The Police could get away with doing an entire record with really no audible reverb, which I have always admired and thought would be a lot of fun to try to re-create.
There are definitely some nights where the show is over, and you're on the bus or a hotel room, and it's sort of a shock to go from being in the atmosphere of a club or a theater and be at your own show to being by yourself in a hotel room.
I don't remember a lot of the good times from my days with the Truckers.
I'm not a big AA guy, but I'll go every once in a while. They do tell you that going out and helping other people really helps you a lot. It seems like a simple thing to say, but it's really true.
The more you read, the better you are at writing, no matter what you're writing. A lot of songwriters miss that and don't see the connection there, and I've always felt like you're more able to communicate if you have a bigger toolbox to work with.
I don't have certain kinds of fatigue. My focus stays strong - I can work on a song for six or seven hours in one day and not get bored or tired of it.
I don't write a whole lot about one person that exists in reality; it's usually characteristics of different people that I combine into a character. I tend to think through and try and make characters behave in a natural way. I follow the character and think about what they would do, what decisions they would make.
I write pretty much year-round, but I definitely do more when a deadline is looming.
People love to be listened to and represented, and they love it when they feel like you have some of the same problems that they do. Everybody deals with things like romantic difficulties in relationships and death and cancer and abuse.
I'll take a certain concern of my own or a situation and try to frame it around a fictional story, but sometimes just straight-up autobiographical songs work well, and sometimes a story is better. I like stories. I like to hear them. I don't think there are enough of them in songs anymore.
I think probably songwriters are gonna be the toughest critics... I think of it as a community. And we all sort of feed off of each other.
At some point, I'd like to make a record that's more of a self-serving guitar album, because I really love to play. It's not really something I'd expect a whole lot of people to buy, though.
I think the live show is a different kind of catharsis. It's an event. It's supposed to be entertaining. To keep myself entertained, I like to play a rock n' roll show. I still kind of feel like I'm a rock n' roll musician anyway.
I go to the movies a lot on off days. I exercise. I have routines that I go by.
Physical labor, manual labor - if you can stay close to those folks, there's always plenty to write about, 'cause their issues are real issues.
My dad, he worries a bit, usually with good reason. There were quite a few years there where he was probably trying to resign himself to fact that I wouldn't live too much longer, just because of the way I was living.
You don't have any kind of control ultimately. Things are just going to happen as they will. And I think your best option sometimes is just to react rather than try to plan everything out in advance.
I don't think I'd be happy if I were satisfied. I enjoy challenge, and I wouldn't say that I'm an ambitious person career-wise or financially, really. I would like to travel more comfortably, but that's really about all I need.
I try to read a lot and listen to a lot of good songwriters, and I try to actually work on the craft of writing a song rather than just leaving it up to inspiration.
I know it's financially lucrative to go out on my own, but I don't like it. It's really hard work, just the performance aspect. I like people who look like they've been together for too long and sound like they've been together too long. I like rock n' roll bands.
I think Spotify is honestly just another one of Sean Parker's ways of ripping musicians off.
I feel like people have a lot of the same good times and the same interests pretty much anywhere.
Sometimes a song becomes rhetoric, but you have to really empathise. You also have to leave room for both sides of the argument: even if you're not telling the other side, you have to put that part in parentheses and make sure it's understood.
If I spent my time wondering about what genre I wanted to be in or where I was on the charts, I wouldn't be able to write these kinds of song. I'd be too busy doing other things.
What having a child - and especially a daughter - has done is lifted more of the veil for me: allowed me to see things on another level compared to how I used to see them.
When I wrote those first songs for the Truckers, songs like 'Outfit' and 'Decoration Day,' those were strong songs, very strong songs. But had I been in the position of writing an entire album at that point in time, I don't think the whole album would have been of that kind of quality.
You always have a lot of time on the road, and you have to fill that time up with something.
A lot of the world turns into checklists for me when I'm on the road. Like, OK, this person's alive, this person's fed, this person's good. Soundcheck is done. Everything becomes a checklist except for the actual show.
My wife and I both grew up with parents who were very young. Her mom was, I think, 17 or 18 when she was born; my mom was 15 when I was born. So, as we got older, we started thinking a lot about that - about the time that those people missed because we came along when we did and because they devoted so much of their lives to taking care of us.
Any narrative, whether it's fiction or not, you have to approach it as though it really happened to you. I think that's the only way to get inside the characters and make the narrative work. It's a storytelling tradition, and I think to come off as genuine then you have to really approach it that way.
I feel like for me to write songs that I would be interested in as a listener, there has to be tension, and there has to be some kind of push and pull between reality and the potential of disaster.
If I could write rock & roll songs on purpose, I'd do it all the time. But most of what I write comes out slow and sad because that's most of what I listen to.
I think I affiliate with somebody like Ben Howard. He's quite a bit younger than I am, but I think what he's doing is in a very similar tradition.
I just try to keep making good records, try to write songs the best way I can and take my job seriously. Like most people take their jobs.
Most of the people that I spend my time around are people who listen to a whole lot of different kinds of music.
When I hear somebody like Hayes Carll write a song that's touching and poignant and sad and funny all at the same time, it motivates me to step my game up and try to figure out a way to get more different emotions into one line or one song.
My wife is so very important to me that it's made my mom more important to me. It's made every woman I know more important to me.
I like not having to worry about paying the bills, but I have to watch myself because I don't come from money.
If I spend time at the front of the process worrying about connecting themes, then I won't write the best songs.
I don't start a song with an idea of what ingredients are going to go into a song. It's not like a recipe. I will normally either talk from personal experience or I'll make a character and then try to allow that character to behave the way he or she naturally would.
I didn't grow up with a lot of money, but I grew up with a lot of opportunities that many people don't have.
When I was writing 'Southeastern,' I'd just recently gotten sober. For me, that was a major turning point in my life. It changed things I did on a day-to-day basis. My whole routine was upended. It took me some time to get used to that and figure out how do I keep myself entertained.
I think for anything to be successful, your problems have to become different problems over time.
I think I'm writing for an intelligent stranger - you know, in my mind I can't remember who coined that phrase first. I don't want to write anything that makes me cringe, first of all. I cringe a lot - mostly when I hear popular music.
When I stopped drinking... there were so many things I had to face that I didn't even realize were part of my makeup before. When you do that and have any changes that severe, you lose a lot of things, both good and bad.