Q – I wonder if the fact that, in the age of the iPod, most music consumption is by the track (as opposed to the album) if that causes you to change how you write or present new songs? For that matter, what effect, if any, on the back catalog which, when released, must have had some thought go into things like track order and what not? Do you think in terms of albums anymore and if you do do you worry about the listeners basically atomizing your work once released?
A – It’s capitalism that’s dead. Regarding The Album – No, no and yes. I write songs and make albums the same as I always did, hopefully I understand it a little better now. Albums don’t all have to work equally well on all levels, so one’s expectations for them don’t have to be equal. Rattlesnakes and, say, Music IAFL are both pretty consistent in sound and aesthetic from track to track, my first solo album is a mish mash of different sounds and approaches. I’m happy with all three. I think my next record is going to be in the smorgasbord group and I’m at a point where I also accept the idea of an album just being the songs created over a given period, if they can be sequenced to work together. That was my initial plan with Antidepressant but I ended up spending more time on a palette of sound for the whole project so I now see that album as Music IAFL, #2 with drums and strings.
So an album could be like a novel or it could be like a collection of stories. Both work.
What doesn’t work, and what I believed has alienated many is the idea of the first three tracks being the radio or ‘money’ songs and the rest being filler. I’d buy the singles on iTunes if that was the case. I think as long as folk try to make great albums, some folk will keep listening.
When I go back to a Raymond Carver book, do I always read all the stories in the order in which they are sequenced? No, the books are on my bookshelf and I do what I please with them. Same with my albums. But the initial impact of the book and the album has to do with the presentation, the sequencing, the body aesthetic. I’m happy to keep trying to achieve a positive impact in this manner.
Another factor in favour of the strength of the album is the movement back towards vinyl. It means nothing to me, really, I’m happy with CDs if they are mastered well, and I’d hate my new shop to need to start shipping only those huge fragile things, but it is having a clear impact on youth and yuppie culture (are there yuppies anymore? I mean whoever it is who is buying these $50, 70 gram, Led Zeppelin albums).