Q&A: Jenny Lewis + Johnathan Rice on Snakes, Sharp Objects, and Having Fun

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Q&A: Jenny Lewis + Johnathan Rice on Snakes, Sharp Objects, and Having Fun

  • Q&A: Jenny Lewis + Johnathan Rice on Snakes, Sharp Objects, and Having Fun

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    Jenny+Lewis++Johnathan+Rice.jpg
    Pretty sickeningly cute.
    Yesterday, Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis and longtime sweetheart Johnathan Rice released their first official collaboration together, a sweet full-length LP called I'm Having Fun Now. Fun's airy songs seamlessly blend pop and country elements, emphasizing the pretty harmonizing between the couple's vocals. I recently spoke with Lewis and Rice, who are gearing up for a tour in support of the record, which includes a stop at Bumbershoot -- they'll be playing the Starbucks Stage on Monday at 6:45pm. The couple was at their Los Angeles home, which they refer to as "Mint Chip."

    Why Mint Chip?

    JL: The color scheme.

    JR: Our friend Farmer Dave named it.

    JL: We have a lot of mint chip ice cream in the freezer. It's my least favorite flavor. It reminds me of toothpaste.

    Now I'm always going to think of it that way.

    JL: Sorry!

    JR: She probably hasn't had her transcendent mint chip ice cream experience.

    What's your house like?

    JL: It's kind of in the woods. In the woods of LA, if you can imagine that.

    Do you have a pool?

    JL: Yes, but it's really cold.

    JR: And a fucking tree just fell into it. We were asleep last night, and we didn't notice a massive tree that almost fell on the house.

    JL: I think a squirrel did it.

    Why'd you decide to record an album together?

    JL: After my last tour for my last record, we wanted to just go into my friend Pierre de Reeder's studio (Pierre plays in Rilo Kiley). He started this studio in the San Fernando Valley and offered us some studio time. Johnathan had a couple new songs, and we went in just to record them. A couple days in, we realized what we were doing was a little bit different. I think at that point we realized that we had started a band unintentionally.

    What kind of differences are you talking about?

    JR: Sometimes when we're hanging out and we're listening to music, like just an old radio in the kitchen, or if we're driving around somewhere, or in some sort of waiting room, whatever music is on, Jenny can instantly harmonize with.

    JL: it's kind of annoying actually.

    JR: No matter what it is, she can instantly clue into this harmony. She's the only girl I've met that could do it. So whenever I'd be playing my new songs, I'd hear in the next room this harmony developing.

    JL: You can get sick of hearing your own voice back at you. Like hundreds of songs and a handful of records. Sometimes it's just nice to have two voices blending to create a new character.

    What was the songwriting process like?

    JL: I have a graveyard of songs, you know where you can't finish something, and I would come to Johnathan and say, hey man, can you write a chorus for this? It was more collaborative than anything I'd ever done in the past. I had written with Blake from Rilo Kiley, but it was different in that he would write the music and I would write something over it, or I would write something totally on my own. So this formula was a little different.

    Are there any outstanding themes on the album?

    JR: Ones that people are picking up on are there's lots of mention of snakes.

    JL: And blades.

    JR: And sharp objects.

    Well, those are all scary things.

    JL: Maybe because we live in the woods, and we actually are surrounded by snakes up here.

    Have you stepped on one?

    JR: Last summer we were hiking with our best friend Morgan...

    JL: ...and I almost stepped on a huge rattlesnake, cause Morgan and I were gossiping, not paying attention, and I nearly stepped on a rattlesnake.

    Outside of music, what do you do for fun?

    JL: It's weird when your hobby becomes your job. I used to play music just to relax, but now...

    JR: We go walking in the mountains a lot. We find little secret trails in Los Angeles and go walking in them all day.

    Do you have a dog to walk?

    JR: No, we're looking for the right window in which to have one. We need to have one long enough where it can have a normal life before it goes on tour.

    JL: It has to be a tour dog.

    Do you get sick of each other on tour?

    JL: No. We have our own lives on the road. Even though you're traveling together, you develop your own routine. Everyone on tour in a band does their own thing.

    Are you going to get to stick around for Bumbershoot?

    JR: We have to drive straight to Salt Lake City.

    JL: We're not going to be there on the Dylan day, sadly.

     
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