After hearing about how much Ghostland Observatory's Aaron Behrens admired the work of M. Ward (pictured), we decided to ask him to interview the musician for us. Ward recently released his sixth solo effort, Hold Time, and will be delivering tunes in his soothingly achy voice to those in attendance at his Central Park Summerstage show this Saturday. As for Behrens, his band will be playing this Sunday at the All Points West Festival. Catch them both! But first listen in as the two talk shop...
I read that for Conor Oberst's last album he flew in a special 16 track machine that you use for your recordings. What's so special about this piece of gear? Did you use this piece of gear on your new record Hold Time? We used it a little bit—the new record we recorded on 24 track 2", 16 track 1" and 4-track 1/8"—Conor recorded the first MVB record on the 16 track 1"—which is special because it keeps you from adding too much stuff and helps your guitars sound more like Guided By Voices instead of digital recording which makes most guitars sound like Jan Hammer.
Being a Texas boy my self i thought the cover of Buddy Holly's "Rave On" was a nice touch. What made you choose that song? Its strange, your album came out around the anniversary of his death. Did you mean for that to happen? I chose that song because its been rattling around in my head for half my life and i tried stripping the melody down to a solo guitar instrumental - and i liked where it was going. its a good simple melody and buddy holly wrote a ton of those. Releasing the song at the anniversary of his death was a coincidence.
Speaking of cover songs. I love your cover of David Bowie's "Let's Dance" off your Transfiguration of Vincent album. Have you ever had any response from Mr. Bowie about that song? My European label at the time said there was a positive one when it was first released but I really don't remember if it was fact or rumor.
I really dig your guitar work and textures on your recordings. The depth and tone are great and the sliding and picking work ain't half bad either. Who would you say your influences are? Mainly guitarists: Hubert Sumlin, Ry Cooder, Johnny Marr, Neil Young, George Harrison, Thurston Moore, Lee Renaldo, Big Bill Broonzy, Chuck Berry, Maybelle Carter, Luther Perkins, Scotty Moore, Chet Atkins, Django Reinhardt, Curt Kirkwood, Elmore James, John Fahey, Elizabeth Cotten, Andres, Segovia, Mance Lipscomb, Christopher Parkening. To name a few.
The She and Him album is just a pleasure to listen to. I was wondering which did you enjoy more, the producing or the performing aspect of it? Are y'all working on anything new right now? I love every step of the way. In the studio and in performance I get to focus on production and arrangements and guitars and singing harmony. We are working on a new record presently and hope to have something out in 2010.
In your span of albums there are lyrics that reference boats and fishing. Are you an avid fisherman? Ifish, but I'm not a pro or someone anyone would get advice from.
How has the tour been going? Have you seen anything that blows your hair back or anything that proves to you that this life is truly crazy? I really love working with this new band of musicians I've assembled for the touring behind this record—Adam Selzer, Mike Coykendall, Nathan Anderson and Scott McPherson. we are looking forward to playing in central park this summer—a first for all of us. we are excited to share the stage with Mike Watt again—whose music has been an inspiration since i was in high school.
My last question would be is there anything new in the works for Mr.Ward that we should keep an eye out for? Yes—the monsters of folk record—it comes out September 22nd. We will be touring in the fall—and hope to see you.
Well thank you for your time and I'm sure I will see you on the circuit. Nice talking to you Aaron—the music sounds great and hope to see your live show at some point.