(October 28, 2007)
Q: Hey Syd, how’s life been treating you?
A: Life has been good. Life’s been different since I moved to New York a year ago. I moved here from basically nowhere (I’d been on the road since graduating college in ’04) and so as I close in on my one year anniversary of making that move I’m thinking a lot about it.
Q: First of all, can you tell us something about yourself and your music?
A: I’m a singer/songwriter who isn’t *that* kind of singer/songwriter. I bring the rock a little more and try to steer a little clear of the “boys and guitars” craze that’s been sweeping the nation since Mr Mayer and Mraz and Johnson took over the radio waves. But, hey, let’s face it, when I’m not with a full band rocking off your face, I’m a guy and a guitar.
Q: Earlier this year you released your great new album The Way We Found It. How has it been received so far?
A: Well to quite well. I mean, those people that know about it seem to really like it. It’s just a matter of making people aware that it’s out there—something that is increasingly harder as more and more useless crap clogs up the airwaves. Now, I’m not saying my stuff is genius, but it’s definitely one step above useless crap. I can at least vouch for that.
Q: How different is it from your previous two albums, Fault Lines & Week Days, Weak Knees?
A: Well…you tell me. I mean, I think it’s significantly different—I’m certainly most proud of it and feel it most accurately represents who I am now. It’s a more well rounded effort in my mind. I think those last two records could have easily been EPs had I been more aggressive with cutting songs.
Q: How is it to bring the album on the road and play the songs live in front of people? Does it bring an extra dimension to the songs?
A: It’s what it’s all about. That’s how it is. It’s phenomenal. And not just cuz I’m an egomaniac and think it’s all about me–because the experience of sharing music with other people is fundamentally almost spiritual and that’s something I crave.
Q: Who would you say are your biggest influences when it comes to your sound & song writing?
A: That changes daily because I’m always listening to new music. Ani Difranco and Dave Matthews made me pick up an acoustic. The Get Up Kids and Saves The Day and Jimmy Eat World made me get all emo on your ass. “Indie Rock” from The Bird and The Bee to Andrew Bird to Arcade Fire keeps me interested in what’s happening these days.
Q: If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would you like to do play?
A: Europe. Europe. Europe. There’s just a bigger demand for live music I think and more of an appreciation for it. Every musician friend that I have that comes back from a tour there is like “dude—you’ve GOT to go over there.” And I agree. I’ve GOT to go over there.
Q: And if you could pick any band or musician in the world, who would you want to tour with? And why?
A: My closest friends. I would love for us all to succeed to a point where we’re just touring together and playing huge shows. I don’t know–I don’t really care about being on a bill with Snow Patrol or something unless they or their fans happen to be the coolest guys and fun to hang out with. Well, I should rephrase that, of COURSE it would be a huge shot in the arm to be on a bill like that and it’s what every musician wants, but I mean ultimately, I know my friends, I love touring with them and in an ideal world we’d all be famous.
Q: If you could only play one cover song, what song would you cover? And why that song?
A: I hate playing cover songs. I mean, they’re fun enough, but I’d rather just write songs that people want to hear because they know them.
Q: What is the best thing about being a musician and what is the worst thing?
A: Playing music is the best. Everything leading up to it can be fun too, but is mostly hard work that’s so far disconnected from playing music it’s not even funny.
Q: Okay a few random questions now.
Q: Are you a reader? If so, what do you read, and what authors?
A: I love reading, when I have time. I read basically contemporary fiction and non-fiction. I don’t read “trash” like Crichton or Grisham but I’m not reading war and peace right now or anything. You know, basic mid-20’s new york adult stuff — Dave Eggers, John Irving, poetry, etc.
Q: Day or night?
A: Depends on the day or night.
Q: Club venue or arena venue?
Q: CDs or digital music?
Q: Okay, final question. What are your thoughts on people downloading music, both legally & illegally?
A: Really? Just one question about that? It’s such a huge topic I’d be loathe to even try to summarize my thoughts in one answer but—I think it’s all heading somewhere that’s ultimately good for everyone but right now there’s no single solution that gets music into fan’s hands as quickly and easily (or freely) as they want it and also gets musicians paid fairly in a manner that’s going to make it easy to survive on making songs and records alone. That will change and equalize in a way that’s interesting. Whether it’s fair, or open, or creative is debatable. Bottom line.
Thank you so much for the interview, Syd. It’s been great talking to you!