I’d imagine that that just becomes a necessity once you’ve reached a certain level as a band or an artist.
Yeah, it has to do with the way things are structured. We’ve gotten to that really lucky place where we have really great management and we have a team, so nothing is going to slip through the cracks. For the first three years of the band it was totally DIY. I was the end of the line on everything, so if I fucked up then the band was fucked. So it’s a privilege I feel like I’ve earned: things have been set up so well that I can take some time off and things won’t fall apart.
Tell me how you came to partner up with Ben Folds for the solo album you’re currently working on.
The genesis of it was really simple. It was very fairytale. Ben just sent a fan note saying he loved the band and he loved the music. And being a consummate contactor and e-mailer, I wrote him back right away and told him I’d love to meet him and I loved his music too. And then, maybe a couple months later, we were both in Australia. And he invited me and Brian to come sit in on stage with him. It was a pretty big fucking deal because he was basically doing a tour in Australia the way he did that night with the Boston Pops. So he was going from city to city playing with each city’s symphony orchestra. So he wasn’t just inviting us into a gig. He was inviting us on stage with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. And the whole orchestra just sat there while we broke out “Coin Operated Boy.” And Ben just sat there and said “I want everyone now to listen to my new favorite band.” It was hilarious because Brian was playing the orchestra’s drums, which were like 50 feet away from me. I couldn’t even see him.
So we ended up hitting it off chemistry-wise and musically. We had barely gotten to know each other when he offered me his studio. He just said, “If you need a studio to record in I have a beautiful studio in Nashville.” And I said, “It’s funny you should mention that because I’m planning a solo record and I would love to use your studio.” And then he asked if he could produce the record. And I said, “Yes.” It was like a 30-second conversation. It’s like any other good relationship that I’ve had: we just knew. I met this guy and I knew that I’d be able to work with him and that he got me and he got the music and I didn’t need to have long discussions, and long auditions, and long ponderings. We just spoke the same language once we got in a room together.
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