Although the album is only surfacing now, it pre-dates Eitzel's 1997 album with REM's Peter Buck, called West, a record which followed a more direct, upbeat songwriting approach. The chemistry worked well and helped move Eitzel out of the pigeonhole marked "melancholic". He says a common misconception about him is "that I'm this completely maniacal depressed person. If a writer writes a certain kind of book, nobody says, `Just take the fucking Prozac!'" You said it was a bitter record, though - so in what way? "I'm bitter that some of my friends just can't recover from their heroin addiction, so I am left without certain friends. I try to make albums that are completely hopeful, but in a real way, in a way you can use. I say, you know what? This is how bad it can be, here it is, here's the reflection. So when people say this is `melancholic' bullshit well, I try to save people's lives, that's what I do."
Playing live, Eitzel can be an unpredictable experience: "It depends on the crowd and how much liquor I've drunk." But one thing's for sure, in 10 years' time, this awkward, agitated, but loveable tunesmith will still be fired up. "I can't stop. I have already written 20 songs for the next album, and covered another album with Peter Buck. I constantly travel, have no roots, and just live for this."
Camden Dingwalls, NW1 (0171-267 1577) 19 Feb