Darnielle (middle) likes boxing, roasting, and crying it out.
  • Darnielle (middle) likes boxing, roasting, and crying it out.

Transcendental Youth is a pretty dark album, but really lovely, too. I appreciate it when songwriters can approach things like depression or mental illness without sounding insincere or one-dimensional. It's strange that in 2012, there's still a huge lack of understanding when it comes to mental health. Is that something you're passionate about?

Yes—I worked in mental health for a long time, and I have demons of my own. I don't think I'm special in that or anything, though; there's more demon-plagued people than non-demon-plagued people, as I explained in my popular tract The Coming Demon Plague. I don't really think I'm possessed of any special understanding on the subject, either, so I always fret about saying, "Well, here's what I'm thinking about directly." I just remember people who lost their way, people I know or knew, and I think about some stuff I've been through, especially in the last five or six years, and then make up stories with those areas as starting grounds.

The Mountain Goats song "This Year" is the song I listen to whenever I need reminding that shit will pass. What song do you listen to when you need a reminder like that? Or maybe you need something other than music at those points?

That's not how I use music when I am suffering, when I'm in a hard place: I use it to suffer more. I listen to stuff that makes me feel worse—that is just sort of how I am. You know, the "cry it out" style of sleep training that some people use? (Not us, I want to point out.) I am still crying it out, and someday I hope to get some sleep.

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The Mountain Goats play the Showbox at the Market tonight with Matthew E. White.