Q. Your new single is called “East Harlem,” and in your e-mail you said you like Bolaño because he has “the same idle and poetic amusement with city and street names” as you do. Are you reading him now?
A. I’m reading “2666,” which is a monster of a book, that’ll last me all this tour. “The Savage Detectives” really got to me, these children acting as bohemians and this ennui. I read a review of Bolaño, and they were asking him: Why do you have these long passages of street names and city names and he said they were poetry. I wish I’d thought of that. It’s not like I’m trying to be exotic or always evoke a strong reaction with the names. As a kid I used to paint city names on my wall, just from a map. I thought that was brilliant. The funny thing about the way I write songs is, I’m very much a child of the modern era. I write songs on Pro Tools. I write songs by multitracking. And when you open Pro Tools, they ask you to name the file, and the easiest way for me to remember it is to name it after a city.