q: did you grow in a musical environment?
a: i was born in nebraska and i grew up in texas. there was only country music. i liked some things though, mainly hank williams. on my mother's side, everyone was a musician but no-one made a living out of it. although they were very good technically. my grandfather was a dixieland jazz drummer, my grandmother sang standards like "moonriver"... i took piano lessons when i was 10. they had great expectations about me <laughs>. my parents divorced when i was one. my father has some very good records. i only saw him a couple of weeks a year. then i lived with him for quite some time in portland oregon, three hours from seattle. it a small city, 1 million people including the suburbs. there was not much to do, punk bands, kinda hardcore. grunge came... portland was far enough not to be contaminated by this kind of indifferent seattle attitude. it's not too much like that anymore but for a while it was really boring. all these bands that became famous and all the others that arrived and tried to sound exactly the same. on every corner you saw a new kurt cobain...all the record companies agents came to try to sign the new nirvana.
q: what were you first influences?
a: probably the beatles, and then dylan. my father taught me how to play "don't think twice, it's alright". i love dylan's words, but even more than that, i love the fact that he loves words. that's my favorite thing with him. sometimes we play "when i paint my masterpiece" in concert.
q: you said "i am not a folk singer"
a: i like folk songs but it is a very defined genre and i think it's not really what i play. for me, the difference between folk and pop is that in folk there is a clear message in every song and there is usually morals in the story. it's fine but it's not how i write. i like more "impressionist" things, words pastings. pop is wider, more different things can be in it together.
q: people talk about a link between you and english folk like nick drake, fairport convention,...
a: i only knew about those bands after some people in the usa told me that i had been influenced by them <laughs>
q: the last xo song is "a cappella". is this a beach boys influence?
a: until two years ago, i thought i didn't like them, i had never heard pet sounds. for american people, they were reagan's favorite band. and all these songs about cars and girls... but people told me "come on, you've got to listen to pet sounds". i said "ok". but once i really listened to it, i was "wow it's good". i particularly like "god only knows", it's a great song. their music became a big inspiration. "i didn't understand" was a piano song. then, after all those where i use more instruments than i used to, it seemed interesting to have one without any instrument.
q: who are your favorite songwriters?
a: i like beck, built to spill. what is on the radio these days in the usa is not very interesting. i am more the kind to be attracted to an album and listen to it for three months, like recently "the basement tapes" by dylan and the band. neil young is someone i loved after everybody else, when i heard "harvest" when i was 22. younger, i was into clash, saints, beatles, costello. i liked short pop songs that conveyed a great intensity, even if they were not loud and fast. my goal, even with acoustic sounds is to find that energy again, the energy of punk.
thanks to david, moe