Kurt Vile Wants Miley Cyrus to Cover His Songs, and Four Other Things We Learned From the Indie-Rock Hero

“I blow some minds,” says indie-rock hero Kurt Vile in the new episode of Rolling Stone Music Now. “But it’s hard to blow everyone’s mind.” And yet Vile is still doing his best to do so, in his distinctly ambling, low-key way, as the trippy greatness of his new album (and belated major-label debut) Watch My Moves suggests.

To hear the whole wide-ranging interview — which goes deep on the album and his whole life and career — press play above, or listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. A few highlights follow:

Vile wants a pop hit, and is intrigued by the idea of it arriving via a Miley Cyrus cover of one of his songs.
“I would love that,” he says. “I met her once. Me and Liz Phair met her at Primavera [Sound] and we were equally waiting in line, both excited — fangirl, fanboy — to meet Miley.”

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He had an amazing time at a recent Bob Dylan concert in Philadelphia.
“I took one hit [of weed],” says Vile. “And at first I was like, ‘Oh God, I can’t go in there.’ And then I was like, ‘I can’t breathe with this mask on,’ you know? The first song sounded insane, cacophonous. And then all of a sudden I was like, this is the greatest night of my life!”

He found it easy to channel Bruce Springsteen on his revelatory new cover of the outtake “Wages of Sin.”
“I do have my methods of playing as close to the recorded version as possible,” he says. “Ultimately it’s still some sort of magic, some sort of alchemy. That Springsteen song might be my favorite on all of the record.”

GZA’s classic Liquid Swords helped inspire Watch My Moves.
“When you hear a perfect drum machine and somebody’s like GZA’s flow over top of it, you almost want to quit for a minute,” says Vile. “And then you’re just inspired. It makes me want to play music at least. I like the people that just put you in the zone. You can just get stuck in that groove.”

He has a hard time imagining any new projects with his friend and former bandmate Adam Granduciel, frontman of the War on Drugs.
“He’s still my best friend in spirit,” says Vile, who explained some of the differences in style between his own work Granduciel’s band. “He’d work on these same songs over and over again and keep fine-tuning them… I would do things really quick, or lay down solos and improvise. To this day, you could see he polishes the records and puts out arena-ready rock that’s actually playing arenas. It’s really cool. At the end of the day, I was more of a raw dog or something. I’m always trying to polish my thing too, but it’s just a different thing… Right now I can’t imagine, like, a full-on project.. It’d be more likely that we bumped into each other and played some guitars than, like, arrange some kind of official scenario…. Who knows, when we get old, we could want to do that.”

Download and subscribe to our weekly podcast, Rolling Stone Music Now, hosted by Brian Hiatt, on Apple Podcasts or Spotify (or wherever you get your podcasts), and check out three years’ worth of episodes in the archive, including in-depth, career-spanning interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Halsey, Neil Young, Snoop Dogg, Brandi Carlile, Phoebe Bridgers, Rick Ross, Alicia Keys, the National, Ice Cube, Robert Plant, Dua Lipa, Questlove, Killer Mike, Julian Casablancas, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Marr, Scott Weiland, Liam Gallagher, Alice Cooper, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Costello, John Legend, Donald Fagen, Phil Collins, Justin Townes Earle, Stephen Malkmus, Sebastian Bach, Tom Petty, Eddie Van Halen, Kelly Clarkson, Pete Townshend, Bob Seger, the Zombies, Gary Clark Jr., and many others — plus dozens of episodes featuring genre-spanning discussions, debates, and explainers with Rolling Stone’s critics and reporters. Tune in every Friday at 1 p.m. ET to hear Rolling Stone Music Now broadcast on SiriusXM’s Volume, channel 106.

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