The acclaimed Austin guitarist and producer (Blaze Foley, Lucinda Williams, Slaid Cleaves, Ray Wylie Hubbard) is also fast becoming known—on the basis of his 2007 album, Diamonds to Dust (Blue Corn), and this month’s LAST EXIT TO HAPPYLAND (Rootball)—as a songwriter.
You spent eleven years playing with and producing for Lucinda Williams, leaving during the Car Wheels on a Gravel Road sessions. Were those sessions really as bad as everyone’s reported? Uh, yeah. Probably worse.
What happened? There was always a balance of the music versus the rest of it. And then the scales tipped. You know, I could always walk away when it got crazy. And then all of a sudden I couldn’t. So I quit.
That was more than ten years ago. Have you reconciled? No, I haven’t spoken to her.
Was 1988’s classic Lucinda Williams the first record you ever produced? Yes. I was playing these shows with Lucinda around Hollywood, and we had a cool band and she had great songs, but we were making $8 or $10 a night—for the whole band. It was too much work for too little pay. I was trying to think of a way to tell her that I was going to quit when she called me up and said, “We have a record deal. Who’s going to produce it?” And I said, “I will!”
What made you think you could do it? I’d always been the guy in the band with the tape recorder. I knew the records I liked, and I knew how to make things sound that way.
You’re known as a musician’s musician, but in a way, you’re an anti-musician. You’re not about