We’re a day off from the release of Fiona Apple‘s The Idler Wheel… LP, and the singer has revealed why it’s taken seven years for her to put out the follow-up to 2005′s Extraordinary Machine — and probably why this is only her fourth album since her 1996 debut. “Seven years wasn’t intentional. It’s just because I’ll finish something and then two years will go by where I don’t touch the piano,” she explains in her Billboard cover story. “I might think of a song and then be like, ‘I don’t care if I forget it. I don’t want to do that shit. I’m not writing a song.’”
Apple goes on to explain that her work ethic is “very bad,” mostly because she’s more preoccupied with things like housecleaning. “I, by principle, don’t want to have a maid, but how the fuck do people do anything and take care of their house? I don’t have a day job,” she notes. “It’s just me and an old, slow dog. But laundry and vacuuming and dishes . . . What kind of pig am I?”
Apple, who currently lives with her dog in the Venice Beach area of Los Angeles, talks to Billboard about taking a visual perception class in New York, and beginning production on The Idler Wheel… after that:
First I asked Charley [Drayton] to just bang on the drums and record a couple different beats and send them to me. I knew I wanted it to have percussion and piano. Drums are my favorite things, and I wanted to get something to work with. When I go to the piano, your hands just go to the same spot. But it can bring new things out of me if I can get new things from somebody else. Once I had a few songs done, I asked Charley to come out and do some demos. We’d never done anything like this; we’d just been on the road together. I didn’t even know we were starting on the record yet. But the first night of actual work in the studio, we got so much done. And I don’t think we had one disagreement the whole time.
Of course, trying to pinpoint the timing of the above-mentioned early stages of the album proves to be a bit of a problem. “Oh, my God, I’m so fucked up with time. It could have been four years ago. It could have been . . . I don’t know,” Apple admits. “He would come out here for two weeks at a time. I’m jokey about it and I say I’m lazy — and I am sometimes — but with studio work, I really don’t like to work. I like to perform, I like to write, but I don’t like to have to go in and record.”
So now we at least get a better idea of why it takes so long for Apple to put a record together. “I like writing words, but music is annoying as hell because there’s always a point in time when I want to kill a song,” she adds. “I know that it’s a good song and stick with it, because if I’ve made any effort on something, then it’s worth it. I don’t have a bunch of songs lying around that I don’t use.”