Singer not concerned about expectations, praise

Brittany Moseley

Jeffrey Lewis doesn’t care about music.

At least that’s how it appears. Lewis would much rather spend his life writing comic books. He isn’t into the current independent music scene, and he scoffs at reviews labeling him a modest genius. Even under his go-with-the-flow attitude, it’s obvious he has a deep passion for music.

“I love music, and I love making music when I feel like I’m making great music,” Lewis said.

Lewis was a late music bloomer who taught himself guitar and started writing music in college. He began playing shows at caf‚s in New York, and signed to Rough Trade Records in 2001.

Critics began to take note when Lewis released The Last Time I Did Acid I Went Insane. The New York Daily News named the album the Best Indie Album of 2002. This wasn’t his first release, though. In 1997 he released When Madman Was Good, a one-sided cassette recorded on a boom box. Since then, he has released a record about every two years.

“I don’t write songs that often, but I should be doing it more,” Lewis said. “I know people who put out a album every month, but I’m not that prolific.”

His latest release, City and Eastern Songs, has earned even more praise from music critics. Lewis is nonchalant about the positive reviews.

“That’s the problem with good reviews, because people are like, ‘Come on, impress me,'” Lewis said. “It’s definitely better to not have expectations.”

Lewis is the first to admit he has no expectations for himself or his music.

“I’m not a very good musician or singer,” Lewis said, with complete honesty.

His fans may disagree with that, but either way, Lewis said it’s more about creativity.

“You can’t learn creativity,” he said. “The major determining factor of a band isn’t technique. That’s not how you determine greatness; it’s something harder to recognize.”

As far as he and the rest of his band go, breaking into the music world isn’t on their agenda.

“It’s such a tiny percent that reach the mainstream — even indie mainstream, and I don’t think we’re cut out for it,” Lewis said.

One thing on his agenda right now is touring. Lewis started a three-week tour this Monday.

Lewis isn’t sure if he will be doing music in the future. He isn’t even sure what he will be doing after this tour. Like most things in his life, he doesn’t seem worried about it.

“At the end of the day the only thing that matters is the songs,” Lewis said. “Even if that means walking away from it at some point. It’s scary to think of it coming to an end. It’ll probably ruin me. Time will tell.”

Jeffrey Lewis

Where? Robin Hood

When? March 26, 9 p.m.

How much? $6 + $2 cover if under 18

Contact ALL reporter Brittany Moseley at [email protected].