This will be your first Bonnaroo. It’s pretty far out in the Tennessee woods. Are you good with nature?
Definitely. I can be a woodsman if need be. I spent a lot of my formative years up and down trees. What are we talking — ferns? Oak?
I think a lot of mighty oak. You’re headlining some major arenas this summer. What’s your setup like?
I like it when it’s dark and smoky. It’s pretty simple, really. [But] there’s a reason you want production in a big show. We’ve been trying to do a little more of that, but hopefully in a tasteful fashion.
Last year’s AM was very evolved musically. Do you still feel connected to early stuff like ”I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”?
I love playing that song. A lot of the new ones are so f—ing fiddly, I have to think a lot and I’m forgetting the words and messing up the solos — I’m sort of patting my head and rubbing my belly. [”Dancefloor”] is one where I don’t have to do that.
You’ve talked about the influence of rap on AM. Are you a big fan?
Have you seen the way girls dance to hip-hop? It’s pretty exciting, isn’t it? I wanted a bit of that. The backing vocals [on AM], I call them two-way-pager melodies, because they usually went with lyrics about two-way pagers on female R&B songs from the late ’90s. We started messing around with those on ”R U Mine?” and then they spread like wildfire through the rest of the record.
What’s the most important item on your tour rider?
Probably the tequila. And we have a record player on there now; that’s pretty important. So it’s a tie between the record player and the tequila.