Reflecting at length upon his intimate relationship with British music from his office in Nashville, Tennessee, the alt-country veteran at the heart of Lambchop discusses freedom, interpretation and the lasting effect on him of 1970s Sheffield with Luke Cartledge
Sleaford Mods - Divide and Exit
There was a certain point in my life when I realised that music was not just made by musicians – it could be made by artists. When I realised that, I became more of an artist-musician. Prior to that I had not been, nor would I have considered myself as such. I wasn't comfortable with calling myself or being called a musician, because I did not feel qualified – I had my limitations. Since, I've not had a problem with that. I think Sleaford Mods address that in a way that's undeniably powerful, and I do appreciate the power of music. When I first heard them, I immediately thought they had boiled themselves down to the most basic thing they needed to get their message across and really stir their audience in a deep way, without any bullshit. Just song, words, music.
In the US at the moment, everyone's so stunned. It's such a posture here to become politically involved – and I mean no offence to anyone here, because I do believe that people do things sincerely and for the right reasons – but I don't think it's filtered down to the art-making per se. It's certainly affected the way that things are marketed and presented, but I can't think of any American artist who is addressing things as directly as Sleaford Mods. That will surely come – look at what we're dealing with now – and it'll come from really young artists, rather than some old crank like me. Like Car Seat Headrest or someone like that, young American artists who have a good handle on language. I was checking out something he did recently, and it was cool because he'd taken a song which he had put out, and totally reinterpreted it. He's moving on as an artist, and he's using the song – again – as a general reference but totally fucking changing it. Songs are plastic, malleable things, they're ideas, and you can change and share who you are through them.