First of all, how are you enjoying your time in London? What have you been up to?
Man, it's been lovely. We got in yesterday, I just rested a bit, and today we're back on the Promo-Train. Playing songs in parks and taking pictures in front of people who have no idea who we are. You know, just the usual s**t; we're just enjoying it. The weather's just as good as it gets at the moment too.
You're supporting Jack White at the iTunes Festival on Saturday, will this be the first time you've played with him?
Yeah, this will be the first time we've played with him. I've never even seen him or The White Stripes play so this is a new thing for me. I familiarised myself with his Blunderbuss record right before coming out here and I really enjoyed it, so I'm excited to see the songs played live.
Blunderbuss is a reasonable departure from his White Stripes material...
You know, I don't really know that much of the White Stripes stuff except for maybe the first two albums; I just kind of got lost in there somewhere. I was pleasantly surprised when I put on this new record while driving my kids to school the other day and I was like, "Man this is great". I ended up listening to it the whole time I was home.
Your new album, Mirage Rock, which is fantastic by the way, is out in a couple of weeks' time, are you expecting a good reception here in the UK?
Well, I don't expect to get good reception anytime, anywhere, honestly. I know far better than to expect anything like that. I imagine there'll be closer ears in the UK because of Glyn Johns producing the record, maybe a little extra interest perking up... but you can never really guess how people are going to receive your work.
How was working with Glyn? A man who has produced albums by The Who & Ryan Adams as well as working with Led Zeppelin back in the day...
It was great, man, surprisingly easy. I think the mode in which we worked, strictly analogue and live, that should lend itself to being easier. He really is a fantastic person to be around; I really just enjoyed his company. It couldn't have gone any better.
What can the fans expect from Mirage Rock?
I think they can expect a bit more of a looser vibe than our previous albums; it's very... haphazard, without a better way to put it. It's very loose and raw at times, but I think it also has its moments that hearken back to the older things we've done, while hopefully pushing forward. Um, I don't know, maybe letting our hair down a little bit. There's a bit more humour in there than in some of the other albums and just a bit more of a celebratory vibe.
'The Funeral' from Everything All The Time made it to "67th Greatest Song of the 2000s" in an online poll. Is there one track on Mirage Rock that you feel could be as successful in this decade?
Hell no! No, well... f**k. There are songs that I like on this album but I wouldn't have guessed that 'The Funeral' would have been a popular song. I never know what's good and bad when it comes to my own stuff. I've been very fortunate that people have loved 'The Funeral' so much but I wouldn't even know how to go about doing anything like it again because I just stumbled through all of this stuff... you know?
I can imagine. The singles released so far have been very well received; getting lots of radio play here in the UK. Did you anticipate this level of media attention?
Well, I don't really consider us a singles band anyways but normally our singles aren't really representative of the overall album. I'm pleasantly surprised that they do get played, but I think, if anything, the media attention that we get comes down to a lot of hard work. You have to bring the music to people. We've done a lot of touring here and you have to do your promo, man! I've got to talk to you, I've got to talk to the radio station... you have to play the game in a way and bring the music to everyone, give a handshake and meet people. There's a lot to be said for doing that.
Were you tempted to release the album through Brown Records?
I do have my imprint again on this album but the label (Brown Records) doesn't really function except for my co-ownership of the masters (copies) and full ownership after a certain amount of time. It's not really a functioning label at the moment so it's just a glorified stamp.
It started out being quite a small project then grew, almost, maybe more than you had expected?
As far as Brown Records goes? Yeah. When I started doing it the first time, it became a massive weight on my shoulders that I was going to be responsible for ruining peoples careers if I didn't do a good enough job. The second time I put it to bed after doing our contract with Columbia & Sony, the person that I was going to be releasing through wasn't really interested in the bands that I was trying to bring to them so I just decided to not do it for a while. Until I can do it correctly, there's no point in dragging other people along with me.
I understand. You mentioned that you've already been touring on the back of Mirage Rock and in the past you've shared the stage with the likes of Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and Kings of Leon, has this influenced your sound in any way?
Hmm, that's a good one. I would say yes, Pearl Jam especially. To make it this long in the business as they have, to endure a career that long is really inspiring, and the fact that they're so down to earth. The same thing goes for the Foo Fighters. It's funny; the band that I most connect with is the one we've been opening for recently, My Morning Jacket. They're a favourite of mine and, musically, they got me off more than any band we've toured with. Just seeing how they not only challenge themselves, but also the audience and the Rock & Roll genre as a whole. We've been very fortunate to have toured with some great bands but mostly I look at how they go about their work; if they've put their time into it and worked to create a really great show. That's the most inspiring thing.
You mentioned Pearl Jam especially, another Seattle band. Do you feel your sound is still housed in Seattle, despite having moved away from the area?
I actually wish it was more housed there. Growing up in South Carolina and recently going back to South Carolina, it's easy for me to feel the nostalgia of that area and be influenced by it. I feel like I was always a tourist in Seattle in a way; that it was out of my comfort zone in a way that I would like to revisit. The moodiness of that place seeped into my bones more than where I live currently so in a way I wish it was gloomier sometimes in South Carolina just for the inspirational aspects of it. I also like being happy, like everybody else!
Looking closer to home here in the UK, you've built a connection with Biffy Clyro, recording vocals on two tracks for their new album. Is this a collaboration you're keen to pursue further?
Yeah, absolutely. I'm just a fan of that band, that's what it comes down to. I really like their records and they turn me on like a mother****er watching them play live. Yeah, I would love to explore that further and I'm just lucky to have been invited to the party for their new record. If they don't send me a copy, I'll be first in line at the shops.
This weekend heralds the start of a world tour in October concluding with 4 dates in the UK mid-November. Will a chunk of the new record get aired live on this tour?
We've got most of it out of our system doing the support gigs for My Morning Jacket in The states. Luckily, when you're supporting, who cares if you play a bunch of new s**t? Especially if no-one knows us anyway. I think we've got a lot of it under our belt as it is; there's some difficult ones that we certainly need to touch up on. I would hope that, by November, we know what we're doing but, s**t, there's still stuff from the last record I don't know how to play.
Sounds like the pressure's on to really get the new ones nailed down in time...
It's not really the pressure of it, more... is it engaging? Do we play it well enough to the level where the audience is engaged by it? It's all about making one great, cohesive show that doesn't bore the people that bought a ticket.
Those four UK dates culminate in a show at the Hammersmith Apollo. That will be your biggest UK headline show to date, won't it?
It will indeed. Last time we did Brixton and that was f***ing huge for us, as did The Roundhouse before that. It feels like we're obviously not doing too badly; we keep bumping up venues but, s**t, I'll even take that "Bush Hall" over there by Shepherd's Bush (presumably Shepherd's Bush Empire). I like them all. I love the history of Hammersmith, all the live records that have been recorded there. I can't help but want to do one as well but... s**t, I swear we just are usually so surprised by the trajectory that we're taking that we're kind of in awe of it, in the hope that we don't completely shank the gig.
After Christmas you're headed out to Australia to be a part of the Big Day Out Tour, what are you expecting from the fans Down Under this time around?
We've been lucky to have been there a lot. We've spent a lot of time out there and cultivated a good amount of a fan base so I expect that there'll be people that came to see us. I'm really looking forward to seeing other bands as well; I've never seen Animal Collective, Alabama Shakes and things like that. I like the camaraderie of touring when it comes to a package like that so I'm most looking forward to that. I really enjoy the Australian people as a whole and I do know that this festival is also known as Big Day Off, where you kind of have to wait for the gear to turn up, travelling across those long expanses between cities. I'm excited to have a couple of days of in between playing gigs to write some new tunes.
Awesome. Well, I look forward to hearing them and indeed seeing you in November. Thanks, and good luck.
Stripped Sessions 7 (Lights Change/Bright Lights Bigger City & I Need A Dollar)
In the City
Stripped Sessions 2 (Run For Cover/Pumped Up Kicks)
Stripped Sessions 3 (Protect Me/You Know I'm No Good)