MS: That's interesting. One song - maybe it's the playwright in me, and I look at things very metaphorically -but I wonder about "Eggs." Part of me says there's a metaphor there, where one person likes things scrambled and mixed-up, where the other one is optimistic sunny side. That is the perfect metaphor for many relationships. Then I heard it at the show the other night and I'm like, "Maybe this is just a dirty song." It's funny, 'cause on the surface it's such a simple song, and yet I can't wrap my head around it.
RM: Well, I kind of want that. It's nice to be able to put in images and people can just apply their own meanings to them. That's sort of the point. But I would say, from my own standpoint, there's probably more dirty references in there than there are actually like people's moods and stuff. I think the song fits in generically to the whole album 'cause the egg is kinda the beginning and end of life. A broken egg is kinda just… like it can be a food, or a bird, or something. There's those meanings going on, and then the whole last verse of that whole thing is loving and meant to be a sexual thing, the whole "How do you like your eggs in the morning?" kinda thing.
MS: I also wanted to ask you about "Waiting." That's another song where I can't really decide if it's optimistic or if it's too hopelessly optimistic and kinda sad. It's kinda interesting 'cause, in a lot of ways, it's a response to the song "One Fine Color." Can you tell me a little bit about that one and where you were coming from there?
RM: With "One Fine Color" it was like disaster and total debauchery and the biggest show we had ever done at that time - close to 800 people came out - and it was just this big thing. It was a big, crazy night, and we honestly really didn't play well at all. It was debaucherous, and I woke up just so fucked up and hungover. And I wrote that song, and it was like more is not always better. I think "Waiting" is sort of a response to years of living that way. I've met a lot of women in the last, oh God knows how many years, and it's just a matter of you can't go and find love by just trying out everybody. [laughs] You know, just going out and trying to find it all the time and numbers and trying to get all these girls or whatever. And it was just like, no, I'm just going to sit back and wait and I'm going to turn it inside and that like an asset of myself. I just look at myself more and try to work on myself and just wait for it to kinda, you know, what comes will come.
MS: It all goes back to the "75 and Sunny" mentality.
RM: Oh, yeah, totally.
MS: Tell me about writing "Maybe Today" and what you feel that song is about. This song sounds the most like a single and kind of has that nice, pop-y feel to it.
RM: I try not to force songs. I try to just write them when I get inspired by whatever. It just kinda comes out. And that one just kinda came out over a period of a couple days. I was home, here in the Cambridge/Somerville area of Boston, and it was nice. I think it was springtime. It was just kind of nice out, walking around, and I would have to stop and write down certain lyrics that I would think of on the way. The guitar, too - everything just kind of flowed out. It's just kind of sketches of different things. The bottom line was something that I was thinking about around that time. Especially, you can change, so any day is the day to do it. I do believe in just sort of giving things away, and when you give things, you definitely get back. The song is just sort of sketches of that, things I was believing in. And I think lyrically having some fun. I don't know - the words just kind of came out from there.
MS: I think the song of yours that really resonates with people the most is "Stretch," and I think part of it is that it has this kind of hopefulness. Well, maybe not hopefulness, but you hear your desire and the want for success, and I think that's something that everyone can identify with. But can you explain how you wrote that one or where that came from?
RM: I wrote it so long ago. At that time I didn't have very many crowds to play for, you know? It was when every room was kind of a struggle. Every night there would be very few people in the room, and I would sing that. When I'm writing, I'm trying to be as honest as I can, and I think that a lot of people identify with it because they see me up there singing about it. I'm singing about singing for people in a room, you know? I'm just trying to be as honest as I can about it. It's about me dreaming about having these crowds to play for and, no matter what, I have them in my imagination, and they only sing along in my imagination. What's been funny has been in the bigger shows since then over the years when there's a big crew, they're all actually singing the words.
MS: And it's such a singalong song, especially the chorus. It kind of reminds me of the Counting Crows song "Mr. Jones," which is also about the same type of thing and also this real big singalong song.
RM: Maybe because it actually is about singing along - I don't know. I don't recall actually writing the lines, but I know it was at a time when not many people were coming out. It's funny to sing that song now because when we get outside of our strength on the East Coast, we still play a lot of dead crowds, a lot of rooms with very few people. Like, I'll go from an East Coast show with hundreds of people singing all the words to that song one night, and then a week later, we're in the middle of nowhere with nobody and it kind of takes on its original meaning. I think it works both ways.
MS: The last one I wanted to ask you about is probably my favorite, "Quickie." I just love the real New Orleans dirtiness to the sound of that song. It's just perfect for what the song is about. Did you write the lyrics before and then adapt the music for it, or was it always envisioned as this New Orleans-style romp?
RM: No. It was one of those ones where it was my normal writing style, where I get the guitar thing going that I think feels good, and then I immediately get a melody over it. And I don't know where I came up with the idea for "Quickie." I think I just got this random idea from a story, but it wasn't really based on an actual one true story. In fact, I just kind of started to pick that out. I remember I was actually playing a house concert in Somerville, and I was in the back waiting to go on and I just started writing that song, trying to finish it before I went out. But, yeah, I don't know. I learned those shapes, like the chords and stuff like that. I took some jazz lessons years ago, and it was sort of those kind of shapes and those kind of chords coming out, kind of that two-beat thing. I wanted to call it "Quickie," so I started, but I didn't wanna say it. So I started rhyming and using these words that rhymed with "Quickie" in it. I was going to allude to saying it, and I never would, and I knew I wasn't going to say the word "Quickie" in the song. I don't know - I sketched that one out as it came.
MS: Are you writing new stuff? What do you see in the near future for you guys?
RM: Over the next month and a half, two months, we're just doing mostly weekends in the Northeast, until we take off for our big tour again. It's been good to have these times off during the week, to finally get back to rehearsing, just getting back to really working on the tunes. We were touring so much last year, and when we weren't touring we were in the studio, one thing to another to another. So it's just been getting back to square one and working on the tunes with the guys, and I think we're getting better and better at that. Then we have more festivals this summer. I know the next couple of months we have shows that are going to be sponsored by Headcount and Rock the Earth , so we're going raise some money for that. And probably get into the studio again by the end of the summer, 'cause we're always writing stuff. So we're just keeping full steam ahead, getting in to play with each other more and more.