Jason Molina
june 7th 2005
interview by Barbara H

Barbara H: Hi, how are you ?

Jason Molina: good

BH: how has the tour been going on?

JM: tour has been going very well... good shows.

BH: where have you been so far?

JM: we did like five weeks in the US and in Canada and so far we've done the UK, Netherlands and we're gonna do just a few shows in France, we did Paris last night and then go to Spain for a few shows and then on from there.

BH: you released two records in a row, and there's a new ep coming in july....

JM: the ep will be out while we're on this tour and at the end of the tour we're gonna go back to (Steve Albini's) Electrical Audio and record a new album

BH: is there a reason why you're releasing so many records over such a short period?

JM: no, we just have enough material to do it

BH: about the switching from Songs:Ohia to Magnolia Electric Co, do you think you'll stick with the band you play with right now or will MEC be as open as Songs Ohia ?

JM: It's definitely as open as the other projects as long as the guys feel comfortable playing music and it still works as a touring a recording band

BH: you've been playing with the same people for the past three records, do you think that the musical input is more stable ?

JM: yes, i do believe you start to hear on the record a little more of the input from certain players because they have more time, more material...

BH: do you feel more like a band now ?

JM: certainly and if touring is any indication of a type of stability is that, you know, this band likes to tour. as far as my experience goes with them they really enjoy playing live.

BH: Was it a choice, to work with people who are more committed about the music? In Songs:Ohia you played with a lot of different line ups...

JM: it wasn't that in so much as it was... i do move a lot, i don't really live in one place for very long and it makes it so that you have to make a new band everytime you move somewhere else so people just can't really afford to follow you because they have a life, a family or work. Recording the last three records and touring has been very nice because i live near the band.

BH: your career is starting to be a long career (laughs), how do you feel in retrospect about your early recordings and the musical evolution?

JM: mostly it seems like it just started yesterday i don't really ever spend time reflecting on the old songs, the old tours, really i just get up in the morning and i try to concentrate on what i have to do today, which is try to write newmusic, try to put together records that i think are strong records, let the band have as much input as they can and do tours that make sense both for the fans and for the band... we don't want to drive 18 hours to play a show in a place where no one wants to see us.

BH: Is the songwriting process different with the band ?

JM: no, it's exactly the same, i still write everyday, if i can... basically i just write lyrics as much as i can and when i have time to sit down with a guitar or a piano i start to work on music, i start to get the general shape of the song and then if i don't have time to finalize the song i present it to the band and then we'll arrange it together.

BH: do you always start with lyrics ?

JM: yes, more or less. I start with lyrics, i also finish the song more or less... i have a basic chord progression, i have a basic melody but i may not be sure if i want trumpet on it... sometimes it's better to just take it to the band, play it, just me and guitar, and let people say "i have a cool idea for a bass line" and it works from there.

BH: did you always work like this ?

JM: yeah, even when i wasn't with the same guys, the same bands, it was basically the same working.

BH: the last records sound very country-rock, reminiscent of Neil Young & Crazy Horse, i was wondering if it was something you wanted to do or...

JM: no it wasn't something i planned but i do think it had a lot to do with the group of musicians you play on the record, they all bring their own influences, their own musical history, the backgrounds... i try to let as much of their personality come through and i think that it's the way that they approach these songs and i'm really pleased with it.

BH: i read in an old interview that you had planned on releasing an album that would span on a number of seven inches recorded in different studios...

JM: that has never been completed although i still like that idea and i would love to see that project finished someday... right now i'm really busy with just writing LPs in a more traditional way and i don't think it's a good time to just stop and do something radical which will take so much time, it could take a couple of years to finish that. But right now while the band feels really comfortable touring and they have time off from their jobs i think that it's better to go to as many places as we can as a band and play with people and if i want to do a project like that, that would come later... it doesn't mean that it will not happen, just... later

BH: do you think you'd have to release all 7" in a row or that you could do you know, one 7"....

JM: I thought of doing one 7" a month but that's not really necessary maybe just like a.... possibly do like a subscription thing, 200, 500 people and then every month i would send them something, maybe at least two new songs and i can do some handmade artwork, i don't know if i can manage more than 200 a month, that's a lot. But if i can find the time to do soemthing like that i would do it in a minute but the problem is we're booked right now, until October.

BH: do you often play solo shows, like tonight ?

JM: i used to spend half of the year doing solo shows, recently it's been more with the band so it's becoming more rare to do solo shows. i really enjoy doing it it's just that, on this tour, these special venues, places we don't get to play very often... we never were able to play a venue like this (note: a church), it's fantastic... and it's not necessary to put the whole band... once you start playing drums in a room like this it's over.

BH: do you see this as an opportunity to play old songs you can't play with the band ?

JM: we do play older songs, from the last few records. that's old for me.

BH: how do you feel about the new folk, alt-country artists out there like Iron & Wine or Bright Eyes ?

JM: well i hate what people consider alt-country. i think that... i have not been doing this for ever but i have been doing it for a long enough time to know that i've never approached this kind of music with any kind of "scene" in mind, really, honestly, if it's a good song, no matter how it's presented it's a good song. it doesn't matter if you're up there with 25,000 watts of just pain and noise.

BH: thank you

JM: you're welcome!

/june 15th 2005/