Which was scarier: performing at the Oscars or at the Grammys?
The Grammys, because I was on stage with such amazing female vocalists. I was singing ”Think” for the tribute to Aretha Franklin, and I was thinking, ”I’ve really got to give it something here.” The Oscars was frightening too, but the song itself [127 Hours”’If I Rise”] was really mellow, so I just had to think really calm and peaceful.
Which of your famous fans has been the biggest thrill to meet?
At the VMAs, Lady Gaga wandered over in her meat dress and said congratulations. I gave her a big hug; it felt good. And backstage at a Gaga concert, I met Liza Minnelli! She’s such a full, old-school Hollywood star.
Does a live show like Lady Gaga’s make you think about your own stage setup?
I haven’t ordered the giant anglerfish yet. [Laughs] Though I did come out of a giant disco ball once. I’m more interested in getting other kinds of instruments on stage. I have a ukulele that I’m learning to play.
Do you have a sense of when your new album will be done?
I haven’t got a time frame. I’m gonna keep it loose. I’m enjoying the writing process, though for some reason in the studio I can never sit on chairs. I always end up sprawled on the floor surrounded by pieces of paper with ideas and lyrics on them.
There have been reports that you’re working with Drake…
We kind of got to know each other just doing award ceremonies, and he’s a really nice guy. When we meet, we always end up just hanging out. We’ve got to focus and make some music. [Laughs]
The new reissue of your 2009 debut album, Lungs, is titled Between Two Lungs in the U.K. Is that a reference to Zach Galifianakis’ Web series Between Two Ferns?
I’ve never seen that show! I love Zach, though. ”Between Two Lungs” is a song title from my first album — I got it from a story in this terrifyingly graphic ’80s pulp novel called Brute! that I found in a secondhand shop.
Which song from the deluxe Lungs reissue are you glad is finally out there?
I’ve always loved ”Swimming.” I couldn’t really add [it] to the [first] album because it’s just violin and drums, and we couldn’t bring a string section with us on tour. We can now, though.
That’s the kind of clout you have now — you say ”string section” and one shows up.
I just said it and now one is outside my door!