We forget when we're making music as 20 year-olds and 30 year-olds that, quite often, there's another person or other people or kids in this dynamic. It may not be a spoken thing, it is quite often an issue, in terms of how satisfied you can feel about something or how much time you can put into it. Musicians are generally quite selfish people: "I just want to make my music and not be tied down and live my life." I got re-married about five years ago with someone that I loved spending time with that allows me that freedom to be me. Having this relationship enabled me to get back to doing that, so that I felt comfortable being in the studio for nights on end, being selfish and making my own music.
A few months ago, you wrote a blog post dissecting the impact streaming has on an album experience. Could you expand on your feelings?
I'm of an age now where I can embrace new technology, but I use it as a tool to make my life slightly easier. As far as the aesthetic experience goes, I get absolutely nothing out of an MP3 or a WAV file. I'm surrounded by vinyl; I've grown up with that piece of plastic since before I even realized it. I can't just go "ah well, it's just vinyl, let's put it in a box. It's all about streaming now." I know that's how the rest of the world is, but I can't be like that, whether I want to be or not.
I've noted that when you look at the Spotify streams of artists, even artists that would be considered [to earn high streaming numbers] -- like Father John Misty or Beach House or Explosions in the Sky -- the way an album runs, the streams die off by like, track four. We can get people to buy an album that don't even listen to them -- they put them on the shelf, they don't even open them. Why? Maybe they're saving it for a rainy day or when they're older, when they've got a nice record player. Who even knows.
I run a record shop, so I could be forgiven for thinking that's just nonsense, because everyone who comes into the shop is buying records. There is a resurgence, to a degree. But I do feel that 15 to 25 year-olds, maybe even 45 year-olds, have lost interest in the album format. But you know what? Maybe that's not that different to how it was in the '60s and '70s. Maybe they all went to buy a couple of singles first before they invested in an album or artist. Maybe it's not so different, it just feels a bit different.
How much pressure do you feel to shift the way you present albums in the face of that? Do you feel like you have to encourage bands to front-load an album, putting the catchiest songs first?
No. Maybe there are people that do, and maybe that's smart business, I don't know. One thing you should know about me is that I have no business brain at all, really. I just want the bands to be responsible for it themselves and to put their record out in the way they hear it in their head. I'll help them if they can't get a track listing together, but I'm not putting it together with an emphasis on, "it'll sell more if we do it in this way." I don't know what sells, I never had a clue.