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NEW INTERVIEW WITH DAVID AT POPDOSE.COM

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Categories: INTERVIEWS, NEWS

DAVID MEAD TALKS TANGERINE

2006/06/03 Comments off

This interview finds our hero in the middle of the Tangerine tour in a jazz bar at a beautiful hotel in Vienna, VA.


Let’s start off with the new label, Tallulah. How did that get started?

Well, it came about out of necessity and luck because we finished Tangerine in May of 2005. We kind of decided on six labels that we wanted to take it to – and out of those, about two made an offer and they sucked so I just didn’t want to do it. You know, after the Nettwerk thing happened, it was like – under what circumstances am I possibly going to sign away ownership of the masters of another record? I just wasn’t sure what to do. About that time, we got a call from a guy named Bob Nichols in Jacksonville, Florida who had found me on iTunes. He had been out to a couple of shows and he wanted to organize a show in Jacksonville. In doing that, he asked if I ever needed some investment in my career – which I did. I really had no idea if this guy just wanted to get me five grand to do something with… I had no idea. What I needed was a structure and a budget basically to promote the record, and that is not cheap to do properly – it’s not astronomically expensive but you have to have somebody around who has a little bit of capital. So we put together a budget and presented it to him and he said “yeah, absolutely, that was what I was expecting” – which we couldn’t believe. That was the why and the how. From there, it’s just been a process of developing different relationships in terms of the general day to day mechanics of what you do to promote a record, hiring people and fortunately not firing anyone yet.

Aside from “Fighting For Your Life” which I know dates back to when I first saw you play it live in November of 2001, are all of the songs relatively recent?

It probably would have been written between Indiana and when we started recording this. I’m trying to think through that because I know I’ve screwed this up in interviews before… I know “Sugar On The Knees” was written when the record was almost done.

“Fighting For Your Life” hung around for a long time, why record it now? Did you rediscover it after all these years or did it kind of hang around?

I think it got kicked out before because there was an aspect of it that seemed a little too broadway, and this was the first record I’ve had where I was able to say “fuck it, who cares it it’s broadway?” – do it if it sounds good. I also got hung up on that original chorus, I didn’t like that but I just kept messing around with it and got it to a place where I liked it. I honestly can’t remember if it hung around all that time.

How did the arrangements on Tangerine differ from your original vision? How much did Brad Jones’ production have to do with the final product?

The arrangements on Tangerine were partially me – I think I had a lot of ideas that I normally don’t go after. It was also in response to Indiana being such a restrained record. Also, I met the perfect guy to work it out with – Brad Jones can play every Beatles song there’s ever been on three different instruments or he can play Rachmaninov on the piano. Not only that – he thinks orchestrally and he understands a ton of different instruments and what kind of tambre they have and where they would fit in well. He wasn’t afraid to try anything. I couldn’t really break it down on percentages but the timing worked out really really good in terms of me just wanting to try something and him being the right guy to try it with. And so on and so forth.

Can you give me an example of a song that strayed really far from your original vision and perhaps one that maybe didn’t stray at all?

I think “Fighting For Your Life” went closest to plan, definitely. “Hallelujah, I Was Wrong” was very different. It had an intro that still exists, a verse, a pre-chorus, a chorus. It repeated that again and then it had a bridge and a chorus – which is very similar to how a million of my songs have been. We started with the chorus, which was my favorite part of the song. Straight into the pre-chorus – the verse is now what the pre-chorus was; then the chorus straight to the bridge – then back to the chorus again. It wasn’t that funky in the beginning, it was more like The Strokes or something.

Any unreleased tracks from the sessions?

No! We recorded twelve songs for the record, it was very scripted out – it kind of had to be for the kind of record that it was and the kind of budget we had… which was no budget at the time. My dad lent me five grand to get it going and to show some sort of good faith payment. And in the end, to Alex the Great Studios and Brad – I mean those guys didn’t get paid for eight or nine months, so they were incredibly patient.

Tell me about the ukelele.

I had just done this record before the Wherever You Are tour, and I got so into the ukelele on the record that I wanted to have one out. I’m always looking for a way to keep the solo shows interesting for me and the audience. It wasn’t appropriate to that record at all… (laughs) It was the last thing that made sense to tour that record with – a ukelele…

Would you be willing to give us any track by track anecdotes?

Yeah, sure!.

“Tangerine” – when did the idea to create an overture come in, was that there from the beginning?

That was actually about three quarters of the way through.

“Hard To Remember” seems like it could be written about a fan.

It’s pretty autobiographical actually… that’s interesting. That’s a good point. I have always curiously wondered about that – if one of my setbacks might actually be my name, the fact that my name isn’t like Albert Hammond Jr. or Julian Casablancas. I always talk about those guys because The Strokes have the greatest rock names of any band to come down the pipe in the last twenty years. Maybe someone in an African country would think that David Mead was an exotic name – but to me, it’s just so straight up Northern European descent, like it could be anybody’s name. It’s really more addressed to a lover but it’s also kind of addressed to an audience too.

“The Trouble With Henry”.

It’s kind of an empathy with someone who was a friend of mine who had a drug problem that just wouldn’t quit. I mean, the lengths he would go to to provide for that and how much he turned his back on everything else in his life was remarkable. I can’t really pass judgement on the guy because there’s a part of me that if certain key things hadn’t happened at certain times in my life, I would be in the jazz bar every night, so to speak. I have no solutions for someone’s problems like that, it just sucks. I certainly don’t have a thorough understanding of addiction. It’s about that struggle – on one hand, how could you possibly let yourself go to this point – but at the same time I have moments where I will sacrifice, on a smaller level, things to get my game on too.

“Chatterbox”.

As I’ve said during shows, it’s about Natalie but it’s also about other women I’ve been with. It’s about women in a lot of ways actually – it’s like that great Chris Rock piece where he says “let me tell you about relationships – men, ya’ll gotta learn to listen; women, ya’ll gotta learn to shut the fuck up”, you know what I mean? That’s such a massive difference between men and women. It’s obviously talking about this girl that talks all the time, but the plea in the chorus is “don’t stop, I actually love it when you talk all the time.” It’s not a particularly deep number.

Why is the title of the next track “Reminded #1″? Is there a number two?

I wrote another song called “Reminded” that I was trying to get Gretchen Wilson to do. It was written around the same period but it’s a completely different song. That’s all there is behind that. (laughs)

“Hunting Season”.

Going back to the marital theme of the record, all of the songs have a certain tie to a marriage, not necessarily mine. That song is the true story of some friends – I’m friends with the former wife anyway. To me, it’s all about the lines “he had enough of being loved / the crooked rain and rolling thunder / says it’s nice in Spain this summer”. You know, it’s not particularly easy to be loved, and it’s not easy to love someone either, and that really comes to the forefront when you’re married. More for me now than when I was just in relationships with people and that’s what I really wanted to illustrate. I like the whole thing about guns and hunting season because that brings out some intense shit in people. Having known these people as a couple, I don’t really know what that woman could have done differently, she did all she could – and the guy just couldn’t stick. If I were in that situation – and maybe I have been before… I don’t know, I don’t want to push the violence metaphor too far. It’s tongue in cheek in a way – like “if somebody can’t deal with that, take ‘em out!” (laughs) I don’t know, that’s really up to the imagination.

“Fighting For Your Life” – and can you also touch on how the lyrics changed from the original version?

I don’t know if I can, because I don’t remember all of those lyrics.

I thought there was a different slant, drug related.

There was a line about drugs in there, but I thought it was fairly similar. I think it just might be a slightly more adult version of the song. The object is not as particularly shallow as the last person was. Other than that, it was just changing the direction – it seemed more honest to be directed at a person as opposed to a story I was telling you about somebody else. It seemed a little martyrish the other way.

“Sugar On The Knees”.

That’s another situation that I observed. I think everybody’s life has reoccuring themes and a lot of those themes are not particularly healthy. In spite of being not healthy and painful, I think as human beings we’re conditioned to kind of go back to them and repeat them because it’s what we know from our childhood and we’re comfortable with it, right? So the song addresses incest, actually. It’s just two different portraits and it’s pretty simple in its structure. It throws out a scene early on of a child and then it takes her to her wedding day – and there’s a common theme between this person who abused her when she was young and her husband that just pops out all of a sudden. “I see it coming ’round again.” It’s probably the extreme of what I’m talking about. It’s probably my least favorite one to divulge that information about because it’s my favorite lyric on the whole record… I sound like I’m patting myself on the back, I guess I am – I feel like I got it right on that one, and between the music, melody and lyrics there’s a lot of space there for people to make their own assumptions. I have people close to me who think it’s something about babies and that’s fine in a way.

“Hallelujah, I Was Wrong”.

Um… broke, workin’ it out, trying to find the beauty in the details instead of worrying about the big picture, basically.

“Suddenly, A Summer Night”.

It’s about falling back into it with an ex, how the possibility of a quick thrill linked to nostalgia can get your motor going in spite of the reality of a past situation.

“Making It Up Again”.

Broke, workin’ it out, trying to find the beauty in the details… ha! The first refrain is about touring, and the “freedom” line is about how people think it’s freedom but the rest of the song is about being broke, basically. It’s a poor shot at irony… this is actually a job, it’s not really sexy. But this is pretty sexy, sitting in a jazz bar at a nice hotel, drinking and getting interviewed – this is how I always hoped it would work out.

“Choosing Teams”.

That’s a reoccuring dream of mine – I still have those high school dreams. It’s probably more about elementary school than high school. It’s that sense of… I wonder if it ever goes away – I’m surprised that I’m 32 years old and that idea of “am I included in this group or not?” For me, that’s several things. Do I fit into a certain eschelon of artists that I would like to be a part of? As a couple, do Natalie and I fit into a version of how it’s supposed to be going when you’re married? At the end of the day, all you can really do is make your own way and make your version of both of those situations because that’s what makes them good. It’s not that gratifying to follow someone else’s model essentially.

Categories: INTERVIEWS

FEATHERS AND DRIED UP TAR: THE ‘WHEREVER YOU ARE’ INTERVIEW

2005/06/02 Comments off

A short phone interview just prior to the WHEREVER YOU ARE tour.


About a year ago you had just started touring for Indiana. As you’re about to start another tour very soon, how would you reflect on the past year?

Fondly! I think there was something about Indiana that was a little more friendly than some of my other records and I think it was a warmer invitation to a lot of people. Touring-wise, it was a lot easier to pull that record off – either solo or with one or two musicians, which is usually the way I have to do it. It got a lot of press in places I hadn’t been before, like No Depression and some of the more singer-songwriter things. There’s a community that exists around those outlets that probably didn’t care when I was presented in my major label “wannabe king of the world” facade or whatever. Indiana leveled the playing field on a lot of levels. I thought it was a really good step forward. You know, I would have loved if the record sold 100,000 more copies than it did, but at the same time, living in real world, I was happy with the result.

Wherever You Are represents your farewell to New York, whereas Indiana represents you settling down in Nashville. Now that you’re promoting Wherever You Are, how does it feel to go back and revisit that period of time?

It’s interesting because now I’m much more excited about everything as a result of Indiana and because of some of the headway that’s been made with touring, MySpace and other stuff. Since getting off a major label and a major indie, I feel a lot more in control of my career; it’s something that I devote a large part of every day to. My attitude towards that was a lot more disinterested when all of the Wherever You Are material came about. Some of the dislocated feeling of that record is definitely the result of living in this bubble where – this probably sounds odd – it didn’t feel like I had the ability to have as much direct effect on what was going on around me. It was a pretty unfocused time in my life; I’m surprised that record actually sounds as good as it does, given the circumstances. I don’t know – this really sounds cliché and dumb – it’s sort of like going back to New York now, it’s about something completely different than it was when I actually lived there. I can go out and take advantage of it a lot more. In a similar way, these songs are so old in some respects that I have to approach them from a new perspective and that’s a lot more exciting than I thought it would be.

November of 2001: you started to debut some new songs at the end of the Mine And Yours tour. Out of the four songs debuted around this time, “Hold On” was the only song that made it to the recording sessions. Would you say this song is the centerpiece of the album?

I think that one could be the centerpiece of the record; that’s one of those questions that is sort of difficult to answer with so much time gone by. I know that was the one that really got it all going and into focus a little bit. I had that one kicking around for a while and I actually finished it on September 12th or 13th or something, right after 9/11. It just had this resonance then. Working through that song provided the oomph towards finishing the rest of the album. So I don’t know whether it’s the centerpiece or not. In this new context of the mini-album “Wherever You Are” kind of feels more like the centerpiece to me. I feel really hands-off with it in a lot of ways; it’s such a weird process of getting this batch of music out there. I am a lot more open to interpretation than usual because I don’t always know what I think of it myself.

You debuted most of the songs that would make up the Wherever You Are sessions during two shows in New York with Ethan and WhyNot in August 2002. How did you feel about them at the time and how were they received?

I think they were received pretty well; I remember one show was totally weighted with all of our friends anyway so we would have really had to screw it up to make it appear that nobody liked the stuff. It was so long ago it’s hard to remember exactly how I felt about it. I remember thinking, for example, this one song called “Attitude” was a hit; I thought that was a big deal – and who knows, maybe it still is. It felt like something kind of happened along the way of the recording of that where it fell by the wayside, which is why doing preproduction and then trying stuff out like that in a more intense microscopic environment is usually beneficial.

Wherever You Are was the original home for Indiana staples “Beauty” and “Oneplusone”. What were these original versions like and will they ever see the light of day?

Actually, those would be good candidates for MP3′s on the site at some point if people are still interested. I think that version of “Oneplusone” is killer…

It is; I prefer it to the version on Indiana. Definitely superior.

Yeah, the scope of Indiana to me – the more limited instrumental scope – didn’t allow “Oneplusone” to be as fully realized as it was in the Wherever You Are context. “Beauty” – that version is a little more epic; it’s driven by programming a little bit more with the live acoustic drums. It’s just a lot bigger…

Yeah, a little more experimental.

Yeah, I guess so. Experimental in David Mead’s world, I don’t know about anybody else’s… [laughter]

Hey, you got some weird sounds in there.

Yeah, we threw in a few…

Your wife Natalie has once again done the cover art – is that a new piece or was it intended to be the cover at some earlier point?

That’s a new piece commissioned for the EP. I think my original idea for the cover – at least back when I knew RCA was going to pay for it – I had come up with a plan to… it’s pretty difficult to describe, but it was all transparent and all of the artwork was made up of words which were just printed directly onto the CD jewel case and the CD itself so that it all came together as this multilayered thing. It would still be really cool to pull off but it would be really expensive as well. That’s the only original idea I can remember for it.

During the 2003 tour, you sold shirts with a drawing Natalie made of a house, was that ever intended to be part of the artwork?

No, not really, although we did use that for a five-song promo around that time.

Stylistically, conceptually and emotionally, how does the new condensed version of Wherever You Are compare to the original version?

I felt like the original version as a whole piece of work was a little more dysfunctional than most stuff that I had done before and have done since. It had this emotional core to it that I tried to preserve when I selected what went on the EP; I just wanted to get that central feeling in it. There were some super pop songs on the original full length that – they’re not bad songs in and of themselves – I just feel like presenting them in the whole might have weakened the rest because, even though they were fine on their own, they just didn’t have the resonance of the ones that ended up on the EP. I’m hoping that I succeeded in chipping away at the diamond so to speak – kind of getting rid of what felt superfluous. It’s hard to say because, for example, there’s nothing wrong with “Little Sister”; it might have been the best opportunity I ever had at a radio single. Maybe someone will hear it in fifteen years and say “what an idiot, why didn’t he put this out there?” But in the context of everything else, it kind of felt a little… I don’t know. The fact that I actually considered making it into a duet with Michelle Branch kind of illustrates the point that it was a pretty direct and unapologetic attempt at getting some radio airplay. I don’t have a problem with unapologetic attempts to do that, but taking that song and putting it next to “Astronaut” might have endangered the believability of the entire thing. I could have been wrong, but that’s what I was thinking.

Categories: INTERVIEWS

DRIVING THROUGH ‘INDIANA’

2004/05/10 Comments off

This interview was conducted via phone shortly before the Indiana tour.


How is life in Nashville?

Great. It’s getting to be summer so everything is slowing down… it’s slower than it usually is. It’s good. I’m not going to see much of it here so I’m just relishing it. But the weather’s great, home life is good, the dogs are great – we’re one big happy, hairy family.

When we spoke in Norfolk during in 2001, you spoke half-kiddingly about making a double album – an album of rockers and an album of ballads. Essentially that’s what you ended up doing – was that the plan all this time or did it just happen that way?

That wasn’t the plan. I definitely intended to do Wherever You Are as a record that was more in the “rocker” vein – as “rock” as I get anyway – a logical third record to follow the first two. Indiana came about when that was in the process of a legal wrangling brought about by getting off RCA. I didn’t know exactly where it was going to end up, I thought initially I would just sell it off the site or something. I think because there wasn’t any sort of pressure to make it radio palatable, no one was forcing me – not forcing me, I never got forced to do anything by RCA – but no one was exerting any pressure for me to go in any particularly more commercially palatable direction I was able to do it exactly how I wanted it and I think because we just spent over two months in that world of intense studio pro-tooling, all that stuff that made up the process of making Wherever You Are that I just wanted to make something that was a lot simpler and cleaner. Plus there were a lot of ballads hanging around that hadn’t made it onto the previous two records that I really thought were worth recording and so that was why Indiana took the shape it did. I couldn’t say it was intentional but it is funny that I told you that and that it actually worked out that way.

What will happen to WHEREVER YOU ARE?

I don’t know yet. I know it’s going to come out at some point. It’s a little tricky because stylistically Indiana is an okay follow-up to Mine And Yours but I don’t know how Wherever You Are would really follow Indiana because it feels like it’s off in another direction – like that was a turn more to the right and Indiana was a turn to the left after Mine And Yours and so I don’t know. I’m a little confused about how to do that. I guess that’s the best answer I can give at this point.

Why the decision to rerecord “Beauty” and “Oneplusone” which were both originally recorded for Wherever You Are?

“Oneplusone” I just really liked especially… I thought it was really strong. At that point I thought I needed more uptempo moments and I had some other songs that were serving that purpose but at the end of the day I didn’t feel like they were doing it as well as “Oneplusone” would. “Beauty” – both of those songs in a way – those were the two that I thought were more timely and I also felt like they both fit, there was a place for both of them on Indiana. Maybe because “Beauty” to me is a larger song and everything felt so small and intimate on Indiana that it expanded the scope of it a little to a comfortable level.

“Bucket Of Girls” and “New Mexico” are outtakes from The Luxury Of Time. Why the decision to blow the dust off these two?

“New Mexico” and also “Human Nature” in a way – I’d been playing that live for a long time and it always went down well live but in the context of the previous records it always felt a little hokey to include it.

So you considered recording “Human Nature” for the previous records?

Yeah, definitely. Everyone was of the mind that it works great live but if we do it the way that it’s done it comes off as a little bit too much of a novelty piece in the middle of those other records, whereas this one I think – and this would also go for “Bucket Of Girls” – because we stayed so focused and almost narrow in a sense with the production sensibilities and then we basically used 98% all acoustic instruments I think it ended up allowing more room stylistically for different kinds of songs. A lot of the decisions on Indiana were just “why nots” as opposed to “whys”. It was total freedom to do whatever and I just thought we should go for it. It’s funny – on this Mavericks tour I sold a decent amount of CDs but I know that if I would have been able to sell Indiana that I would have sold three times as many because “New Mexico” made such an impression on so many people. Probably half the questions I answered were “is ‘New Mexico’ on one of these records” and unfortunately it wasn’t yet. It’s definitely a love it or hate it kind of deal. I felt like there was more freedom to do that. “Bucket Of Girls” I just always really liked a lot and I thought it was a slightly different sort of song than what had been around before. Both of them are – to me – more classically American sort of traditional songs and there’s definitely an effort on the other records to make what I do as modern sounding as possible even though those records don’t really sound that modern to me. I was just like “fuck it” – it doesn’t matter if it sounds modern or if it sounds pop or whatever – just if it’s good. I just have a lot of affection for that song; I definitely kept it around and continued to play it live all this time so it seemed like the right time to do it.

Were there any songs – aside from “Chutes And Ladders” which is being held for the “Beauty” single – that were recorded for Indiana that didn’t make it?

There were – one was called “How Will The Kids Get High” which we also took a stab at for Wherever You Are and another one that didn’t quite get finished called “Lease On Life”. Those are there and basically done, but we didn’t master them. I don’t know why; they’re kind of ready to go.

How would you describe your experience at Ironwork Retreat and would you ever do something like that again?

It was great. I learned as much as anybody else there – assuming that anybody learned anything. It was totally relaxed and chilled out and it was a nice thing to be able to relax that deeply but also the experience of sharing whatever little bits and pieces that I’ve picked up along the way and I guess having to collect that information in a way where hopefully it made sense to other people and had some sort of impact on what they were doing. It was a good perspective for me to get in a way because when I think you stay on this continual cycle of writing, recording, and touring it feels so similar that I have a tendency to forget that I actually know what I’m doing – it’s sort of validating. It was really cool that way and really neat to see how people responded. Also, I think it was encouraging to see how people were going through their own struggles with perfecting their craft.

You definitely saw me struggling up there with an out of tune guitar.

I don’t remember it that way…

(fumbling) Well that’s cool then. Maybe it was the wine. Would you consider doing something like that again?

Yeah, definitely. I don’t know if this summer is going to open up enough to allow it but I would definitely like to do that.

What would you say has evolved more over the past few years – your stage presence, your chops or your songwriting?

I would like to think all three, but that’s not really answering your question though… I think maybe more my performance. I think one of the great results of getting dropped from RCA really was that I kind of had to just step back and evaluate my situation and where I was at and make a conscious decision about how much I like this as a job. It’s not exactly like getting laid off but it’s a little bit like that – if you want to take this opportunity to make a career change, somebody has given you a step towards that. It never did seriously cross my mind but I did find that when I started touring without a record label or without even a record to support – when I definitely should have had one – that suddenly everything really became more alive and more exciting. At some point I think with the RCA thing I was guilty of falling into a little bit of a bubble. When you’re on a label like that, the business of the label and the expectations of the label are so high and kind of beyond where I was at, one of the negative things about it was that I had a really hard time being satisfied with the success that I was achieving. If I would have taken a step back five years and seen where I had come to, I had so much to be happy about but because I was in a situation where I constantly had people referring to my career as not really having gotten going yet I started to listen to that after a while and I think in turn my performances started to suffer. I would go do a show for fifty people somewhere and instead of being really happy about the fact that I was doing that, I would be thinking, “why am I not playing for 500 people?” instead of what I should be doing. This is a very long answer – I’m sorry. I just think it started to mean more at that point and when it started to mean more it allowed me to give myself over to it a lot more completely and to be thankful that I just had the opportunity to be doing it and somehow it made me a lot more aware of the impact that I had on people and it just became a cyclical thing. I guess the shows have gotten better… I would like to think that my songwriting has gotten better but my songwriting has kind of changed in that it happens over a much longer time period – so I think it’s getting better but it’s not as immediate as it used to be.

You once mentioned in an interview that you weren’t really in favor of independent internet releases and musicians bypassing record companies and releasing music online – is this still your opinion?

I think – I don’t know if I explained myself very well – I think to an extent I was probably talking about what I think is probably a slightly negative aspect of the internet – with the total freedom the internet gives people there’s also no level of quality control. I think it’s great for people to have to opportunity to put out what they want to put out on one level but at the same time…

It floods the market.

It definitely floods the market. On the same level, I certainly wouldn’t want record labels – given the choices that they make 90 percent of the time – to be the arbiters of quality anymore. It’s not really about quality as much as marketability as we all know. I don’t know that I could finish that point. It’s not definitely still my opinion but it’s more like a point that has to be raised at some junctures. It’s so weird, it contradicts a lot of things I think about music. I like how the internet is making people more communal and I think ultimately it’s probably going to take a lot of the focus off of making records – at least making records for a ton of money – and probably refocus it back on seeing music live which ironically is where it started. I think that’s great. It might just be something that comes out of a place of frustration for me. It’s almost hard for me to go into a record store sometimes because as someone who’s trying to be heard and make some kind of living off of it… you just look and there’s so much stuff, it’s kind of crying over spilt milk but I would be lying if I said it didn’t just completely overwhelm me sometimes. It’s an issue of… is anything going to be heard or is my stuff good enough to really be a part of this process or something, it’s kind of there’s so much music out here but I know people who pretty much do anything to have that same feeling on a lot of levels too so it’s probably a little pretentious of me to be whining about it.

Approximately how much time each day do you spend (a) writing lyrics down; (b) playing guitar; and (c) playing piano?

It goes in spurts for me. I still haven’t gotten to where I feel like I’m very disciplined about it because it’s really hard for me to establish much of a routine. I usually feel like that just by the time I’ve actually got some routine going I leave and it gets all fucked up again. It’s hard to say – there are months that I spend ten hours, five days a week doing it and then there are months where… I feel like I have been playing so much lately that I’m kind of happy to not do it and not think about it. The thing is it’s not a real conscious practice for me. I know as long as I’m putting myself in situations where I’m absorbing information – be it films, art, good conversations with friends, whatever – I know that meter is still running and that I’m still kind of on the clock and at some point something will pop out of nowhere that is a product of all that time spent not doing it too. I remember talking about that a little bit on the retreat. It’s a very difficult thing to force yourself to do if you’re not at a place to do it. That’s a good question.

How long do you typically have a melody in mind before putting lyrics to it?

It depends – every once in a while there is a lyric that comes about pretty quickly but I would say average is about four to six months before I start doing a lyric. I think the melody and chords come way more easily than lyrics do so that’s probably why – I get to be lazy about it.

How important is narrative when you’re writing songs, if it’s important at all? In other words, do you mind it much when a song doesn’t make much sense to anybody other than you and a close circle of friends?

I don’t really claim to know how it’s going to make sense to somebody. In so many instances you think you’ve written the most obvious and straightforward sentiment and somebody hears it a lot differently. I don’t know that as a songwriter that I have the most objective perspective on what a song is going to end up meaning to people. I don’t worry about it too much – I probably focus more on how individual words match up with the chords and the melody. I guess the reason I write songs and not poetry is because I feel like there is a magic that happens there that has an emotional quality that is very unique to songwriting. A lot of times you don’t know what that is going to spark off in somebody’s interpretive abilities or process. It could really – obviously there are hundreds of stories that abound about people thinking one thing completely different from what the writer did. I love that – I’m very into that. I love hearing what people think a song means. I don’t like editing myself too much on the front end of it.

Last time I asked you what your favorite song was that you have written, which in retrospect is a ridiculous question. Do you, however, have a et of lyrics that you’re most proud of?

Let’s see. Definitely, I’m just trying to think of them. To be honest I’m really much more proud of the lyrics on Indiana than I have been on any other records just because… you know, there are definitely lyrics like “Bucket Of Girls” where there are a lot of different directions it could go. I have my idea of it – but kind of going back to your last question, a lot of people could think a lot of different things about that song. Then there’s something like “Indiana” which, I don’t know how could really get too many different ideas about what that – that’s one to me that seems very straightforward. Then again, somebody was saying recently that it was like a really good breakup song.

A lot of reviews have stated that.

That’s probably where I read it. To me it wasn’t about breaking up at all, it was about that kind of longing feeling you get when you’re gone from your significant other for quite a while so again, there’s always room for interpretation.

It’s people calling “Girl On The Roof” a love song all over again…

Yeah sure, sure. But I like the lyrics on a few of these songs because I don’t feel like – it was like the first time I felt comfortable just really being pretty honest about what actually goes on in my life on a lot of levels. I think generally my tendency has been to kind of exaggerate it on one level or another because I just didn’t really think that my day to day existence really seems to like live up to much of a rock star myth or whatever, you know. I guess the fact that maybe I have a slightly unique job but I feel like a fairly normal person. Songs like “Nashville” and “Indiana” and “Chutes and Ladders” – which is a little unfair since it’s not on the record – but that’s another one where it’s just me saying exactly what I think about myself which isn’t always incredibly flattering but somehow put into music it seems to touch off something in people which I think makes for a more honest listening experience and probably a little more accurate perception of who I actually am, if that’s the kind of thing you’re interested in.

Have you studied music theory?

No.

Can you read music?

No. I wish I could.

Your guitar style I would have to say is based around the dropped D tuning. Why is this tuning your favorite and how does it affect your writing?

I think it’s my favorite still because I do so many solo performances and I also have a lot of songs that if they’re not in the key of D, they kind of have enough of that actual chord in them where having that low end when you’re doing a solo performance – I think it’s impactful. That’s probably why – but in the studio when I’m playing with a full band there are other instruments that cover that register so it’s not as big of an issue I guess. But now, I’ve been doing it for so long that I know instinctively how to play in that tuning a lot better than the standard tuning, so it’s probably just laziness at this point… (laughter)

So when you write, would you say that you write exclusively in dropped D?

Yeah, I would say so.

Do you use a lot of alternate tunings? How do you figure out chord shapes when you’re in odd tunings?

I think probably what inspires that is if I write a song on the piano or if I’m hearing a song as something that’s a little ambitious chordally and the easiest way to cover that is to come up with a different kind of tuning on the guitar. There’s one that I use sometimes where I tune the B string to a C and that kind of leaves more freedom – if the song is in C – you can kind of move around the fretboard and use different voicings and things like that but you still have that C that’s kind of going to ring and add a little bit of an anchor to the tonality of it.

Who’s most responsible for teaching you to sing, and what do you remember most about that training?

I took vocal lessons when I was 19 from a guy named Norris. He was and still is a very classically trained singer – not opera or anything – but he sings in the Robert Shaw quartet and all of these kind of very vocal groups. He taught me how to sing, I guess the interesting thing is that I felt like he was trying to make my voice a little too classic and pure. I dropped the lessons eventually and then probably about two years later when I got Jeff Buckley’s first EP… I had never heard anything like his voice and I was completely floored by his range and his level of control. I immediately had to be able to sing that way, he was sort of like the new standard. So suddenly in trying to sing like him, the stuff that Norris had been trying to teach me really came into play, so it was those two events. Norris – his whole theory is that when you’re singing, you shouldn’t be using any different muscles or breath or whatever than you do when you’re speaking. So it’s really a pretty effortless way of singing, you know – it’s all just kind of based around making sure that you have a good source of air and then tightening and loosening your vocal cords to achieve the note that you want.

What concert or show that you have seen holds the fondest memories for you?

Well there are a lot. I think the most recent one I saw – I saw Camper van Beethoven on their reunion tour. When I was in high school in Nashville, there were probably like two people who knew who they were and I kind of got turned on to their records and they were definitely my band. They seemed very exotic and far away. I think they might have played in Nashville then but I couldn’t get into the show, so I‘d never seen them play live before and I hadn’t really listened to their records for quite a few years. I saw they were coming and I was like “oh my God, I have to go and check it out” and it was the first time that I really had that, almost like reunion tour feeling – that I can understand why these bands from the seventies do such big business. I was totally just right back in my little Honda Civic, you know… just like how to shift gears and all of those basic things that, you know, define you being sixteen years old or whatever. That was great and they were really good.

What song by another artist holds the fondest memories for you?

(silence)

“Hot Rod Hearts” [Robbie DuPree]? (sarcastic)

“Hot Rod Hearts”! (laughter) That’s definitely a good one, um… fondest memories… that might be unanswerable. There are just so many ones that, you know, I’m sure you know define different eras that I can’t… The first thing that came to mind was that McCartney song – is it “What The Man Said”?

“Listen To What The Man Said”.

Yeah, I have really good memories of when that was on the radio and driving around, it seemed like it was summer. We used to live in kind of a rural suburb of Birmingham, Alabama so we had a forty-five minute drive to school both ways and I just remember that being on – so we’ll go with that.

What was the last song you heard that really made you take notice?

I was kind of revisiting Erin McKeown’s last record and she has this song called “Daisy and Prudence” – that was great, I listened to that about eight times in London, it’s kind of just one of those songs that kind of fit the mood.

What kind of life will you be living 20 years from now?

You know, assuming I’m still involved in this business – it’s pretty difficult to say because it changes a lot – but I think I’d like to be kind of finishing out the home years of children and I would definitely still like to be involved in music. There are a lot of different things that I would like to do with that, you know, being involved in some sort of instructional capacity although I don’t know exactly what I would teach or my qualifications… it just depends on what happens, you know, if I can get to a level with my music career or I have enough income to maybe do things in a little bit more consistently – not luxurious but that’s really kind of what it is because I just can’t really picture myself being fifty years old and driving around in a fucking rental doing shows! (laughter) Um, it’s going to have to be raised a little bit more. So I would love to have an audience that was still around somehow – kind of weird to think about – but I could still go out and perform for it. I’d still like to be making records but maybe focusing a little bit more on songwriting and production, or instruction, and you know, the older I get and the longer I live in Nashville I think I’d definitely like to figure out some way to be involved with what’s going on here because it’s definitely my hometown and I have an affection for it. I’d love to see it go in a certain way because it’s kind of one of those cities that is a little bit of a blank canvas right now – a lot of really good things could happen here – so if I could be a part of that somehow, I would like to be, but it’s hard to say exactly what capacity that would be, you know?

You co-wrote “Only A Dream” with Daniel Tashian. Have you ever written with anyone else and what are the advantages and disadvantages of composing songs with other songwriters?

I wrote one other one – “Wherever You Are” – that song I wrote with my stepbrother Jason [Lehning]. I think the great things about it are just when you get together with someone like both of those guys, who are sort of a wellspring of ideas… actually I think Daniel’s probably one of those people who has a thousand ideas and my role in that might be to kind of be more the editor and contribute at the same time, and so that’s really invigorating. There’s not really a downside to it I guess, but it’s hard to choose the best idea when you’re writing with somebody like that. And then I would say that Jason is probably more of the editor when we write stuff together and I’m more the idea guy, so it’s good – it’s great to be able to wear both of those hats. Maybe if there’s anything that’s bad about it – and again, it’s not bad – but you have to speak your mind and you have to be really honest about it. To me, music is such a personal thing that – I get better at this as I get older I think – but you never know exactly how receptive someone else is going to be to you not liking their idea or how personally they’re going to take it. But as long as you’re kind of in the same mode with the ideas to just get the best possible product then that’s great.

It’s been almost three years since the last time I interviewed you; at this point are there any songs from your first two albums that you would officially consider retired?

No.

So anything I shout [at shows] is fair game?

Yeah, absolutely.

Watch out.

We’ve had the discussions before about the limitations of trying to pull some of them off in certain situations, but no – I had a thought, I don’t know, there’s some sort of limitation of me recording anything that’s been on those [RCA] records, and I want to say that it’s seven years or something – but I was thinking on one of the road trips I was on I was thinking that I would really love to take the band that has been playing with me on this Indiana stuff and do a live record of The Luxury Of Time.

Really?

Yeah, I just think it would be cool and interesting to have it in this arrangement.

That’s very cool.

You know, basically just me and piano, drums, bass and cello. I guess that’s why I would say that I don’t think of any songs as being dead, I don’t hate them, they still hold up to me, you know. So we’ll see – I don’t know how long… I want to say it’s like seven years, which is kind of a drag, so if that’s the case then I guess I’ve got a few more years before I can do that – yeah, I guess that’s how strongly I feel about them.

Is Blue still the perfect album?

It’s still a perfect album – but it’s not the only one. Let’s see here – maybe I can come up with something more modern.

New Morrissey album comes out next week. Do you want to put that down in advance?

(off-topic lengthy discussion about the new Morrissey album follows – this has been edited for your sanity.)

Um, perfect record. Now I can’t even go through my record collection because most of it is on the computer. See last time you gave me this question…

You were going through them.

That’s right. And I’m going to do it again. Gonna crank up the iTunes. It’s tough to find a perfect record these days, man – they’re all just usually great and then they’re just three songs too long. You know what? I think – for some reason people don’t seem to go that nuts for this record compared to his other stuff – but having revisited it for the fourth time since it came out I have to say I think XO by Elliott Smith might be just about perfect. I think it’s outstanding. It was the first Elliott Smith record I ever heard actually, and a lot of people don’t like it – but I will stand up for it.

Categories: INTERVIEWS

SITE LAUNCH INTERVIEW

2001/10/30 Comments off

David agreed to do an interview towards the tail end of the Mine And Yours summer tour. This was shortly after the launch of this site, which was called Landlocked at the time.


Most of the reviews that I have seen of your albums state who your influences must be by the way you sound. Who most influenced you when you were shaping your sound?

When I was growing up it was kind of a weird mixture of more folky people like Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell. I started out with that sort of stuff, that evolved into what you would call eighties alternative rock like REM or U2. I had a buddy who turned me on to English music like what I would call Melody Maker/NME sort of stuff. I guess it’s kind of a mix of all that. It’s a sort of standard classic pop angle that can’t become standard classic pop because I got an early dose of cool and trying to be obscure if that makes sense.

What was the first concert you attended?

I am told it was actually Olivia Newton-John when I was two. I don’t remember that though.

Do you think that may have secretly had an influence on your songwriting without you knowing it?

Let’s hope not, I don’t know. (laughs)

Hey man. I’m just trying to cover all angles here.

True, true. I’ll just say I hope not. I am trying to think of the first one I remember. It kind of gets mixed up because I was raised in these pretty evangelical Christian churches and there was always a lot of music and a lot of dancing and people would come perform at these churches, so I guess technically church kind of felt like a concert all the time because it was so overblown. My mom was not big on me listening to what she called “secular music” at the time so I don’t have a big story on the first time I saw KISS or The Ramones. (laughs) It’s more like the first time I saw the Gaither Trio.

So with that in mind, were you the kind of child that had to sneak listens to The Wall?

For a long time, I would just listen to the radio when my parents were gone. Our stereo was set up by the front window of the house, so I could just sit there in a chair and listen to the radio until I saw their car pull in, and then I could turn it off.

That’s pretty hardcore.

I guess it was. Then after a while I started sneaking in tapes. I had a little cassette recorder and I remember the first one I did it with was the Men at Work record. The one that was so huge.

Really? Business as Usual?

Business as Usual. Thank you.

Speaking of the Melody Maker/NME bands you mentioned, I believe that the first cover you played was “Rubber Ring” by The Smiths.

That’s the first cover I ever played in a band. When I was just sitting around by myself, I used to play all kinds of stuff. I don’t even remember what the first thing was, but that was the first thing we ever rocked out on.

Were you a big Smiths Fan?

Mmm hmm.

Did Morrissey influence the big hair at all?

Probably in some subconscious way. It never really occurred to me and then at one point a guy went on my message board and made this really hostile thing about these ads that had been coming up on an Elliott Smith message board about me. It was basically just these internet marketing people going in the chat rooms and saying “Hey, have you heard about David Mead?”, which is pretty annoying I agree. I went to the Elliott Smith site and issued an apology and told them that I told the people to quit, but before I did that I read this joke about a Morrissey wannabe, and it never occurred to me. I guess he got the hairstyle from James Dean and that’s probably who popularized it here. I think I got a lot more pop melody out of Johnny Marr’s guitar playing than I did from Morrissey.

What did you think of Morrissey’s solo career?

It’s all right. I guess in the end it ended up being a definite some of the parts kind of thing. I don’t think either one of those guys came anywhere close to the heights of that band. It was such a diametrically wrong kind of setup. All the melody came from the guitar player, and it worked really perfectly for Morrissey’s subject matter, his delivery, and his four-note range. So that was pretty intriguing because it was completely the opposite of anything that I had ever listened to.

How did you hook up with Ethan and WhyNot?

I met Ethan through a mutual friend, actually he’s my brother now – Jason Lehning, who produced my first record, went to college with Ethan. Ethan knew WhyNot. When I moved to New York, Jason introduced me to Ethan so then we eventually started hanging out. Ethan has a band here that WhyNot is in called Red Time so that’s how they knew each other.

Do you have a preference between playing solo or playing with a band?

No, not really. The only time I have a preference is when I’ve been doing one a lot more than the other and I’m just a little bit tired of it. I usually get tired of playing solo because I don’t get to play with a band enough. If I could do both equally I don’t think I would have a preference over the other. I like the solo because you can just do absolutely anything you want – if you feel like lengthening a song, you can; if you feel like shortening it, you can. If you feel like playing songs that you hadn’t planned on or fielding some weird request you can do that. It’s nice to have that freedom.

Speaking of the solo show, why “Human Nature” instead of, say, “She’s Out Of My Life”?

(laughs) Actually, going back to listening to the radio when my parents were gone, I remember that was right when Thriller was everywhere. I totally remember listening to “Human Nature” on the local countdown in the living room. There’s something about it, it was like the first thing I ever associated with – this is kind of embarrassing to admit in a way – but almost like feeling sexy or something, like there’s something pulsating about that song that I thought was really cool. It just has really good strong images in it. I remember playing this show in Nashville a few years back that was a tribute show and you were just supposed to go up and play three songs by one of your heroes so I just picked Michael Jackson and that was one of the songs I learned so that’s when I actually started playing it – that was kind of the one that stuck.

He gets a bad rap but hearing the song in that acoustic arrangement makes you realize that it is a great song.

Yeah, it is. He’s great too. I guess you see the price of being so great so young, that’s what the last twenty years of his life have been about.

When you write, how does it happen? Music or lyrics first?

Music. Melody and chords definitely first. Usually if they’re good then they’re strong enough to evoke some sort of mood to treat a subject in, they don’t always evoke a very interesting subject – you kind of have to come up with that. I had the melody and the chords to “Breathe You In” and that went in a pretty obvious direction as far as the subject for some reason. I had the melody and the chords to “Girl On The Roof” and it didn’t really seem to be a song about a suicide attempt – seeing that randomly happened and it seemed like a good juxtaposition. It can work either way.

Speaking of “Girl On The Roof”, anyone who reads the tour diary would remember the entry that the song was based on. Are there any other events that made you write that have a particularly interesting story to go along with it?

Let’s see. I have a lot of new songs actually that are maybe a little more story oriented and a lot more specific than some of the older stuff has been. “Figure Of Eight” was when I used to come back from a tour the first thing I would do is go to Central Park – that was just a total love fest day, it’s like walking and seeing all of these kids hanging out listening to Ricky Martin and it’s just kind of a “life is good” thing. “Elodie” I guess is a story, it’s about Elodie Bouchez…

(rudely interrupting) Actually, the question I had next was about this. Are there any other actresses that made you go and write some very obvious and stalky songs about them?

No, I don’t think so – just normal girls that I’ve written obvious and stalky songs about. She’s the first actress.

Just making sure.

(mumbles)

Is there an album that you think is totally perfect from beginning to end?

I think Revolver [The Beatles] is perfect. Let me look through the CD collection.

But Revolver has “Yellow Submarine” though.

It works. I don’t ever listen to it but as far as the entire record, it’s totally right. I’m trying to think. (looks through collection) Let’s see here. (lots of silence) Perfect album. (mumbles) Um. (silence) Alright. Why don’t we go ahead and I’ll keep thinking about that.

Do you have a show that stands out as most memorable?

Probably more like four or five. Actually, one that comes to mind was the first time I ever played by myself in New York. I had played there bands before but I came up and RCA (the record company) had heard the demo that I did and they liked it. The A&R guy couldn’t leave town so he said “we could bring your band up to do the showcase or you can come up yourself”. It was interesting because I sort of spent eight years in Nashville in pursuit of a record deal in various forms and gone to all of these different ridiculous lengths trying to attain it – everything from showcases for A&R guys to participating in these music conferences and stuff and nothing ever seemed to work. I just almost cut the margin of error when I decided to come up by myself. It was a tiny club and nearly no one was there and it was my first show in New York and I got a record deal based off of that and the demo. I guess there was something that was very reassuring about just being able to do it that way as opposed to all the pomp and circumstance so to speak. So I remember that one. Actually I think the night before we played in Philly we played in New York and that was a really great show at the Bowery Ballroom, I always wanted to play there but I never had. It just sounded amazing – the guys actually took the time with the sound and you could tell. It was a situation – for various reasons – where I was expecting it to be hard to get people to react and I could see their faces transform. Let me think of another one… they’re some of the cool ones.

(prodding) No Philly shows stand out?

There has been a lot of great Philly shows but one doesn’t stick out. The one the other night was a great show – I don’t really think I’ve ever had a bad show in Philly to be honest. So maybe it’s about towns that are considered good…. (laughs) That would rank pretty high up there.

I’ll go with that. With piano oriented songs such as “Only In The Movies” and “Painless”, would you ever consider playing piano in the set?

Yeah, definitely – if we could get a piano or something in the van. (laughs) I’ve done that before with keyboards and stuff and I haven’t really done it in a while because I’m kinda down on electronically generated piano sounds. When Rufus Wainwright played with Tori Amos the other night he couldn’t even have his own piano and had to play a keyboard.

What do you have against “Make The Most Of” and “Apart From You”?

I don’t have anything against them, I like them both.

Just making sure.

I can’t really think of any songs off either one of those records that I’m tired of or that I wouldn’t play. Usually it’s a situation of logistics, like if I’m playing a solo show, a song like “Make The Most Of” kinda has to become something I’m not completely comfortable with. We played that when the band toured after my first record but the band toured so infrequently after the first record that not a lot of people heard it but that was a really good song. “Apart From You”… I don’t know. I guess I’m in the unfortunate position of playing a lot of 45 minute opening sets and I have two records. I could pull it out anytime I guess.

Are there any songs off the first two records that you wish would have been done differently? Are you happy with the way everything came out?

Oh yeah. Probably every song off the records I could think of things that could be done differently but that’s the thing about doing records – you have to just accept the fact that this is how it’s gonna be and you’re not going to be able to change it. Hopefully you’re gonna be happy with it. So far I’m happy with both of them but I do hear things that could be improved. That’s the cool thing about playing them live and playing stripped down the way we do. I would say the majority of the songs we play live from the first record live I like better the way we play them now than their recorded versions. Some of the ones on the new record too.

When I casually listen to you, I listen to the live versions. When I listened to the studio version of “Touch Of Mascara” the other day I found it pretty straightforward in comparison.

I think that’s the mark of a good performance or a good arrangement if it puts the record… not to shame, but it brings a lot of different aspects to it.

Do you find it annoying when interviewers ask you what a song is about?

No, I don’t find it annoying. I guess I’m a little bit guarded about it sometimes because I don’t always like hearing people describe what a song is about. I wouldn’t want to find out what’s going on in someone’s head if they wrote a song that I really like. Usually the description of a really good song rivals whatever explanation I’ve come up with in my own head – I think that’s kind of the idea. Like I’ve told that story about “Girl On The Roof” in interviews. Sometimes I kinda wish I hadn’t. I’ve read a good number of reviews that think that is a straight ahead love song and that’s alright. I really don’t have an agenda to put across as far as how people interpret my lyrics. Every once in a while it happens – I remember that people thought that I said “fucked out a baby” in the beginning of “World Of A King”. I had an issue with that because I just wouldn’t write a line like that. I mean it’s not the profanity, it’s just the image – it’s not something I could come up with. I didn’t like that being misinterpreted. At the same time, you have to let it go because people will hear what they want to hear a lot of times.

(basically ignoring the previous response) When I first started listening to you, a friend of mine and I puzzled over the significance of emails to Jesus and heartbreak and cold cuts. So help me out.

In a nutshell it’s pretty autobiographical, but the point of delving into that much personal history was like … it’s the story of someone taking themselves too seriously basically. So it’s a tongue in cheek look at a two year period of my life. I guess it probably has all those veiled references in there just because I didn’t want it to just be that – I didn’t want to leave it so that the focus was so narrow that people would just think it was that. A lot of it is kind of a joke – or a joke on me basically.

Is is true that the recorded version of “Landlocked” is simply your demo with strings added?

Yes.

Are there any songs that completely changed from their original vision in the studio?

I can’t say there are any that radically changed. Actually, the most radical change I think was “Touch Of Mascara”. What is the chorus now was originally just a bridge that popped up at the end of it and Peter Collins (the producer) suggested that it be the chorus and that you hear it more than once. That’s the most radical change I can remember. I think of radical changes in terms of song structure, lyrics or something like that. In terms of arrangement and instruments, I’m pretty loose with how you can put a song across. There have definitely been been agreements, disagreements and changes but there are so many of those that I can’t remember. Actually, I take that back – one that changed radically was “Comfort”. It sounded closer to “The Boxer” than whatever it sounds like now. Adam really took that and completely changed the rhythm of it around and actually simplified it a little bit. That’s a very different song than the demo. It could be an interesting demo to try to put out. It would be pretty funny because it’s so different.

I’m all for that. I know there were three or four songs recorded for The Luxury Of Time that didn’t make it. Were they recycled for Mine And Yours or are they still just floating around?

They’re just kinda floating around. The idea is that you want to have some extras for B-sides in the UK and Europe but I haven’t really had any commercial singles there so they haven’t been used.

How many tracks were cut for Mine And Yours?

I think fifteen. (long silence) Yeah. Fifteen.

Are there any alternate recordings from the studio? Or were the songs pretty much arranged and recorded as-is?

I think they were all arranged and recorded as-is, we’ve never seemed to have enough time and money to make alternate recordings. Both records have been kind of like, you get with the musicians a week or two before and rehearse and then go cut them, so that kind of worked out. The alternate version we would do before we got into the recording studio.

In the tour diary you had mentioned a duet…

Oh right – Shannon McNally.

Yes.

Yeah, that’s a song was called “Didn’t I Warn You” which is actually quite nice. I think we already had enough songs on the record that were sort of in that space tempo-wise and mood-wise. There was somebody in my group of people who didn’t really care for her voice on it but I thought it was really nice.

Could that be released in any form?

It might. (laughs) Until I’ve had enough records under my belt to merit a rarities kind of record I don’t know because it’s so hard to get the songs… you know, people talk about movies and the way that people talk about it you get this impression that music directors for films are just dying for extra songs when the fact of the matter is that’s a completely political minefield. It’s completely difficult to get your single from your record into a movie. There aren’t a lot of outlets for it, you have to hope someone will hear it or release it yourself.

Back to the perfect album question.

(silence) Right. The hard thing about it is that there are a few records that I think would be perfect if they just cut two songs. (laughs) As far as the perfect amount… I’m talking about music that means something to me too. I know Blue [Joni Mitchell] is pretty much a perfect record.

Going to stick with REVOLVER?

I’ll put… (silence) You know what? I think I’ll put Joni Mitchell’s Blue.

(trying to influence) Not The Queen Is Dead [The Smiths]?

Um… The Queen Is Dead… it’s a very good record but I have to look at all the songs. I have to look at it. (silence and mumbles among Craig’s prodding about his own opinion) See? “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others” I fucking hate. (laughs)

I don’t mind that one. Or “Vicar In A Tutu”.

“Vicar In A Tutu” is great.

Genius. Does it scare you when two twenty-something obsessed fans declare “Breathe You In” as their song?

No. My thing with songs is I feel like – I guess recording in general or with making records too – I think if you really think that a song is yours then you should really never play it for anyone, it’s just that simple. As soon as someone else hears it you’ve kind of broken your own rule. I don’t understand why people get so up in arms about somebody – or fans especially – ruining their songs by taking it and making it into something they didn’t intend it to be. As soon as you share music with other people it’s inevitably not going to end up being interpreted the exact same way that you interpret it. And even to think that you’ll interpret your own songs the same way in three years is short sighted too. Alright, I’m not going to tell you that I haven’t had some people refer to that song in such a… you know what, not that song actually, but probably some others that I had to cringe a little bit. But that song, it’s such a straightforward sentiment that I can’t envision ever begrudging anyone for adopting it for any purpose, it’s fine. I think that music is a very liquid kind of thing that changes shapes in people’s minds and it changes shapes with the passage of time. Once you put it out there you really can’t control it and if you get bent out of shape about losing control of it you’re kind of missing the point.

Categories: INTERVIEWS