elegantly wasted personification of New York cool. These days, though, he’s the sober, married father of a four-year-old boy, Cal, and spends most of his time at his home in upstate New York. When he stays up late, he might be jotting down passages from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States or checking out lefty websites like Truthout and Truthdig. “Anything with the word ‘truth’ in it, I’m good,” he says with a self-aware smile.

He’s also just completed a new solo record, Tyranny, released on his own label, on which he’s backed by a band called the Voidz. The album is musically dense and politically charged. It’s a far cry from the Strokes’ sharp tunes, and Casablancas is clearly OK with that. “This is the final destination – this record is what I’ve been wanting to make since the first record,” he says, referring to his debut solo LP, Phrazes for the Young. “If anything, I’m just hungry to try to inspire something as big if not bigger [than the Strokes], but with more meaning. You know? Especially now that I’m a little older.”

MORE: Julian Casablancas Blends Screams, Synths on Demented New Solo Tune

Wearing torn jeans and a denim jacket, Casablancas is approachably low-key. In conversation, he’s enthusiastic and earnest, genially holding forth on issues like Net neutrality and media bias. “He’s extremely affable and outgoing these days,” says the Strokes’ longtime manager, Ryan Gentles. “I’m not talking about the guy I first met. I’m talking about now: the sober, mature, grown-up dad Julian.”

As Casablancas leaves the bookstore, he drops $5 into a jar for donations and heads out into the street. Over the next few hours, he’ll be approached by a couple of fans who treat him like an old friend. At one point, a guy carrying a skateboard and wearing a baseball cap says he loves the new stuff with the Voidz. “Thanks, man!” Casablancas says. A few moments later, he adds, “That was a cool-looking dude.”

Part of the Strokes’ early mystique came from the perceived glamour of their Manhattan private-school background. Many early stories on the band noted that Julian’s father, John Casablancas, was the founder of the massive Elite Model Management, which had supermodel clients like Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. His parents divorced when he was eight. His relationship with John was contentious, and Julian was already drinking a lot by the time he was in high school, eventually dropping out. “He was such a charming, larger-than-life guy,” Casablancas says of his dad, who died last year. “I think I always just wanted to be closer to him. That translated into teenage rebelliousness.”

He was closer to his stepfather, the artist and academic Sam Adoquei, who grew up in Ghana and introduced Casablancas to the music of radical Nigerian funk titan Fela Kuti. Adoquei has been shaping Casablancas’ view on art and music throughout his career, even offering suggestions on songwriting. (Casablancas has played a role in his stepdad’s art, as well. Adoquei’s 2011 book, Origin of Inspiration, a treatise on the best way to live a creative life, is full of ideas he used to try out on Casablancas. “I told Julian once that I wrote it because he left and became busy, and the kid I was sharing my ideas with was no longer there,” says Adoquei.) His stepdad still gives Casablancas notes on his work, sometimes tough ones. “He will sometimes say, ‘You might not like it,’ ” Adoquei says. “I am tough on junk art.”

MORE: In Pics: 25 Must-Hear Albums for Fall 2014

Tyranny incorporates everything from hardcore punk and African rhythms to metal solos and robotic voices. “We’d listen to a world-music song and a metal song, and we wanted to bridge those gaps,” Casablancas says. The writing process was sometimes emotional: Julian’s father died while his son was writing songs for Tyranny: The 11-minute-long track “Human Sadness” seems to address some of that grief when Casablancas echoes the poet Rumi: “Beyond all ideas of right and wrong there is a field/I will be meeting you there.” Says Julian, “It was intense. Even if you were not close with your father, once that leaves, it’s like the roof came off your house.”

Casablancas and the Voidz spent more than two years writing the album, and recorded it over seven months in a studio above New York’s Strand Bookstore, usually working from 7 p.m. until sunlight. “I thought I was a perfectionist until I met Julian,” says Voidz bass player Jake Bercovici. “I think we spent 20 days looking for one keyboard tone.”

Casablancas fought hard to get to this point. After the Strokes’ initial success, the youthful fun many associated with the band had evolved into a serious alcohol problem for Casablancas. He got to the point where he was drinking vodka in the morning. “I was probably charming 10 percent of the time, when I had a perfect buzz,” he says of his drinking days. “You think, ‘I’m brave and I’m crazy and I can drink.’ But it’s really like, ‘I can’t socially talk to people without having a stupid fake confidence that’s obnoxious.’ You think it’s like truth serum, but it’s more like asshole serum.”

He began a long period of recovery. “I was hungover for, like, five years. Like, literally four years after I stopped drinking, I still didn’t feel 100 percent. I still had that feeling of being a little hungover, and you just don’t want to go downstairs to the deli, and you just want to stay inside. I felt kind of really roughed up by it.”

In 2009, he released his solo debut LP, composing songs on his laptop in his apartment. At the same time, he took a step back from his leadership role in the Strokes, ceding more control of their songwriting, “keeping the peace,” he says. The results, as heard on their last two albums, 2011’s Angles and 2013’s Comedown Machine, lacked the hooks and emotional impact of their first three albums. “I maybe wasn’t as iron-fist-y as I had been in the past, but that was on purpose,” he says. “Because that created all these issues [with the rest of the Strokes]. I wouldn’t want to fight or argue about it. I was like, ‘You like it better that way? Fine.'”

MORE: Rolling Stone’s Top 25 Songs of 2014 So Far

Throughout all this, the Strokes have remained a beloved, huge concert draw. Fans flew in from all over the world to see them play their first show in three years at the Capitol Theatre, in Port Chester, New York, last May. “I was almost in tears,” says Gentles. “I’ve missed a total of maybe 12 Strokes shows ever, and it was the best I’ve ever heard them.” The next week, they played at New York’s Governors Ball festival, to the largest main-stage crowd of the weekend. (After the band had finished its set, the crowd noticeably thinned out for headliner Jack White.)

The same day as the bookstore stop, Casablancas is eating dinner – an avocado salad in a Dominican restaurant where he also had lunch – and thinking about all the conflicted emotions brought up by the band and its continued fame.

“It feels humbling and validating that you’re doing some things right,” he says about the Strokes. “But it’s the same thing with an actor: If a movie does really well at the box office, they make 10 of those afterward because that’s what they think people like. . . . If something has commercial value, it doesn’t mean it’s good.”

The night before the release of Tyranny, the band plays a secret show at a loft in Brooklyn, billing themselves as Rawk Hawks. When word of who is really playing gets out, a crush of fans packs the small space. Wearing an oversize New York Jets jacket despite the sweltering heat of the room, Casablancas attacks the mic and howls his aggressive new songs. The sound is light-years from the Strokes, but girls still scream at his every gesture and people yell for him to turn up his vocals.

For now, Casablancas will take that over an arena gig with his original band. “It’s still fun to see people react,” he says of the Strokes’ recent concerts. “But do I emotionally feel anything from it? No. Like a little while ago, I saw someone perform a cover of some Top 40 song in an empty bar, like he probably just learned it two days ago. He was probably enjoying playing that more than I enjoy playing ‘Last Nite.’ I just smiled about it.”

MORE: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time

TIME Television

Transparent Creator Jill Soloway on Making the World Safer for Trans People

Comedian and TV Writer Jill Soloway attends LGBTQ TV on October 11, 2014 in New York City.
Comedian and TV Writer Jill Soloway attends LGBTQ TV on October 11, 2014 in New York City. Anna Webber—Getty Images for The New Yorker

The 'Six Feet Under' and 'United States of Tara' vet explains how her Amazon instant hit was inspired by her family

This post originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

One day three years ago, writer-director Jill Soloway got a phone call with some life-changing news: Her father was coming out as a transgender woman. “It was a total surprise,” she says. But as the elder Soloway, now a retired psychiatrist in her late 70s, explained the transition over the phone, “I reacted like a parent myself,” says Jill. “I tried to make sure that the person knows that they’re safe and unconditionally loved.” (To avoid confusion, Jill uses gender-neutral terms like “parent” and “they.”)

The experience became the basis for Transparent, an Amazon Instant series and one of the fall’s best new TV shows. It tells the story of the Pfeffermans, whose patriarch (Jeffrey Tambor) goes from Papa Mort to “Moppa” Maura. The cast also features Gaby Hoffman as Maura’s daughter Ali, Amy Landecker as daughter Sarah, Jay Duplass as son Josh and Judith Light as ex-wife Shelly. Portlandia’s Carrie Brownstein plays Ali’s friend, Syd, and The Office’s Melora Hardin is almost unrecognizable as Sarah’s lover, Tammy. Ultimately, it’s a family drama with a singular purpose: “I wanted to make something that would make the world safer for my parent,” says Soloway.

The prolific Soloway – who has producer credits on Grey’s Anatomy and United States of Tara and won a directing award at Sundance last year for her film Afternoon Delight – had wanted to make a “family show” since her two-year stint writing for Six Feet Under ended nine years ago. “Pretty shortly after they came out,” she says, referring to her parent, “I was thinking, ‘I’ve got a TV show now.’ It just immediately hit me as this is the show I’ve been waiting my whole life to write.”

The show’s first season premiered in its entirety on Soloway’s birthday and, even though critics were buzzing favorably about the show, she recalls being in a fugue state. As she tells Rolling Stone about all the ways making Transparent had been positive for her and her family, it seems as though the feeling of being stunned has transformed into happiness. “It’s exciting to know that it resonates so much with people,” she says. “But it’s definitely a new feeling.”

How long have you had the idea for the show?
Ever since I was working on Six Feet Under, I had an idea of doing a family show. And then the trans aspect made itself clear to me when my own parent came out as trans.

My sister worked on the show — she wrote the seventh episode [“The Symbolic Exemplar”]. She’s kind of, like, my other half. But when I imagined this show, there was always a brother. I actually think Ali and Josh are more like my sister and I are. In some ways my sister and I are like Sarah and Ali, and in some ways we’re like Josh and Ally. But in imagining the family, there were always three kids.

MORE: Jeffrey Tambor on His ‘Transparent’ Transformation

Who are you most like in the family?
I feel like I’m a lot like Josh. I really relate to the feeling of falling in love 10 times a day and wishing I could never stop falling in love. And then there are parts of me in Ali and parts of my sister in Ali. Faith is the person who would be living on her Price Is Right money for a few years, and I’m more of a Silver Lake mom, so in some ways I’m more like Sarah. And my sister Faith is gay, so in some ways she’s more like Sarah. So I think autobiographical stuff is all thrown in a blender and mixed around and evenly distributed amongst all three kids.

How much of the show is autobiographical?
I would say it’s almost 98 percent fictionalized. The Pfeffermans are just very real people. The reason I wanted to cast Jeffrey is because he’s always reminded me of my parent. They really have a very similar sense of humor and that was just immediate. Other than that, it’s not really autobiographical.

My mom had a husband who had frontal temporal dementia, who couldn’t speak, similar to the story of Shelly and Ed. He passed away a few years ago, the same summer that my parent was coming out. So I’d say that stuff is all informed by what was going on in my life at the time. A lot of things that I was experiencing and saying to myself, this feels like a TV show and thinking, “Good thing I have a TV show that I’m writing so that I can process all this stuff.”

Something to help you work through it.
I was really working through it. I felt kind of lucky actually.

What I like about Ali is she seems like a character you could do almost anything with. Is that why you chose Gaby Hoffman?
I saw her in an episode of Louie, and I just loved the way she was talking the whole time and he’s trying to get a word in edgewise and he lets her break up with him. I just loved the way words rolled off her tongue and nothing seemed written. I loved how free she was. I was just like who is this really cool, Jewish lady? And she’s not even Jewish.

MORE: The Best TV of 2014 So Far

You might say the opposite of Judith Light.
With her, I knew that even though America knew her as the Who’s the Boss blonde person and even as the character that I remembered her from on One Life to Live. She’s been playing these Jewish moms on Broadway and that she, herself, was Jewish. When I started to imagine her without blonde hair, I was able to see Shelly in her.

When I was casting her, [actor-filmmaker] Josh Radnor called me to say, “I just hope you realize she’s a magical being. She has spiritual power and can understand people’s emotional lives in an instant.” I was down for that. On one of the early days of the shoot, a bee stung on the top of my head when we were in the park – filming the push-up scene – and then later that afternoon I was shooting a scene with Judith, and she was doing Reiki healing on me and fixed the pain. That and the Vicodin fixed it.

How did you connect with Carrie Brownstein?
Originally, when we were trying to cast Tammy, her name came up. But I always felt Tammy was really tan and blonde, like Lady Diana or someone who spent some time in her childhood on a ranch. And Carrie just seemed too Jewy to play Tammy, but I really, really wanted to work with her, so in the writers’ room we created this character of Syd for her.

You’ve said you really wanted the show to be five people who were equally lovable as well as unlikable. Is that a hard balance to strike?
I’m always going for truth and honesty. I’m a fan of Louis C.K., I’m a fan of Lena Dunham. I love shows about people that other people would consider unlikable, or like the work of Woody Allen and Albert Brooks. I love a kind of shambling outsider protagonist who always feels like they’re “other.” And so the challenge was to make five of those people in the family instead of just one. I’ve written scripts before about a single odd outsider and someone who’s trying to make sense of the world. I like that idea that all five of these people would be connected over their common legacy of feeling different, feeling on the outside.

MORE: In Pics: 8 TV Shows You Should Be Watching Right Now

What does your parent think of the show?
They love it. All four of us in our family – my sister, my mother and my, I guess you could use the word “moppa” – were all just kind of standing back and watching this thing that feels a bit like a tribute to our family but mostly like something else entirely, something so much bigger than us. We’re just all watching it together and checking in with each other every day. “How are you doing? And what do you think?”

There’s this zeitgeisty moment in the trans community, and this show happened to land in the right place, by accident really. It’s probably a show that couldn’t have been made five years ago, and five years from now [it] wouldn’t have that same feeling of “Holy shit, we’ve never seen this before.” It’s kind of fun actually to be all experiencing this together.

How much work did you need to do with Jeffrey to create Maura?
I keep saying this weird feeling that Maura Pfefferman existed out in the universe, this whole family did. She was waiting for me to notice her and waiting for me to go get Jeffrey so she could appear through him. Somebody said in an email I was sent that Maura felt spiritual to them. I was feeling that a lot when I was talking to our hair and wardrobe people about her costumes and her hair — that she should be a California hippie, kind of a Wiccan, two spirits, high priestess. It all felt so organic.

Early Maura was a little bit more awkward, who hadn’t felt her sense of style…that had one sort of feeling. And I think in the fourth episode when Davina helps her use her own hair on top and use her silver extensions underneath, she really transforms into somebody else. Even the hair and makeup people said that Jeffrey was a certain level of comfort.

I never felt like I was working with Jeffrey to “do” her, I just felt like I was trying to stand back and let her come through.

Do you have ideas for Season Two?
A little bit. I’m starting to see the beginnings of what the characters would do in a second season. But I love the writers’ room process so much. I think more of what I’m going to be doing is trying to stop coming up with too much of it so we can all do it together when we all get back together.

Your parent must be very proud of you.
Yeah, they are. They came to the set on Jeffrey’s 70th birthday actually. It was a really special day. We gave Jeffrey a big cake. And they came to the premiere as well. It was really cool.

MORE: 10 Great TV Shows You’ve Never Heard Of

TIME Television

Zombies, Aliens and Robots: The ‘Walking Dead’ Producer on Her Greatest Hits

Producer Gale Anne Hurd at "The Terminator" 30th Anniversary Screening on October 15, 2014 in Hollywood, California.
Producer Gale Anne Hurd at "The Terminator" 30th Anniversary Screening on October 15, 2014 in Hollywood, California. Albert L. Ortega—WireImage

The executive producer of 'The Walking Dead' talks about the making of the hit show, the 30th anniversary of 'The Terminator' and how 'Aliens' got its name

This post originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

When The Walking Dead premiered on Halloween 2010, long before it would become AMC’s most popular show to date, one name in particular stood out in the opening credits. It was not Robert Kirkman, the cult hero/comic-book writer whose graphic novels (created with Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard) gave the series its sickening, gory source material. It was not Frank Darabont, the filmmaker best known for directing The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and The Mist (2007) who would be Dead‘s first showrunner and help set its course. It would not even be one of the cast member’s names, as most of these talented journeymen actors would become famous via the show later on.

No, the name that would give those in the know pause was one of five listed executive producers on the show: Gale Anne Hurd. For genre-film fans, this was the credit that suggested this serialized tale of zombies and survivors might be more than a Sunday night lark. If you grew up watching The Terminator movies, if you ever ran around your front yard pretending to be Ripley or Vasquez or Corporal Hicks from Aliens, if you remember when superhero films were still considered pulpy pleasures instead tentpole collossi, if you still love that certain B-movie thrill, then you knew what this pioneering writer-producer’s name on a project meant. And as The Walking Dead became a gigantic hit, lost key creative team members and experienced growing pains, viewers would come to realize exactly how important her continued involvement would be. Showrunners would come and go. Hurd’s hand on the wheel not only kept things steady, it insured that someone who understood what the series was really about was helping to call the shots. “The title doesn’t refer to the walkers,” she says. “It refers to the survivors. That’s the key to the whole show right there.”

Speaking to Rolling Stone as she was getting ready to attend the Season Five premiere in Los Angeles (“I’m literally trying to get into my dress as we’re talking, so my apologies in advance”), Hurd talked about where The Walking Dead had been and where it was headed, the 30th anniversary of the film that established her as a producer — the original Terminator — and how she and then-husband James Cameron turned the sequel to Alien into a template for blockbuster sci-fi action flicks.

MORE: The 10 Best ‘Walking Dead’ Episodes

Let’s go back to the very beginnings of The Walking Dead. Zombies were already prominent in pop culture, but not on TV. What made you think these comics would work as a series?
Anyone who’s read Robert Kirkman’s books can tell you that the story he’s telling…it’s not really about the zombies, or what you need to do to survive a zombie apocalypse — thought you will pick up some tips on that, definitely. [Laughs] They exist to ask a certain question: What does it mean to be human? More specifically, can you maintain your humanity in a world where there is essentially no civilization left, no law and order left? The zombies were simply a way to raise the stakes for the characters in a way that wasn’t, you know, “They are trying to survive in a warzone, they’re experiencing something that people actually went through.” I mean, you could not tell this story if it was set during a real war — it would be genuinely horrible! But you set it in a world beset by zombies, and look at these issues in a situation that could never possibly happen…

So you say!
I think it’s a pretty safe bet that this will remain a work of fiction [laughs]. I was impressed by the way Robert had set it up without losing the key questions behind everything. That, more than anything else, was what drew me to this.

Why not adapt it into a movie, then?
The idea that these characters were all on a journey, one which didn’t really have an end in sight — that meant something longform. That didn’t mean two hours. Frank Darabont, Robert Kirkman and I all shared a vision of doing this in a way that wouldn’t rush things and wouldn’t be camp. Thankfully, when we brought this to AMC, they didn’t want to turn this into something silly either. They were committed to taking something that might seem preposterous but playing it very straight, and very, very real.

Did the fact that the show was hugely popular right out of the gate surprise you? Horror TV shows have traditionally been cult hits, not pop-cultural phenomenons — so you can’t really chalk it up to genre.
I’ve thought about this a lot. I think it’s this sense we all have that each and every one of us is dancing on the edge of some sort of abyss. I think social media and the Internet has made every global catastrophe feel like it’s right next door. Whether it’s civil war, an Ebola epidemic , a tsunami, global financial collapse — we now get this news immediately, and it feels as if it’s happening right next door to us. So our characters are in the worst of all possible worlds — a world which, as I said, any one of us is very unlikely to encounter. But the moral and ethical dilemmas they face…we can all identify with those right now. You know, “What would I do if everything collapsed around me?” I think that struck a chord with everybody.

So it’s the moral and ethical dilemmas that keep people tuning in, you think?
If you go on social media after an episode airs, you’ll find a small percentage of people talking about the “kills” — and a large percentage of people talking about the choices and decisions these people had to make. We took a risk in doing an episode like “The Grove,” in which we had a character, Carol, who had grown to love these surrogate daughters — and then had to do something absolutely horrible. When we went on Twitter or Facebook once the episode had aired, we had no idea what to expect. And what we got was a lot of people admitting that they’d cried. That, and a lot of discussions over “What would you have done in that position?” It generated discussions like that for days afterward. They responded to the human element, not the fantastic elements. It made me think, “Okay, this is doing what it’s supposed to be doing. This is still working.”

MORE: No Guts, No Glory: The Rise of Gross-Out TV

There have clearly been a lot of behind-the-scenes changes that have gone on around the show, all of which have been widely reported. In a lot of ways, however, The Walking Dead seems to be very much the same show four seasons in that it was when it started. How has you managed to maintain a sense of consistency when so much was in flux?
[Pause] You know, the great thing about television is that it’s a collaborative medium. So, you absolutely have a showrunner — but you’ve also got a writer’s room, and you have a certain core of our actors have been there since the very beginning. The cast…they know who their characters are, and they would call bullshit if that changed.

It’s not like a movie where sometimes a sequel is really a remake, or it’s a complete reinvention. The world is the same, and you have to put any kind of upheaval aside and say, “You know what? We’re still telling Robert Kirkman’s story.” There is very much a universe, and as long as we stay within that universe and we work with people who embrace and understand that universe, it’s going to remain fairly consistent.

So what can you tell us about Season Five?
[Laughs] Ah, right. Well…we left our characters split up. Beth is gone; we assume she’s been kidnapped. We’ve got Carol and Tyreese with Baby Judith, separated from the rest of the group; we’ve seen a number of people reunited in the worst of all possible circumstances. And we’ve seen Rick come full circle to…it doesn’t matter how tough or bleak the circumstances, he’s embraced that mantle of leadership again. He’s no longer “Farmer Rick.” He’s, excuse my language “don’t-fuck-with-me Rick.”

So they’re in a fairly precarious position when we see them again, and it’s a question of who will get out of this situation and who won’t. There will also be a number of new characters getting introduced — some from the comics, and some not.

That was very deftly played. You managed to do that without really giving anything away.
I have to choose my words very, very carefully, here [laughs].

This year marks the 30th anniversary of The Terminator, which you co-wrote and produced. What do you remember about making it?
Oh God, I remember it all!

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
[Laughs] Good question. You have to remember, both Jim [Cameron] and I worked for Roger Corman at the time. Jim’s first movie was Piranha II: The Spawning for Roger; had he not directed that, there would be no Terminator films! So Roger was the first person we took the script to, and I’m paraphrasing, but he said something along the lines of “I really don’t think you want to do this for me. You should do this for someone who will actually give you a budget.” [Laughs] Even he could see that this was not a quickie, do-it-for-no-money film. He was nice enough to know when someone had outgrown working with him, and that was the point when he basically told Jim and I, you should fly the coop with this.

MORE: In Pics: 8 TV Shows You Should Be Watching Right Now

Was there a moment when you realized that this would not be something that would just play on the back half of a drive-in double bill, and that it would have life 30 years later?
Oddly enough, it was the guy who was on the financial side of things, this industry veteran named Lindsley Parsons, who caught on very early that this would work. Actually, he saw a rough cut that didn’t even have any of the effects in there, and he still said, “This is going to be a classic.” We thought he was nuts. But that was what we needed to hear, because everybody else looked at it and called it a down-and-dirty exploitation film that they were embarrassed to have been involved in. It’s funny though, that the money guy is the one who had the greatest passion for it and protected us. He was there to make sure the interest of the bond company was represented, and when certain people were coming to take the film away from us, he was the one that threatened to post guards outside the editing room’s doors so we could finish cutting the movie. You just don’t get those kinds of ballsy individuals anymore.

You said in 2003 that The Terminator would not have been made in this day and age. Do you still think that’s true?
We could if we still made it for $6.4 million, sure [laughs].

Really? Because if you look at how the Comic-Con demographic has completely taken over mainstream culture, it actually seems like you get this made in a heartbeat today.
You have to realize that most people underestimated the fact that, once the quality of the entertainment based on genre books and and comic books had the production value and the talent to make them A-picture quality, the audience would show up. Most people in the industry looked down on genre stuff in a condescending way until the one-two-three punch of 2001, Jaws and Star Wars hit within a decade. And even then, it still took a while.

As someone who’s always loved genre movies, it’s an exciting time, but the fear — my fear — is that it’s going to be nothing but tentpole movies based on pre-existing material. So 30 years later, yes, people want to remake the Terminator movies. If it hadn’t been something people already knew, however — it doesn’t matter that sci-fi movies are now accepted. It wouldn’t get made.

So Aliens would get made today, but the Terminator wouldn’t?
Probably, yeah. But the funny thing is, in terms of Aliens…this was a time when people weren’t really making sequels, certainly not like they are now. What happened was, we were all set to make The Terminator, but Dino De Laurentis had Arnold [Schwarzenegger] under contract to make a sequel to Conan the Barbarian. So we knew we were making the movie, but we weren’t going to start for a year. In that time, Jim took a couple of writing assignments — one of which was Aliens, though it wasn’t called that yet.

The story, and it may or may not be apocryphal, was that Jim went into a pitch meeting with the studio executives and the first thing he said was “I am not making another gothic sci-fi film; I’m making a combat movie.” Then he walked up to a white board in the room, wrote “Alien” — and then added a dollar sign to it.

Alien$.
Exactly! That’s how he came up with the name. [Pause] Again, no idea if it’s true, but I’ve heard this story so many times from so many people, including Jim, that, you know…print the legend! [Laughs]

MORE: The Best TV of 2014 So Far

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser