The musician’s musician, who’s probably found his way into your ears more times than you suspect, takes five from us.
1.) What’s your favorite Beatles song and why?
Oh, man. Forever it was “She Said, She Said.” Just the sound of that record, that period right before they were super-psych, but still kind of had a psych quality to the songwriting. And it also kind of sounds like punk in a way, you know? There’s just something about Revolver. It’s insanely cool and it was that song forever. It’s probably not that song anymore. You know, “Something” is one of my favorites. “Something” is just insane. I mean, to me, it’s like “Name your favorite of the three songwriters.” “Something” is definitely my favorite Harrison song. For Lennon, jeez. It’s just too many for the other guys.
2.) Who are three songwriters—living or dead—that you wish you could sit down and write a song with?
Joni Mitchell is one. I would’ve loved to write with Paul McCartney. And Brian Wilson. That’s kind of era-specific. Brian now? Ehhhh. If I can choose my choice-era, Smile. That is the most magical, joyful thing. It’s incredible. Friends too. Smile and Friends.
3.) If you had to pick one song that you’ve written that you really think sums you up as a songwriter, what would that be?
Hmm. Again, I have so many facets. Some stuff that sounds like Cole Porter and some stuff that sounds like Buzzcocks and a lot of stuff in between. Man, that’s hard to answer. I think that song “Emotion Machine” from the last record [2009’s All Quiet on the Noise Floor]. It’s kind of got everything that I love in it. It’s got kind of ’60s garage feel, it’s got a psych verse and the chorus is just pure 1977 power pop. Which is one of my favorite things, that real urgent rock and roll, but with kind of a sweet thing to it.
4.) What’s the one song that you wish you could’ve written?
You know, maybe to mention Joni again, because I’m a Joni Mitchell fanatic, I just love that song “Free Man in Paris.” I just think that’s such an amazing, weird, beautiful song. Just everything about it. Financially, I wish I would’ve written “Happy Birthday.”
5.) Is there anything you’re listening to these days that you’re particularly digging?
I do like that Tame Impala record [Lonerism]. What else am I listening to? I mean just a lot of older stuff. Always excited to put on an early Brian Eno record. I’m trying to think of new stuff. Kind of like that Foxygen band, but I’m also not sure, because I don’t want to say I love something when I might not yet. The jury’s still out. I guess I like it. I love the new Ariel Pink, but he’s a friend of mine, so that feels a little like nepotism. But that record is fantastic.