At certain points during the show, there’s 11 people onstage, which is a really interesting kind of way to do things. And then they come and play with us during our set. Stuff that a lot of fans ask for, but we haven’t always gotten around to playing, because you only have a certain amount of time. And I learned a lot, especially from Gregg and John.
There’s a band called Run River North that’s been opening for us. And I believe, personally, that if some guy is forking down -60 bucks for a ticket and bringing his girlfriend or his wife with him, you have to play your hits. He and I would just blast a song together and then we’d put it together, then we’d write another one, and then I’d go back to New York, and that’s sort of how the process worked. Yeah, I got really sick of sitting in my room, writing by myself. John Shanks is probably the biggest workaholic I’ve ever met in my life.
Then I get together with a producer or my writing partners and we try to take the ideas to the next level. If you could co-write or collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would you choose? Like, okay, a bunch of male models are going to pass judgment on something that someone who really has talent has created and sweated over? It’s like, “I dare you guys to try and create your own material. But for some reason that scene in that movie just annoyed the shit out of me.
When you’re writing lyrics, are you mostly writing those alone or are you writing those with someone else? Which song on your new album are you the most proud of? It’s about heroin, but it can really be about anything you want it to.
I mostly write alone, but I bring those lyrics into the room with the person I’m writing with, and we’ll throw ideas back and forth. Do you generally write about characters, or are you writing about your own life? There are all different kinds of ways of doing it, and it depends on what hits me. I think “The Pin.” I hate describing what I’m trying to say in these songs. It’s a song about one of those places that you go to.
If something relevant is going on in my life, or something I feel I need to get out of myself, I’ll do that. It’s about someone who’s really really longing to be accepted, and it doesn’t happen, but you keep going back. Everyone gives a very different take on it, so it’s interesting to hear. Well, Ben Gibbard, for example, said “There She Goes” by The La’s.
That band, the Killers, they have some really amazing songs.
We chat with the singer-songwriter about feeling like an outsider, a 2008 documentary on New Kids On The Block and his experiences with co-writing. I guess the process starts with sitting down and figuring out where my head is – where I’m at in my own life – and then spending a lot of time with the guitar, just going over and over and over things, playing for hundreds of hours. I’m sure it was some super derivative blues-based thing. To me, after 20 years of sitting in a room alone writing songs, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I guess when I decided to forge some relationships with people, it took time. ” And I say, “Sure, I’ll check it out.” That rarely works. I would say don’t worry about becoming a rock star. Being a songwriter is what’s important because it’s something that lasts forever. The world is overburdened with people who are famous and doing nothing.