Music Q&A: Welles

The American rocker is heading out on tour, visiting Sheffield’s Leadmill, 5 Feb and Manchester’s Academy 2, 6 Feb

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What informs your music and songwriting?
I gather ideas for themes from my reading and listening. Lately I’ve been reading East of Eden by Steinbeck and listening to a lot of a group called Sugar Candy Mountain and an artist that goes by the name Little Wings. The language used and the settings of my tunes come from my real life experiences.

How have you evolved as an artist over the years?
Do you mean: “Have I evolved as an artist over the years?” Certainly in some ways in others ways I’m still very much me. The aesthetic and overall soundscape change as my tastes can be fickle, but the subject matter and the way I approach writing have been more or less the same. I take on the challenge of writing as raw as the reality was presented to me.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
I’ve been curating some older tunes of mine – from last year – as well as writing new ones. I make drawings in MS Paint as often as possible. I write poems and stanzas or just couplets continuously, always waiting for the next tune to pop up. I carry the book I’m reading and the notebook I’m writing in with me.

What’s on your rider?
I don’t have one. When I do get one I want Natural Light, Pall Malls, and ginger tea. Maybe a coffee maker.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
On the last video shoot we did we were out in Argyle, Michigan, aka nowhere. There wasn’t much to choose from as far as restaurants were concerned – especially hard to find a place that could cover the various dietary needs of a bunch of Detroit art school kids. So we got Subway, and the orders were particular. The sandwiches came, I picked up what I thought was mine and bit right in. It was the director of photography’s damn sandwich. So there I am, skeezy artist, eatin a good man’s lunch at a shoot where food was about the only comfort aside from lukewarm coffee and lousy hand warmers. He asked me if it was good as I was chewing it. That was pretty mortifying.

What song do you wish you’d written?
Dust Bunnies by Kurt Vile. This tune just captures perfectly his subtle frustration. Like the whole tune feels like like the eternal shrug that lies at the end of all fits of passive aggression.

What’s your worst lyric?
“All my life I’ve been workin’, slavin’, all my life I’ve tried – hold me like I’m leaving.” It just seems a bit heavy handed to me. We’re all trying here.

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