RM: I think covers are really important, because you're there to entertain people, so, you know, give people something they know once in a while if they don't know all your stuff. When I take a cover, I try to make it something that no one would ever really ask for, because they wouldn't think of it. But then everyone wants to hear it; they just don't know it yet. You know, we've done, like, "She Blinded Me with Science." People always get down to that tune, but they never ask, "Oh, do you know "She Blinded Me with Science?"
MS: Right. I didn't even know I liked that song till I saw you do it with the Deep Banana Blackout horns, where you morphed from a synthed-out '80s number into a more funky danceable song.
RM: That's the point! Or take another one we do, "What a Day for a Daydream." They're songs that I think most people love, but they just wouldn't think of much. I love those kind of covers.
MS: Like those perfect pop nugget covers, perfect pop songs that everyone knows.
RM: Well, there are two kinds of covers you can do. You can do the kind of cover that's obscure, and you only do it because you really love the song, and then there's covers that are just more well-known and you do it… because people know them. And also you always love the song, and then we really get to sink our teeth into it. Like with the Tom Petty tune - we learned the Tom Petty tune two weeks ago in rehearsal, and we just played it straight-up, you know, like the Heartbreakers do. And it was OK. It sounded OK, but something was a little wrong. So we said, "OK, well, let's try it this way," and we tried it a little different style, different tempo, something like that, and that was pretty good. So then it was like, "All right, let's try it this way," and we just tried that sort of slower sort of skank reggae style, and it just clicked. And we still might change it up again, but that's still most comfortable for us, so that's the way we're going to do it.
MS: Oh, cool. So, on the flip side, I'm kind of curious to talk about some of your songs, some of my favorites. Let's start with some of the stuff on the new album. "How Many Times" kind of has a similar vibe as "Thick American Skin," from the last album. What's it about songs like that, that makes you just want to sing them a capella and throw your voice out there front and center and create this starkness?

RM: Yeah, I don't know exactly. I guess it's sort of more like poetry or something. I don't really know how to describe it. For some reason the solo songs, it just seemed like the instrumentation wasn't needed that much, the guitar and stuff. I don't know what it is. I just thought there's certain ones that I just feel like the starkness of the words will get across.
MS: Right.
RM: And, of course, now that's kind of a band song. I don't really know. I guess I don't know how to answer that. I like writing poetry and stuff. Songs aren't necessarily poems, but they're very closely related. Sometimes I just feel like they get across better when they're kind of stark. But only once in a while, and it has to be certain ones.
MS: Right. You're demanding the listener to hear the words. I don't want to say it makes it feel like an important song or puts it on another level, but they demand attention, and it forces the listener to really absorb the words, which is cool.
RM: Totally. I don't want to force anyone, but you try and make people feel emotions when you're making music, and sometimes the words are just so important. I mean, we could sound like the greatest band ever sound-wise and if we weren't saying anything, I would just feel totally worthless. You have to be out there sort of emoting and getting people to emote, and really just making a statement about something. It can be about anything. It doesn't have to be political or whatever; it just has to be whatever your version of truth is.
MS: Is this why you broke up "How Many Times" over a couple parts of the album?
RM: Well, with that, we recorded it all at once. I wanted to start the album with that whole song, because to me it was almost like a table of contents. Every major theme in the album is kind of in that song. There's a question of sudden mortality, and there's a question of an old love lost, and there's a question of an actual person who died in the verses of that song. So I wanted to put it first in the album, but it was a little stark, a little long and a little sad to start the whole album with that. And it kind of confused the message because not all those themes came at once. The song "Draw the Line" was really about a love lost. I decided to chop it there instead of using it as interludes to kind of set up different themes on the album. I hope it worked.
MS: No, definitely. I think it's much more powerful that way, especially when it comes back to it. It just kind of demands that attention and refocuses the listener a little bit.
RM: I was wondering because I read a review that said it was boring. It was like, "There's this boring song that comes in and out," and I was like, "Fuck. Oh, well." But whatever - people can think what they want.
MS: Definitely. So the next song I want to talk about a little bit is "75 and Sunny." First of all, I love the feel of it. It sounds like it could have come off of Graceland. Could you talk about the philosophy of the song a little bit - wisdom versus youth, and trying to obtain the balance there?
RM: Well, that is really what it is. I turned 30 this year, so I got a little freaked out about that. It's like, it feels good, but it makes you think about getting older and stuff. I mean, it's been a lot of drinking [laughs], especially in this business. And, yeah, trying to find that balance, just trying to have fun and still be on the… That song is about growing up and wanting to grow up in a good way. In a way so that you can live longer. Yeah, exactly what I said: I'd rather be old and in a good mood than sort of young and kinda…
MS: Angst ridden. Right? That's funny because it's very un-rock 'n' roll. It is kind of against every thing about rock 'n' roll.
RM: Absolutely. And I'm singing at festivals, you know what I mean? And I was kinda proud of it, because I feel like that was like the opposite of what was the scene, the evolutionary thing at something like that. But I think a lot of people have just gotten so heavily into getting fucked up and stuff like that, that… you know? It is a different statement in a way. And that's what the title of the album, Patience on Friday, is. I think it's a little different from a lot of the stuff you hear, because Friday's the day everyone just goes balls-out and goes crazy. And it's like, let's try and practice a little patience, and you can go out and experience life even more. It's not about denying the experience. I mean, I say in the song, I'm living for the moment, but my moment's becoming a little longer.
MS: And what's the point if you can't even remember the moment, if you're not sure if the moment ever really happened? What's the point of it all?
RM: Yeah. I heard a great George Carlin interview. He was doing standup early on, doing family-safe TV and stuff like that way back in like the '50s and '60s. And in the '60s, he started getting his own voice, and then he started experimenting with acid, and that totally opened up so many doors for him and just let him be free. It freed him up and knocked down a lot of walls for him. He had his time with drugs and stuff like that, and I think he had some problems, but he said eventually intellect has to step in and be like, "Wait a minute - now these drugs are doing the opposite for me. Now they're getting in the way of my creativity." It's a hard thing for your intellect to step in and say, "We need something else, man. This isn't worth it anymore." And I think you see it with a lot of people. People go to shows, and they want to have the best time possible, and it's like sometimes they just get so fucked-up they can't remember anything. What's the point? I feel almost like a hypocrite sometimes because, you know, I still have my fun, but singing that song is almost a reminder to me, too, to keep believing in those things.