So you're on a pretty crazy schedule right now. A different city every day?
Yeah, it's very, very hectic. Nineteen days without a day off—it's how Ben rolls. And on the two days off we have we booked sets to play at some independent records stores. Usually we try to take a day off every six days just to rest vocally and mentally but when you're on the road you want to take any opportunity to reach people and get your music out there. We're definitely grabbing the bulls by the horn and making it happen!
Have you read Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers, about how you have to practice anything for 10,000 hours to be exceptional? He says that explains how the Beatles got to be so good.
I haven't read it, but I truly believe that. We had a girl at the show last night who had driven three hours to see the show. She told us that we inspired her as a young songwriter but asked how we are able to go on stage with confidence. Of course, you always get butterflies but you also get used to that pressure and when you're always rolling out, it becomes normal. The more you practice, the more you can be yourself, so it's no longer you writing songs and playing the guitar by yourself but the performance aspect and sharing with the audience that becomes the norm.
How is it touring with a sister? Is there much bickering or is it better having a sibling around?
It kind of depends. We're like an old married couple; sometimes we're in synch and sometimes we're not. Right now we've been having a great time! We're excited about the players we have with us— they're great friends and a great band.
Is that part of what lead you to release the new EP, Live at Fingerprints?
Yeah, we wanted to put out the EP because it's a broken down version of us. It's just my sister and me, an acoustic guitar, and our friend Jason on keys. That really broken down way is how we write and we wanted people to experience those songs without all the bells and whistles that get added in the studio. I listen to it and I think "wow." You know, it's definitely hard to be stripped down like that. You can't hide behind anything. There's nothing done on that, that's raw. That's crudites right there!! They're some raw vegetables girlfriend! I'm also excited our song "Rebel Soldier" got to see the light of day. It was a b-side from Fire Songs that I really enjoyed writing and I'm glad that people will get to hear it.
I noticed you do a number of cover songs. How do you pick the songs you cover?
I feel the covers almost pick us. When I heard the Cure song "Just Like Heaven" I thought, I love this song and I started playing it and it took on it's own life. I don't say to myself "it's a great cover" but more that Robert Smith wrote this great song and I just hope we can put a different spin on it and it holds up.
The BBC said your album was a true gem of 2008, and Playboy said your album was great make-out music! Which one were you more excited about?
Ha ha! I will take either one!I'm not picky! You know, when we were told we were going to "be in Playboy" we were like, 'Oh my gosh they don't want us to pose do they!!' No, we thought it was a riot to be in there. And with the BBC, it's like, the UK has such a different audience there and people really get into the folk vibe in the UK.
Yeah, you guys get a lot of love in the UK.
Yeah, I think they were very perceptive to the California influence of the record and we totally wanted it to have that feel. A lot of people we talked to over there have gotten that Canyon, kinda '70s influence, as well as the Americana country influence. I think that's the meeting of our two worlds—growing up in Louisville and living in Los Angeles.
Was there music that really influenced the Cali touch?
Certainly Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Joni Mitchell... But for me it wasn't so much a sound as the light of California. We went and saw this exhibit of pictures from when the Rolling Stones were recording in Laurel Canyon. The photos were cool but the light was something that you only get in California, at about noon when everyone is seemingly waking for the day. The golden color. In my mind it was more about translating that light more than replicating a sound.
I've seen you're blogging now, using twitter...
Now I'm twittering from my iPhone to let people know to come see us in Minneapolis tonight or sending photos to people. I just started so I'm still trying to figure it all out and what it means! I think it's fun and I want people to connect to us. It's a great medium for a tour journal and it's more interesting to talk about the music, and then about some great steak chips.
I loved your update that you "Just saw a sign that said EAT BEEF."
Ha ha! Yeah, it was like "We must be nearing Texas!" We have hours of time in the van reading, listening to music and writing but there are those moments that are completely hilarious and it's those small things that keep you doing this. The other day, outside Hatch, New Mexico, the first exit we saw was called Truth or Consequences, the next was Dairy Airey, and the one after that was Elephant Butte. I was like, 'We may as well have just drove through Crazy Town.'
We saw you were on painfullyhip.com rocking Urban's highwaisted jeans! Controversial!
Yeah, I'm pushing boundaries. Me and Jessica Simpson, dude.