Same as he ever was

By MICHAEL ATCHISON  |  November 26, 2008

YOU BOTH HAVE SUCH STRONG POINTS OF VIEW THAT IT SEEMS LIKE IT MIGHT BE HARD TO GET YOUR IDEAS TO COEXIST PEACEFULLY, BUT YOU SEEM TO HAVE A NATURAL SYMPATHY AS COLLABORATORS.
I really respect the stuff that he does. I'm a fan. That really helps a lot. You kind of give someone the benefit of the doubt. If you don't like something 100 percent right away, you cut them a little bit of slack, and you go, "He's going somewhere with this. I'm not sure I see it yet, but I've got to let him take it where he sees it going." I think Brian probably feels the same way about me. That makes it really easy, and I think the artificial separation that we made, where I tried to stay on my side of the fence and just do words and vocal melodies, and I didn't go like, "Oh, I'm going to overdub a whole bunch of guitars on here." Occasionally, I couldn't help myself, and I'd add something somewhere, but for the most part, I really stayed on my side of the fence. And he did, too. Occasionally, he'd give me a track and it would have the remnants of some vocal attempt that he'd begun but didn't finish. So sometimes I would ignore that, and sometimes I thought that if there was something worth following up, I'd take a line or I'd take part of his melody and take it further. But for the most part, he never came back to me and said, "Here's a different vocal melody, or here's some other words for this." He stayed on his side of the fence. We didn't get in each other's business that way.

YOUR PREVIOUS COLLABORATIONS FEATURED LOTS OF DENSE LAYERS OF RHYTHM AND IN PLACES A REAL PALPABLE SENSE OF DARKNESS. YOU COULD FEEL THE WALLS CLOSING IN. THE NEW ALBUM SOUNDS SO DIFFERENT. THERE ARE WIDE OPEN SPACES. IT TAKES OFF IN COMPLETELY DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS.
I agree, except for a couple of songs, like "Poor Boy" and "I Feel My Stuff," are reminiscent of the stuff we've done in a way. I can see the connections between some of the Talking Heads tracks and the Bush of Ghosts stuff that we did before.

I WAS GOING TO NOTE THAT "I FEEL MY STUFF" WOULD FIT RIGHT IN ONBUSH OF GHOSTS. PLAY IT BACK-TO-BACK WITH THE SONG "REGIMENT" FROM THAT ALBUM AND THE CONNECTION IS OBVIOUS. BUT ON SO MUCH OF THE REST OF THE NEW ALBUM YOUR VOICE OPENS UP, IT GETS BIG AND EXPANSIVE. AND INSTEAD OF THE FOCUS BEING AS HEAVILY ON RHYTHM AS IT WAS ON THOSE PREVIOUS RECORDS, IT'S REALLY LUSH AND MELODIC.
That's kind of what I heard in a lot of Brian's tracks. I sat with them for a long time, because they were so different, and I thought, "How do I connect to this?" So I sat with it for a long time before I wrote back to him and said, "I'm kind of hearing a spiritual, gospel, open kind of thing happening, that's almost kind of some uplifting gospel-folk approach, as opposed to the dark, funky approach." And he said, "OK, show me. What exactly do you mean by that?"

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