My aunts and uncles were like, 'You've got such a great voice - why don't you try out for 'American Idol?'' I'd say, 'Because I'm a songwriter, not a puppet.' Even if I won and became really successful off a show like that, I'd be miserable.
I look at bands like the Beach Boys, Hall & Oates and Blur, and those are the bands I want to be in company with because their songwriting is intelligent, and yet you don't need to be a musical genius to pick it up.
I was afraid of the sophomore slump even before our first record came out. It was a very real fear because I'd watched so many bands I'd loved in the past not deliver. I knew it was a very real thing. I didn't know why it happens, but I'd been thinking about it a lot.
'I Get Around' came on one day. I'd never heard the Beach Boys before. The sound was so fresh to me. That was the first time when I truly was gripped by the power of music. It opened my eyes to the heights that music can achieve.
When I was 21, I was in a pretty serious band, and we almost got signed - went to New York, showcased, all that - but didn't end up getting signed, and we broke up. I went back to the drawing board; I really took a hit from that whole experience.
In Morocco, a Muslim country, I got to hear the call to prayer five times a day. At first it felt kind of scary, kind of dangerous, because of the propaganda towards anything Muslim in the U.S. subconsciously coming out in me. By the end of the trip, it was so beautiful, and then not hearing it when I got back to L.A. really threw me off.
I think artists throughout the history of time have always been controversial and have been a voice to speak to public culture in a way that a politician can't because they'll lose their constituency.
Culturally, it's really funny to me that people respect the weird guy as an artist. There can be a curmudgeon in the corner with spiders building nests in his hair, and he hasn't bathed for three weeks, but for whatever reason, he's more creative than the guy sitting next to him that's showered and is talking to everybody.
One of the things with the second record, a word I held close to my chest was 'brave.' To take chances to go outside the box and explore. To continue to toss off any expectation that our fans or anyone else might have of us, to just tap into who I am as a writer and artist and really just operate within that freedom of creation.
'Supermodel' was a hard record for me; it was an emotional record to write. I was purging a lot of stuff with that album, and I think the one thing I didn't really consider, that I'd be supporting it for two years and living in that state of mind every night.