Fast-rising Houston singer/songwriter whose excellent new Trouble In Mind (Lost Highway) disc shows he belongs in the company of the veteran Texas tunesmiths – Guy Clark and Ray Wylie Hubbard – who inspired him. Carll and his band tear up the El Mocambo Saturday (April 26), 9 pm. $10.50. 416-870-8000.
What are you doing playing a celebrity golf tournament outside of Galveston?
I’m a horrible golfer, but it’s fun to get out there and knock a ball around with a bunch of drunk musicians. We had a blast, and it was all for the sake of a local charity. I grew up in a golfing community, which gave me great disdain for the sport and for anyone who participated in what I considered an expensive and elitist pastime, to say nothing of the clothing. As I got older, I discovered that golfing is a good way to kill an afternoon getting tanked with some buddies.
Steve Earle has likened the process of collaboration to fucking in public – agree or disagree?
He’s not far off the mark. It can be a strange experience, but I’ve found it more like going to the dentist. Someone sets up a meeting for you to go to some Nashville business office at noon, and you sit in the lobby reading a magazine waiting for your appointment. They call you in, and then you’ve got three hours to get to know each other and write a song. I’d actually prefer going to the dentist for a month than doing one of those sessions.
You once told me about being mugged in Memphis on the first day of your tour. Any similar problems lately?
The last time I got jacked was in Ohio on tour with Todd Snider – no, wait, I’m wrong. Corb Lund and I went to this party in Nashville and someone stole the GPS unit out of my car. But that was partly my fault for leaving the door unlocked.
Speaking of Corb Lund, you’ve been on a few tours together now across Canada and the U.S. Not all musician pals make good tour companions. Why does it work for you two?
Corb and I share a fondness for drinking, gambling and singing. I met him when a mutual friend put a card game together, and we hit it off right away. As I recall, Corb’s girlfriend beat all of us that night. But when I was on the road with Corb in Canada, I made out pretty good at the table one evening, which funded the rest of my tour. He’s been trying to win his money back ever since.
The last song on the new album, She Left Me For Jesus, sounds like it could be a left-field hit. Has it caused you any problems with humourless Christian fundamentalists?
Initially, I had some reservations about putting the song on the album, but I was hoping people would get the joke and have a good time with it. I guess that’s a lot to ask. The song usually goes over well at shows, where I can preface it by explaining that it was written from the perspective of a racist, closed-minded redneck type who’s convinced that his girlfriend is cheating on him with some dude named Jesus. After it got put up on iTunes, someone told me it got 75,000 downloads right away, so I checked the comments people were leaving. They were like, “So this is how you repay someone for dying for your sins?”