Carl “A.C.” Newman and I became friends when Okkervil River toured with his band the New Pornographers, and since then we’ve remained close and worked together on a number of different occasions, both on his records and in some of my live performances. He’s one of the nicest and most down-to-earth musicians I’ve ever met, with a work ethic that should shame most other artists. This podcast was taped last year, when I had just released The Silver Gymnasium and Carl was midway through working on the album that turned into the just-released New Pornographers record Brill Bruisers. Carl and I talk about how the work is going and about the recording process in general, about how writing changes as you get older, about his memories of the early days of the New Pornographers’ success, and about how its preferable to have a long steady career in music over a short supernova.
Fresh Prints podcast
John Agnello and I met for the first time about a year ago, in a bar. We were feeling each other out. He was deciding if he wanted to work with me and I was deciding if he was the right guy do take over production duties for a collection of songs that was really close to my heart. I had loved recent records he’d worked on by Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur, Jr. (Agnello’s J. Mascis association goes back decades), but it also appealed to me that he’d been involved with some of the defining records of my pop childhood, singles like The Outfield’s “Your Love” and Scandal’s “The Warrior,” pop milestones like Cyndi Lauper’s incredible She’s So Unusual, and even grunge records I’d enjoyed like Screaming Trees’ Sweet Oblivion.
The meeting went great. John and I talked for hours. He really got where I was coming from with the project. I left the bar feeling very excited.
I decided it would be fun to use this website as an excuse to get together with other artists – friends of mine I’ve worked with a lot or people whose work I like – to talk about creativity, the creative process, and pretty much any other thing that comes up without a lot of topic-steering. We’d get together and I’d set up some mics and we’d have not so much an interview as a conversation – hopefully the kind of conversation I’d have with that person anyway, ideally at 1 AM after a number of drinks were consumed. I’d focus on people I liked or was interested in, not necessarily the standard folks and not necessarily people who have a new record or movie or painting or architecture thing or shoe or plate of linguini in stores now or whatever.