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The Glasshouse Interviews: David Wax Museum

Posted on 7 January 2020

David Wax Museum

What was the first record you bought?

I wish it were something hip, but my first records were Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl and Kris Kross’ “Totally Krossed Out.” However, the first record that made me want to buy a guitar and start a band was The Beatles’ White Album.


Where in the world would you like to play that you have not already?

I’ve travelled throughout Latin America but haven’t gotten to tour there with the full band. That would be a dream come true.


Who was the first band/artist you ever saw perform live?

I’m not sure which of these artists was first, but my parents took me to see Bobby McFerrin, James Taylor, & Judy Collins live all before I was 10-years-old. It was not a triple bill, though that would have been amazing. These were all separate shows in my hometown of Columbia, Missouri.


What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A hike with the family, a homecooked Indian meal, a glass of tequila, a good book, & time to strum the guitar.


Who are your favourite writers?

Karl Ove Knaussgard, Elena Ferrante, & Roberto Bolaño are my contemporary favourites. My favourite books: Don Quixote, Knaussgard’s My Struggle (Volume 2), & Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives, Peter Matthiesen’s Shadow Country, & The Great Gatsby. I can’t wait for Hilary Mantel’s final Cromwell book!


Who are your favourite painters?

Oswaldo Guayasamin, Diego Rivera, Cezanne & Van Gogh.


If you could collaborate with any other artists, living or dead, who would you choose?

I’d love to have Jeff Tweedy produce a record of ours at the Wilco Loft.


What are you listening to at the moment?

Now that our friend Will Oldham has put all of his recordings up on the streaming services, I’m doing a deep dive into his Bonnie “Prince” Billy catalogue.


Where’s your favourite place to go on holiday?

Mexico! Oaxaca is my favourite place to travel with our kids, shop for crafts, & eat our way through every market and food stand.


Best advice you can give to emerging talent?

I’m not sure this is advice, but someone recently asked me to write about the one thing I wished I had known when I started my career in music, and this was my answer:

It never truly gets easier to focus on the art. It’s a lifetime challenge, to prioritize making time and space for being creative. It’s easy in the early days to fantasize about how you’ll finally be able to focus solely on the art once you have a (______) – fill in the blank with booking agent, manager, business manager, record label, etc. And yes, those people are enormous helps and have made a huge difference in our career, but as things grow, you have more complex problems to juggle. Eventually you just have to face the fact that it’s the challenge of being an artist and that no one thing will suddenly make it a breeze.

On this same note, I’ve found that as soon as I stop wanting something desperately and get over the idea that it will somehow solve my problems and make me feel “successful” or a sense of arrival, that’s usually when the opportunity comes our way or the new person comes on board the team. I think knowing this would have saved me some trouble in my early, most ambitious days.