PM: I think this new record is really something fantastic. I think you've really done an even better job than normal on this record.
AM: Oh, yeah? Thanks.
PM: It really turned out well. And as we talk about it, please bear in mind that my copy, as usual, was an advance, so I haven't seen the art, or any of the credits or anything.
PM: So I'm interested, as always, in the writing. The tunes on this record are so very good. You don't co-write that much as a rule. Do you have any partners on these compositions?
AM: Yeah. I wrote track one, "Driving Down Alvarado," with Janet Robin, who's a--
PM: Oh, yeah, yeah, I've met her. She's great.
PM: I saw her play at the 3rd & Lindsley with--oh, Maia Sharp.
AM: Right. That'd be good, yeah. We wrote that song together. And then "Any Minute Now" I co-wrote with Dave Raven, the drummer that I play with, and my brother Mark McCue.
AM: Yeah. I used to go to Dave's house and we'd just jam on Protools, we'd just muck around. And then I sent my brother mp3 files. And then we came back with some ideas, and then I kind of pieced it all together.
PM: So what did Mark come back with, words or music, when you'd send him files?
AM: Music. The musical ideas, I kind of took them and changed them a bit. I mainly wrote the lyrics, really. And then the last track, "Koala Motel," my brother and I co-wrote. That's an instrumental.
PM: And it's a great instrumental, too. I'll get to that, because I want to talk about tones, too. Although I always dig the bluesy and the rock side of your work, what I really like best is the pop stuff that you incline toward.
AM: Oh yeah?
PM: As I've seen you say in print, "It's not pop music as such is regarded today, but pop music that we grew up with."
PM: I think, for instance, that "From Bakersfield to Saigon" is a terrific song, and a great progression. You won't have to worry about anybody stealing that title.
AM: No, that's right.
PM: I think you're still the only rocker I know who has played widely in Saigon.
AM: [laughs] Yeah.
PM: Have you ever been back all these years later to that part of the world?
AM: No, I haven't, actually. I was talking about it with a drummer friend I play with in Australia. I met him in Vietnam, and he plays on my first album. And he came and played with me just recently in London. We were talking about maybe going back there. But there are so many places I haven't been that I want to see.
PM: Right, right. Because I've been to Thailand a couple of times since we've seen each other last.
AM: Oh, really.
PM: And I really want to see Vietnam. I just hear it's an amazing place, and more and more becoming kind of a multifaceted vacation destination.
AM: Oh yeah.
PM: But let's talk about your other partners, beginning with your co-producer Dusty Wakeman. He's very important in the scheme of things.
AM: Yeah, he is. He's such a little livewire, too. And he and I just click, I think, as a team. The four of us do, actually, the band that's on the record--Dave, Carl, Dusty and myself. We've gotten to know each other very well in the last few years, and we're very intuitive.
PM: It's really a band, you can really hear people working together.
AM: I think so, too. It's a really good band. We're traveling a little bit together, we see a lot of each other in Los Angeles. So it's very intuitive. When we recorded we would just play. And everyone would come up with the right part straightaway. It wasn't like we had to really try very hard, it was a very natural process.
PM: What's Dusty Wakeman like? What's his image, his personality? I've not met the man.
AM: Oh, he's a sprite.
AM: Mischievous, naughty, playful, great musician, wonderful engineer, and troublemaker.
PM: So we were talking a little bit about your family, and your brother. I always like to ask about your sister Jules, whose artwork is sometimes entwined with your work. How is she, and what is she up to?
AM: Well, she actually hadn't painted anything for about ten years, then I said to her, "I've got these ideas, and are you interested in painting?" She was like, "Sure." So she painted three paintings for the album, and she mailed them over in bubble wrap.
AM: Oil paintings.
PM: So if she's not been painting much for years, what is she up to?
AM: Oh, I don't know. She built her house and a studio. She's been building a studio down south of Tasmania, on a little island. So she's been doing that. So I think she's gearing up to start painting again.
PM: It's a wild family.