While talking about this I suggest that maybe it's a mistake to follow pressure from the fans, that artists need to write for themselves first and foremost. Perri disagrees: ” We take what they say to heart, because without them we're nothing – we wouldn't be doing what we're doing, so we want to make them happy as well. We're going to write the record that we want to write, but keep it in the back of our minds, that, we don't want to write this 'emo' stuff or whatever – then laughingly – I hate labels, man: it's all rock n'roll you know!”.
He could be a walking advert for some of the nobler American values – a strong work ethic, humility, and the belief that each person in the band has an equal say, and that the majority rules. It's interesting to see how these balance out in the way the band work. For example, as with most American bands on tour in Europe at the moment, he gets asked by every interviewer his views on politics, and in particular whether politics should be brought into music: “You know, I would like to write political songs, but that's not what the band is about. I'm very political myself, but the band's not, so I don't use that. I use human emotions, relationships, friendships, and just situations”. Because the band as a whole doesn't want to enter the political debate he shies away from speaking on politics in his capacity as the singer of From Autumn to Ashes. It's not that he hides his head from Politics, just that it's not what the band is about. It could also be that he's been burned slightly, having mentioned his support for the Democractic challenger during the election campaign, which didn't go down well with some fans: “I wrote a couple of articles in a couple of magazines, and I got mail from kids saying 'Why did you have to bring politics into it? I'm not going to listen to your band anymore because you support John Kerry', and I was like 'You know what? fine'”. He continues, seeming slightly weary, or perhaps it's the cold kicking in, “People kind of expect you to take a stand, particularly now, here in Europe, with the way things are going, but because we're not a political band, when I do, everyone questions it, and asks 'Why are you doing this?'. America is the land of the free, freedom of speech. I can say what I want, but if these kids don't feel that way…I just do it on my own, but it's not a band point of view”.
As a band that tour so constantly, does it play havoc with their songwriting? Is it possible to be on the road all the time and write songs? “It's not that easy, but in another light it is, because you get to see different Countries, different people, how they react to things, how they deal with situations, do they get in fights? Do they sit down and talk it out? You get to see a broad range of human emotions. In the States you just have one reaction – anger, straight away, no matter what – no trying to work things out. So it's kind of cool to see different reactions. I've written a couple of songs already on this tour. It's hard, but I get a lot of inspiration on the road at the same time”.
He says that he has about thirty lyrics written for the next album, though out of those he's certain of only maybe five or six. “What I'm going to do is wait until the guys have finished writing the music, then take it, play it through headphones on repeat for the whole day, and see what emotions it provokes in me, then I'll write the words according to that, how it makes me feel”.
Surprisingly enough, when talking about musicians that he'd like to work with, he without hesitation shoots back Billy Joel. I presume that he's winding me up, playing a game with the rest of his bandmates to see what crazy quote they can get a writer to fall for, but it seems that he's serious. “Definitely Billy Joel. The lyrics that I'm writing for the new record are ‘billyjoelesque’, they're more straightforward, not what I'm thinking, what I'm feeling, instead of poetry and shit”. I half seriously, half jokingly ask him if he has to be pissed off to write a song, based on the ferocity of many of From Autumn to Ashes' songs, and the answer reinforces the Billy Joel response, that feeling is all: “You don't have to be pissed off to write a song. You just have to feel it. If you sit down and think about it too long it won't work. You have to be in the mood, you can be brushing your teeth and it hits you, and you just have to drop everything and start writing – that's how it happens”.