The Royal Canoe oarsman (or would the singer obviously be the canoe’s captain?) takes five from us.

1.) What’s your favorite Beatles song and why?
Oh wow, that is a tough question. I’m gonna go with “Happiness is a Warm Gun.” That whole form of a three-part song—the creative way that it flows from one part to the next, and they seem so unrelated to each other, but it flows so seamlessly. And then that high note that John hits on the last “Gun …” line is one of my favorite vocal moments in music. I’ve always loved that. I don’t know, it just seems to really sum up that era of the Beatles where they were completely willing to take any flight of fancy. Some moments were better than others, but that’s definitely my favorite of that era from the White Album.

2.) Who are three songwriters—living or dead—that you wish you could sit down and write a song with?
OK, how about Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. Let’s go John Lennon, why not? Even though you just asked me a Beatles question. God, it’s tough, because there’s so many great people. I have such a hard time with lists. I’m not good at them. As soon as someone asks me a question like this, I completely freeze up. I’m like, “Oooh, if I say that person, someone’s gonna think this about me.” Why don’t we say Thom Yorke?

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?
I really like the song on this [forthcoming Royal Canoe] record that’s called “Button Fumbla.” It’s probably one of my favorites that I’ve ever been a part of. Maybe half of it is just how much work we put into it, because we wrote about 50 different sections that didn’t pan out, and we’re just so happy with the end result. It is kind of that model that I emulate a lot of having three or four different sections that doesn’t just go verse-chorus-verse-chorus, as opposed to a cyclical approach to songwriting. It’s more of, like, an upward hill. I’m really happy with the way that one turned out.

4.) What’s the one song that you wish you could’ve written?
You know what? That Feist song, “Let it Die.” I think I’ve tried to write that song about 50 times and failed miserably. I’ve always tried for that perfect slow jam. And her voice is so amazing. I just think she nailed it on that one.

5.) Is there anything you’re listening to these days that you’re particularly digging?
You know, I haven’t been listening to a ton of music recently, to be honest with you. We listen to so much hip-hop in the van, because, well, the driver always gets to choose the music. So, actually Pharoahe Monch is someone that we’ve really been into. And Slick Rick. It’s a bit—it’s really 90’s rap, but oh! It’s so good. There’s actually a lot of tips we’re stealing from that genre, I won’t lie to you.


  1. High-five on “Happiness is a Warm Gun” — so many layers of goodness. I am excited to read the long-form!

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