Although Play is widely-considered to be your breakout album, for you, on a more personal level, what album do you really think you began to feel comfortable in your artistic skin?
Animal Rights was a really hard record to make, and very few people actually liked it. It’s a really strange, difficult record, but of all the records I've made, that's probably the one that I'm most proud of. I don't know. There's just a strange honesty to it that I really appreciate. It also, of all the records I've made, it's the one that sold the worst and got the worst reviews.
True, indeed! After the release of Everything is Wrong (1995), many of the reviews that I have encountered made note of your abrupt turn to rock on Animal Rights. What life events inspired that particular album? Is there a particular life event that caused you to make that musical shift?
I think part of it was just never expecting to have a career, and then all of a sudden I had a strange career and it sort of, I guess, in a very unhealthy way, I wanted to see if people liked me or if they liked me for the genre of music I was in.
So, I don't know. It's kind of like maybe you're dating someone, and you question their love for you, so you don't bathe for a week, and you think to yourself: “Are they still going to like me if I'm smelly and drunk?” Of course, that isn't really the best way to try and gauge someone's love and affection, I think. But that was partially what was behind it. And also just the fact that I really love playing loud guitar and screaming at the top of my lungs.
When you reflect over your career, you have managed to maintain a beautiful career – or, shall we say, relationship – with a fickle music industry? What do you think has allowed you to have such longevity?
A huge part of it is not knowing how to do anything else. Because I have a lot of friends who try to be photographers or try to be artists or try to be musicians, but they always have a fall-back career. Like they always have that sentence, "If it doesn't work out, I'll go do blank," and I never had that. So for me, it was always: “I'm going to be a musician, and if it doesn't work out, I'll be homeless.” I guess my choices were like be a musician or work at Kinkos. So it’s the combination of the fact that I don't know how to do anything else, and I've been playing music since I was nine years old, and it's basically what I love more than anything else. And if the motivation had just been pursuing a career, I think I would have slowed down at some point, but for me, the motivation is really trying to make music that I love, regardless of whether people actually want to listen to it or buy it.