San Francisco's best-kept songwriting secret on influences, old pianos, optimism, career breaks in biker bars and the stacks of tapes in his apartment closet.
It's a long way from squirrel-eaters to punk activism, but Ditto's taken it all in.
Under a pragmatist's influence, Zé says occasionally explicable things.
From the other side of the world, one of pop's best songwriting duos slowly gets their music heard.
The Scottish singer explains how she paired up with Mark Lanegan for a new album, and why that's slightly easier than partnering with Gram Parsons.
The British rockers don't rehearse, have never cut a demo, and cite nu-metal as an influence. So how exactly does this work?
Half Man Half Biscuit
PopMatters talks to the most complete and authentic British group since the Clash -- Half Man Half Biscuit.
The ex-Unicorn explains his new project, remixing for Beck, and African guitar.
Apostle of Hustle
Broken Social Scene guitarist and amateur musicologist Andrew Whiteman talks about his Latin-influenced band, Apostle of Hustle, which he hopes won't be mistaken as 'indie'.
What happens when one music journalist interviews another? On the other end of the microphone, Albert Mudrian, editor of Decibel, talks about death metal, John Peel, and those pesky interview transcriptions.
Thriller author Paul Levine swapped his big-time legal career for the life of a full-time writer. His friends thought his foolish -- he says he had no other choice.
The prolific songwriter puts his Voices behind him but still has plenty to say.
Deerhoof's latest, The Runners Four, has garnered praise from The New York Times and helped usher the band into larger arenas. Here, guitarist John Dieterich discusses how the band has responded.
"What kind of society are we living in when the best opportunity for a young person is to take a job that might cost the life of himself or of another?"
"I'm concerned with selling my magazine and doing it with integrity." Elliott Wilson, editor-in-chief of XXL Magazine, wants his props for rising to the top of the music publishing world, and oh yeah, please buy the compilation CD.
A discussion with the dB's co-founder about most anything except the dB's.
Elbow takes some time to show us a high-class hangout, but end up proving they've stayed grounded.
The documentary filmmaker takes on some of hip-hop's untouchable subjects, but he knows it might be a small part of a large struggle.
"The one cool thing with getting older is that you can actively choose to be an eccentric. When people ask you what are you listening to you go, 'You know I'm not really listening to anything, I'm really into Japanese furniture right now.'" Greg Behrendt talks about Jerry Maguire, Sarah Silverman, his new DVD, and the importance of bringing the rock.
A longstanding collaboration between classically trained musicians bears intricate, improvised fruit in Lantern.
The British trio takes us along on their unusual business as usual.
Little Quill Productions - The Wrens Movie
The Wrens surmounted record-industry woes to finally achieve national recognition with The Meadowlands. Little Quill Productions set out with the New Jersey band on its ensuing tour to document how success is treating them. Here, the filmmakers tell us how the project is coming along.
From mixing with three turntables, to granulating and recombining tracks into new shapes, to making techno mashups in 5.1 surround sound, to scoring the opening ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics, Richie Hawtin has consistently pioneered how music is made.
For much of the last decade, arguably the most brilliant R&B artist of this generation has toiled in relative obscurity in Britain. With the release of Stoned, the North London neo-soulster should finally attract the audience that his music deserves.
"I keep my camera with me everywhere I go," says American Idol winner Carrie Underwood. "I try not to be too annoying with it."
Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina
"The very first audience we played to, we walked out onto the stage and got a three-minute standing ovation before we even played a note." Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina talk about their return to the stage after 30 years apart.
Members of Man Man come clean about the reconfigured band, the new tour, and the new record (that draws inspiration from, among other things, Furbies!) -- proof that the band's darkest days may be behind them.
Russell Mael shows why Sparks have lived on the fringes of musical culture for the better part of their 25-plus-year career.
Having survived a nightmarish upbringing and bouts of mental illness, underground rapper Cage went on to make a career of glorifying drugs, violence and insanity on records that even offended himself. Now, with Hell's Winter, he's trying to rid himself of the horror-core tag.
Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey explore the challenges of putting out an album and a baby at the same time.
A middle-aged man with a heart full of songs makes a career change and leaves an indelible print on pop music. Over 30 years later, he's still Bill Withers. And thank goodness for that.
Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond explains why the new album needed its own studio.
The Clientele's Alasdair Maclean tells us everything we need to know, from A to K.
Trumpeter Maurice Brown on surviving Hurricane Katrina.
Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene's Kevin Drew takes a bubbly approach to making an album under the microscope.
"I'm tired of double kick-drumming and death-metal guitar tunings and guys yelling about how much trouble they're having with their girlfriends." Rick Moody talks to PopMatters about his musical life.
Dan Hawkins of the Darkness describes how he's got to keep one of those three on his hellish creative path.
Playwright, author and filmmaker, Neil Jordan talks cross dressing, terrorism, and the brilliance of Cillian Murphy.
"Most humans are quite similar and we're just trying to get through the world together." James Blunt talks about touring America, writing songs, and his new life as one of music's most successful newcomers.
No-Neck Blues Band
A member of the No-Neck Blues Band makes a rare foray into public conversation.
30 Seconds to Mars
Tomo Milicevic of 30 Seconds to Mars tells you how to go from nameless fan to unpretty rock star in a few easy steps.
Morcheeba's Ross Godfrey travels the world, gets the band back together, and speeds through singers.
Nouvelle Vague combines periods and geography in its album of covers.
John Cale talks about his driving impulses, experimental art, and catchy songs. One gets the sense that he's searching (and has long searched) for the place where rock and the avant-garde meet in perfect harmony.
"We don't need to have our art be ugly. But it is; a lot of it... Basically, you're making it worse and number one, the artist's job is to elevate people and to lift people up and to give them a place to go, something to hold on to." Don McLean speaks to PopMatters about art, love, and Britney Spears.
"I tell people, when they talk about how much they grow on their instruments, its like watching them grow physically." Cherryholmes patriarch, Jere Cherryholmes, talks to PopMatters about his talented family.
With the first-ever legit reissue of the legendary Aussie hard rockers' catalog at hand, PopMatters catches up with Buffalo's original guitarist, John Baxter.
Johnny Cash at Sun Records
Music historian Colin Escot guides us through the Man in Black's earliest recordings.
The Go! Team
Ian Parton takes his rowdyism from basement tapes to main stage.
Here's a shocker -- Ashlee Simpson is lovely. She spoke to PopMatters recently about critics, Chrissie Hynde, and finding solace in the arms of friends.
Pelle Almqvist of the Hives pretends to be calm for a few minutes.
These Brooklyn softies are in great danger every day.
Cynics fret not: Henry Rollins hasn't lost his edge. At least as best I could tell. I had about 20 minutes to try to cover film, music, TV, war, death, travel, personal growth, and Sean Hannity.
"There's nothing subversive about getting a Mohawk and walking around Silver Lake. When I was 16, if you got a tattoo, it was like, 'What the fuck are you doing?' There was nobody doing that. [Now] everyone is covered in tattoos. It means nothing. Dyeing your hair pink means nothing. Putting a metal post through your nose doesn't mean anything." Jodie Janella Horn talks to John Albert about music, baseball, James Frey, and punk-rock death.
Mouse on Mars
Jan St. Werner puts on his idiot cap, and everything works out.
American Analog's Set Andrew Kenny on romance, science, football, melodicas, and more.
The UK's Dogs have some pretty big fans, including themselves.
"The heart of blues music is about feeling. You're trying to get to the root of the matter. You're just laying it out." Kate Campbell's talks about art, Elvis, Internet distribution, and the beauty of the blues.
Almost 40 years ago, he was at the forefront of the Latin R&B fusion that changed the sound of soul in the 1970s. Now, after a 20-year hiatus, Joe Bataan has returned to the recording studio.
"I know very well I'm at the bottom of the heap in terms of musical understanding and ability." How do you tell Nickel Creek's Sara Watkins exactly what's wrong with this statement? You don't -- talk to her for little while and she'll set about disproving it all on her own.
Augusten Burroughs loves dogs, writing, and a man called Dennis. In a sweetly intimate, rather revealing phone interview, PopMatters spoke to him about these things and more.
Calla's Aurelio Valle chases the 'real things in life' and manages to avoid becoming depressed about them.
Nearly 20 years later, Chief Xcel and Gift of Gab continue to spark the fire.
From millionaire Wall Street whiz kid to novelist with fans covering the literary spectrum, life looks mighty good for Laura Pedersen. Jackie Regales spoke to Pedersen about Her Brilliant Career.
Calexico's John Convertino on working with more -- and fewer -- artists.
The Rakes aren't your typical hungover vegan British rockers.
Jason Lytle is a bitter man. Good thing he's got this pop record to finish.
The gravel-voiced, lovelorn songwriter emerges from the alt-country shadows with The Hustler, co-produced by Greg Dulli.
Feist explains how she became the Kevin Bacon of Canada's music scene.
If Devendra Banhart, a barefoot wandering time capsule in a dress, and his "Family" of like-minded musician friends make you think of California hippiedom circa 1968, the fault's entirely yours.
String quartet Amina explains what -- and who -- they aren't.
Some paternal thoughts from John Mayall, who's still setting up the young guns.
The Silver Jews' David Berman on secret tapes and a mission from God.
Billy Bob Thornton
Billy Bob Thornton knows the good-hearted gypsies, tramps and thieves. Thornton and co. weave together a tight, alluring mix of Americana with a tinge of psychedelia and have dubbed their style "Hillbilly Pink Floyd".
Yoni Wolf is better known as Why?, and probably best known for being one-third of the now-defunct experimental hip-hop group cLOUDDEAD. He's not known for honesty, but on Wolf's new album, he's not taking the piss.
"No matter how good the story is, the fact that the reader is holding something in his hands that expressly states that it is fiction prevents the reader from getting as involved in the story and the characters as he could otherwise." PopMatters talks to Michael Kun about lies, truths, death, and Heather Locklear.
Death Cab for Cutie
Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla fills us in on his band's Plans.
Twenty-seven-year-old Abigail Washburn is something of a contemporary troubadour, a musical traveler on a fascinating voyage of self-discovery. She reflects on the two worlds that inform her art with PopMatters.
OK Go discusses their new album, whirlyball, and gambling on fans' affection.
Jens Lekman, the young romantic, tells PopMatters how he became a musician.
You might guess that John Vanderslice knows the secrets of great recording, but who knew the same tricks worked for photography and filmmaking?
Let's just sit down and talk this through like the adults we both are.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Robert Levon Been takes us into the studio -- and through the years -- for the story behind the new Black Rebel Motorcycle Club album.
Acquiesce won't give in as they take their big rock sound out of New York.
Dirty Found is on tour. Co-created by Jason Bitner, the magazine celebrates the smuttiest photos, notes, and other paraphernalia left laying about the world. Jodie Janella Horn caught up with Bitner in Los Angeles. "I'm not an artist," Bitner tells her. She begs to differ.
The New Pornographers
No, the girlfriend isn't Neko, so we had to come up with this other story.
"I know I'm probably sounding like a real asshole," Delbert McClinton says. "But I'm really not." No worries, sir. I, too, know the horrors of flight delays.
A Flugel, an Echoplex, and a Winnebago: Keller Williams explains which of these is not like the other ones.
My Morning Jacket
My Morning Jacket talks about how a new producer and new members brought a surprising shift in the band's sound on the forthcoming Z.
Alarm Will Sound
Alarm Will Sound takes on Aphex Twin, and conducter Alan Pierson explains that it's even weirder than it sounds.
Matthew Caws and Ira Elliot have waited until they could take their time.
The Click Five
PopMatters talks to the Click Five, perhaps the world's first boy band influenced by The Cars.
Peter Andreadis balances three heady roles while trying to turn his scene into a big celebration. Come on, you can uncross your arms and dance.
The Detroit Cobras
To celebrate the belated US release of their new album Baby, PopMatters presents 10 things you need to know about Rachel Nagy and the Detroit Cobras.
Bill Callahan modestly explains his place in music and lexicography.
PopMatters talks to Johnette Howard, author of The Rivals, a book exploring one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports: Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova.
Common's returned, and he's not being backed into the Corner.
Don't mess with Texas or a green-eyed girl. Whatever it is, Patricia Vonne has got it going on. But PopMatters is taller and wears bigger shoes.
Skeletons & the Girl-Faced Boys
Skeletons & the Girl-Faced Boys' Matt Mehlan strives to satisfy both the body and brain on a bellyful of greasy Brooklyn breakfast.
Has pop music lost its soul? Is excellence accidental? Richard Swift on the cons of modernity.
A conversation with Princess Superstar, the real heiress to Madonna's throne.
The Hold Steady
Craig Finn and the Hold Steady confirm the power of classic rock as they celebrate teens, guitar solos, and Christ.
Henning Pauly won't beat you up, but he doesn't pull any punches when he comes to defending himself.
stellastarr* arrived as part of the New York new wave revival, evoking the likes of Talking Heads and Blondie. PopMatters talks to the blonde in the band, bassist Amanda Tannen.
The Dandy Warhols
Dandy Warhols singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor is a lazy hack.
Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilson won't take it with him, and that's just fine.
Lori A. May
Lori A. May talks to PopMatters about her new book, her love of crime-time TV, and how CSI has made readers of crime lit so very demanding.
"The blues is the blues; the soul is everywhere." Italian blues legend, Zucchero, is bringing his music to the masses, courtesy of Starbucks and an all-star line-up fit for a King.
Zaremba looks back on three decades of "super rock" and finds the landscape littered with obscure Humphrey Bogart movies, Fleetwood Mac parties, early Tom Hanks comedies, and the evolution of the "power stance".
American Minor may have found a nurturing scene in its adopted hometown of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, but as vocalist Rob McCutcheon explains, the band still fights routine pigeonholing.
As an in-demand voice actress, Grey DeLisle has supplied animated identities to many cartoon characters. Her true passion, however, lies in finding a voice for the songs she performs -- that goes for murder ballads and "Bohemian Rhapsody" alike.
Dungen's Gustav Ejstes on improvisation, the language barrier, power trios, and the importance of taking it easy.
Julianna Baggott talks about The Anybodies and The Nobodies, her fantasy books for young readers that reveal the path to enlightenment lies in a life spent reading.
It's not often you get a chance to speak with a legend. Forgive the upcoming hyperbole; Sonny Rollins deserves it.
The soul singer's career momentum has built slowly since he lost the major labels' love, but out of the spotlight he's been able to remain true to the unique promise of his singularly emotive voice.
The songwriter stops his excessive work to talk about klezmer and sex.
David Niall Wilson
Write what hurts you. Author David Niall Wilson discusses his writing philosophy with PopMatters.
Adam Pierce talks about writing and recording the new Mice Parade album, Bem-Vinda Vontade.