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Interviewing Smith is more like talking to a friend of a friend than a frontman. He is earnest and self-deprecating, happiest when he’s talking about things other than himself (Stanley Kubrick, Regina Spektor, the podcast Serial), and prone to repudiating what he has just said if it sounds at all pretentious or self-regarding. The hotel has provided trays of pastries but he confines himself to a banana he brought from home