I am permanently a student of people who make great songs, but besides sort of learning by absorption, I just love listening to music, hearing what's going on, hearing new things or new old things.
Back in the '90s, if you did mail order in music, you could make a good living doing it if you could hustle.
I always worry that I'm a dilettante: I know something about lots of things but don't have exhaustive knowledge of much.
A band's first album's usually not great. When you made the first album, you had a day job and you were still trying to be serious about it.
I've written a lot about southern California, but I don't use the same characters. Leave the people in the songs in the songs, is my philosophy.
I wrote 'Lakeside View Apartment Suites' with Roman in my arms. He was about a month old. I was playing left-handed and finally handed him over. On the demo of it, you can hear him crying in the next room.
I want to make sure people know I don't think I have any magic powers. I just have a story that I share.
I think 'The Sunset Tree' is really the album on which I really learned to trust other musicians, which is so important.
You want the song to be at least at the same level of goodness throughout. Whereas with something you're doing live, a song dips and rises and that can actually be worked to the song's benefit.
Sometimes I do 'So Desperate' solo in the middle of the set. I really love to sing that song.
To me, the only good reason to be touring is if you still have something good to share instead of just revisiting past glories.
If you show up to work five days in a row, nobody's going to pat you on the back - everyone does that. Well, do that with your writing. Just show up. Be there for it. When you get an idea, write it down somewhere and then be a steward of that idea.
My feminism is what came squarely up against my faith. There's a lot of ecstatic post-patriarchal Christians who have stuff they do with that. But at that point, you're doing Christianity with a double-superscript. The Bible, and especially the book of Genesis, is pretty unapologetically patriarchal.
'Heel Turn 2' is about a person who's in a match, and he's playing as though the match were real. But it is real! If you're standing in the middle of a ring, and you're playing the villain, and everyone is booing and throwing things at you, that's real.
I think any real one-sheet for an album would say, 'Well, here's what I've been doing.' And that would be it.
Your creativity before it gets formed into words and songs is the actual substance. No one else can see it, right? Unless you give it the shape of a song or a painting or whatever.
I write stuff down. I have a chalkboard in the kitchen where I will scrawl stuff down if I have a faint outline of an idea. And I'll go into my office or whatever. But that goes from format to format.
I was a huge comic book fan. It's weird because the era of 'Marvel' I was into turns out to be very important in the long run, but it's not the one that anybody romanticizes.
At 23, you can completely, literally reinvent yourself if you want to.
If I go see a band, and they play, like, zero from any of their old albums, I'm very happy about that. I do not want to see the bands of my youth playing the songs of my youth. I hate that.
I pretty much just focus on making the records - unless I'm self-releasing them; then I do my own thing. But at some point, you have to stop worrying about chains of distribution, or it takes out of your time to write.
Younger songwriters will ask me, 'What did you do?' And it's like, 'Well, I worked a day job, and I didn't stake anything. I didn't quit my day job. I didn't have any hopes at all. I just did the thing that I believed in, and I waited a long time.'
Adulthood is interesting to adults. But I would never want to write about stuff I don't feel everybody can connect to.
I think I read too much Arthur Conan Doyle when I was young and got this idea that a gentleman should know a lot about one thing and plenty about most everything else.
Most of 'All Hail West Texas' was written during orientation at a new job I had. I had basically worked this job before, I knew this stuff, so I was writing lyrics in the margins of all the Xeroxed material.
I got a promo of 'Nichts Muss' in what would have been 2002 or 2003 and fell totally in love with it after listening to it on an airplane that took me to Australia via Taipei and Kuala Lumpur.
There's the dual challenge of wanting to speak from an authentic place, and then being able to be honest about it. Even in the most mannered art, I think that's what people value, is a voice that comes from a real place.
It's not my style to be thinking about what a record is while I'm making it: I just write songs.
To me, everything is always new. People involved in my personal life make fun of me a lot for not being jaded.
The better I get at writing songs, the harder it seems to be to relate to people. But when I get on stage, I'm extremely happy.
Readings are more like weaving a tapestry. Possibly people are getting a cathartic release - but music is physical. Music pummels you. It's got a beat; it's loud. Whereas this is more cerebral.
Metal has its own code of cool, but it's not really trying to be cool. And that was very refreshing to me, that metal is very much about expressing something that seems awesome to you even if, at the time, much of the world was going to mock and reject it.
My father would tell me if I wasn't writing in meter verse, it wasn't poetry.
I think youth will always be connected to the strongest music at the time because... I don't want to use the word 'tribal,' but there was this sort of familial affiliation that people would feel with the music they were listening to.
The way the vocal folds work is that they can get inflamed and in pain, but actual tears in the folds are somewhat rare. I've never torn anything. Been too strained plenty of times.
At my high school, there were always kids carrying acoustic guitars around, which is why I named my band the Mountain Goats. I didn't want to seem like one of those guys who brought his guitar to the party whether you asked him to or not.
It usually happens that I have multiple different projects going on at once, and one can be referencing the other.
One of the great things about wrestling is how it interrogates this silly idea that you have one authentic self.
Sometimes I feel very young, and other times I feel like the side of a ship that's got a bunch of layers of mussels and barnacles on it.
I think I am a religious person just by nature. I think I sort of view everything through the lens of some inner undying thing in people that drives them to act as they do or to feel ashamed of not acting in some other way.
To me, creative work is labor, like any other kind of labor. It's got value, and it takes your time, and it's useful to people, depending.
Once you start talking to people, you find out there's a lot more wrestling fans than you think there are.
I was writing poetry, and the Mountain Goats was an outgrowth of that.
For me, moving is always a big opportunity. It's just a enough of a shift in outlook that every time I move, it seems to open something up.
As an idea occurs to me, I'll either follow it or not, but I'm more instinctive than master-planner about stuff.
You get this really cool groove when you're playing just piano, bass, and drums where everyone's sort of feeling each other's space, which is the only way to put it, but it really is true, and everyone's sort of sitting in their own pocket. It's kind of jazz-like.
My favorite movies are gory horror films. I love Faulkner. I wanted to see the most painful things possible.
Wrestling is like any form of drama or pretty much any form of entertainment - some people understand this about forms of entertainment really intuitively when they're younger, and others would have to be really not very intelligent for a long time until we realize that every human mood is an art.
Touring is just not normal for me. My personality is to never ever talk to people if I can help it.