If Rhett Miller's résumé began and ended with the Old 97's, it would still have made for one helluva career. That group made serious waves in the 1990s, helping pioneer the alt-country genre and winning a rabid fan base. Today, the 97's occupy just a portion of Miller's plate. The rest is devoted to a successful solo career (his fifth solo LP drops in June), occasional writing gigs (his work has appeared in McSweeney's and the Atlantic) and raising two kids with his model wife in New York state. We caught up with the busy Texan, 41, last week to talk about his Friday appearance at Minnesota Public Radio's "Wits" series.

Q: Are you a public-radio listener?

A: Oh, yeah. I always have been. One of my career highlights was getting interviewed by Terry Gross for "Fresh Air." She's magical. I try to keep my brain working. There's something about being a touring musician that's sort of anti-intellectual. It's hard to think too much on tour. It tends to be counterproductive; it's almost better to be a zombie. You find so many musicians that drink or drug themselves into a stupor all the time.

Q: Your "Wits" cohort on Friday is former "Saturday Night Live" star Tim Meadows. Is it true that the Old 97's have never played "SNL"?

A: It's the one late-night show we've never done. It's crazy. We've been on all the obvious stuff -- Leno, Letterman, Conan. I mean, we did John McEnroe's show; I appeared solo on Sharon Osbourne's show. I taped frickin' Carson Daly on the same stage where "SNL" tapes, but that's a far cry from actually appearing on "SNL." I mean, we've pretty much completed the circuit, but the jewel is missing from our crown. That's always been my dream and I'm still holding out hope.

Q: Random question, but how big of an influence is Gram Parsons?

A: It's funny, because I got into Gram late. Being from Texas it was all Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon, Buddy Holly. My obvious influences were pretty specifically Texans/old people country. The West Coast country? I kinda missed it. Like, I went straight to X. Gram was something I came into later and I sort of had to be defensive about it in the very beginning, like, "No, I'm not trying to cop anything from this guy -- I don't even really know him!" And then I felt like a jerk saying that, because obviously he's great.

Q: You're pretty big on Twitter. What types of interactions do you have?

A: Oh, my gosh. I've felt guilty. The past couple weeks I've been obsessed with trying to finish my record -- and I just turned it in the day before yesterday -- so my tweeting has been less than stellar. Usually I'm tweeted "When are you going to come to my city or country?" I get a lot of Philippines people wanting me to come to the Philippines. And I'd love to do that -- apparently I'm popular there. I find in general that my fans and Old 97's fans tend to be sweet, smart people -- so I don't get a lot of grief via the social networks, thank God.

Q: You're a huge Dallas Stars fan. Did you feel any empathy for Minnesotans when they left this state?

A: The funny thing is, I only learned hockey when Mike Modano and the North Stars came to [Dallas] in '93 and I freaking fell in love with it. And yeah, I immediately got that it would be horrible to have your team wrenched out from under you. And since then I've married into a family of Cleveland Browns fans, and went through the whole thing with them about [owner] Art Modell picking up in the middle of the night and moving that team out of town. I get it, I get it.