Mandy Moore wanted her sixth studio album, May 26’s Amanda Leigh, to sound like "a quintessential California ’70s pop record." So, naturally, she recorded it at an engineer friend’s home in Medford, Mass., dead in the middle of a New England winter. "It was so cold that the only time we left the house was to go to the grocery store once a week!" she tells the Music Mix. "Luckily, everything was written in California." Moore met up with the Music Mix today to chat about Amanda Leigh, her Fleet Foxes fandom, mixed martial arts, and life with her new husband, alt-country songsmith Ryan Adams. Click through to the jump for the full Q&A.
EW: Tell me more about how you recorded your new album.
MANDY MOORE: Well, the last record we were in a proper studio up in Woodstock, with all the time and money in the world. This time around, it was like, you don’t really need that. In fact, I was going to do the record in my house, but I thought that my neighbors would make me move. So that quickly got squashed. [In Medford,] we played music down in the basement. I’d sing my vocals in the stairway. We tracked a string quartet in the living room, French horn in the dining room.
Are you shooting a video for the first single, "I Could Break Your Heart Any Day of the Week"?
Mm-hm. I think it’s coming out next week. I actually didn’t want to do a video for this record. Before we started recording, I was like, "Maybe I’ll put it out under a different name." I’d like for people to at least give the music the benefit of the doubt and feel like they’re discovering something new. Not to sound oddly jaded, but because I’ve been doing this for 10 years, and I understand the rigamarole that goes along with it, I was like, "I don’t want to do a video." But then my good friend wrote this fun, crazy little treatment that involves martial arts. I was like, "C’mon, you know I love UFC." And then I pulled some strings and got Chuck Liddell in my video. Pretty cool!
What was it like working with Chuck?
He is a total sweetheart, and actually a really great actor. He has a fight on Saturday, and he was right in the middle of training. I felt bad about taking his time. But he just kind of walked in and did his thing on the first take. We were all blown away.
Who are your favorite contemporary artists?
I love Sara Watkins. Last year, I was obsessed with Fleet Foxes, and I still am. I found their [Sun Giant] EP at the record store — I liked the cover, so I picked it up. I love them. I actually exchanged one email with [Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold] last year. I was like, "I want to write with him!" He was so nice — such a deep, intense music guy. He was really inquisitive about, "What kind of record is this? What do you want to write about?" Obviously he wouldn’t have been listening to my music. I just thought it was so cool of him. He said, "I’d love to, but we’re busy." I was such a nerdy fan, like, "Oh my god, I can’t believe he wrote me!"
You just got married last month — congratulations. Is music something that you and your husband bond over?
Well, yeah! That’s definitely a common interest between the two of us. There’s always music playing in the house, or being written. It’s nice to be able to share that with one another, and share new things that we discover and find. Usually it’s him introducing me to something. There’s a lot more metal being played in the house than ever before. It’s like, "No, no, that’s hair metal, that’s not black metal. And that‘s more melodic Scandinavian metal." It’s hard to discern, but I’m starting to get there.
Do you ever talk about each other’s music when you’re working on it?
Sure, just as you would with any other friend or relationship. It’s nice to be able to bounce ideas off someone, especially someone that you have a lot of respect for. It’s wonderful.
Would you ever think of working with Ryan on a music project?
Yeah, I’d throw him a bone. I know he needs the work. I’d certainly allow him to come on the road if he needed a job. [laughs] No, I’m sure in due time something will probably come about in terms of collaborating. We certainly have done that at home, writing together — it just organically happens. In terms of putting stuff out there [for public consumption], I don’t know. Maybe somewhere down the line that’ll be fun.
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EW’s 50 Most Heartbreaking Songs of All Time
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