Having your own studio, you seem to have a certain freedom - no one banging on the door or charging you hourly rates. Yeah, it was a pretty organic process that way, in that we were able to record whenever - late into the night or during the day. [Author's note: Oddly enough, considering that the studio is smack-dab in the middle of St. Louis proper, Farrar says the neighbors have never complained.] Also, it's great to have the studio space where all of your equipment is right there, so if you need to try a specific instrument - whether it's a certain organ sound or a stringed instrument like a lap steel, mandolin, or whatever - you've got it. I was exposed to a lot of instruments growing up, so I was just able to pick up a little bit on a lot of different instruments. I think that also predetermined that I would never be very good on any one instrument. [Laughs]

Has your songwriting changed? It sounds as if it has expanded. I hope that it has expanded. I think with being able to play the piano a little bit, that sort of opens a lot of different options as far as writing. Over the years, I've also started writing more and more in alternate tunings, which kind of seems to free up the process. It's almost like relearning the instrument, so there's this kind of feeling of spontaneity. You're not traveling over places you've been before. People who write books, I've heard them say that if you write a little bit each day, that's the best way to do it. And I've found that that's true for writing music, as well.

So, who's going to be touring with you in the fall? Chris Frame, he's a guy from Nashville, and then Dave Bryson, the drummer from Canyon, and Andrew DePlantis on bass and backing vocals. I've been talking with Derry [Derrick DeBorja] from Canyon, who will join us on keyboards.

What's the best thing about touring? Working together with a group toward a common thing. In this case, it's music. I think that's a time when a band really starts to coalesce, when you're on an extended tour. So often, unexpected things happen. That's kind of what keeps things interesting.

What's the hardest part? Being away from the family? Yeah, there is that. But I think Charlie Watts has a great quote about touring with the Stones: Nine-tenths of the time you're waiting to play music, and then one-tenth of the time you're actually playing. So, that's usually the hardest part of touring.

Son Volt’s tour kicks off this month as Farrar brings his new band and songs to the stages of North America. For a complete list of tour dates, check out the band’s website at www.jayfarrar.net.