BT: I’ve had the pleasure of seeing you solo on both sides of the country now, at Largo in LA, with Grant Lee Phillips, and the Tupelo Music Hall in New Hampshire, on my birthday last year, there are obvious differences to performing solo compared to with Toad The Wet Sprocket, how do you prepare yourself for the intimacy that the smaller venues bring with them?
Glen: They’re very different beasts. Playing with the Toad has technical requirements where we have to stick with a set list, and there’s also a restriction on material as we are playing 99% songs from that catalog. It’s about bringing memories to people. Solo shows can include everything I’ve written, including Toad material, and are a little more in the now. I can ride an emotional or thematic current and adjust on the fly to a much greater degree. There’s moments of nostalgia, but many more surprises for the audience and myself. I like getting to go between the two. In Toad I’m filling a function that’s more outside of myself, as a solo performer it’s more interactive and subtle. I think I prepare for one by doing the other.
BT: Swallowed By The New, has, along with a lot of your solo work, a dark side tempered with hope and ultimately a positive message. Where do you find the balance in your songwriting?
Glen: There’s been a lot of turmoil and change in my life the last few years, and the songs on this record are definitely a reflection of that. I’ve had my fair share of wallowing, blaming and smallness, but I like to have the songs be (mostly) a reflection of higher self. They are tools to remind me of what is actually true, not just what I happen to be feeling at the moment.
Stephen Jenkinson is a palliative care specialist in Canada who speaks a lot about our relationship with loss and death. We are always getting closer to that inevitable loss, and we can choose to ignore it, let it crush us with fear, or inspire us to wake up. Maybe it’s a big leap to compare divorce to death, but it’s a loss of home, a loss of identity, a loss of a vision of the future. Those are huge things to lose, and they are in parallel with other types of displacement. There are so many ways to have that happen – floods, fires, being fired, political shifts. We learn a lot about ourselves by seeing how we weather those changes. That’s really what this record is about.
BT: If I remember correctly, you mentioned that you’re part of, or have been part of a book club, your bio states that Grief and Praise was inspired by writer Martin Prechtel. How do you find that exploring other works of art in a completely different medium then music, affect your approach to music?
Glen: I haven’t been in a book club, but I read a fair amount. Martin Prechtel, Pema Chodron, David Whyte, Mary Oliver. They’ve all meant a lot to me in the last few years. I’ve become a more lyric based writer in the last few years, so innovations of thought are more fascinating to me than innovations in music. I love novel music, but it’s not what I’m best at. The place I feel I’m most effective is in the communication of vulnerability, so that’s what I study most.
BT: This tour, you aren’t going completely solo, who is going out with you and how did that come about?
Glen: I’ll be taking Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek) out with me on the Texas tour, and my friend Jonathan Kingham with me on the November tour. He and Amber Rubarth with join me on a couple cruises (Sail Across the Sun and Cayamo) and then I’ll do some solo band touring (members as of yet undecided) in March and April. They’re all friends and people I admire musically. Now that my kids are older and I’m not as much in the holding a household together stage of my life I’m looking forward to more collaboration again. I love playing with other people, I just haven’t felt I could afford a band for a number of years. There’s a few collaborative projects I’m excited to get to work on, but I’ll save any specific announcement until they are underway.
BT: Your last tour, you kept the set list pretty loose, the converstation between you and the audience was good, are we going to see that sort of show again?
Glen: Yes, you will.