Interview: Mark Kozelek

What Mark Kozelek; Davey von Bohlen of Maritime opens
When 8 p.m.,
Saturday, June 7
Where Turner Hall Ballroom,
1032 N. 4th St.
How much $15

When I was a teenager in the Philippines, my friends and I would listen to Red House Painters songs whenever we fancied ourselves as poets. We would lie in hammocks by the beach and get drunk on rum and Coke. Mark Kozelek’s songs comforted us after break ups, stayed with us in manic phases, was the soundtrack to typhoon season and hot and humid summers.

We felt that his music made us feel much intensely, with more depth.

When I moved to California, I was surprised to find out that many Red House Painters fans — who turned into Sun Kil Moon fans, and also fans of Kozelek’s solo work — had very similar experiences to mine, growing up. The settings were different (Laguna Beach, Costa Mesa parking lots, backyard swimming pool) but the feelings were the same

Now I live in Milwaukee where half the year, the ground is frozen. And fans still feel the same. So over e-mail, I asked him a few questions.

Q: Do you think there’s a universal thread going through your music that fans really connect to?
There’s a universal thread with all music. Andres Segovia played all over the world, so has AC/DC, and I guess I have, too. My favorite audiences have been in Asia. Like in South Korea and Japan, where people speak and understand little English. People are tied together by the emotion and the feeling of the music.

Q: Many of your songs are thought of as soundtracks for sad emotions. What makes you happy?
Lots of things – New Orleans, food, fishing, good conversations with friends, laying in bed and watching a good movie.

Q: What is your songwriting process like?
Some days I write songs, and some days not. Sometimes they come to me at once, sometimes I work at them a little at a time. There’s really no set process, they happen in different ways.

Q: What differentiates your Sun Kil Moon and Mark Kozelek songs? When do you decide which songs go to certain projects?
There’s momentum with Sun Kil Moon, so for the moment, I’m sticking with that.

Q: What do you listen to when you’re sad?
Noises from the streets at 3 a.m. when I’m in hotel rooms on tour.

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