"The Church of the Good Thief" is your third solo album. After all this time, how is it just to constantly be writing and recording for yourself and your band?
I have to take a break from it when I’m not inspired so I don't write all of the time. Recently I have only written about 10 songs in the last 6 months and most of them are pretty bad and incomplete. But when I do write for Manchester or RAGC it’s usually a struggle that gives way to a reward once its completed.
Much like your other work, your new album conjures up religious imagery, even though it is about a character. Does the character you have created play off some autobiographical parts of your life?
I use my own thoughts and emotions to try and identify with a character and let that come out through writing. There are several lyrics that are autobiographical but never concerning the story.
When you started this project, did you have it mapped out that you were going to make it a triology?
Yes, I knew from the beginning it would come in a set of three.
Where did the name of your side project, Right Away, Great Captain!?
Its the name of a song from the first album. Its the first song I wrote for the entire trilogy.
This is the final installment for the character you created, is this the end of the solo work for you?
Definitely not. I find a lot of comfort in writing stripped down and in different styles than MO. not to say MO wouldn't release a really stripped record because we just may at some point.
Also, being the final installment, how does it feel to write the final chapter for your characters?
It’s sad and fulfilling at the same time. I am happy I was able to do it but also sad I won't write from this perspective again. I have some other cool ideas though for what type of story will come next.
You started this when you were 19 and now have grown so much as a writer, artist, musician and a person. Do you wish to ever go back and revisit some of your older work and re-record it with what you know and can do now?
I don't believe in that. I think that so much of the coolness that comes with albums is that it took place at that specific time. It truly a document of an experience and I think its supposed to sound the way it sounds. I find it a lot harder to write these days because I want to out do and be better than my previous work so re recording something would be a little counter productive.
Have you ever thought about turning your solo albums into a novel or screenplay?
Yes, I have. Not sure how to do it though.
How does this all differ from your work with Manchester Orchestra?
Well, that's a band with a lot of ideas and brains working, this is similar it just isn't a band.
Do any of the guys from Manchester Orchestra work on Right Away, Great Captain!?
Yes, Robert helped me produce and mix this last one. He was there every day just as a consultant to me during the album to make sure I wasn't getting off track or too discouraged. I have a tendency in the studio to believe everything I’ve been recording all day is a massive pile of shit and he's important because I trust him to tell me if it is or isn't.
Do you find it more rewarding to be a solo artist or to be fronting a band?
Both rewarding in different ways. I enjoy playing in a band more, but our band has always had me playing solo songs in our sets and stuff so it's not that different.
What is next for you after this is released and the tour wraps up?
Bad Books II comes out in October, and Manchester is writing our follow up to Simple Math.