A conversation with Jason Isbell | Blogh

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A conversation with Jason Isbell

Posted By on Thu, May 12, 2011 at 12:49 PM

In this week's paper, we ran a brief version of my interview last week with country-rock frontman Jason Isbell. Here's a slightly longer version for you webheads.


How's Europe — is there a lot of interest in Southern rock in, say, Norway?
There seems to be. A lot of people knew the words to the songs, which was a surprise, given that they don't speak, necessarily, great English up there. It was a good crowd.

You're from Alabama, where a lot of nasty storms recently did damage. Have you been in touch with folks back home?
Yeah, there's some damage – a town just a few miles south of us got completely wiped out. But it didn't do an awful lot of damage to the town I'm from. All my family are OK. I wish I'd been home, if just to find out about everything quicker.

Growing up around Muscle Shoals, were you aware of the important music being made in the area?
I didn't really get into that until I was a teenager. When I started playing out in local bars, I started running into a lot of the people — Spooner Oldham and David Hood, folks who had made some of that music. Then once I got to know them, I went back and started to look at what they'd done. A pretty amazing amount of music has come out of that area.

You tour a lot — do you write music on the road, or do you prefer to do that when you're home in Alabama?
Most of it happens at home. I like to say it's like — when you go home with somebody you don't really know, and you wake up and you really have to take a shit, if it's gonna come out it's gonna come out, but it's way better to wait 'til you get home so you can leave the door open. Sometimes I have to write on the road, and find the ability and time to do it. But that's not nearly as frequent as writing at home. I won't say I'm not moved to write based on the stories I encounter on the road, but I usually have to take notes then regurgitate it and work on it once I get back.

You're pretty good at Twitter — is that something you do for PR, or because you like to?
I started that because I just thought it was fun. It gives you the opportunity to make one-liners with no context. If I could sit in a room all day and drink beer and make jokes like that, that's what I'd do.

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