1. You began working on your first album while touring/playing in Elliot Smith’s band. What did you learn about
music while working with Elliot?
Elliot was such an incredible musician that he orchestrated, arranged, and performed 99% of all the instruments on his records.
All musicians have a slightly different way of voicing chords on the guitar, a picking style or the way they finger scales on the piano.
Playing night after night with someone, performing their music you’d start to pick up on some of those little things that they would do that made it so unique and special.
2. Did you co-write any songs with Elliot? Did he offer imput in your first record?
The song “Summertime” on “Blue Swan Orchestra” was written while on tour playing in Elliot’s band. There’s chords in it that are unique to him.
When I was recording that song in the studio he was recording “Basement“. He remembered the song and said he had an idea for a vocal harmony arrangement.
That evening he recorded it straight onto the reel to reel and it sounded absolutely beautiful. His vocals on that track are so haunting and amazing that it just makes that track very special to me.
3. You were in the group Spain with Josh Haden? How long were you in the group and why did you leave?
Spain was the first real band I’d ever joined. I played guitar and keys in the band. I loved the music and it continues to be a huge influence on me.
The band has such a large and loyal fan base in Europe that we could play so quietly at the shows and hear everything perfectly.
I joined them when “She Haunts my Dreams” was released and later I got to record the “I Believe” album.
After that frontman Josh Haden,did a solo album along with many other music projects.
It’s a small world because as after that I played with Rachel Haden, (Josh’s sister) in the band, The Rentals.
4. You play guitar, piano, and cello…anything else? Are you classically trained?
I grew up playing guitar and piano, learning from family and friends. In college I was a music major. Learning the cello, I got to play in the orchestra.
5. You’ve also worked with Neil Finn (crowded house) as a collaborator or just bandmate?
I actually had the fortunate chance to go to New Zealand with Neil’s band and record songs for “One All” album.
We toured a bunch for years.Those were seriously some of the most amazing and fun shows.
6. You’ve toured with Bright Eyes and Grandaddy also, what musical lessons have your learned from those groups?
Grandaddy is probably my all time favorite band and to be able to hear them every night was incredible. They had this way of making it look and sound so effortless and comfortable,yet totally consistent every show. That only comes from knowing and playing together for years.
On our upcoming tour we are doing a night in Bozeman, Montana with Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle!
7. Any chance of you opening for any of the current Bright Eyes dates in 2011?
We’re throwing our hat in the ring because we’d love to!
8. Who are your musical inspirations these days?
My musical inspirations pretty much come from whatever happens to be going on at the time.
I like to always carry a little tape recorder and just record little ideas or tid-bits when we’re traveling or out and about
9. What’s your favorite track on your newest release ‘Sleepwalker’?
I think the one I’m closest to is the tittle track “Sleepwalker” because it’s so different from anything else we’ve done
in the past yet somehow still has elements of our core sound.
We have a video along with this song in which all of the albums artwork and cover are stills taken from the film, tying
10. When you recorded ‘Sleepwalker’ were their any tracks that were a challenge to finish?
It’s crazy because somehow it’s always the simplest things that are the hardest.The easiest vocal will take the longest time.
We probably spent the most time on “Sleepwalker” because we added strings and you have to take your time with that because it can get a bit “pitchy”!