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A Conversation with Adam Schlesinger (continued)

PM: So you're a great pop and rock 'n' roll songwriter. What do you think of hip-hop and rap, and what I sometimes think of as its kudzu-like effect on other American pop music?

AS: Well, I think that different kinds of music has different kinds of pleasures attached to it. I don't really see one as necessarily being better than the other. There's the kind of music that I make because that's just what I happen to do. But I can enjoy music that has nothing to do with guitar pop in different settings.

PM: Right.

AS: I think just like anything else, most hip-hop is terrible, but some of it is really great, just like most guitar pop is terrible, but some of it is really great.


AS: And most movies are terrible, and most books are terrible, and like every once in a while you find one you like, and that becomes the thing you're into.

PM: Yeah. Movies above all, I mean, with all the channels you get, there's never anything you want to watch.

AS: Yeah, exactly. You sit through 20 minutes of some movie, and you're like, "You got to be kidding me, I'm going to get to the end of this?"

PM: Yeah. And like an album costs 30,000, it costs 100,000 to make, but movies costs millions of dollars.

AS: I know. It's so insane. It's so insane. There's just too much entertainment in general. Well, even when I was in high school and stuff, the release of a new record would be this big deal. And it would be like, oh, a new Pretenders record is coming out, or something.

PM: Yeah!

AS: And it would be like this big event.

PM: Momentous.

AS: And now it's just like every week we're just bombarded with so much product. It's almost impossible to really get that excited about stuff.

PM: And we're moving into the realm where audio fidelity means zero.

AS: I know. That's really depressing to me, too. You work on these records, and you're listening to it in the studio environment, and it sounds so amazing. And then it just gets squashed down to this computer file, people listening to it on an iPod, and it just sounds like crap.


PM: Yeah, right. They say, "Oh, no, it sounds good on my phone. It's cool."

AS: Yeah, exactly. It's very depressing.

PM: In this upcoming issue we're going to also have an interview with a different kind of rock band, to some extent, the Kings of Leon.

AS: Oh, yeah.

PM: Are you familiar much with them? You have anything to say about them? You like them?

AS: Yeah, I like that band. Actually, I have not heard their new record, but everyone tells me it's great, and I'm excited to hear it. I think they're a really cool band.

PM: It's totally different. It's much more kind of a bandy, and a little more psychedelic, and more raw.

AS: Yeah, but they've got a vibe that works. That's what I was saying about different music works in different ways. And there's a lot of music I like just because it has a great kind of energy or vibe or a sound. It's not so much about writing the kind of narrative songs that we do.

PM: Right. Yeah, your apparent knowledge of popular music is deep, and so many good influences pop up so credibly everywhere. I wonder, are you an NRBQ fan, or do you like The Band, or--

AS: I like The Band. I never really listened to NRBQ that much. I mean, I didn't actually hear them until I was a little older. But I was definitely into The Band as a kid. I still am. I still like those records.

PM: What about rootsy things? Like do you like bluegrass, or country blues, or early Muddy and Howlin' Wolf, stuff like that?

AS: I was never a big blues guy. I took piano lessons as a kid, and I was into more like jazz blues than like the kind of guitar blues. I liked a lot of sort of like jazz versions of blues stuff.

PM: Mose Allison, and stuff like that?

AS: Yeah, or whatever, just like Charles Mingus.

PM: Right.

AS: I was into that kind of blues. But I'm not like the hugest blues fan, really, in general. But Chris is definitely into country and bluegrass. And in fact, he plays the banjo and listens to a lot of country music, especially like old kind of country rock, like Gram Parsons type stuff.

PM: Really?

AS: Yeah.

PM: Oh, wow. So you say you live in different states. Where do you each reside?

AS: I live in Manhattan, and he lives up near Northampton, Mass.


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