Singer-songwriter Andrew Bird stopped by the Rolling Stone studio to perform a few numbers from his latest album, Break It Yourself, accompanied only by his violin. After the set, Bird chatted about building a studio in an old barn and recording the new album as casually as possible.
Kevin Barnes and his psychedelic pop ensemble Of Montreal stopped by the Rolling Stone studios to perform loose, relaxed versions of three numbers from the group's experimental, emotionally wrenching new album, Paralytic Stalks. After the set, Barnes explained the philosophy behind Of Montreal's new stage extravaganza and told us who he thinks would win in a gang battle between his band and Van Halen.
The Cranberries stopped by the Rolling Stone studios recently to perform songs from their new album, Roses, their first in 11 years, as well as their Nineties hits "Linger" and "Zombie." The new material fits seamlessly with their older work, mixing the bitter and the sweet. After the performance, they talked about reuniting and recording the new record, which was completed in six weeks.
Craig Finn visited the Rolling Stone studio recently to perform some songs from his solo album, Clear Hearts Full Eyes. The Hold Steady frontman also talked about why he was making a solo record now and how the album’s title – a juxtaposition of the Friday Night Lights slogan “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” – relates to the TV show. “There are no songs about Friday Night Lights,” he said. “It stops and starts with the title.”
Common stopped by the Rolling Stone studio recently to perform his new single "Blue Sky," which samples a snippet of Electric Light Orchestra's classic "Mr. Blue Sky." After the performance, the rapper and actor talked about his role on the TV show Hell on Wheels and getting caught up in the political crossfire of a recent Fox News controversy.
Snow Patrol came into the Rolling Stone studio to play some acoustic versions of songs from their latest album, Fallen Empires. After the set, we sat down with singer Gary Lightbody and guitarist Nathan Connolly, and they talked about their experiencing opening for U2. "Playing the big rooms, you learn pretty quick," Connolly said. "You gotta put on a show as well as just a gig."
Jamaican-born Jimmy Cliff dropped in to play a short, spirited set of his classics in the Rolling Stone studio. He then sat down to speak about his new album and what he learned from working with Tim Armstrong. "He's a connoisseur of reggae music," Cliff says. "And he knows so many things that I took for granted – you know, the instrument, who played it, the type of instrument, the year."
Canadian twins Tegan and Sara perform songs featured on their new live album Get Along in the Rolling Stone Studio.
Community star, stand-up comedian and rapper Donald Glover came by the Rolling Stone studio recently to perform a handful of songs from Camp, his first album as Childish Gambino. "I think the only reason I allowed to do this is that rap isn't that serious anymore," Glover said after the set. "Hip-hop started in a fun, silly place and I don't think I need to tell people it's a serious thing. It's fun!"
Taio Cruz stopped by the Rolling Stone studios to play a special acoustic set of some of his hits. He used the acoustic format to show that his song “Hangover” is actually a lighthearted party track. “I tried to sing it really softly so you can get into the lyrics, but I also tried to sing it really tongue in cheek so you can understand that it’s really playful and fun,” Cruz explains.
When Moby performed a special acoustic set in the Rolling Stone studio recently, he confessed that American critics have been harsher on his latest release, Destroyed, than critics elsewhere. "I am, for better or worse, a nerd," he says. "And I think that irritates people."
Inyang Bassey performs a special acoustic set with Moby in the Rolling Stone studio. "When I'm working on music now, I'm really just trying to make music that I respond to emotionally," says Moby, who records and produces everything by himself. "So when I put a record out into the world, I have absolutely no idea how other people might respond to it."
Gary Clark Jr. stops by the Rolling Stone studio to perform a few cuts from his latest release, The Bright Lights EP. Clark cut his teeth by playing in blues clubs but tells Rolling Stone that he would go home at night and listen to Prince, Earth Wind and Fire, and hip-hop records. "I'm going to try to get away with whatever I can get away with," he says.
A reunited Jayhawks stop by the Rolling Stone studio to perform a couple classics alongside cuts from their new release, Mockingbird Time. Gary Louris tells Rolling Stone that when they regrouped earlier this year, the idea was to pick back up right where they left off. "And we did," he says. "But it's not 1996. We've gone through a lot of things, each of us, individually."
Performing songs from his new release, Keeper, at the Rolling Stone studio, John Doe explains that the music comes from a different place now than it did when he first formed legendary punk band X in the late 1970s. While he grew up listening to albums by the Band, the Rolling Stones and George Harrison, "in order to make something that's your own, you have to push all of those influences to the background," he tells Rolling Stone. Which is exactly what he did with X. "At this point, I can bring them back and make them my own," he says.
John Doe and Cindy Wasserman perform songs from Doe's new solo album, Keeper, at the Rolling Stone studio. Although these solo songs are a lot happier and more content than the material Doe's known for with his punk band X, both projects peacefully coexist. "Transitioning from solo stuff to X is a little bit of an adjustment," Doe tells Rolling Stone. "But once you have the volume and the speed of X behind you, you're kind of swept up in it. It is very much like riding a bicycle. You just get up and do it."
Tom Morello performs as the Nightwatchman with Carl Restivo at the Rolling Stone studio. "I first began calling myself the Nightwatchman when I started writing acoustic songs and performing at open mic nights," Morello tells Rolling Stone. On tour with Audioslave at the time, he used his free moments to hone his craft at local coffeeshops, using the nickname in hopes of avoiding unwanted attention: “After awhile the material grew into the name.”
Gavin Rossdale and Bush stop by Rolling Stone to perform a song from their new album, The Sea of Memories – their first collection of brand new material in a decade. "It’s weird with a band because it’s never like we particularly broke up," says Rossdale. "[With] English people, there’s never much nostalgia; you just sort of drift away."
Gavin Rossdale performs with Bush at the Rolling Stone studio. After nearly a decade of inactivity – save for a collection of previously recorded songs – Rossdale says he just wanted his band back. "I missed it," he tells Rolling Stone. "I kinda wanted to go back to where I was used to being."
Fitz and the Tantrums perform at Rolling Stone. Frontman Michael Fitzpatrick formed the band in 2009 after he purchased a cheap old church organ through his ex-girlfriend’s neighbor. "I had one of those magical moments where the song wrote itself from start to finish in five minutes," he tells Rolling Stone. "And I knew that we were going to make a band with no guitars, female voices and a horn section."
Fitz and the Tantrums sit down for an interview after performing at Rolling Stone. "It's been crazy because this band has been two things," says frontman Michael Fitzpatrick. "It's been these crazy kind of serendipitous moments; and then I can probably say quite confidently, for all of us, the hardest work any of us have ever put into a band before."
The Spin Doctors celebrate the 20th anniversary of their album, Pocket Full of Kryptonite, by performing its biggest hits at the Rolling Stone studio. "We never were trying to write hit tunes," says frontman Chris Barron, who admits that they were nonetheless happy with those results. "But our focus was really on writing songs that would become people's favorite songs," he says. "That's what we wanted to do."
Actor and musician Jeff Bridges stops by the Rolling Stone studio to perform songs off his new country record, Jeff Bridges. "When I'm asked about my musical background, the first note is one of regret in a funny sort of way," he tells Rolling Stone. Growing up, his mother insisted that all of her children take piano lessons. Bridges bitched his way out of it: "She said, 'Ok, you can stop but you're going to be sorry one day.' And she's absolutely correct."
Jeff Bridges performs songs off his new country record, Jeff Bridges, at the Rolling Stone studio. He traces the inspiration and impetus for this album back to his 2009 hit movie Crazy Heart, which he originally turned down "because there was no music attached to it," he says. But when he talked to his old friend T-Bone Burnett, they both agreed to do it if the other one was involved: "I knew if T-Bone was at the helm, we'd be in good shape."
Jake Shimabukuro stops by the Rolling Stone studio to perform several originals along with his stunning cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Shimabukuro is a huge proponent of the ukulele as an instrument for the people and he embraces its growing popularity. "This instrument is very special because people aren't intimidated by it," he tells Rolling Stone. "Music should be for everyone."
Rhett Miller and Murry Hammond of the Old 97's perform at Rolling Stone in support of their latest release, The Grand Theatre, Vol. 2 (which follows 2010’s Vol. 1 by a year). Originally both albums were imagined as part of the same release, but Miller explains that the record label thought otherwise. "I was informed that the marketplace can no longer bear a double album," he says. All the same, he says now that Vol. 2 "turned into something that at least rivals Vol. 1, if not is a better standalone album."