You pull from numerous American
music styles. As a native Swede who’s
lived all over the world, do you feel that
approaching these genres from the perspective of an outsider has had an effect
on how you interpret them?
That’s an interesting thing and I’ve thought
about it before. As far as considering my
own origins in terms of the type of music
I play, the truth is I don’t really know how
it fits together. If I were to speculate, I’d
simply say that if the language of music
is something that comes naturally to you,
then you don’t separate things very much.
You know your geography, you know where
you’re from, but stylistically you don’t consider that at all as you’re taking in influences. Me being a musician—as opposed to,
say, an author or a carpenter or something
like that—what I do is I interpret the language of music. That’s the world I’ve always
been in. When I heard Robert Johnson
at a certain age, it did something to me.
When I heard ZZ Top or Kiss or Sweet, it
did something else to me. Then later on
it was John Coltrane, Neil Young, Dylan.
You bring them all in and then you start to
eliminate the ones that don’t stick. What
remains becomes your language.
Black Eye Galaxy is your most assertive
and guitar-centric record to date. You
employ a lot of distorted tones, and several of the songs feature extended solos.
What led you in that direction?
I think partly it was coming to an understanding of what I do well. As I’ve changed
my spiritual path and stopped abusing
myself mentally and physically with the
other stuff, everything cleared up a little bit.
You recognize what you’re good at and what
feels good. It’s become more and more evident to me over the last few years. I think
it started with American Patchwork, where
Stanton [Moore, drums] brought out a lot
of small details in my playing. One of those
was to really distort and crank the guitars
in the way he perceives I do it onstage.
He said, “Let’s work on your tone so that
you don’t get too sweet and too cutesy on
the record.” We just kind of developed a
sound. I hadn’t done that since the mid-
’90s, which was the last time I had a big
guitar rig. From doing that and gaining a
better understanding of what I liked—and
also what people responded to in the live
show—when it came time to make this