RTH: Your first two solo albums, Kerosene Man and Dazzling Display, are two my all-time favorite recordings. The list of folks who played with you on those releases is long and includes loads of cool folks like Chris Cacavas, Howe Gelb, Flo & Eddie, Peter Buck, John Wesley Harding, Johnette Napolitano, D.J. Bonebrake, and more. The Giant Sand guys are/were based in Tucson. Over the years it looks like you have done stuff in Tucson and with Tucson folks, including your great Here Come the Miracles release. Tucson has a mystical energy for me. How did you get attracted to Tucson? Did you ever go over and hang in Nogales? In high school we did frequently as all you had to be able to say was, “cerveza por favor” to get served beer.
SW: Glad to hear you liked those first 2 solo albums. They often get lost (sometimes even by me, when making set lists) in the idea that my best stuff happened in my first 10 years and last 10 years. I’ve had several run-ins with Tucson–first as a friend (and eventually labelmate) of Green On Red and Naked Prey. And then, as you mention, when I recorded there and made 3 albums (the Desert Trilogy!) from 2000 to 2005. What can I say? I like the music that comes out of there, I’ve made some really good friends. Wavelab is a great studio, Craig Schumacher (who runs the studio and co-produced those records with me) is a genius. And the Mexican food? Don’t get me started. I give that city (and particularly my experiences at Wavelab) a lot of credit for giving me a good boost into the second phase of my career.
RTH: You worked with Rick Rizzo and Janet Bean on Suitcase Sessions. How did you hook up with them? I’m assuming that you are an Eleventh Dream Day fan? I am for sure. They put on a helluva live show!
SW: Huge fan. Rick and Janet used to come to a bunch of our shows before they formed their band. One day they brought me a cassette of some of their songs. I remember listening to it on the plane home from Chicago and freaking out. They are one of those bands that had a great burst at the beginning but have kept evolving and getting better over the years. Great band and, yes, great live show.
RTH: I read somewhere that you are “big in the UK.” True? What exactly does that mean? I imagine A Hard Day’s Night throng of female fans chasing you down that street. Yes?
SW: Well, I’ve always been more popular in Europe, which is kinda fun. It’s given me the chance to see a lot of great places. To be honest, the UK is fine but I think my most popular countries have been on the continent–Italy, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Germany, Norway–those have all been particularly good. A woman once chased me down the street but it was because I forgot to pay for my breakfast.