Ryan Adams Quotes

Come Pick Me Up

American Songwriter - July/August 2007

Bang - December 2003

Blackbook - October/November 2007

Blender - August/September 2001
Blender - November 2002
Blender - March 2003
Blender - October 2003
Blender - December 2003
Blender - April 2004
Blender - August 2007

Clash - May/June 2007

Elle - October 2001

Esquire - October 2001

Entertainment Weekly - July 6, 2001

Flaunt - Issue #84

Filter - Spring 2004

GQ (British) - April 2002
GQ - December 2003

Guitar World Acoustic - Issue #67 2004

Harp - November/December 2002
Harp - October/November 2003
Harp - December/January 2004
Harp - July/August 2005
Harp - July/August 2007

Interview - February 2002
Interview - December/January 2004

Los Angeles Times - February 3, 2002

Magnet - October/November 2005

Maxim - March 2002

Mojo - November 2003
Mojo - March 2004
Mojo - July 2005

Mojo Classic: Johnny Cash - February 2006

Mojo Icons - November 2004

New York - September 9, 2002

New York Times - June 17, 2001

New York Times Magazine - November 4, 2001

Paste - December/January 2004
Paste - November 2007

Playboy - December 2003
Playboy - October 2005

Q - December 2002
Q - January 2003
Q - December 2003
Q - April 2004
Q - August 2004
Q - October 2004
Q - September 2007

Relix - August 2005
Relix - September/October 2005
Relix - June 2006

Rolling Stone - November 8, 2001
Rolling Stone - November 22, 2001
Rolling Stone - February 14, 2002
Rolling Stone - February 28, 2002
Rolling Stone - May 9, 2002
Rolling Stone - September 19, 2002
Rolling Stone - October 17, 2002
Rolling Stone - May 15, 2003
Rolling Stone - October 2, 2003
Rolling Stone - September 22, 2005
Rolling Stone - April 19, 2007

Spin - December 2000
Spin - November 2002
Spin - June 2003
Spin - November 2003
Spin - December 2003
Spin - March 2004
Spin - April 2004
Spin - May 2004
Spin - August 2004
Spin - February 2006
Spin - August 2007
Spin - October 2007

Tracks - January 2004

Uncut - October 2003
Uncut - January 2004
Uncut - July 2005
Uncut - March 2007
Uncut - July 2007

American Songwriter - July/August 2007

"It's not broken. I was skating, and I slammed. I was pulling air today for the first time in many, many fucking years. It was so amazing. But that last one, I had significant air, about two feet. Not mind-blowing, but it was for me. Then I hit a transition - a big, burly, nasty, clover-shaped pool - and when I hit the third leaf, which was like an eight-deep, sixteen foot bowl with a couple feet of vert...that was it."

"We [including guitarist Neal Casal, drummer Brad Pemberton, Jon Graboff, bassist Chris Feinstein, and producer/pianist Jamie Candiloro] just took direction from what really excited the band. Some of the songs are as old - or older, than Heartbreaker, and some of the songs were as young as a week old hen we tracked them. It's more like what would make best sense. The only theme this time was kick ass tunes."

"That's true, it only take one really jarring track to upset an entire album."

"I didn't sequence [Easy Tiger]...and I didn't even pick the tracks. It was done by a democratic process with The Cardinals' management office. They all listened and picked what they were really excited by. Some of them weren't even demoed. They were just, like, live things we could listen to, or the most rudimentary recording on a boom box. It was something new for me to allow for some outside influence. And it was, in fact, really helpful. I think for this record, I kind of felt like I'm not really a band leader. I kind of have to be to make The Cardinals work and make that vibe work, but I can sometimes serve the band more by looking for direction outside of myself. It isn't about me being unable to successfully sequence a record or come up with something with that part-theme. In fact, those are some of my strengths, but I think I can almost follow up on a thematic tpe of record to a fault."

In response to why The Cardinals didn't get a formal billing on the record:

"You know, I wish I could answer that question. To be honest, I didn't even want it to be called my name...but I know it wasn't a fight worth fighting. It wasn't like it was imposed by some dramatic gesture. And in the future the plan, in all honesty, is to just be in The Cardinals, and that's it. I really don't want to do solo records anymore, and one of the things I had to do to make that a reality was to honor my commitment to the label [Lost Highway]. I mean, the kind of record that I was being asked to make was a Ryan Adams solo album. And the best way that I could do that in my mind was to approach the band and say, 'I don't want to do that.' I got very discouraged, only because my head is so in The Cardinals' realm. And every person in the band was so supportive and was like, 'You should do it. You should do it because it's the way forward.' So when I sat down to do the solo record, the best people I could think to do it with were The Cardinals."

"These are the sort of moves I need to be making in the situation that I'm in with Lost Highway. So if they wanted a really stripped-down record from me, whatever, I'm fine with it. Maybe they thought it would be easier to market it under my name. I don't care. I don't ego trip. But I really think I've done enough solo records. This is a nice way to cap off my time in this place with this label. And the good thing about it is, I'm not going to tour without this band. All commitments will be honored in a peaceful, awesome way. And I'm glad. I'm kind of happy to be getting off of this solo thing. I'm pretty sure that after this album and the box set, I'm just done; I won't do anything else unless it's collaboration."

"I am a huge fan of [Sheryl Crow's] tunes. She's a great songwriter...she can rock a bass, and she's as hot as Georgia asphalt. Neal and I were looking for a third part harmony. We were thinking of how The Band might bring in a third voice, and I think it serves the song really well."

"They love to slam me and anyone who has anything to do with me, because I work real fucking hard. I think people take it as a personal affront that I'm creative. But I'm not doing it to say, 'Look at me. I'm better than you.' It isn't even about that. I love working. Anyway, screw that site. They have to compete with internet porn and Star Wars fan sites. Star Wars fan sites are way cooler."

"The vocals that ended up being the most usable were the ones where I was cutting it in with the record. I can't stand overdubs, and I don't like listening to playback on my voice and doing comping and things like that. This was mainly done in one take. My thing is I run out of patience, and then I'm done. And our friend Jamie [Candiloro] will tell you, I run out of patience quickly with vocals. Even when I'm in a producing situation, like when I worked with Willie [Nelson] on Songbird, my feeling is, 'Let's get the first take right.'"

"[Producing is] definitely a nice discipline to learn, and it's interesting to empower others."

"I've been making music for so long that the music I listen to and the music I write are two totally different things."

"[Jay-Z] has clarity, he's got vibe, he's got soul. And you know the guy's not making it up...he probably does have a helicopter. I know if I had a helicopter, I'd figure out a way to writer a song about it. 'Big helicopter/sad helicopter...'."

"Stephen [King] is outrageously cool. And once Jamie and I are finished with it, he will be the first person to hear the box set. I felt 20/20 needed liner notes in an old school way like a classic jazz or blues album - to augment the experience of the record or talk about how the tracks unfold - and he agreed to do it. I'm just a huge fan of his, and it should be fairly obvious because I slip a lot of Stephen King references into my records. Love Is Hell represents that in spots. He's just a bad ass dude. He doesn't give a damn if people trash his novels in half. They always trash him because he works harder and twice as fast and has more valid ideas than many people know how to deal with. The work speaks for itself. He works like Rollins and Black Flag and The Minutemen - a punk rock work ethic, which is, 'Get out of the house!' When I actually needed a bio for the record, I figured I'd ask him. So I was talking to him while I was walking around trying to find a Philly cheesesteak. The phone rings, and I'm talking to this dude, and he's so cool. I'm out for part of the afternoon, and when I got home, he had already finished it."

"I actually traded what at the time was my only skateboard for a guitar that belonged to a buddy of mine. It had this little speaker built into it. He had gotten it for a Christmas present but never touched it. And every time I'd go over to his house, I'd learn something new. Ever since I picked it up, I just knew this was the job for me. So it seems really wrong to just not work. I live my work. I don't live and die by my work, but I think I've paid a lot of dues to be able to do what I'm doing. I may not have paid all of my dues, but I've had plumbing jobs, and I worked in a bread factory - which was really tough. I did that while I was doing bands like The Patty Duke Syndrome in Raleigh over 10 years ago. And ever since, I've been able to write full-time; it's never been a drag for me. It's my life's work. I get up and think, 'I'm so happy that I get to stay in and write.' It brings me such tremendous joy because it's physical, it's tremendously creative, and it's selfless. In a lot of ways, I have to hand over my conscience to tap into new ideas. The whole process is really about how to further communicate and get ideas into the world that maybe I didn't even really know. Songwriting can be a lot like meditating, but it isn't an ego trip. It isn't about that for me. It's about being excited. It reminds me of skateboarding or going to the movies, all the things that I get excited about. It's a pretty dark world. There are a lot of bad days in a life, and it seems to me that I can think of a thousand other things...destructive and hurtful things...that can occur in life. So I'm really happy to share my stuff. I think maybe the world would be a little less nasty if people realized that they can make art."

"The world these days is pretty much designed to trash people straight on. And I guess it's about insecurity, but I guarantee you that at a concert hall, 95% of the time the people onstage feel some kind of anxiety. It's like dropping in on a big half pipe, every time. But once I'm up there playing music with my pals, I can really get into my groove. But each night is different. There are a lot of different people out there in different moods, and you never know what you're going to get - whether it's going to be a nice, sunny day or a fucking tsunami. I've played some shows that are just frightening. It can be intimidating. It's strange to get shit from your quote-unquote fans. We don't play anything remotely political or controversial, but people get so damn strung out about it...when all we're looking to do is have some fun."

"You see, I hate festivals, because there are no soundchecks, which is bad for every band. You get a big paycheck, but I think it's a big screw job for the fans. That's why I'm planning on two sets this fall with two different band situation...acoustic guitars, steel, piano, and a little drumset like in The Grateful Dead Reckoning-style for a 28-song set...and then an electric set that sounds almost like a whole side of Cold Roses that we've neve played, and even stuff from the Gold and Love Is Hell eras that no one has ever heard. So, I have a feeling that by the time autumn rolls around, The Cardinals might be opening for The Cardinals with two different vibes in one night. I think of how much ground we could cover. It would be really fun and a bit of a challenge, which is something I pride myself on."

"For the first time, it looks like [the box set] is going to be more than an idea. Maybe around Demolition or the Love Is Hell era, it was a possibility, but it didn't really come to pass. When a record comes out, you never really know how busy you're going to get and sometimes all of your attention has to go there. And now it seems like a really good idea. When I spoke to the guy [Luke Lewis] who runs the label, we agreed it seemed like the right time. There's already so much from the past that, for anyone who has ever watched it as a mini-series, enough of the plot has been unraveled...it's going to be good to show people the connections between my records...because there's more or less an album between every record, and any person who's every bought any of the records I've made, [would recognize] like these little missing sequences - these records that happen in between - that may or may not have been as interesting, but are actually more like Easy Tiger. It will be more defined by the tunes and less by the themes in between them, because it was the thematic pieces, those grand gestures that I put more of the argument into, as opposed to handing in the 12 best songs I had at the time. Luckily enough, I finished all of those projects and they weren't shelved in a negative way, but put there like canned goods. So I can open them up."

"I don't try to perfect my craft, ever. The limitations in the way one person sees the world and their music is what makes what they create so much more interesting. Over-editin is senseless. People always tell themselves, 'I need to edit more. I need to edit more.' Whatever. You need to work more. Another thing I suggest is to write as much in your head as you do on the guitar or whatever your instrument might be, because there's a lot of good in there too. Sometimes I let stuff linger in my head and just ferment up there and then whe I decide to let it out, something amazing develops. Or I'll dream up a tune and I won't rush to write it down. I'll keep it in my mind. Or maybe I'll write down one idea, stick it in my wallet, and pull it out later. Also, if you get writer's block, write about that. Truly! When I made Love Is Hell, I had writer's block, and ther are some parts of that album that are about coping with it. And you should always respect the muse. Always respect your muse, whatever it is. If there's a place or a thing that inspires you, it's okay to dwell on that or draw from i. You can write about the same thing 15 times, and you're just coming at it from all different sides.

"I scan the book without really reading it for clusters of word forms like, 'And then she dropped her hat,' or, 'It was a dark night.' I underline them and make al ist of phrasers that end up triggering me. Then I go back and try to fill in words around them to find my way about to the story I want to tell in my lyrics. And even if I haven't gotten to my original point, I'm left with something so opn; it alludes to something much grander than I originally wanted to say, which could have been something as simple as, 'I think I'm hungry' or 'I wonder if that girl wants me'."

"I'm not one of those people who believes there was something in the air or a song can just come to me. That's really a bunch of bull. It's really about how much time you spend on your craft. It's okay to be spiritual, and it's very important to be spiritual about art. It is some form of manifestation. But for me - and this is what I learned from hardcore and punk rock - it is that everyoe has that power, if they want to manifest art. It's just an amount of confidence and the willingness to let yourself go. It's really about getting access to yourself. But it isn't that some fishermen catch more fish; it's about wanting to spend more time on the lake, or in my case, more time getting vertical."

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Bang - December 2003

Discussing The Fucking Virgins:

"We're waiting for the first open space we have. We all still live in New York, so it will probably happen around Christmas when we're all home. This is our little garage band. We want to be like a really funky Velvet Underground, something very ethereal, but every song will have its own identity because everyone will sing. We'll have four different perspectives at once, and everybody can harmonize. Melissa [Auf Der Maur] and I already have a couple of songs. We want to go in and make a record in two weeks in the studio, no ifs, ands, or buts. That would be cool. Everyone keeps calling us The Virgins, by the way, but we're actually called The Fucking Virgins. That's the joke. Maybe people can't print that, or they think I like to curse, but for the record, it's The Fucking Virgins."

"I feel like an over-excited fan with a guitar. All my past records have been so narcissistic and self-involved, whereas [Rock N Roll] has a lot of humour...and some vindictiveness."

"I just told them to fuck off and that I quit - that kind of shit. Then I went in and made the first part of Rock N Roll on my credit card."

"I was going to get screwed either way, so I thought I may as well get screwed with [Love Is Hell] at least coming out and without screwing people who want to buy it. Even if this all bombs and people fucking hate it, I'll at least feel like I've had an exorcism."

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Blackbook - October/November 2007

"I didn't go somewhere to get sober. I literally just stopped. It couldn't have been more than a month or two before I got straight back to work. Life on the road hasn't changed at all. I just no longer get dead-drunk wasted and disappear to some hotel in Tijuana. But I discovered I had an even greater appetite for how absurd life was."

"The best shit is to come as the full Cardinals, not with my stupid name in front." People are getting weird about how rock 'n' roll is finished, how albums are disappearing. Well, don't worry, because Ghostbusters is coming. We've got that totally taken care of."

"[Stephen King's] a cranky badass. He's cool. My flow with him is pretty nice."

"I knew there were good songs trapped by the personality, but now we know best how to get them out of me. It's all about subscribing to the moment. Forward is forward - there's no going back for me."

"My personality changes all the time - I'm totally fucking psychotic. My dreams are real, and my reality is dreamlike. I like the idea that there really aren't any boundaries."

"I just landed the the thing. I had a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, and I flew right overhead those last couple of years. I was like, 'You can't touch me, motherfucker - I'm up here!' But I saw this great thing happening on the ground beneath me: my life, family. A couple of those wonderful, fucking goddamn beautiful people who love me tapped me on the shoulder one day and said, 'We got your back. It's all good. It's safe now, you can come down.' And then I landed."

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Blender - August/September 2001

"I had a bag of clothes by one wall, and Fleetwood Mac and Gram Parsons records against another. And that was my room."

"I enjoy obsessing on the star culture."

"I've even seen Eminem's entourage at a Grammy party. We had to go to the restroom at the same time, and there was a big guy who stood there making sure Eminem didn't get popped. I don't think I'm gonna die for making sad music. I did, however, get strangled in Newcastle, England, by some drunk dude for not being Randy Newman."

"People used to say I looked like [Gram Parsons], which I always thought was a lie."

"I'm no pinnacle of cleanliness or sobriety, but I'm still here."

"It's not very fashionable nowadays to have a philosophy that demands a lot of life. I tend to be drawn to people who are emotional - now they'd be called 'crazy'. Pollock, Jasper Johns, Toulouse-Lautrec. People said, 'They're off their nut!' Was Faulkner off his nut because he stayed in his house for eight months at a time writing books, and then you'd find him drunk up in a tree, making out with some old black woman? I think that's fuckin' great!"

In regards to Gold:

"I'll probably hate it next week, but now I just love it. Woo-hoo! Turn on the faucet and let the tub overflow."

In regards to his past relationship with Winona Ryder:

"I understand why that would be of interest. I'm not comfortable talking about that kind of stuff. Is that okay?"

In regards to what he will do when Bryan Adams songs get requested at shows:

"I'll go, 'God, I'm up here with fucked up hair, I've obviously had a couple of glasses of wine, I have terrible dental health. Is that all you have for me?'"

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Blender - November 2002

Discussing his art show:

"In no way do I take myself seriously as an artist. Any excuse to have a party."

"I was more nervous for the opening than for any of my gigs. Before arriving, I had the honor of throwing up."

"I'm sorry, I'm too fucked up."

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Blender - March 2003

"I get to shop at 40 or 50 more stores for clothes than [Jack White] does. I don't fucking get it."

In reference to turning down the role given to Jack White in "Cold Mountain":

"I didn't see acting anywhere on my job application to be a rock fucking star. Three lines in a two-and-a-half-hour film? I'd rather get a gun and blow my eyeball out."

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Blender - October 2003

"45 Grave are my all-time favorite rock band. They included members of The Germs and The Gun Club. ['Party Time'] sounds like Alice Cooper - only good."

"Too bad [45 Grave] were from L.A."

"[Black Flag's 'Police Story'] makes me want to cut myself."

In regards to The Grateful Dead's "Wharf Rat":

"Some drugs work."

In regards to The Grateful Dead's "Dark Star":

"All drugs work."

"Beth Orton has really long legs and used to make me nervous. Best songwriter in England; also best singer. Note to self: Do not leave nasty messages on people's machines whom you like."

Concerning Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head":

"Holy dammit, my legs feel funny."

"[Public Image Limited's 'Public Image'] makes me horny."

"I asked Michael Stipe about [R.E.M.'s 'Kohoutek'] when I met him. I was starstruck and perplexed."

In regards to The Smiths' "William It Was Really Nothing":

"The kind of people who don't understand this music are guys who never cry and whose girlfriends have never peed in front of them."

In regards to Frank Sinatra's "No One Cares":

"I do, baby, I do."

In regards to Sonic Youth's "Teenage Riot":

The anthem of bitter, dysfunctional childhood."

In regards to Dusty Springfield's "No Easy Way Down":

"Really fucking depressing and romantic."

In regards to Superchunk's "The First Part":

"This music is a middle finger to the jaded N.C. dicks who couldn't handle how great they were."

"[X is] a great band who I wish I had never met. I have their pictures on my piano, which is why my piano songs are not very nice."

"[The Velvet Underground's 'Heroin'] is the sound of Bob Dylan getting his ass kicked behind a gas station."

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Blender - December 2003

In response to his turning down the chance to continue touring with The Rolling Stones:

"Who wants to open for his idols? That's way too fucking hard."

"I don't really feel like that right now. I mean, if you put enough whiskey in anybody, they can make an alt-country record."

"I've certainly been unhappy in stretches of my twenties, but I don't know anyone who wasn't. I've learned not to celebrate the darkness so much."

"I'm sort of planting Post-It notes all over my psyche."

In response to what those mental notes say:

"Do not skateboard wasted. Do not buy $10,000 rugs. Be careful what you say to journalists. You don't have to stay up until 7 A.M. - tomorrow is a new day."

His vision of "To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)":

"He's a mercurial, heart-on-his-sleeve motormouth, and his audacity gives him a boyish air, like Dennis the Menace in a faded Western shirt."

"Still am [a weirdo]. Fucking weird all over the place."

"If you think I'm weird, you gotta meet her. My mom is like a psychedelic game show. You don't know what you're going to win, you don't really know what the point of the game is, you just play."

In response to talking about his father:

"I'm crawling out of my skin because you're hitting on some shit I don't want to talk about."

"I get as much bad press as anybody can. I am the accumulator of bad negative press. I'm from the South, I liked punk rock, and it was inherent that I was just going to raise hell. But it's not like I fight people in bars or stab people."

"I don't consider that trouble. It's OK to make a little fun. I have a big mouth, I guess. If someone treads on my thing, I retaliate."

"A lot of rock songs seem to be like a warning: 'I'm tough; watch your back.' That's not interesting to me. When I write, I try to think of something angry and beautiful, or sad and romantic. I'm a little bizarre with my emotions. I'm manic - I overthink, overdo, overanalyze. Why else would I write songs all the time?"

"To break up the tedium, you go out and have a cocktail. But I've never woken up surrounded by empty liquor bottles with blood coming out of my mouth in a hotel with a girl I don't know. I've experimented with drugs. But I don't shoot up. Not many people make it through that."

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Blender - April 2004

"I don't have any hobbies besides making music, taking loads of drugs and reading."

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Blender - August 2007

In regards to how to start a comic book collection:

"Browse a store and see what artists or stories inspire you orwhat heroes appeal to you. My biggest connection is with Batman. He's a dark dude; he has women trouble; he may or may not have been a drunk. I can identify with those things."

"See what's working for you, then get a subscription. Decide whether you're going to get copies to read or if you're going to be collecting to finish a series. Only very popular series get to the point where back issues are extraordinarily expensive."

"Most flea markets, yard sales, and antique deals usually have a stack of comics that have been thumbed through only once or twice. You never know, you might find a jewel like Batman No. 68 and go, 'Oh my God, I'm going to buy a mansion!'"

"Buy plastic sleeves to protect the books from dust, spills, and tearing,and cardboard backs to protect their spines. Once you have enoug comics to fill a box, you know you're in - the infestation has taken hold."

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Clash - May/June 2007

"I always have fun in the studio. It's always good to write. I sort of took my time this time, I guess. Wrote a little bit, recorded a little bit, took some time off, ya know?"

"Well, I guess I'm probably just a bit inspired by my writing technique, whether I'm writing fiction or narrative stuff that isn't music. I wouldn't say it was directly influenced by any specific writer, but some of the stuff that I write most is usually narrative writing. Probably things like - not content wise - but in the writing style of Miller, or for that matter Susan Sontag - people that wrote just basically essays and things, things about what they knew about. So I don't really sweat details much for records. I think that in order to make a good record you should probably not be thinking about making one. I don't really do any tricks, I just try to be honest. My life hasn't necessarily always been good. It's usually filled with a lot of compact moments of drama and long moments of boredom, and hopefully there will be some good things in between, you know?"

"['The Sun Also Sets'] is a killer track. I love that track. I really put my fists up in front of my face on that track. I don't think it was quite done when we had first presented it to the folks - the people who manage me who I really love a lot. I really asked for their help this time. I was like, 'Look, I don't know what the hell I'm doing.' I had too much on my mind. It was one of the ones that I really wanted to make it, and it took some hard work to get it into shape."

In response to if he is a pessimist:

"As much as anybody is. I would think that I'm probably able to write from a pessimistic viewpoint, but I think in order to sing a pessimistic song you must be somewhat of an optimist. Otherwise you would just think, 'What's the point of singing this song?' I'm maybe a bit of both. I think I naturally question the world around me and my place in it and what it's supposed to mean."

"['I Taught Myself How To Grow Old'] is a tricky tune, because it can mean a lot of different things, I think. I've heard it back since, and it was shocking to me that it was as blunt as it was. I think the emotional activity in that song is more talking about not just myself but the way that a person can, when they're younger, aspire to being older, aspire to feel in some ways more like their heroes. In my late teens and through my twenties, the people that I admired and the people that I looked up to in my life were older. My grandfather, for instance, or some of my musical heroes or literary heroes or people to me who were heroic who were artists. They were people who were older and lived a more sophisticated kind of life. And some of the pain associated with that, some of their problems, which were adult problems, I think that somehow it seemed like a romantic notion to take those on as a young man. Just by writing that song, it was some way of admitting or figuring out that it wasn't necessarily the right decision, you know? It's kinda like be careful what you wish for. If you decide that you wanna live like Tom Waits or something, so you wanna move to the dark side of the street or live in the back of a barroom to feel their feelings, then you're in your early twenties by the time that you would have had the experiences of spring or summer of your life. You might end up in a bit of a darker place than you expected."

"I think [29] is really, really scary when I look back on it, because I was very depressed. It was a concept record from front to back. I don't think I've ever revealed this, but I'll tell you because I have enough space from where it's interesting. It was the first of the three records that were released in the one year that we made. 29 was the record I wrote while my wrist was healing from my fall, but it was written on a computer with just one hand because my other hand was completely immobile. I had to relearn how to play guitar and everything, so by the time I went back to write songs - before Cold Roses and Jacksonville City Nights - I was in a lot of pain, and I couldn't make it go away. A lot of it was physical pain and some of it was psychic pain, but I think that record to me was sort of what would happen in a person's mind if they'd finally reached a place where they were sad enough to end their own life, and they're looking back on it as they're slowly fading away. So, the way that that record was built was me documenting what it would be like imagining myself if I was dying, and the last things I would be thinking about is the last scenarios that would play out in my head, all related to very personal things in my life. It's a very, very, very destructive and strange record, but that had a lot to do with the fact that I did damage myself. It took six months to even recover just from the surgery and the post-surgery physical rehabilitation had begun on my wrist, and I wasn't even able to push a pencil. I think I kinda saw my whole life flashing before my eyes, at least my creative life. So with that record, I was bieng creative by expressing what it would be like to go through a physical death as I had gone through a creative death."

"[29] was initially supposed to be the first of the trilogy - Cold Roses being the second and Jacksonville City Nights being the third. The idea was that 29 would be the creative death and the death so to speak of a certain part of myself as an artist and Cold Roses as a rebirth sort of, like coming out of the darkness, then Jacksonville City Nights as the third in that trilogy was like a really hard reflection, tackling subjects from the past that I could never really get to the heart of in the way that I wanted to, which I think I successfully did on that record. But the way they did come out was Cold Roses first, then Jacksonville City Nights and 29 third was mainly because I think the label did not like the album at all. It's true; I'm not making anything up that they wouldn't tell you, but they didn't think that it had any business being released. So they decided to just release it third and bury it in the December releases so that mayube nobody noticed it came out and wouldn't make a bit fuss about it. I don't even know if I got paid for it! But I did demand that it came out. As for Love Is Hell, they refused to release it as an album, and then they released it as two EPs, omitting all these songs - it's still missing five songs, but, you know, what are you gonna do? They're the bank and I'm a guy, ya know?"

"I've been told that [Love Is Hell] only sold 30,000 copies - a disaster. But I don't care. It's not a disaster to me. I just think that records belong in the world, and I'm just trying to write in a form. If I'm a dinosaur novelist to them, fine, but either way I still have to do my work. It feels like my calling, it feels correct to me to work in this form. Once in awhile you have to do something weird. I mean, Rock And Roll is...I'm like more or less making fun of the entire situation about not being able to release a record that I care so much about, and they're like, 'Well, we need a record that's commercial.' Every second of that record Rock And Roll is a total and complete lie, none of it means anything; it's all bullshit. Every song is like a rip-off of a style of another band with a title that should almost be comedy. It's kind of evident."

In response to if he enjoys the frantic game of catch-up he gets to play with his obsessive fans:

"I never think about its value in my own lifetime, and I also don't like to overthink what it's worth. You know, I wanted to do this so bad my whole life. I wanted to write; not just be a writer because it sounded cool, but I really liked the idea of being in a position of looking at the world, observing my emotions, how I responded to it, being fascinated by the fact of just being alive. It's a tremendous experience for me, as it is for anyone, but I'm enamoured by the experience in such a way that I really don't know anything else. It would be unnatural for me to not want to sit down and try to...um.. At this point, it's not even making sense of my world, my writing, it's a bit more daring, interesting stories, sharing my fascination with all of it. It always feels kind. Even when the writing could be cruel, when the subject matter is dark or tense, it still to me feels like a very good thing to share. I ultimately think that everybody probably goes through these same feelings, same discussions, same romantic feelings, same type of confusion, and I guess my job - if I have one, if I'm able to keep my job - is just to be honest about what it's like for me. And then what hapens to it afterwards really is just up to a person if they want to invest their time in it and if they find similarities to their own life or it explains something that maybe they couldn't explain. Or maybe they just hear a song and they go, 'Oh, I've felt like that before,' you know? I think it's a good place to be. I personally look forward to every day that I get up and the typewriter's sitting there, and I'm always happy to see it, I really am. Something funny always comes out of that thing, and a lot of the time it's something I didn't even know that I knew or something that I didn't even know that I was gonna think about. It's kinda wonderful."

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Elle - October 2001

In regards to having been pegged as the Kurt Cobain of alt-country:

"People just wanted to put a face to this 'country crossover'. The pressure [to succeed] was scary."

In regards to his drinking in excess to deal with things:

"An average day was me in the bathtub trying to get over my hangover."

"Girls are a great incentive to play guitar. They bum you out; you write a song. There's something really sexy about sad."

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Esquire - October 2001

"All the songs had to work completely and honestly by themselves on acoustic guitar or on piano. If they didn't, they weren't worth putting on the record."

"[Gold is] me not buying my own bullshit for two seconds."

"Most of my songs are directed at one girl: 'This is what I had to say to you today.'"

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Entertainment Weekly - July 6, 2001

"My mother is a teacher, and the room I was raised in had all of her college books - as well as books I shouldn't have been reading. I read Henry Miller's Black Spring and Tropic of Cancer when I was about 13."

"I tend to sleep on a hotel's couch. I don't ever think to jump in the bed."

"[Chris Stamey] told me if I ever had an idea for a song, to sit down and stay with it until it was done, because those moments of inspiration will pass."

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Flaunt - Issue #84

"I was trying to paint a picture of [Jesse Malin] but ended up painting my impression of him personally, a kind of scene from his subconscious. It's hard not to sound pretentious talking about that shit, but it really reminded me of him and not because it was dark - I don't get off on nightmares. Nature is dark in essence, but he loved it. I didn't even say anything to him about it. He just knew I was working on stuff, and when he came over, he went straight for it."

"I've only sold one painting ever. I won't say to whom."

"I'm into process. I like it. There's truth to it. Painting is like jamming, for me. And it's overwriting. The effect I'm trying to get is to please me, so maybe it's masturbatory, without sounding provocative by saying that, because that's not the intention. I'm just trying to be truthful. I go through this phase of attack and attack, an get attacked. Aggression. But not aggressive strokes, an aggressive process. And then halfway through, I get calm. It's like my brain's unleashing itself, and by being really unconscious, stuff comes out, and it ends up this pretty shit painting. I get a vibe from it. And if I'm not 100% into it, I look at it and let it calm my mind down, then I go over to the next canvas. But I do try to bend it to my will. And as soon as it starts getting clse, it's like the painting wins; I don't win. And then sometimes I'll win, which is great, but there's this struggle. I don't always get to the thing I'm thinking. Something happens on the way, this style happens, because I didn't construct this style. The style's all about lack of technique, limited imagination probably. Well, 'limited' meaning I have this one style, and whether I like it or not, I paint it. A friend of a friend said to me once about my paintings, 'Well, you'll get better.' And once, another friend's painter boyfriend said, 'It must be really fun to take a bunch of color and slab it onto these big canvases.' And I was like, 'Thank you.' It's funny that's what he viewed it as, because that's sort of what it is. I don't claim it as...I don't have a precept, I don't have a working concept or working - well, no, that's not true. Here's what's true: I know that it feels good to paint."

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Filter - Spring 2004

In response to which one was cooler, Kris or Kross:

"They both wore their shit backwards, didn't they? I'm not talking shit about Kris Kross because I don't know what those guys look like now, and I'm not going to get my ass beat. They might be, like, DMX or some shit."

"I take [diet pills] sometimes, maybe like three or four, and then I end up in the cradle position behind some bar and having to get carried home. They don't mix well."

In response to if he considers himself the white Tracy Chapman:

"No, but you know Tracy Chapman almost accidentally ran me over in Los Angeles. I was getting some smokes and chips and shit from the corner market, and I swear to God she skid on the brakes, and I ran to get out of the way. There were no cars coming or anything, but she skidded out, and I almost got killed. It was her. She looked at me and growled and honked the horn."

"I don't know if that song is literal, 'Summer of '69'. I talked to Bryan Adams once. We were staying in the same hotel in Munich. I had broken my hand, and I had a chest infection, so I was totally fucked. When I got to Munich, I had to cancel my agenda, and we got this German doctor to come check me out, and he hooked me up with this liquid Valeron. If you knew what this shit was, you would go to Germany immediately and slam yourself in the face with a hammer. It's like liquid morphine which they give to ex-junkies, and they gave it to me in this dropper, so you could put like two or three drops in your Coca-Cola, and in 10 minutes, you're so fucking high that you're itching your skin. So after he gave me all this shit, he asked me to sign a CD for his boss and hands me The Best of Me by Bryan Adams, and he didn't have any idea that I wasn't Bryan Adams, so I signed it. I was laughing about it all night until I got this very disturbing message from somebody in Bryan Adams' room, who was staying one floor above me, telling me they had charged all the doctor services and pills to Bryan instead of me. Later, I got a call from Bryan himself, and he wanted to come meet me and talk. I told him not to come down 'cause I was really sick, but he was insisting. He was saying, like, 'I'm sure it must be very hard for you to have a name so close to mine.' And he said he'd like to call a truce. I said, 'I'm not at war with you, man, I don't give a fuck.' Later that night, I was all fucked up, and I called him back and asked him if he wanted to play the Tin Man in my music video; it was like a Wizard of Oz theme, and all my friends were in it, and I thought it would be cool, and he said he would check into it, but he never did it. I've been getting the whole Bryan Adams thing since I was in grade school. Not from everybody, just like three kids."

In response to if he thinks he will ever write a song as good as "Summer of '69":

"I don't know, people really like that song. I'll never refute that that's a really good song."

In response to who is the most famous person he's done karate with:

"After a kung fu flick, I've fucked around and, like, socked a girl a couple of times."

In response to if he can do a round house:

"Not well. I can do a drunk round house."

In response to if he's ever given his heart to the Lord:

"No, unfortunately, I should probably think about doing that soon."

In response to what his craziest drug experience was in school:

"LSD in French class. I started speaking in tongues. I took a lot of cold medicine too. During my last year of school, I got bad grades because I was trying a lot of different drugs. But I never did coke or heroin or any of that at school. I had some friends who just got fried, you know? They would take a lot of acid, sometimes it would be old. We would just get sheets of this old shitty acid, and I wouldn't care. I would just dive in."

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GQ (British) - April 2002

In regards to finding a blank book in a trash can:

"I was like, 'Fuck off! Right on.' I had really wanted to write songs by myself, songs that sounded good on the acoustic guitar. And I started filling up the book, accumulating all these tunes, and it became, like, the book of all my acoustic stuff."

After hanging up the phone with Elton John:

"What a sweet bastard!"

"I think there's a consensus in rock 'n' roll that Keith Richards, Patti Smith, and Velvet Underground looked cool. And I always liked the way Sonic Youth looked - like they could give a fuck. But you gotta be sensible: denim is good because you can get it dirty, it's not that expensive, and it works as a suit. You can look sharp in it if you care to, or you can look relaxed."

"I've got maybe five or ten jean jackets with jeans. I can pack three to four pairs of denim jeans, five T-shirts, ten Western-style shirts, and two ties and just buy socks when I get there. That, a Walkman, two books, and some records, and I'm out the door for a year. Not a problem. Doesn't freak me out at all. Usually, if you're thinking about your clothes too much, you're probably not high enough."

"I know it doesn't look like it, but there's a lot of thought gone into this look."

In regards to The Denim Doctor in Los Angeles and American Denim in SoHo:

"I just call both of those places up and tell them Ryan's coming, and by the time I get to the store, they'll have twenty pairs for me. They go from like £100 to £200, but they're bootcut, form-fitted from the Seventies, and if I take ten pairs, then the shop makes a couple of grand."

"Fashion isn't really important to me, but it's important to have one thing that works and stick with it."

"Fuck it. Things with Winona didn't work out. At the time, she was just breaking up with someone. So was I. Nobody makes those connections after they've been with somebody that long. But we're still friends."

"Now I can look at that record and go like, 'Where the fuck was I?' Because the place where Gold is, is really bugged-out. I think Heartbreaker's disturbingly sad, yes. But Gold is like, 'How the fuck did I get there?' I think that I was just basically clinging to anything I could get my hands on. Trying to make some semblance of sense out of everything that had happened to me. It sounds like its own AM-FM radio station that plays oldies. You put it on, and it's like, 'Why put the radio on?' My record's like every style you could have. I told Ethan [Johns], 'Let's make our own radio station, only I'm the leader of the Temptations, I'm the head of MC5 or The Beatles.' Ethan's like, 'Well, you've gotta start writing that stuff.' I'm like, 'Fuck off! I'm not writing any of that stuff. I'm gonna live it! And then when I get in the studio, I'll go make it up that day.' Which is what I did."

"Something weird and groovy happened in that room. But it wasn't just the room, it was my willingness to try to tie up everything with my past and get over some of that shit. And the fact that I was walking the 30 minutes there from my hotel every day in the sun. I was very much swinging my arms. Like, 'Fuck it, man! It's cool. I'm in California. I'm not in Nashville. I'm not in New York. I'm not dying. I'm totally not strung out on drugs.' It was a really good feeling: I'm creating this great piece of work. I knew I was on to something."

"I don't want to be an actor, man. I love playing guitar."

"Sometimes when I do an interview, it feels like a trailer to a really long movie that no one will ever get to see. And my records are like a trailer, too. 'Dah, dah, dah! Coming up...Ryan's Life! He lived in New York on Avenue A! He likes Sylvia Plath! He may or may not have dated Winona Ryder! What's all this about Alanis Morissette? Find out in...Ryan's Life! You'll never see it! Dah, dah, dah!' You see? The trailer gets great reviews, but no one gets to see the film. If ever they did, they'd laugh. It's a fucking black comedy, is what it is. That's my life. Still, I'm onto the next trailer. It's a weird life. You've gotta be crooked to stay in it."

"I would never use somebody for a song. That's really careful shit. I'm not gonna write some fucking song that's like: 'Oh, Winona Ryder/How fucking dare you?/You bitch!' I'm sure everybody would love for that to happen, but it's not true. And on the same level, if it was just some normal person...well, I'm not saying she's not normal. But I'm not saying she is normal either. I think that people in the entertainment industry are 50% more disturbing thatn somebody who has their shit together. If you are going to be a public figure, you probably are fucked up to some degree. Because why wuold anybody wanna be an exhibitionist?"

"I finished Gold. I was just chilling. I met a girl here and a girl there. Just, like, laid-back stuff. And then I met this person who I really fell for like super-hardcore, who was like beyond recognition cool. I was like, 'Fuck!' We could really talk, and things were amazing. It was awesome! The greatest thing. We were just hanging out, man. Loving California and having the best time."

Speaking of the same person after returning to Los Angeles from Europe:

"I found out in the car ride back from the airport that this person, who I was convinced I'd marry, was very ill. That she was sick, with cancer. I know, yeah. It's awful. And that there was this very strict amount of time left to handle it, to deal with it, before I'd know anything. So that's kinda what I started going through. She's extraordinarily sick now. I mean, you can't speak to her."

In response to if he can visit her:

"No. It wouldn't matter. There comes a point where you're hurting more than helping. It's beyond reason. It's bad. You know, I've never told anybody any of this stuff before, but fuck it."

"It's really hard to describe. It's sort of sexy and dark at the same time. I want this record to be my Sticky Fingers. I want it to kick utter ass, for there not to be one minute of self-indulgence. I want to be fit like a lion waiting in the weeds, ready to kill somebody. Like Oasis' (What's The Story) Morning Glory? or one of those records that are like, pow! Bang! Boom! I have to go and make the definitive 'What am I about?' record. So I've been thinking long and hard about, like, 'Who am I? What am I trying to project? What do I want to say?' Instead of writing a love song to a particular girl, what about a love song to love? I want people to hear it and be like, 'Fuck off!' I wanna see how far I can bend and break people. I wanna see if I can break someone's heart while playing a show. Fuck them up so bad that they just go, 'Fuck!', start crying, and leave. Because I want to express how much I've seen. And I can do it every fucking night. It never burns out."

In regards to Bryan Adams:

"We talked about it. Bryan was like, 'Dude, it's tough. Let's call a truce.' And I thought, 'Right on.' It isn't fair to get pissed at him or for him to get pissed at me. When anybody says anything about it, I'm like, 'Why bother?' I feel legitimate enough for it not to matter. We actually share the same birthday, 5 November.'"

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GQ - December 2003

"I shut off for about a year after the last tour. I spent four or five months hanging out in my apartment, reading, taking long baths."

"I go long periods of times without writing at all.

"Even if [my songwriting reputation] were true, it's really important for me to say that I don't, because I start looking like a twat. Like, 'Who does he think he is, writing songs all the time?'"

Concerning past controversies:

"A lot of it was meant to be funny. I don't want people to think that I'm out trying to start trouble. I'm not."

"Oh, look at that fish! Oh, my God! I think I'm, like, a shopaholic."

Upon seeing a cat curled up against the glass of a store window:

"Rrrrraaaagh. Rrrrraaaagh! Goddamn it, that cat is so fuckin' cute I want to...squeeze the hell out of it."

"I've been buying a lot of old quilts lately. I dunno, I like old, folky stuff like that. I think it reminds me of home."

"Girls aren't idiots like guys are. Girls don't sit around worrying about rock records all day. Maybe they do love 'em the way we love 'em. But I don't think they generally fucking obsess about records the way most of these weirdos do. I mean, the important shit is the stuff that you write songs about, not the record."

In these magazines, it's about, like, 'Their record is horrible!' 'They should be murdered!' 'I hate them!' 'I hope he dies!' It's like, 'Dude, he's just playing guitar!'"

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Guitar World Acoustic - Issue #67 2004

"[Rock N Roll]'s kind of an album about my record collection. It's not the next great statement, and it's so not a big deal. It has elements of the late Eighties in it - particularly Sonic Youth, which was very important for me, and a little bit of Gun Club. Terribly unprofound, I'd say. It has a lot of punchlines in it."

"Almost all of [creating Rock N Roll] was, 'What riff was the funnest to play on the bass? And how can I use my influences?' I've been accused of plagiarism in the past and wearing my influences too much on my sleeve. Well, that's the point. To be influenced is a creative thing to be. Look at people like the Stones. They were covering all those blues guys and really learning that repertoire before they made their own record. They got to where they really understood the music. And then look what happened."

"You get to the point where since what you do isn't working, you just charge out and try anything. I completely abandoned whatever routine I had before. Had no routine at all. I mainly write from sketches, and that's like writing down your dreams. You can write it down the best that you can, but you never get to the actual dream. Songs are that way - I don't aspire to be a completist or edit stuff too much. I like it in the raw, beautiful, messy state. My rule on all the stuff I wrote this year was 'No Laboring'. I wrote [Rock N Roll] in two weeks."

"['This Is It'] is about desire, about the songs that do that to me. And having that desire - you want to write a love song for a girl, you want to write the prettiest song in the world, but you can't. It's all been done. There are cliches everywhere. And still you can't help but try."

"What usually happens is I get an idea, a song title or something, and I'll write it down on a piece of paper. Other words will come along for it later, and those get writen down on other pieces of paper. By the time I'm ready to do something with it, I'll have these scraps all over and an overall idea in my head. Sometimes they'll just arrange themselves into place."

"If you're looking for the place where I'm all self-serious and thinking deeply, it's just not there [on Rock N Roll]. I felt that was something I'd done enough of already. And you can find some of that on Love Is Hell - which is pretty thick sometimes and not to be mixed with pharmaceuticals."

"I do party, but any of that I do is out of joy, not self-destruction. I don't have the series of photos of me falling into the gutter and throwing up. And I don't have a string of unfulfilled commitments. During Heartbreaker and Gold, had I done anything stupid, it would have seemed such a cliche...for awhile there I was very aware of that. I've done a lot of recordings and a lot of tours now - I don't think people could do that much and be totally wasted. At the same time, you try to make these records sound interesting when you do have a buzz."

In response to explaining the anti-Ryan Adams sentiment out there:

"I wish I knew. Is it that I've used drugs? I'm not the first guy. Or that I date famous actresses? Well, what the fuck am I supposed to do? I think people are upset with me on a personal level, for things other than the music. They hate me, and they don't even know me. Which is a weird position to be in - I always thought you judged the art, not the person. The attacks on me have been very personal - last time I checked, I hadn't submitted an application to be your roommate."

"You can't escape it. Elton [John], when the shit hit the fan with me, he reached out and told me that, 'You won't know why or how, and all you'll know is the whole thing becomes ridiculous.' Boy, was he right. You have to become water and get very Zen about it. You don't try to take it on. You empathize. It's like, 'Oh, Ryan Adams murders people in his sleep,' and there's no way to change somebody's view if they believe that. See this? It's a guitar. I make songs. Fine if you don't like them...I never said I was any good."

"A lot of my playing, both acoustic and electric, is suited to the songs. I've always been comfortable playing rhythm, and whatever complex fingerpicking stuff I do is just what I was hearing when I wrote the song. I'm not a great player - I have all these instruments at home, mandolin, banjo, steel guitar. For me the fun in making demos is getting to use them, not trying to get too far outside of myself and drawing on what I can do. So it's a direct circuit - an idea comes, and you find what you have around to facilitate it. People have told me they liked my demos for that."

In response to if he has a favorite instrument:

"My default is probably my '62 Strat, and I have a '74 Telecaster too - I wrote the bulk of the electric songs on that. My main amp was a Fender Twin Reverb."

In response to who his favorite guitarists are:

"Johnny Marr, Lindsey Buckingham. Peter Buck. Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia, Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth. For me as a guitar player, what those guys do is just amazing."

"I read something the other day where somebody said a song of mine was '100% Paul Westerberg' because it was earnest. Now, I love Paul Westerberg, but I was scratching my head. It's like if you're a songwriter, and you mean it, you're zero to Paul Westerberg in two seconds."

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Harp - November/December 2002

"In the past, I think I've been a loudmouth, a big mouth, probably incredibly unfair at times. But I kind of see it as rock lore. I figure, if you're gonna live this lifestyle, then it should be extraordinary. There's a great quote, and I can't think of it, but it's like, 'All men owe it to themselves to live an extraordinary life.' So many people don't get that chance. The tabloid stuff, that's good story stuff, and some of it's true. I'd say maybe fifty percent is true. A lot of the stuff that seems so important is actually very minimal. I have a very quite and very nice private life that I enjoy deeply and tremendously, and I don't think anybody would be shocked, but I'm not crawling around like a fucking animal on my hands and knees, three hits of acid in, doing tons of coke and beating the shit out of people. That's really not me. Chances are I'm grocery shopping and going to meet friends at some pub uptown or something."

In response to early boosters having grown critical of him:

"That doesn't matter. That's like saying some weird dude down on the corner that never throws out an issue of NME doesn't like it. What does that mean? And to be honest with you, I didn't expect anything less. Are you joking me? I've never seen them do anything but come down on people who find success. Now maybe I'm wrong about that, but my thing is like, I would've loved for the Smiths to be the biggest band in the world ever, as big as The Rolling Stones. I fucking enjoy Mariah Carey records as much as I enjoy listening to Sleater-Kinney. I'm sorry. I like Madonna too, the True Blue stuff, the Like A Virgin stuff. I think that's interesting. Pop culture's important and interesting."

In response to if he thinks he is being criticized because he's too popular:

"No, I think that they genuinely do not like the record. And I congratulate them for not liking it. By voicing your opinion and saying you don't like my record, that means that you're still out there to buy great records you love. I don't have a problem with anybody who doesn't like my stuff; just don't quietly ask me to die. I'm just playing fucking guitar, for Christ's sake, I'm not banging on your door or hurting you."

"I don't hang out with Alanis Morissette; we're just acquaintances. I enjoyed, when she was making her last record, the time and patience she was putting into it, and how she fits a lot of words into small parts of a song. Indie snobs will go, 'Alanis Morissette, how uncool!' But you know, I grew up on punk rock, so to me, if I want to fucking buy an Alanis Morissette record and immediately afterward go put on [the New York Dolls'] 'Personality Crisis', and then listen to Julie Doiron, it's my fucking perogative. It's my record collection, it's not theirs. And also, Alanis happens to be a really nice person with really cool things to say. She isn't an idea in a record buyer's head; she actually does stuff like eats food and buys records and plays guitar. And Elton? He has exquisite taste in music. He always knows about a record before I do. He's funny as fuck. He's a protector of me, like in an older brother kind of way. And he has great advice for me, because he's been there. And not last week, but twenty fucking years ago! And I don't give a fuck, I love Honky Chateau and Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. I love those records. I fucking get as high as fuck and listen to those records as much as Led Zeppelin, as much as I listen to the Stones or the Beatles. And if people don't want to dig that, fine, but I like his stuff, and I like him as a friend. And it wasn't like I went, 'I'm gonna go hang out with Elton John now, that'll be really cool.' When I got a letter from him, I was shocked."

"I don't owe Whiskeytown anything. My career as a solo artist has nothing to do with Whiskeytown. Whiskeytown was a creative prison, and now I don't have that. I can do anything I want, whenever I want. All the risks are my own, and I take the heat for whatever records I make."

"I happen to be really, really proud of everything I've done since I've been a solo artist. There's nothing I'm not proud of, in terms of making albums and playing shows. I really am comfortable, and I really believe in it now, and that's the main thing I think Ethan [Johns] gave me. He allowed me to learn how to be my own confidence, to let myself go and be creative and be thoughtful. So that's more of a gift than anyone can give - and it turns out that he's one of my closest friends in the world. I consider him a brother. So I'm pretty lucky in that respect. I'm pretty lucky in that I don't have any problems with what I'm doing - and I don't have problems with other people haveing problems with it, either."

"I remember [being in Whiskeytown] being a lot of fun at times and being really hard at times. Incredibly hard. This is going to sound really odd, but I never wanted to be the front person for the band. I always wanted to be one of three songwriters in the band, because we had Caitlin [Cary], and early on we had Phil [Wandscher]. The first record, I think there's one or two [songs] from Phil and one from Caitlin, but I always expected those numbers to increase, and for my part to be minimal. It just never worked out that way. A lot of egos were thrown around. I had a pretty substantial nervous breakdown right in the middle of all that stuff, around [the 1997 release of Strangers Almanac]. After Strangers, I was pretty much certifiable for a while. I didn't want to tour. I had stage fright so bad. It made me look like a bad guy, but I just could not communicate on stage. I was so nervous. I always felt like I was gonna pass out. And we were all drinking and eventually started doing drugs. We were really, really young. There was a really sad, bitter end fo the band. No matter what we tried to do to keep it afloat, something would always backfire. And I accept full responsibility for parts of that being my fault. A band's a really hard thing to keep afloat unless you've got really great friends and a real strong, solid base, unless you can keep it in perspective. But we never really knew anything about the business side, and I didn't know how to take care of myself. I was still a kid. I should've been in college or something, partying and trying to figure my life out, and instead I was on tour and really lost - and really scared."

"I've got an older brother and a younger sister, both of them sweet as pie. Smart as hell, too. My brother was a mathematician, and then he applied it to certain types of engineering that I couldn't even begin to explain. My sister's kicking around in Raleigh as well. And my mom's retired now; she was a teacher. She's her own version of Shel Silverstein or something. She's got a wild imagination, tells stories. My dad, he just built houses and stuff. I haven't really seen him in a long time."

"I did a really brief stint in L.A. I lived in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for three months. And Nashville was about eight months. That's when I split New York for the first time. The Whiskeytown thing had subsided; it just quietly died, and I went there to get an education. I went down and played with Gillian [Welch] and Dave [Rawlings] and Buddy and Julie Miller. I did a lot of listening and not a whole lot of playing. And then, quietly, I got a little place in East Nashville and started playing music a lot, on my own. I felt like for the first time I was interested in really trying to write. It's funny - it's like I decided to care, and the day I decided to buy in and try to learn, there was stuff everywhere to learn from."

"I never considered [the tracks from Demolition] demos. I considered them sketches of albums. The records they were intended to be, I own them, with my own artwork, on my own master CDs. So at home, I have them as their own records, but for everybody else, they're not. I found it to be mentally and physically impossible - as well as commercially impossible - to release five records."

"I think some people decided that Gold was crap. And I commend them for having an opinion on rock 'n' roll; I have one myself, and I think it's okay to think that record sucks or I suck or I'm a fuckhead. You know what, you might be right. But to me, that record was an explanation - almost like a bloodletting - of a lot of shit that was bugging me for years. And if I didn't do it that way, I was gonna pay a therapist."

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Harp - October/November 2003

"I remember the last time I saw Joe [Strummer] we were at this place called the 13 Bar in New York City. It was really, really crowded and he just wanted to get a pint. So I suggested we go over to this other place Cedar Tavern - 'cause he kept saying how badly he needed a pint! And so we went over there and ended up talking for two or three hours and basically sat around getting drunk. We were talking about Jamaica - I had just been there and done this awful, fucking terrible DVD thing where I was stoned the whole time. I think I was complaining about that too. Anyway, he'd been to a lot of the same places - Ocho Rios and Port Antonio - and obviously he was really into reggae which we talked about for hours. That last night Joe and I were both gab central. It's so weird to be talking about Joe 'cause just this morning I was getting some juice out of the fridge and I have a photo of us from that night. Both of us are drinking these great big pints of Guinness looking really sour. That's my memory of Joe."

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Harp - December/January 2004

"What's the greatest misconception about me? I'm not really sure. Maybe that I'm not really a drama queen."

"I believe the greatest misconception is that I'm a jerk."

"I am shy. In fact, there are times I don't even go out of the house. Shy people react two ways. You either get to have a couple of drinks, and you shrug it off and say, 'I'm going to get through this,' and that's like being on a rollercoaster and pretending not to be afraid. Which can come off differently Or completely closing down. That's always a reaction of me being unsure. When I was in Whiskeytown, I was so much shyer than I am now, so shy that it was really painful. I wasn't good at maintaining my own life. I didn't know how to be responsible about partying or touring. I didn't know how to say, 'I'm not having fun, this sucks.'"

"For me personally, I think that the thing I find the most shocking or weird is that most people think I'm provocative to the point of being controversial about it. And maybe like a little cocky, and I actually, believe it or not, spend most of my creative life being very unsure but very dedicated to making lots of music because I love that part of it. It's all of the psychobabble that comes with it being communicated to other people that freaks me out, makes me want to internalize and makes it hard for me sometimes to complete the good feelings of the things that I've done because I'm shocked and afraid of the response of other people. And one of the defense mechanisms is to be very tight-lipped or reactionary."

"When Whiskeytown stopped, my agoraphobia got more and more increased, and I didn't go out at all. I'm talking weeks and weeks inside my apartment and never leaving. Maybe going out for cigarettes, but maybe not. When I go into depression, the agoraphobia comes back. I just went through that at the end of recording Love Is Hell, and Johnny kind of pulled me out of it, and we started playing music together, that's how we got to Rock N Roll."

"Love Is Hell is like nothing I've ever done before. And it was something that I needed to do. It was the record I needed to make."

"Yeah, well, I thought it was time to make an album that was like being in your twenties, since I certainly have spent most of my twenties writing songs like I was twenty years older. [Rock N Roll] is the most rock thing I have ever done."

"You're not going to believe this, but I do a very credible English accent, but it's nothing compared to my Swedish one."

"We were going to name [Rock N Roll] Steal This, and I wish we had. I just thought that sounded great. We actually had three names, the other one's really crap. It was Diamonds, a coked-out name for sure. Diamonds is so coke. And then it was Rock N Roll. Then we flipped it. Well, I like our titles to be kind of obvious. I mean, when I get super high, and I read the titles of my records, I start laughing really hard. Because they're like really dumb, like Heartbreaker? That's fucking funny. Gold is way funnier. Demolition is almost crass, and then Love Is Hell and Rock N Roll it's like, come on."

"I guess sometimes my songs are revenge, but on the whole I would say that I'm still decent friends with most of the people I've dated, if not all of them. Of course you lose touch. I lost touch with my first girlfriend from North Carolina, but besides that I still know all the people that I've dated. You don't just end it by smashing their window out and spitting on them. I've never been like that. I've always wanted to call and check in and say hello, and I try to do that regularly."

"I look for guitars that have personality and that have a feel and a sound a little out of the ordinary fo rthe model. It's usually one made in the second or third year of production that I eventually pick up. Most guitars take a year or so of tweak in manufacturing before I can tell the designer found the weaknesses and flaws and played those faults up to make the model really shine. I use a '62 Strat, wood finished, a blonde '72 Telecaster, a '74 Telecaster sister model of that in sunburst purple/red, an '84 Rickenbacker, a Guild acoustic with a hummingbird pickup that I got as a gift. For basses, I like the violin neck Ampegs that Rick Danko was fond of in the Band and Fender Precision jazz basses. Whew! What a nerd I am."

"I write the songs for the person who they're intended for. I don't really care if anyone else gets them or not."

"People not dating me because they didn't want to end up a subject of criticism musically? You're kidding, right? I don't relaly think so. I was in a pretty long relationship, and before that I was in a long one as well. There were stopgaps. But I guess I date as much as anyone else. You meet people, you date, and if you're a writer, you write about it. But 95 percent of that stuff turns into conversation between two people that never goes public. It's stranger to go through those relationships than to write about them. The writing is the easy part."

"I'm just like anybody. I get in a relationship, and I'm like, whoa, and I go through all the dynamics of it, and then I have a rock life, and it seems like the perception is that rock life negates normalcy. I crave things to be normal more. I don't crave more drama, because I have it, or more partying, because it's inherent. I can't believe we're getting away with, like, playing gigs every night, living on the road. You always think the dream is going to come collapsing down, and they're goingto take it away; because it's something you want to do. And then sometimes it gets really hard, and your head gets caught in it, and the first thing that I want to do is decompress, and to talk to somebody about something normal like, 'Did we send my brother his anniversary gift?' Or, do you reallly think I made a mistake by getting those three spider plants? Who will water them?'"

"We do everything together. My girlfriend is my best friend."

"'Note To Self: Don't Die' began as a list of things I needed to remind myself of. It was supposed to be kind of funny. I was having an open dialogue with myself and telling myself to remember to do things like, 'Don't beat yourself up. Stop being afraid of being different, you've always been different. Let yourself make mistakes. Speak to other people the way you'd like to be spoken to. Don't try to always be in charge.' Lately I've been trying to look for deeper meaning and trying to pay attention to details and trying to let go, but mostly I keep telling myself to go deep and find deeper meaning because it's easy when you want to control yourself or box yourself to just sort of, like, make most events to be topical and unemotional so that you can escape through them."

"There's a line in 'Sylvia Plath' about 'rain falling fast on the sea,' and when we were in Jamaica, we took a couple of Jet-Skis way out maybe a mile or so into the sea. We turned them off, and I dove into the ocean. I was really scared because I'm afraid of the deep. And when you're in it, you're kind of at mercy of it. But it wasn't just about that, it was about the unspecified amount of territory of water between me and the bottom. We were about ten or fifteen feet apart, and then my friend Cliff went in, and I went - and that's like one of my most tragic, biggest fears. I just said, 'Goddammit,' and I just clenched my fists and went in, telling myself, 'I gotta do this for myself.' When I went underwater, I was like, 'Whoa, this is very heavy.' And then it started raining on the sea. It made me face myself. I just had on so much armor and so many defenses. It felt good to just have that experience. The thing is, I really went deep right after I had written all those things down the day before. All the defense mechanisms that I use to protect myself from being discouraged and disappointed from other people or by other people, and all that was sort of forstalled. It just gets stronger and stronger as you get better and better at using those techniques, and I think that at some point it gets really claustrophobic, and I feel like I'm too brainy. I get all germophobic and weirded out."

"I'm less public than people think. A lot of it is invented. While these revelations make me seem like a public prson, when in fact in my own life very few people know me."

"The day before yesterday, I was 21 Across in the New York Times crossword puzzle. I was shocked, and the funny thing was I didn't see it myself, friends of mine had, and they called. I didn't call my mom, although Parks told me I should. I just don't want to bother her with that. Plus I don't want to hang on to being part of a crossword puzzle because there's going to be many more crosswords down the line."

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Harp - July/August 2005

In regards to his wrist-breaking fall offstage in Liverpool:

"It was not like Judy Garland after three drinks. It was, 'There he is' and then, 'Look, he's gone.' I knew I was falling, but that was all I knew. You aren't terrified, you're almost blank, and you don't have options."

In regards to letting hospital staff know he needed his wrist for his livelihood: "Lot of good that did. It was like, people don't think musicians even do anything. They were pretty derisive."

"I was at best a casual guitar player before. When they started to talk about loss of mobility, to me that seemed pretty serious, because - let's face it - sixy percent of my mobility had been going to my 'don't give a fuck' trust fund. I needed all forty percent I had left. When I first tried to play, it was humbling and humiliating and fucked up. My game went to shit. I didn't have what I needed to get through a song."

"In the past, I was happy with the first completion of a song. My attitude was: My stuff stays where my stuff is. The songs were the driving force and the reason for being there. [After the accident,] that started to seem empty to me. I started to want to get the songs wet, knock 'em around a little. See what might develop."

"If I was going to go back to zero, I was going to do it on a righteous guitar. I made them get down this Tal Farlow they had way up high, with the ridiculous price on it because they know nobody's gonna buy it. I was like: This is the one."

"I didn't want to drive anymore. I wanted to have a group dynamic dictate the sound decisions. The only real restriction, as far as I was concerned, was that it couldn't sound like anything I'd done."

In regards to realizing how The Cardinals were far more accomplished than he was:

"I had to swallow a bit of pride and recognize it would be good for me to get out there and play with the tall kids. It was the only way to get better."

In regards to Whiskeytown:

"I always overwrote. Everyone else would come in with two solid songs, done top to bottom, and I'd be there with shitloads of scattered material. At that point, I was just so happy with myself when I'd even finished a thought at all. There was a lot of 'second verse, same as the first'. I think I was deconstructing an idea there - smashing guitars into pieces and stuff. I didn't want to sing in that band, I didn't take it seriously when I would sing. And really, I didn't want to have to take care of anything then."

In regards to asking The Cardinals for input:

"I wanted it to be totally fucking open. That, to me, was the whole idea. Of course a lot of these lyrics have my perspective, but I really just felt like I needed and wanted input - just to sort of get out of my own head."

In regards to his pedal-steel rig:

"That math problem with legs."

"We started recording right away, and there was no discussion of the intro or anything else. So we get about three-quarters through the song. I'm thinking we're home free, and suddenly it dawns on me: How are we going to end it? Somehow, it happened. When there was a strong idea, everybody just followed it."

"I wanted this band to totally be about harmony singing, and I think it was on 'Cherry Lane' when it hit me. We all went in to do backgrounds, and instead of singing directly at the microphone, we were almost screaming, aiming our voices at the roof of the place. It was wild and trashy and beautiful, and that sorta told me the band was going to work, because we weren't thinking technically. We were going for the feeling first and foremost."

"They're not my fans, they're our fans. I see people wearing Cardinals shirts. My name's out front, for now, but mainly I feel like I'm in this band. For me, this is the answer to the question, 'What's the most fun I could have playing right now?'"

In regards to his rock 'n' roll songs:

"To me, those were about getting proficient in a style. I thought, let me write rock songs, and in that I'll find a second life."

In regards to The Cardinals:

"A much better version of what I was after for a long time."

"I think, in the past, I was afraid to let a song be what it was."

"I always figure more is more. It's like, okay, you get a pizza, well, you don't have to eat the entire thing at once. You can put the rest in the fridge for later. Why can't records be like that? Who says you have to absorb all the songs all at once?"

"I stopped reading reviews, because I don't need someone to tell me how many stars all this intense weighted emotion from a time in my life equals. To hold that to a scale? To me, that's counterproductive. It's like if somebody gives you a hug. You're like, 'Okay, that's three out of five. Your intentions were good, but the way you patted my back at the end, that felt a little hollow.' Hell, I still think that records are little wishes, little greetings. If they help you along the way, beautiful."

In regards to Jacksonville:

"Pre Smokey and the Bandit badass, like you're in a scary redneck bar."

"If we thought it was crap, we wouldn't put it out. To me, the real question is: Who are you trying to cater to? If you're serving the 100,000 people who love you well, does it make sense to spend a year doing the marketing hijinks, trying to make another 900,000 people love you? Knowing, at the same time, that by not putting out more music you're pissing off the core 100,000."

"What happens is, people get a little taste of fame, and they get used to having things go that way, and the ego really kicks in. They'll do whatever it takes to stay there. They get addicted, and they make decisions that don't have anything to do with music. You get big like that, and people will maybe come and see you once. It never lasts. It's not real. I'll tell you this - it's fucking real behind a guitar."

In regards to pouring wine on his Barney Kessel guitar at the end of a Philadelphia show:

"That was the only way I could think to say, 'Fuck me, I can't make this work.' The next night, in D.C., people were like, 'Fuck Philly.' That bothered me too, because it wasn't Philly. It was me. I had a bad run. And still we played a long gig; it's not like we didn't try to keep it going."

"That kind of attitude has been so in the past for me, really. It's the kind of bullshit that happened at Whiskeytown gigs, only on the fourth song, and that would be it for the night. Look, I miscalculated. I want to leave the stage open for anything and somethings that means anything - the total possibility of disaster or flat-out Magic Time, where we can do no wrong. There's a wide range of possibilities. It takes some getting used to - I feel like I've waited all my life to be in a situation where I feel protected musically and at the same time not know what's going to happen. It can be frustrating. And let's face it, I'm not fucking Ram Dass, with everything all peaceful all the time."

"I remember having this phone conversation with [Catherine Popper]. We started talking about Rick Danko, and I was like, that sounds great. It was that simple."

"The day I started to put the band together, I found an old email from Brad [Pemberton] at an address I didn't use anymore. It was like fated - I always loved playing with him, and I knew he'd get it right away."

"There are times when JP [Bowersock] plays a solo, and I feel like I just got my ass kicked on the playground."

"[Jon Graboff] came along and kicked so much ass, he was in."

In regards to recording Jacksonville:

"At the end of the first night, we'd recorded six or seven things, and all of them sounded really interesting. I was like, 'Wow, what just happened?' I'd never been involved with anything like that before."

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Harp - July/August 2007

"I haven't listened to it since I finished the last song, and I really don't want to have a copy. Easy Tiger to me might as well have been an outdoor sculpture at a museum or something. I might have come up with the initial composition, but the actual execution of turning it into bronze or whatever the fuck it's made of, the placement of how itlooks in the world...that's all someone else's doing, either [producer] Jamie [Candiloro] or my manager or one of the [Cardinals]. I needed to do this one that way because my whole life has been making records and writings songs. And what I've found is that it benefits me greatly to separate my work space and my life space. There are still some blurry lines, but it's becoming more defined each day. It used to be that I was like this one machine to make music. I was complete in that, but it was intensely lonely and draining."

"You can take away the booze, but you can't take away the crazy."

"I noticed that people were getting funky with it. Believe me, I was not sitting at home saying, 'I will fuck with mankind by making a new The Shit album.' That's what I do in my spare time. I jam. I make goofy stuff. I love process. Emailing the guys a song that I did to make myself laugh, it's fun. It's what I would do anyway, so it would seem ridiculous not to share it."

"That's probably some thirty-something stuff creeping in. Not to be cliche and get into self-analysis, but that's what people do when they hit 30, and a lot of the people aound me are that age. Even the ones who are a little older, like Jon [Graboff], seem to relate to those things best, so those are the ones that made it onto the record."

"Sounds like someone I know. But seriously, you really bummed out a guy who probably just wanted to be loved. That's why most people do this stuff, because they can't make friends any other way. The next time you go to a show and you want to find the most insecure person there, just look up on a stage - that's where they'll be."

"[Jacksonville, NC] was the kind of small town were you have 12 hours to fill everyday, but those 12 hours seem like forever."

"It's just all music, it's all good. When I was a kid, somebody gave me a Rollins book talking about tours and I knew immediately that Black Flag, or at least Rollins and some of the guys at SST, were very influenced by the Grateful Dead scene. Listening to Black Flag and reading Rollins made me check out the Dead straight away because I was very naive, I didn't know that a metalhead would be not into that. It was all counterculture to me. You know how when you were a kid, you'd write your favorite bands on your sneakers? I literally remember one of my friends having Guns 'N Roses on one side and, like, Septic Death on the other. If I liked a Corey Hart record, I would buy it and listen to 'Never Surrender' right after 'Tribal Convictions' by Voivod. I didn't differentiate. I never saw it as a school of thought."

"[Stephen King's] on board to do a much greater project. We came up with the idea [to do] a box set of all the unreleased records - all the records that came between the big records. We were talking about how to put those together and tell a story, and we talked about getting a writer to write something to do that. I don't know why, but I said, 'Isthere any way we can get Stephen King because I fuckin' love Stephen King.' So I try to get in touch with him and right away, the guy wrote back and said send me the stuff and let's talk. I ended up getting on the phone with him, and they sent him this record. The next thing I knew, I was walking down the street right over there, and the phone rings, and it's Stephen King. He's a cool dude, really, really amazing."

In regards to the box set:

"There's definitely a lot of stuff to choose from. I don't think there's ever a situation where I had to sit down and expel tunes. It isn't one aspect of what I do creatively; it is what I do. It's what I've done for 15 years. I've heard people talk about sitting down and forcing themselves to write something, just as some kind of exercise, but for me, it's mor an exercise to not write. It's never a pain in the ass - it's the thing I love to do more than anything else in the world."

"I don't think [the 2005 albums] were really segregated at all, except maybe Jacksonville City Nights, because there was a flow that was working for t hose tunes to be really as country as we could make them. And that was only because we had a week left over at the end of recording Cold Roses. Cindy Cashdollar had gone back to Texas 'cause she loved to freelance more, and it looked like the Cardinals thing was gonna get more intense. I had gotten really bored with playing until the Cardinals thing came along and once it did, I really concentrated on it. So Cindy left, and we tried out this one guy, but he was kind of a schmo, and then Jon came along and just hearing him warming up, I knew he'd be the right fit. We really wrote all the songs [for Jacksonville City Nights] on the spot, but it was an extension of Cold Roses. We broke it down to make it more country, but it was very much a Cardinals vibe, which is almost classic rock - no, totally classic rock - and very melody driven. It was like getting into Knight Rider, like, 'Cool, I'm in Knight Rider', and then Jacksonville City Nights was like, 'Let's really see what this thing can do.'"

"I'm a huge fan of Johnny Depp because of his work ethic and his style, and he sai something totally wonderful, which I've attempted to incorporate into my own life. That was, once the cameras stopped rolling, it was no longer his project, and it was out of his hands. I wanted to see what happens organically to a record when it was left to the people that I surround myself with who are obviously very capable. I would just focus on the tunes - not even the production, except to make my voice lower in the mix on certain things. When I'd do any more than that, Jamie would say, 'Trust me, I think this is how this should sound,' and I thought, 'Well, I did say you should produce this,' and I let him lead it."

"I guess mayb I should make an analogy. I was just in Louisville, Kentucky, and there's a shop there called Leatherhead, and the guy makes belts and guitar straps and boots, and he makes everything from scratch. He has this huge workshop and all these tools, and Neal and I were in there looking for a guitar strap. I asked him how long he'd been doing it, and he said that since he was five years old. Nothing ever excited him as much as that, and he's 65 years old now, making these crazy guitar straps in this room that's filled with pictures of him with everybody from Ralph Stanley to Orlando Bloom. He said, 'I get so excited about doing this stupid shit and making up my own designs. I could get up everyday and do this until I drop and still get up and get excited about it.' I can completely understand that guy. I am that guy."

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Interview - February 2002

"One of the greatest things I've learned from writing songs is that it really shouldn't be any different than taking notes or being a journalist or a photographer or a painter, or even just being someone that is really into their surroundings or their friends. The best thing to do is just to go with it."

"I was talking to Adam Duritz the other night, about what would happen if I was ever to become a success. Before I was a musician, I had pretty lame jobs. I was a dishwasher and dug ditches. Now I'm still a ditch digger, but it's different. It's kind of like as songwriters, we're doing a job for the rest of the world who are not obsessed with art. They go to work, and they're frustrated, and maybe they have these really intense feelings of self-doubt, or maybe they're not able to commiserate with other people on a level they want to. And they hand the shovel to us and say, 'Would you please go dig in there and find out what the hell it is I'm feeling?' So it's really the same gig, only this one's got more traveling."

"The excesses of romance make sense to me. Like, I can meet someone and immiedately vibe with them and feel love and feel close enough to care, and I can be very protective and overzealous about it. Then sometimes I'll reflect onto myself while I'm doing these things, and I'll realize I'm at my shit worst. Like, heart on chain, dragging through the mud with ice cream cone and sand behind me. I actually love things so much it kills me. It drives me absolutely mad, and I can't find a place to get jaded. I mean, I've had a succession of romantic downfalls in my life, and yet I don't ever find the jaded part. I don't think, I'm just gonna wait around and see if things will be okay, and maybe this'll all pan out, and maybe the truth will come to me in a week. I never accept that, it has to be immediate. I won't accept less, and if I can't have the immediacy then I invent the myth of why it isn't there. I said the other day to a friend, 'Well, fuck, I wouldn't date me, man. I'd definitely go out for a drink with me, but there's no way in hell I'd date me.' The only real full-time people in this world, it seems to me, are people of faith, like a preacher or a saint, a criminal or an artist, because 24 hours a day, those people are always on to something. We're so busy being in love with the world that we can't help but recreate it and keep trying to turn it into our own truth."

In response to if it would freak him out to suddenly start selling hundreds of thousands of albums:

"It won't freak me out because I am extraordinarily confident in the fact that it will not happen. I don't foresee a commercial breakthrough. I've heard this said by a lot of really fantastic people who are icons in a sense, people like Stevie Nicks or Emmylou Harris, Tom Waits or Neil Young. These people have had hits, but one of the things that's maintained them was that it seemed that they had a course that they absolutely wanted to take. I'm kind of a first-take person. I'll write a song, and it'll be a singular statement to one person, namely one girl, or one friend, someone I need to connect with, and it's just for that one person. If I can go back in front of the speakers and imagine hearing it and go, 'This will rattle them to their foundations. This was the stuff I couldn't say because I was too nervous.' That's great."

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Interview - December/January 2004

"[Rock N Roll] only took two weeks to make, but I swear to God, I've been preparing to make it for five or six years. My first record, Heartbreaker, was a studied folk-traditionalist record in a lot of ways, even though the things I was singing about were instinctive; and with the next one, Gold, I wanted to make a classic-rock record like the ones they used to play on CBS-FM, but only if every cool classic-rock song that came on CBS-FM happened to be written and performed be me. [laughs] But Rock N Roll is unadulterated - it's the way I play guitar live. It's the exact sound I always use when I make the demonstration recordings for my records. The other albums are concept records a little bit, but I wasn't trying to reference anything here."

"That's what Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera say when they make new records. They go, 'This record is like my old record, but definitely more me.' Then you go, 'Yeah, but you didn't write any of the songs on your record.' They go, 'I took more time picking these songs out' or 'I interviewed songwriters a lot longer this time before I chose which songs to cover on my record'."

"Star Wars is a huge escape for me. I like the idea of there being interplanetary troubles, and I really like the spaceships. Carrie Fisher was also superbabed-out. Another funny thing about it is that all the evil people are English. It's strange - do they come from planet England?"

"It's really the indie thing to be technologically-challenged. I choose to be a bad guitar player because it gives me cred. Of course, I'm being sarcastic. Do you think sarcasm is a defense mechanism, or do you think some people are just jerks?"

"I'm from North Carolina, so sarcasm is a little too informed for my people. They're just reactionary people, really, and accidentally funny. Definitely eccentric."

"Actually, I used to go days without talking to anyone. I'd go to the Metropolitan Museum, and I'd have to give the cabbie directions, but that's still very insular because you're not really thinking that much about communicating. But I'd go in and just get lost looking at the modern stuff or the Egyptian stuff and spend the whole afternoon there; then I'd go have dinner by myself, come home, watch TV till 2 or 3 A.M., wake up again in the morning, go to a diner by myself and read the paper - the same stuff I do now."

"I'm a humble, shy sort of person."

"I do not look at my websites. But manipulating the press is a really big part of being in rock 'n' roll nowadays; litmus testing what people are on about, making sure you infuriate people to just a certain level, and then pulling back and playing with their reaction."

"In a lot of ways, I think it's a more intense experience to be a rock fan than to be a rock star, because it's more fun to really get wound up about all this insanity than to actually create it. Being a creative rock 'n' roll personality seems like fun when you read about it in books - and it was culturally relevant at one point - but nowadays it doesn't seem to be that important to anybody. People don't take anything to really mean anything anymore."

"A little while ago...someone misconstrued a statement I had made on my stupid website when I was really frustrated. I was unhappy creatively, so I just said, 'I'm going to quit.' I really believed in my heart that I didn't want to make rock for awhile. I wasn't being cynical; I was just tired. So I had a plan: I was going to take the money I'd saved, and go fish for a year or two. I wanted to fish in North Carolina because there are a lot of saltwater fish in the New River Inlet. I was afraid that my career was breaking my heart, because people were really coming down on me out of the blue. I would be reading magazines, and people would write letters like, 'Maybe you'll be just like your hero Gram Parsons and die before you're 30. Think of what that could do for your career, Ryan.' I was crushed. And I was really disturbed that a person would actually wish somebody would die, and they'd take the time to write a letter like that, and that a magazine would print it. But recently, I started reading those magazines again, and I saw those same types of letters about other people. I read something horrible about Pete Yorn, who's just out there trying to make it, and the writer hated him because his brother is a Hollywood person who manages actors. People say things about the Strokes because they went to good schools. People come down on Carly Simon because she's got big teeth. There's a lot of hate out there."

"As much as I've talked shit about other people in the music industry, I've always felt like I did it with a sense of humor. It was posturing, the way rap artists or pro wrestlers talk shit about each other. For example, I've made fun of a certain guy in a certain rock band that I don't like - and other people before - but I just thought it was funny to a degree because who really cares? But maybe even I took it too far. Not that I'm the nicest guy in the world anyway."

"I wasn't arrogant in the beginning; I was naïve. I didn't know to not speak of my music like I totally believed it. But what's wrong with being a little provocative and a little arrogant? The Ghostbusters were like that. What did Bill Murray's character say about capturing the green ghost? 'We came, we saw, we kicked its ass'?"

"Not to generalize about the French, but do you follow that new American trend of dissing the French? Isn't it funny that so many people here would be so obtuse about another country, especially considering that we have such an import culture? The things that are most treasured in the United States are foreign cuisine, fashion, art, architecture, British records."

"I'm a little hungry, and I need some stimulus. I've already done all the dirty things I could do today: I had some sex, then I smoked a couple of cigarettes, I had coffee, and now I'm done. Don't rewind that! It's okay to say that people have sex in this world!"

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Los Angeles Times - February 3, 2002

"I want to have two huge acoustic songs, like 'Wild Horses' or 'You Can't Always Get What You Want'. Then I want to write a couple of really fun songs about these fictitious characters...so that the songs are not about me all the time."

Discussing "When The Stars Go Blue":

"Think of the 'star' as someone hiding away in her Beverly Hills mansion and not saying an awful lot. Listen to the song again with that in mind and see what you think."

"I had a rough time being a rock personality at 21. As you get older, I think your survival muscles get bigger. You are able to fend off more self-deprecating feelings and inadequacies that make you want to go out and get trashed."

"You see enough people letting their addictions get ahead of them or becoming disenchanted with their life because things aren't going their way that you realizze screwing up doesn't seem to be an answer any longer."

"I actually enjoy being by myself. I'm sometimes bad around people because I just don't have a lot to say. I'm inward. I love to people watch...on a plane, in a restaurant."

"Leona and I are even going to be playing music together on the road, which takes care of one problem of being a musician...maybe we shouldn't mention her name. Oh, go ahead and use her name. As soon as we start doing shows together, I'm sure everyone will realize what's going on."

On the phone with Leona Naess:

"I did the song about us tonight with the band, and it sounded great."

"I feel pretty well taken care of. If all this stuff stopped tomorrow, I'd still play guitar and record songs on a four-track machine somewhere, or maybe try to write short stories full time."

"Well, I was quite shy as a teenager, so it's weird that I decided to do this. I've only recently broken out of my shell. I was really uncomfortable in my own skin during my early 20s so I took refuge in that romantic tradition of a songwriter, especially in this town."

"I've taken girls down to the Ryman Auditorium and leaned them right up against the wall and made out with them, blaring drunk on whiskey. Talk about walking in Hank Williams' footsteps. That was me. But you eventually get past that."

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Magnet - October/November 2005

"Big Star makes me want to kill myself. Or get high and fuck. On a grassy hill in the South with the sun out in the fall."

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Maxim - March 2002

"There's mutual love going around all over the place. It's a good time for rock 'n' roll. It's not just alive, it's fuckin' healthy."

"I just landed on this planet, and it's fuckin' weird. It's a totally different vibe from, 'Let's get in the van and try to make Oklahoma in eight hours.' But if it goes away, cool. 'Cause I know how to sling beers. I'm multi-talented."

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Mojo - November 2003

"Not to sound scary, but I think it's [Rock N Roll] a really fun record. There are some funny songs on there. There are really no instruments other than electric guitars and a few really cheesy synths, which are hilarious. There are some total Duran Duran moments. This record is made to be played really loud in the car and to not give a fuck when you're listening to it."

"Don't let the Smiths-sounding title fool you, ['Boys'] isn't about kissing boys. I originally wrote it in response to this song Britney Spears wrote called 'Boys'. I couldn't believe she wrote that song, but the whole time she's like, 'Oh, I don't know anything about boys.' Basically, it's me making total fun of somebody who is singing about boys but has supposedly never had a boy. I guess I was kinda defending the fact that boys may be naughty, but at least we're not like, 'Look at my tits...but don't look at my tits.' It's my anti-passive-agressive-Andy-Warhol-dream-white-trash-Florida-girl-kind-of-song."

In regards to how he has been handling the anti-Ryan Adams backlash:

"I don't blame anybody for that. I still can't get it across that I'm just having fun. I think where I've made a major mistake in the past is when I get asked serious questions about music, I give serious answers. This is gonna sound retarded, but I've always been a believer. My attitude has always been like, Fuck yeah! I love records! I love rock 'n' roll! So that leaves me really vulnerable to be attacked. I guess I'm too much of a believer."

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Mojo - March 2004

In response to what music he's currently grooving to:

"I've been listening to Kiss Double Platinum, the Loud Reed collection NYC Man, and a lot of live Grateful Dead - like Nassau 1980. I don't know why, but I've really been digging them lately. Also, Black Sabbath's Master Of Reality and the soundtrack from Sweet Charity, the Shirley MacLaine film."

In response to, if push comes to shove, what his all-time favorite album is:

"That's fucking tough! I'd probably have to say Sonic Youth's Sister. The first time I played it, I thought the sound I was hearing must've been what drugs felt like."

In response to what the first record was he ever bought and where he bought it:

"Black Sabbath, either Black Sabbath or Born Again. My grandma bought it for me from this family run dimestore called Eckerd Brothers in Jacksonville, North Carolina. It was in the vinyl section right by the cash register. I liked the spooky cover - I was very into Dark Shadows and Edgar Allan Poe at the time. I was a pre-goth kid."

In response to which musician, other than himself, he has ever wanted to be:

"That's easy. Johnny Marr."

In response to what he sings in the shower:

"Oldies, Motown songs, or The Smiths. I don't stay in the shower long enough to sing. Showers were rare until recently, be demand of the girlfriend."

In response to what his favorite Saturday night record is:

"Johnny Thunder's So Alone, New Order's Power, Corruption & Lies, the first PiL record. They all elicit wanting to get the hell out of the house. Also, any record by The Fall will get you out of the house in less than 30 minutes."

In response to what his Sunday morning record is:

"Lately, it's been The Best Of Burt Bacharach, or maybe Dionne Warwick Sings Bacharach & David. Something mellow like The Basement Tapes by Bob Dylan or The Brown Album by The Band. And, of course, any Grateful Dead."

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Mojo - July 2005

While onstage at the Kool Haus in Toronto, May 3, 2005:

"Thanks for bearing with us...we don't really know all of these songs yet, so we sorta suck."

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Mojo Classic: Johnny Cash - February 2006

"I got [Amy Lombardi and I] an apartment on Avenue A between 9th and 10th, overlooking Tompkins Square Park. We had a couple of cats; times were good when we first got there. But New York winters, man, they tear anybody apart. The last winter we went through, it was twenty below. Then my relationship broke up. I was really upset. Staying in New York was only going to remind me of what had happened. In the South, people know when you're ailing, and they'll stop by. So I moved to Nashville. It was the best decision I ever made. Therapeutic as fuck."

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Mojo Icons - November 2004

"I am so jealous of [Jack White]. Motherfucker knows rock 'n roll like sugar knows ice cream."

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New York - September 9, 2002

In response to what's being demolished:

"No, demo-lition, as in a record demo. Ha ha. I wasn't going to release a record this year, because people were getting very tired of me."

In response to how he could tell that:

"Ooooh - every other music magazine is calling me a twat."

In response to theme of Demolition:

"They were all favorites of a friend of mine who died of cancer. I really loved her, but she's dead. That's what happens."

In response to what the best kiss-off line ever thrown at him was:

"Besides 'Fuck off and die'? Maybe the girl who said, 'Eat a salad once in awhile.'"

In response to if he is touring:

"I'll go out with a guitar and a piano. But anyone that thinks they should buy Demolition should buy Daybreaker by my friend Beth Orton instead. She's a real songwriter. I'm just a fucking bigmouth."

In response to if he can get tickets to see the Stones at Roseland:

"Yup. Without any problem. Hey, man, it's not my fault that Keith likes me."

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New York Times - June 17, 2001

In response to if his label suddenly folds, and he loses rights to the records he's started recording:

"That's okay. I'll have two more by then anyway. I'll go right back to Bloodshot, say, 'Hi, let's make a record,' and they'll say, 'Hi, Ryan, okay.'"

In response to if he'll feel bad about the records left unreleased:

"I won't because they will be done and finished."

"Usually, it's just that I want one particular person to hear it. I don't sit down and try and write a song to the world and ask everybody to sing together, 'We are okay, you are okay.' It's usually me playing to one person that I'm thinking about when I'm singing, and everything is really not okay. It's me asking, 'Why are you a satellite floating away from me?' Or sometimes it's like, 'Your satellite just ran into mine and damaged half of my radar equipment, what's up with that?'"

"Gold was meant as an open letter for me and this one other person in the entire world, who shall go unnamed. And that record's for her. Not that she cares."

"I had an idea before I left the hotel today. An A minor to G up to C thing was kind of bugging me. It's that afternoon itch."

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New York Times Magazine - November 4, 2001

In response to why he picked a flag for the cover of Gold:

"Well, obviously, it was done months ago. We did the cover shoot out in Los Angeles, and we did a lot of different poses and everything. One of the things we had was this big huge flag, and I thought it just looked powerful - that's what attracted me to it. I also kind of wanted to tweak the whole Bruce Springsteen 'Born in the U.S.A.' thing. Instead of me standing there all tough like Bruce, I'm in my slouchy, twitchy posture, my head down, my hair a mess. We thought it looked cool, but it was also meant to be a bit of a goof."

In response to if the cover means something else now:

"Yeah, I guess it does, not so much for me, because it's not like I carry one around with me and look at it all the time. But it's like writing a song - you do it one way, you mean something by it, it means something to you, and then it goes out into the world, and people are free to make their own meanings out of it."

In response to if the line 'I still love you, New York' has taken on new meanings too:

"The funny thing about it is that it's actually a love song to a particular person, and in place of her name, I just say 'New York'. It's got a lot to do with the city, because that's where we were together a lot, and how I think the city is based on where we went together and what we did. But it wasn't intended as some anthem or anything."

In response to the Twin Towers in theNew York, New York video being eerie:

"Eerie - is that what you thought? Interesting. I haven't even seen the whole thing through. I twas the first time in my life I'd ever lip-synched, so I'm a little nervous about looking at it. We decided to stay with this video because it was what it was - we shot it on September 7th; it's the city as we knew it and saw it. If people don't want to show the video or don't like it, I understand. We're not pushing it or anything, saying, 'Here's the video with the towers.' It's just out there."

In response to if it was hard to continue on with his European tour after the bombings began in Afghanistan, as so many other bands had canceled their international tours:

"People were definitely uncomfortable. I mean, I'm scared to fly anyway - I went two whole years without being able to get on a plane. It's still not easy. I need a window seat, and I will not get on anything that has a propeller. But the band talked about it, and we decided that we didnt'w ant this to stop us from doing what we would have done naturally."

In response to if crowds love him because he has a big flag on his cover:

I hope it's not for that reason. I hope it's because they dig the music. But yeah, the crowds have been real loving.

In response to if he's been approached to participate in a lot of benefits or charity events:

"Not really, no. We've been on the road working, which isn't to say we wouldn't do it if someone asked. But we're not quite at the point where people are asking us to get up there on a stage with The Who and The Rolling Stones. Though my mom did call me up to tell me that they were playing my song on the television during that Madison Square Garden show, and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. I told the band, and they were psyched to have been a part of it in any little way."

In response to if he thinks music has a healing power in a time like this:

"Yeah, I do think music has healing powers, but I'm speaking only for myself. Music fans will go to their music. Other people will take a walk or read a book. I don't want to pretend that music has some kind of higher power. I'm just some guy with a guitar who plays rock 'n' roll. I'm probably the last person in the world who could explain to anyone why this happened or what we should do about it."

In response to if people look to artists they admire for guidance in troubled times:

"Yeah, maybe, but I'm not sure they should. It's time to revert to that great punk rocker Shakespeare and 'To thine own self be true.' It's really the punkest idea of all time. Don't do what people tell you to, just because they're saying it real loud and like they know what they're talking about. Make up your own mind. Do your own thing. Heal the way you need to heal."

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Paste - December/January 2004

"I always liked that song ['Empty Baseball Park'], and that line in it about stumbling into an empty baseball park - 'Strike one, strike two, strike three, we're all out', that was all about the whole band, the guys in Whiskeytown. We literally rehearsed behind a baseball park for junior league kids in Raleigh. We would just get loaded and go over there, and we'd be running around taclkin' each other and just being fucks. It was the funniest place to hang out. We'd just get loaded and wake up hungover, on, like, home plate, like, at 6 a.m. Skillet would be asleep in the bleachers."

"Love Is Hell kind of had - has - the potential to be a doomy record that can befriend people who are in a doomy place. And that wasn't a career move that my label felt like I needed to make at that time. I was going through a lot of personal things, a lot of heaviness. All you have to do is listen to the album, and all the answers are there."

"[Rock N Roll] was just the thing I needed to do, 'cause I hadn't done it yet. It was a fun thing to do, the obvious thing to do."

"[Love Is Hell]'s something that I totally believe in, and people close to me, who have heard it, it's affected them in very serious ways, very serious ways - not just in like, 'This is nice, this is big, and it rocks.' It's completely unstylized and an absolutely reckless album, and I think that later on, it'll be, I think it might be a serious album...the place where I was the most myself and freest."

"I get along here [in Manhattan]. It makes sense to me."

"I wanna simplify so far back to the point where I see the buffalo, and I grab the piece of charcoal, and I go to the cave. And I sketch the buffalo on the cave wall. That's the highest art. Ya know, the caveman certainly was trying to fuckin' impress the girl down the street that worked in a record store with his goddamn caveman drawing. People couldn't understand how beautiful that buffalo was, and something compelled him to go to that wall and draw a buffalo on the wall because he dreamt of the buffalo. His relationship was still directly with God, not even with the cave wall or the charcoal. He's like, 'I see buffalo. I recreate buffalo.' That's all it is. I want to get there."

In response to swipes people take at him:

"I say, 'Bring it on. Go and get the whole bucket of shit and throw it at me, 'cause I see the cave clearer everyday.'"

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Paste - November 2007

"I'm the singer in the Cardinals, no matter what it says on the marquee, or anything that's going on now. That's how I view my world, and that's where I'm going with myself spiritually."

"If there's a super-great audience happening, I don't have to say shit. I can just play, which is good. But sometimes you gotta be mouth. Sometimes you gotta tell a few jokes. It's like weather up there. Sometimes it's a stormy day, which is awesome. Sometimes it's calm. Sometimes it's partly cloudy. Every time I go up there, I feel like a farmer stepping out the back door to check the weather. The audience is a big part of it too, 'cause if they're fuckfaces, we will take them down. And it doesn't take much, musically or otherwise."

"I have this weird fascination with this thing that accidentally happens at our gigs. When we get into the E-zone, which is this weird place, songs start giving way to others that aren't on the set list, and I just start following it. I can feel it calling. It's like I'm leading, but really I make a suggestion and everybody usually jumps in. Once we hit Deep Field, the 'E' thing, a bunch of songs that start in different fret placements and octaves of E, that's usually when this fucking bizarre music starts happening where I don't know what's going on. And as soon as I hear it open up, I jump all the way in, 'cause I know there's no 'feet-wet' for this. You gotta go all-the-way wet, and then out a little portal to get back to land."

"[Brad Pemberton is] a huge monster of a man, with inexhaustible timing."

"Once we're at Plateau, it's on. That's when I'm up there going, 'Fuck, man, don't let this ever end.' I almost start seeing the music visually. It's very psychedelic and beautiful and transcendental, and I don't know anything else like it."

In regards to "Come Pick Me Up":

"So she took a couple records. Big fuckin' deal. I just made that shit up anyway. I stole her records."

"Just from having been a person in my 20s who partied, I can identify with the Bud Light crowd - the rock drunks who go to shows just to be wasted. I hear them, and I don't really feel bad for them, because they're on their own trip. [But] when we play live, we're trying to find some possibility of transporting to another emotional zone, and that's just not in some people's vocabulary. Maybe somebody is in the audience who just listened to Rock N Roll, or just listened to Heartbreaker, and they come to the show and they're like, 'Why is it so dark?' It's like, 'Oh my God, rent a Bergman film, you fuckhead! Light and Shadow!' But sometimes it's hard to think through that because those are people, and they need something, too."

"People might take this the wrong way, but the minute I start considering them, I lose my job. The only way the art I make is gonna be good for anybody else is if I keep it between me and the canvas and what hits the canvas."

"The other day when we did 'September', it sounded almost like Arabian Nights. That idea of, 'we're just going to do this', it's like what I experienced with the hardcore scene. But the difference is, it isn't going to be a 40-second song. It's going to be a weird country-sounding lilt that's going to turn into a scene from Joseph and [the] Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for a second, and then into sheer noise, and then a three-part harmony. But if the improvised bits weren't good, if it felt like gratuitous forced fretting - which it never does - and if there weren't tunes behind it that we were landing in that I felt really strongly about, then I think it would feel uneven. But we have songs that keep coming up live, and they're never in the same time signature. It's a waltz today. What was it yesterday? So it stays pretty interesting."

"I've always projected rock 'n' roll histrionics and mythology into my own life. Like early sexual experiences - making out and stuff like that - you mimic the things you see on Cinemax, in order to better understand yourself, and to try to find a natural flow. In that way, I feel like previous musical relationships were all real - I saw elements of that kind of truth that happens with a band. But never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I'd find myself in a place like this. It's a real dream."

"The first thing I learned to play was the intro to 'Somewhere in Time' by Iron Maiden, but a really bad one-note version of it. But I fucking loved music. I was always really overexcited about it because you could write or listen to music any hour. Play guitar any hour. And I was always a 24-hour personality since I was a kid. I never had a regular sleep schedule - I've always been way to hyperactive, so it fit my personality."

In regards to Whiskeytown: (as corrected in the December/January 2008 issue):

It just, it wasn't a band to begin with. Peole just caught a glimpse of something I think I did too, but it was never there again. Fireworks, you know? And you wait and see if more come, and they don't." (The following is as corrected in the December/January 2008 issue.) "We made [Strangers Almanac] first with Chris Stamey in a hurry, and it was really sort of beautiful raw. By the end of [re-recording the final version with Jim Scott], I didn't know what band that was. I didn't know what record that was. I liked that record, but in no way was I in that band or was that me."

"When I was making Heartbreaker, I expected really small records for a really small career. People were totally prepared to say that by Heartbreaker, my career was more or less over. I felt that those were endnotes. But a totally different reaction happened."

"[Ethan Johns] taught me the art of distracting yourself by staying in the moment. So very true emotional stuff would come out."

"I believe in that superstitious element in folklore, specifically American folklore because it was this huge unsettled country, and people were fleeing the confines of religion in England. So I think the idea of ghosts is just this sense of guilt - Americans, we ravaged the plains. Native Americans were just slaughtered left and right. And something like 'Carolina Rain' where you actually have the geography...a lot of Cold Roses was geographical, [too], because I honestly felt like there was a possibility of creating a false geography like in D&D when you draw your own dungeon map. You gotta come up with the Valley of the Wolves. And you gotta pick where the mountains are, and where the ogres are gonna come from. The whole vibe of creating that - if you've got several characters with enough hit points to make it through - it's always there and you can imagine it changing. I always really wanted to do that in a song because I felt like it would gave back. 'Easy Plateau' - I play that song, and I fucking feel like I can see that place, and the music starts to conjure it, and it's creepy. Typically though, I'm thinking about...black metal. Like, truly, I'm trying to figure out a way to get the word 'witch' into a country song, but literally mean a hovering, cloaked spector that can, you know, turn people into ice and have the power of invisibility. I completely want to put that into a sweet lullaby."

"Black metal...I also like power metal...I'm heavily influenced by dark metal."

"We've been creating. It's not so hard."

"I don't have a title yet. It happened too fast. But I already have an idea for another song. We should probably start working on that."

"I don't know if it's strange 'cause I've never been inside anybody else's brain, but I hear music sometimes, and I don't know whose jams those are, but they're rad jams. I can visualize a guitar in my mind, and I've played enough to where I can sort of mentally play the guitar. You know the way people fantasize in order to masturbate? They thought about breastesses or Princess Leia or whatever. In that same way of daydreaming, I can make choices in my mind about music, but sometimes i'm not making the choices. I'm just listening. And sometimes it just doesn't stop. I have an extremely strange and rare form of insomnia where I will not sleep for two weeks if I'm not completely careful, which goes hand-in-hand with a lot of things that went on in my life for a long time in my 20s. I think men learn how to take care of themselves in their 30s. This is why Indiana Jones didn't happen until [Harrison Ford] was in his late 30s. [We're not introduced to] Han Solo or Indiana Jones [until they're older]. Dudes figure it out late. But I didn't know how to deal with that problem because I was just rushing through my life. It allowed me to think that I was best just trying to knock myself out. And how'd that work out? Not too good. So it happens sometimes that [the ideas] are there, and I'm a little physically exhausted for them. But it's a kind thing. My heart is really open to ideas that are positive and powerful and good for people. They're good for me too, and what's a little sleep, you know? But it doesn't make me nuts. It just makes me wish that we were in an orbit that was just a little bit further from the sun so that we had a little bit longer of a day and were acclimated to do more stuff."

Discussing film ideas:

"She realizes men are flawed and loves him anyway. When he orgasms, his eyes glaze over and we see a rainbow unfold. The cafe conversation, is it all in French? The guy, he should be an American, a drifter type, like those kids who go to Nepal to 'find themselves.'"

To Jon Graboff:

"Use the steel more as a sound-effect machine to create some nice distance - a widening sound area. Something classic 50s style, spooky and haunting - be the smoke monsters, for lack of a better term. Wait to open up a couple of moments that mave you. When you played that last part, it was great - it sounded like it was coming out of a different time. It's not your fault, but the precision playing to my vocal - it's making me want to erase it. I want [the steel part] to feel elemental and accidental, like walking through a sound field."

To Jon Graboff:

"You're a genius! Perfect! You're making me start to like it again."

"Even for the stress of all the work, the bullshit with these guys is so minimal, and it's taken with a grain of salt 'cause tomorrow's always around the corner, and everybody's already been through a lot of shit. We always get on the plane, we always get ont he bus, we're always finding th enext laugh, we're always endlessly entertained by this thing. I don't even feel like I've gotten into that place where I feel, 'Oh, I'm gonna jinx it.' I can't imagine - with the six different people we have now, I can't see a place of exhausted possibility, because even one of those ideas could carry me through writing songs for ten records. I just don't think that with this gang of folks that there's any kind of musical environment or any kind of musical language that isn't spoken on some level or couldn't be learned in a shot amount of time, and I want to fuse all that. If it's been explored before, and it's been played - and even if it hasn't - I want to go through that. I wanna find shit on the other side of it. I wanna go forward. If anything, it's gotten easier. It's so good that, at first, you kind of keep your eye on your back so you don't get your heart broken, should it fall through. But that's gone away. Nobody's going anywhere. My eye's off my back 'cause there's fuckin' five badass dudes who are all my friends. We're all looking out for each other. I think, 'Game is on.' It's like the first five minutes of Wayne's World. Shit is about to happen."

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Playboy - December 2003

"The record I made before this, Love Is Hell, was really blue, so chances were this one would be more rock. I'm not in a place where I feel cumbersome. I've had enough of that."

"When I turned [Love Is Hell] in, they went, 'It sounds like The Smiths.' And I'm like, 'That's a huge fucking compliment. Of course you don't like it. You live in Nashville.' I'm on a major label, but I should be on an indie. The money's the same, and the fame doesn't fucking mean shit. At least on an indie I'd get to make the art I want to make."

"The White Stripes are cute. Those songs are pretty good, I guess. Kids will buy the records if their friends like them, but eventually someone's gonna go, 'You know what? This fucking sucks.' I don't care what color clothes you're wearing. Spreading yourself too thin is bad. I've never crammed my music down anyone's throat. I see 200,000 records a pop if I'm lucky, which is a great living."

"I don't do drugs anymore. Well, pot's not a drug. I don't do synthetic drugs. I'm pretty happy after a time of incredible unhappiness. But who knows? If I want to sit down and do drugs, I'll do them."

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Playboy - October 2005

In response to what he was listening to that influenced him:

"[Jacksonville City Nights] does have a lot of pedal steel, but I can't listen to other music when when I'm trying to make my own album. I was watching a lot of old Woody Allen movies."

In response to why he's releasing three albums in one year:

"I don't think about that. I wrote all these songs - what am I going to do, wait? Hold on to them? That makes no sense to me."

"Critics all think they're the greatest producers in the world. They'll tell you exactly what you should have done with your record. When I put out Cold Roses as a double album, some of them said it should have been a single album. Instead of eighteen songs, just pick the nine best ones. Thing is, one person is going to tell you to pick these nine, and someone else is going to say the other nine. I think critics have become unnecessarily harsh in the past few years. I don't get it - Coldplay put out X&Y, and because Coldplay is so big right now, critics feel they have to rip it apart. You can't listen to critics."

"I was touring for Rock N Roll, and at a show in Liverpool, I fell off the stage about nine feet and broke my wrist. For a long time, I couldn't play guitar. I couldn't hold a pencil. I couldn't squeeze a lemon. There was no muscle pressure."

In response to how his playing is now:

"A lot different. I don't have the strength to play bar chords anymore, which is what you have in a lot of punk songs. I'm learning a different style - more like a Django Reinhardt jazz style."

In response to if he was a Deadhead:

"Hell yes. Honestly, it made me a little nervous thinking about it - being up there with Phil Lesh and playing all Jerry's parts."

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Q - December 2002

"[The Doves' Last Broadcast]'s excellent. It's really melancholic, but there's some great tunes on there. They're from Manchester, right? I've spent quite a lot of time there this year. It's such a great town, all the bands hang out...and I've been getting into football."

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Q - January 2003

"Gold is meant as an open letter for me and this one other person in the entire world. The record's for her, not that she cares."


"I turned 28 yesterday, which means I'm overrated and expired."

In response to what his favourite chocolate bar is:

"A Twix. It's good after a healthy dose of Vicodin. Chocolate and painkillers are the best. Er, not that I do that stuff."

In response to what his idea of hell is:

"To be Nickelback's second guitarist and pretending you really believe it. I see Chad Kroeger was the last guy who got interviewed for this page, what a total penis sausage that guy is."

"I got really exhausted on the Gold tour, so I bought myself a red cape and some bumble bee slippers which I wore into every restaurant and truck stop until my tour manager took them away. He said I was going to get arrested."

"I'd like someone to take me to an Arsenal game. Apparently I'm supposed to like them, although I liked Manchester City, Oasis's favourites. I need to figure out who my favorite team is. My girlfriend said I'm not allowed to talk about football in interviews, because as an American I'll sound like a wanker."

In response to why he thanked Alanis Morissette so many times in the Gold sleevenotes:

"I lost a bet to her. I won't specify what that was - but we never dated, just to clear that up - but there were some funny things I didn't do that I should have because I lost the bet, so I had to thank her 10 times on my record."

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Q - December 2003

"I wanted to make a druggy suicide record; a record that really sounded like cracking up. Repetitive and weird. Not like Kid A for songwriters but something drastic."

In response to people yelling for "Summer of 69" at gigs:

"You know what? I got that when I was in school from, like, children. I never imagined that grown adults would come to gigs to say it. Especially considering there are so many other obvious things that you can make fun of me about. I have fucked up hair, my teeth are rotting out of my face, I've been doing drugs for ten years, I can't dress myself - and you have to pick my name? I've read a couple of Oscar Wilde books, so I pretend to know a little bit about wit. It doesn't seem very witty to say that but whatever."

"People don't know whether they're supposed to like me or not, which makes me an easy target. It's a thing to hold on to: Fuck Ryan Adams!"

"I don't really want to talk about [Carrie Hamilton] in an interview. When I met her, it was quick: we were instantly friends, and I had a great time, and it seems she was sick, like, the next month. But I will say this: I think when people pass away, they leave this kind of black hole. This connection between people is erased, and it's really hard to fill in that space."

"No one bothered to find out what was going on. The other thing was, my mom had cancer the whole fucking time. Breast cancer; I was paying for her treatment. A friend of mine - we can put it like that - was passing away, my mom was sick...it was like, 'Fuck you! How dare you judge me!' And I always think, shouldn't this happen to someone who's at least multi-platinum? My records don't even go balsa wood in some countries."

"New Orleans was just a wreck: the worst place to ever make a record. I was totally depressed, and there's only two things to do in New Orleans - drink and die."

"I turned [Love Is Hell] in, and the record company were not excited about it. They said it wasn't my best stuff. Certain people thought I would really fuck myself by releasing that record. They weren't used to me doing music that wasn't male-driven classic rock."

"I started my campaign of hate against [Lost Highway], but it failed because I was so beaten down by my own schedule that I didn't have the energy to fight. I just said, fuck you all, fuck it, forget it. And I turned my phone off."

"[Lost Highway] kept saying this stuff, and I was like, 'You guys live in Nashville. You're lucky you have the internet. I lived in Nashville for, like, seven or eight months. It is absolutely stifling. I think I wanted to kill myself when I lived there."

"I didn't send any tapes to anybody, didn't let anyone know how it was going - I just made my record [Rock N Roll]. And when it was one song away from being finished, the guy from Lost Highway came by, and we played it for him. He was just grinning, and he goes, 'Well you fuckin' did it.' I was like, 'I've been doing it the whole time.'"

"If everybody hated me, and I sold six albums, it was all, Fuck Ryan Adams! Let's kill him, it wouldn't matter. I would still go to the grocery store, go to a movie with my gal, brush my teeth, and take a bath. With all the other stuff, there comes a point where it's just a bunch of stupid rock records. And it doesn't mean dick."

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Q - April 2004

"It's hard not to be into Nirvana if you lived in America in the '90s. I especially love 'Scentless Apprentice' from In Utero, the big drums and him screaming at the beginning, 'Go away!' I've never heard someone sound more possessed, it's like some sort of ritual. It almost sounds like black magic."

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Q - August 2004

"The Smiths gave the new, critical, but lost generation a voice. And a face. Morrissey's."

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Q - October 2004

"The Smiths have these melancholy melodies that just resonate. They sound really pretty and really sad at the same time. They're just superior to most bands. For me, listening to them was an escape. You could go into Morrissey's version of what it was like to live in the North of England. The songs just transported you to a different place."

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Q - September 2007

In regards to Darkbreaker:

"It's creepy - I was really depressed.

In regards to Black Hole:

"I was on a lot of narcotics when I wrote it. It's like The Strokes, but if they sucked."


"Serious shit, man! Like, totally deviant poltergeist behaviour. I never went back in that house. Michael's family were Christian Scientists, so they weren't really down with the fact that I wore Danzig t-shirts and had fucked up crazy hair."

"Large amounts of illegal narcotics. You can't even imagine how many drugs I took. every day I probably had hundreds of dollars of drugs hidden in secret compartments all over me. Little vials of liquid morphine, pills, everything. I was as high as a fucking kite. I was in outer-fucking-space, man."

"My thing was doing large quantities of speedballs, which is heroin and coke mixed together. Then I'd eat Vicodins and have a bottle of champagne for dinner and drink beer in the shower. I didn't like anything that made me sleepy, I liked the stuff that made me feel numb, so I could get jacked up on coke and heroin. But it was all in the name of art. Truly."

"When I was a kid, I had records, but they weren't that important to me. I had Prince's Purple Rain, a Chicago 45, and Black Sabbath's Born Again, but I was more into Atari computer games. And kites."

"I made the worst record I could think of, and [the label] loved it. When you've got lyrics like, 'The sun is shining down on my feet/The city is an animal ready to eat,' how could anybody not know I was joking? It's so dumb."

What Ryan did while locked in his apartment for three months: "Just sitting in the bath, listening to flamenco music."

"Hey, I really don't care if people shout out Bryan Adams songs. Listen, I know my name is one letter away from BryanA dams. What are you, ten years old? Okay, it drives me bananas. And maybe it resonates deeper than I think. The cover of Rock N Roll is curiously like the cover of Waking Up The Neighbors, isn't it?"

"It was so strong. Two drops and I was high. You could have dropped an anvil on my foot, and I wouldn't have felt a thing. [Bryan Adams] called me, but I was so fucked, I was going, 'Hey, Bryan! You wanna play the Tin Man in my video?' He didn't think it was funny. In hindsight, he was probably concerned for my sanity, having seen the amount of drugs I'd ordered."

From an old online posting:

"Through music, not only can one dig into man's complex inner workings, but tear holes in time space, creating a huge hole for metallic scaled dragons to enter."

"It's not that simple. What terrified me was that any moment the ability to make records would be taken away. At the back of my mind was this voice going, 'You're only one bad gig away from being a plumber, so work, work, work!' The only way to maintain it was to take drugs in order to write continuously. But I was coming dangerously close to ending my life."

"Oh, I overdosed a lot, but never quite enough to go to the hospital. I would just sit there and sweat and throw up or try to get out of it by taking the opposite drug."

"I woke up one day and whatever was making me want to hide was gone. It was part epiphany, realizing that I was going to die, and partly that I'd have these people come around - people who are fucked up drug vampires - they were saying I should go to rehab. So I quit. I didn't go to rehab. I don't go to meetings. I don't need the reminder. I once took so much acid, I saw a dumpster turn into a swarm of bees. You don't forget that shit."

"I feel sick, man. I'm coming down with avian flu. My legs are itchy. I gotta wash all my clothes. I don't wanna do this anymore. I should go work in a library."

"Big surprise, I'm a hypochondriac! I'm afraid of heights, water, bugs...I have a fear of intimacy. It's no secret. It's all there in the songs."

"I know! People use the word 'prolific' as if it describes some sort of painful sexual position. They go, 'That bastard is so creative, what an asshole!' I never understand that. It's not like tax dollars are paying for it."

"I've got this huge duffel bag full of four-track tapes. There's 80 tapes in there: a thousand songs. Weird stuff like techno experiments, my Strokes record. Oh, yes. But it's not that good. It sounds like a crazy person. I'd just had dental surgery, and I was on all these painkillers. So I just got the banjo and mandolin out, playing along to Is This It. I'm laughing, and my mouth is messed up bad. We're not talking unseen Van Goghs here."

"Before, on drugs, I'd record for three days, but then I'd have to pass out or look for more powerful drugs. Now I pick up the guitar and see all these fucking tremendous places to go. That's gotta be a good thing, right?"

"Yeah, but I'm not a rainbow either. But the new stuff I'm coming up with - oh my God! It's amazing - earthier and sexier. It has all the aspects of the music I've been making before, just less bummed out."

"I don't know, man. I pretty much listen to really aggressive Satanic deep black metal these days. Like those first couple of Sabbath records; extraordinarily heavy, but with these really beautiful guitar interludes. I guess I feel a little more like that. And I really did cover the drugged-up sad bastard thing, didn't I? Man, I really did."


"[The Suicide Handbook] was supposed to be on Lost Highway. It would have been the follow-up to Heartbreaker. It was about some really heavy stuff, and it's just...I mean it is amazing. Beautiful strings. If anything, it's my most majestic piece ever."

"48 Hours was recorded exactly two weeks after Gold. In 48 hours. It's an attempt at a real, honest country-rock record."

"[Pinkhearts is] a rock record I made with one of the current members of The Cardinals and this other rag-tag amalgamation of people that I ended up touring the Gold record with. Pretty hardcore, I think."

"I made [Darkbreaker] in L.A. at my most fucked up. That is really deep shit. That's right after Jacksonville City Nights, and it is some damaged stuff. You can pretty much hear me falling apart."

"[Blackhole is] like a serious effort to make a rock record, really epic and big. None of those absurdist jokey lyrics like on Rock N Roll. You listen to it and think, my God, this guy is gonna die. That was the last record I made in the last days of the drugs."

"[All of the albums above] are going to be collected into a boxset called 20:20. There'll also be a couple of discs, one of rare stuff that nobody has heard and one of B-sides from all the singles that we only made, like, ten copies of. It will be interesting to get all that stuff in one place."

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Relix - August 2005

"Brad, it's going to be all right, isn't it?"

"I don't want to be a superstar. I did everything I could to get out of that room, and I did a damn good job of it. I wanted to stay in the room right next to it, where I could go have a career, as opposed to, 'here today, gone tomorrow'. I didn't want to go into the room where Hootie went. And, I'm sorry, but I didn't want to go into the room where John Mayer went, either. I smile for him, and I smile for Hootie. I have all kinds of love and respect for Dokken, Whitesnake, and AC/DC, and everybody else that got it. But I don't think that kind of thing would be good for me. If it happened, of course, I'd grin and go, 'Look, man, our record's number one!' But those slots are reserved for bands that worked to be that. U2 deserves to be a big-ass fucking band. The Clash. Black fuckin' Sabbath. Led Zeppelin. But I'm trying to make something totally different happen."

In regards to past battles with the media:

"Maybe I provoked them. I was playing the same game they were playing with me. Some of the stuff was so harsh that it deserved a response though - just to say, 'Ryan, why don't you be like your hero Gram Parsons and die. Think about what it could do for your career.' It was so mean-spirited. It's not like I was making records that had mail bombs in them."

"I got tired of doing the solo thing. It was fun for awhile, when I had that much gas, but you can't like yourself everyday. We were trying to channel a collaborative process on Cold Roses. We were looking for the song, not my song. It was everybody's voice, so when I sing those songs live, I feel like I'm interpreting something emotionally, rather than it's just eing Ryan Adams about Ryan Adams doing Ryan Adams bullshit. That really got old. I was lonely. I wanted to be back in something."

"When my wrist got fucked up, I think that, in a good way, it knocked some of me out of me. But I don't want to use it to gain anything. In the entertainment industry, there's always this impulse to use it as an angle - like 'All you people who hated me before, look at me now. I'm hurt.' That's just so stupid."

"If I have anything to do with it, I'm here for awhile. My ride isn't even half done. I don't know if people think I'm banging heroin or tripping out all the time, but I don't take a lot of drugs. I smoke about as much weed as the people who work at The New York Times probably do. I like to stick behind a bottle of wine. You can enjoy it all night if you're playing. But I don't think there will ever be a time with this band when I walk on or off that stage impaired. But I can see why people wonder about it. I've had time sin the past where it's been an ever-present thing around me when I've played. When I was alone on the Demolition tour or during Love Is Hell, I was definitely in that weird place where you're wondering, 'Is this the last hurrah of my twenties?' Some doors opened and creepy people came through. And I was attracted to some of that darkness. I wanted to find out what it meant for me. But it's not around me when I'm not playing, and people don't see that side. They just see the glory of the pirates on the pirate ship, doing our gigs and thinking, 'Can you believe that we're getting away with this?' Everyday you think someone is going to take it away from you because it's so much fun. But I don't carry that into my normal life."

"Man, I don't want to lessen my gift. I don't want to misuse it. I try to think of it now as something that is important to share. I want to keep everybody rolling and keep the band together - and it's working. I'm not number one, and I may never be. But I hope to stay down here where I'm not a threat to anyone, and I just keep trucking."

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Relix - September/October 2005

At a rainy Fuji Rock Festival:

"You know, I really appreciate it and all, but you people really don't need to endure this. It's ridiculous. You're all gonna catch colds."

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Relix - June 2006

"The Jammys are different. It's like climbing the ladder on a high dive. You are supposed to jump when you get to the top, but you get scared. You try to turn around and go back. But you can't because there are too many people behind you to get through, so you jump. Plus everyone's high, so it's all right."

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Rolling Stone - November 8, 2001

"Oh my God. This is gonna be so fucking cool."

"It's going to be about losing a chick's number when you're on the street. Very deep. Fucking deep, man. I'm so tired of deep. I'm drowning in myself."

"Do I have a gut?"

"Look at me, I'm a dreamy bitch. I can't look at myself anymore!"

"Why did I call it Gold? I can hear it already: 'Adams goes for Gold, ends up with pennies.'"

"I'd be better if I had some pot."

"I started writing as soon as I could type. My grandmother, Geemaw Dedmond, had this old typewriter. I started writing short stories when I was eight. I was really into Edgar Allan Poe. Then later, when I was a teenager, I got really hard into cult fiction: Hubert Selby Jr. Henry Miller. Jack Kerouac, big-time. Celine. In Jacksonville, there wasn't much to do. There was skateboarding. Vandalism. Then you go inner. At least I did."

"By the third Black Flag song, [Geemaw Dedmond] said, 'They sure like to hit those cymbals, don't they?' I was like, 'Fuck! She's trying to cluck to Black Flag, and she can't keep up! I am from North Carolina!'"

"I got into art about as heavily as my friends were getting into chicks."

"Melanie. She had red hair for days."

"Somehow, I started listening to the kind of music I'd heard growing up: The Stanley Brothers, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson. And then I started playing my version of that kind of music."

In regards to early Whiskeytown:

"We all sort of sucked, but we were trying."

"Every career move we made was bad."

What Ryan once told a commercial-radio DJ:

"I can do what you do, put a CD in the player, press a button. Oooh, my finger's tired!"

What Ryan said onstage while Whiskeytown was opening for John Fogerty:

"Yeah, John Fogerty was born on the bayou...of Southern California."

In regards to having moved to New York City to be closer to his girlfriend at the time:

"I moved there to follow my heart."

"I tend to be an easy heart, and I snapped just like that. I mean, I love my friends that hard, so obviously I'm going to love someone I'm involved with that hard. I just don't always pick the right people."

Said to a friend while playing "Nobody Girl":

"I hopped her up pretty good on that one, huh?"

"I guess I try to respect and honor what happened in the first place enough to go like, 'Okay, it's worthy of writing about.' I know when something becomes too self-indulgent. Although sometimes, a song is so self-indulgent it belongs out there. You know, I always thought if Barry Manilow was some kind of drunk and got a little roughed-up and came out all scraggly and had to play a little slower, some of those songs like, 'I write the songs that make the whole world sing'...if it was self-effacing? Could be the best song in the world. Right now, it sucks."

"I had a space dream last night. It's so not macho. It's floating in space, above everything. I call a chick an interstellar collider! That's fucking heavy, man. That's Skynyrd heavy. It's cool. It's the dumbest shit ever, but it's cool."

In response to the producer saying the pitch sounds a little funny:

"Oh, fuck pitch! I'm not playing baseball in here!"

"And what are you smirkin' about, Brad? Fucking can it! I'm dangerous!"

After asking if the overhead lights can be dimmed:

"Am I being a diva? I feel like I'm being treated for colon cancer."

"I didn't want to be a star. I still don't. I'm happy right here. I hope it doesn't get offered to me, because I'll just say no. There's no glory in this for me. Usually, I just want the person I wrote the song for to hear it. I mean, I love rock and roll, I love playing it. But I have a really freaky idea about, someday, calling up a friend in New York and going, 'Hey, I'll meet you at Alt-Coffee on Avenue A. And then we'll head off to some theater and see my play.' And I'm just a dude. Nobody knows me. Like Larry Brown or Eudora Weltry. They could walk into a store, and nobody knew who they were. They could just go get a beer, listen to Coltrane. That's cool."

"Putting your left foot on a monitor speaker, in leather pants and a muscle shirt, singing, 'Can you take me higher?' to 100,000 people? That's not cool. That's boring. You're obviously doing something wrong."

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Rolling Stone - November 22, 2001

"Are you ever gonna put me in Random Notes when I'm with a hot babe?"

In response to Elton John saying, "He's the most talented artist I've heard in decades.":

"That's so fucked up. How could that be? There's gotta be someone else."

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Rolling Stone - February 14, 2002

"I want to make sure I'm with a girl that's a good kisser, and that when I wake up, I have coffee and a cigarette. That's all I really want out of life. That, and world domination."

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Rolling Stone - February 28, 2002

Discussing the "Answering Bell" video:

"I was just really, really stoned and said, 'Oh, my God! "The Wizard Of Oz"!'"

"[Elton John] looks like something from a Cadbury milk-chocolate commercial."

"By the end of the whole trip, through my eyeglass, I see Leona. I sing to her, we kiss, Elton waves the wand, and the whole thing goes crazy. I was tired when we finished, but I managed to tie a good one on afterward."

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Rolling Stone - May 9, 2002

"[Bob Dylan] reminded me of a conquistador, a Spanish cowboy. It's like he walked out of some strange, freaked-out Western film from Mars."

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Rolling Stone - September 19, 2002

"I just kept recording. People who liked the demos at my label's office would make mix-tape compilations. The Smiths are my favorite band, and making this album [Demolition] was like making my own Louder Than The Bombs."

"I've been having a nice, pleasant, creative death for the last few months. Once I get into the studio, that's when the songs will start showing up."

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Rolling Stone - October 17, 2002

"I've been painting as a pastime since my teens."

"[The Plums are] like Cheap Trick, if Cheap Trick smoked tons of crack."


"I was just having a dream about Darth Vader. Darth Vader had a band, a four-piece band, and his band was really good. He was playing a radio festival, and X was there, and I was really happy because Exene [Cervenka] finally came to see me play. So I want to go back to sleep and see if I can talk some more to Exene."

"The first four records I owned were the Smiths' Hatful of Hollow, the Dead Kennedys' In God We Trust, Inc., Corrosion of Conformity's Animosity, and Black Flag's Damaged."

In response to how old he was when he bought those records:

"Thirteen. There was this video show called Night Flight that was very important to my understanding of popular culture,a nd they played Bad Brains' "I Against I", a Sonic Youth live clip, and "Another State of Mind" by Social Distortion. So I immediately went out and bouth Social Distortion's Mommy's Little Monster on vinyl, Sonic Youth's Sister on cassette, and Bad Brains' I Against I."

In response to what the first song he learned to play on guitar was:

"I never learned a cover. The first thing I ever learned on the guitar I wrote myself. But I could never play anybody else's songs. Nowadays I can learn 'em pretty quickly. I mean, I learned the Strokes record on banjos and mandolins and shit. You can play 'The Modern Age' on mandolin if you really want to, and 'Someday' sounds really fun on banjo. I had a tooth pulled when I was living in the Chelsea hotel. I was bored, and I needed something to do, so I was like, 'I'm just gonna learn someone else's record for fun.' And I was talking to the NME, and maybe it was the Vicodin, but I mentioned that I'd learned the Strokes record, and they made a really big deal out of it. So when I saw [Strokes guitarist] Nick [Valensi], he said, 'I heard you covered our record. How does it sound?' I was like, 'It sounds like a blues album.' [Drummer] Fabrizio [Moretti] has heard the most. I'll go to Fab's house really late at night, and I'll play a Dock Boggs song, and then I'll play oen of their songs, and he won't even recognize it at first."

In response to which record he loves that people would be surprised to find out he owns:

"Madonna. Although I don't know people who don't really like Madonna. There's something about the lost Eighties for me, like The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Mannequin. I spent the Eighties looking for the alternatives to what was already happening. And now I'm going back and putting together the pieces of what was pop culture and realizing that I was wrong. Crocodile Dundee is funny. Fuck if all that didn't mean something to me, and I just wasn't paying attention."

In response to what song from recent years he wished he had written:

"'Sweetest Decline' by Beth Orton, 'cause she says, 'It's like catching snow on your tongue', and the moment I heard that line, I fell incredibly in love, not only with her but back with myself. But I just recently started writing songs in reaction to other songs. One song I was working on last week was called 'Boys', which is a reaction to 'Boys' by Britney Spears. I wanted to write a song in defense of men, because we're not all players. There are romantics who don't think about panty lines and don't talk shit about women. And just because Britney can't find one doesn't mean that I'm supposed to be chastised for it. The song doesn't attack Britney or anything, it attacks the preconceived notion that men cannot be romantic intellectuals."

"I don't listen to music when I'm making out. It just never really happens like that. One thing is, there's not a lot of making out going on right now. I'm taking a break from romance. When I go out to a bar, it's usually to sit in the corner and write. But sometimes you have three or four cocktails and there's a pretty girl and you just know that's gonna happen - you're gonna kiss just to kiss. Which is fun, and very young. I'm only twenty-seven, so I still have my card for a little cheekiness."

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Rolling Stone - May 15, 2003

Ryan's postings from his official message board:

April 9

9:01:12 P.M. - "I'm doing one show this year...I'm not doing anything else...I think I quit...I don't even like the sound of my own songs..."

9:14:41 P.M. - "I got all this moroccan yum yum and its making everything very funny."

9:41:15 P.M. - "the guitars in my apartment don't peer at me asking me for new songs. its all so commercial anyhow, making records...it's all just a bunch of whoring crap...this is a tirade and I am entirely too high to be on here."

9:56:03 P.M. - "yeah, you're right. it is sorta asshole of me, but I guess if im sounding vague its because i smoked an incredible amount of moroccan hash..."

April 10

12:01:47 A.M. - "i feel like that asshole in jerry macguire..."

10:37:01 P.M. - "I wanna explain myself to you nice people...sans Moroccan hash anyways...i'm not FRANTIC or being a fucking CRYBABY. I just don't give a shit...i'm off for some drinks...i'm sure ill regret writing any of this shit anyway. whatever."

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Rolling Stone - October 2, 2003

"I'd sort of lost my interest in playing music. I'd been obsessed with writing all these confessional songs. I didn't know how to not be so self-serious, because I was so bummed out. It was like I was caught in some really shit Kafka novel - it was, like, country goth."

"I always just figured that I was crap as a guitarist. But I really like to turn up the guitar and get all Black Flag about it. It was a lot more interesting than confessional folk rock."

"I really want my playing to be good. But it always comes out a little shitty. I guess I just want it to sound f-u-n."

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Rolling Stone - September 22, 2005

"I got turned on to the Grateful Dead through a friend of mine in Rocky Mountain, North Carolina, when I was fifteen or sixteen. I remember being in an abandoned house in the middle of a huge field listening to 'Wharf Rat' with my friend Dean. It was a moment I'll never forget. I was thinking, 'This music is bigger and more mysterious and grand than what I'm looking at.' It reminded me of what Sonic Youth were up to: maximum freedom, but with a song underneath."

In response to what songs work perfectly in movies: "I love that Peter Gabriel song ['In Your Eyes'] in Say Anything. Paul Westerberg had that song 'Dyslexic Heart' in Singles. I read somewhere that the producers needed him to give them a song, and he said, 'Cool. Gimme a guitar and a hotel room,' and he wrote it in twenty minutes. Maybe we should get him more guitars and more hotel rooms."

In response to what bar he's written the most songs in:

"Easily it'd be split between Boardners, on Hollywood and Cherokee in L.A., and Niagara here in New York, on A and 74th. I wrote 'Oh My Sweet Carolina' in the back of Niagara, because at that time, before I made Heartbreaker, I had thirty cents to my name. Jesse [Malin, local punk hero and Niagara co-owner] let me come in and get a couple pops, and I'd scribble away. I didn't go in there, get fucked up and expect to walk out with anything. It'd be like my coffee shop, except I'd nurse a beer, look around, catch wind of different conversations or just isolate myself. I tend to need a little white noise when I write."

"I don't love anything the way that I love writing songs. When I used to wash dishes in Raleigh, or when I had my plumbing job, I'd be dying to get off work so I could write these songs that I was accessing in my head."

In response to who the best songwriter is that no one's heard of:

"How would we know? Off the top of my head, there's a fellow who lives in North Carolina named Kenny Roby that wrote a song called 'Rather Not Know'. He was in a band called Six String Drag that was around at the same time as Whiskeytown. He's phenomenal. There's Richard Hawley - from Sheffield, England, I think. And an Irish fellow named Adrian Crowley."

In response to if he's ever played board games with his musical heroes:

"It's not like I sit down and play Scrabble with Keith Richards. Chess has become a pretty rockin' deal for the Cardinals. I think Nikolai [Fraitur] from the Strokes is pretty damn good. I actually asked him for some tips the other day. I've also been invited to play in a Texas Hold 'Em game with the Strokes guys, but I know better. I've heard of people going over there and getting wiped out. I might as well go over there, plop down my fifty bucks and just drink the beer."

In response to what his favorite musical landmark in the U.S. is:

"I love all the old theaters across the country. And I went to play Red Rocks with Phil Lesh and Friends - that was extreme. And the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was cool - I spent most of my time looking at the [Jerry] Garcia stuff. I got to see a bunch of his guitars, like Rosebud and Tiger and Wolf."

In response to if he's read Dylan's book Chronicles, Vol. 1:

"No. I want to keep him as far away from the real world as possible. He's mythological to me, like Zeus or Thor. I've read a lot of books about him - about touring and different records - but I don't want to dispel all the myths and mysterious that surround some of his stuff, which I think is just absolutely phenomenal, inspiring and righteous."

In response to what the best records for listening to after getting baked are:

"Sabbath's Vol. 4. Sonic Youth's Sister. Coltrane's Sun Ship. There's a band that I really like with a terrible name - they're called Anal Cunt. They have a record called Morbid Florists that's really fuckin' awesome. It's out of control and ridiculous. And the Dead's '77 tour. It got really deep."

In response to if he likes to write while stoned:

"I don't look at that stuff as a detractor at all. I think it's beautiful and creative. It's a healthy thing to open up your eyes a little bit wider."

In response to how many songs on Jacksonville City Nights were written like that:

"It's kind of obvious."

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Rolling Stone - April 19, 2007

"I didn't listen to anything but hip-hop while making [Easy Tiger]. That freed me from any obvious influences."

"There is an ease now in my playing and singing. I have a tendency to overwrite. But this time I surrendered control and asked for advice from my friends and the band."

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Spin - December 2000

"The differences [between myself and Bryan Adams] are much grander than the similarities."

"I'm naive in a Luke Skywalker way. Not intuitive or smart enough to be Darth Vader."

"[Morrissey] is like, the Pope of sad people."

"[Jacksonville, North Carolina is] one of those towns that will always belong to the Kennedy administration, Michelob, and AM radio, where everyone eats tomato sandwiches."

"I've gone from atheism to believing everything on the planet is God. Even when Sisqo sings about thongs, that's about God, too."

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Spin - November 2002

In response to if he had to write a song about the interview right now, what he would call it: "It would probably be about how I just got up from a nap and am making the bed, which is pretty sad. 'Rock 'n' Roll Bad Boy Makes Bed While Doing Interview'."

"I would walk around naked, except I've got six 25-foot windows in my place, and the building on the right is where Julian and Albert [of The Strokes] live. My ex-girlfriend Melissa [Auf der Maur] lives across the street. So to be naked in my building would be bad. I don't want to live here for but another year. I'd like to live in either Stockholm or Amsterdam."

"I don't feel [my music is] consciously American. People used to say to me, 'Yeah, you're into country,' and I'm like, 'I am so not into country music that you have no idea.' And they're like, 'Dude, you're into the good kind!' And I'm like, 'I don't even fucking care about the good kind.'"

"I'm a Democratic Socialist. I really don't get into the United States at all. I'm sorry, but politically, I really don't care. That's why I thought it was funny that people were like, 'Ryan's got this great, patriotic song about New York after the bombing.' It's like, 'Hello, it's a song about being an idiot.'"

"Right now, I'm folding clothes, then I'm gonna go down to this patisserie and get a brownie. So, I'm a pretty bad troubadour. I'm more of a music fan who got away with making records."

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Spin - June 2003

"That's who I was then. But I'm 28 now. All that shit is over. I'm just so sick of cool."

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Spin - November 2003

Discussing the blackout:

"We saw mobs of people walking toward the bridges and looking confused. It was like the gay-pride parade, but nobody was dressed that well or had worked out. Parks and I bought candles, deviled ham, some crappy chips and cheese dip, and three six-packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon. We played Scrabble and listened to the radio."

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Spin - December 2003

"Look at the sky - it's calico."

"When I'm in New York, I just want to walk down the street and feel this thing, like I'm in a movie."

"On Heartbreaker, I had to sing those songs. I drank the way I did those songs. I ate the way I did those songs. I communicated the way I did those songs. With Gold, I was trying to prove something to myself. I wanted to invent a modern classic."

"I used to be so excited when I saw my name in print. I wanted to be a rock personality so fucking bad. But then I was looking at people like Patti Smith - people who had a purpose. I said to myself, 'I should have a purpose too.' And what I figured out was that I don't have one. I'm a goofball. I'm always changing my mind. I'm breaking my promises all over the place."

"I wanted to go to an actual, real, American city [New Orleans]. Full of nameless bars. I didn't want to work in New York or L.A. I just wanted to get away from that."

"['This House Is Not For Sale'] doesn't sound art faggy enough! It's too Goo Goo Dolls! Too fucking Melissa Etheridge! I should be wearing a muscle T-shirt."

"There was no way to explain [that I wanted them] to validate these almost high school poems with some wrong notes. [There was] no way to grease it up a little and make it interesting. I'd take a piano player and put him on drums and, like, goddamn, he's really good at drums too."

"Love Is Hell started splitting in two. It was like I was recording the gravy, and I already had the turkey. So we just started stripping it back. By the end of it all, I was so tired of recording. I was fried. I'd overdone it."

"I just shut everybody down. My biggest word in the last eight months was 'no'. And I used the shit out of that word."

"My lifestyle changed when this wonderful person came into my life. I couldn't sleep for years. All of a sudden, I don't know why or how, but I slept."

"Nobody knew what the hell I was up to. "The [record company] was like, 'He's in a basement?' 'Yeah.' 'Should we worry?' 'Do you always?' 'Yeah.' 'Well, then worry.'"

"In New Orleans, I would come into sessions at 6 P.M., and I'd leave with enough time to go out and get mighty damaged. This was different. I was eager to be in there and eager to stay as late as possible. We were able to make eleven songs in three days. They weren't all classics, but they fucking all sounded great."

"Let's just say I'm inspired. [Parker Posey is] very special. I respect her greatly. She's a good singer too."

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Spin - March 2004

"I was backstage, and I got bored. I had been listening to Accept or some fucking metal shit, and I said to the guys [in The Stills], 'Man, we should totally fucking start a metal band right now!' We wrote three songs in ten minutes. I wrote the titles and riffs, then went and had a sandwich. By the time I'd finished, they had the riffs down."

"I don't know whether people in metal bands know they're actually funny."

"That song [by The Darkness] 'I Believe in a Thing Called Love'? Holy macaroni!"

"[John Mayer] doesn't cuss. I ran into him at Virgin Megastore, and he was nice. I was like, 'Aw, man, I've been talking so much shit about you.' And he said, 'Man, I figured that.' And I was like, 'You're a really nice guy, but you don't drink or smoke, so you're making me look bad.' We had adjoining rooms at a radio convention, and he came over and asked me to put out my cigarette. I think I closed the door in his face. Then Elton John called and goes, 'Be nice to John Mayer. He's afraid of you.'"

"[The Strokes are] going to survive. They're just so hardworking. There were 900 ways that they could have become flavor of the month, and only way way for them to become a long-term band. And that was for them to make [a record like] Room On Fire. They can make records for the rest of their lives, and they're all going to be vital."

"Conor [Oberst]'s incredibly political and snide and just great. They're pretty weird records, right? And the words are unbelievable."

"I'm supposed to be this big party guy, but [Conor Oberst] called me at 6 or 7 P.M., when I was planning to go to his gig at 9 or something, and he's like, 'Dude, let's meet for drinks.' And I'm like, 'Conor, it isn't even dark yet.' He's like, 'Man, I want to talk to the crazy Ryan.' And I said, 'Crazy Ryan is on holiday, because Crazy Ryan tried to kill Regular Ryan.' You know, Conor made me feel old!"

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Spin - April 2004

"I was living in a trailer outside of Jacksonville, North Carolina, in this town called Hubert. There were three or four of us, and we just listened to punk records, drank beer, and rehearsed. Next to it was this empty sharecropper's house that was converted into a band room. It was sort of like a Branch Davidian, Waco, kind of hangout, except for really poor punks, post-punks, whatever the fuck we were. Redneck suburban, post-suburban post-punks - I don't know. Anyway, my friend Jerry came home one day with a copy of Nevermind. And this is before the 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' video came out. He goes, 'This is going to be the biggest band in the world.' He put it on, and we just knew. We had the first record, Bleach, or the 'Dive' single, and I thought Nirvana were okay. I liked Mudhoney better at first. I guess I just didn't get it. When I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, it was cool to be indie there. There was always a scene, so the grunge thing didn't really happen. It was like Superchunk and stuff, and 'Chapel Hill is going to be the next Seattle,' and all that shit. Now I have all their records, and they just fucking blow me away. I love Nevermind now. I'm amazed I didn't pay more attention to it when it happened."

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Spin - May 2004

"Fuck you - I make more money in two days than you do in a year."

"I did the Gap ad because who says no to $30,000 an hour? I don't! I'm sorry if that's selling out, so be it. Yes, I sell out. I do Gap ads so that I don't have to work in a factory. Also, I don't mind their clothes."

"I turned [Cold Mountain] down because they said, 'Well, you can come to Romania, and you can have three or four lines, and you get to play a banjo made out of a pumpkin.' I'm like, 'Fuck you, man.' I make that money in two gigs."

"I don't make a ton of money doing this; not that I care."

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Spin - August 2004

Ryan picks the records that changed his life:

"I know all the 'classic' records that people are supposed to list. I mean, I love Blonde on Blonde. But these records are the ones from throughout my life that I really would take to a desert island - although I might trade them in for a lighter or a raft."

45 Grave - Autopsy (Restless, 1987): "This is a record I got when I visited my uncle in Arlington, Virginia. He worked for a company connected to NASA, which I thought was cool, because I was super into astronomy. I knew 45 Grave had some connection to the Germs and Gun Club. The cover looked kinda goth, so I took it home, and it was so fucking good. I lived in a small town with no girls to date or people to impress. It was just me and my record player."

The Leaving Trains - Fuck (SST, 1987): "When I got to Chapel Hill, even though I was too young to be part of a scene or go to shows - I was 13 or 14 - I was old enough to skateboard across town, through a rough area, to where the pawn shops were. I would have five or ten bucks and peruse the pawn shops for one- or two-dollar cassette tapes. By the time I got Fuck, I had met someone who helped me tune my guitar. I learned some chords and realized I was writing stuff that sounded like the Leaving Trains. So I think it's really influenced my songwriting, to this day."

Galaxie 500 - On Fire (Rough Trade, 1989): "A friend of mine had a car, and we were driving to school, wondering if we should go. School passed by, and we said, 'Fuck it.' We went to this place called Schoolkids Records in Chapel Hill. I read a review of Galaxie 500 that described them as 'psychedelic, slow, and woozy'. I bought this tape, and we played it on the drive back home. I kept thinking, there must be a fast song coming up. It was hot, there was no AC, and both of us nearly fell asleep and crashed the car."

Circle Jerks - VI (Relativity, 1987): It's kind of totally not correct to list this, but this is a record that was really aware of itself and really rocked. 'I'm Alive' was a real anthem for me. This was the summer of 'I can play guitar, I'm skating, but I'm living at home, and I wish I could move.'"

Greg Sage - Straight Ahead (Enigma, 1985): "I heard Straight Ahead shortly after I moved to Raleigh. I asked my roommate, 'Dude, have you heard of this guy Greg Sage?', and he said, 'Dude, that's the guy from the Wipers.' This is the most depressing record ever. It starts out like, 'Keep moving forward,' but it ends up being a loner's masterpiece. I put it on before a show we played in upstate New York. By the time it was over, everyone was depressed and not talking to each other."

Danzig - Danzig (Def American/Geffen, 1988): "I loved Samhain [ex-Misfit Glenn Danzig's previous band], but this was absurdly good. It was really defining for me. this was when I went out and became a fake punk in North Carolina. I had a prevarication [sic] for witchy stuff. I think there's some sort of power in the imagery when you're younger. I also remember this cassette smelled really good."

The Reivers - Translate Slowly (DB, 1985): "I loved this record so much. There was a soft edge to some of the underground bands from this period, like the Reivers and Salem 66. I had so many 'Japan-core' compilations that I needed something to chill out with. This record really influenced my guitar playing. I realized it was okay to hang out on some major chords for awhile."

Antietam - Burgoo (Triple X, 1990): "This record also had a lot to do with how I wanted to play guitar. It's all so pretty, especially 'Imagining Green'. Tara Key is phenomenal. Her songs would describe New York, and I would dream about what they meant."

Polvo - Celebrate The New Dark Age EP (Merge, 1994): "This was originally a triple seven-inch. Their first record was good, but this was better, because it was so scrappy. People said Polvo sounded like Sonic Youth, but I always thought they had their own thing going on. This was like music from a cartoon."

Jones Very - Words And Days (Roadrunner, 1989): "I must've owned eight copies of this. The best description is that it sounds like the Police because it has these atmospheric parts, and Hüsker Dü because it has that kind of lost American sound."

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Spin - February 2006

"I quit drinking every night, at 1:30 A.M."

"Now I play the guitar like I'm touching a girl. I used to play it like I was touching myself."

"Well, I'm less romantic than I should be, but I'm certainly not fucking jaded. Not yet. Turning 31 has been interesting. It's true what they say about the 'dirty 30s'."

In response to what changes when you hit 30:

"You grow antennas. And your penis gets massive."

In regards to 29:

"You could look at it like every song is about a year from my 20s. I've been going through analysis, and I'm trying to assign characters to different parts of my personality. The egocentric bastard that I am, I didn't realize all those characters on the album are me. I'm talking to myself about dying."

"I probably should have overdosed on alcohol and narcotics hundreds of times, but it never happened."

"I have to stay alive. If I don't, who's Time Out New York gonna make fun of next week?"

In regards to if he hates the kind of people who love his music, because of fights he's had with his audience:

"Yeah, they're a bunch of fucking cocks. They come to my shows just to provoke me. I had to go into therapy because of the whole Bryan Adams 'Summer of '69' thing."

"I used to go out onstage, and I couldn't hear any of the clapping. I could only hear, 'Fuck you!' or 'Jeff Tweedy's better!' And I'd be thinking, 'I know he's better, but I'm louder! And I'm standing on one leg!' I turned what I did into such a negative thing that it paralyzed me. So now it's not like someone's not going to shout 'Summer of '69', but I can choose to not let that ruin my evening."

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Spin - August 2007

"I'll do a big series of paintings, like 25 of them, and then I'll give them away. This one hasn't been given away because maybe I like it - or maybe because it sucks."

"I bought this on the side of the road somewhere in Ohio. [The people selling it] just thought it as a picture of some hippies; they didn't know who it was. The illustration is from Playboy. I've played with [bassist] Phil Lesh a coupl times. He is a hyperintelligent guy."

"Someone bought me this [hourglass] as a birthday present. I opened the box, and they said, 'I thought I'd buy you some time.' We're not friends anymore. I guess there wasn't enough time in there."

"I won't let anyone touch all my little [plastic figurine] animals. I spent a long time arranging thm - I'm kind of OCD like that."

"I've been playing all these D-battery-powered video games from the '80s. It's just a tin LCD screen that's no more complicated than my watch, but they dress it up with cool levers and stickers. It kind of looks like my website."

"I have too fucking many comic books. My new goal is to have as many comics as my girlfriend has shoes! Ha! But even if I didn't like comic books, I would be into Batman, because it's a great story. It's a great inspiration for country songs or depressing songs. Sometimes I'll even steal a line for a song straight from a Batman comic."

"My manager got me this board as a present after a year of good work. Of course, about a week later I was at a skate park and fractured my wrist, so I can't play guitar right now. He won't tell me to stop though, because he skates too."

"I collect Depression-era quilts. I've got stacks all over the house. My grandmother makes them, so I know something about them. When the husband died, the lady of the house would make a patchwork quilt out of all of his clothes to preserve his memory."

"This is what I eat everday. It's my favorite food. I keep them in the fridge. Cold Cheez-Its are the best! With Tabasco is better."

"[The Moonlighting soundtrack] has some jams on it, seriously. The Cardinals do a sweet version of the Al Jarreau theme song, thought I probably shouldn't be sharing that."

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Spin - October 2007

"No matter what anybody says, the Grateful Dead were punk as fuck. Pirates. Wild men. Doing huge-ass shows regardless of mainstream cred, and they were peaking hard in '77."

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Tracks - January 2004

"I come from tough southern people who aren't bothered by mosquitoes, divorces, or occasional car wrecks. I remember my parents and grandparents sipping on cans of beer, playing horseshoes in the backyard as the summer heat turned dark. The rosebushes and pine trees, where the fences ended, roared with crickets that sounded like doors creaking in an old haunted house. I would watch from the windows in the back rooms, listening to Prince sing 'Purple Rain' as though his life depended on it. And I played my brother's old tennis racquet like a guitar, emulating that sound that could only come from that little old silver cassette player that weighed me down like an anchor. And even then I performed better alone. Most people do."

"The terror that goes along with playing music for people can best be described as what it felt like for the first time you were asked to read a written report in front of the class in grade school. But maybe amplify that by the entire school, to perfect strangers, to people you only passed in the shuffle between bells, to that girl in your homeroom you wanted so desperately to kiss. For some, it's a glorious experience - those certain outgoing people who are well-adjusted and sure. For most, including myself, it's terrifying."

"I refer to actually getting onstage as 'the walk'. It's that twenty seconds of disbelief that I am actually going to go out there and actually sing, and my neck becomes stiff, and my posture devloves, and my bones coagulate in some caveman fetal position in efforts to protect myself from pain. But something beautiful happens...not always...but most of the time. Something cosmic like a first kiss or fresh socks. But better."

"Once it turns on, once the music starts, and the band cracks or the guitar rings, I am g-o-n-e. I feel the cool grass when I was young, touching my hand to the dirty earth and feeling my own body relax and give way to the breeze. I feel erotic but not horny. I can see the steps of the house I grew up in, I hear the voices of my dead friends. And when I am comfortable, I feel my heart go, pure and simple, out of my body."

"There are the good moments. But I cannot remember them. They are always on the edge of sheer terror, on the edge of this great cliff, waiting to fall and break into a million pieces. And it's so risky and beautiful and so ridiculous that when it is all over, it is all I can do but want to go again, like a kid on some dumb ride at the fair."

"There were times when I was touring without that band that I would shiver, my body would quake as though it would not open, and the music and words would not come. Like an old rusted nozzle on a bath. This is when I know my job the best. When it will not come, and I have convulsed in front of many people I do not know to make it come, to wrestle it out of me, because singing a song sometimes is about being a good liar. And good lies are fucking hard sells. And my job is to go there, whether I want to or not. To exercise that muscle inside myself that contracts and refuses because it is tired and has had enough. But when is it enough? Who says when you have given too much of yourself? Especially when your job is to expose your inner badass. Your inner liar cheater fucker lover fuckface and try and cram all that into a little box of sweets. Rock stars are fakers and liars, but they sell the best cars, and the cars get you someplace you weren't already going, so you fucking love them anyway and wave at them when they pass your house."

"I do not know how music works. I don't know where it comes from or why I am compelled to embarrass myself over and over again, but I do. I see it like a rite of passage. Maybe like lifting imaginary weights, hoping that I will become stronger and actually know something about myself eventually. I hope I will always play the guitar or the piano, and I will always sing if I can, and maybe one day I will answer this question I am living through every night I perform. One day I will walk the walk, and I will know what the fuck I am doing here. Until then, may there be enough wine for us all."

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Uncut - October 2003

"There was this bar in Raleigh, North Carolina, called Sadlacks, which was run by Skillet Gilmore. He bought me a beer one afternoon, and he played me George Jones, Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers, none of whom I'd ever heard before. I got turned on to all three, and that beer changed my life. I took home the cover of Grievous Angel and framed it and hung it on the wall."

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Uncut - January 2004

"I told the label I had a record. Which wasn't true. But I was taking a lot of amphetamines, so I knew I could write one. I had some riffs and ideas for lyrics, and I asked them to book me a studio for a week. We went in and got really loose and made Love Is Hell.

"[Lost Highway] thought [Love Is Hell] was excessive. But I wanted to make a really fucked up and excessive record. Jesse Malin said it reminded him of Tonight's The Night. It was very damaged, and I loved how disturbing it was. I was in a deep depression, and I wasn't dealing with it. That was a really interesting place to be, and that's where the record came from."

"[Lost Highway] thought I was too drugged out and was leading them on a wild goose chase with an album [Love Is Hell] that was unreleasable. So they sent us to New Orleans with John Porter to re-do it."

"I sabotaged [the New Orleans sessions]. They tried to make the guitars sound pretty, and I wanted them to sound really nasty and fucked up, like on the original New York recordings. I erased and bunch of tapes and said I didn't want to use any of the new versions. It was a fucking nightmare. I told the label, 'Why you pick on me? You live in Nashville. Go and fix all the fucking horrible records they're making in Nashville.'"

"I thought I'd reached the most radical, different, and honest I could be about my feelings on Love Is Hell. And it was rejected. The one thing I had ever done that doesn't owe shit to anybody else except for a few borrowed Smiths riffs, and they didn't want it. Those songs are me going out of my head. I made this totally bombed-out record about killing yourself. And they didn't get it. They didn't hear a single."

"I quit. I said, 'Fuck you guys.' I got really angry. They [Lost Highway] already had four records of mine sitting in the can. I was already in a depression, and that was it."

"I was burned out. I believed every negative word written about me. I was in a mess, and I hit the wall. I put my guitars away, said to hell with it and went home to New York and hibernated. I stayed home, watching TV, getting really high in the bath and listening to flamenco and mariachi music. I wasn't talking to the label. I wasn't making music. That went on for months."

"Well, I knew I wanted to stop making formula rock records, based around Gram Parsons or the Stones. With those earlier records, I was trying to make something that sounded like older records. But I've done that to death."

"After a few months, I started playing again with friends in the East Village. I'd written a folk record, like 25 songs, in my depression, all on acoustic guitar. We started recroding them in a basement studio, and they came out like Roy Orbison or something. We were going into this little studio and getting bombed, and we recorded it really raw and edgy.

"I say some things on Love Is Hell that are just wrong. They're like death threats to myself. Rock N Roll is like sunshine compared to Love Is Hell."

"You can do great stuff and be slammed against the wall. And you can get applauded for shit you shouldn't be applauded for."

"I made Heartbreaker, which I thought nobody would care about but people really enjoyed. Then by the time I made Gold, I was completely confused. Maybe I should have kept doing the acoustic guitar thing. But I was being manipulated and tricked into doing things through the label. I was too busy writing songs to hav a view about how my career should be run."

"I was exposed to all this celebrity bullshit. It actually disgusted me. I was meeting famous actresses and rock icons and fashionistas. And I felt I was just a guy with a guitar."

"The only drug you can't romanticise is crack. Drugs can be an exploration. Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Kerouac all did it as a way of getting to a different place within yourself. But we're not in an age where people are appreciated for exploring themselves anymore. Today that's seen as a liability."

In response to young singer-songwriters being described as "The new Ryan Adams":

"That sounds like a curse. Get fucked over and get fucked up. I woudn't wish that on anyone. I fuckin' wouldn't want to be the new me."

"I don't know if Heartbreaker was influential as a record so much as the idea of it. There weren't a lot of people out there doing that kind of thing. That's all. But it was a terrible price to pay because I've never lived it down. I don't regard that record as great art. I'm not even sure I put the right songs on the record. There are a lot of tracks that didn't make it which with hindsight should have been on there."

In response to if he is still ambitious:

"I would say ambiguous. I've got more comfortable with songwriting. It's like owning a gun. When you first have it, you're a bit afraid, and you don't know what the responsibilities are. As time goes on, you appreciate how it works, and you learn not to fire into crowds of people. I've become more of a sniper. All I need to do now is learn not to shoot myself."

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Uncut - July 2005

"[Jacksonville City Nights is] very, very honky tonk."

In regards to 29:

"It's myself and people like JP Bowersock in one room together. They're all story songs, and it'll be nine songs long."

"[I'm focusing on] doing things quietly without much fuss."

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Uncut - March 2007

"I first heard The Smiths almost by accident. When I was 13, a buddy of mine got a crate of his brother's old records that he was planning to smash, but he let me pick out three to listen to first, one of which was Hatful Of Hollow. I got home, listened to it, and just couldn't believe it. It's beautiful. The Smiths have these melancholy melodies that just resonate. It sounds pretty and sad at the same time, yet also very urgent. They don't sound like anything else. It's hard to categorise The Smiths as just a regular rock'n'roll band. Obviously, they're musically superior to most bands while Morrissey is a natural frontman - he's funny and deadly serious at the same time. There are just so many different things going on. They worked one song at a time, it seems, rather than thinking about albums, because they cared so much about creating the music. Morrissey would choose a grandiose song title afterwards but they weren't pretentious about the process, ti's almost as if they wrote the songs backwards. Most people start with a lyric, whereas Johnny Marr said he'd start with the guitar outros and then work backwards through the song. That makes a lot of sense to me now. Convention is hard to break, but they did it. In fact, I could listen to their music my whole life and still not really know what it truly is. My folks' generation had The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but to me the Smiths are my Beatles and my Rolling Stones. That one band covers it all for me."

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Uncut - July 2007

"I moved here a couple years ago, but I only had about a week to furnish and decorate it before I went on tour."

In regards to his web site songs:

"That's my lazy Saturday afternoon. It's fun, and it's free. I don't really know what kind of art that is. I think it's just goofing around."

"[Easy Tiger is] not the record I wanted to make. Not at all."

"[Rock N Roll was] just a joke, a record I had to make in order to put out Love Is Hell."

"[Lost Highway] were very specific. They didn't want a Cardinals record, they didn't want a rock record. They wanted a record which was predominantly acoustic guitar and just under my name. I obliged, because I only have so much fight in me."

"Yeah, but something can be good because care went into the making of it. I can still mean what I'm singing, but it can go against the grain of what seems natural to me, and [Easy Tiger] is definitely against the grain. It isn't what naturally would have happened."

"I'm not interested in making solo records with my face on the cover. I'm into being in a band. I'm into exchanging crazy ideas and there being intense instrumental music as well as heavy verse and several different voices telling the story."

"Look, man, I'm gonna be dead honest. I can't stand this part of me. It has always driven me crazy, and it used to drive me crazy in ways that I'll never be able to understand. But I just wanna keep my job. I just love records. I just love to make music. But I think I understand more now than every why it's impossible for some artists to maintain their sense of purpose, because so much about the business part of it has so little to do with the process. The worst part is that it becomes very tricky to hold on to who you are."

"[The media] were going to do that to someone. They picked me. At the time I didn't understand, but now I understand that those shoes had to be filled by someone. I don't mean in some conspiratorial way - it was just easy to typecast me. I didn't do anything to perpetuate it. I was just being myself. Breathing air, having feelings, doing things that didn't have anything to do with any of that shit, but it was easier to make a cartoon of me. It totally sidetracked me, caused me great harm and anxiety."

"It's not a withdrawal. I'd been in a band before, but it didn't work. The entire time I've been playing music, I've looked for something where I could be collaborative. I've always hated the sound of my own voice. I'm just madly in love with the process of making music and writing songs."

"No, that's the part of my music that I am very willing to share. That's whee the meat is. It's saying: I'm having this experience, and I'm going to take this experience and put it into this music, or into these verses of this song, in order to i) make sense of them, and ii) to perform them in the form of a question. And the question is: I'm feeling this stuff I'm a little confused by it. Is anybody else feeling this?"

"I have more energy. But all my writing in the past was done during the day, when I was able to be serious, and I don't think sobriety, or lack thereof, was interfering. Maybe I haven't had a revelation yet, but that part of my life hasn't changed. The way that I write, the amount of notebooks full of verse, always would have been impossible under duress. If anything's changed, it's that I'm a bit more mellow about it all."

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