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Intimate Portrait: Ryan Adams

When ex-Whiskeytown leader Ryan Adams released the album Gold last year, it seemed like everyone was talking about him. Now Adams is back with Demolition, a collection of tracks recorded at the same time as Gold. I called him in New York City on my cell phone while being chased by a gang on razor scooters.

If you had to write a song about this interview right now, what would you call it?
It would probably be about how I just got up from a nap and am making the bed, which is pretty sad. “Rock’n’roll Bad Boy Makes Bed While Doing Interview.”

That’s good that you make the bed, though, because if you live by yourself you develop all sorts of bad habits, like walking aroundnaked all day.

I would walk around naked, except that I’ve got six 25-foot windows in my place, and the building on the right is where Julian andAlbert [of the Strokes] live. My ex-girlfriend Melissa [Auf der Maur] lives across the street. So to be naked in my building would bebad. I don’t want to live here but for another year. I’d like to live in either Stockholm or Amsterdam.

Your music is decidedly American. If you moved to Europe, would that change?
I don’t feel it’s consciously American. People used to say to me, “Yeah, you’re into country,” and I’m like, “I am so not into countrymusic that you have no idea.” And they’re like, “Dude, you’re into the good kind!” And I’m like, “I don’t even fucking care about thegood kind.”

Why did you put an upside-down American flag on the cover of Gold?
I’m a Democratic Socialist. I really don’t get into the United States at all. I’m sorry, but politically, I really don’t care. That’swhy I thought it was funny that people were like, “Ryan’s got this great, patriotic song about New York after the bombing.” It’s like,”Hello, it’s a song about being an idiot.”

Describe a day in the life of a troubadour.
Right now, I’m folding clothes, then I’m gonna go down to this patisserie and get a brownie. So, I’m a pretty bad troubadour. I’m more of amusic fan who got away with making records.