On Artvertisement, Darrin Bradbury Mulls Over “Making It” in Music

Photo by Weston Heflin

Without really knowing it, I got a teaser for Darrin Bradbury‘s new album back in 2019. We were discussing his sophomore full-length (and his debut on ANTI- Records), Talking Dogs and Atom Bombs, when he told me: “There’s so much bullshit in songwriting. People are trying to sell you things, and I never want to sell you anything.” That could be the thesis statement for Bradbury’s whole catalog, but it’s especially pertinent on his third record, Artvertisement. Out this week, it follows his trip through the music business wringer in all its absurdity, from basement punk shows in New Jersey to the offices of out-of-touch Nashville execs and back again.

Through the ups and downs–checks with zeros on them and songs sold to hock beer–Artvertisement bobs on with a beleaguered grin. Bradbury will readily tell you it owes a lot to studio backup from Ryan Sobb and the Dead Mall and returning engineer Scottie Prudhoe (Preston Cochran’s joyous keys deserve particular props). Despite the folky cadence, it’s a rock record through and through; Bradbury’s penchant for short, sweet songcraft is a natural fit for one-minute punk songs, pseudo stadium sing-alongs, and even a couple slow jams. Armed with the band’s compatible humor and live vigor, Bradbury’s writing threads the Stephin Merritt needle–so cynical it sometimes loops back around to pure optimism.

It’s like in his tongue-in-cheek “Wedding Song,” where persistent reminders of death can’t quite dampen the happiness of being with someone you love. Because below all the bullshit–if you can get there–the music industry is built on people coming together to make new sounds, which is still a magical thing. Before the release of Artvertisement, Bradbury spoke to The All Scene Eye about bringing his indie rock roots to bear and his dream of becoming the Dread Pirate Roberts of Americana.

Your last album, Talking Dogs and Atom Bombs, dealt a lot with domestic life and also mental illness–themes that I think a lot of people have been newly confronted with since the pandemic. How does it feel to have been ahead of your time?

[laughs] I do sometimes feel like I’ve been writing about how tough shit is since the Obama era, even though I love Obama, and everyone was like, “Ah, that guy’s always grumpy.” So I do feel like the world has become a bit more like a Darrin Bradbury song, but what are you gonna do? If I could change it to the world being okay and just me being grumpy, I would gladly change it. I’m a utilitarian through and through.

When did the songs for Artvertisement start to cohere?

Probably right before the European tour. 2019 was when I knew I had all the songs for a follow-up, and I had been testing it over in Europe, and it was going really well, so I felt pretty strong about that. I think I had written “Field Notes From a College Town” probably before you and I even talked. The last time we talked, I was back from Virginia–because that song is about Charlottesville.

I was gonna say, kind of a quintessential college town.

Yeah, I wrote that walking around the Downtown Mall. I wrote it in my head and then put it together when I got home.

I mean, talk about a place–you know, that song deals with revitalization and things like that.

Revitalization is such a weird term, man, because who does it benefit? I get a lot of people that try to tell me I don’t like bougie shit. I’m fine with bougie shit. It’s just, bougie needs to belong where bougie belongs. It’s when you start making these neighborhoods into bougie neighborhoods. You’re voting and projecting yourself one way, but economically living a different way that excludes an entire population. That’s where I get ornery, for lack of a better word. 

We’re dealing with that right now–I live in Madison, which is adjacent to East Nashville, and historically, Madison has been known as the motor mile, where basically it’s car dealerships for as far as the eye can see. There’s a lot of drugs, there’s a lot of crime, there’s a lot of what East Nashville pushed out, and those people ain’t the problem. It’s the people that are movin’ into my neighborhood trying to get these car mechanics to shut down when historically, they were here first, operating businesses that you just don’t happen to like because they don’t make your neighborhood look nice. There’s a gritty reality of the world that we all must face every day. Maybe not all of us. Maybe that’s just my lot in life.

You can certainly choose to not pay attention, but I don’t know that that’s any better.

No, I don’t think so. I think the most sad part is that all these developments in East Nashville–I was talking to the owner of The 5 Spot, and they had a big apartment complex–like, condominiums–built right next to them. It used to be a used car lot, and then it turned into a parking lot, and–whatever. They built these big, obnoxious, modern-looking buildings. And he’s like, “Oh, I was pissed about them, but I’m not anymore because they’re gonna be Airbnb’s.” I mean, that’s even worse! All these developments are being built so people can come visit. Greg Brown has a line in “Boomtown” saying that, you know, “[for the rest of us it’s] trailers on the outskirts of town.” And it’s definitely the case, but I’ll take the grime any day. It keeps you on your toes, keeps you real. You have to interact with everybody, you know? There’s plenty of people in my neighborhood that I would probably disagree with politically. There’s many people in my neighborhood that socioeconomically–well, we’re both broke, but for different reasons. You gotta learn to live with one another.

One final thing I’ll say about “Field Notes” is that to me, the album begins where the last album ended. The guy who just spent the day inside of his house contemplating why the squirrels are getting eaten by hawks is now stepping out of his doorway and deciding to take that lens and put it toward the outside world.

Tell me about some of the characters on this record. It’s very unified in perspective, and one theme that starts at the end of that song is the business of music. [“Field Notes”] ends with Greg being courted by A&R guys and letting it go to his head, and that thread carries in and out all the way through “Mikey Shoulda Died.”

It’s a very autobiographical record. I’m Greg just as much as anybody else, you know? Not that I’m at all famous, but it is an assessment on the game of fame. I’ve got ten years experience now behind the curtain and I had some things that I wanted to say about it. 

There’s a shallowness to show business that is disheartening, especially in a town like Nashville. It’s very human to want recognition. It’s human to want to be validated for one’s efforts, but it also can’t be your life. Living in a show business town, I hope that those themes ring true outside of it, but the characters are all–well, they’re not all me. The “Artvertisement” guy was a real record label dude. [laughs]

As an interviewer, I’m mad that the best question’s already taken, and that is from the exec who asked you, as I’ve read: “So your whole thing is being a big loser, right?”

It’s true, man, and I gotta give ANTI- props, ’cause ANTI- rules. They are totally willing to be assumed the nemesis of this record when they are totally not. They are the exception to the rule, where they’re just very down to earth and very real. 

I guess a little bit, I felt the liberty to let my Epitaph side show. You know, I was way into a lot of that southern California punk scene when I was a kid. I would never change the Americana, but you live so inundated in that world that you feel kind of tied to it, and people like to say that you’re like so-and-so. That was a big joke on the record too, was we wanted to make a collection of singles that have different genres attached to them. Because the idea is silly. Nashville loves to do this thing where they decide somebody is the next so-and-so.

I read a ton of interviews where people ask you about John Prine.

Yeah, it’s a common thing, and on the one hand, it’s humbling. That dude is one of my heroes. I will argue that I was a student of his–not personally, obviously, but a student of his in that I learned probably more than anybody else that I listened to about how to write. 

My favorite review from the last record was on some message board. I’ve kind of made myself a promise on this record to not read any of the reviews–maybe it’s the Conor Oberst in me that believes in the “Let’s Not Shit Ourselves” line where he’s like, “I do not read the reviews.” [laughs] But I thought it really captured the record. This guy was like–what was the exact wording? I think it was “a not-douchey Father John Misty.”

[laughs] That’s great–that’s actually kind of on the nose.

Yeah, like, “An everyman’s Father John Misty.” You don’t have to have a college degree to like my music, and that’s what you learn from an artist like Prine. Prine has high intellect in his writing that speaks to the lowest common denominator. He excludes no one. That is a tenet that I try to hold to as well.

Let’s talk about punk, because that’s something that I think ties in pretty closely. Punk is this very colloquial form of music, but it’s often coming from an academic perspective or ideological rigor. I’m curious how that came up for you in making this record.

Well, I was an indie kid at heart, and before that, I was a Hot Topic Epitaph kid at heart. The Dead Kennedys were one of my favorite bands. Bad Religion was one of my favorite bands. I stand by this, and it won’t be recognized–Rancid’s Out Come the Wolves is one of the great rock masterpieces of all time. And I find it funny because when ANTI- was coming around and they were courting me, so to speak, they were always talking about Tom Waits and Mavis Staples, artists that I absolutely adore. But the president used to work for Epitaph, and he worked Out Come the Wolves, and that’s when my jaw dropped. Like, “Tell me about Out Come the Wolves.” Those sounds were very natural to me because they were the sounds that I made as a kid, poorly. [laughs] And I saw the opportunity to make them the way that I hear them. I wanted to do a punk song that referenced Joni Mitchell, you know? ‘Cause it’s all the same.

The other thing about the sounds on this record was–sometimes, without the audience, my records can feel like a diary entry. When you have the audience, you can tell it’s funny, and not funny like, “Haha,” but you can tell that there’s humor to it. I wanted to make a record that, sonically, was playful. My ethos and the ethos of the entire band on this project was to create sounds that were inherent to us without having tried. I grew up listening to punk. I grew up listening to indie rock. I played in various bands before my life in Nashville, a la “Mikey Shoulda Died,” which has been the only frustrating question. The only thing that seems to get over people’s heads is they’re like, “Oh man, I know a Mikey! Who’s Mikey?” And I’m like, “I’m Mikey! I’m talking about me!” [laughs] “I’m too old! I’m tired! I’ve been screaming since I was 18! I’m fat!”

To ANTI-‘s credit, they had no expectations of me to make any other kind of record than the one I wanted to make, and I had a very clear vision. There isn’t a single note on the record that wasn’t intentional. We didn’t let anything just lie. Like “Exile On Myrtle Beach.” We did that song, and then we’re like, “Well, alright, but we can’t end it that way. Let’s all end on the wrong note.” The production is very tongue-in-cheek and very much made by hopeful, beautiful cynics, you know?

I remember you saying that you thought Talking Dogs and Atom Bombs had only a couple moments of really emotive music. This record feels like there’s a much higher ratio.

I can speak of this record so positively because I really feel like it’s the sum of all the parts. Like, I’m just one part of it. I got to pick my favorite friends here to make this record, people I’ve been working with and known for years, and this is also why I love talking to bloggers about it. Like, dude, if you like this record, check out Ryan Sobb and the Dead Mall. That’s the guitar player, and his band basically backed me up. They were my favorite band in town, and Ryan and I have been friends–he actually lived in my house for a couple months and had opened for me a couple times, but he’s one of the best songwriters out there, in my opinion. 

What I was gonna say with that was, we didn’t want it to not feel like a Darrin Bradbury record. We wanted it to still feel like I’m mumbling into a microphone you’ve kinda gotta lean into, but we wanted it to be an extension, sonically, of our sense of humor and sense of purpose. I think it’s an evolution of the same sound without–I’m not straying away from Americana. I’m an Americana artist. I mean, I like to think of myself as just a writer, and writers are sort of genre-less, so this is our fun band record, and sad too at the same time, you know? I’m rambling here a little bit, but it was the most fun I’ve ever had in the studio. It was just a blast. At the end of it, Ryan said “If anybody doesn’t like this record, it’s their problem,” and I kind of agree with him on that.

What was the standout having-a-good-time-in-the-studio moment?

Oh, that’s easy. This is how fuckin’ pissed we were about everything, and pissed in that kind of way that we had something to prove. So the only fancy guitar on this record is the one that’s used in “Exile on Myrtle Beach” during the arena scene, we’ll call it. That was, like, a $4,000 guitar, right? [laughs] The rest of the guitar on it is my $100 classical Yamaha. That was a choice. We were like, “We’re not putting steel strings on this record unless we have to,” because it’s too easy to just get lost behind a band following a steel string guitar.

Anyway, we’re in “Exile on Myrtle Beach,” we recorded the basic tracks, we end it all on the wrong note, and we’re listening back. We all turned to each other and literally at the same time said, “What if we made the third verse sound like a stadium?” So we took this $3000 guitar [laughs] we plugged it through a flanger pedal! And we played a little ditty piece that was show-business-y, and we laughed so hard at just–we were like, “Well, can we do that? Let’s try it.” So we inverted it, we put a steel guitar behind it, dropped the rest of the band out, added some super stadium-sounding noises, and viola. We had a song that changed course in the third verse, in a song that’s barely three minutes long.

That section of the song is where you have that one-liner about, “You know it’s a good song if it sells some beer,” which loops back into the music business concept.

Yeah, the album pokes at the music industry because it is something worth poking at. It’s a silly, silly business that, A, I’m very fortunate to be a part of, but B, has very little sense of humor about itself, at least here in America. There’s this weird dynamic between executives and artists. They think artists are delicate, and sometimes they try too hard. They try too hard to impress the artists, or placate them, or put them on a pedestal. ‘Cause it really is a racehorse game, you know? There’s two different worlds here.

We’re talking about making art for art’s sake that stands on its own. Art, in its infancy, should never come from a place of wanting to commodify it, and with my paintings and things that I’ve been doing lately, I have a very socialist mentality because I feel like one part of my life is completely commodified–the other part of my life, I won’t let it be. You’re commodifying this product where at the end of the day, it is about the bottom line. At the end of the day, it is about whether you sell records. It is about whether you stream. That’s what keeps you employed, but it should never be why you make something. You should make something because a group of your friends got together in a room and had a great time doing it. 

I said this when we finished the record, but I didn’t care if everybody hated this record. I’ve never in my life felt like I had a mission statement, accomplished that mission statement, and–and if it tanks me, so be it. It was the most fun five days of my life.

I do want to ask you about one of the less upbeat songs, “Pizza & Drugs,” which is this poppy kinda slow jam. How did that come to be what it is?

Scottie [Prudhoe] had a lot to do with that. He co-produced a lot of the songs with me, and we–it’s not a very elegant answer, but we just listened to what the songs called for, and the stuff that made us smile inherently, we followed that. I think the guitar is the last thing we added. I think Scottie built the beat and the piano behind it, and we just kept smiling. It was a sort of group consciousness, like, “Okay, if everybody in the room is happy with the way this is sounding.” 

It’s something I’ve said, and I’ll keep repeating this: it’s really to the credit of the people who worked on the record. Everyone played like it was their name going on the record. Everybody had that piss and vinegar and burning desire–[laughs] it’s that feeling that you get when you’re a kid where you want to be accepted by the popular crowd, but you also at the same time want to give ’em the middle finger and tell ’em to fuck off. That line is what we toe on this record.

I think that a lot of the overarching theme of the music industry part–and I have a very unique perspective. My therapist tells me to not be so bashful about this kind of stuff, but I guess I’m sort of an accredited writer in the world, but I’m also broke as shit all the time [laughs] and can barely make my car payments, you know? So there is a little bit of piss and vinegar in there. We just made this record like there was no tomorrow and nobody was gonna like it. All we cared about was whether we liked it or not.

And we didn’t know, man, ’cause we made it between the tornado and the pandemic. We didn’t know the full weight of the pandemic, so we were playing with–there was something in the ethos going on. I hate to count the chickens like it’s already a successful record, but I’ve yet to run into somebody who doesn’t like it.

So you’ve made this record, and all of a sudden there’s a pandemic. What do you remember about that time, when things were sort of falling to pieces?

I felt so lucky that I had the opportunity to make something right before it all fell apart. You know, that was something during the pandemic I didn’t need to worry about. Like, “Oh my god, the world is ending, but what about my masterpiece?” [laughs] I kinda just lived through the pandemic very presently.

Also, it put into perspective for me–because ANTI- was very cool about assuring everybody that all projects would come out, but they also can only assure so far. And also, economically, I am the low man on the totem pole when it comes to record sales, so there was that fear, but to me, just having been given the opportunity to make it was enough. If ANTI- called six months into the pandemic like, “Darrin, we think you’re great, but with the climate and the culture of the world that we’re in, we have to cut artists,” I would have been like, “Hey man, thank you. Just leave it in the Soundcloud link, ’cause I want to remember this time I had with my friends.”

I don’t mind waiting, and I’m very patient, so the timing worked out perfect for me, but–[sigh] I don’t know man, this might not be the opinion that most artists have. What we do is important, but there were so many more important things going on, and even Paul McCartney was shittin’ his pants, you know what I mean? I remember living through 9/11, and it was similar. I never thought in my lifetime I’d see something bigger than 9/11, you know? So I was like everybody else. I taught myself how to skateboard, I painted, I taught myself how to draw, I found other ways to spend my time. What I love about painting is that it requires no audience.

Yeah, you don’t have to perform. You don’t have to take it on the road.

And you don’t think. I don’t think when I’m painting, and I don’t want to know about painting. I have a few painters that I like, but I don’t actually know anything about art. I don’t want to know as much about art as I do about music. There’s no cynicism in my painting. There’s just emotion, and it also doesn’t need to translate into explaining. If a painting looks sad to somebody, it looks sad because maybe the painting is sad, I don’t know. But a song almost feels like the explanation of a feeling. It’s like, “I feel this way, and let me tell you why,” whereas a painting is just, “This is the way it feels in the moment,” and that’s it.

So I was okay with the quiet life. It was a brutal, brutal time for the world, and there were so many people suffering, and so much instability, and so much reckoning, and I felt like during the pandemic, I lived in my neighborhood. I shopped in my neighborhood and I bonded and communed with the people within arms’ reach of me. I don’t know how other people handled it in show business. I don’t know if they were counting down the calendar for when shows would come back, or when it would all go back to normal. I was already comfortable with it never going back to normal. I was like, “Well, you got to make the record that you’ve always wanted to make, and that ought to be good enough, regardless if this thing ever actually comes out or not.” I still stand by that. Tomorrow they could say “We’re not doing this,” and that’s okay.

I don’t know if it panned out, but I think a lot of people were hoping that now’s our chance to cut through a lot of the bullshit, a lot of the ways the industry is flawed, and start over.

Well, I think–you know, in Nashville, everyone makes a record, they shop the record, and then they wait for it, and they don’t know what to do with it. Just put shit out! Just put it out there and then make a better one. Every time you walk into a studio, every time that red light goes on, make the best thing that you know how to make. You, as an artist, are enough. There’s an open platform called the internet that all things can exist on simultaneously, for better or for worse.

The industry is just a market. It responds to momentum, so if you build momentum on something–but that’s where it gets tricky. I personally blame The Black Keys for making it okay to commodify one’s art for a company. I’m not saying I would never accept ad money or anything like that, but the scariest part of art now is that it’s being made with the presumption of it having commerciality. That always existed with pop music, but now it exists with all music. Like somehow, as an artist, you’re supposed to also be presentable to somebody’s mom. Where are the fucked-up artists? Everyone’s posturing as something successful, and inherently, a lot of great art is never successful. I may never be successful. I literally just spent $20 on lunch, and I think I’ve got, like, $30 to my name, you know what I mean? [laughs] What is success? Like, if you’re not going to just enjoy making it–that is literally making it.

I hope I’m not too proud of this record. People who know me will say that I’m not a proud man, so it takes a lot for me to say that I’m really proud of something, and it’s really the people that I worked with. I just worked with people that got the joke, you know? And had similar feelings. Like Ryan Sobb. He is literally a better songwriter than me. I will say it right here, right now: he is a better lyricist. He is the only person I know that when I send the song, he’ll send back an edit, and that takes a lot of balls with anybody in this town because basically, it’s a yes-town. [laughs] He’ll be like, “Yeah, I think this is a real winner, Darrin, a real winner, but change this one little tiny line. Put a comma there,” and he’s right.

I have sent emails on Ryan’s behalf, I have made label presidents take me out to lunch just to have Ryan taken out to lunch to talk about his stuff, and I cannot for the life of me get this guy a fuckin’ record contract. Not that I have all that much power, but–

I know what you mean, though. I have that same feeling of trying to put people in front of as many people as I can.

Well, dude, that’s how I grew up in New Jersey–this punk ethos. You stood in the front row and you bobbed your head and you cheered along your friends. You celebrated your friends’ successes, and you were also there when you were the only one in the room. 

And that, to me, is sort of a wrapping up of the theme of the record. I used to work in this coffee shop in New Jersey called Ridgewood Coffee Company, and I never really told anybody about this, but it was in the early days of, like, artisanal culture, where everything was starting to become craft this and craft that. The only thing that’s not craft anymore is Kraft macaroni and cheese. And I never got the coffee, I never tasted the blueberries, but we did have a record player, and at the time, the bands that were big were like, The National–they’d have Boxer, and like, old Arcade Fire records, so you’d go into work, put on your favorite record, and you’d sling cappuccinos and try to make heart shapes out of ’em.

It was a time in my life that I look back on very fondly, and I wanted this to be a record that I would have put on in the shop, had I not made it. It was important to me that it would have played well in that room. Does that make sense?

100%, I can picture that vividly, and as someone who owns a lot of National and Arcade Fire records, that resonates with me on a second level.

It was so fun to make sounds that–’cause I thought about this too. I’m not a huge classic rock fan, but what made things like the Beatles and the Stones so good is that they were taking music that they heard inherently as children and trying to replicate it in their own way. That was sort of the ethos of this record, and that’s why “Those Beautiful Days” almost sounds like it has a fuckin’ Magnetic Fields vibe. I didn’t have to reach very far on my bookshelf to find these things; they were always next to me, and I think that’s why you can listen to Talking Dogs and this record and it still feels like the same artist.

I did want to touch on something else, which is that after the fact, you were diagnosed with OCD, going through some pretty intense times with that. How has that new information about yourself changed the way that you see the songwriting of this album?

Well, in OCD terms, it was searching for that “just right” feeling. I passed the record around to a couple people that worked in the residential facility I went to, and they asked how I felt about it. With OCD, it’s like people–they’re adjusting the stereotypical picture frame because they want something to feel just right. They wash their hands to the point where it feels just right. And it really did feel like I had spent 20 years of my life moving around furniture in a room, and when I made this record, it felt just right. Everything else, I’ll listen to it, and I’ll have an appreciation for it, but something feels off. On this, the picture frame feels straight, which you’re not supposed to do with OCD. You’re actually supposed to learn how to live with the picture frame never being just right, because it’s only just right for a moment.

Anyway, that was a really tough time. I spent a week in Vanderbilt Psychiatric general population, and then I spent three months in a residential mental health facility while my grandfather was in hospice, and that’s a real bummer about this. He died in October, and he was a big supporter. He was my best friend.

I’m sorry to hear that.

He would have been really excited to see the press and stuff that we’re getting, you know? Wynonna Judd–I don’t know if she’s still on ANTI-, but she was for a while, and I’ve met her a couple times. If this gives you any kinda clue of what kind of artist I am, the only time I name-drop is when I’m trying to get my grandfather to understand what my career has become. [laughs] He was a big country music fan, so he would tell the hospice nurses–you know, my grandfather was a character somewhere between Larry David and Willy Loman, and he was very neurotic like me. We have a lot of the same mental issues, and he would go, “That’s my grandson over there! He’s the famous one in the family. He’s got a record contract!” He’s in this one-bedroom apartment dying, and he’s like, “He knows Wynonna Judd! Wynonna Judd called him a genius once!” [laughs] These hospice nurses in North New Jersey have no clue what any of this means, but to this man, it is the most important thing. 

I wish he was still kicking to see it, but to sum up that point, making this record cleared a lot of pathways for me to get healthier in other aspects of my life. I really felt like I had gotten the chip off my shoulder, and between that and the slowdown, some long-overdue mental health stuff was in order. I will say, it had very little to do with the actual pandemic. It more had to do with just, you run your body and your mind for so long, and then you slow down, and you start to realize the way that you think and the way that you are are fragile, and they only survive in this particular ecosystem. 

I learned a lot about myself, and it was an intense experience, but I wrote most of the next record while in treatment, so hopefully I get to keep my job through this record and make the next one. And the next one might be the last one. I’ve been writing songs since I was eight years old–obsessively. [laughs] And four solid albums is good, you know? I might want to go have kids or something. That’s the only bummer about this whole gig, man. You just gotta spend so much time thinkin’ about your fuckin’ self. Record four might be the final record ’cause I’ve always kind of wanted to just vanish into obscurity. Like, hit a peak point and just dip out.

Quit while you’re ahead?

Yeah–well, I’ve actually always wanted to pass it on to somebody else. Have, like, a tour manager that’s also a songwriter, and one day–

Hand ’em the mic? [laughs]

Exactly, and then walk off. Imagine there’s a packed listening room waiting to hear a Darrin Bradbury show, and it’s like, “Dude, these songs are so simple. You know ’em. You’ve been listening to me play ’em. You play ’em, add some more to it.” Kinda like how there’s different Batmans and different Spider-Mans, you know what I mean? Then the last thing you see is me, and I’m walking out of the theater door as that guy hits the opening–or girl. Or–it does not matter. [laughs] Starts the show, continues on until they’re done with it.

Then the fantasy that plays in my mind is I’m a bartender, like, in Key West, and they’re playing a show in Key West, and future Dan meets past Dan. And they don’t say anything; I just make the drink for them, I pass it on, the breeze blows through my Hawaiian shirt, and they go on their merry way. That’s always been my dream. Let’s see how it turns out.

I love that. Generational touring acts get to replace people all the time–why shouldn’t you? Bring that down for the everyman.

Totally, and that can be a lineage of things that continues to exist and be added to. I might be the first Darrin Bradbury, but I may not be the best Darrin Bradbury. Somebody else could add great songs to this collection.

In sharing the song “Pizza & Drugs,” you were sort of shouting out Sal’s Pizza as the best in Nashville, so I have to ask: what makes it the best, and what’s your order?

Well, see, New Yorkers order pizza differently than Nashvillians do. If you’re gonna have a true pizza experience at this joint, you just go with your whole family, you’re all loud, and you either order four or five pies and just devour ’em, or you order a slice at a time and have it keep comin’ on a paper plate the entire time. That’s the way to eat pizza. It’s a familial thing, it’s too much food, and you walk away feeling ten pounds heavier with love. [laughs] I’m a fan of white slices, I’m a fan of–there’s a difference between Sicilian and what they call grandma pies, which is sort of like Sicilian pies, but they’re a little bit better. I couldn’t tell you why.

But I’m also a fan of Chicago deep dish. Pizza should be a cultural thing. You know, how was pizza popularized? A bunch of Italians went over to New York and they took the basic idea of their culture and put it between one delicious piece of bread. Like, do that in the south. Do that in Texas. Take whatever culture it is and adapt it. To me, that’s how pizza should be made. There’s no perfect slice; it’s the best pizza that is representative of the culture that I come from, but I can’t say whether it’s the best pizza. The pizza is who you eat it with, and that kind of sums up the whole jam.

Yeah, that’s the record too, isn’t it?

[laughs] Yeah, no, it’s who you eat it with.

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