1. You are constantly referred to as one of the hardest workers in the industry. Would you agree? What makes you work so hard?
Uh, I don’t think of it as a
contest. I try to work hard at what I do, but then it’s what I love as well, so I’m not expecting plaudits or sympathy for it. It makes me feel good to work hard, I think it makes me better at what I do.
2. As a guitarist I have nothing but respect for the work you have produced. Who would you cite as your major influence both starting out playing guitar and keeping you playing?
When I first started playing I was into thrash, so I was trying to play like James Hetfield and later Greg Ginn. As time has gone by, I’d say that Neil Young’s acoustic work is probably my biggest influence on my current playing. I’m also enthralled by Townes Van Zandt’s finger picking, but it’s taking me a while to get that style down, ha ha.
3. If you could have done one thing differently in your career so far, what would it be if anything?
I don’t spend too much time thinking about this kind of thing. Obviously there are decisions which, looking back, were probably not the best ones. I’m not particularly proud of some of my behaviour when I was more involved in drugs (a few years back). But I came through it; things are going pretty good, so I’m not going to spend too much time looking backwards.
4. You have collaborated with many artists, who has been your favourite so far?
The record I made with Jon Snodgrass was a total blast to write and record. We’re planning on doing it again sometime.
5. Is there anyone you haven’t had chance to work with that you desperately want to? (Or, hypothetically, is there anyone in musical history who you would have liked to have worked with?
Oh sure, an almost endless list. I’d love to do something with Loudon Wainwright III. That’d be amazing. I could go on about this for hours.
6. Lyric Lounge has attended many of your gigs and can’t help but wonder if there is any reason why you don’t play what some people consider to be your most politically cutting piece, Thatcher Fucked the Kids?
Because I now think that the politics therein are, at best, puerile. I also got very tired of the associations which came flocking after I put that song out. I don’t want to be a “protest singer”, and I’m certainly not a flagpole for anyone else to run their ideas up, thanks.
7. What do you like most and least about working in the music industry?
At base I do the thing that I love for a living. That’s an enormous privilege. There are drawbacks – some of the more self-consciously “industry” occasions can be pretty trying, and traveling all year is pretty socially disjointing. But I’m not complaining.
8. Is fame all it’s cracked up to be?
I don’t consider myself to be “famous”. I’m afraid you’d have to ask someone else, ha ha.
9. If you weren’t in music, what would you be doing?
Probably trying to be in music? Ha. Otherwise, maybe teaching, I always liked that idea.
10. Who would you interview if you could choose anyone at all and what would you ask?
Hmm, good question. Maybe Bob Dylan. I’d ask him how he kept finding new ideas.