By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
SN: How did the idea for John Singer Sergeant's revolving cast of lead singers come about?
JD: Names in a hat. I don't actually know any of these people. Really, I don't consider myself a singer. I write songs, I play a few instruments. I love recording. I could lock myself up in a studio, not come out for months, and be happy. I've made friends along the way. Fortunately, I've discovered most musicians are really generous, and it's amazing what people will do if you just ask. This applies to most things in life. I've written a lot of songs: Some I think are great, some of them are not. I was curious: What would they sound like with friends of mine singing them? Would anyone want to? Do I have any business playing and recording instruments that I really don't know how to play? Do I care? The answers, so far, are: good, yes, yes and no.
SN: Were any of the songs ones you considered singing yourself?
JD: No. I don't hate my voice, but we're not on good terms. I wanted this record to be something I could listen to.
SN: What ended up being the single most challenging thing about making this record?
JD: All the phone calls.
SN: How long did it take you to complete it?
JD: About three weeks, spread out over seven years.
SN: What ended up being the most satisfying thing about making this record?
JD: In order: Getting to spend some time with friends, recording and hearing how each song would change. Playing the harmony bass that Andy Lester lent me. Playing the omnichord that Marcus Striplin lent me. Hearing Tami [Thomsen] from Kirtland [Records] tell me they'd press vinyl.
SN: Is there anything you'd like to see the JSS record do now that it's finally being released?
JD: Yes, I'd like this recording to be the entire soundtrack for the next Coen brothers film. Can you help me make that happen?
SN: I wish I could. How 'bout you hook me up with Wes Anderson and I'll get you the Coen brothers?
SN: Do you think you'll ever make another record like this one?
JD: That depends on what Willie Nelson, Stephin Merritt, Robert Pollard, Keigo Oyamada and a few others have on their calendars. They're all old guys like me, they couldn't be that busy. Actually, I think I'd like to change the idea. Maybe guest drummers? John Drummer Sergeant?