Exclusive Cover Story Excerpt: Liam Gallagher Interviewed By Foo Fighter Taylor Hawkins

Here’s an exclusive excerpt of the current MAGNET cover story. To read the whole thing, order a copy of the issue here.

Interview by Taylor Hawkins

Photo by Flint Chaney

Liam Gallagher doesn’t need to introduce himself—he only requires unwavering dedication to rock ‘n’ roll. With debut solo album As You Were, the former Oasis frontman swaggers back into the spotlight for another swing. Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins sits down with Gallagher to find out what’s the story.

OK. What can I say? I’ve known Liam for probably about 20 years or so. Happy to say I’ve always been on his good side. I want to keep it that way—ha. I love his voice. A perfect cross between John Lydon and John Lennon. I love the way he can stand up onstage not doing one fucking thing, just looking at people, singing, and still captivate a huge crowd. We had the pleasure of seeing him do this in Seoul, South Korea, a couple months ago, and we were due to go on after him … We were a little scared. Ummm, what else? He’s truly fucking hilarious. Really quick, sharp as a tack. In my eyes, he is truly one of the greatest frontmen of my generation. His new record, As You Were, is definitely a return to form, putting him back where he belongs: at the top. —Taylor Hawkins

Taylor Hawkins: OK, first question. Your voice is so loud and so powerful—everyone’s always like, “Oh, Liam punched this guy” or “Liam said this in the interview” or this, that and the other, you know?

Liam Gallagher: Yeah.

Hawkins: A lot of the light never gets shone on the basic fact that you have a really loud, projecting, powerful fucking rock ’n’ roll voice. Do you warm up before shows, or is it natural?

Gallagher: I don’t take care of it as much as I should do, but I try to get a fucking good night’s sleep. And I lay off the cigs on the day of the gig. I don’t do cocaine before I go on.

Hawkins: Anymore. [Both laugh]

Gallagher: I have a little warm-up, I have a little thing about half an hour before we go on. You know what? I’ve never had any real problems with it, really, man. Fingers crossed. I like to think that I’ve got … I don’t classify myself as a singer—more of a fucking human cello. Some days it works, and some days it doesn’t.

Hawkins: That’s the way it draws, man. Some days it’s magic, and some days it’s tragic.

Gallagher: Fingers crossed, man. I just spend the whole day just going, “Fucking hope it’s there.” And if it’s there, good looks, and if it’s not, fuck it.

Hawkins: Exactly. Dave (Grohl)’s same thing. Dave doesn’t really warm up. He doesn’t really do anything.

Gallagher: He drinks a lot of fucking whiskey, though, doesn’t he?

Hawkins: Fuck, he does, dude. If you go to any vocal coach, they’ll tell you that’s the exact opposite of what you’re supposed to do.

Gallagher: When you got onstage the other night and he screamed, the first thing he said was, “If I scream like that, I’d have to have 12 more shots.” [Hysterical laughing from both]

Hawkins: Dave’s a fucking superhero. There’s no question. He’s a fucking superhero.

Gallagher: Animal, man. And he’s got that voice, too.

Hawkins: Oh, fuck yeah. I love his voice. He’s powerful, too, and he’s loud, just like you. I have a thin, little wispy voice, and if I had to sing all set, it’d be done by the end, no question. But you guys both have these loud, projecting, lead-singer voices.

Gallagher: That allows the band a little area as well then, you know what I mean?

Hawkins: Totally. You guys were fucking great that night, dude. It was really, really … We were a little shaky before we went on after we watched you. We were like, “Fuck!”

Gallagher: You always play a bit better when there are people around you who are good, and I mean that.

Hawkins: I think so, too. I mean, for us, it seems like it can go two ways. Either that’s gonna push us up a notch, or we’re gonna get a little “in ourselves” a bit too much. I got some other questions for you. The first question that I came up with is: Is it lonely now, being a solo dude? When you’re the guy … I know you were probably the de facto leader of the band. I know it was a band, but you were probably the leader of the band. But now it’s Liam Gallagher—it’s you. You have a great band, and they play like a band. Is it lonely?

Gallagher: I prefer it being a band, I guess, with all the people I went to school with and all that, because then you know each other inside out, you know what I mean? The new band, we’re getting to know each other slowly but surely. We don’t really hang out that much; we don’t say a lot, but I don’t feel lonely. Man, I’ve got multiple fucking personalities, so there’s a lot going on inside my head. I just chat with myself inside my head, so I’m all right.

Hawkins: Got it, got it. I kinda figured. I would never think to myself, “Oh, Liam’s lonely,” ever. It’s a different thing, when you set out to do a Liam Gallagher tour. It’s a little different. It’s all you in the front and your name is on the bottom of that fucking check, you know?

Gallagher: I say what it is. I say what it is. I’m an indecisive fucking bastard. Someone comes up to me and goes, “I like that … ” I can’t just agree on it and get stuck to it. I’m kinda like, “Oh, what do you fucking think?” I kinda like sharing the bag, you know what I mean? I guess that’s the only pain in the ass. It’s all about you making decisions, which I’m not good at.

Hawkins: If you do another solo record, do you think you’ll do it the way you did this time? Do you think you’ll work with different writers and different musicians and all that?

Gallagher: Yeah, I think so. I mean, the band was put together like that, so it was me, and I called Dan—there’s a producer called Dan (Grech-Marguerat)—and then obviously I did some stuff with Greg Kurstin. At this moment in time, I’ve only got one fucking tune for the next album, so it all depends—if it goes well, people want another one, I guess I’ll do another one, but at the moment there are no fucking new songs. I definitely don’t mind making music. I like working with Greg Kurstin when I write, so definitely, man.

Hawkins: It worked out. I like the way that it’s a different kind of sonic experience you get.

Gallagher: Exactly, man. I trust myself as a singer a lot more than a songwriter, so if I write some, hopefully this time next year … I sort of believe the songs will come, and I think I want these people, I guess.

Hawkins: How important is using the studio to you? Do you get involved? Do you come in there and say, “Oh, I wanna do this, and I want my voice to have this many delays on it.”

Gallagher: I’m not a studio—I don’t really know much about studios. I was always kind of … I know where the fucking “louder button” is. I know where that is. I let the producers do it. I know how to turn me up. I know where that is.

Hawkins: “I wanna turn up my voice right here. Do something like that.” You let those guys do it.

Gallagher: I know where it needs double tracking, definitely. I always sing dry, man. I never add those effects on.

Hawkins: Same with Dave. Dave’s the same way. He likes to hear nothing but his voice.

Gallagher: ’Cause that’s the truth. I want it to sound like when I’m sitting in the room playing the guitar at home. I want it to be kinda like that. The majority of it. I like it dry ’cause you can feel it.

Hawkins: Kind of the rule of thumb I always thought of: If it sounds good just you and an acoustic guitar, then it’s gonna sound good either way. What’s your favorite studio? I don’t know if you care about studios. We love going to different studios, and we find the experience of each studio to kind of lend itself differently to the situation and the recording we pick.

Gallagher: Obviously, I’ve been going to Abbey Road, and that’s all right. The one where I recorded this album in England is called Snap!, a little shithole with one live room and where you record it, and that’s that. It was good, man. I could definitely work there again. There was a place in Richmond by this geezer who wrote, like, “(Simply) The Best” for Tina Turner. And he based it on Abbey Road, so it’s a smaller studio, and that’s got good gear. That’s a good studio. I worked there with Beady Eye. Anywhere that’s got the old gear in it, man.

Hawkins: I sometimes get into the history of studios. A lot of times when I’m in London, I’ll go over to Saint Anne’s Court down in Soho ’cause Trident Studios is there. I love Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and all that, and I just wanted to go stand by the door that he walked into. I don’t know why.

Gallagher: I used to do that. There was one called Olympic Studios where they did “Sympathy For The Devil.” And that was a good studio, but I don’t think that’s there anymore. I think it closed down. And there’s one called Konk—that’s the Kinks—that’s around the corner from my house and is a nice studio.

Hawkins: Is that still there?

Gallagher: That’s still there, yeah.

Hawkins: They did like all their ’70s shit there, didn’t they?

Gallagher: Yeah, and I think the White Stripes did something there as well, years ago. I’m not a studio guy, but I do like chalking big fat lines out on the desk.

Hawkins: Well, there you go. Gotta have a good desk. You can’t do that on a laptop.

Gallagher: Exactly! Exactly!

Hawkins: OK, this is a funny question, Liam, and this is from me to you, and you can say whatever you want. But this is a fun question, and it’s a question only I would ask you. My favorite band of all time, probably if I had to pick one, is the Beatles because they’re just like the Bible to me, you know what I mean? That’s the beginning, you know. That’s everything that came after. Anyway: Do you like Queen?

Gallagher: Do I like Queen? Uh, not really, no. I mean, I get Freddie Mercury has a great voice and all that, and obviously they’ve got some great songs. But I do find them a bit Queen-y. [Hawkins laughs] Listen, they’re a top band and obviously they’ve got great songs, but I dunno, man. Brian May’s guitar sound sounds like he’s got it clogged in his ass.

Hawkins: Poor Brian. I love Brian.

Gallagher: I respect him and all that, but I don’t know, man.

Hawkins: OK, that’s funny. That’s a good one. I like that. OK, next question. What about American bands? What American bands from the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s?

Gallagher: Guns N’ Roses. I do like, is it Creedence Clearwater Revival? I like them. He’s got a good voice, that John Fogerty.

Hawkins: Oh fuck, dude, we played with him. He’s fucking loud—he’s like you. He’s just fucking loud.

Gallagher: He’s got a good voice. And obviously Hendrix and all that.

Hawkins: What about when all the ’90s shit was going on, and you guys were getting ready to fight your war over there?

Gallagher: I did like Nirvana, and I liked some of the tunes. Who else was out at the time? I wasn’t a big fan of Pearl Jam.

Hawkins: Right.

Gallagher: All the grunge stuff was a bit different for me, I’ll be honest with you. There’s a few bands.

Hawkins: Few songs here and there.

Gallagher: I was kind of caught up in all the old stuff. I was kind of into the Monkees and all that when all that stuff was going down.

Hawkins: Well, it’s like you guys were kind of having your same sort of thing like what was happening in Seattle, in a way. English version.

Gallagher: Exactly. And I like Guns N’ Roses. They’ve got some tunes.

Hawkins: Yeah, they do. And they’re powerful, and they still sound good on the radio today, you know? When you hear fucking “Welcome To The Jungle” or fucking “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” it’s a classic fucking song. When Oasis came out and all these other bands came out at the same time, and the critics they love to use this kind of a word to describe one genre, but there’s nothin’ like it. Do you fucking hate Britpop?

Gallagher: I fucking hate that word, mate. We weren’t fucking pop. To me, I felt it was us and the Verve. We were different scenes, were like a classic rock ’n’ roll band. Britpop to me was Pulp, Menswear, Blur, all these stupid little Camden bands that were all jolly as fuck, you know what I mean? We wanted to play, man. I personally always found that word fucking insulting.

Hawkins: I think it is, too.

Gallagher: The Verve and Oasis—we were thinking way bigger than Britpop. We were a classic rock ’n’ roll band.

Hawkins: I see that. And also, it’s the same thing with grunge. You can’t say Nirvana and Pearl Jam sound anything alike—they’re not the same kind of fucking music, really. Just ’cause of an era. They have to simplify shit.

Gallagher: It’s just fucking journalists, isn’t it? Lazy cunts. I felt like Blur and all that—they were doing like just jolly kind of weird, fucking stupid music. “Champagne Supernova” is a boss fucking tune. They were all jumping about it with their fingers in their ears.

Exclusive Cover Story Excerpt: The Killers Interviewed By Jimmy Kimmel

Here’s an exclusive excerpt of the current MAGNET cover story. To read the whole thing, order a copy of the issue here.

Interview by Jimmy Kimmel

Photo by Gene Smirnov

Viva the Killers—Las Vegas natives who return with Wonderful Wonderful, their first album in five years. To mark the occasion, MAGNET united them with fellow Sin City local Jimmy Kimmel for a conversation about growing up in the glitzy capital of American excess and experience.

I met the Killers 13 years ago. Somebody told me that one of them had a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend that I’d had in February of that year, and so, of course, I wanted to meet them. Las Vegas is my hometown, and I always root for bands and others who share that unusual distinction, and in this case, I was a fan of their music before I knew where they were from. Singer Brandon Flowers, drummer Ronnie Vannucci and I bonded over time (not immediately, as you’ll read), and they are two of the sweetest, most thoughtful and best guys I know. We wrote a Christmas song together called “Joel The Lump Of Coal”—look it up, it’s said to be one of Jesus’ favorites. This interview was conducted by phone, and unbeknownst to those on the other end, I was naked throughout. —Jimmy Kimmel

Jimmy Kimmel: I’ll start by saying that I was very excited to meet you guys back in 2004 because we are both from Las Vegas, and I was a fan of your music and got it in my head that you would be equally excited about meeting me. So when you were on the show that night, I walked up to you guys and started making chit-chat about Vegas and what high schools we went to, and it seemed that you couldn’t have been less interested in any of it. Then I walked offstage and was like, “All right, I guess these guys don’t give a shit about the Vegas connection.”

Brandon Flowers: We were so nervous to play on national television in the beginning. I still get really nervous, and I think that you were probably experiencing that coming off of us firsthand. Sorry about that.

Kimmel: Fortunately, we got to know each other later on, but I thought it would be fun to relive that awkward moment today.

Flowers: I don’t think we knew how close the ties were at that point. I didn’t know you and Ronnie both had gone to the same high school.

Kimmel: Even more so than that, Ronnie—share your connection to my best friend and bandleader Cleto Escobedo (III), who I grew up directly across the street from in Vegas.

Ronnie Vannucci: I was very young when I started playing drums. My mom worked at Caesars Palace, and she would sort of brag about me to the musicians who were coming in and out. Cleto Sr. was a name that was thrown around the house; he sort of ran the Strip as far as music goes. At least I got that impression, anyway.

Kimmel: That may have been exaggerated. He is a very talented sax player who gave up life on the road to become a room-service butler at Caesars, and his son, Cleto Jr., started playing the saxophone too. It just so happened that Cleto Jr. got a job playing sax with a band called the Checkmates on a stationary boat that floats inside Caesars called Cleopatra’s Barge. Your mom also worked on the barge as a cocktail waitress. The first time I heard this anecdote, I got nervous because I don’t think Cleto left too many cocktail waitresses unplucked. I’ve investigated, and I have good news: Nothing happened.

Vannucci: My first experience was playing that song “Play That Funky Music White Boy” by Wild Cherry.

Kimmel: How old were you?

Vannucci: I think I was like eight or something. But I just remembered being part of an all-black band, which, looking back, was kinda funny.

Kimmel: And not only that, but an eight-year-old playing in a cocktail lounge shows you just how different Vegas is now.

Vannucci: It was a neighborly place then.

Kimmel: What’s the greatest Las Vegas act you guys have seen, either together or individually? And you know what I mean by Vegas acts, the classics.

Vannucci: I saw something called Metal Skool 20 years ago.

Kimmel: It was school with a “k,” right? Metal Skool with a “k”?

Vannucci: So good. They nailed everything. It was like going to see Mötley Crüe and Van Halen and Skid Row all in the same concert.

Kimmel: Where did you see them?

Vannucci: It was, like, the Suncoast or something.

Kimmel: One of those off-Strip Vegas hotels. I wonder why they decided to spell Skool with a “k.”

Flowers: That’s cool.

Vannucci: With a “k.”

Flowers: I think it’s OK for me to say Copperfield is up there. David Copperfield.

Kimmel: Really? Wow.

Flowers: I remember Danny Gans. I saw him play a few times.

Kimmel: Yeah, he’s one of those guys that not too many people outside of Vegas knows. He passed away, right?

Flowers: Yeah, he died.

Kimmel: And he did imitations of singers, right? That was his thing?

Flowers: He was supposed to be really good at it. I never saw it.

Kimmel: It’s a shame he didn’t live long enough to imitate you guys. That’s a real-life Vegas tragedy. OK, I’m not gonna dwell entirely on Las Vegas, but it is what brought us together, so what is the most “Las Vegas” thing you’ve ever seen? You can translate that in any way you like. For me, it was seeing Liberace at the Mayfair Market on the Strip. He was wearing a hairnet and buying meat.

Vannucci: You got one, Brandon?

Flowers: I was a busser at Spago when I was 18, and Carrot Top came in. It was during the day—and during the day only the cafe’s open at the Forum shops, but because he was Carrot Top, he requested to sit in the dining room so nobody would bother him. My server—I wasn’t 21 yet, so I couldn’t be a server—was not familiar with Carrot Top so he didn’t know that there was a comedy side to him. And Carrot Top assumed that everyone knew who he was, I guess, and my server, he was from Japan and he was a martial artist. Carrot Top, when he sat down, picked up his knife and made this move kinda jokingly at my server, who didn’t know who this guy was. My server did this judo chop thing, and the knife went flying across the dining room. It was this whole scene, and we had to calm the waiter down and explain to him that this was a performer on the Strip and famous comedian and he was just joking. It was crazy.

Kimmel: He actually chopped the knife out of his hand?

Flowers: He was one of those guys who was just prepared, I guess.

Kimmel: The move will hereafter be known as the Carrot Chop. Can I tell you something? Carrot Top emailed me this morning. I’m not kidding. So you see how strong my Vegas ties are? I won’t reveal the contents of the email, but just know that he did contact me and I will get to the bottom of this story. Ronnie, did you want to answer that question? The Top is hard to top.

Vannucci: I can’t top that. Or chop that.

Kimmel: Do people ever give you ideas or lyrics for songs? I’m not talking about people like Elton John. I’m talking about people in your life. And if so, do you ever take them?

Vannucci: In the early days, there may have been a couple attempts from family members to chime in. I would politely listen to what they say, but I don’t think anything ever made its way into a Killers song.

Kimmel: Have the four of you guys ever shared a room?

Flowers: Yeah, when we were recording in Berkeley, we were all in the same room.

Kimmel: And how did you split that up, bedwise?

Flowers: There was a couch in the room, so I think I went on the couch because I was younger than them. I sort of got last dibs.

Kimmel: And then who had to pair up? Were there multiple beds?

Flowers: I think it was one of those two-room deals or, like, a kitchenette, where there was, like, a double-bed-and-a-couch scenario, and then we got a rollaway or something.

Vannucci: This is, like, before everybody had access to cellphones, otherwise we would’ve taken pictures.

Kimmel: This is not necessarily a music-related question. I want you to go back into your lives and think about this. What’s the first award you ever won?

Vannucci: I actually won the school talent show in fifth grade.

Kimmel: For playing the drums?

Vannucci: Yeah.

Kimmel: And what did that feel like? Were you instantly a celebrity at school?

Vannucci: Yeah, I went from nobody to being a drummer. The runner-up was this girl who made French toast.

Kimmel: Did you get to try the French toast?

Vannucci: Yeah, it was good. It just goes to show the level of my talent if French toast is the runner-up.

Kimmel: I know you’re being sarcastic, but I think if you asked a thousand people, “What would you rather have right now, a drum solo or some nice French toast?” 900-something of them would say French toast. So I think that’s fairly impressive.

Vannucci: You’re right. It was good, and then my family moved away, like, two days later so there was sort of this legend. I left a legend.

A Conversation With Little Steven Van Zandt

Little Steven Van Zandt is taking a respite from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band with the release of Soulfire, his first solo effort in 18 years. Not a total break, mind you: Soulfire includes one song co-written with Springsteen, “Love On The Wrong Side Of Town,” along with others Van Zandt penned and produced for pals Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, such as “I Don’t Want To Go Home.” Still, we’re used to seeing and hearing Van Zandt not being Boss-ed around. Over the past 14 years, he’s hosted his Sirius XM radio channel Underground Garage and played Silvio Dante in HBO’s The Sopranos and Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano in Netflix’s Lilyhammer. What the jazzy, bluesy, brassy, blaxploitative, doo-woppy Soulfire does is return Van Zandt to the singing/sneering/writing role he led on solo albums such as the furiously and politically charged 1982’s Men Without Women and 1984’s Voice Of America, both precursors to his 1985 creation of music-industry activist group Artists United Against Apartheid.

Audiences love you as an actor, a musician, a radio host. You’re an adorable guy. What are they connecting with?
That’s true. I’m a helluva guy. What can I say? I basically mind my own business. I go to work every day. I’m a working-class celebrity. It’s a job that I do, which is nothing more special than any other job anyone else does. I even go to an office.

What is it with you and Norway? You filmed Lilyhammer there. You’re starting your Disciples Of Soul tour there.
It’s a place I adopted, or that adopted me. It didn’t used to be on the rock touring circuit, and when I started my solo stuff, I told my agent then, “I want to go everywhere.” He included Norway and I fell in love with it. It’s unique, quiet, five million people spread across a large expanse. Plus, a Norwegian husband-and-wife team offered me Lilyhammer, so I spent six years there on and off. I got to know the place pretty good, you know? Hey, they named a blues school after me in Norway. It’s the blues capital of the world.

Before Soulfire, your solo stuff was deeply political and incendiary. What’s your take on the whole mad Trump thing?
That’s a big question. I think our problems have more to do with the system than Trump. He’s a distraction, more often than not, from the bigger issues, especially within the Republican Party. Especially those regarding climate change, equality and money. These are greater issues than just one guy. At the end of the ’80s, when I was doing nothing but politics, I came to the conclusion it all comes down to one issue: financial inequality. Until that’s changed, there will be no economic justice, at least nothing like our founders envisioned. I appreciate Bernie Sanders and his whole Citizens United thing, but that wasn’t the right way to a solution.

So on this new record, there’s nothing at all political?
My mind regarding my music right now isn’t political but, rather, the hope that old great rock ‘n’ roll—the renaissance period of 1952 to 1972—gets heard. That’s the greatest generation.

How very Tom Brokaw.
Well, all that is distinctly rock ‘n’ roll, at this point, is an endangered species. I want to make sure that the stuff that motivated us—or at least me—in the first place stays alive. That means James Brown, the blues, street-corner doo-wop.

And that whole Jersey Shore/Asbury Park, horn-based R&B/rock thing—all the Southside Johnny stuff, your first solo album.
Well, that sound suits me again now. That’s what I wanted to do with this album: do me. I usually write with some larger theme. This time out, I became my theme. That’s why I covered my old songs. It’s the best way to reintroduce myself to me, as well as an audience. Plus, I wrote a few new songs along the way for whoever is interested.

Since you’re talking to yourself or about yourself in the third person, how do you reconcile the romantic behind Soulfire with the guy who wrote “I Am A Patriot,” which proposed that dissent was not disloyalty à la Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden?
I got about a dozen guys living inside me … that’s two of them. There’s a bunch I haven’t met, and deep down they’re all integrated. Once Chuck Berry started talking about real life in his teenage operas, then Bob Dylan took it further with the socially impacted political fare, all of it is fair game.

To paraphrase Frank Sinatra talking to Rita Hayworth in Pal Joey, 18 years is a long time between drinks. What gives?
Pal Joey. You’re good. That’s a great question to which there is no answer or excuse. Suffice to say, I got busy with other work—especially acting and producing—and the whole craft. That craft, gifted to me first by David Chase, gave way to other crafts like writing the soundtrack to Lilyhammer and directing the last episode. Then Bruce decides to put the band together again, so there’s that—and touring it quite regularly, too, all of a sudden. Before you know it, 20 years go by.

Well, that’s everything, though. You blink and a year passes. So what do you do now—hopefully more music?
Well, I’m not a guy to hold back material. I don’t stockpile. I tend to write with purpose, so there’s that. Some of my music in the last 10 years went to Lilyhammer. My past solo albums are all out of print, so that’s another thing to be done: get them remastered and re-released. Know what else? I never had a manager before this year, so I did that. There’s gonna be more music, too. Ever since I got this request to do a blues fest in London last year and revisit songs I did with Southside Johnny—songs I never played live—I actually felt guilty that I had those songs and that I put my soul, you know, music aside for so long. No more, though.

—A.D. Amorosi

Q&A With Tommy Stinson

MAGNET recently caught up with Tommy Stinson to discuss the Friday Night Is Killing Me reissue (out today on Omnivore) and the revitalization of Bash & Pop, which, earlier this year, released a belated follow-up, Anything Can Happen. A revamped version of the band (drummer Steve Foley and his bassist brother, Kevin, have both passed away) is on tour with the Psychedelic Furs this fall.

How did this reissue come about?
Here’s the goofy bit: It was supposed to come out in tandem with the vinyl version (in January), but my manager wanted to get that out soon-ish, so he had Warner Bros. jump. Having Omnivore put out the expanded version now was kind of a boner move, to be frank. People are kind of pissed off about it.

How did you write songs back then?
Just like I make records now. Over the years, I collected thoughts and stuff, and when I was ready to record, I went, “OK, which songs work best together.” Some—like “First Steps”—are as old as Don’t Tell A Soul. I had a good batch of songs to record.

“Tiny Pieces” is such a great pop tune. How did that one come about?
Oh, man, I had that thing sitting around for a while. I remember writing the lyrics to that back in Minneapolis in the middle of the night. I got up, grabbed the brandy, went into the living room, sat down in my jams and penned out the words. Then I came up with that crazy riff, which doesn’t make any sense to play—but it’s there.

Why didn’t Bash & Pop last longer?
The record company didn’t do shit. We put the album out and toured behind it a little bit, and then our bass player, Kevin, got into some trouble and he couldn’t tour. I moved to California and tried to continue on with just Steve. But I finally got to the point where I wanted to I switch it up, and I asked Warner Bros. to let me go. Then I started Perfect. You can only beat your head against the wall so many times before you realize you’re fuckin’ going crazy.

Why do you think Warner Bros. dropped the ball?
If you think about it in terms of where music was heading at the time, grunge was just getting its legs on. So rock-based pop music like I was making wasn’t happening.

You’re living in Hudson, N.Y., these days. Anything you miss about your old hometown of Minneapolis?
It was such a vibrant musical community back then. We all hung out; we all were friends; we were inspired by each other. I miss that.

So you’re touring with the Furs.
Yeah, Richard Butler lives around here, and he and I have become buds. We played this house party in St. Louis, and he and his wife showed up and we had a fuckin’ hoot together. He came to my 50th birthday party. The Replacements always loved the Furs; their first record was huge on my playlist. It was a mind-blower to me.

What’s it been like revisiting the old Bash & Pop songs?
It’s been fun. We play about half the record, and I think I’m gonna have to switch some stuff up in the future. People love that record—not a lot of them, but it meant a lot to the people who bought it. You gotta respect that.

—Hobart Rowland

A Conversation With Thurston Moore

Thurston Moore has been the eternal New Yorker for so long that talking to this citizen of Stoke Newington, England—a pleasant London hamlet where he’s lived since 2013—still feels odd. Maybe it’s also due to his beginnings as a dedicated follower of the late ’70s no wave movement and its reinvigoration via Sonic Youth and the noisiest aspects of Moore’s early solo efforts. Forward motion is his thing. He’s also embraced the language of enlightenment and political rhetoric on his new album, Rock N Roll Consciousness, as well as several purposely non-LP singles. To go with all this, Moore is the subject of a new book, We Sing A New Language: The Oral Discography Of Thurston Moore. —A.D. Amorosi

We spoke when you first moved to England. How does it feel now that you’re firmly ensconced? Got favorite restaurants and haunts?
Totally. London is a massive sprawl of a city. Coming from NYC, London is quite another universe. When I first got here, I heard that London reveals itself very slowly and personally. That’s certainly been the case. I definitely have my favorite bookstore, record store, charity shops. Those are the places I like to go to—I find meditation in secondhand bins. I like that world. The food is also better than when Sonic Youth toured here in the ’80s. England was devoid of a cookbook then.

I lived in Bayswater throughout the entirety of 1982, and all I had was the only 24-hour KFC in Europe. Homey Indian restaurants and tiny fish-and-chip shops were my salvation.
Definitely. That said, I’m still a U.S. citizen. I like that. Being here in London, I am an outsider—an other—while still being welcome in my neighborhood. It’s so entirely provincial with its little villages interconnected, each with their own personality.

So all this love of your new land, but what might you feel going forward with Brexit?
I don’t think it affects me, and far from me commenting on the minutiae of English politics. It was, however, sold to the public with the patina of racism. That’s disturbing, reprehensible and psychically damaging to people in London in particular, because it’s such a progressive bubble. The surprise was that so many left-leaning people here actually entertained Brexit. As always, I am about the further eradication of borders, imposing divisions and being exclusionary. I disregard nationalism of all stripes. I like cultures with their own languages, existing with their own vocabularies and traditions.

Well, you’re not missing much not being in the U.S., if that’s how you feel.
It’s impossible to see what’s going on in the crystal ball because there are so many smoke screens. I’m American. I did not renounce citizenship. Still, it’s hard to watch my country being poisoned by racist, sexist inanity. I have a 23-year-old daughter who lives in the States, and for her to be represented by a president who uses the language of rape culture and the manifestation of hate speech is disturbing.

Speaking of the motherland, old friends such as Richard Hell and Lydia Lunch appear in Nick Soulsby’s We Sing A New Language.
I’m just a cipher in that book. I hardly have any verbiage. The author is cool. Just like his book on Nirvana where he contacted artists around them—headliners when Nirvana was the bottom of the bill, men who made their posters—this ties together the threads of my solo career with arcane label proprietors and such from the time when I was just getting interested in experimental music.

You mentioned your daughter, Coco. Now, it’s not as if you spent a lifetime doing beer, car and lifestyle music. Yet your poetic sensibilities on new songs “Cease Fire” and “Chelsea’s Kiss” have become more pointed and political than in your past.
Any person working in any creative discipline gets changed having children in terms of activism as an artist. I think it’s my age. At near-60, I’m motivated by wanting to be in opposition to an ideology that borders on fascism. To articulate it as a writer means more than just saying it to myself. Now, the whole of my new record stepped away from such direct commentary. I wanted the sound of beauty, something beatific here—but with genuine melancholy, which is always part of the human condition. Yes, there is honor in opposition.

But Consciousness is positivist and aware and un-angry about it.
This just made sense. Yoko Ono once told me something about activism in music. She thinks that you go out and you talk about people with the energy of goodwill in terms of humanitarian concerns and you don’t name the enemy. Once you name the enemy, you become the enemy. I took that to heart. That’s a curious, yet constructive, way of thinking.

You may have worked with another lyricist on some of Consciousness (poet Radieux Radio, a pseudonym for someone Moore is keeping anonymous), but the focus is singular: good energy. Why so?
I had some words, some lyrics unfinished, and as the clock was ticking I turned to Radio. Radio finished many songs I started, which is something that would happen a lot within Sonic Youth, where someone else would pick up what another of us was saying. On this album, we came up with just the right, most sensitive words on feminism, and the energy and power of oracles. And, of course, Mother Earth. Why? Because it was right. There was no thought toward the current political climate, either, as these songs were written and recorded over a year ago, yet they held great portent. Plus, they are beautiful to sing, which is the most important thing.

Exclusive Cover Story Excerpt: Phoenix Interviewed By Fred Armisen

Here’s an exclusive excerpt of the current MAGNET cover story. To read the whole thing, order a copy of the issue here.

Interview by Fred Armisen

Photo by James Elliot Bailey

With the vibrant, neon-lit synth pop of Ti Amo, Phoenix scores the summer with an album destined to rule outdoor festivals and Italian discos alike

The narrative I made up in my head for Phoenix’s new album, Ti Amo, is that, aside from a celebration of Italian nightlife, it’s a reply to the Style Council’s debut mini-LP, Introducing The Style Council. That record may have been my first experience with an idealized location as a concept. In their case, it was Paris. Track nine on Phoenix’s album, “Via Veneto,” feels like part two of “Long Hot Summer.”

I didn’t bring any of this up during my interview with Thomas Mars, because none of it is a question. It would just have been me saying, “This is what I think.” I did mention Kraftwerk, though. Trans-Europe Express has a similar theme.

I’ve always loved Phoenix. As soon as I heard them, I thought they were great. It was a nicer surprise to find out, too, that they are from France. To me, their scene went like this: first Téléphone, then Les Thugs and then (although they aren’t technically 100 percent French) Stereolab. Then Daft Punk, and now (I realize that “now” has been going for a long time) Phoenix. This is just my version of it; I hope that’s OK.

The following setups aren’t true, but you can pretend:

I spoke to Thomas while we were shopping for cars in Kyoto.
I spoke to Thomas via passing notes during a play.
I spoke to Thomas 20 years ago, in line at Disneyland.
I called Thomas at home and got his machine, and then he called me back and got mine. So these are all left messages.

Thank you!

—Fred Armisen

Fred Armisen: I’m glad I’m getting to interview you because I’ve known you for a while and I’ve always enjoyed watching your success. You guys—the whole band—seem like such a strong unit together.

Thomas Mars: Yeah, we’re friends from school, which is a unique chance because I think when it’s your second band, you know too much. It can’t be as genuine when you’ve had those experiences before. When it’s the first time, it’s more naive and genuine, I guess. I can’t really compare it to anything else.

Armisen: When you were a kid or a teenager and you imagined what it would be like to be in a band that makes a living being a band, what came out to be true and what are some unexpected things?

Mars: That’s a good question. No one’s asked me this question before, but I feel like that’s the question. When we started, the first feeling that was really strong was that there was something with friendship and music. The two things together were really strong and the fact that you hear sounds that are amplified, just a kick drum that’s amplified. To me, when I would go to a show, even when you would hear a band soundcheck, this was so strong because it was already out there. It had way more power, and that was a big thing for me. When we started the band, we thought the day the record would come out, the world would change. That’s something that didn’t happen. The day the record comes out, everything’s pretty much the same. Our success was really, really slow. Sometimes, a song would be big in one country so we would go there and experience these, like, Italian TV shows. We had one song big in Italy and lived this adventure which was really part music, part comedy, because you end up in one of those TV shows where they mix music and soccer, and you have a nun that’s introducing you. Just far-out experiences. When we started music, we didn’t want to be responsible. We didn’t want to have a job, and the fact that this is our job and doesn’t feel like one—I think we treat it like a job. We make a point that we have office hours. When we started, we were even wearing ties and suits because it was such a miracle that this was our job. It made it even more special. I’ve seen other bands do that, treat their job like it’s a factory. I know the Beastie Boys have these outfits and they bring this factory business, because it’s such a special thing that this is what we do.

Armisen: That’s kind of the answer I was hoping for. My hope is always that if someone is in a band that they’re appreciating it. It’s a rare thing to be able to make a living at it; it’s even more rare to stay together. It’s a real feat, and that description, down to the kick drum through a PA, it’s so funny because it is such a different sound, the kick drum you hear in the soundcheck and what a kick drum really sounds like. It’s like the bridge between practicing and doing it for a living.

Mars: I remember watching a video of you just going through Stockholm and inventing your own stories, am I right? Is that a video?

Armisen: Yeah, I did that. I was promoting Portlandia there and so there was a camera crew, and they just wanted to do something. And it was that feeling of, “If I get to be in another country and then do some kind of creative work, there’s nothing better.”

Mars: That I could really relate to, because you’re not passive. You’re creating something, not just promoting. I grew up in Versailles, which is a city that’s like a museum, so everything great already happened and you can’t really change anything. Just making music is disturbing the peace and is not considered being respectful. So to me, to create those stories, even to invent and bring back those places to life or create this world of possibilities—that’s the thing I think about quite often. You know, when we go to Buenos Aires, we pass Jorge Luis Borges’ house and you don’t want to be totally passive. You have to create those stories.

Armisen: Every time you guys put out a record, I feel like there’s a theme around it. Phoenix reminds me of the way that Kraftwerk put out records. They have a vague idea for what the graphics are gonna be and it gets sharper and sharper, and then I see the video for “J Boy” mentions Kraftwerk and I’m not ahead of the game in thinking that you guys are like them. In Düsseldorf, Kraftwerk has Kling Klang Studio and they clearly have some kind of a work ethic. Listening to Ti Amo, I have no idea how you come up with sounds. It’s easy to say, “Oh, they use sequencers or synths.” What’s a simple version of what you guys use to put everything together?

Mars: Kraftwerk is the best compliment for us, because that’s the band I can relate to the most. Not musically—I love that music, too—but the work ethic and how pure the message is and how the aesthetic is more than music. It’s an entire concept, and that’s such a strong thing, and rare. I remember seeing a documentary where the English bands were saying, “We saw Kraftwerk in Manchester and it opened things up. We started a band because of them.” I think when we write songs—the four of us, I know they do the same thing—I try to impress my friends. I try to come up with sounds and with ideas that they might not be able to tell what it is. With technology now, I can become bored with my voice, I can change it. If I play drums, I do a weird hybrid mix of samples, drum machines and real sounds that get a little confused. I think we create this color palette that has to be unique. The only decision we make is to create this environment that has all these unique sounds that we like. And then it’s mostly luck; we record forever. Our brain wants to do something familiar and we have to fight against this, we have to find what the next familiar thing could be—that’s the goal. We just record a lot of things and then we try to put these together, but we never thought about instruments separately. Now the guitars, the keyboards, even the vocals, they can pretty much imitate each other. Chris Mazzalai in the band has this guitar pedal that imitates a Japanese voice. You play the guitar through that pedal and it’s like a Japanese woman that’s talking.

Armisen: What!? What’s it called and who makes it?

Mars: I don’t know the name of it.

Armisen: What does it look like?

Mars: It doesn’t look like much. It’s the size of a Boss pedal and it’s white and has a drawing of this Japanese girl on the side and a Celtic font, almost like those wedding invitations. You play through it and it has a wah-wah thing to it, and then it shapes the notes. It doesn’t create real words, but it imitates the sound of a Japanese person talking.

Armisen: Does it hold a note?

Mars: Yes, but it it’s like [imitates noises].

Armisen: What is your relationship with your drummer and keyboard player? Where do they enter into your daily life or your touring life? What is that relationship like?

Mars: The keyboard player, Robin Coudert, we’ve known since our teenage years. He was in another band and we grew up together. I think he was on the same label as us for one song. He recorded one song on this compilation that the label did and then we stayed in touch, and he now scores movies. But when we go on tour, we love each other so he comes along, and he’s a friend since, what, 16? And our drummer, Thomas Hedlund, we met while touring in Scandinavia 10 years ago. He has a few bands. He has a band where he’s a full-time member, which is called the Deportees, as a band where he plays various styles. He has a death-metal band where they have two drummers. He’s so good that I stopped playing drums. I used to play drums sometimes even in the studio, but because he’s so good I just can’t. I don’t want to play drums anymore. Sometimes with technology, we totally don’t need a drummer in the studio, but he comes to record additional drumming for what we’ve done, or sometimes he has ideas to make it more elaborate. That part of our band, they are with us six months … when we tour, we are together all the time. We sleep in tour buses next to each other, so we know each other pretty well.

Armisen: It’s so nice that it’s been the same people so it’s not always some session person you haven’t met. That’s kind of cool that it’s part of the band.

Mars: Unless you’re a bit of a dictator onstage, unless you’re James Brown and you say, “No, you do it like this.” But that’s not our personality. It would be a struggle. It would be horrible to work with session musicians, I think.

Armisen: Do you have one recording studio, or do you guys bounce around?

Mars: We bounce around. Each record, we have a different studio because I feel like if you have your own, it’d be too comfortable. It would feel like Groundhog Day even more. Also, I know that my favorite Prince record—well, before he had Paisley Park—I feel like it’s good to have something new each record. Do you have a studio?

Armisen: No. We shoot on location everywhere, so it’s even further of an extreme of not having comfort. We have an office that changes every couple years, and every day we have to go to some location. It’s really nice to hear you say that, because I firmly believe in not having the most comfortable situation always, exactly for that reason. As soon as people get their own TV studios or recording studios, the more comfortable it is, you can feel it. You can tell that they slept in and came in late, and I don’t know what it is. One time—and I mean no disrespect for any TV shows—but one time I went to a studio at NBC where they filmed the old Tonight Show, the Jay Leno one. Everyone’s great, he’s a funny comedian, but they had a big painting of him up against the wall at his actual studio and it was so permanent. Something about that, I was like, “As soon as you get settled into some permanent ‘This is my home, this is where I’m gonna make my music from,’ I think it’s trouble.” It should always seem a little shaky just so you work a little harder.

Mars: When it becomes a museum, it’s the same idea. It becomes intimidating and forces you to replicate some recipe or something. It doesn’t invite novelty, for sure.

Exclusive Cover Story Excerpt: Future Islands Interviewed By Andy Samberg

Here’s an exclusive excerpt of the current MAGNET cover story. To read the whole thing, order a copy of the issue here.

Interview by Andy Samberg

Photo by Gene Smirnov

The visceral, soulful synth-pop of Future Islands serves as an emotional rescue from modern life. In conversation with actor/comedian Andy Samberg, the Baltimore band sheds light on its aspirations and inspirations.

I first heard Future Islands while I was working at Saturday Night Live. They’re great, and their music makes you feel good. Even when their songs are about sad things, they still feel uplifting, which is hard to pull off, and because of that I listen to them a lot. This interview went great and is going to change the world, and the guys in the band are now my best friends. Enjoy our convo! —Andy Samberg

Andy Samberg: I’ve been listening to the new album, The Far Field, and I love it. It’s so rad. I was very excited to get it early and feel all cool and VIP. One thing I noticed about it is—and I feel like this is kind of one of your trademarks: There’s this sort of forward motion to it at all times. Even when the songs are lyrically addressing topics that could be interpreted as sad, there’s still this momentum and hope to all of it. Especially right now, when there’s so much negative energy out there, every time I put this album on, I feel inspired or happy.

William Cashion: When we’re writing songs, we don’t really talk about what we want the songs to do; it’s just what comes out. The three of us in a room, we just put a drum machine on and I think we favor the four-on-the-floor type of beat, so maybe that’s caused it to be more driving. I think, thematically, the record lends itself to the road; it’s about the road and also the good albums to listen to while you’re out on the road.

Samuel Herring: That’s actually something that’s always been a thing in music, too. The play of light and dark. I think we explore (the idea) that there are heavy times, but then there is light on the other side. There’s that hope; that hope is the thing that keeps us alive. When we were 18-year-old kids and first started writing, it was writing music to play house parties and have fun with our friends. When you’re exploring yourself as an artist, you’re also dealing with things that are in life. It was years of making this music that was really fun to dance to and compulsive but if you listen to the words, maybe there’s something weaker about it. It was years later when we were like, “Oh, we’ve been doing that, and that’s one of our strengths.” “Beauty Of The Road” was maybe the first song we wrote for this record, and that set the tone. It was that weird meta phase where you’re writing songs about your life but then your life becomes boring, being on the road, so then you’re writing songs about touring and being on the road and writing songs and you’re performing these songs.

Samberg: You’re still working your ass off. Pretty much everyone who’s trying to survive on Earth is doing that.

Cashion: And then also me and Sam grew up shopping in the husky section, and Gerrit never had to shop in the husky section. That’s also a part of our approach, I think.

Herring: Definitely part of our music.

Samberg: And so you probably give them a lot of shit for that. How long have you guys been friends?

Herring: Me and Gerrit grew up together. We’ve been hanging out all the time since we were 14. And then William was my first friend I met at college. At 18, I met William and then introduced him and Gerrit shortly after. Me and Gerrit went off to college together. So we started playing music together when William was 19 and Gerrit and I were 18. Still in the same grade, though.

Samberg: So it’s similar to my experience with the Lonely Island guys. It’s the greatest, right? Knowing someone from that far back and you go out into the world and it’s so fun because every time something cool happens, you get to look at each other like, “Holy shit, it’s us from back then, and now we’re here!” And then also when you’re dealing with things that are new and weird, you get to look at each other and be like, “This feels wrong, right?”

Cashion: The first time we toured Europe was in 2009, and that was after years of sleeping on floors and playing house parties, and we were just kind of like, “What did we do right? How did we end up here? Who did we trick to get to tour here?” It was one of those pinch-yourself moments. It’s crazy that we’re still able to be a band, you know?

Samberg: Yeah, absolutely.

Cashion: Got a question for ya. Are there tons of harps at your house?

Samberg: There are at least two harps at my house. And multiple pianos as well.

Cashion: We’re fans of yours, and we’re also fans of your wife (Joanna Newsom)’s music.

Samberg: Well, thank you. I also am actually a huge fan of her music; that’s how we met. I met her at her show.

Cashion: I was curious about the harps, sorry.

Samberg: By all means, we have a room that houses harps. And it’s kind of like a weird music fan dream come true for me that we have been so in love because I get to hear her play harp all the time.

Cashion: That’s dope.

Samberg: I’ve listened to your guys’ stuff for a while, but it felt like Singles was your breakout. Would you say that’s fair?

Herring: Yeah, that definitely garnered the much larger audience.

Samberg: That’s a weird thing to experience. It’s like, “Hey, we’ve achieved a level of success. Holy shit. Now what do we do?” I guess I’m just sort of commiserating that that’s a hard thing to put out of your mind, but you have to in order to get out of the headspace that brought you there to begin with.

Herring: The thing was, we felt like we already had success before Singles came out. We were on the road from mid-2008 to the end of 2012. In that time, we saw the audience grow, playing 150 shows a year. Seeing that slow growth—coming back from a tour losing a hundred dollars to coming back home with a hundred dollars, then we were finally paying our bills, then I could afford a second pair of pants. We felt the success, but we were still an underdog band. I think we’re still an underdog band. So it was interesting to be in the spotlight all of a sudden because we wanted that when we were 25 or 26 and didn’t get that, you know? And to get that years later was interesting for us, because we’re just doing what we’ve always done. We’ve been here all along. We’re grown men who had been at this for a while.

Samberg: I was curious if you have a favorite or least favorite description of yourselves or the band or the music that you thought was funny that you’d care to share.

Cashion: We get called, like, dads a lot, which we think is weird because none of us are dads yet. I think we throw people off because maybe people have an idea of what a synth-pop band should look like, and maybe it’s bigger hair and makeup. We don’t have that stuff.

Samberg: Sam’s voice gets a lot of different comparisons in articles I’ve read.

Herring: I used to say things about the media, but I can’t because now I just sound like Donald Trump when I do. “Media tells lies!” We always enjoy when people write specific things about us. I get Cookie Monster a lot. That one bugs me. I think it’s more in my vocal delivery than in my voice.

Samberg: Maybe the cadence?

Herring: Yeah, I don’t really know. There was a meme going around of me next to Tim Kaine, and people were like, “That’s crazy, Sam Herring is just like a slightly younger Tim Kaine.” He’s 35 years older than me. Come on, give me a break.

Samberg: I don’t buy that one.

Cashion: Andy, I have another question. “Dick In A Box”—where’s the inspiration? Where did that come from? Did you put your dick in a box?

Samberg: The inspiration for that came from when Justin Timberlake was hosting around Christmas and Lorne Michaels told us, “You’re doing a song with Timberlake.” I realized really quickly that we all loved early ’90s R&B like R. Kelly and H-Town. [Michaels] was like, “What if we wanted it to be Christmas themed?” We started writing it, and I sent it down to Justin, who’s down on the floor rehearsing sketches, and he loved it.

Cashion: Is that the question you get asked all the time?

Samberg: Not the most, but definitely people say “dick in a box” to me as much as anything. I’m very comfortable with it. I love it. The joke is that that’s gonna be my epitaph: “Made ‘Dick In A Box.’” There’s worse epitaphs to have.

Herring: That’s also a shitty thing to put on somebody’s gravestone.

Samberg: “This guy was alive, now he’s just a dick in a box.”

Herring: Works on many levels.

Samberg: Yeah, but the joke’s gonna be on them when I get cremated. But I should also clarify that I’m not sure whether or not I want to be cremated. If something horrible happened, I don’t want them to be like, “Hey, look, in this article he said…” you know? But back to you guys, I read that you guys came up listening to hip hop. Is that true?

Herring: The first record that I really got into was Gravediggaz’ 6 Feet Deep, so that led me to Prince Paul. When I was 13, my brother bought that record as well as (Enter The Wu-Tang) 36 Chambers. For my 14th birthday, my brother got me Digable Planets (Blowout Comb) and (Channel Live’s) Station Identification, and those two records blew my mind, exploded my world, and that’s when I started going to pawn shops and digging through racks and racks of $4 CDs. Luckily, my dad was cool enough to take me because he’s like an old rusty tool in the shed. I really found out about the beginnings of hip hop—of course Grandmaster Flash, but then KRS-One was huge, all the Native Tongues stuff. But De La Soul was my group back in the day.

Samberg: I find that as I am getting slightly older, it’s harder for me to keep tabs on the millions of different rap genres and styles that are coming through. Do you feel like you’re able to?

Herring: I honestly feel like there’s been a renaissance in hip hop, but I don’t know if kids these days want to be labeled that. I do feel like there’s a younger generation of producers and MCs that are doing really amazing, adventurous stuff and are coming at it with their own points of view. And it makes sense because kids these days have access to every type of music in the whole world at their fingertips. When I hear a 16-year-old kid from Chicago who has all these crazy flows because they’re just influenced by everything, I might think it’s like a West Coast style, and then it’s just some kid from Chicago, and I’m like, “How the hell did you figure this out? Where did you come from?” For me, I kind of lost love and understanding of what was happening in rap and hip hop. Danny Brown was the one who really opened my eyes again when I discovered him in 2011. He blew my mind and gave me hope again that there were really MCs out that were saying something. I think it’s coming back. But I also don’t know everything. What’s mainstream is a complete blank to me. I don’t even know a lot of the rappers that are really, really huge now. I know them by name, but I don’t actually know their music. Not that I’m against it, I just don’t keep up.

Samberg: I love talking about rap music. Is there any other kind of music that you guys are feeling, rap or otherwise? Are you bumping into stuff in the studio or while you’re traveling around or anything like that?

Cashion: We all just saw (Hans-Joachim) Roedelius (from Cluster and Harmonia) play last night, an old German krautrock pioneer. He played here in Baltimore and that was a pretty awesome set he did. He was doing sound collage for the first half, and then he switched over and became this kind of meditative piano stuff. That was really beautiful.

Samberg: Do you guys all still live in Baltimore?

Herring: Yeah.

Samberg: OK, I have a Baltimore question then. Do the people in Baltimore love the show The Wire or are they all like, “That’s fake!”

Cashion: I think people are into it.

Samberg: They’re into it: “It’s like our spot, that’s us in a good way.” Or is it like people are obsessed with that show?

Herring: I know Gerrit is watching right now. Maybe Gerrit should answer it.

Gerrit Welmers: I’m currently watching it, but I haven’t really talked about it with anyone, any local people. So I don’t know. I would say that the reality of Baltimore is probably a little bit different than The Wire, although we didn’t live here at the time.

Samberg: I always just think of the time I saw that movie Cloverfield while I was living in Manhattan, and there’s a part where they’re running through the subway to get away and they go from West Fourth Street to Midtown in three minutes, and when they came out of the subway, the whole theater went, “No way, fuck that, they could never get that far!” I just had this vision of people in Baltimore watching The Wire and being like, “They could never hide dead bodies there!”

Herring: I’ve never watched The Wire, because I didn’t want to be scared by a TV show of where I’d moved to. Am I gonna watch that thing that’s gonna make me feel unsafe in the place where I live? If I move, I might watch The Wire eventually. We do get asked about The Wire constantly on tour, in the U.S. and abroad, just everywhere. It’s a huge show; people love it.

Samberg: People are pretty obsessed with it. Would you say it’s your “Dick In A Box”?

Herring: I don’t think it’s the same thing.

Samberg: The Wire is Baltimore’s “Dick In A Box.”

Herring: Our “Dick In A Box” is probably the Letterman (performance of “Seasons” in 2014).

Samberg: Are you guys sick to death of talking about that? You must be.

Herring: Nah, it’s cool.

Samberg: There you go, ’cause it’s your “Dick In A Box.”

A Conversation With Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore

Since 1980, Depeche Mode has made the world rich with its Euro-elegant, industrialized brand of electronic post-punk, crepuscular pop-dance sensibilities and steely impres- sionistic lyrics touched by an ever-present questioning as to where we all fit socially, politically and romantically. Martin Gore, Dave Gahan and Andrew Fletcher—DM’s brain trust—focus more on the mess that is the planet’s political landscape at present on Spirit (Columbia) and its first single “Where’s The Revolution?” with Gore unable to look away while the world crumbles.

For better or for worse, Depeche Mode has always come with a societal message—if not directly a political one—and Spirit is no less brave for it. The bad news is, you’re sitting at home and you hear alt-right mouth- piece Richard Spencer says he’s a “lifelong fan” of yours and that DM is the “official band” of the movement. And you are … ?
Very baffled was the first thing. I couldn’t believe that he would think that we, in any way, would be affiliated with the alt-right. You’ve only got to listen to our songs—pick one at random—and you’d know we’re not about that.

Has there been any communication between the parties other than you guys issuing a statement of condemnation? Any steps such as ending his fan-club member- ship or stealing his “People Are People” 12-inch?
There’s nothing you can do to stop people from being a fan. He’s admitted that. To make claims beyond that, as if we are fans of his or his affiliations or organizations, is—to be honest—crazy.

All that you would have to do is listen; what socio-political agenda do you hold considering there’s always been some activism, labor, anti-corporate or environmental discourse in ’80s tracks like “Get The Balance Right,” “Everything Counts,” “The Landscape Is Changing” or “Monument”?
You’re no righter of wrongs, lest you turn into a superhero, but you try to always fly on the right side of history. You write what you believe in, what you trust. This time around—always, really—we want people to think when they listen to our records. This time, it was just more pointed. I really felt during the writing process for Spirit that the world was in a complete mess. Humanity had lost its way. By pointing that out, maybe you could somehow get some sort of values back. Now, I may just be imparting too much importance to music and what it can do—I don’t know if it can change the world—but even if one person is affected, then maybe I’ve achieved something.

The world’s going to hell in a handbasket, but at present yours is not the Euro-English viewpoint that you once had—it’s now that of someone who lives on our West Coast; Santa Barbara, yet. Were you looking at that mess as an American or as someone once part of the European Union, Brexit and such?
I’m looking at the world as a whole. We’ve had the Syrian crisis for years. That’s unbelievable to see those horrors daily, just as it is the refugee crisis. The Middle East has collapsed. America has its violence against blacks as cameras watch people doing nothing but having their hands in the air. Everywhere you look, the more the earth splinters apart, the more difficult it is to function without speaking out. You can’t ignore what goes on around you. I’ve lived most of my life as a European. I won’t be able to say that much longer. I could never have predicted that, but the writing has been on the wall for a while—so was the potential of Trump’s election. Only now it’s crazier that he’s won and implementing all the crazy ideas he said he would.

All this makes you think hard and makes you mourn for the planet. What then makes you laugh?
I laugh all the time.

Doesn’t that make you insane?
I have a one-year-old daughter who’s at that great age where everything she does is funny. She’s walking now, never stopping from the moment she wakes. I’m not a depressed person. I know that’s a thing.

No, no. Not inferring that. It’s just that you throw a dart on Spirit—“Poison Heart,” “The Worst Crime”—and you land upon a harsh reality. It’s nice that you have uplift and laughs personally, though there are a few comic moments on Spirit.
Yes, definitely, there’s dark, humorous lyrics in “Eternal,” which was written for my daughter. I had to slip in a vision of a black mushroom cloud rising and the radiation falling.

With you on the West Coast, Gahan in Manhattan and Fletch in England, how does a new DM get started? Who makes the first move?
When I finished my MG solo project in 2015, I just kept writing. When I felt as if I had enough songs like “Going Backwards,” together and Dave—who had finished his solo—had enough songs together, we met up. We talked about changing producers as we did the last three with the same man, found James Ford, and we were off.

Famously, you once held tight the reins of writing all DM songs until Gahan started in. Now your keyboardist and drummer are writing with Gahan. Soon, I’ll be writing Depeche songs. What say you?
The songs that Dave’s put forward are the best he’s written. He’s been doing it since 2005, and he’s getting better. All I can say is, “Why not?”

Do you feel as if living a cool, calm life in Santa Barbara affects how you work? It’s certainly a long way away from where you, Gahan and Fletch started off in chilly Basildon.
A very long way. You couldn’t get a more different place than where I grew up and where I am now.

—A.D. Amorosi

A Conversation With Tigers Jaw

Tigers Jaw returns with new record Spin, a glowing set of pop/rock tunes that denotes a shift in the band’s timeline. As the first release for producer Will Yip’s Atlantic Records imprint Black Cement, Spin is Tigers Jaw at its most composed and polished. But the band still builds upon its penchant for dizzying, unexpected hooks and bare, honest songwriting. Brianna Collins and Ben Walsh discuss the world around their record, from their new label to the newfound sense of hope and perseverance that really sets Spin apart from the rest of their catalog.

I wanted to start off by asking how you would describe Spin in relation to Charmer in terms of sound?
Brianna Collins: We definitely had a lot more time than we’ve ever had with previous records to really think about song structure and the keys that songs are in, so in the end it made everything feel really cohesive with there still being variation.
Ben Walsh: Yeah, we just had a lot more time. Also, writing Charmer, it was at a busy time in our lives when we weren’t really doing the band full time and we were writing on a much tighter schedule. This time around, for Spin, we’ve taken the band full-time and we’ve toured a whole bunch, and then we took some time off from touring specifically to write. It just felt really nice to have no pressure at all and just write and see what came naturally. We were very fortunate to have that time available to us. Another big change is that Brianna has written some songs for Spin, and she hasn’t been a primary songwriter for the band before. So that was a big shift, but she did an awesome job with it, and we’re really excited about how her songs came out.

You mentioned that you took some time off to write the record—about how long would you say it took to compose it?
Walsh: I wrote intensively for about two months, and then there were a couple more months where I was doing different things or I was on tour with different bands and I was writing in my spare time. So the bulk of it was probably done in like two months or so.

You signed to a new label, Black Cement, for this release. Timeline-wise, did you know before you went in to record the record that you were going to a new label? Or a major label?
Collins: No, we didn’t know that we were going to be signing, especially not with a major label.
Walsh: We knew our contract with Run For Cover was up; we had done three albums with them and a bunch of other splits and EPs and stuff. And we reached a point—you know, we’ve been doing this band for more than a decade now, and we were like, “Well, maybe we can ask around and see if there’s interest in other places and try to expand a little bit.” And it felt like an appropriate time in the band’s life to try and switch things up a little bit. We were talking to a couple of different labels, and we had a really, really difficult decision. But, ultimately, we felt really comfortable moving forward with this new label called Black Cement Records. Initially, when we were first approached, we were definitely skeptical because we have no direct experience with major labels and we’ve only heard stories—some of them horror stories—from other bands. We were kind of like, “Well, we’ll hear them out and see what they’re all about and see what they’re trying to pitch to us.” The funny thing is, the record was actually recorded before we committed to any label. So the record is exactly how we wanted to do it, with no label influence and total creative freedom, so we’re really proud of that. Shortly thereafter, it came time to make a decision about who would release this, and the staff at Black Cement just kept showing us time and time again how invested they are, how motivated they are, how much they believe in what we want to do. How much they want to use their resources to bring what we do to a bigger audience, not change us to fit their mold, but change what they do to amplify what we do. Which was really exciting.

I always think of Jimmy Eat World in those situations, the Bleed American kind of story where they record without a label. That ended up being a really successful record, so let’s hope it’s a similar story.
Walsh: Fingers crossed that we can follow in their footsteps. But we feel really happy with how the record came out and really proud of it. We’re helping people feel the same.

Spin seems to take a much different route lyrically than Charmer did. This record seems a bit more positive, more self-affirmed.
Walsh: Definitely. I would say that there’s an element of hope in the lyrics that wasn’t fully there before. And I’d say that just comes with living life and going through all sorts of really difficult relationships and changes and kind of realizing, “Oh, well, I’ve gotten through this much. I can do this.” There are definitely some more morose lyrics on the record, but there is an element of hope or some sort of confidence from the ashes.
Collins: That was good, “confidence from the ashes”!

The record is quite a bit different production-wise as well—a bit more polished than ever before. Will Yip produced the last two, correct?
Walsh: Charmer and Spin, yes. I think one of the biggest differences was that Charmer was tracked in less than a week. And we did it in blocks of instruments, so we did all the drums and then we did all the bass, you know. We sort of just did it as quickly as we could because we had a limited amount of time to do it. This time around, we had a full month to record everything. So we basically implemented a song-by-song schedule where every day or every two days we would be working on a different song. And we would start on the drums and then lay down the bass and start laying down the guitars, and by the end of the night, we’d be working on vocals. It was really cool for us to get to tailor all the tones and all the performances and all the sounds specifically to each song, instead of just worrying about the five other guitar tracks to get done today. I think that that allowed us to develop a much more cohesive sound overall. And each song has its own identity but everything fits together as a whole because it takes up the appropriate amount of space on the record, I think.

I know this can sometimes be out of your hands, but I was wondering if you had a say in picking “Guardian” as the first single?
Collins: Yeah. One of the great things about working with Black Cement is that they really trust our judgment with the decisions we have to make as a band. And Ben and I both strongly believed in “Guardian” as the first single. And when we told that to them, they were like, “Yeah, of course.” It’s been great to get to work with them.
Walsh: It’s been really easy getting on the same page with them because they have so much trust in us and they’re really proving to us that we can trust them as well, so it’s a really great working relationship. They’ve really proven to us how much they believe in what we do.

That’s pretty great that you still have control over stuff like that. I always think of that as so important, thematically and sound-wise, that first thing you get to hear.
Walsh: It’s the most important. Like I said earlier, we were skeptical when this was all first brought up because we thought, “Oh, if we sign to a major, we’re gonna have to play by their rules and we’re gonna have to change a lot of things around about what we do.” So we weren’t really looking to do that. But the more meetings we had with them and the more time we spent with them, we realized that they’re not trying to mold us into something that we’re not. They’re trustful of what we do and they’re respectful of what we do. So it’s been awesome to have the same amount of creative freedom that we’d have on any other independent label.

So, let’s talk about the art work. Who is the artist?
Collins: I painted it.
Walsh: Brianna’s done all of our cover arts.
Collins: Going into it, I knew that I wanted to try doing a painting. Specifically an acrylic painting because for every record I try to use a different medium or explore something further. With that in mind, I didn’t necessarily want the album art to be representative of one line of a song or even the album title. I wanted it to be something that represented Ben and I coming together to make this thing. In art school, I took a painting class and you would walk into the room and it would be this random still-life setup of things that you would never put together on your own. So I had Ben choose a couple objects and I chose a couple and I put them together, photographed them in still-life, and then painted that. So it represents this being our record, but it doesn’t have meaning in relation to the record title or the songs.

What about the name? There’s a line in “Window,” but is there a reason that word Spin stuck out to you?
Collins: I feel like naming your record is one of the harder parts of putting it out. At least for me, I would listen to the songs and try to find something that represents a feeling or something thematic that was present throughout the record. And “spin,” especially the way it is in the lyrics of the songs that it comes from, because it’s in a couple songs, it’s just a word that represents a feeling that can be overwhelming, whether it’s good or bad. It just encompasses how you’re feeling in that moment, like if it’s crazy or overwhelming—that’s what I got out of it and that’s how I related to it. Ben, I don’t know if it’s different for you.
Walsh: Definitely, it’s just like an overwhelming feeling where you sort of lose your bearings and don’t now what’s up and what’s down. And it did kind of pop up in a few songs and the meaning that it carried, being overwhelmed and being out of your element because of something that’s happened to you.

Ben, I read recently that your favorite record is Saves The Day’s In Reverie. So, Brianna, what’s your favorite record?
Collins: Ha, well that’s my favorite Saves The Day record for sure. Is In Reverie your favorite record ever, Ben?
Walsh: Yup, In Reverie is my favorite record of all time.
Collins: I think a record that I’ve consistently listened to literally since the moment I got it, like I’ve listened to it every year since I’ve had it, is Plans by Death Cab For Cutie. I listen to that so much.
Walsh: Amazing record.
Collins: Or Brand New Eyes by Paramore. They’re probably tied.

It’s interesting because Plans and In Reverie are both the big major-label jumps for their respective bands. So it’s good timing.
Walsh: That’s true. Well, it didn’t work out the best for In Reverie, because they did get dropped. [Laughs] So hopefully that’s not gonna happen to us. We have enough people that are looking out for us.

So Charmer had some Twin Peaks references. Are you both excited for the revival?
Collins: Yeah, so excited.
Walsh: Absolutely.
Collins: I feel like I can’t stop buying Twin Peaks merchandise. I got Ben this throw rug thing … Or is it like a blanket? It was in the Showtime store, but it’s literally like the Black Lodge red with the floor pattern.
Walsh: We’re very excited. I know there are a lot of people that are skeptical about how true it’s gonna be to the feeling of the first two seasons, but as long as David Lynch is involved and working on it, I feel like he won’t let its legacy be tainted. I feel great about it, I’m gonna watch it no matter what. But it comes out while we’re on tour!
Collins: We have to get Showtime so we can watch it together.
Walsh: We have to figure out a way to watch it on the road.

I feel like it can’t get as bad as the middle of season two.
Walsh: You have to really hang on and push yourself through it. It comes back in a very big way. There are bright moments throughout the middle of the second season, but it definitely puts viewers to the test a little bit.

Do you each have a favorite song from Spin?
Collins: Well, my favorite song that Ben wrote is “Escape Plan.” I don’t know, I think all of Ben’s lyrics are really honest, but you really feel something from the song when you listen to it. I really love how we did that song, the dynamics of it are really cool to me, the way it builds. The harmonies that we did, all around I really just love that song.
Walsh: One of my favorites, and I will pick one of Brianna’s songs—I think “Same Stone” came out really awesome. I think it’s a completely different vibe for the band but in a really cool way. It really showcases her piano playing, her vocals. When it was first being written, we didn’t know exactly how it was gonna turn out dynamically and Will Yip did an amazing job engineering it. And the performances that Brianna did were awesome. It just came out really great—I think it adds this new flavor to the album that none of our previous stuff had before.

Any other thoughts you’d like to leave us with?
Walsh: I just want to give Will Yip a little bit more credit for bridging the gap between this major-label world and the scene that we’re more familiar with. He’s the one that first developed the relationship with the people at Atlantic, with Fueled By Ramen and Roadrunner. The bands that he is close with and loves, he always has their back and tries to help them out in any way, and he would never steer us in the wrong direction. He was really instrumental in starting this relationship, and he is involved with the label itself and is doing a lot to ensure that we have the creative freedom that we want and need.

—Jordan Walsh

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Continue reading “A Conversation With Tigers Jaw”

Exclusive Cover Story Excerpt: Aimee Mann Interviewed By “Mad Men” Creator Matthew Weiner

Here’s an exclusive excerpt of the current MAGNET cover story. To read the whole thing, order a copy of the issue here.

Interview by Matthew Weiner

Photo by James Elliot Bailey

Matthew Weiner, creator of the prolific series Mad Men, has been friends with Aimee Mann for what feels like a lifetime. So it’s no surprise he happily agreed to sit down with her to discuss Mental Illness, her ninth studio album. Spoiler alert: There will be Trump.

Aimee Mann’s music has been in my life for a long time. I’ll place myself somewhere in high school when I first heard her voice, and over the years as I got older, I discovered that we were emotionally and maybe even artistically on the same path. When I was lucky enough to eventually meet her, I found that not only was she as deep as I’d hoped but funny, too. I guess you should be able to tell from her music that she’s witty, but I’m always surprised by how wry and quick she can be, especially when talking about work. When MAGNET asked me to interview her, I jumped at the opportunity because it meant both a chance to hear her brilliant new album Mental Illness before anyone else but also to ask all the dumb questions about her artistic process. And she couldn’t laugh it off this time. —Matthew Weiner

Matthew Weiner: We were talking about Marvin Hamlisch. You said you went to see him, and I’m always fascinated by, you in particular, but I think most musicians don’t have a kind of caste system. If someone can do it …

Aimee Mann: I think when you’re younger, you have that caste system. When you become a professional, you sort of realize the work that goes into it, and into writing a song and the craftsmanship, and you start to appreciate other things. I’ve gone back and listened to stuff that I kind of rejected as a younger person as not being cool.

Weiner: Is Broadway part of that? Most of us, our parents were into that at some point. I have two older sisters, so there was a lot of Funny Girl in our house, and I know a lot of Broadway stuff.

Mann: My parents every now and then would take a trip up to the big city from Richmond, Va., and go see some plays and bring back soundtracks, which I loved. I loved it, and so I didn’t have any feeling that that was uncool at all. And me and my brother were both in plays in high school and in musicals. That never seemed … I never got the idea that was uncool.

Weiner: Let’s talk about the album. I actually fell like having this conversation about the past or influences and so forth, this seems very backward-looking. Not musically in any way, though there’s a lot of folk in it—

Mann: It’s pretty folky.

Weiner: I’m gonna do the two stupidest things: generalize too much and assume you’re the subject of every song. Both of which aren’t fair. I know it’s hard, but you’re singing in the first person and I know you a little bit. But there is … It’s not nostalgic, but there’s a lot of it as a topic. The subject of it feels like it’s a lot “You never loved me,” and there’s a few of them that seem related to the past.

Mann: There’s definitely a couple of them that are, like, “Yeah, there’s literally a song called ‘Stuck In The Past,” so the idea of, like, “Here I am doing this thing, continually.” Actually, there’s a song that’s a co-write with this guy named John Roderick, and that was a song that he kinda half-finished and gave it to me to finish, but that was kinda the topic of his song, doing the same thing over again, so that kind of resonated perfectly.

Weiner: You say it in more than one song, some grammatical construction that’s kind of like, “I’m going to my default position,” which is really, and it’s always so self-critical because you’re you, self-deprecating. It’s always like, “I’m going to go back to being an idiot,” which you’re not, but we do feel like fools when we think about how we naturally behave.

Mann: Yeah.

Weiner: I just thought that there was … I would say it feels like a processing experience, the album. It feels like there’s processing going on.

Mann: Well, writing’s always like that, right? You have an idea. There’s something that resonates emotionally, you’re not really sure why; you come up with a plot and a story and images that speak to that, and suddenly you have this thing in front of you. It’s like telling somebody your dream.

Weiner: Don’t pretend like it’s not influenced by your experiences.

Mann: That moment where you suddenly realize, “Oh, this is what I’m talking about,” you know?

Weiner: Is the album still the form in which you create? You’ve had lots of hits, but you’ve been doing albums, and I always wondered if technology was gonna destroy that at some point. I loved it. I love sitting down with the album, and you, as always, have ordered everything exquisitely. I’ve actually felt like there was this ramp up to “Rollercoasters,” and then “Patient Zero” is kind of near the climax of it, and it has a sort of retrospective feeling toward the last two songs. And even musically, there’s just so much simplicity early on. I wouldn’t call it production, but other voices come in more and more and more toward the end of the album. And then, of course, you’re by yourself there.

Mann: I think I wanted to establish it as being an acoustic record, like really stripped down, so I wanted to start off with the most stripped-down sound. It is really hard to resist the temptation to load up instruments and keep painting and decorating and putting stuff on.

Weiner: Now, when you do that, are you fixing something or are you just saying, “I want it to be fuller”?

Mann: No, it’s just fun.

Weiner: It’s gotta make it better somewhere, right? Better’s the enemy of good. I don’t mean that.

Mann: Sometimes I think it takes a certain leap of faith to say, “This song is going to be good as it is without a bunch of background vocals, without a bunch of guitar, without drums, without bass, without a big string section.” Just like, “Here it is; here’s the song,” and folk music of my era had such an impact because—

Weiner: It’s really before your era.

Mann: Yeah, a little before my era. Because it’s like a guy talking to you and there’s something very powerful about that. You do start to distance yourself from the listener when you have a lot of padding and sonic candy on top.

Weiner: It feels very confident to me, and what I was saying about, it’s almost like a taking stock, but I feel like you could only … like, who does that? Teenagers and wise people. Teenagers are talking about, “I remember last summer, and this is the last summer we’ll ever have,” and then all of a sudden you get to a certain point. A friend of mine wrote a movie about this great painter who was being sought by the Pope, and the Pope would basically make you paint an audition painting. And this guy was such a master that all he did with one hand was he painted a perfect circle in one motion, with one brush stroke, and he handed this circle and said, “Take that to the Pope,” and he got the job. I don’t know if that’s true or if my friend invented it, but in my mind it’s always been, “That’s what you’re looking for.”

Mann: Put that in your Pope and smoke it!

Weiner: I also feel like as an artist, a little bit of it is like, “Hey, guess what? I don’t work for free.” There’s something about the simplicity, the confidence of … you want it, because, and I assume that you write this way, you’ve gotta be starting with the simplest part. I always imagined you, because I have this romantic vision anyway of you alone with your guitar, or you humming something in your head or you writing stuff in your phone, and it’s a solidarity sort of beginning expression, then you start elaborating on it. And you always jokingly said to me, “It’s a trick. I could teach you how to write a song.”

Mann: I feel like I could.

Weiner: A lot of people can’t do it, so whatever the trick is, don’t share it!

Mann: For me, the trick to writing a song is if I … If you can randomly fool around with chords, and eventually the chords will feel like a piece of music that makes you feel something, and then what does that feeling feel like? What are some words that come with that feeling? I guess it’s more like a word association, but you start with music.

Weiner: You’re completely diminishing the muscle memory of knowing what things go together, what chords go together, what feels like anything. And also, I remember we ended up doing 92 hours of Mad Men, and after the first season, everything sort of worked out as much as it did, especially considering we didn’t think we’d make it beyond the pilot. There was this really underdog feeling that never went away. I don’t think I knew people liked the show until it was over. I believed it, in some way. I remember writing this down: that I keep going places and ending up someplace I’ve already been. I had Don say that in the start of the second season, ’cause I’d used everything. I had nothing. I used to always laugh at the studios asking for a Bible. I didn’t know one thing that was in the second season, you know? But anyway. There’s something about listening to … This is probably the third album that’s come out since I’ve known you that I’ve gotten to hear early, and I’m just kind of marveling at the consistency of the expression and the fact that it changes as well as what you have to say. Honestly, we can’t have this conversation, but I wanna know, “How can you work?” We’re both political people, but it’s usually just for bitching. This is in the forefront of my existence right now. Was the album done before all this shit happened?

Mann: Yeah, it was done a little while ago, and I just delayed putting it out because I needed a break because I’d put out my last solo record and that record with Ted (Leo) for the Both.

Weiner: So, it’s four actually.

Mann: Yeah. God. I feel like we’ve just met.

Weiner: I know, but it’s been like … Mad Men went on the air, like, 10 years ago.

Mann: I think if this record wasn’t so … A lot of it is about mental illness, which I do think fits in with the tenor of the times. I feel like our present administration is in the grip of a serious mental illness that is almost like a folie a deux except there’s more the deux. I think people—there’s kind of a mob mentality, like a looter mentality, where you feel people setting aside their principles in the excitement of looting.

Weiner: I read this great article that was talking about how capitalism’s saving grace is apparently that people will always act in their own self-interest. But what we’re discovering is what we already knew: that people are animals and would love to have their dominance and passions ignited, even at the expenses of food and shelter, if they’re angry enough.

Mann: It’s amazing. I do actually really think Donald Trump is mentally ill. I think he’s mentally ill and/or also has some kind of dementia situation.