Music Q&A:

Zac Little of the American folk-rock band talks about making his new songs as spare as possible ahead of playing Hyde Park Book Club in Leeds, 23 Nov, and Yes in Manchester on 25 November

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What informs your music and songwriting?
Anything can inspire a song really, but I have to work to stay inspired. I try to keep my antenna up. I take walks. I find inspiration in a newspaper article, a book, movie, some odd new food. But it isn’t only new experiences. I try to step back and see something that has become too familiar as new, to recognise the strangeness that gets washed over with the everyday.

How have you evolved as a band over the years?
There have been many varied incarnations of this project over the past decade or so, and I’ve been fortunate to share this project with many talented folks. It changes as the people in it change. We started as kind of a bluegrass group that wanted to play rock songs. When that group eventually dissolved, I was left to create recordings with no solid live band to reference – it allowed us to introduce more abstract and surreal textures. Then we had to figure out how to represent those recordings live. How do you channel the spirit of a part that can’t be literally re-created? That process taught us a lot, it informed further songwriting and came full circle into making more recordings. With the new record I wanted to create something really focused. It was a reductive process rather than additive. Instead of adding layer after layer, it was a question of how spare the songs could be and still be the most effective.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
Ingesting and processing. Performing selections from Pillar of Na live.

What’s on your rider?
Two hand painted ostrich eggs, five smokey quartz crystals, one rare Beanie Baby, one large bag of Reese’s Pink Hearts, chilled.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
Once I grew a big airbag on my neck – very similar to the thing a frog puffs out when it’s croaking. It was about the size of basketball, and would inflate and deflate in rhythm with my heart. This was while I was waiting in line to buy a sports drink at a United Dairy Farmers. It was both surreal and embarrassing. Fortunately it disappeared by the next morning and never returned.

What song do you wish you’d written?
Currently, The Swimming Song by Loudon Wainwright III.

What’s your worst lyric?
“Ba da da da da, I’m lovin’ in.”

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