How did you get started in the music business? Who did you worship as a music god in your youth?
MZ: The first record I remember owning was "Rock and Roll Over" by Kiss. Then my mother gave me a copy of "Let it Be" by the Beatles. It was all over after that. I bought every Beatles album and every album by anyone who hung out with the Beatles-The Stones, The Kinks, The Who, etc. I went through the British Invasion about 20 years too late. I also loved -AC/DC, The Scorpions, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Motley Crue. As far as how I got started, I just very naively started. I always thought I could make records and tour the world even when there was no real evidence to support that claim.
Tell Me A little bit about the time between "Keep Your Wig On" and "Little White Lies"
MZ: While Keep Your Wig On was a great record, Ryko did nothing to make the world aware of it’s presence. I was totally disillusioned with the record industry and decided to go off in another direction. I formed the Small Stars and we put out two albums. Eventually Tony and I started writing songs again.
How was your experience at SXSW this year?
MZ: SXSW was great this year. We did 7 shows in 5 days and made a lot of people happy.
"Little White Lies" has a strong messages about fame and Celebrity culture, was that the basic idea that inspired the album?
MZ: No. But I am sick of Celebrity news. I expect news to be about depressing things like war, famine, the shrinking polar ice cap, the stock market crash – not Britney Spears shaving her head.
Longevity is hard to come by in this business, why do you think you’ve been able to survive this long?
MZ: Never say die. I enjoy playing music. I consider it a privilege, not a job. I understand why some bands break up but we just take a break if we get tired of playing together.
What is your opinion of the "resurgence" in smart pop music — although it’s always been underground, the internet has brought more artists in the power pop genre exposure, although I felt you guys were one of the few who had mainstream success as well.
MZ: Hmmm….. I’m not really sure what you mean. Do you mean guys with guitars playing 3 minute pop songs? The thing is I don’t really listen to our kind of music. I like Sam and Dave and the albums Bowie did with Eno in the mid seventies. I listen to a lot of Charles Mingus and Willie Nelson. I love the Beatles obviously but you know, if you run a pizza parlor you probably don’t wanna eat pizza for dinner.
With such a fantastic array of songs here what do you do for a follow up, and when?
MZ: We’ll try hard not to think too hard about it. As Neil Young once said, "When you think, you stink." But hopefully, you wont have to wait 5 years for a new album.
Awesome. Thanks for the interview, Miles!