JA: I was a huge fan of the Carpenters—Karen and Richard Carpenter. About seven years ago I actually got to meet Richard Carpenter at this publishing party and I got to sing “We’ve Only Just Begun” with him. That was a very weird and surreal moment for me. I’d played them so much when I was 14 and 15 in my parent’s basement, that you kind of go flying through this time tunnel and you think of the kid that you were and you think of the years gone by and here I was, singing with Richard Carpenter—Karen had already died years before, of course—but it was one of the first times I felt like I was actually getting somewhere.
JA: I do. I enjoy it. I really like words and I think that’s what has kept me interested in songwriting. I think the greatest invention of all time is the book.
JA: I’m reading The Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke. I usually read the Giller Prize winner every year. I read Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and enjoyed that.
JA: I think you have to write like no one’s reading. You can’t censor yourself. You can’t go, “Oh, that’s going to sound too dumb.” Sometimes the simplest, most insignificant things are the things that you cling to five years later. People think, “Oh, I didn’t do anything in my life.” What do they think, every night’s the Oscars?
JA: I would have to say Good Mother. I always enjoy singing it and I like the sentiment of a song about what kind of bravery your parents can give you.
JA: I love corny songs. Jackson Browne’s Downtown, all the Carpenters stuff and Abba, like Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen. All the James Bond theme songs, you know, those are good ones.