The Pains of Being Polite At Heart: "I Look Up to Tom Petty a Lot."

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Music is so accessible -- people today have unheard of access to anything they want to listen to. Where does your music fit in and what do you think makes it important?

I don't think I can answer that. I'm a huge fan of music, and I think so much music is important. Desire behind it can be important. I don't have the sense that our music is the only music in the world that matters. I'm a fan of so many bands that don't get the attention they deserve. I try to write the best music that I know how. I look up to Tom Petty a lot. He's kind of my hero. He's not the most flashy performer. I don't think he's anybody's idea of a sex symbol. He's not even a virtuoso musician. He was able to play the Super Bowl halftime show because he kept writing good song after good song. That's not to take away from his musical accomplishments. He's just sort of an atypical person to be a rock & roll star. It's incredible, the kind of good music he produced. I know my own background is way different, but I hold on to the idea that songwriting is the most important thing, and I think good songs last a lot longer than cool fads or things that are rooted in other ideas.

He really is overlooked; whenever people talk about great American songwriters it's usually Springsteen or the Beach Boys. Then you go, "Wait, TOM PETTY."

I know. Bruce Springsteen has this bravado and Prince is just pure sex and virtuosity. If you want to play the game of who has it all, I probably couldn't think of anyone better than Prince -- even Bowie. But Tom Petty is overlooked in a lot of ways. There's nothing outsized or outlandish about his personality and what he presents to the world. He seems very quiet and removed. He used to just sort of come out with an album every two years.

"Simple and Sure," I think there was a little touch of Petty in that. Inadvertently -- I didn't sit down and say, "Let's record a Tom Petty song." I just listened to it and thought, "Oh, there's a little Tom Petty in there."

You've been to St. Louis before. How was your last experience?

We played at Off Broadway before, a little after Belong came out. We also played at a very good independent radio station [KDHX]. They brought us bagels. You remember that -- when you wake up first thing in the morning and someone brought you bagels, that's great. This is going to be nice. I have some family members down there. My family is from the rival beer city of Milwaukee. What's interesting is that Off Broadway, they were selling Miller and not Bud, in the shadow of Anheuser-Busch. But I'm not a guy who cares about fancy beer either. We have a six-pack of Bud Light Lime in the practice space right now.


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