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
Joe Cocker - Mad Dogs and Englishmen
I was aware of Joe Cocker prior to moving to Sheffield – one of my friend's sisters was dating him for a while. When this came out, it blew my mind, with this incredible collection of musicians. The influence of Leon Russell was big for me, and the way he could orchestrate all that stuff, making it fun and freeform and soulful and exciting. It felt very British, but at the same time it felt designed to kick America's ass. I've revisited it since – there's an incredible film about it – and I went into a Leon Russell hole for a while, revisiting all his stuff upon his passing and it all became fresh for me. There's something about the remastering approach that this guy had, and the way they would interpret music as much as the original music. They had these great cover songs, but they own each song and present it in a way that one wouldn't have thought about before. That was big for me as a young artist, realising that you don't have to reinterpret something precisely as it was recorded, that there was this freedom there and that music could be completely open to interpretation. That stuck with me. I couldn't play a decent cover song to save my life – my musical abilities are still limited in that way – so I simply deal with it in the way that I can, and that turns out to be interesting enough. But the hits that this guy had were all covers, and that's incredible.