Matt Ward is a fellow most of you know, and even if you think you don’t know him, you probably do—in the past decade, his distinct and obscenely talented guitar work, or his gravelly millworker’s voice, have tended to turn up in the most unlikely places. The Portland resident can be found alongside Zooey Deschanel in She & Him, or working with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis in Monsters of Folk, but to get the best feel for Ward’s AM radio dynamism, one has to seek out his exemplary solo work. Prior to Ward’s SXSW appearance in support of his new album, A Wasteland Companion, we hopped on the phone to chat with the thoughtful musician about T.S. Eliot, Christmas albums, being defined by collaborations, and why SXSW is not a terrible thing.

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