This is an interview I did with the Deli magazine in Brooklyn, NY around January of 2005:
DM: Why is it that everyone you know writes a blog?
tms: Because everyone I know is as narcissistic and self-righteous as I am. I gravitate toward soapboxers, being one myself, and a blog is the ultimate soapbox. We’re the modern version of those guys who used to sit in bars and mutter to themselves about how everything would be better if we let them run the world. Blogs keep us off the streets.
DM: There is a particularly moving moment at the end of 'Symbiotic Angel' on your CD ‘texas’. How did the choice to feature a woman’s singing/moaning come about with that searing violin?
tms: I’m obsessed with the female voice, and I take every opportunity to put one in my recordings. Since my songs are so lyric-heavy, it’s hard to find a spot, but that one seemed obvious, particularly with Reggie Rueffer’s great violin part right there. Though truthfully, that whole section is only a minor variation on the ending to Pray Your Gods by Toad the Wet Sprocket. They should probably sue me.
DM: What is Grabapple?
tms: It should be a euphemism, but it’s merely my wife’s website. She’s a much better writer than I am, so you should read her.
DM: What is your favorite venue in New York City to play/hear a show? What is your favorite place to play/hear in Texas?
tms: Actually, I have a hard time finding good venues in NYC, because I have a touch of claustrophobia, and everything here is so tightly packed. Which is why I like the Tank on 42nd Street (now on 37th - ed.). It’s rather more like a college student center than a club. In Texas, my favorite venue got torn down 3 years ago, that being the Caravan of Dreams in Fort Worth. It was being gutted right as I left, so I considered that symbolic. But the Wreck Room is my current favorite FW venue.
DM: Who is the sad faced boy on the cover of your CD “texas”?
tms: That would be me, already primed for a life of disappointment.
DM: Are you a Phil Collins fan?
tms: I am. I think he gets a raw deal because of his poor production choices. His songs and chops are rock-solid, but he often picks the wrong instrumentation to show them off. I’ve always had a lobe of my brain that peels back production to hear the song underneath, and that’s what I used to make my cover of The Roof Is Leaking on texas. Though actually, I didn’t have to peel much back on that one, his version is pretty raw. Don’t tread on Phil.
DM: Would you really not give a rat’s ass if half the quality assurance department didn’t show up because they died in a bus fire on the way back from the “Quality Rocks” seminar in Shreveport fucking Louisiana?
tms: Not anymore. There was a time when I would’ve called a meeting about it, without donuts. I used to be a very good manager, but I got burned one time too many by overlords who couldn’t give a damn about anything past the next quarter’s profits. There’s a documentary called The Corporation that everyone reading this must go see, it’ll make you a soapboxer, too.
DM: How is the New York music scene different than the music scene in Texas?
tms: It’s not as different as I had hoped. The scenes are every bit as incestuous; there are just more of them up here. One good thing is that there’s a little less cynicism here, because people don’t feel like they’re trapped out in the middle of nowhere with their unrealized talent. Makes you go crazy. Or Republican.
DM: If you could put together a superband for you to play with, made out of any musician from any time period, who would play what and what song would you play?
tms: I would get Roger Waters back in Pink Floyd, replace Nick Mason with Phil Collins, and we would play Dogs. I guess I’d play rhythm guitar, because I certainly wouldn’t want to get in David Gilmour’s way. I think of Nick Mason the way that most people think of Phil Collins, which completely strips me of any rock and roll cred I may once have had, which wasn’t much.
DM: What is in your CD player/iPOD/gramophone/8 track right now?
tms: I’ve been feeding my friend Paul’s turtle while he’s out of town, and I’ve also stolen half of his CD collection. Recently spun: Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs, William S. Burroughs’ Dead City Radio, and Cake’s Pressure Chief. That and a remastered copy of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti my wife bought me for my birthday. John Bonham’s the only drummer I’ll put on Phil’s level, but mentioning them both in the same sentence probably docks me a few more rock points.
DM: Why do you play music?
tms: I can’t not play music. Seriously, when I’ve sat down and asked myself what else I would like to do with my life, I can’t come up with anything. I’d like to write a novel or two, but only after I’ve lived long enough to have some perspective, and I’ve got to do something in the meantime. And of course, there’s that narcissism I mentioned earlier.
DM: What is your favorite deli in New York City?
tms: The All-American Deli on Water Street. I’m not normally an overly masculine fellow, but that’s a man’s deli if ever I’ve seen one. All male staff, all male customers, lots of boisterous shouting, cursing, and innuendo, it’s great. It’s like a rugby game without the trampling.
DM: If your music were a food, what kind of food would it be?
tms: A nice, thick beef stew.