You might know Brad Smith; he wrote the song ‘Help Yourself’ you may have heard at the end of Up in the Air, the Oscar-nominated film from a few award seasons ago. He’ll be performing at The Paper Machete Saturday, and he talked to WBEZ for a few minutes about the kind of music he writes, what colors he looks best in, and whether or not there is a party going on at his house this weekend.
1:50 PM Sad Brad: I’m around if you are.
1:54 PM Kate: Great, hey Brad.
So tell us a little bit about the love affair that is you + The Paper Machete.
1:55 PM It’s been a long time, has it not.
2:01 PM Sad Brad: Well, I love The Paper Machete because its close to my house.
First and foremost.
2:02 PM But additionally, there is a great community to be found there. Some of chicago’s brightest and most well spoken. Give or take.
Kate: Give away who?
We want the drama.
Sad Brad: Well, there’s me. For starters.
2:03 PM And … um.
The NeoFuturists often appear and its always great to see them get to speak more at length than they are allowed at the theatre, because they are all such talented writers.
2:05 PM But I’m bad with names.
2:14 PM Kate: It’s alright, I don’t want you to make enemies.
2:15 PM How much variety is there in what you write about — and what’s the process like?
2:17 PM Sad Brad: I mostly write songs. And there’s not a whole lot of variety in them, I must confess. They are mostly just upbeat takes on how hard and stupid everything is.
That’s not true. Jeez, this is hard.
2:18 PM Kate: We just want to KNOW you
Sad Brad: I’m trying to let my heart and mind find a sort common language in their quest to piece together a viable game plan for getting through life in an often bleak, but sometimes beautiful, universe.
2:19 PM Sad Brad: And the process consists of sleeping late and pacing around the house, looking at the piano, going online, taking lots of breaks, and waiting for inspiration to hit, usually around one or two in the morning.
2:21 PM Kate: Are their constraints put on you? Like, this week, make it more upbeat and about Miley Cyrus?
2:22 PM Sad Brad: If Chris had his way, people would only talk about Miley Cyrus. But I don’t let him push me around.
Kate: Yea! Good for you!
Sad Brad: There’s a good back and forth, I think, in truth.
2:23 PM Chris I think asks people he trusts and gives them a certain amount of freedom, which usually results in better work.
2:24 PM Kate: Agreed.
So can you give us a preview of this week?
And perhaps any pre-show rituals?
2:26 PM Sad Brad: I’m stepping out of my comfort zone a little this week. I’m not just playing music, I’ll be giving the Weather Report, where I talk about the weather. And how hard and stupid it is.
The only pre-show ritual I have is to force myself not to bail and follow through with my commitment.
2:27 PM Kate: Weather is hard and stupid?
2:29 PM Sad Brad: If you’re depressed, it is.
2:30 PM I’ll really be talking about the onset of Fall and how it relates, in my mind, to the creative process.
2:32 PM Kate: That’s totally fair.
2:33 PM In that, I feel like fall is always the beginning of the year, so I get seasons being important.
2:35 PM Sad Brad: Yeah, its funny. It does have a sense of beginnings in it, somehow, despite its ushering in Winter and decay.
Plus, Fall colors look really good on me.
2:36 PM Kate: Oh yea? You’re a bronzes-browns-and-camouflage’
2:37 PM Sad Brad: Yeah, I guess so.
2:38 PM I would wear blacks, but I have red hair, and it doesn’t seem appropriate unless I’m playing the villain in some carnival-based horror film to appear that way.
Kate: I’ll call the casting agents.
Sad Brad: That’d would be great.
Tell them I’m hungry.
Kate: What else will you get up to this weekend?
Sad Brad: I’m doing some recording saturday and sunday for my new album.
2:39 PM And I think there’s a party at my house saturday night, but I’m not certain.
I’ll confirm or disconfirm at the Machete.
2:40 PM Oh no. I have to run Kate, to pick up some Mics.
I’ll be back in about 20 minutes though, if there’s more.
Kate: It’s cool!
I think that’s it.
I like leaving it on this dramatic end.
Thanks for taking the time.
Sad Brad: No problem. Thanks to you as well.