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Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros Raise The Big Top

Speaking of the set, you’re doing two sets at the upcoming festival. You have been touring so much and now that you have three albums plus a solo album and some occasional covers and everything thrown in there, are you guys gonna change up your set lists between the shows? Have you changed the set lists as the tour has gone on?

We’ve been talking about that. We’re going change it up as much as it feels right. Also, I’m going send out a little thing either today or tomorrow asking people to submit their own setlists for what they’d like to hear. And it could be covers – it could be anything – and we’ll take all that into account. And you know, Christan’s got his solo album; Jade’s got her solo album; Crash has his solo album; Josh is starting to do his solo album; there’s so many albums going around that we’re just trying to collect a gigantic well of songs. We’re going to try and mix it up as much as possible.

You also used the members of Edward Sharpe as your solo band when you toured under your own name in 2011.

I only did a couple of gigs as [Alexander]. I think most of those gigs with the exception of maybe two were in between while we were on tour with Edward Sharpe. We were just all together on the road anyway.

Shifting from live to the studio, I know you guys recently released an album and when you guys were on the cover of Relix last year you mentioned that a lot of these songs for the two albums were recorded around the same time, but you conceptually decided to release them as two separate collections of songs. Can you talk a little bit about your decision to do that and at what point you started working on the next album after the second one was released?

I really wanted to release it as a double album but I’m really glad I didn’t because the rest of the songs weren’t done and a bunch of them weren’t really written. I think it’s such a muddling process and a process of groping and – “kung fu and mud” is what I call it – it’s like being blindfolded and trying to catch the fish, you know? It’s just pure feeling and planlessness. I think that serves a purpose, it could be our sort of credo.

The new album kind of collects that troubadour feel and vibe, just in terms of the tempo of the songs and a lot of the roots vibe.

Yeah I love the new album a lot. I think it just sounds good to me, and feels good. They’re just getting better at playing and I’m certainly getting better at singing. That all helps.

Why did you guys decide to self-title this album even though it’s your third album?

I don’t know, we couldn’t really come up with a name – first of all – that we all agreed on. And secondly, I thought that it just felt right. Something about the breadth of the songs that represented us fairly, I thought.

To what extent did your experience making Here impact on the self-titled album?

They were two very different albums. One was sort of meditative and the other was sort of rambunctious. Well not particularly. I’m still working through how to get that giant mix of everything that I want. The sunshiney, sort of sun-baked quality, the dreaminess, the aliveness and also sort of the sharp studio-ness of it.

It’s a tough balance because when you don’t want things to be – for me when something sounds really, really clean it just doesn’t end up hitting me really. I would just sort of feel the cleanliness of it more than I’d feel anything else. When something is super low-fi I always question inside, “Is this actually a good song or am I just smitten with the way it sounds?”

It’s about finding a balance where the song really gets to sing but also fits just in that right sort of…just right, perfect plot of dirt.

I feel like this new album really does kind of fit in those two areas: the sparseness as well as the melody of it. And I do like that you guys have a signature, iconic song, “Home,” which has become such an anthem. And you do rearrange it live in a way that fits the band’s current vibe which is think is a really cool way to do that.

So much of that song has become so special to so many people. The main thing is when Jade and I tell the story back and forth to each other. Instead, now we have audience members, if they have a story to tell. That’s one of my favorite parts of any show.

Now my last question is kind of shifting back to the era of unique performances. The Railroad Revival Tour, was that an idea that you came up with? Was it because of the historic train tour that The Dead and Janis did back in the day?

I think that that’s where the idea sort of originated but I’m not sure. The guy that came up with it is the guy that owned the Regent Theater in L.A. which is first place where we put on our own big shows. We put three shows on three weeks in a row at the Regent Theater in downtown L.A. and that was our first – well probably like show number five, six and seven for us.

He came up with this idea and then Brian, our manager, really took it and helped put it together and got Mumford and all those dudes involved. You know, the thing for me is it was sort of perfect for us.

It was right in line with everything that we were about and certainly in line with all of the adventuring and the childish sort of…the dreaming; The dreaming, and the will to adventure.

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