Cass McCombs is renowned for the way he deals with the press almost as much as he is for his finely crafted songs. For a period of time, the singer and songwriter demanded that interviews be conducted via mail. No, not e-mail: actual mail. But McCombs is talking to press again, at a time when his music is so good that it speaks for itself. With his new album, “Wit’s End,” it sounds like he spent some time in the Leonard Cohen school of songwriting. The songs ease their way into your consciousness with a wounded elegance and delicate beauty. And after all the hubbub about him not being a great conversationalist, we found him surprisingly forthcoming.
How does it feel to be talking to us press folk again?
It’s cool. I never really learned how to do it in the first place. I don’t know if you know, but my record company hired a private investigator to take photos of me, when I wasn’t aware of that.
Are you serious?
I’m not kidding. … It was kind of a wake-up call to start engaging with the world again.
The songs on this album definitely have the feel of somebody who isn’t used to engaging with the world. How does it feel to take those songs of solitude to people? That must be an odd transition.
Music is surprising, because there are so many different components. There’s the lyrics, which I usually find the most important. But when you add a band on top of that, they have their own interpretations, musically. And then the crowd has their interpretations. So I mean, music grows. The writing of it is just the first step. And I try to write so it implies things that excite people’s imaginations, so they create their own meaning anyway.
You mentioned that lyrics are the most important to you. Do they always come first?
Some are lyric-oriented and some I’ll just be jamming on a guitar and a word will pop into a riff that you play. Riffs are kind of like syllables, so they kind of speak to you.
For the complete interview visit Pat Healy's Mixtape blog.
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