the edward sharpe frontman fills us in.

by liza darwin

This weekend we hit Austin City Limits, the other Austin festival that showcases music from some of the best established and emerging artists alike. Although big names like Kanye West, Stevie Wonder, and Arcade Fire may have scored the headlining slots, one of the most crowded shows by far was Alexander Ebert's. The singer and songwriter first gained a following as the frontman of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, but if the thousands of frat boys and hippies swaying together to his folksy tunes "Million Years" and "Truth" are any indication, his new solo career is just beginning. We chatted with Ebert before his show on Saturday.

How many times have you performed in Austin before? Solo, just twice before. This will be my third.

Do you have a pre-show ritual? I like to hug, to get everyone together and huddle beforehand.

What's your secret to keeping a big audience like this one engaged? I just think about having fun. If you're having fun, you're more than halfway there.

Which of your songs means the most to you? "Truth" means the most to me. A lot of the songs are sort of light, so they mean a lot to me because they're intended to lift the spirits.

Did you set out to make a lighter album this time around? That's sort of where I was at in my life; it's the direction I wanted to go in.

Do you have a favorite city to perform in? It's hard to pick, but my favorite cities in the US include Austin and New Orleans. But in terms of where we're playing, it depends. Missoula, Montana actually blew my mind.

Can you tell a difference between the audience? Oh yeah. As soon as you step onstage, you can tell if the audience has already been well-seasoned, or if not. If not, then you just have to do your best and have fun. One really great thing to do is just to focus on your band members and play with them and not worry about anything else.

What bands are you listening to right now? I love Fool's Gold, I just saw them perform. I'm kind of sad to be missing Stevie Wonder tonight! I'd like to stick around, but we've got to go.

Listen to more Alexander Ebert here.