Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

Arts and Entertainment

Interview: Glen Phillips of Works Progress Administration (WPA)

Works Progress Administration: (Back row L-R) Greg Leisz, Sean Watkins, Pete Thomas, Luke Bulla, Benmont Tench (Front row L-R) Glen Phillips, Sara Watkins
Today on Giving Tuesday, LAist needs your support.
Today, your donation to LAist will be matched dollar for dollar. Your tax-deductible that gift powers our reporters and keeps us independent will be felt twice as strong today, so don't delay!

If you want to see the epitome of collaboration, you need look no further than the band Works Progress Administration (WPA). This new folk-pop supergroup, named after FDR's New Deal agency, was born out of many Largo at the Coronet shows and impromptu post-show jam sessions. Over the last year, it has evolved into an "expandable collective" of musicians who can individually and collectively make your jaw drop with their skill and improvisation.

Anchored by Glen Phillips (Toad the Wet Sprocket), Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek) and Luke Bulla (Lyle Lovett), the band also includes Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek), Pete Thomas and Davey Faragher (Elvis Costello and the Imposters), Greg Leisz (Joni Mitchell, Bill Frisell) and Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers).

LAist spoke with Phillips a few days ago to learn about the band's new self-titled album, the benefits of a tight-knit musical community, and WPA's upcoming gig at Largo on Oct. 5.

LAist: You've often talked about using the studio as an instrument. What was the most surprising thing you discovered in the studio when you recorded WPA's first album?

Support for LAist comes from

Glen Phillips: Although I've done that in the past, this album was specifically about not using the studio as an instrument. This one was about capturing the live performances as honestly as we could. Jim Scott, who engineered and mixed the record, is just amazingly quick and proficient. You hear his records and you think it's this incredibly pristine thing, but he's so good that he just throws up the mics and it immediately sounds like a record. So in this case it was very much centered on just getting a compelling performance.

WPA - "Always Have My Love"