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
Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True
I followed everything that was happening in Britain and it'd affect what was going on for me. We used to have a different way of getting musical information in general, and when you add in the geographical handicap of being in Nashville, it was difficult. I relied on subscriptions to Sounds and Rolling Stone, and kept up in my primitive way. We didn't have any other access to this stuff, and I would pore over information. But there were these big records, big moments in the US that came out of Britain, and having just been there I was completely smitten with keeping up with that stuff.
I was in Memphis when I heard the Sex Pistols play, and that was when my idea about what music could be was truly changing. I rejected the idea of prog and musical dexterity, because it wasn't doing me any good as far as what I wanted to express as a musician. I gave up the cello, and started playing guitar, but went about it in a very prog way. I realised that wasn't really me – and I just wasn't very good at it. At the beginning of punk, I saw a chance to combine what I was doing as an artist with what I could do with music, and not be hung up about the fact I wasn't such a great musician. I had good ideas, and it was just fucking fun. One of the records that really struck me was this Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True. It was a song-y record, more than just new wave. It had all the elements of all this other stuff I was enjoying, but there was something about songcraft in there. That connected me to other things and carried me up into the 80s.