By Melissa Fossum
By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
For all intents and purposes, Mark Linkous is Sparklehorse. And yet, despite a welcome move to a western North Carolina mountaintop and noteworthy assists from Tom Waits, Danger Mouse, and The Flaming Lips' Steven Drozd, his latest release, Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain (full of rural atmosphere and pain and served with a light psychedelic dressing), took five years to produce. Before he embarked on his Sparklehorse tour, we spoke with Linkous about just what took him so damned long.
New Times:I would imagine, living in the Smoky Mountains, that oftentimes you'll walk away from the house and find a place to just sit for a while.
Linkous:Oh, yeah. Definitely. I like doing that. I did that a lot as a kid growing up in the South. I spent so much time out in the woods, just walking for hours and just days. You know, summer seemed months and months and months longer when I was a kid, because I was outside in the woods every day.
NT:Would it be a violation of nature if you took along a pen and a notebook? Or maybe even a guitar? Do you do that when you go out, or is it pretty much just you and the dog, and the peacefulness shouldn't be interrupted?
Linkous:Unfortunately, I need to be more disciplined about doing that. I don't do that often enough. I think I get lazy sometimes . . . and I'd just rather watch a black-and-white movie on Turner Classic Movies and be content.
NT:But laziness isn't the answer to "Why five years since the last record?"
Linkous:No, that was more just I felt like I couldn't work, because I think I got in a real bad state of depression, and I got in this kind of void that I couldn't really get my head up out of. It's always been there, I think, since I started making records, but I was always able to keep my head above water.
NT:It sounds damn near agonizing. Did you have any fun writing these songs? Is fun even in the vocabulary anymore?
Linkous:They were pretty hard to write. And there were probably more songs written out of pretty bad pain than the last few records. I don't know why they came out as pop songs, but it's funny that a lot of them did. I can't really explain that.
NT:Well, there is some redemption here. The record isn't all mortality and all that it implies.
Linkous:No. I mean, I've hoped that people, since the beginning, have been able to recognize the optimism and the hope in my records. That's something I don't ever want to lose.
NT:So let me go back to the question before. Have you had any fun in the last four years?
Linkous:Yeah, a little bit. I had fun recording some of this stuff at Tarbox (a recording studio outside Buffalo, New York). Steven from The Flaming Lips came and played drums. Yeah, I had some fun on this record.