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Hello, My Name Is Alex

| May 1, 2012 | 0 Comments

Q&A with Alex Ebert (a.k.a. Edward Sharpe)

IE: So there’s actually a film, Big Easy Express, of the Railroad Revival Tour you took last year by vintage train cars, with Mumford & Sons and Old Crow Medicine Show?
Alex Ebert
: Yes. And it was shot really beautifully. But in some ways, it’s really hard to look at a film like that, because it’s capturing a time that, for me, was so paramount in my canon of experiences. I mean, it’s a 2D representation of a three-dimensional experience, so it’s hard to know if anyone else will be able to understand how important that train trip really was. But I hope it inspires other people to chase childlike dreams, like jumping on a train with your friends and playing music.

IE: Any on-screen revelations that surprised you?
AE
: Yeah. After I heard the monologue that I was doing, I realized that I sounded like Morgan Freeman, like a Southern Morgan Freeman. So I might have a career in narration some day.

IE: In stomping hymns like “Mayla,” “I Don’t Wanna,” and “That’s What’s Up,” your new Zeros album really taps into a gospel fervor.
AE
: That’s my favorite way to sing, and my favorite energy, musically. I like a lot of energies, but the energy with which gospel is sung and delivered is, to me, the ideal way in which music has its most profound, healing effect. And as we became a band over the last four years, playing a lot of the first album [Up From Below] in concert, then playing these radio acoustic sessions in between, we really wanted to do a more meditative group effort, something a little more tender.

IE: The Edward Sharpe character you first created for a book was a preacher-like figure. And a preacher is the protagonist of Here‘s closer, “All Wash Out.” What is his sermon?
AE
: In that song, the preacher is stumbling away from the institution of . . . whatever. He’s walking away from whatever you’ve got, whatever institutions there are, and coming away with a single truth — that love is something to believe in and everything else will wash out in the rain. And something will be left standing, and it’ll be some sort of truth that we can all recognize.

IE: Did you get any spooky déjà vu vibes on those circa-1940s rail cars during the Revival tour?
AE
: In some ways. But for the most part I was pretty overwhelmed the whole time. And that’s how it is a lot of the time for me — playing these shows and just feeling overcome with . . . I dunno if “gratitude” is the right word, or “thankfulness.” Or just awe that it’s happening. So it just felt good to be on that train, that’s all I can say. It just felt really, really magical.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros’ album Here (Community) arrives May 29th. They play Riviera Theatre (4746 N. Racine) in Chicago on May 24th with He’s My Brother She’s My Sister. Q&A by Tom Lanham.

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