My intentions have been, and are always, to just really get behind what my ideas are musically and to just ride this thing out, cause it feels good, and I think for the most part it's good music. Even when it's not, I'd like to still search for something that could be even like a little bit mind-blowing or shocking to me.
I got on the phone with the president of my label and I said, "Obviously, I write songs in a lot of styles and play a lot of different kinds of music. We're getting toward the end of our business collaboration. If you could envision a record that you wanted to hear from me, what kind of record would it be?" It wasn't like asking him to fill an order, it was really just a conversation. For all the things I'd ever asked him, this was one thing I'd never asked, and I don't know why. So I was curious. And the thing that he was most interested in hearing was a solo record.
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Sometimes an idea from six years ago will come to me out of the blue. And maybe I haven't even seen the lyrics I wrote down, but I'll just have this physical memory of having written it, and in my mind I can see the piece of paper, and the words I wrote down, and then by muscle memory, I'll remember the chords that go along with it.
What I love most in life happens to be the very thing that I do day-to-day, as my work. What would be my hobby, you know, happens to be my actual job. So I'm very lucky. Even if I didn't want to do as much work as I do, I'd still feel compelled to, because I so longed to be a full-time artist, and since I've been given that opportunity, I'd never want to let down the gift.
I'm not the cool thing, and I'm not going to be the cool thing for a really long time, and it isn't like I'm not the cool thing and I sell 3,000,000 records every time. I'm not the cool thing, and I barely sell 150,000 records, if that, ever. So I'm obviously working really hard to sustain myself. I'm actually a target to be dropped, because that's just not enough records for a big company.
Collaboration has become really integral to my process. I play music so that I can spend time with my friends and communicate in that way. I experience so much joy in that process, because, you know, it's those times of getting together and playing music and all that comes with it that are the best for me.
Writing and creating, those things come to me on their own. I feel like... you sort of summon them and it's like allowing the universe to enter your heart in an entirely different way to what it normally does. It's like inviting that energy of the universe to enter into your craft in a way where it has a meaning.
I'm definitely in the market for being uncool. There was some funny stuff, like the thing about making sure I show people that I have tattoos and cigarettes so that they know I'm badass. But really, I do have tattoos! And I do smoke cigarettes sometimes, and I can't change that. But I am not badass, by any means. I do some stuff that's tongue-in-cheek, and some stuff that's on the line. And it could be funny, it could be serious, and I never even know myself, because it could be funny that day, and the next day it's totally embarrassing.
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I like the idea that within the structure of the song, some kind of built-in improvisation keeps them fragile and in their moment, so that I'm not projecting so much, so that my perception of the song doesn't interfere with what its real body is. Sometimes it's like telling a story that I heard in passing, and I don't want it to become completely mine.
Caitlin Cary and I were always talking about X when we talked about whiskeytown, before it became an actual band. We like the concept of there being no real front person in X, yet this kind of switch up of vocals and really their sheer power, and their ability to sort of bastardise punk rock and midwetsren rock and even country into their own sound.
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I do craft songs, that this is designed. It's almost like the song was written to produce this desired effect. And it probably really works for somebody. It's maybe somebody's favorite tune, and it's really hard to come down on that, even if I feel a little embarrassed for it. Because some songs are written like a commercial, and that can be a little strange.
There is this strange fog of being a young man that I would refer to as soft time. Time does not go forward there. It's a series of doors that kind of wind back into one another, like a series of doors in the upper floor of a house. You revisit the same lessons over and over again, or you choose to ignore them.