From Conor's interview for Drowned In Sound:
The album Read Music/Speak Spanish dealt with a number of issues endemic to modern Western society. Why do you think it resonated so strongly among listeners, and are you surprised by how it continues to do so now?
I think it resonates with listeners because it is true. It comes from a true and honest place. I know we are not reinventing the wheel here. It is nothing that hasn't been said before and it will surely be said again but that is because the ideas we were/are singing about come from the same common struggles of all thoughtful, empathetic people living in a modern western capitalist society. The excess, the guilt, the fear, the pride, the idealism, the arguments, the convenience and sheer entertainment of it all, the knowing that while there might not be a better system out there, that does not and cannot excuse all the suffering that this system causes our fellow human beings. I'm not surprised that it still resonates today because the situation is only getting worse. Just look at the growing disparity between the rich and poor worldwide. The senseless never-ending wars all over the world to preserve this paradigm. And I guess that is why it has been so easy for us to fall back into the groove with the band and why we decided to make new songs. There is still a lot to say on the subject.
It was recorded in 2002, in under a week, I think? What are your memories of that time?
It was actually recorded in 2001. About a week after 9/11. It was such a strange turn of events because all the songs had been written prior to the attacks but then it happened and everyone was so freaked out. It seemed the worst time imaginable to be making an album which almost undoubtedly would be perceived as Anti-American. I really did some soul-searching at the time and decided that actually it was the most patriotic thing we could do. Because in my mind the best thing about being an American is the freedom to dissent and to force our government and society to correct course and improve ourselves. Our nation was born out of two of the greatest evils ever perpetrated on this earth, the genocide of the Native Americans and the slavery of the African Americans, but from that we have managed to evolve and become something much better and more humane. That evolution is still taking place. I just want to be a part of that.