I don't think that has any effect on the music, no. I'm from the South and family is part of the lifestyle down there, part of the philosophy. I've wandered around a lot and gotten far from home and I suppose both literally and figuratively it helps to feel like you came from someplace.
Your Grandfather in particular has had a strong impact as to who you are. Is he your biggest influence? What is the greatest and biggest life lesson he has given you?
My grandparents got married on their first date. Stayed married until they died. In that sense, he was always my hero, though he's probably more to blame for turning me into a dreamer, a romantic, than anything. I don't come from a musical family, he wasn't an influence in that regard. His biggest contribution was probably to make me believe in love at first sight, which is as much a curse as it is a blessing.
Do you feel pressure making them proud, or has that already been accomplished since you are living out your passion?
There is no conscious pressure, I'm aware you cannot command that emotion from people. There is always desire to make them proud, sure, that hope that you are doing something that makes your parents feel like this person they spent years of their lives caring for is making a positive contribution to the world. Like most, my family just wants me to be happy; career and success play no role in that. I'm very fortunate in that regard, they accept me sink or swim.
How did you get started making music?
I bought my little brother a guitar when I was about 17. He was 12 and like any kid that age managed to sustain interest for about a week, then it just sat there in the corner of his room. At the time I was not aware that the interest in him learning to play an instrument was my own interest in it. I just didn't think that choice was available to me... at that stage, to some extent, you are still being told what to do in life. So I would pass his room everyday and the guitar would watch me walk by, waiting for me to eventually realize that I could not place the responsibility for my own satisfaction in life on others. This probably occurred to me the day I went in there and picked up the guitar, sat down and deciding to figure out how to play the thing. The rest of the story is still a work in progress. A year later though I ceremoniously smashed that guitar on stage and was subsequently scolded for scratching up the floor of the venue.
You come from Athens, Georgia like many bands before you – REM, B52’s, Danger Mouse, do you feel any pressure living up to an Athens legacy?
No. I only went to college there.
Does the town of Athens inspire your music?
No, but the powerful nostalgia that lingers upon it from long ago does.
You seem to have traveled around the globe quite a bit, do you take your adventures and channel thing into your writing?
I'd say that I've traveled across the globe, not so much around it yet. It seems like those experiences channel me more than the other way around. Most often I feel like a lightning rod pointed at the storm, you have nothing to do with where the lightning comes from but figure if you wave yourself around enough eventually it zaps you.
Your recent video for “Eye of the Storm” has gotten you so much attention. In an age where music videos are hardly played on TV for the masses, do you still feel this is an important medium to promote music?
Well it's interesting to think in those terms. Television restricts access and choice of content much more than the internet does. I tend to doubt there are more folks watching MTV right now than checking their Facebook account or watching babies laugh on You Tube. The "masses" exist there and content is becoming the ultimate decisive factor.
In terms of the medium itself, I wouldn't really use the word "important" to describe it. I do enjoy the challenge, I've done a lot of work putting music to picture and so it's always interesting to play that role in reverse. In general I don't consider "Eye Of The Storm" as promotion for the music, rather one piece of art becoming the catalyst for another. For years much of what has dominated the music video medium have been simply commercials for the record label. It seems there has been widespread change in people's attention span for that sort of thing, and the effectiveness of that approach. It still works for a lot of artists, I'm just not that motivated to make advertisements.
How did the video for “Eye of the Storm” come about?
Chris Alender, the director, walked right up to me after hearing the album at a listening party in Los Angeles and said, "We have to make a movie for one of these songs." So we did.
What has been the best thing about making music thus far?
I still enjoy it more than the next best thing I could be doing.