Peter Wolf Interviews Paul Westerberg (!)

Today is the release date for Wild Stab, which was already going to make this a banner day. And then here comes this completely unexpected interview on Vanyaland interview, way out of left field. Peter Wolf interviewed Paul at a hotel in Cambridge yesterday.  I can’t remember the last time Paul did an hour-long filmed interview.

In detailing each track over the course of the hour-long conversation, Wolf describes the album as a very romantic, spontaneous collaboration, with multiple layers of feeling. “It’s like a nice jewel,” he says, “you just keep rubbing it, and it starts shining.”

Throughout the chat, in which Westerberg touches on his career as a songwriter, his influences, and the recent Replacements reunion, the 56-year-old Minnesota native stresses that the raw, grittiness of the album is one of its finer qualities.

“I go with goosebumps and the ear,” he tells Wolf. “When I feel it, then it’s done, it’s ready…. You do it with computers and shit — you can fix everything. And people do. Why compete with that? Everybody can make a perfect record in their basement, bedroom, on their phone. That’s not gonna serve anything. I don’t want to make a perfect record.”

paul westerberg and peter wolf

Paul Westerberg and Peter Wolf – Le Méridien Cambridge

Over the course of the reunion tour, Paul mentioned “Daffodil” several times during performances, which had the message board wondering who he was referring to. At Boston Calling, he dedicated “Valentine” to Daffodil, and if memory serves, also during the performance of “Alex Chilton” (“I’m in love with Daffodil”). Mystery solved!

“We joke, we call each other ‘Sandpaper’ and ‘Daffodil’. I got this one voice and she’s got this other and I always thought let’s kinda meld the two together… she puts something very lovely and makes my voice an easier pill to swallow.”

Interesting background on the new version of “Born for Me”, Paul reveals that song was written about Juliana and touches on one reason he’s doing the interview rather than both of them. Peter asks him about the photo on the back of the CD, with their hands reaching out to each other:

“Read into it what you want…I think that’s why she isn’t here. Like it or not, there’s an element of romance to the record that is deep and in this day and age you don’t want to come out and lay it out there for people to speculate about and ask questions. The reason “Born for Me” is on there is because I wrote it about her, how many years ago (when) it came out.”

Born For Me Lyrics

Vanyaland helpfully provide a list of topics to jump to, I’ll spare you the agony of waiting regarding the tour question. The answer was basically “nothing is planned but never say never”.

3:25: How did the collaboration come about?
8:37: Bringing Sammy Davis Jr. to life
12:54: Dissecting I Don’t Cares songs, and writing for Juliana Hatfield
16:35: Letting the music do the talking
19:22: “There’s a certain mystery that sits with this [LP]”
23:27: Songs from Paul Westerberg’s basement
28:00: How old Replacements demos became I Don’t Cares songs
31:38: Westerberg’s first record purchased, first concert attended
35:45: Westerberg’s first guitars, and when music started paying the rent
40:03: Coming off the Replacements’ reunion tour
47:10: Singers in the band are the craziest
50:26: Let’s get a refill
51:00: “We teased ourselves… we’re not making a record” —
53:35: Life after the Replacements reunion
56:30: Where is Juliana?
59:56: Taking the I Don’t Cares on the road