BB: Who do you run your songs by? You write one, you go, “hey what do you think of this?” Boom. Who’s that person?
JM: Me. And there’s even people I run my songs by and they go, “that’s great," and I go, “no it’s not.”
So again, big feet. Big strong head. Most of it's in-house. I don’t necessarily collaborate very well. But I kind of know what I know. I don’t finish songs that I don’t think will make records. I don’t usually have any extra songs left over that don’t have parts falling off of them when I’m done with an album. So I know what makes a me song now and what doesn’t.
And there are even good song ideas that I have—like really cool things—I listen back to it and I go, “I don’t buy it.” Like, I know myself well enough now. I can do more stuff than I should do. I can do more stuff with a guitar or with a band or with drum programming than I should have as music that is called my music. It’s really weird. It has to pass a lot of tests. It’s like a four-quadrant test. Is it good? Do I like it? Which is different than, “is it good?"
So you can have a song that’s good that you don’t like, you can have a song that’s not good that you like. Is it me? That’s the third. It can be good and you like it but if it’s not you then it’s like, “I don’t know if I want this to be my thing.” And the fourth question is, “do I want to play this every night when I go on tour?” And if it passes all four of those questions, then I know it’s a really good song.
I don’t know what a hit is anymore, but I know what is one of those songs where you’re like, “oh this is bulletproof, let’s go around the world with this.” And "Rosie" it’s like, anywhere you go—[sings drum intro]. People—they don’t necessarily cheer for the recognition of the tune, but they cheer because it feels so good. So I’m pretty good about being my own A&R guy.
BB: Do you play all your instruments on your demos?
JM: Yes. Yes I do. And sometimes that’s tricky because the ignorance of my playing a certain instrument that I don’t really play predominantly adds to the certain, uh, je ne sais quoi of it. And then you bring a really good musician in, and then you gotta be like, “will you play it a little dumber?” [Laughs]
And then you gotta be like, “can you do it with just your left hand?” “Can I hit you in the head once with a vase and then can you do it?” I go with the "väse," I don’t say "vāse." I’m fancy. So I have people try and replicate that kind of half-awake way of playing.