Q: Obviously you've got the tour coming up, and you've had these three albums out in little over a year, but do you need a little break? You spent the four years before this compiling the best ofs and writing the autobiography...
E: Yeah. I think I have no choice but to go away at this point. What else can I do right now?
Q: Do you feel consumed by the life of 'E', as it were, as opposed to Mark Oliver Everett?
E: Usually not. Usually not. It's a small part of what my day to day life is like.
Q: But can you separate the art from the life? Obviously, so much of your music is influenced by what's happened to you.
E: It's tough, because it is often so personal. It's hard to separate the two sometimes.
Q: Do you think that people sometimes think they know you more than they actually do?
E: Well, that's the weird thing about what I do. Complete strangers probably know me a lot better than some of my friends do, if they've been paying attention to the songs.
Q: Do your friends not pay attention to your songs, then?
E: I hope not. That would be very embarrassing.
Q: Your book was very candid, too, as was the documentary [Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives, about Everett's father], as well as the music. So that all comes together to create the essence of E. Or is there a slight screen between what you've presented to us and who you really are?
E: That's probably my problem. There's not much of a filter there. If I'm writing a song and I feel like 'Oh, I better not say that', then I have to say it. It's kind of like a weird artistic Tourette's syndrome.
Q: So you really need someone there to look over your shoulder and tell you not to do things.
E: Yeah. Somebody should! [laughs]
Q: Where did the idea for the boxing photo session [used to promote the new album] come from?
E: It was my idea. I just thought it'd be a good way to show the world I hadn't given up. To come out swinging. I just wanted to make sure people didn't think I'd killed myself after the last record!
Q: I've got to say, I was genuinely worried. Which I know is silly, because it's only art, but it's such an accurate reflection of your life and feelings.
E: Well, everybody goes through tough times. If I couldn't do things like make a record like that, then it'd be something to worry about, probably.
Q: Do you still find writing songs a cathartic and therapeutic process?
E: Yeah. I guess I must, because I do it obsessively.
Q: Have you ever thought about writing a proper book? [E chuckles] Sorry - I mean a fictional book. Because the autobiography was very compelling and so well written.
E: [laughing] Thanks! 'Have you ever thought about making a proper album?!' No. I don't want to write any more books. They're too hard.
Q: Tell me about this lost solo album that's never seen the light of day.
E: What's that?
Q: Come on! You bought the only copy on eBay or something. I can't remember what it's called - I should have looked it up and done my research properly. It was under your own name, Mark Everett and came out before [E's first solo album] Broken Toy Shop. [Note: It's called Bad Dude In Love]
E: Oh! I know what you're talking about. That's just one of, like, a zillion tapes I made when I was in my early twenties that happened to get pressed up on a small quantity of vinyl as an experiment. It's not like actually an album. It's just one of millions of things like that I did.
Q: Do you still have them all somewhere in a dark cellar?
E: In theory, yeah. I don't know if I have them all, but I've certainly got a lot of them.
Q: Do you ever revisit them?
E: No. Though that would be interesting to do sometime.
Q: It could be like the Daniel Johnston thing, where you have archives of all the old tapes you could periodically bring out.
E: Yeah, but it would be the sound of somebody trying to find their artistic voice over the years, and it might be interesting in that way only. I did so much of it and that was the only way I got better at it. I did so much of it, but it's nothing I really want to put out.
Q: How does it make you feel when people who become obsessed with your music want to find out every single thing about you and get these old tapes and records and listen to them? It must be flattering.
E: It's flattering, on one hand, but on the other hand it's very annoying, because I'm sure it's not that good or interesting.
Q: But people get blindsided, don't they? They fall in love with a band or a musician and have this blinkered view that everything they do is brilliant, so I'm sure they wouldn't think it was awful
E: Well, I'm okay with that! But who knows?
Q: You're happy to leave it in the past.
E: Yeah. Life's too short to keep living in the past.
Q: Is this your philosophy? Because there's a great line on I Like The Way This Is Going - 'I don't care about the past / None of it was made to last' - which seems so brilliant and so simple you'd think it would have been written before by somebody in a song, but it hasn't.
E: I hope not.
Q: it's just a really wonderful sentiment. Is that the ethos of E at the moment?
E: It is. Yeah. I really believe that, that it's about what you're doing today.
Q: And is this something you've learned from looking back at the past, making the documentary and writing the book and all that?
E: That certainly helped me appreciate that all we really have is the moment. It's the only tangible thing, except it's always instantly becoming intangible. It's very complicated.
Q: Which goes back to being a dog, because they're only ever living in the moment.
E: Oh yeah. So smart. Dogs are smarter than I thought, you know. For animals that have brains the size of cranberries or walnuts, they're pretty smart.
Q: Would you say you have a better relationship with [his dog] Bobby Jnr than you do with people?
E: I hate to fall into the category of, like, old kook - like the cat lady, or something - but obviously it's easier to get along with an animal because they don't talk back. [laughs] So it's not really a fair comparison.
Q: Because you've had - and I don't mean this in a derogatory sense - a really crazy, bizarre life, with things that seem almost too weird to be true, like the fact that your father developed this theory at such a young age, or all the death in your family. It almost seems like a fictional construct.
E: And people think I'm a terrorist!
Q: And people think you're a terrorist...
E: I know. That is my greatest strength, that gets me through life - is the constant comedy of it all, because of how strange it can be at times.
Q: And I suppose the ability to laugh in the face of adversity and sadness.
E: Right. Like all day...I can't wait to go tell my friends about the police thing this morning!
Q: You've mentioned your friends a few times. What happens when you go away for two or three months? Do you miss them? Do you need them there, or are you so surrounded and absorbed by the tour?
E: Often what the Eels turn out to be are my friends. Often it's who I want to hang out with that year.
Q: So you pay them to be your friends!
E: Yeah. This is what I've figured out! The problem with my life...now that I'm in a financially stable position where, if I want to, I could spend the next year just hanging out with my friends all the time and I would love to do that, except that none of them could do that. They need to work for a living. So I figured out if I just pay them, they have to hang out with me.
Q: Perfect. What a solution!
E: It's worked out okay. Some people might think it's a crazy idea but it's worked out okay for me.
Q: Well, it seems like you're doing it for the right reasons, not the wrong ones, so why not? It's not like you're buying strangers.
E: Why not buy your friends? Everybody's favourite gift is money, so why not give it to your friends?
Q: Do you ever get bored of the rock'n'roll lifestyle - the touring and the recording and the...
E: Yes! It's super boring. I mean, the touring is like Groundhog Day. Every day is the same except subtly different. You're in constant motion, so it's very draining.
Q: And you never really get to experience a country or a city. Unless you're stopped in a park by then police.
E: In which case I'd rather not experience it!
Q: Fair enough. I think that's more than enough. Any further witticisms or statements you'd like to make?
E: Well, let me get the perfect headline for you. Uhhh...Shut Up And Listen To This. How about that? [laughs] I would read that. That headline sells itself. I would have to read it. You'd have to be 'What's this about? This must be important.' But then this might be a letdown. Oh well.
And with that, this somewhat epic interview came to an end, but not before Mr E gratiously signed a boxing glove - and then proceeded to punch your interviewer. Win the offending glove (and see Mr E's punch in full force) here, where you can also win a copy of the new Eels trilogy.
Words/interview: Mischa Pearlman
This has been part of EELS guest edit Qthemusic.com.
3:11 PM | 27/08/2010
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