Danny Clinch Punch Brothers frontman Chris Thile has the demeanor of a…
- Posted on Oct 3rd 2012 11:15AM by Cameron Matthews
The ringing continued over time, and a dramatic message was left urging Thile to pick up the call. It was apparently of "great importance." After showing the voice mail to his tour manager, the pair tracked the number back to the MacArthur Foundation. That's when the singer's heart began to literally skip beats.
"I thought it was to help vet a buddy of mine. But when I realized it was for me, that's when I lost it."
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awards productive members of society for creativity in a number of fields. Their is no application process and the fellows are chosen anonymously. This year, 23 people were given the no-strings-attached cash prize of $500,000 and Thile happened to be one of them.
"Are you alone?" a representative for the foundation asked the singer as he curled up underneath a sink. "And the rest is all a blur," he tells Spinner. The rules of the prize only allow you to tell close family members, so Thile had to keep his secret wrapped up for over a month.
"I'm just happy I can talk about it," he says. "I'm gonna get the boys [the Punch Brothers] the nicest bottles of wine I can find."
Thile hopes the prize will bring some serious legitimacy to his mandolin craft and the work that he's been doing with the Punch Brothers. Though being the youngest recipient (31) of the "Genius" grant has its own pressures.
"I just don't want to be the dud of the group," he says of this year's motley crew of geniuses that include a pediatric neurosurgeon, a stringed-instrument bow maker, an optical physicist and an astronomer.
Now that 2012 is winding down, Thile wants to start on his band's follow-up to Who's Feeling Young Now. "I think we have the career-defining Punch Brothers record surrounded," he says. "I also am going to finally record a Bach record."
Punch Brothers are currently on tour across the United States. Read our exclusive interview with the MacArthur genius right here.