BY Lesley Goldberg
November 02 2009 4:30 PM ET
Your live shows are incredible. Why is it important to you to have acoustic and unplugged songs at your shows?
It's our music in the way that it's conceived; in its purest, rawest form. It's important to tell the whole story, it's important to do the really dramatic over-the-top Queen glam songs, and it's also really important to strip things down and have them performed the way they are in our practice space and so we can really introduce all the elements of our band at our shows.
“If There Was No You” is a love letter. Was that song written about anyone?
"If There Was No You" was written as a songwriting exercise. I found myself writing these songs that were always intended to be loving love songs about something or someone, and then it's always only the parts of that relationship that I'm tortured by that are what make it into the song. I can never just write a sweet song without having to turn it in the end to coming from a place that I suffer from, and that is where my songwriting comes from. It comes from things that puzzle me, that are hard for me to understand. So "If There Was No You" was a songwriting exercise and experience that I had with a friend, and I just wanted to write a song about the good feelings I had about the friendship, not the bad.
How did you first meet Amy Ray from the Indigo Girls, and what did it mean to you to have her on “Looking Out”?
It meant a lot to have her on that track; it meant a lot to have her and [Indigo Girl] Emily [Saliers] on The Story too. Those two are huge influences on me, in my life and in my music. When I first met Amy and Emily it changed my life, and they became a really big part of my life really fast, and we all became great friends. Over the years as our friendship has progressed there have been certain things where I just hear their voices. I just hear Emily's voice on a song or feel like a song won't be finished until Emily writes a verse for it. Or I hear Amy's voice in a song where I need a voice in a song that's not weighed down with gender boundaries and that's what I needed. Because the song is so climactic and epic that to have one of the twins [longtime bandmates and twin brothers Tim and Phil Hanseroth] sing on it would have it sounding like "A Whole New World" or some Disney duet, and then to have my voice on it I felt like it would sound overproduced; it needed a voice that wasn't male or female but was just heavy and just profound, and that's what Amy's voice is.