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M. Ward: The hardest working man in indie rock

M. Ward

M. Ward

Throughout his career, James Brown was known as the hardest working man in show biz.

If he keeps up his current pace, M. Ward may soon become known as the hardest working man in indie rock.

During the past three years, Ward has recorded two albums with singer/actress Zooey Deschanel as She & Him, one with Jim James and Conor Oberst as Monsters of Folk, and two solo albums.

His latest, "A Wasteland Companion," was recorded in eight studios in six cities.

amNewYork spoke with Ward.

Why did you record this album in so many different places? The last three years of my life have meant a lot of traveling and exploring a lot of incredible studios. I had the idea to make a cross between a live and a studio record. I got to have lots of different people involved, but also the luxury of recording in a studio.

The first song is a tribute to Alex Chilton. Did you know him well? I never met him. I was exposed to his music in high school, and the music you get exposed to in high school seems to stay with you. He passed away [in 2010] while I was in the middle of writing the song. That seemed to steer me closer to [his band] Big Star's influence.

You talk a lot about trying to balance light and dark on your albums. Why is that important? It's similar to movies and books that I'm drawn to. If it's all dark or all light, it makes for a pretty boring movie. You want to laugh sometimes, and you want to cry sometimes. A good record should feel as satisfying as when you finish watching a great movie or reading a great book. Twists and turns should be built in.

You're passionate about exploring old music. What are some of your recent discoveries? Harry Nilsson and Marvin Gaye. They have enormous catalogs that take a long time to go through. They have a lot of incredible ideas.

If you go: M. Ward is playing Celebrate Brooklyn at Prospect Park Bandshell Tuesday night at 7, Prospect Park West, at Ninth St., Park Slope, 718-643-5600, $37. 

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