I don’t have time for seal­ing things in am­ber

AN AU­dI­ENCE WITH IRON & WINE

UNCUT - - An Audience With Iron & Wine -

“All my friends have beards and all mu­si­cians I know have beards… we’re just a lazy bunch of bums! I was wor­ried my fa­cial hair was more in­ter­est­ing than the mu­sic I was mak­ing!” In­ter­view by michael bon­ner

IT’S early morn­ing at Myr­tle Beach, South Carolina, where Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam has taken time out from the July 4 hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions to speak to Un­cut. “I’ve brought the kids to visit my folks,” he says. It tran­spires that Beam has five daugh­ters. “Most of the day is pretty free now that they’re in school,” he ex­plains. “I used to have to carve out time to work, now I can treat the time a little more frivolously. I’m al­ways work­ing. I used to be more fo­cused, now it’s note­books all over the place. I don’t push it any more. There’s a lot of hours in the day to do other things.”

Over the past 15 years since Iron & Wine’s de­but, The Creek Drank The Cra­dle, Beam has re­fined his brand of hushed, hes­i­tant Amer­i­cana to in­cor­po­rate folk bal­ladry, fu­ne­real ele­gies and lus­trous blue-eyed soul. His lat­est, Beast Epic, of­fers a fur­ther up­grade on his sound. “This is my sixth col­lec­tion of new Iron & Wine ma­te­rial and I’m happy to say that it’s my fourth for Sub Pop Records,” he says. “It’s a warm and serendip­i­tous time to be re­unit­ing with my Seat­tle friends, be­cause I feel there’s a cer­tain kin­ship be­tween this new col­lec­tion of songs and my ear­li­est ma­te­rial, which Sub Pop was kind enough to re­lease.”

Mean­while, Beam is en­joy­ing a bit of down­time be­fore he heads out on a run of dates in North Amer­ica: “This is the quiet be­fore the storm,” he says with a laugh. “I’m try­ing to soak up my kids’ faces!”

What makes a good al­bum ti­tle? Bryn Hughes, Cardiff That’s like, “What makes a good recipe?” It’s dif­fer­ent for every­body.

I like words, so if the words res­onate in a fun way, it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter how it re­lates to the body of mu­sic it’s ti­tling. I usu­ally go through and pick up some lyric from one of the songs that I feel re­lates to the body of work. But it’s re­ally just out of lazi­ness. I’ve al­ways liked Rub­ber Soul – it re­lates to the mu­sic, but in a bet­ter way than any of the lyrics. Beast Epic is a lit­er­ary term for a story like The Tor­toise And The Hare, where there are an­i­mals talk­ing and act­ing like hu­mans. I thought it was a fun way to de­scribe our more base na­ture. It can be a Trump ref­er­ence, if you like – you can ap­ply it to what­ever you like.

That song in Twi­light. How did that come about? Chris Ni­co­las, Wey­bridge

Lots of luck! The story that I’ve heard is that the al­bum [The Shep­herd’s Dog] had just come out and Kris­ten Ste­wart was lis­ten­ing to it on her head­phones when the film­mak­ers were block­ing the prom scene. As the song “Flight­less Bird, Amer­i­can Mouth” was work­ing in her head, she sug­gested they use it to block the scene. So they did, in­tend­ing on switch­ing it later to some­thing that other peo­ple might re­ally want to hear. But you know how it is, you hear it too many times and it sticks – so that’s what hap­pened. Am I fan of Young Adult vam­pire fic­tion? Sure, it’s very in­spir­ing for mak­ing mu­sic!

You’ve writ­ten many songs over the years – are there any par­tic­u­lar ones that you don’t en­joy play­ing any more?

Zach Ladd, via email It’s al­ways a chal­lenge to play a song a mil­lion times, when what you re­ally en­joy about mu­sic is what’s ly­ing undis­cov­ered around the cor­ner. But at the same time, it’s a chal­lenge that’s fun to take up. I’ve al­ways found that if you’re will­ing to look at your work as a cap­sule of what you were do­ing at that mo­ment – in­stead of a eu­logy that has to walk with you for the rest of your life and de­scribe you in com­plete­ness – it’s fun. You can breathe a new en­ergy into a song that might have been ly­ing dead on the ta­ble. It de­pends on how pre­cious you want to be! I don’t have time for seal­ing things in am­ber.

Iron & Wine have cov­ered Stere­o­lab, Spir­i­tu­al­ized and New Or­der. Are there any ’80s/’90s UK in­die bands you’d deem too dif­fi­cult to cover?

Neal Reeves, Manch­ester No. I have such af­fec­tion for that mu­sic – it had a lot to do with my sonic up­bring­ing. It was around; if I could find it, any­one could find it! I was a Cure fa­natic. I loved Robert Smith and a lot of bands along those lines. But that’s what was in the wa­ter at the time. I feel like from the be­gin­ning, Iron &

Twi­light’s Kris­ten Ste­wart let The Shep­herd’s Dog loose on set…

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