Hearts on Fire: Felicity Jones Breaks Out in the Wrenching Romance ‘Like Crazy’

Felicity Jones is in need of a pep talk. Tomorrow, the petite brunette—who in person looks like a graduate-student version of Audrey Hepburn—will head to Los Angeles to begin the final leg of the promotional tour for her new film, Like Crazy. Reporters, bloggers, and curious fans will grill the 27-year-old about her role in the vérité romance, and she will oblige them. “I’m getting to talk about something I really believe in,” she says. “If it were anything less than that, it would be much harder.” When the questions inevitably turn personal, Jones will instinctively tighten up. Like Crazy emerged from obscurity to win the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, igniting a bidding war won by Paramount. Jones was awarded the special Jury Prize for her own work in the bruising love story about the stop-start masochism of a long distance relationship, and she is keenly aware that journalists—this one included—will look to identify links between the actor and her character, Anna.

“What are some tips to give a good interview?” she asks in a British accent that recalls stately country manses. “Because it’s a fine art.” Don’t give stock answers, I tell her, and be as honest as possible. “Right, right, I know, I know, I know” she shoots back as though the answer had been lodged in the back of her brain all along. I suggest she tell more anecdotes, like she would were she sitting on David Letterman’s couch, and she mentions that she admires the one-on-one skills of Ryan Gosling, and his “weird” and “offbeat” remarks. Promoting films aside, Jones finds interviews to be nerve-wracking. “The whole reason you become an actor is, in some way, that you’re interested in escaping yourself,” she says. “The irony is, you have to then spend so much time talking about yourself.” She admits to having felt uneasy on the way to this interview at the Knave Café, a palatial corridor at the Parker Meridien hotel in Manhattan. “And then I realized, don’t try and be anything. Just be you.”

Jones came of age in suburbia, in Bournville, England, the only village in the world with a chocolate bar named in its honor. (It was founded in the 19th century by the Cadbury family to house the company factory workers.) Her parents—her father is a journalist and mother is in advertising—split up when she was three, and by age 11, she was attending an after-school drama club, with dreams of “making a movie about a love affair between two people,” she says, with a hint of sarcasm. After appearing on British television as a regular on shows like The Worst Witch and Cape Wrath, she took three years off to earn a degree in English Literature at Oxford, where she met “weird and wonderful people” who she still counts among her closest friends.

After university, Jones transitioned to features, with a role in Cemetery Junction, a grim take on stalled youth by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. From there, she appeared as Miranda in Julie Taymor’s risky Shakespeare adaptation, The Tempest, and, most recently, as a lovelorn snowboarder in the treacly Chalet Girl, a British Cinderella story set in the Austrian Alps and costarring Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick. That mountain romance relied heavily on the very genre clichés that Like Crazy so forcefully rejects, and Jones is well aware of that. “As soon as I finished a snowboarding romantic comedy, I knew I was ready for something different.”

Like Crazy was conceived by indie auteur Drake Doremus (who first made waves at Sundance with 2010’s Douchebag), and tracks the story of Jacob (played by Anton Yelchin) and Anna, two intelligent, vulnerable college students in Los Angeles who fall hopelessly in love during a night of heavy-hearted glances and Paul Simon’s Graceland. After graduation, Anna, a British national who’s overstayed her visa, is denied reentry into the United States following what was supposed to be a brief visit home. From there, the film charts the euphoria of their reunions—and the despair of their separation—in a tone that’s natural and true. Gone are the traditional obstacles of Hollywood romances; misunderstandings come not from contrived plot devices, but from unarticulated feelings. “We’re not being didactic or trying to manipulate the audience in any way,” says Jones. “It’s just about these two people trying to be good in a difficult situation.”  

The film’s honesty is a testament to Doremus’ idiosyncratic directing style. His scripts function as detailed, scene-by-scene outlines. Instead of dialogue, there are stage directions. Actors improvise their way through a scene, reaching its conclusion organically. The result is the kind of movie where silence expresses more than words. “Drake is as obsessed with subtext as I am,” says Jones. “His note is always to play against the feeling—never show exactly what you want. So if you’re falling in love with someone, show that you’re trying not to fall in love with them, because that’s more interesting.”

The director’s commitment to realism is so unwavering that for a scene where Anna reads Jacob her poetry, Doremus asked his lead to write the verses herself. With some post-collegiate jitters, Jones spent a late night composing a poem that encapsulates the film’s romantic spirit. Several lines wound up being used as a voiceover in the trailers. (Sample: “I thought I understood it, but I didn’t… Not really. I knew the smudgeness of it. The eagerness of it. The idea of it. Of a you and me.”)

During a pivotal shower scene in the film’s final moments, the camera lingers on Jones’ porcelain face, her dark eyes locked in a stormy gaze. What she’s staring at is not onscreen, but instead, one supposes, off in some faraway past or uncertain future. Ambiguity is the point. A homemade version of the scene, which Jones shot in her apartment after speaking to Doremus over the phone, convinced him to cast her without ever meeting her face-to-face, a huge gamble for a director whose film’s fate rested on the chemistry between his two leads. “It was a gut feeling, really,” explains Doremus. “How she shot herself in her flat, the nuance, not having the urge to perform but to just be. She has an incredible ability to feel a moment and own it without overwhelming it.”

Doremus and Jones worked so well together that he cast her in his next project, a Westchester, New York-set story about a married teacher (Guy Pearce) who falls in love with a student, played by Jones. If Like Crazy examines the addictiveness of romantic love, then Doremus’ follow-up, which wrapped last summer and is still untitled, looks at the fallout from loving two people at the same time. Does Jones, who counts fellow Brits Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley as close friends, get to test her American accent onscreen for the first time? “No, I’m English,” she says, half-giggling. “I think Drake is fascinated by people in alien environments. The character is called Sophie and she’s a lot more internalized than Anna. It’s a much darker, more complicated story. But for my next project I’m hoping to play an American.”

Midway through the interview, Jones, who’s holding a topped-off latte precariously over her lap, trembles slightly. It’s enough to send a tsunami cascading onto her pants. “Oh my God, I’ve spilt coffee all over myself!” she cries. “This is so embarrassing!” But you get the sense that it really isn’t—Jones, for one, is smiling. When she returns with paper towels, we both point out how lucky she is to be wearing black pants; once patted down, the coffee vanishes into the fabric. “I’m a really polished, sophisticated actress, okay?”

I warn Jones before I bring up her long-term relationship with the sculptor and conceptual artist Ed Fornieles, with whom she shares an apartment in London. It’s part of my job, I explain by way of apology, and she nods in silent, if grim, determination. Has he seen Like Crazy, and what does he think of the film’s raw intimacy? “He has seen it, and he’s been very supportive of it,” she says. “He said that the film was great, and he’s an artist, so he understands it entirely. I mean, the things he does are far more insane than the things I do.” (Fornieles once appeared on the cover of Vogue Hommes with a tarantula swallowing his face.)

I ask her if she looks forward to working from a traditional script again. (Because of a commitment to a London production of Luise Miller, she turned down the chance to star as the title character in Tarsem Singh’s Snow White, a role that went to Lily Collins). “Yes,” she says, before offering: “But I think people express more through their faces than through their words. As soon as you put something into words, you suddenly become self-conscious and a level of falseness creeps in. I’m always trying to reduce the dialogue as much as possible, because that’s what’s fascinating about human beings—we never say what we think.”

Photography by Emily Shur. Styling by Jenny Ricker.

Edgar Ramirez on His Star-Making Turn in ‘Carlos’

The first of many spectacularly botched operations in Carlos, Olivier Assayas’ epic film about Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, the Venezuela-born, pro-Palestinian terrorist whose nom de guerre gives the film its title, occurs in the bathroom of a Zionist businessman in London. Carlos’ gun jams, making a hash of the assassination. This is followed closely by a misfired, rocket-propelled grenade, which swerves across the tarmac at Paris’ Orly airport, striking the wrong plane. Then Carlos and his team attack OPEC’s headquarters in Vienna, a mission that dissolves into a comedy of errors after they force 60 hostages onto a jet and bounce from airport to airport in search of political asylum. Eventually, they give up on the revolution and settle for cash.

As Carlos careens across the globe—Paris, Baghdad, Beirut, Aden, East Berlin, Budapest—his swagger and unimpeachable arrogance give shape to Assayas’ propulsive film. “His insolence is fascinating,” says Edgar Ramirez, the 33-year-old actor who embodies Carlos with the muscular precision of a big cat. “Carrying out the revolution and buying his clothes at Harrods represented no conflict for him.” Carlos the Jackal, as he came to be mythologized, ended his long and infamous career in Khartoum, where a surgery for a bulging vein in one of his testicles left him susceptible to capture by French authorities. Even as a doughy, pajama-wearing washout, Carlos remains a powerfully attractive figure on screen. “We’ve all been victims of charismatic people in our lives,” Ramirez says. “You can see the definite impact of charisma on history.”

Like Carlos, Ramirez is from Venezuela. Also like Carlos, he had an international upbringing and is a formidable polyglot—Ramirez speaks six languages, if one counts the smattering of Arabic he picked up while filming in the Middle East. As the son of a military attaché, his childhood was spent traversing the globe, attending “15 different first days of school in 13 years.” It’s fitting, then, that Carlos, Ramirez’s first big-budget production as a leading man, is also the film that’s poised to make him famous.

On a drizzly afternoon in October, the actor sits drinking a soy cappuccino at the Le Parker Meriden hotel in Manhattan. Dark in the Javier Bardem mold and surprisingly boyish, Ramirez is most handsome when he lets amusement play across his features, and he’s capable, like many Latin people, of saying “lover” without irony. He’s also intelligent, curious, and alert. While enrolled in a prestigious university in Caracas, Ramirez studied to be a political journalist, dabbling in acting on the side. “I was always attracted to the world of arts and movies, but I would be lying if I said I dreamed of being in the business. I wanted to be something different every day, which, ultimately, is the reality of being an actor.”

Education, however, soon became an obstacle to passion; it was the sting of having to pass up a major part in Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Amores Perros, a nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2001 Academy Awards, that persuaded Ramirez to give acting a serious shot. He took on a stable part in the beloved Venezuelan soap opera, Cosita Rica, and scored supporting roles in Hollywood films like Domino, Vantage Point, and most famously, as a Jason Bourne’s bête noir in the Bourne trilogy.

Ramirez was filming a movie in Colombia when Assayas, the French filmmaker behind Irma Vep and Summer Hours, sent him the script for Carlos. In Assayas’ estimation, finding the right Carlos was, at least initially, a process of elimination. “I needed someone who was fluent in three languages, who spoke Spanish with a Venezuelan accent, who was the right age for the part, who had the physicality of Carlos, and, hopefully, who had the talent to pull it off,” he says. “Edgar was the only logical choice.” Ramirez immediately excused himself from the set where he’d been working and flew to Paris. The connection was instant. “It was obvious that he was Carlos,” Assayas says. “I don’t think I would’ve made the film if I didn’t have a Carlos I could rely on. Edgar was more than reliable. He carried the part on his back.” image

Casting the part of Carlos was one possible hitch in a minefield of possible hitches that could have—and almost did—prevent the film from being made: multi-continental sets, a cast of mostly unknowns, a big budget, a runtime of nearly six hours, a terrorist protagonist, the presence of a Finno-Ugric language. “Of course it made me nervous,” Ramirez says. “But it also seemed like such a delicious part.” No matter how satisfying the role, if the antiquarian edicts of the Cannes jury and the Academy in Hollywood are to be trusted, Carlos isn’t really a movie. The Sundance Channel picked up the “miniseries,” and an abbreviated version will show in theaters. “We’re in the middle of a huge cultural shift in terms of appreciating how movies are presented and put together,” Ramirez says. “Movies have become so conservative. Everything is produced on fear of failure.”

Since his university years, Ramirez has been actively engaged in philanthropic causes as varied as breast cancer awareness—he is the spokesman for the Breast Cancer Association in Venezuela—and Dale al Voto, an organization akin to Rock the Vote, where he was the executive director. “I think that access to media and notoriety implies a certain level of social consciousness and responsibility,” says Ramirez, who also works with Amnesty International, UNICEF, and Transparency International. “I don’t want to seem dogmatic or judgmental, but I help where I can.”

Disarmament is another cause Ramirez vigorously supports, and immersing himself in the world of Carlos—where long-haired students guilelessly say things like, “We’re international militants,” and derive erotic pleasure from hand-grenades—was a challenge. Like The Baader Meinhof Complex or Good Morning, Night before it, Carlos charts the dissolution of 60s-era idealistic militancy into mercenary terrorism, and, eventually, into bureaucratic battles waged from file cabinets. “It’s a Cold War story,” says Assayas. “It brings to light how politics and terrorism end up being one and the same thing.” Still, both Assayas and Ramirez insist that the movie is apolitical (rather, a movie “about politics”), and Ramirez approached the role accordingly, studying Carlos’ history but also identifying the facets of the character that make him human, if not entirely sympathetic. “It taught me that the most monstrous acts and the most tender gestures coexist in perfect balance,” Ramirez says. “That’s what this movie is about.”

Finishing his second coffee, Ramirez readies to leave the hotel and venture out into the rain for another press engagement. He acknowledges the existence of several upcoming projects, but he can’t talk about any of them yet. Ramirez still officially resides in Caracas—his cousin and several childhood friends are in town visiting—but he lives “out of a suitcase anyway.” The next day he’s off to Los Angeles, then back to Europe for more press engagements. “Regardless of the market, the size of the project, or the language,” he says, “I think the workplace for an actor is the world.”

Photos by Alexandra Carr.

New York Burger Smackdown: Corner Bistro Edges Burger Joint By a Nose

Over the weekend I hosted an old friend who I knew back when I lived in Riga, Latvia years ago. (He took over my apartment and adopted my cat, Smaka, when I moved to New York.) Jad is originally from Beirut and now lives in Abu Dhabi, and had never stepped foot in America until he strode onto the carpeted jetway at JFK Friday afternoon. Naturally, he craved the quintessential New York experience, but had a mere weekend before continuing on to a conference in Washington, D.C. Tough decisions had to be made. I decided on a tourist/local hybrid. First stop: the Empire State Building. Nice views! Art Deco designs! Pudgy tourists! So tiring! Next stop: the Village. It was a warm summer evening as we strode down West 4th and wound up at the Corner Bistro. Before we had even gotten our first round of beers, he said the words I needed to hear: “This is exactly the kind of place I had hoped you’d take me.”

Better still, we got a plum corner booth in the front room, and were quaffing McSorley’s ales and chowing down on Bistro Burgers within minutes. The burgers were as good as I remembered, moist, tender, flavorful, and perfectly balanced by the sharp slice of white onion. Jad noted that the service was rather brusque – the dude barely grunted at us, and essentially dropped the food on our table when it was ready. But we both agreed that it was also perfect, and perfectly New York: everything we wanted, fast. None of this “have a nice day” nonsense. The place was packed, and everybody knew how to act. Success.

The next day began with a walk through Times Square. Here’s the Conde Nast building, here’s TKTS, here’s where the ball drops on New Year’s, actual New Yorkers avoid this area like the plague, etc. Before hitting Central Park and Rockefeller Center, we made another food stop, this time at the “secret” Burger Joint at the Parker Meridien Hotel. That’s right, we’d have another round of burgers within 14 hours of the last.

It was the right decision. The Burger Joint is a weird, rare, and wonderful thing: an authentic dive located inside one of Midtown’s poshest hotels. Maybe that’s why everybody who walks in the door looks so happy. It was 11:50 a.m., and the staff apologized profusely for making us wait ten minutes before they could sell us beers. Again, the timing was excellent, and the plastic cups of Sam Adams arrived just as we were digging in to a gorgeous pair of cheeseburgers with the works. And again, Jad said that we’d found what he was looking for. Me too, man. Me too.

So, which burger was better? It’s a tough call. In my 15 years of city living, I’d actually flip-flopped from the Bistro to the Joint, mostly because my old office was on 57th and the Burger Joint is the best business lunch in Manhattan. But in a head-to-head, burgers-to-burgers comparison, the Bistro has the edge. Maybe it’s the grill seasoned by a century of burger grease. Maybe it’s the texture of the raw onion. Maybe it’s the old New York barroom atmosphere, which feels smoky even though it’s not. But Corner Bistro makes the best burger in New York. Burger Joint makes the second best. And they’re both fantastic.

My Lebanese friend from Latvia by way of the U.A.E. agreed. The Bistro Burger is a taste to travel across the globe for. Jad had even snapped a photo of the red neon Corner Bistro sign on our way out. You know how tourists are.

Industry Insiders: Jean-Luc Naret, Michelin’s Star Maker

Jean-Luc Naret, director of the world-famous Michelin Guides, released the fifth edition of the New York Michelin guide Monday, and yesterday, the books hit stands around the city. As with any upper echelon foodie-endeavor, this one was met with some criticism from food-lovers with differing opinions. Nonetheless, to talk about the long road before the list is finalized and printed, we sat down with Naret to get the backstory of the Michelin Guides and what it takes to secure a much-coveted three stars.

What characterizes a three-star restaurant? There are little “je ne sais quoi” that you’ll remember all your life. When you’ve been to a three-star restaurant, it’s something very emotional. Of course, it has to be beautiful in every aspect, but really we’re talking about the food; the stars are on the plate. What makes the difference between a two-star and a three-star is what you would say about any play you’ve been to or any movie you’ve seen, and the one that you actually still own. Most important is consistency. You can have a chef that is really great and doing a fantastic dish, but everything has to be worth three stars. From the appetizer to the end of your meal, it has to be an experience in itself. Many people try to achieve that, but very few actually arrive to it.

Any bias towards French restaurants? The Michelin guide is not a French guide reviewing French restaurants. The Michelin guide is an international guide. We do Spanish in Spain, French in France, American in America, and Japanese in Japan. We’re not here to try to identify the French restaurants in other countries, but to reveal the talents of the chefs wherever they are, whatever cuisine they’re doing. You don’t have to be French to get three stars — you just have to develop an exceptional cuisine, not one day in a year, but every single day you make it.

How often do inspectors visit restaurants? They’ll go to a restaurant not only once, but many times in a year. They’ll visit restaurants on the week that they open, but not only the week that they open. We go to these restaurants all throughout the year to make sure that we evaluate these restaurants many times. It takes about two hours for an inspector, after his lunch or his dinner, to do his report. It’s a long process because it has to be very detailed.

How are inspectors chosen? To be an inspector, you have to have a real passion for food and an eye for detail. When we first said we were coming to New York, we received 3,500 applications. Everyone wants to be one! Even big names that are not being named. It’s not a part-time job. It’s not going out to a new restaurant with your fiancé at night and being reimbursed for that dinner with a little report. You have to grade everything you do, and you have to really start working for it full-time.

Do you average out the ratings that each inspector gives? At the end of the year, we have the Stars meeting where all of the inspectors that have been working on the city are there in the room, and we have the agent chief as well, and then I chair the meeting. So we have all the names of the restaurants, all the reports and inspectors. There’s always some debate going on. We say, fine, if we don’t agree on the inspector’s report, let’s send out another inspector. It’s really a passionate job.

How have the guides themselves, specifically in New York, evolved over the last five years? First we have to understand that the guide created in New York was really created for New York. Meaning, when I took over the company six years ago, we knew we were very strong in Europe, we had a really great response to our to our city guides, but I was really surprised we’d never crossed that boundary. When we decided to cross it, instead of looking at the United States as one country, we decided to take it a different way. We created a city guide for New York, and it’s been such a success. A few years ago we implemented a program here, The Inspectors Favorite, which is a very good value for money. It’s really all the little deals that the inspectors would love for you to discover. We’ve also incorporated a few tables this year where you can actually eat very well for under $25. I really think that year after year, it becomes more and more for New Yorkers like the Paris guide becomes more for Parisians as well. In each country we really try to become adopted by the country, and really emerge in the city.

What about old favorites in New York that you always go back to? Every time I go to New York and I need to go to lunch, I always try to go to Jean Georges. I think it’s the best value for the money in the entire world. You could have a dinner there or a lunch for $20 with three courses and three stars. My team doesn’t ask me to go to restaurants too often, but when I do, I love going to the Parker Meridien.

What’s your favorite thing about New York? You can come to New York and discover a new restaurant every time you’re here. Our job is to reveal the restaurant that has been around for a long time or has never been in the spotlight for whatever reason, and we really do believe that we need to recognize the restaurants to our readers. And if you’re listening to the restaurants here, they all perceive the Michelin guide as being a very important tool in the market for them because, first of all, it brings business to them. It brings different clientele. Restaurants recognize us as being the only benchmark in order to measure themselves. Not just around New York, but around the world. Because they know that a two star restaurant in New York is as good as a two star restaurant in Paris. They know that when they achieve that, they know that they are part of the top restaurants in the world.

Which city has the most three star restaurants? Today, it’s Tokyo. One single reason is, of course, there are a lot of very talented chefs in Tokyo, but there are also 160,000 restaurants in Tokyo. So the number of restaurants is huge, but at the same time you also have to pay tribute to the Japanese chefs. Japanese chefs tend to specialize themselves in one type of cuisine. If they do sushi they really only do sushi. When you go to a Japanese restaurant outside of Japan, it’s a bit of a mix of everything, some are more specialized than the other, but it really doesn’t reflect what the Japanese cuisine has to offer. It gives more of a broad extension of the cuisine. We have 9 three-stars today in Tokyo, which is the city with the most stars. In Paris we have 10.

How do chefs react when they hear that they’ve received three stars? It’s my job is to call them and tell them that they have a star, but sometimes I have to call them because they’re losing a star. That’s difficult. Calling to tell them that they have three stars is an incredible pleasure. It’s really an incredible moment of emotion. I mean, I remember when we called Thomas Keller, who was the first American to receive three stars. He was in Paris at the time. I called him, and I told him that he received three stars, and he said “I never thought that Michelin would come to New York and that I would be able to get three stars, and it’s an honor. I’ll try to stay in this league for a long time.” And then he stopped someone and said, “Can you take a picture of me right now?”

Do stars get taken away often? Yes. The stars are not in stone. They can break easily. But chefs know they can get stars back as well. It’s just saying that based on the experience of this year, you’re not one of the top restaurants in the world.

Architecture in Helsinki’s Cameron Bird: “NYC Is Like a Slayer Song”

Cameron Bird, Kellie Sutherland, Gus Franklin, Sam Perry, and Jamie Mildren form the cartoon-pop quintet known as Architecture in Helsinki. The Australian natives are known for cracked-out orchestral jams, often bouncing between an eclectic arsenal of instruments like the glockenspiel and the tuba. Their latest EP is That Beep, a repackaging of their popular single of the same name with an additional three remixes. We spoke to lead singer Cameron Bird about his musical inspirations, losing band members to crocodiles, and his favorite places in New York.

Who are your greatest musical inspirations? Who would you aspire to collaborate/tour with? This question never gets any easier. Greatest Inspirations? Lindsey Buckingham, JDilla, Ennio Morricone, Barry Gibb, Prince, David Byrne, Girorgio Moroder, Brian Eno, Os Mutantes, Timbaland, Frank Zappa, Dolly Parton, Cluster, Wu-Tang Clan, Curtis Mayfield Bryan Ferry, Grace Jones, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Daft Punk, and John Farnham’s You’re the Voice. To collaborate with? The Avalanches, The-Dream, Radioclit, Senor Coconut, The Veronicas, El Guincho, Hot Chip, Sizzla, Switch, Yacht, Johnny Jewel, James Murphy, Santi White, and about 75 more.

I heard that your band name derives from the changing architecture in Finland. Is that true? What do you think of American architecture? No way! When did I ever say that? Our name was never anything more than a magnetic poetry accident! That said, I love buildings, I can’t lie. But one of my favorite people studies architecture at Cooper Union in Manhattan, so she keeps me up to date with buildings in your fine land. So, I have to say I am really feeling them on a deep level.

Are you tired of people asking about your band name? No comment

How would your sound differ if you were called Architecture in New York? Refer to previous answer.

How about Architecture in Antarctica? Refer to previous answer. How do you spend your time when you aren’t making music or thinking about making music? I have done a lot of research at my local cinema and seat E5 is the sweet spot there. So, I spend many nights catching the latest blockbusters. I also have a season membership with the Essendon Bombers, my Australian Rules Football team of choice. Sadly, dreaming about sport and action films takes up most of my waking hours.

What is one thing you can’t live without? Avocado.

What are some regrets that you have about previous albums? Every album comes with a whole bunch of regrets. I always liken it to looking at old photographs of yourself and being like “fuck, did I really have that haircut.”

The band used to be a group of nine. What happened to the other four? We were never more than eight. Two got eaten by crocodiles, and one wanted to have puppies.

You resided in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for a while. How did being a Brooklynite compare to living/working in Australia? Brooklyn in many ways remains my spiritual home … I think about it every day. In fact, I still have a bunch of crap piled up in a storage space on 8th Street! I was really thriving on that to the point that I was totally reliant on it to make music. And then all of a sudden, it’s like nothing else in the world matters but NEW YORK CITY. So, I got scared and ran back to Australia with my tail between my legs. It’s so easy to be here. Which is a problem when you’re trying to get shit done. So comparing the two? Well … New York is a Slayer song and Melbourne is more like Enya.

So is it true that you all met at a hot dog stand and someone was arguing over condiments? What kind of condiments? Ha ha ha! That sounds a load of horse shit made up by someone cornered in a bad interview! Did I say that? If this really was the case, it would be all about the merits of sauerkraut. What is the best advice you’ve ever been given? When I was like 16, I read an interview with Bob Nastonovich from Pavement where he was asked what advice he would give to kids starting out in music. He said “don’t read sheet music”. A few years later when I first started playing, I promised myself I would always adhere to that.

What are your favorite restaurants in New York City? I love the steak at Peter Luger, the coffee at Abraco, the Burger Joint at the Parker Meridien, the hippie treats at Souen, the cream cheese and lox bagels at Russ and Daughters, and the Union Square Farmer’s Market.