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- Posted on Feb 16th 2010 1:00PM by Tamara Vallejos
How would you describe your sound?
Ten years ago when I was first beginning, I would probably classify my sound as 1920s folk, or old country. But now, the only way I could describe my sound is to say that I don't think I'm a musician. What I identify with most in songwriting are the lyrics, and the lyrics then inspire the sound. I'm afraid I don't think there's a genre or an easy category to put me in, because I'm probably more like a writer.
Since your music is so lyrics-based, where do you draw your inspiration from when you write?
Well, of course, literature, poetry, photographs. And I've been without a car -- it died two years ago -- so I've been taking the bus. In Los Angeles, it's very bizarre to tell anybody you take the bus, but believe me, it really does make sense after you accept it. So that has opened up an entire new world. I feel like I'm further up the winding staircase, looking at Los Angeles at another angle. Taking the bus has been a huge influence on me in the past year.
What about musically? Growing up, what were your biggest musical influences?
I listened to what my father listened to, and what his father listened to. On the weekends, we would go up to Drayton, N.D., which is a very small town. Those weekends were spent shooting the s--t and listening to Depression-era music, and maybe music that came out 10 or 15 years after the Depression. Every once in a while it would be Les Paul and Mary Ford, but for the most part, it was the Ink Spots, the Mills Brothers, Guy Lombardo. Quirky stuff, you know? Songs that came in and out in two minutes.
Let's fast-forward a few decades: Beatles or Stones?
I think probably the Beatles. I like what the Beach Boys and the Beatles and Pink Floyd did to music. They shook it up. They took it out of being able to classify something, and they came up with 'Pet Sounds' and 'Dark Side of the Moon.' How wonderful is that?
Do you have a musical guilty pleasure?
A guilty pleasure is something you're afraid of owning up to, and if I've had guilty pleasures in the past, I've gotten over those hang-ups. I can't stand when people say, "So-and-so is my guilty pleasure." I feel like "so-and-so" is always Britney Spears or somebody like that, which is so stupid. There's nothing wrong with that. Why feel guilty?
Who was your first celebrity crush?
Without a doubt, Rick Springfield. It wasn't anything sexual, but I found in Rick Springfield what I wanted to be. I loved everything about him, and I suppose in that sense, it was a crush. He had the look, he had the hair, he had the earrings, he had the clothes and of course he had such a great voice. And the women loved him. I just couldn't see myself in that role. It's funny how you see something and you're just immediately drawn to it. That was Rick Springfield.
Do you have any vices?
We all have them. No one is vice-free or addiction-free. Believe it or not, I love shopping, and I've always been so interested in Ray-Ban sunglasses. I feel like there's something sacred there. For a while, it seemed like anybody who was anybody had Ray-Bans or wrote about Ray-Bans or was pictured wearing Ray-Bans on a movie poster or on a record cover. I love that trend, and I guess that's why I'm so fascinated with them. So Ray-Bans or coffee -- I guess those would be my vices.
What's your favorite coffee drink?
I'm so old-fashioned, I love just regular coffee. I have a very hard time finding good coffee overseas. People are surprised to hear that, but I think it's a quantity thing. I'm definitely an American when it comes to coffee. I try not to be so obvious about it, because 20 ounces of coffee, if you think about it, is so disgusting. But I love it.
When you go to SXSW, what will be in your festival survival kit?
Sunglasses, for sure. I'll be there with a really great pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers.
What is the craziest thing you've seen or experienced while on tour?
What I do, I don't know if it really evokes anger or the sentiment to go out and do something destructive. But I was in Brighton, England, two years ago in this gallery that was only big enough for, like, 50 people, and a fight broke out. Somebody in the audience was drunk, and he started singing along with me. That's fine if somebody does that, because it kind of breaks the barrier between performer and audience, but somebody took offense and told this guy to be quiet, and then a fight broke out. And the front door was all glass, and it had a poster of me for the show -- you know, "Tom Brosseau tonight, performance sold out" -- and because the fight got so very quickly violent, a punch was thrown and a punch was missed and a punch hit the door and cracked the glass, and it spidered out my face. It was the craziest thing I've ever seen.
Tamara Vallejos is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.