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For his latest outing, he's backed by Dallas native Emma Hertz and releasing an exclusive 10-song tour CD, Fireflies. On Saturday, May 12, the two will perform at the Cavern in Dallas with sulky songstress Bosque Brown and trendy Austin outfit White Denim and at Hailey's on Sunday with Cartright and Tame...Tame and Quiet, but there's no telling where these shows will end up.
Where's the most random place you've performed on this current tour?
On tour, the shows tend to be at venues, colleges or at house parties so that we can have some place to tell people to go. Then we usually find more interesting things to do. We'll get a group of people together and go find some train or something to play at. Someone will have a tape recorder to document the performance, and we'll use the train for the percussion with everybody banging on it. It's not like I try to find a graveyard in Boston ahead of time to play at; it's just something that happens. If someone tells me about a mental institution or something, my attitude has always been, "Well, let's go." Those are the kind of things that I look forward to.
You recently did some recordings in Los Angeles. What was that process like?
I see a record as a way to put out a collection of images that are all tinted the same color. With my last album, Lightness, there's a sense of nostalgia shown through old black-and-white photographs. The new record is called Sunchasers. It's much more vibrant, a celebration of communal gatherings and higher energy. The material is from a bunch of different places. After the tour I'm going to hole up in a cabin somewhere to do some more private recordings for it.
Does it have to be a cabin?
I suppose it could be a shack or a cottage. I just picture something that's far enough away from people that I can yell and play drums in the middle of the night and not be heard. I try to go into a private headspace to come up with new sounds.
How do you relate your creation process to your actual performances?
I see music as the breath of fresh air after swimming through a river of junk, working through every obstacle in order to do what it is you love. In the last year I've played about 200 shows. I'm a working artist. I have to earn enough money so that I can have the freedom to write. My car is my apartment; it's my home and my transportation. It just broke down, so now we have a rental and we have to try and handle the rent expense as well, but you do it to keep your freedom. You just have to keep going.