|Born||19 February 1976|
|Genres||alternative country, Folk, rock, singer-songwriter|
|Labels||Cooking Vinyl, Virgin, Verve Forecast|
|Associated acts||Richard Thompson, Linda Thompson, Kamila Thompson, Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Rosanne Cash, The Grey Race, Poundcake|
For a long time I was trying to be poppier and younger. I didn't want to be on public radio or do any of that stuff for older people. Then I realized that that is exactly what I listen to.
To say how you would react if you were really storming the charts and had people running around after you… who's to say how any of us would deal with that.
I went to a boarding school when I was 13, and it was a very arty school, so there was an opportunity for a lot more. I joined a band and so on. We would do concerts at school, and I would play cover tunes and thought, 'This is really great.'
People think unless you have loops and electronics and so on, you must be in your 50s. I quite like a lot of things that have loops and sequencers, but I couldn't really be bothered.
I was obsessed with country music when I was a kid, and it's definitely had a huge influence on the way I write songs. I was always attracted to songs that had a brilliant pun or a clever turn of phrase, but came from a dark, bitter place. As a writer, I've always gravitated towards that feeling.
Even for the people in the business who are real music lovers it's really about putting things in the right boxes, and my style doesn't fit into a box.
My understanding of this life is that you tour and play for years and years, have some longevity and a steady career. That may sound boring, but I always thought that was less depressing than being a one-hit wonder.
You just have to make sure you're writing about something that's true. It has to be honest and it has to have a real emotion behind it, regardless of where it's coming from.
Country music was the music I was brought up on. It's the music that's closest to my heart and the music that speaks to me the most, and it's always been a big influence on my own songwriting.
I'm a hybrid-genre person, which a lot of people find confusing. I grew up listening to American country music and rock n' roll made between 1955 and 1959. The Everly Brothers and Chuck Berry were my first musical loves and are still what I am most moved by. Roy Orbison came a little bit later.
I came from a folk-family background. Although we weren't really the all-singing, all-dancing-around-the-piano folkies or anything like that, there is that idea of singing and playing with your parents and your family and your cousins.
I think I'm too cynical for L.A. My sense of humor doesn't go down well here, which probably affects my love life. I need to have a laugh track following me around so people know I'm trying to be funny.
I used to listen to my dad a lot as a way of trying to be close to him, as well, because my parents were divorced and I didn't spend that much time with him. And I used to put headphones on and listen to my dad talk and sing and I found that quite… bonding with him, in a weird way.
My goal when I started out was to get to the point where I could tour a lot and make a living, which means getting paid enough to hire my own band, travel and end up with a bit of money, but I'm still nowhere near that point. Because I didn't have a band and fan base when I started, I did everything backward.
There's this bubblegum pop thing which is prevalent now that we haven't had before. People's ears are slightly de-tuned; they've been exposed to this weird synthetic, implausibly upbeat, Mickey Mouse stuff which I think is just weird; it's not really a human sound.
Most artists never get a chance to be Picasso, but that doesn't mean you would stop painting.
The state of radio is not great. It's like playing the lottery. The chances of hitting are mind boggling slim.
Everyone's different, but it was fun for me to work with Garth Hudson. He's from 'The Band.' They are a massive influence, that was a big thrill. He's completely out of his mind.
Any kind of creativity is not settling down into a happy little space. I don't try to be mellow or anything. I think I have quite… my voice is what it is, no matter what I'm singing, it's always going to sound like me. There's not too far I could go. I sound like myself. I hope that I haven't put any boundaries on anything.
I love the sad songs with their maudlin, self-deprecating, almost funny lyrics. As an Englishman, they make a lot of sense.
It's amazing that you can listen to any song and you can always tell when there's some substance beneath it and when there isn't. Even if it's poetically written and technically brilliant, I'd rather hear something that's all over the place but has some soul to it.
It's what is strange about doing a job that is also the thing you love, the thing you feel passionate about. People get to the point where they're burned out and disillusioned by the whole thing because when things aren't going well at work it also means they aren't going well in your heart, in your soul. They're all wrapped up together.
I like England more than I did when I left. It's become a bit of a better country in the last ten years, in the attitude of it. A bit more Americanized, which is both good and bad. At least when you order a cup of coffee they don't give you a hard time.
Internet radio stations like KCRW do take you everywhere, yet that's just one of a hundred small things you have to do to succeed. It used to be, if you just got on the cover of 'Rolling Stone' and a spotlight on 'The Tonight Show,' that was enough.
I still do lots of gigs where I'm the support act and people are chatting through my set, but I've got better at grabbing attention. I mean, my parents would play on bills with people like Judas Priest and get booed all the way through. But they stuck it out, got tough.
I'm never worried about being upstaged. I love to have the best, most individual people come in and see if we hit on something.
I do think it's probably true to a certain extent that you tend to sing music that fits your voice. If you're Lou Reed, you're unlikely to become a country singer.