How important is the visual aspect/aesthetics of the band and MTV rotation or do you separate the two?
I thought the Devil…video came out well. It’s still fun for us to throw around ideas and have them actually come to life. As far as MTV video rotation: I don’t think that exists anymore, does it? It used to be that when I saw a video on MTV, it was a shared experience. I knew my friends in different parts of the world were watching the same video premiere. I think something has been lost in that respect. It simply isn’t the same as clicking on something at your desk at home alone.
Do you put a lot of pressure on yourself when it comes to progressing as a guitarist?
I think that one of our most reliable attributes is that we have a great filter on what we think is shit. It seems to relieve a lot of stress when you can say “f*ck it, I like it. I hope everyone else digs it, too.” As far as progressing as a player, I think that if you do anything for 25 years straight you are going to get a little better as you go, right?
The lyrics on this album seem to balance personal politics with a wider view of the world. Do you feel that as you’ve matured, you’re quicker to spot manipulation and lies?
We’ve always had the ability to spot bullshit. And to create it ourselves, too. You learn as you go, I suppose. Everyone has their place in the game, and it helps when you surround yourself with good folks. We have been blessed with caring people over the years. I will say though, that my love for music still far surpasses my hatred of some aspects of the music business. If that ever tilts the wrong way, I’ll be the first to walk away from it.
Was there a track on this album that you really couldn’t quite get right until you had a revelatory moment or was it all pretty much set in stone before you entered the studio?
Every song is it’s own living thing. Sometimes songs tell you what they need in the studio, and it goes quickly; it’s a beautiful relationship. Other times, you spend weeks in the studio, putting make-up on it, buying it clothes, telling it you love it, spending absurd amounts of money on it and ultimately realizing that you are never getting to second base with it. At that point, you’re either heartbroken or you’re glad to see it go. Music is life.
I assume that when you started out, many of your friends were in bands. How do you view the way things have worked out knowing that you now have a very different lifestyle because of your success but still remaining grounded to those people?
I love this question. I’ve never been asked that before. I am still in contact with almost everyone I’ve ever jammed with since middle school. I come from a family of musicians as well. I don’t look at it as success versus failure. This is going to sound like some contrite bullshit but, sharing a groove with someone is like going to church for me. There is no other fellowship like it! Almost everyone I have ever played with is still playing somewhere. I go to their gigs and they come to mine. I sit in with them all the time, regardless of venue size or attendance numbers. Music is for everyone. Just do us all a favor and try not to suck.
Do you feel that your relationship with the fans has become depersonalised or enhanced by technology?
I personally think that you are responsible for your own musical experience. I listen to vinyl, mostly when I am home but I listen to the 30,000 songs on my iPod when I’m on the road. I love having a direct line to people. I love talking with fans on my official Facebook page, hearing their music and stuff. It’s fun for me. But, the giant digital elephant in the room is still going to be, “how will the artists get paid?” I would just hate to see a generation of great new young musicians/songwriters just deciding to forgo music altogether because it simply doesn’t pay anything. Where is the next Hendrix or Cobain? Probably miserable in some accounting class right now…