BT: Rusty, thanks for your time today - we're enjoying the new record. Did the material on Born On Earth evolve over time or was it written quickly in a creative burst?
RA: Probably the former. Traditionally, the way records are done, you do some demos and you have songs in various stages - some that have been sitting around for awhile and some that you just wrote. Then, you get together with your producer and you pick the songs and that's the way we did it. Petur [Smith] - who plays drums in my band - co-produced the bulk of the record. I like bouncing ideas off of other people - it keeps the momentum going as opposed to trying to do everything yourself like Prince or Todd Rundgren. You can get stuck really easily, but if you have a good team it makes it all come out quicker and much better.
BT: Did any of the songs take on a new shape once the recording process began?
RA: "Born On Earth" - I'd originally written the intro on keyboards and it got stuck into the rocking section of the song. My next door neighbor plays violin in the L.A. Philharmonic - she and a friend came over and we made a "fake" string octet. You make a lot of choices along the way when you're recording a record and I kept feeling like the string thing ultimately arrived at a point. Also, I've always enjoyed taking instruments and turning them into a guitar part. A lot of guitarists I respect have done that.
BT: If you will, talk about the personnel that assisted you on the album.
RA: This record - as opposed to the last record - was the core band for the most part. On the first record, Paul sang and played bass and guitar on the first track and Stewart Copeland played drums on "Catbox Beach." I didn't do that approach on this one - I kept it more of me and my guys.
BT: What are your plans for the remainder of the year? Will you be touring for the new album, touring with Paul, or both?
RA: I've been working with Paul since 2001. When I have time to work on my record, I do that. I can't really do a long-term tour with my group because of my playing with Paul but it's all worth it.
BT: How do you feel about technology's role in music? Is the access provided via iTunes, Youtube, Myspace and other modern outlets helpful or does it cause an abundance of clutter?
RA: Fortunately or unfortunately, I have no choice. I think all the time about how technology has transformed the world. If Shakespeare was alive today, he'd be a nobody - it's all based around whatever technology is available at the time and what people are paying attention to. This is the digital age and artists have to be more involved in the business and control their worlds more. That's actually a big bummer because it limits the amount of time you can be creative. On one hand it's cool because it's more direct as far as the artist's involvement in the whole business process and in another respect it's not as cool because it's more time-consuming with that stuff as opposed to making music.
BT: If you will, talk about the origins of your gig with McCartney.
RA: I met Paul through a producer friend of mine. I was very excited because I'm a big fan of his production and I'm obviously a fan of Paul's. He asked me if I wanted to do some guitar work on his [Driving Rain] record and I said, "Of course." I didn't tell too many people - I didn't want to do the Hollywood jinx. A couple of months later I found myself in the studio with Paul - it became the birth of the next eight or nine years. The Beatles were the reason I started playing music and I flash back to that every 15 minutes or so as we're working together [laughs].