Where is middle C on a piano?

I mean what’s middle C on the piano? [sounds of picking] What is that?

It’s kind of like when you’re in a band – we have a set of notes, we have a set of scales we know. Some guys don’t really know what the fifth is. And so they make up their own little chords; they say they’re a different kind of chord. Like we can play these “weird” chords that sound funny to people that aren’t used to hearing them. And the only thing we’re really good at is writing songs that sound like that. That’s something we always play to our best friend: If someone else can hear those chords and feel them and say, ‘This is a unique chord I can play and it makes sense.’ All bands are like that: We play chords that make sense for each other to play.

How was the music industry in the ’90s? There was like a weird dichotomy of music-as-entertainment and music-as-work.

It’s very weird in our case, because everyone was in a band when we were kids, so we were really obsessed with music and the music industry and the way it works. And my brother and I played music in school all the time. But we were much more into the business than our friends ever were. It’s actually the opposite from how you would see people in a band. You’d see bands at college where they’re like totally into it, not really interested in doing anything for a job and they’re playing their instruments and hanging out and partying all the time – it’s really the opposite of how bands work.

When you grew up, did you have any sort of plan when you decided to make a career out of music? Was it like “This is what I want to do and I’m gonna do it”? What were your aims and desires when you took on this dream?

You know, I have no real vision, you know? It’s a weird thing for me to be asking this kind of question. I never did any real planning. I always had a desire to perform at big festivals and make records, but I never did anything for career stuff. I always wanted to make the most beautiful music I could.

We started touring in 1998 when we were 21. I think my first big tour was in ’99 or maybe 2000, and I was just like “Oh, this is nice,” you know?

That was