How do you feel about Iraq and the way the US is viewed by the world at the moment?
Claire Ni Lochlainn, by email
It’s unfortunate and, erm, a little bit surreal. I think I’ve put things in my music that reference it but nothing overt. I don’t know if I could articulate it in a song. It’s a tricky area, you have to really know what you’re talking about. To write something on that subject matter that isn’t immediately dated is extremely difficult.
Is there a song you wish you’d written?
Helen Jane, Sale
Oh yeah, many! It’s probably something by the Pussycat Dolls! [Sings] “Don’t you wish your girlfriend was a freak like me!”
Your song “Mexico” talks about you robbing McDonald’s. Did that happen?
Cindy, Houston TX
[Laughs] People sometimes think that everything you write about is true. But lots of my stuff is just made up. And last time I checked, robbing McDonald’s with a submachine gun was a federal offence.
Devendra Banhart is in the video for “Strange Apparition”. How so?
My friend Autumn knows him. I was getting friends down for the video and he said he’d only do it if he could wear a dress! He looks good, too. It was a silky gypsy dress that had these straps which kept slipping down! I’m really into all that new folk music. I hear it and wish I knew those people 15 years ago.
If you were a folk singer back in the day, would you have dressed up in a bear suit and rapped about Vietnam?
Jeddi1, via email
I guess that… [long pause]… did you just say something about a bear suit? That’s kind of confusing! But I like to think I would. I like to think that if I’d been back in the Greenwich Village scene I’d be making acid-house-jungle-cool-out-dub-lounge-chip-hop-glitch-punk-rock shit! That’s the funny thing – a lot of what I do could have been done back then. Hip-hop is basically just using beats from that era…
How will you avoid the inner-cheese that seems to strike at the soul of all musicians as they grow older?
Michael Greene, Austin, TX
It’s a battle! But I try to keep my eyes open. It took me years to do something like Sea Change. That was the challenge with that record – doing something direct and emotional without it disintegrating into pathos.
Does MTV still make you want to smoke crack?
MTV? It makes me want to wax my back and get a spray-on tan.
The August 2018 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Prince on the cover. Elsewhere in the issue, you’ll find exclusive features on John Coltrane, Graham Nash, Cowboy Junkies, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Hawkwind, Jennifer Warnes, Teenage Fanclub, David Sylvian, Wilko Johnson and many more. Our free CD showcases 15 tracks of this month’s best new music, including Israel Nash, Dirty Projectors, Luluc, Ty Segall and White Fence, Nathan Salsburg and Gwenifer Raymond.