I’m sure you’ll get questions about timing and what you’ve been working on the past several years, there being the general expectation out there that you need to put out a new album every couple years.
GW: Which is pretty arbitrary. Pretty, like, artistically arbitrary. I mean, I’m not saying that I’m happy about the rhythm of our record output. However, you know.
DR: That would be crazy talk.
Especially because people care very much when you put out new music.
GW: Right—which is nice.
Did investing energy in a number of different things, bringing Whispertown 2000 onto your Acony label, guesting with a lot of folks on stage and in the studio, affect the timing?
DR: I mean, there’s been other stuff going on. I feel like, as soon as there was a group of songs that went together as a new…that made sense…I don’t know. I’m speaking in fragments. You should…
GW: There have been songs over the years. But they didn’t really play well together. It seemed like I made a start on, like, 10 different projects. And nothing ever stepped forward and said, “This is the next project.” Not until Dave’s record.
DR: That’s about what I was trying to say.
GW: Even when we got up to a little batch of songs that you could have made a record out of, they didn’t seem like they wanted to be on a record together. So what are you gonna do? I guess some people would put it out, but we just didn’t want to.
The Dave Rawlings Machine is a different way of assembling a repertoire for you, with a little more emphasis on interpretation.
DR: Right. In Gillian’s show, having played primarily, or almost entirely, covers through the years, I guess that’s how I learned to… I’m a way more natural collaborative writer than I am a natural solitary writer. I’m just sort of social, and I enjoy the process a lot more if I’m working with someone on a song than if I work by myself. Because of that, through the years I never had a batch of songs that were my own. I mean, strangely, a couple years ago—I should say, the beginning of this project, part of it was…I went out to California and was sort of couch-surfing around Los Angeles and during that time had started writing a batch of songs.
DR: Yeah. …None of those songs ended up on this project, but the project wouldn’t have happened without them. Because that was the first time that I started singing songs that I had written with some thought—even if it was just sitting with good musician friends, and sitting in a circle and everyone playing songs they’d written—where I felt that I wasn’t there as the guy who was gonna play guitar on everybody else’s stuff. I felt like, when it got to be my turn, I was gonna be singing something. And I think that informed, sort of, the shift in feeling different about the feasibility of the project.