Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros Talk "Here"
Tue, 03 Jul 2012 08:18:15
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Here might just be the most psychedelic record of the 21st century.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros take rock out of this world once again, lifting off to space on the fumes of massive choruses and thought-provoking lyrics. Here sounds like a record John Lennon would've made if we were around in the Facebook era. However, it's still unequivocally and undeniably unique. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros really have no equal, and that's what makes them so goddamn magnificent…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, mainman Alex Ebert breaks down Here and so much more.
Did you approach Here with one overarching vision?
I think we just wrote a bunch of songs that had a through line or an affinity for one another. Therein is created an album.
Is it important for you to tell stories and paint visual pictures with the songs?
In a word, yes. If that's not happening, it's one dimension shy. I like the dimension of the imagination being struck and tickled and that world of infinite possibility and scenarios being cracked open. I think it is important actually.
What's the story behind "All Wash Out"?
I'm glad you asked. A lot of people have said "All Wash Out" is their favorite song. That's one song where I came up with the lyric and the melody without having picked up a guitar or anything. That doesn't always happen. It's a special song in that way. Again, there was this idea and this imagery of various people struggling. Then, in the best way possible, it just doesn't matter in the end. There's a relaxation of allowance and muddying everything up in the sense that I think a lot of our hard lines will dissolve in a great sort of spiritual rain, if you will. A lot of the divisions and the things so many people hold as paramount or important are going to be suddenly disappearing when the big rain happens. I mean that in a metaphorical sense. Maybe it's death or some other time, but I do really feel that.
People will get back to being more in tune with themselves and others. They'll divert their attention from those material things and back towards that human connection, which is what really matters.
The music fosters that connection. You write in a manner that resonates.
It makes me really happy to hear you talk about it. That makes me feel complete in the sense I feel like I'm exactly what I want to do on earth—to help some way and be a part of the growing, learning, shedding of the facades, and all of that healing stuff. That's basically what we want to do in general, whether it's our live shows or the music recorded.
Did you always know "Man on Fire" would open Here?
I actually wrote "Man on Fire" some time ago. A while back, I was debating whether or not it would be on the Alexander album, but I felt it was an Edward Sharpe song. It builds on a demo I did. Instead of recreating the song, we just went with the demo and contributed to it. It was written and recorded at a time where those lyrics were at their post potent for me in my life. They still are. At the time of writing, I was really frustrated with myself and the slow progress of the guidelines of progressive thought. It's like, "Well, we'll get there". I just wanted to sort of burn the entire façade and dance. It's the same as "All Wash Out", except it uses fire or dance to do it. With all of the problems, pain, murder, heartache, shame, and those things I bring up, especially the conflict, I felt like instead of trying to fix it or work on it within the paradigm of problem-solving, I wanted to throw it all away and just dance in the streets. That's what it's about. It was born from a really intense, defiant, and frustrated place. That's one of the reasons I love that song.
Are you influenced by movies and books as well as music?
Movies not as much anymore, but I was thinking of visual imaging and creative thought. From the age of 16 to 20, I thought my main thing would be writing and directing movies. I did a lot of it actually like shorts and this and that. I wrote a bit. In some ways, that quality is always with me. It's something I still want to do. I'm still writing screenplays and stuff. As far as inspiration goes, I'm inspired by many things. One thing that comes to mind is the poetical nature of art and the kind of art that leaves gaps so the viewer, listener, or experiencer can fill them in themselves. To me, a lot of what art is about is the unsaid portion that forces the viewer or listener to create the rest. That's part of the visual imagery in all that. I'm my harshest critic, and I'm constantly trying to measure myself against and up to all of the artists I find the most inspiring. I want to contribute something to the world that's similar or greater than what's been contributed to me. I know that's a tall order, but that's one of the most inspiring things for me to try and do.
If Here were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
[Laughs] That's a good one! Let's see. I need a combination here. I love the question, but that's hard. I'd feel like a schmuck with some of the things coming to mind. For the fun of it, I'll go with a combination of The Seventh Seal, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Field of Dreams [Laughs].
Have you heard Here yet?