Another bite of Fiona Apple's 'Idler Wheel'
Fiona Apple takes her time between albums, which explains the seven-year wait for this week’s release of “The Idler Wheel.” It’s only the fourth collection from the Venice-based singer-songwriter, whose current tour brings her to the Hollywood Palladium on July 29 and the Greek Theatre on Sept. 14. But she keeps busy during the years in between, obsessing over non-musical projects and endless self-examination, which ultimately fuels these alluring, eccentric songs.
Apple, interviewed in this Sunday’s Calendar, had more to talk about than could be squeezed into a single article. Here is some of what got left out from our recent afternoon talk about the new album and where she’s been:
On her reaction to completing “The Idler Wheel”:"When we finished the record, I remember telling a friend of mine, 'Oh, it's the best thing I've ever done,' being so confident, being so happy, being so excited. I feel like I can die now. I've done the record I feel like is me.”
On her occasional performances with friend Jon Brion and other personal connections at Largo at the Coronet: “I really am part of the family there. It's this really huge theater, and it's fun -- I can go anywhere I want. Let's go upstairs! Let's go back there! Just to be able to romp around and Jon being so close and having parties afterwards and everybody's your friend and it's fun. I love playing there. That place has been such a blessing in my life, just in terms of socializing myself because I isolate so much."
On making art: “I love to do actual art –- drawings or paintings or making things out of wood, attaching things together. I love just making things, but I don’t ever do it unless I’m withdrawing. The only time I really do that is when I’m supposed to be writing. It’s what I have to do while I’m writing music, because I don’t want to sit at the piano the whole time -– so I’ll draw and I’ll still have the creative thing going.”
On coming up with her 23-word album title, “The idler wheel is wiser than the driver of the screw and whipping cords will serve you more than ropes will ever do": “I was up against the wall. All of a sudden it was a big rush. And I stayed up all night and I watched the sunrise, and I was just sitting outside and I was thinking a lot about the idler wheel and it just came out of my head. I texted it to [manager] Andy [Slater], like, ‘How’s this?’ And he was like, ‘Great!’ and he released it. And I didn’t really think about it that much.”
On releasing “Jonathan," a song about her ex-boyfriend, author Jonathan Ames: “I would never put somebody’s name in a song unless they wanted it. To me, it’s not a negative song. I’m not mad at him in the song. But I apologized to Jonathan’s girlfriend. I feel like I’m being rude to her. It would be weird if you had a boyfriend, and she were to see people asking me about her boyfriend, and there’s a song. I didn’t consider that part of it. It was relevant at the time.”
One more reason it takes so long between album releases: “I’ve got so much stuff to do at my house. I feel like I’m constantly cleaning. I’m constantly folding laundry and vacuuming. That’s why it takes so long! Because of ... housework.”
Photo: Fiona Apple gets down to business at the South by Southwest festival, offering her first full live performance in advance of a new album. Credit: Jack Plunkett / Associated Press