The New Music
By Hannah Sung for MuchMusic on April 11, 2005
H.S.- You have a new album and I’m wondering for you, what does it feel like on the eve of giving away your work to fans, critics, the world?
T.R.- It’s always a strange feeling to take something you’ve been nurturing internally and in the studio, in a safe environment where you’re tweaking it and nurturing it and then release it out to get destroyed by the people that [??] things. (Laughs) But I’ve realised over time you know, you can’t please everybody and you can’t go about writing music as an artist to try to please others.
H.S.- So if you can’t please others, can you please yourself? Cause some artists are never pleased with their own work.
T.R.- Well that’s a good question and umm, you know, I have learned, (I believe) that I can please myself. Funny thing happened, like on the last record The Fragile, I really umm.... when that was finished I really thought, ‘here’s this masterpiece‘. This dense, weird, long, insane record. And it comes out and critically everybody likes it and it doesn’t sell as much as somebody at the record label said it should sell so now it’s stamped ‘failure’. Truth is it sold more than I thought it would because it wasn’t a record that really I expected to sell [lots].
H.S.- Where were you in the writing of this album? Like, you know, describe for us a little bit what your life was like.
T.R.- When I started working on this record; I didn’t really formally begin this record until uhh, last year 2004, in January. I’d moved out of New Orleans where I’d been living and moved out to California and set up a small room without it being a big studio, without a lot of stuff; a lot of distractions.
The part of the story I’m kinda leaving out but.... which would be your next question: why did you wait several years to start a record after your last one? Cause it’s been a long time and the reality of that was I was just umm... at a point in my life where I was very ill and very... off track. And I needed to take some time and get my life in order.
I was kind of umm... falling into, head first into addiction; alcoholism. And it was really umm.... it wasn’t anything that could be ignored any longer. It was a problem that had crept up probably ten years earlier and Id been sweeping it under the rug and hiding it, and trying to deny it, and find my way to trying to outthink it, and trying to beat it. And by the end of the last tour, I... I was beaten. I was thoroughly, thoroughly beaten. I mean I have a job where it’s almost encouraged to behave like an idiot. You know, there are certainly the opportunities there to do that. What kind of kept me, (I think) in such a state of denial for so long was I didn’t.... I had no idea what my opponent was. You know I didn’t know anything about addiction... really, you know? An alcoholic was the old guy down the street with the cauliflower nose. You know and that’s not me. I got a job, you know, I’m still.... you know?
I had no idea of what was happening to me and I’d always considered myself smart and I thought I’m never gonna be the guy that does that.
It was either gonna be die or get better cause I was running out of... last chances. And umm... it was 2001 when that came up and when I decided to correct... the situation and really actively try to repair myself.
If I could skip some of the chapters that got me here; some of the real bad ones you know, and some of the ones where I wasn’t maybe the nicest person to be around and I hurt a lot of people, I would do that. And this is who I am now and I feel a thousand pounds lighter now that I’m not carrying around a bunch of secrets and hiding and lying and living this terrible life that I’ve been involved in so.... I’m ready to go on tour, and I’m ready to go and.... make music good again. This has been a [nice light little] interview. (Laughs)
Transcribed by VeraLynn