Passenger Talks "All the Little Lights"
Tue, 02 Oct 2012 11:22:23
"A good song has to work with just an acoustic guitar," says Mike Rosenberg of Passenger. "If that's solid, you can move however you want with it."
His latest album, All the Little Lights, is comprised of sonic gems so brilliant they work in any setting—unplugged or not. Passenger evokes Bob Dylan and Paul Simon with a modern flare and penchant for poetic musings. All the Little Lights sees Rosenberg shine at his brightest as both a songwriter and performer.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Mike Rosenberg of Passenger talks All the Little Lights and so much more.
What's your take on All the Little Lights as a whole?
Making an album work as a whole is a really important part of constructing a record. You want the album to take the listener on a bit of a journey. I think the tracklist is really important. It's something I spent a lot of time on. I wanted to make sure it all flowed and made sense. I'm not sure if there's a defined vibe, so to speak. However, each song fit after the other. It's simple things like not putting two slow-paced songs next to each other. That's asking a lot from the listener. You have to space out the different kinds of tracks. The sequencing is crucial.
What's the story behind "Feather on the Clyde"?
I like that song. I wrote it on Glasgow in Scotland. Glasgow is a funny place. It's a harsh and cold environment. The more time you spend there, you realize the most incredible people live there. There's a juxtaposition between those two things. On one hand, it's quite abrasive, but it's actually got real heart and warmth. I was going through personal, weird stuff when I was there as well. The song is a mix of a load of different emotions. Glasgow is one of my favorite cities to go now. I'm proud that I wrote there. It's a powerful memory for me.
Where did "The Things That Stop You Dreaming" come from?
It's about getting older and settling some things. So many of my friends, peers, and myself have become more realistic with age. I think it's quite a sad thing. As a kid, anything is available and possible. As you go along, those doors start to close. It's really about that.
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
Yeah, I think that's what I tried to do. I took an awful lot of time working on the lyrics and storytelling. The combination of lyrics and music can be a really powerful thing, if you use it properly. Imagery and lyrics are something I work hard on. I read a lot and watch many films. A lot of it comes from watching people. All the Little Lights is a mix of personal stories, but traveling around, you end up people watching for hours on end. You have conversations with strangers here and there. That's been a massive inspiration for writing songs.
If All the Little Lights were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
Step Up 2: The Streets! [Laughs] That's probably not right! That's a good question! I love the movie Into the Wild. Eddie Vedder's soundtrack is epic, beautiful, and amazing. All the Little Lights has that transient feel that you're slightly stepping outside of the norm and bounds of society we've made for ourselves.
What have you been watching lately?
Recently, I've been watching more series. I've been very into The Wire, Mad Men, and Game of Thrones. When you're touring, those TV box sets can be amazing because you've got the downtime to immerse yourself in them. No one does drama like the U.S. It's so brilliantly written, scripted, and acted. I've been into the box sets recently!
Have you heard All the Little Lights?