(With A Surprise Guest Appearance By Jack Casady of Hot Tuna)
Bob Weir and Monty “Moe” Wiradilaga
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival – Manchester, Tennessee
Moe’s Intro – We have got a podcast of truly legendary proportions here on Moe Train’s Tracks. I got an opportunity at Bonnaroo to sit down with the legendary Bobby Weir of The Grateful Dead and Ratdog fame. I’m tellin’ ya, when Bobby Weir stepped onto the scene in the media tent, it was mass hysteria. Everyone wanted a piece of him, everyone wants to talk to a legend… Fortunately, we at Moe Train’s Tracks got to sit down with him backstage, and we got to pick his brain about music… about his philosophies…
I know Bobby always speaks about the music scene, but I decided to take it a different route. When I told Bobby that I really wanted to talk about music, more than the music scene, Bobby’s eyes lit up. That’s a sign of a TRUE musician.
Also, you know you have an interview of truly legendary proportions when two legends are in the same room, interviewing each other on the mic! That’s right… We had a little surprise on Moe Train’s Tracks when Jack Casady, a founding member of Hot Tuna, walked in during the middle of the interview, and Bobby Weir stood up and started to interview Jack Casady with our mics! I’m telling ya… I was absolutely shocked! I think Bobby’s manager was shocked too! As soon as Jack and Bobby were on the mic, it was like the paparazzi was let in… There were so many cameras going off… It was insanity! And we got it all on the mic at Moe Train’s Tracks podcast.
So it is with our honor… That we bring you… Bobby Weir!
Moe – I know you always talk about music “scenes…” Let’s talk about music itself..
Bobby – Music what?
Moe – Music itself as a subject.
Bobby – Uh huh!
Moe – More importantly than a band… Of course you were in The Grateful Dead… You helped to form music itself.
Bobby – (Smiles) Yeah, so I’m told!
Moe – (Laughs)
Bobby – You know, I’m told that The Grateful Dead were the “Godfathers of the Jam Band Scene,” though I don’t see it that way. You know, I think what we do goes back at least to Buddy Boland, the legendary New Orleans trumpet player back around the turn of the last century. I think that basically jam music in Western culture comes from at least that far back. We… The Grateful Dead managed to bring rock and roll, or what they call rock and roll sort of in that direction. That may have been our crowning achievement, perhaps. And in that regard, I guess we have contributed a bit. I think that people have found inspiration in what we did and I think you can hear at Bonnaroo a lot of bands who, like I said, found inspiration in what we did and are sort of carrying that torch.
Moe – Absolutely.
Bobby – So… you know, I think that’s good ’cause the more adventure there is in music, the more I think the rewards are.
Moe – So it started back in the late 20’s and 30’s with Jazz… With Louis Armstrong or earlier than that…
Bobby – Yeah… Louis Armstrong… Those guys. You know, particularly Louis Armstrong.
Moe – Right… So you think it really progressed when The Beatles brought electric to the scene… They made it mainstream, do you think?
Bobby – The Beatles were more mainstream. Their arrangements were tight, but there wasn’t a lot of room for improvisation in what they did. They were awfully good at what they did, but I wouldn’t have called them a “jam band” by any means or a jazz band or anything like that.
Moe – Duke Ellington mentioned about jazz having no rules… no form… it can be held down to no laws. How do you feel that it applies to your music?
Bobby – Well, you know, it’s 100 percent applicable to what we do, though that’s an awfully high standard to set.
Moe – Of course.
Bobby – No rules… no form… It’s almost impossible to live up to that on a “good night,” and we have “good nights” pretty regularly in my band these days! We go to places where we’re really starting from go. We don’t even know what tempo we’re going to start with. Tempo is a rule. A key is a rule. A tonality is a rule. Then a melody is another rule. Rhythm is another rule… And all that kind of stuff… And to make music that people can actually enjoy listening to, you have to conform to a lot of those rules.
Moe – Right.
Bobby – Though like I say, on some evenings, we can throw all that stuff out the window and be really free, and still make music that people can get into. We’re trying to do that nightly.
Moe – You have a setlist of almost 200 songs, correct? Or is it more than that?
Bobby – Something like that.
Moe – How decide how to go from song to song? Are moving more to setlists now, or are you still doing improvisation? What is your approach these days?
Bobby – I usually do a setlist for this band. It’s real hard… We like to keep playing. We like to keep a meter going. See, if we start a show at 100 beats per minute. We like to keep that meter going for a while and change up the rhythms… Change up the keys… Change up the songs. Given that, it’s real helpful to, you know, to consult a list of the songs that we do that are in that meter, and pick from there. I’m working on making a software program that will allow me to do that on the fly.
Moe – Oh, very nice!
Bobby – But for the time being, I still write a setlist. And when I do that… I have a database of all the setlists that we’ve done for the past decade or so, and I’ll go back and look at… If we’re playing in Memphis, I’ll go back and look at the last two or three times that we’ve played Memphis, and all those songs that we did are automatically out. And then I’ll look at the last week or two that we’ve been playing on this tour, and all those songs are automatically out. And then I start from there.
Moe – Even when you were with The Grateful Dead or Ratdog, you still have a different show every night, don’t you? Do you keep switching? People follow you around from city to city..
Bobby – Yep.
Moe – And they’re getting a unique experience almost every single time, unless… I mean, of course, you can duplicate it every once in a while, it happens, but…
Bobby – You know, we’ll play a given tune two or three times on a tour, and that’s about as often as we’ll play it. We have enough tunes so that we can keep the rotation going, and that way… You know, when a tune comes up in a show, you know that it’s gonna be your last crack at it for a while, so you’re gonna put a little more of yourself into it. Besides that, you haven’t played it for a while, so maybe you’ll have some new insights into how to interpret it.
Moe – It keeps changing? Does it keep evolving?
Bobby – Yeah. So you know, every show’s going to be different. I really doubt that there’s ever been a show that’s even been coincidentally the same as one that we did two or three or eight years ago.
Moe – You always have different projects. You always seem to keep yourself very, very busy, no matter when you were with The Grateful Dead, you’d always have a side project, or you were doing your solo album.
Bobby – Right.
Moe – How did you go putting together Ratdog?
Bobby – Ratdog just happened. I, you know, started playing with Rob Wasserman… We did a benefit together and had a lot of fun, and decided to go out as a duo for a while, and that lasted for a few years… and then we decided to add a drummer, because we’d done a session with this guy and we both enjoyed working with him. And so we added Jay Lane, and we were a trio for a while. I think I’m actually gonna start playing that trio again.
Moe – Oh very nice! Where are you going to start that?
Bobby – Because, you know, I did a benefit a couple weeks ago with those guys… a school benefit in San Francisco. And it was you know… I remembered how much fun that was…
Moe – Excellent!
Bobby – And so I’m gonna start doing that again I think.
(Tent opens, and in walks the legendary Jack Casady… Founding member of Hot Tuna)
Bobby – (Surprised… stands and smiles) Look at this guy!
(Many photographers come into the tent and start to rapidly snap pictures…)
Moe – (Stands wide eyed and laughs in disbelief)
Bobby – (Turns his mic to Jack Casady) We’re doing a podcast here, so you’re on!
Jack Casady – Oh hi, this is Jack Casady, I’m coming in to see my old buddy, Bob.
Moe – (Laughs in further disbelief at the events which are unfolding in front of his eyes)
Jack Casady – How it goin’ Bob?
Bobby – Well, pretty good! Where are you playing?
Jack Casady – We have played… We played at 2:30 today, but we’re (Hot Tuna) gonna sit in with our buddies, Gov’t Mule at 12 midnight to 3 in the morning.
Bobby – I’ll be there too.
Jack Casady – You’ll be there too…
Bobby – You bet!
Jack Casady – And we’re gonna do a little thing over here… Jorma’s around the corner, Barry’s around the corner, Eric’s around the corner… What are ya gonna do?
Bobby – All right!
Dennis (Bobby’s manager) – Say hi to Jorms…
Bobby (To Jack Casady) – We’re gonna finish up here…
Moe – When my friends and my listeners learned that I was going to be speaking with you… They wanted to know one thing. They wanted to know what are some of your craziest memories of your whole music experience… not just Grateful Dead, but your whole music experience. Anything stand out particularly?
Bobby – Uhhh… Let’s see. The musical experience. The one that stands out the most is the time that we uh… the first night that we played… I guess it was actually the third night that we played… well it was a blend of all three nights that we played in Egypt back in ‘78, I think it was. It was with The Grateful Dead, and we had done our sound check… It had taken us a week to rig the Son Et Lumiere over there which is you know, thousands and thousands of year old ampitheatre built back in ancient times at the foot of the Sphinx which is at the foot of the Great Pyramid, and it’s all lit up real pretty these days. Word had sort of filtered out that there was going to be a rock and roll band playing there… It was a first time happening. Like I said, we spent a week setting it up and getting electricity out there, getting it reasonably reliable. We went on stage to play and it was just at dusk, and we started playing, and the lights came on and we were the brightest and warmest thing around…
Moe – (Laughs)
Bobby – This was down by the river… The Nile. So the mosquitoes came right for us. This is something we hadn’t planned for!
Moe – Oh jeez… (Laughs)
Bobby – I look at this cloud of mosquitoes around us and I saw them landing on me right and left, and I figured, ‘Welcome to hell, this is going to be throughly un-enjoyable!’ (Smiles) And then something flashed before my eyes… Some dark form… And then another… And then another… And then I looked around and I saw that these great big bats were flying around the stage and they were gulping down the mosquitoes…
Moe – (Laughs)
Bobby – You know… (Laughs) They knew a good thing when they saw it! You know… It was a good thing for them! And then I realized that there were like hundreds, if not thousands of them… there were of course thousands of mosquitoes, but these bats were just… They were saving the day!
Moe – (Laughs)
Bobby – And so, you know… In my mind’s eye, I sort of backed off from this… So here’s this rock and roll band, just hitting the groove, just starting to hit the groove… And they’re on this ancient stage… at the foot of the Sphinx… at the foot of The Great Pyramids… And the dunes on either side were lined with Bedouins on their camels, with guns over their shoulders… They’d heard about this, and they’d come in to check it out… Full moon was rising… and all this surrounded by a cloud of bats… BIG cloud of bats! And I was thinking to myself, ‘Take me now Lord, I want to remember it just like this!’
Moe – (Laughs) That’s amazing! That’s amazing… Mr. Weir, thank you very, very much for your time.
Bobby – You bet!
Moe – I appreciate it. Thank you for all the music for all the years!
Bobby – The pleasure’s mine!
The Tracks brings you Mr. Bill Kreutzmann, drummer for The Grateful Dead. In this interview, we touched on The Grateful Dead’s influence and interactions during President Obama’s campaign, their responsibilities to the Deadheads, and if the Bay Area’s New Year’s Eve shows will be the curtain call for The Grateful Dead.
M: Mr. Bill Kreutzmann, of the Grateful Dead, thank you very much for being here on the Tracks.
B: Yeah, nice being here, thanks for having me.
M: Legends… The Grateful Dead… Obviously if you think about American bands, you think about the Grateful Dead. How do you feel the Grateful Dead’s influence and responsibility to the fans has been over the years?
B: The responsibility lies in the love of playing music and trying to play the best music you possibly can. For years and years we never pitched politics until this last horrendous eight years came up. We’re always pretty much a-political and we didn’t tell the fans anything, we just entertained. We just played music, that’s all we cared about.
M: So you said these horrendous past eight years, how are the next years going to happen, how do you feel about it?
B: I think the next eight years are going to be incredible. At least it’s going to be a lot different, a lot better. I got to meet President Obama and he’s real, man. I stood closer than you and I are talking right now and I looked right in his eye. He’s also from Hawaii so I kidded him about his surfing. There was a picture of him bodysurfing and he had really good form, he was on his side and had his arm out like you’re supposed to have when you bodysurf. I was kidding him about it, and he didn’t know where I was from, he thought Grateful Dead, he must have lived in the states or something. He looked me in the eye real close and said, “You’re from Hawaii, aren’t you?” That cat’s smart, man. No, I really see a freshness. We played the inauguration. We played the Atlantic Ball. He came and he met us there the first time and it was terrific. The guy really took time to come and meet the people that helped him because we had played at Penn State to about 16,000 people, a young audience, college educated people, and that really helped. I think the
young vote really helped him. And the way he did his campaign was so smart. Dave Axelrod is a wonderful person and he lead President Obama down the right path. He said, “use computers, use the internet, don’t get lobbyist money, get donations” and that was smart. Now he doesn’t owe any one person something, like some big corporation or something. Of course, you know all about lobbying, I don’t want to get into all that nonsense, I dislike that myself. That’s not politics. You hire somebody from your state to be your senator and then they’re paid for by something
else. That’s no good.
M: So the Dead influenced the voter’s vote? (laughs) Did you get him into office or what?
B: I think we influenced them at Penn State for sure. What happened to me is, about four or five years ago, I read his second book, The Audacity of Hope, and I said, my God, this is a dream if this guy can be president. So I’m really happy with it.
M: The show on New Year’s Eve is in the Bay Area. The rumor is that that will be the farewell show for the Dead.
B: That’s a rumor. We have actually talked about that yet. I’ve been asked a few questions today about plans and records and stuff but we haven’t actually gotten together and had a sit down about what we’re going to do yet.
B: You bet, man! It’s been fun!
M: You’ve made a lot of people happy.
B: It’s made me happy. That’s probably why I’m still alive! (laughs)
M: Appreciate it.
B: You’re welcome, man.
MTT and Ghostland discuss capes, sexual dancing, James Brown, Daft Punk and more while at Lollapalooza.
Interview with Ghostland Observatory
Thomas Turner, Aaron Behrens, Monty “Moe” Wiradilaga
Friday, August 3, 2007
Lollapalooza – Chicago, Illinois
Moe: We’re sitting backstage with Thomas and Aaron from Ghostland Observatory. How you doing guys? That was one of the best sets I’ve seen in a long time.
Thomas: Thanks a lot.
Moe: You guys started off with three people right?
Thomas: I think Ghostland, like the first official Ghostland show, we used two people. We were in other bands before but…
Moe: How did you guys get together, what was your meeting?
Aaron: We just met in the bands previously that we did. He answered an ad in the paper and we hit it off. The other guys went and took a break for a while and me and him just kept going at it and we found what me and him love to do together, you know?
Moe: Absolutely. You guys are from Austin correct?
Thomas: Yes, yeah.
Moe: And they’re saying that it the “live music capital of the world.” Is Austin really that strong of a live music scene?
Thomas: When we tour other cities, you can kind of tell like, in Austin, you can go out almost every night and see any kind of genre of music you want to, at almost a hundred different clubs. And most cities don’t have that you know. If want to see blues you can see blues, you wanna see rock, indie rock, punk rock, electronic, DJ shit, whatever, you know, you can go see it in Austin almost any night of the week.
Moe: You guys definitely have an interesting combination of styles. First of all, what’s with the cape? I gotta know what the cape is man! (Laughs)
Thomas: My wife made it for me, so I wear it you know, I sport it.
Moe: I was lookin’ for what stage you guys were playing on, I saw the cape and said, ‘Oh there they are.’
Moe: What did you guys grow up on, what were you really listening to? ‘Cause it sounds like you go from little bit from the dance genre, but then you go from rock, then you have a little rap, just a combination of so many different styles. Aaron, what’s your take on this?
Aaron: I grew up listening to, you know, my dad had a lot of like seventies, sixties-seventies rock, like Jimmy Hendrix, Zeppelin. Grew up listening to them… And then I got into eighties, and my mom had like Huey Lewis and The News, Prince, you know, all that good stuff. And then, you know, in the nineties I got into gangster rap…
Moe: There you go. (Laughs) NWA!?
Aaron: Snoop Dogg, NWA, Onyx…
Moe: Eazy-E! Yeah, there you go!
Aaron: Eazy-E, yeah all of them.
Moe: What happened to Onyx anyway? (Laughs)
Aaron: I don’t know dude. I think Sticky Fingers got into acting for a while, so I don’t know… But then I, you know, then I moved to Austin, and Thomas introduced me to electronic music, so yeah.
Moe: Yeah, it’s just the blend, the blend happened right there.
Aaron: Yeah… The beautiful blend man, you know, so..
Moe: Did you listen to a lot of James Brown?
Aaron: Oh, a lot, yeah, I love James Brown… I love James Brown… Yeah.
Moe: I know you know everyone says it… They draw your dancing style to James Brown…
Aaron: Oh, that’s a huge compliment, I love J.B…
Moe: It is. Those are big shoes to fill, but, tell you what… You never stop, you never stop! (Laughs)
Aaron: Oh man, I’m tryin’, I’m tryin’. (Laughs)
Moe: I could tell through the set, people were getting into it more and more. You guys know everything was just starting to build up, and I don’t know if you noticed the crowd, but the hands started going up and by the end everyone was just rockin out. Ahh. It was great.
Aaron: Yeah! That’s good!
Moe: You guys basically just leave it out, all on stage, just balls out…
Aaron: Yeah, we really try. I mean, like I said, me and Thomas, “The Wizard” over here, dude. You know, he just throws down all this, it’s just, everything crazy on top. And it’s just, like we’ve said before it’s like, he just allows for me to get crazy on top of that, but he’s just pushing me man. With all those sounds…
Moe: Just feeding off each other.
Aaron: Yeah! It’s just real feeding back and forth. It’s just not talking, it’s feeling between both of us, you know.
Moe: What do you feel about the musicians that are doing that little shortcut with laptops and all that in their music?
Thomas: Yeah, I guess people do whatever they’re comfortable with. Maybe, you know, they started out with a laptop, and using virtual synths and things like that, and that’s just how they do it. I mean, I don’t hate on them for doing that. I just prefer having a synthesizer and, like, really getting inside of a synthesizer, and learning it inside and out. It’s the harder way to do it. You know, that’s just what I feel comfortable doing, and I like it. I enjoy it a lot.
Moe: Did you grow up more with the rock stuff, ’cause you’re playing drums, and you’re doing the synths, doing them together, just meshing the two. Did you grow up more in rock, or did you grow up more in the dance styles?
Thomas: Well I guess when I really started getting into music I really fell in love with electronic music, that’s where my heart is. But I played drums when I was younger… I used my knowledge of playing the drums and creating beats, but I never thought that I’d have to play drums again. It just so happened that I got the opportunity, and we just rolled with it, you know.
Moe: Does it feel natural though? I mean, if you were doing the drums, and you were doing the beats… Was the going back and forth, working with the synths and the drums… Was it natural, or how’d that work in?
Thomas: Yeah, yeah I think so. It feels good to be able to do both, you know? I like it.
Moe: Well like I said, we’re gonna see you guys at Vegoose… The rest of my crew’s coming tonight. What should they expect when they see you guys for the first time? How would you describe your set?
Thomas: You just have to be there to witness it. I would say, go in expecting nothing, and be the judge for yourself, and see how you feel when you leave. Hopefully, you’ll really, really love it. Or you’ll really hate it. There will be no in between, like ‘Ahh… It was okay.’ None of that. Its either you’re really into it or you’re not, you know.
Moe: Aaron, your dancing is obviously very, very sexual.
Moe: You don’t doubt that right?
Moe: Not whatsoever. (Laughs)
Aaron: It’s a very powerful energy!
Moe: Yeah, so what’s the craziest thing a girl has done to try to get in your pants after a set like that? (Laughs)
Aaron: Well, honestly, I haven’t really had to deal with that, because I really don’t put myself in situations to deal with it, you know. A lot of times people will try to get on stage, and you know, dance with me and stuff. But the thing is, it’s like, that’s cool, but I’m like in my own world. I mean I definitely do it for the people and I like entertaining up there, and it’s wonderful that they get inspired to get down with me and everything. A lot of it, it’s a lot of personal release. You know, it’s a lot of personal energy getting out, flowing out of me. So, I really haven’t had anything crazy, you know, or anything like that. And I think a lot of my fans know that. A lot of our fans know that. They respect it. And it’s the same thing; I don’t expect anything from them after the show.
Moe: However, you should have heard the comments from those girls that were standing next to me. Oh shit, you would’ve been like…(Looks and points) Yeah, point to em’… (Laughs)
Aaron: (Laughs) Girl, you’re dirty! Girl, you’re nasty!
Moe: Yeah exactly!! They were getting dirty nasty, that’s right. You guys are very independent…
Thomas: We don’t have a manager. We hired a publicist just for a short period of time, just to help promote the upcoming festival season, the new record that’s coming out, and just like to help the press-related things kind of go our way as opposed to just random things happening… Have a little bit more control of that. But, yeah, we’re very independent. We don’t answer to anyone. We agree on things and that’s what we do. And we just stick with that, you know. And we really don’t do many press-related issues either you know so…
Moe: Well, thanks for… thanks a lot, I appreciate that!
Thomas: Yeah! Yeah! So we stay under the radar, we basically leave the people to decide whether they like our performances or like our albums, and that’s that, you know. We just let them figure it out for themselves.
Moe: I definitely see a trend in music today. “They” want control of their catalog. I spoke to Ziggy Marley at Bonnaroo, and he went independent now. He was saying how he wants control of his things. Slightly Stoopid, who I just spoke to, also said the same thing. So, what do you guys think about the trend of music? Is it people taking the power back from the labels? Why is the trend like that?
Thomas: I don’t know. There are some bands that are very comfortable being on a label and they enjoy that lifestyle and the perks that come along with it, and having tour support, and having a marketing team and publicists and everything like that. And than there’s other people, they just really wanna do things their own way. And I think if you really want to do your own thing bad enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen, and I think that’s what a lot of bands are doing.
Moe: So you have a new album coming out soon?
Thomas: Yes, yes. We’re finished writing. Now we gotta get into the studio the end of August, early September and then bang it, bang it, bang it, bang it!
Moe: Yeah man. If you guys could collaborate with anybody, Aaron who would you collaborate with? Anybody, doesn’t have to be dance-related, anybody. You’re biting your finger; you’re probably like, ‘I don’t know.’
Aaron: I really don’t… I really don’t know. Because, it wouldn’t be the same, you know? The thing is, I think, Thomas and I enjoy the kinship we have with our music you know.
Moe: That’s a good thing.
Aaron: To add another person in the room, or someone else in the collaboration, I don’t know if we’d function the same, I don’t know if… It breaks up the connection.
Moe: Do you think it would water it down?
Aaron: I think it would water it down. I don’t know. Certain circuits run a certain way, Thomas and I have to be alone and in silence, and if anybody’s added in there it doesn’t work the same. It doesn’t.
Moe: So when you guys are doing your writing sessions, is it just like you’re on stage? You guys just start rocking out?
Aaron: There’s a lot of silence and then a lot of sound.
Moe: A lot of rockin?
Moe: You guys definitely have a real big sound for just two guys. I thought you guys were gonna blow out the PA system, did you hear it popping at one point?
Thomas: That’s good! I like that! (Laughs)
Aaron: Yeah, that’s good! (Laughs)
Moe: Yeah! I heard it, I was like, ‘Oh shit, there goes the set.’ ‘Cause you guys did blow out a set, where was it?
Moe: That’s right!
Thomas: We blew out the entire power in the whole freaking festival.
Moe: No shit.
Thomas: Yeah… It wasn’t too fun though when it happened. We were like, ‘Oh, that’s not good.’ You can’t even talk in the microphone, nothing.
Moe: Did they get it back and going?
Thomas: Yeah, but it took a while. It was just like, at first, it’s cool, like ‘Oh, yeah they blew out the power’, but then you can’t crank it back up you know, you gotta wait. Then they get the power running again and you’ve got to start over and try to get back to where you were. But the crowd seemed to respond really well to it, so it ended up working out.
Moe: That’s cool. So you guys gonna be around for Daft Punk tonight?
Thomas: Man, we have to play another show tonight! So we gotta go sound check…
Moe: Oh, where is that by the way?
Thomas: Schubas? So we gotta go sound check right now.
Moe: Maybe I’ll show up for that one, after I figure out where the hell it is.
Thomas: If we can’t make it, we’ll try. Man, we drove all night to get here, and it’s pretty crazy, yeah.
Moe: (To Aaron) If you we’re gonna be there, you should be on stage as a dancer for Daft Punk, and suddenly you show up on stage, and people are like, ‘What the fuck is going on here!‘
Aaron: (Laughs) They would probably blow me up with their electronic stuff. And that’s the same thing, ya know… Daft… They would, yeah… I don’t know what would happen. (Laughs)
Moe: (Laughs) You just might have to show up for just like a couple minutes and then head out! Guys, thank you very, very much. Can’t wait to see you guys at Vegoose…
Thomas: Thank you!
Moe: And maybe we’ll see you guys tonight.
Thomas: Okay, sweet deal man!
Moe: All right guys, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
Chris from OAR talks to MTT about staying “independent” on a big label, Madison Square Garden and more at Bonnaroo.
Chris Culos (O.A.R.) Interview on Moe Train’s Tracks
Chris Culos, Monty Wiradilaga and Brian Kracyla
June 15, 2008
Moe: We’re back stage here with Chris of O.A.R. How’s it going man?
Chris: It’s going good man. We just got here, I’m really excited. We’ve got some gorgeous weather out here.
Moe: Oh, it’s beautiful out.
Moe: It’s the first day of your new tour, is today the first day?
Chris: We just started our new tour today. So excited about it… A big summer.
M: Supporting the new album that comes out next month.
C: It comes out July 15th, yes, and actually our single is called Shattered. And we’re actually getting some radio play already, which is exciting. It officially goes to radio tomorrow and fans can get it online. They can get it starting June 16th on iTunes and stuff like that, exciting.
M: How’s this album compare to your others?
C: It’s a little bit of everything. I think by calling it all-sides, it really is capturing the all encompassing thing of O.A.R. It’s got the rock, the lighter stuff, it’s got the reggae, it’s got a little bit of everything. I think the song writing is really strong. I’m really proud of all the guys in the band, our song writers… You can really see their growth. But also the musicianship side of stuff, we feel really comfortable in the studio. That was always the thing. I think our audience really gravitated to our live stuff, and they liked the studio stuff, but they didn’t think it compared to that energy. It’s was only natural. We’ve played a couple of hundred shows a year but only made a handful of CDs. It’s still a lot of time in the studio, but for us we’re still learning.
M: Is that why you guys have encouraged the taping of your live shows?
C: Absolutely. But not just that reason alone. We’re proud all our stuff that we do in studio but as far as our live shows, that’s our bread and butter. That really is what we do best, and where we feel the most comfortable. I think by encouraging taping of the shows it creates more of a community interaction, you know for people who wanna come out and see us multiple times. It keeps us on our toes to create new set lists, and change the arrangements, and jam-out, and have fun. It’s also fun for the audience because it gives them something to talk about. It’s not the same show every night, not the same version of the same song every night. It’s a lot of great things.
M: Talking about live shows, how’d it feel standing on the stage at Madison Square Garden, at a sold-out arena, at one of the most important influential venues in the whole world?
C: Yeah, it was pretty much the highlight of our career. I can’t lie. It’s just weird because when we started this band, god, we started it 12 years ago in my basement, you could never imagine, you could never think of playing Madison Square Garden. I mean, all the things you could dream about, that’s just ridiculous to think that. So, to be standing on stage, it was so surreal. To be honest, it’s the only time I’ve ever been nervous playing.
C: Yeah, we’re really comfortable with what we do. Every night we go on stage, we get really excited about before we go on, and walk on, and that’s just what we do best, we’re comfortable. Going on in Madison Square Garden man, it was a whole other thing. It was a whole other ballgame man, I can’t lie.
M: I saw that. You could see the vibe in the place, it was just awesome.
C: Yeah. But, as soon as we started, yeah, we felt comfortable again. But it was the only time I’ve been nervous.
M: So what was the most memorable part of that performance? Anything stand out in your mind?
C: You know… It flew by. Most of the shows, some nights take a little longer than others, but that night flew by. I remember it being a little more lit up inside, just because we were filming it for DVD. You could see people. We can always usually see the front row, a couple rows back, but now look at and actually get a gauge of just how many people were there, and it was freaky. No, it was cool, ‘cause you could look out, we had a lot of our family there. I could look out and see my parents, my grandparents, and aunts and uncles, and cousins, and friends, and all these people who traveled from all over the country to watch us in New York. That was the coolest part.
M: Yeah, it had to be amazing for sure. So, with the new album, I know that you’re with a major label now; you were with an independent label before. Are we go to be seeing the independent O.A.R.? Or are we going to see a new incarnation?
C: We’re always independent O.A.R., man! No, see, here’s our deal. We started as a basement band, you know, when we were in high school. We went to college to really try to make it. We went to the biggest school in the country at the time, Ohio State University, and we went for four years. Not everybody graduated, but a couple of us did.
M: You did right?
C: Yeah, I did. Woo-hoo!
M: Ha, there ya go.
C: Then we started the band and we’ve been touring full time for eight years. So we’ve been a band for 12 years and everything been a real slow growth, but it’s been growing upwards steadily since the beginning. It’s given us time to learn and make the best decisions and really pay attention to what’s going on around us. And I think we really us that to our advantage, because if something happened over night, I don’t know if we’d know exactly how to deal with it correctly, and not to say that most people don’t, but who knows. For us, we’re really happy that we got to surround ourselves with great people. Our manager Dave Roberge, our singer Mark’s older brother, he started an indy label for us when we were in college. It was really just something on paper so that we could get a distribution deal, so we could get our CDs in stores like Best Buy and stuff. It wasn’t even a real label. But he grew it into an actual full functioning label with a full staff, moved to New York City, opened up office space, pretty amazing. And from what this label, Everfine Records, was able to do, it raised us up enough profile to actually get major label attention. And we had sold enough CDs on our own that when we went in to talk to a major label; we did have a little bit of leverage. Not to say that it was all in our favor, but to be honest it was a business decision to go with a major label. We just wanted to get our music out to more people. And so when we signed with, it was Lava Records, which was under Atlantic Records, which has since folded, now we’re moved over to Atlantic Records, but it’s all the same thing. We did sort of a joint-deal Everfine Records and Atlantic, so that Everfine would always be a part of us. It’s synonymous with us, it was created by our manager for us, by us. Everything about it, the mentality, will stay there. And they’ll continue to oversee most of our live releases while the major label will put out our studio releases. Sorry for the long answer.
M: No, it’s cool. Because I know that the fans are always concerned when a band makes that leap. They’re not sure if they’re getting the same band that they grew up and loved, or something that’s manufactured.
C: Of course. I mean, we’ve seen it with our favorite bands too. If anything, it’s a stepping stone for us to be able to continue what we always done in the past. If we have to put out something that’s more geared towards pop-radio, somewhere where you see us on film or television soundtracks or stuff, it’s not to say we’re playing the game and selling out, it’s to say that we wanna do that stuff to be able to continue to do the rest of the O.A.R. stuff that we love.
M: Do you consider yourself frat-rock?
C: You know, the term kinda bothers me. I don’t exactly what it is. It gives you, it’s not that it bothers me…
M: Is frat-rock a stigma?
C: It’s just used in a negative connotation. It’s not like anyone says, ‘God, these are my favorite frat-rockers!’
C: It’s always somebody writing an article about us who pawn it off as frat-rock, as if that’s a bad thing. I’m really proud of the fact that we are able to attract fans from diverse things, whether it’s a frat, whether it’s a sorority, whether it’s just regular college kids, whether it’s high school kids, you know, older adult, any walk of life I think it sort of reaches out. I guess it is a bit of a stigma. I don’t know, I mean at first it was jam-band, and that’s really cool because some of our favorite bands are jam-bands, but we don’t consider ourselves a jam-band at all. We just don’t do that. So, to get labeled a jam-band is just I think a little misleading. So, the frat-rock thing, I don’t know, it’s just used in a negative connotation. I don’t have a problem with it if someone was using it in a praising way. Whatever.
M: Does it bother you that your band’s music makes the beds rock in collegiate America all across the US?
C: Hell no, dude, that’s the point, c’mon.
M: We’ve got a lot of comments about that, ‘Dude, you’re interviewing those guys! We’ve had sex to that music all the time!’
M: Oh, congrats on being one of the top 100 most influential indie bands.
C: Oh, thanks, performing/song writer, what an honor, we are really excited.
M: There are a lot of big names on that list.
C: Honestly, I can’t put it into words, I was a little bit speechless. We’ve never really won any honors; we’ve never really won any awards. I think, in the past, people who know about O.A.R. know about O.A.R., and everyone else outside this world has sort of ignored us. It’s given us, I don’t want to say a chip on the shoulder, but it’s made us feel like we’re a little bit of the underdog, wanting to always prove ourselves. It doesn’t bother us but it makes us want to work that much harder. So to get some recognition like this, it’s really satisfying.
M: Another congratulations in order, you just got married.
C: Thank you, I’m actually about to get married.
M: Oh, I’m sorry, you’re about to get married.
C: In three weeks, it’s the countdown.
M: So what’s your thoughts?
C: Man, I’m really excited. I’m most excited to be sitting on the beach on the honeymoon.
M: Where ya going?
C: We’re going to Hawaii. And neither of us have ever been. Have you been?
M: Not yet, but this year. I think we’re going to a wedding. Apparently it’s supposed to be amazing.
C: Yeah, I can’t wait.
M: You still gonna be the same guy or what?
C: I’m gonna be the same guy, yeah.
M: What’s your most revolutionary moment of O.A.R.?
C: You know, again, I would have to say Madison Square Garden. It was pretty amazing. When we were in college, we played at a place called the Newport Music Hall. It was when we got to college and we said, ‘God, one day we’re really gonna tour, we’re really gonna do this for a career.’ And the biggest venue on campus was called the Newport Music Hall and we said, ‘One day we’re gonna play there.’ And we ended up playing there many times throughout college, and we sold it out almost every time. It was really satisfying the first time we saw our name on the marquee.
M: You guys always seem to show up with Dave Matthews. And I guess your ending the tour with them…
C: They’ve treated us well throughout the years. Honestly, we haven’t had a chance to work with that many large bands. We feel like we’ve always sort of gone out and toured on our own. They’ve been good to us, a lot of opportunities.
M: Pick up any pointers from Dave?
C: Yeah. That’s the best part of it. When I was a kid, they were probably my favorite band. I would watch them in concert all the time. So to be able to be backstage and watch a show is amazing, but really the coolest thing is to be able to be backstage and watch how they operate as a business. Most people don’t think of those things, but to see how they operate with the personnel that they hire, their road crew, the way that they handle the trucking and setting up of the equipment, and what kind of gear they use, and all that stuff. For us, that’s really the best part, I mean, we can sit there and learn from the best, you know. That’s the business model we would strive to be, if there was one.
C: It’s an empire they’ve created.
M: Yeah, absolutely. So tomorrow, I guess you guys have your first live interactive on-line show, or concert, what’s going on with that?
C: Yeah, so it’s called Deep Rock Drive and we’re actually filming it at a studio in Vegas. There actually will be somewhat of a studio audience in there. It’s a really cool thing that we have never done before where we post a bunch of songs and people can vote on what songs, and the set list and what order they want it to be in, and people can type real-time questions into us. It’s a completely interactive show. Totally new, I’m really excited. I know they’ve done a couple shows but other artists, but it totally new for us and it’s relatively new technology that they can do all this stuff. I’m just really looking forward to it.
M: Cool. So at the end of your career, what do you hope to have accomplished?
C: Oh man, I don’t think that way. That’s a good question. Honestly, we feel like we’re just starting. If that’s another answer, I don’t even know. We just wanna be the biggest band we can be.
M: So what’s that mean?
C: I wouldn’t say awards or anything like that. I think that when I was a kid I would have loved to be on Saturday Night Live. I would love to be nominated for a Grammy, I don’t wanna win a Grammy, just maybe just one time be nominated for a Grammy. What about cover of Rolling Stone, that’s a classic you gotta go with as a band.
M: So you have your checklist.
C: Checklist, yeah. You know, seeing that platinum record up on the wall, which we feel very fortunate that we’ve gotten a couple of gold records. If you’re asking, I guess that kinda stuff, but I don’t really know. We just want to fucking play.
M: I got it, man. Thanks a lot for being with us, we appreciate it.
C: No problem, man.
The Hold Steady, a Brooklyn-based band, is well-known for their guitar-riff heavy tunes and also great lyrical storytelling by frontman, Craig Finn. The Hold Steady’s live shows are second to none. High energy, tight playing, and overall atmosphere of their shows makes The Hold Steady a must see on the concert and festival circuit.
Tad Kubler (The Hold Steady)
Interviewed by Monty Wiradilaga and Brian Kracyla (Moe Train’s Tracks)
Moe: Hey we’re sitting backstage with Tad from The Hold Steady. Thanks for being on the show, man. Appreciate it.
Tad: No problem. Thanks for having me.
M: You guys have gotten so many accolades, including “Best Live Band in the World”, what has it taken for you guys to get to that point?
T: I think just for us to continue to go out and try to have a good time with what we’re doing. Obviously, the audience has gotten larger, and the shows have gotten bigger, and the venues have grown in size, and I think as things continue to happen for us it would be easy for us to go out and phone it in every night with as much as we tour, we play anywhere between 200 and 250 days a year, but I think the most important thing for us is to constantly remind ourselves of why we do this in the first place, and that’s to go out and have a good time. So I think that’s the most important thing about what we do and that’s hopefully one of the reasons that we what do translates so well live, the enjoyment of what we do.
M: Speaking about translating live, your live album that came out is phenomenal.
T: Thank you.
M: Was there additional pressure to capture that live essence in putting out that album?
T: No, I don’t think so. There were a lot of times where a bit of time passed in between when we did the actual live recording to when it came out, it came out during one of the tours for Boys and Girls in America. There were a couple of songs on the record that we were in the process of writing for Stay Positive, so it was nice to go back and listen to how they kinda changed in between the writing process and the actual recording of them. For us, there wasn’t really a lot of pressure other than just making sure that there wasn’t a lot of mistakes. The live record took place on Halloween in Chicago and we were all in costume and during the mixing of it I remember hearing parts where it was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s wear I’m shedding parts of my costume, I think I was trying to get the poncho off!’, or whatever I had on.
M: What were you wearing?
T: We were all dressed as kinda banditos. You know, fake mustaches and, not sombreros, but some kind of weird hats, and cigarillos and stuff like that. Nothing we do is that deliberate, but I think sometimes it’s taken that way. But, like I said, what we do is try to go out and have a good time. And usually good things come out of that.
M: Yeah, the live stuff seems like it’s your guys’ bread and butter.
T: In terms of being able to sustain playing in a rock band right now, it’s certainly financially our bread and butter, as I think it is with most bands. You gotta stay on the road. It’s obviously very hard to sell records right now.
M: Speaking of which, one of your albums leaked really hardcore…
T: Stay Positive, yeah. It leaked really quickly. It was somewhere overseas where the promo copies leaked right after they were manufactured. That is what it is. We really didn’t expect it to leak as rapidly or as widespread as it did, but I guess that’s something that just goes with the territory. I think these days you kind of have to be prepared for that. I think, luckily for us, when we were in the studio we recorded so many songs and there was so much material that it was still easy for us to go ahead and alter the actual release itself to make it a little more special than what had leaked.
M: With that leak, does it help with viral marketing?
T: It’s frustrating obviously because when you do a record you want to present it as a whole piece with everything you’ve done. You work so hard to keep the sonic integrity of it, and to have it leak onto crappy digital MP3’s that are out of phase and that are kind of an inferior product to the actual record itself, it can be frustrating. But, it’s the nature of the music business now. It’s kind of expected at some point now. The one thing that it did do was show us the demand that was out there for the new record, it was a pleasant surprise. So, you gotta take the good with the bad. That’s something that, in this day and age of technology and the way people consume music, it’s unfortunately just part of the plan.
M: Going back to Boys and Girls in America, it was one of my favorite albums. It just tells stories, it seems like just sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
T: Well, a lot of people have said that but Craig’s lyrics, I think what I take away from them, and I’m as big a fan of his lyrics as anyone, is that there’s a lot of hope and I think that a lot of it deals with faith and those kind of topics. I think that even in some of the darker Hold Steady songs, lyrically, I think there’s a lot of hope involved as well.
M: How did Michael Jackson influence you? Or do you have any stories as a kid?
T: His fame and celebrity I think was probably very different than his body of music and performances. I think that the Quincy Jones stuff and some of the earlier records that he did were great. Also, keep in mind that Michael Jackson is somebody that always brought in great guitar players to play on his records, from Slash to Eddie Van Halen. So I think that he did a great job of blending a lot of musical styles. I think that that’s one thing that everybody can take away from any Michael Jackson record. The production was always fantastic and, in terms of the scope of music, there was always something there for everybody.
M: How important was it for you guys to mesh styles, to mesh modes of play in your music?
T: It’s fun for us. You spend so much time on tour performing and promoting an album, to get back in to the writing process and the recording process’s and stuff, it’s fun for us to try new stuff obviously, and to try to grow as a band, as songwriters, and as players. There’s influences that really have a broad span. We obviously get the Springsteen thing a lot, and Led Zeppelin, and we’re a pretty traditional rock band in a lot of senses, but there’s a lot of influences that come from, not just different things in terms of musically, but also just from people you meet that make an impression on you, with the traveling that we do, just being in different parts of the world. You take all that in and then you go in and make a record.
M: How’s the chemistry with the band? Working together as a cohesive unit, ups and downs, how’s it been?
T: It’s been great. One thing that’s really fantastic about The Hold Steady is that everybody still gets along well and there’s a real bond. There’s a lot of complex friendships with all of us in the band. I think that has really helped us be able to stay emotionally healthy, especially with the kind of schedule we keep in terms of touring and recording and stuff. That’s not always the case with a lot of bands, there might not be the kind of friendships that you find with The Hold Steady. I think that really translates into that sort of joy and celebration that goes along with our band.
M: So, down the road, when it’s all said and done, what do you hope to see as the legacy that you guys have left on the music scene?
T: I don’t know. You try not to think about that too much. I think that the most important thing for us is to kind of stay in the now and just stay present and enjoy what’s happening for us in the moment that it’s happening. I think if you start to think about that than you start to lose sight of what you’re actually trying to accomplish, which for us is to have a good time and enjoy what we are doing.
- Listen free to the Hold Steady’s new album, Heaven Is Whenever (guardian.co.uk)
- The Hold Steady Evolve (But Stay The Same) On Heaven Is Whenever (mtv.com)
Nathen Maxwell (Flogging Molly)
Monty Wiradilaga, Brian Kracyla ( Moe Train’s Tracks)
Moe: What’s going on man, how are you?!
Nathan: Aw, I’m having a great time, Moe! How bout you?
M: Having a blast! What do you think about the Rothbury scene?
N: Right on brother. Man, it’s cool, it’s different for us. I’d call it kind of a hippie festival but it’s great that our music can be a part of this. I think we fit in.
M: Well your music is not traditional Celtic music, obviously you put your own twist on it. I’d say you guys put a little dose of balls into Irish music.
N: Yeah, thanks man.
M: How does the Irish culture take your music? How do the people take your music?
N: Well, people think that we’d be huge in Ireland, and I’ll tell you it’s not the case! (laughs) And one of the reasons, like someone told me, is because there’s 34 million Irish in America and there’s about 4 million Irish in Ireland, you know! I think the youth in Ireland too, they grow up with traditional music, it’s not such a novelty to them. I mean we’ve got great fans in Ireland but it’s not as big as it is in the US and other parts of Europe.
M: You’re appealing to the Irish, you’re appealing to the punks, you’re appealing to such a wide audience.
N: I think that’s the thing about our music, it’s for everybody, young and old. I was just talking to this lady behind me, she was just saying that one of the things she loves about Flogging Molly is that it’s one of the only bands that her and her father agree on. I think that’s a big part of it too. I grow up a punk rocker, but this music it transcends scenes, man.
M: I heard you guys take a “deadly serious” approach to your music, what’s that all about?
N: When I say a deadly serious approach to music, I mean that this is all we have. This is our life, it’s everything to us. But at the same time, we don’t try to take ourselves too seriously. You gotta have fun, you gotta laugh at yourself, man. You know what I mean!
M: Absolutely. Irish pride, what role does that play in your music and how does it affect your interaction with your fans?
N: Well, our singer Dave is a Dublin-er, born and raised, and he’s ginger as well, so he looks the part. I think the Irish pride thing is biggest amongst our fans. Dave’s obviously proud of where he’s from and we’re all proud of where we’re from. I’m from L.A. I’m proud of that, Cali’ pride. But for me, I think it’s human pride, you know, we’re all one big family. That’s the way I see reality. So I think the Irish pride thing is bigger amongst some of our fans then it is amongst the band. I’ve got Irish blood. But I also have Mexican blood, Polish blood, German blood; it’s a human thing for me personally.
M: Yeah, we’re sitting here drinking Guinness…
N: Yeah, thank you by the way.
M: Absolutely, you are welcome. I was going to bring over some Jameson but I didn’t want to be responsible for you guys getting shit-faced before your show.
N: Oh we already opened the Jameson bottle on the bus!
M: Ah, okay, guess I should have brought it then. You guys have got to have some drunken Irish stories.
M: You can’t remember?!
N: I can’t remember. What did we do last night? I don’t know.
M: Exactly. So do you guys always get tuned up before you play?
N: Yeah, well, most of us. Our drummer stays pretty sober but the rest of us like to kinda hit the sauce and get that swagger on before we hit the stage. And then we just continue on through the night and party.
M: So what’s your definition of swagger?
N: Just walking the walk, you know, just being yourself. Don’t try to copy anybody, just be yourself and own it.
M: We’re also doing a side-show on Michael Jackson. Has he influenced you in anyway?
N: Sincerely, absolutely, Michael Jackson has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. All my family loved Michael Jackson, I grew up listening to Michael Jackson. I love Michael Jackson. I think Off the Wall is one of the best albums ever made. It’s a real loss. I’m not here to judge, I don’t know about all that drama he was going through the last decade and I don’t have an opinion on that and I’d like to keep it that way. To me it’s a shame that he never got to, if he was innocent, redeem himself in the eyes of the public. It’s a shame that he died so young and I think that we lost a great talent with Michael.
M: How has “D.I.Y. or Die” played a role in the success of Flogging Molly?
N: It’s been everything for us. We didn’t stand a chance in the world in the beginning.. People used to tell us we were shit, that we were just a bar band, that we’d never make it, just another bar band. We were like, yeah whatever we started at a bar, we like to drink but come on, we could play for anybody! So we had to do it ourselves, there was no one there to help us. We financed our first two records ourselves. We got lucky to become friends with a great indy label SideOneDummy, we’re still with them today, they put us on the Warped Tour. It’s all been about do-it-yourself. I’m here right now, I feel like a pretty successful person with Flogging Molly, and in my personal life I blessed, and it’s all been because I’ve done it myself. I wasn’t handed a goddamn thing.
M: So what would you say to people who are trying to get there start?
N: Just do it man. Believe in yourself first-and-foremost. If you don’t believe in yourself ain’t no one gonna believe in you. Believe in yourself and just do it. Don’t take no for an answer. If you get knocked down, get right back up. It’s pretty simple.
M: That’s right, Irish Ethos right there! (both laugh) Finally, as you said, we’re at a hippie festival, we bounce around at different festivals and, well, you can smell the patchouli oil out there…
N: And the weed! I like the weed smell! The patchouli I could stand to do without, but the weed’s good.
M: So, who would win in an epic battle here at Rothbury, the trippin’ hippies or the drunken Irish, and why?
N: Well, here at Rothbury, I go with the hippies! There’s a lot more of them. I think the hippies are definitely outnumbering the drunk Irish. Plus, you know, when you’re on that LCD you get super-powers! I don’t recommend it, kids!
M: Thank you very much for being on the show. We’re looking forward to your set.
N: Cheers, brother!
Philly meets Philly when The Tracks interviews G. Love backstage while in Chicago at Lollapalooza…
Philly Meets Philly – Interview with G. Love
Moe’s Intro: When you think about Philadelphia, you think about a few things… Philly Cheesesteaks, the Eagles, the Flyers, the Phillies… And when you think about music from Philly, you think about G. Love.
Moe Train’s Tracks Podcast had the chance to sit down with G. Love backstage at Lollapalooza in Chicago, Illinois, where we talked about his music… the advent of the “hip-hop blues,” the Summer Haze Tour with Slightly Stoopid, G. Love & Special Sauce, and Ozomatli, and even a bit about Philly.
Make sure you check out the Summer Haze Tour when they hit your area! So here’s the Moe Train’s Tracks interview with G. Love at Lollapalooza…
Moe: G… What’s up, man? How ya doing? I’m Moe. Nice to meet you.
G. Love: Hey, how you doin’ man? Yeah, how ya doing man?
Moe: Philly meets Philly!
G: Woo! You from Philly?
Moe: Yeah man. Well… From the ‘burbs.
G: Right on.
Moe: Definitely been listening to your music for a long time…
Moe: It’s finally good to meet you. Got your new DVD out right? What, it was released this week right?
G: Yup, it just came out. It’s called A Year and A Night with G. Love and Special Sauce. It’s really cool. It’s definitely like an in depth look at the band on the run, you know, like a band on the grind. ‘Cause we’ve been grinding it out for like fourteen years so…
Moe: You’re always touring right?
G: Yeah. We do like 150 to 250 shows a year. And so that’s a lot of time in the bus, and as we did eight years in a van to start out, so definitely…
Moe: A bus is nice!
G: Yeah. A bus is great! I’ve definitely seen this whole country, man.
Moe: Yeah. I’m really noticing a progression in your music, but than again, recently it seems like you’re going almost back to your roots. Tell me about the beginning of G. Love and the “hip-hop blues.”
G: Okay. You know, I grew up listening to hip-hop, just like any other kid. You know, like, the Beastie Boys, and L.L. Cool J, Run DMC and you know like a whole lot of other stuff too. And I was like, grew up in Philly, which had a pretty strong hip-hop culture so… You know, we were getting into trouble and like writing graffiti, and break dancing, and skateboarding, and doing all this kinda like city stuff and, playin’ basketball. So that was like one side of me. And the other side of me was I had played acoustic guitar since I was like eight years old. I got really into the blues, the Delta Blues, when I was in high school. I was always kinda searching for something original, and when I found the Delta Blues that was like, no other kid in my high school was playing the Delta Blues. I had something that, you know, was making me stand out from the crowd, which I think is like really important you know. Now basically one night, I was a street musician, and I was just shuckin’ on the guitar, and I started rappin’ Eric B. and Rakim… Paid In Full…
Moe: Paid In Full!? (Laughs) There ya go!
G.: Yeah… (Laughs) And I was like, ‘Oh that was something.’ And then I wrote my first rhyme like that week and then I was like ‘Okay, you know, I can do this,’ and I felt like, you know, it was real. It was like a real expression for me. Also at the time, the early nineties, like that was kinda when hip-hop was like at it’s peak, you know, like the late eighties, early nineties, so that was what I was listening to.
Moe: Right. Well, you play a lot of improvised chords don’t you? Lots of blues chords, not the real standard chords…
G: I basically got a lot of my chords from… I would try to learn like a Lightning Hopkins record, or Muddy Waters, or Robert Johnson, or whoever blues, you know. There wasn’t like you could Google ‘Robert Johnson Tablature,’ when I was in high school, so you had to learn that shit off the record. (Laughs) Yo, you don’t know what tuning he’s in, so got to make up these weird chords to try to find the sound that he’s getting! So, I had all these weird chords so, I’d always make these chords and then I just be like ‘Oh that’s cool.’ Then I’d make a song with them ya know.
Moe: Well, you’re saying you’re always performing… Do you think the live performance is the way to hear your music?
G: Yeah, I mean, definitely. You know, we love playin’ live and that’s what it’s always been about for us, you know, and being in front of people and…
Moe: Your albums are recorded a lot live aren’t they?
G: Yeah, well, what we do, we record in the studio live, you know. You can get something different on a record than you can get live, it’s all about what you like to, you know like, certainly there’s nothing that beats… Oh, Slightly Stoopid’s just going on…
G: Nothing beats, but you know like, but you know there’s also nothin’… To me, I’d rather listen to a record than a live recording.
G: Except my new live recording which comes with my DVD!
Moe: That’s right. (Laughs) Explain ‘Everything’s a hustle.’ I heard you say that one time, you said that ‘everything is a hustle.’ That’s definitely Philly-style, the streets… You used to play a lot on South Street didn’t you?
Moe: I remember that. I think I saw you actually a couple times, yeah.
Moe: Yeah… Explain ‘Everything’s a hustle.’
G: You know, I mean, it might not be the most positive outlook on life, but I mean, you know, like I think people are in inheritably selfish you know. So, it’s like, you gotta hustle for everything you get. And you gotta realize that people most likely wanna get something outta you, so, you know, you gotta make sure you don’t get hustled. And everything’s a hustle, like whether it’s the music business, or your job, to get a job… It’s a hustle to practice your guitar and get good enough to play, but you gotta hustle to get that gig, man! You know, and then once you get on stage you gotta let it be about the music, but the music business is all about the hustle you know. And then everything’s a hustle but love. When it’s real love, you know, and neither party’s trying to get up on each other. It could be love for music, or love for a person, or whatever you know what I’m sayin’.
Moe: Right… Well that seems like the mentality of independent music these days.
Moe: People… They’re taking back the power from the labels and doing their own thing… More so, I guess it’s a hustle to take back that power.
Moe: The question is…Pat’s, Gino’s, Jim’s, or a big ol’ slice of Lorenzo’s pizza?
G: Jim’s and a slice of Lorenzo’s pizza.
Moe: Wiz or without? Or “witout?” (Side Note: There IS a proper way to order a Philly Cheesesteak.) Excuse me…
G: Well, no… I get provolone. Provolone, onions, hot peppers on the side, baby!
Moe: (Laughs) What the hell is going on with Philly sports these days?
Moe: Are we ever gonna win something? Is McNabb gonna stay healthy?
G: I don’t know I just…
Moe: Ryan Howard gonna do something?
G: I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. But I just moved up to Boston ’cause my kids up there and they just got Kevin Garnett and I’m like… We just got rid of A.I.! (Allen Iverson) (Laughs)
Moe: My co-host said to say to you that he ‘loves your music but Charles Barkley doesn’t beat Larry Bird.’ (Laughs)
G: (Laughs) No, but we said that Charles Barkley dissed Larry Bird.
Moe: Oh, okay.
G: It’s basically like, well Dr. J and Charles Barkley are the, I mean Dr. J and Larry Bird had the fist fight. But I think at the time Charles Barkley dissed Larry Bird somehow on microphone… I don’t know… I don’t know what he did! (Laughs)
Moe: All right, one last thing. You always give love to Philly…
Moe: How’s Philly been treating you?
G: Well, you know, Philly’s like a hard-love. Philly has hard-love. They show kinda hard-love I think, but you know that’s where I was born and raised, and that’s where my studio is, and I still live there part-time, and Philly’s a great city. Philly shows its love, man! We sold-out two Electric Factory shows last year.
Moe: There ya go!
G: And this summer we’re doing the Festival Pier (In Philadelphia). So, I gotta say, it’s still one of our best cities to play, and you know, it always means a lot to come home.
Moe: We’ll be bringing a crew to the festival pier to see you guys.
G: Ok, cool!
Moe: And good luck on your tour.
Moe: We’ll see you then…
G: Cool… All right…
Moe: Thanks a lot… Appreciate it, man.
G: Cool, man, appreciate it.
Minus the Bear Interview
Jake Snider (MTB), Monty Wiradilaga, Brian Kracyla
Moe (MTTracks): All right, we are sitting back here in some alley at Bonnaroo with Jake Snider, lead singer, guitar, from Minus the Bear…
Jake Snider (Minus the Bear): Howdy. Hello there.
Moe: Thanks for being here.
Jake: You bet. Thanks for having me.
M: Hell of a performance today man.
J: Thanks man, I appreciate it.
M: How’s the vibe of Bonnaroo compare to the other festivals you’ve played?
J: It’s definitely laid back. Everything runs pretty much perfectly, so its seems like seems like everyone’s just got it down. It’s just super easy, the crowd it just awesome, one of the best crowds I think of any festival that we’ve played.
M: Why do you think it’s one of the best vibes?
J: I don’t know. Maybe it’s the location, or maybe it’s just the history of the festival, the vibe that people expect from it. You know, kind of a more free-form situation probably.
M: You played a good bit of tracks from Planet Ice…
M: I think that an album’s true test is how it translates live…
J: Yeah, that’s definitely a good record. Live is usually better, hopefully. That’s the idea at least.
M: With listening to your music, I get sort of a sense that you incorporate a bit of jamminess into it. It feels like you’re translating that live performance into your albums and vice versa. You’ve changed your writing style lately haven’t you?
J: The last record, Planet of Ice, is a little more broader sounding I think. A little bit more ambient. It’s just not a tight as the other ones. Yeah, I don’t know, there are songs that are really fun to play live. And I think that that’s what our goal was, to write a record full of songs that we really enjoy playing live…and don’t get sick of.
M: Well, before didn’t you have more regimented songs. Didn’t you cut it short because you thought it would go on too long, and with this record didn’t you change your writing process to let certain parts just flow? Let um go where they had to go…
J: Yeah, totally. We kinda just laid back on that stuff. We used to be really concise, and it is really a lot more fun live and especially to be able to explore things a little bit more.
M: So, do you like this process a little bit more than what you were doing before?
J: Yeah. It’s a lot more fun.
M: What made you go in this direction?
J: I don’t know. It just started coming out that way, I guess. We’ve been playing together for years and years and years, and a lot of the same songs. At that point in time we felt like we needed to try some new shit, you know, basically.
M: It seems to me that you live a bit vicariously through your music…
M: First of all, I’m not gonna go into your funny song titles and all… (Laughs)
J: Okay, cool.
M: I know that you’re probably sick to death of hearing about it.
J: Yeah, totally.
M: What are the main topics that you think in your head that you like to live vicariously through?
J: A lot of the songs are about sex, and a lot of those are kind of fictionalized. So, I do kind of live vicariously through some of those songs. Mostly those songs. I guess most of the songs are about sex on some kind of level, or getting wasted. But all that stuff is just another way to imagine life I suppose.
M: I’ve heard you say that after every show there’s a disco. What are some of the craziest moments you’ve had being out on the road, being on tour, whatever?
J: Well, usually Florida’s pretty brutal for us. We have had some run-ins with the law in Orlando. One of us got a little too drunk one night and ended up getting arrested.
M: Oh yeah, what happened?
J: Oh, nothing. He went to jail for the night. We got him out. And then hauled ass to the next show. He had to pay a fine, or whatever.
M: A little rowdy?
J: Yeah, just a little rowdy.
M: Did you really have a site called Friction USA?
M: What was the deal with it? Was it a Suicide Girls…
J: Yeah, it was similar to that. It started almost exactly the same time as Suicide Girls. Just did it for a couple of years. My wife, it was her idea basically.
M: And it just never materialized or what?
J: It was good, the music thing just started taking over. Once I got into the band, there was just no time.
M: Well, you’re from Seattle, how’s the Seattle scene THESE DAYS?
J: It’s always good. It’s an amazing town for music.
M: What are some of the big things going on in Seattle THESE DAYS?
J: These Worms Are Snakes is a great band. I can’t even think about it right now, I don’t know why, sorry.
M: Question, have you done any sleep walking through walls lately?
J: Nope, only when I was a kid.
M: What happened?!
J: Yeah, my parents were building a cabin, and the walls weren’t sheet-rock yet. My bedroom was right on the hallway for the stairs, so basically, you would walk through the wall and fall right down the stairs, into the bottom of the stairs…
M: Holy shit.
J: Like a full story. So I slept walked through the studs and fell.
M: What happened?
J: Got a concussion and broke my arm.
M: Jesus Christ, that’s a pretty big fall.
J: Pretty brutal, yeah.
M: You’re band has a pretty distinctive sound. A lot of it comes from Dave’s guitar taping techniques. What do you think sets your band apart from the others?
J: I don’t know. We are always trying to find parts that we find interesting and try not to right the same stuff over and over again. I don’t know, that’s a tough question. The combination of personalities, it’s pretty hard to come up with something different. I think it’s just kinda crazy.
M: You guy are definitely always evolving with changing the lineup. How’s the new cohesive unit working?
J: Better than ever.
M: So, what’s next for Minus the Bear?
J: Um, next is a summer where we’re gonna play a few shows. We just re-released our They Make Beer Commercials Like This EP on Suicide Squeeze. That’s also out on vinyl for the first time now. And we’re writing a record…
M: How’s that going?
J: Starting it off, just getting it started, you know…
M: With the new album are you evolving to a new level, or is it something with the same equation that you’re doing now?
J: I have no idea yet.
M: It just comes together.
M: Awesome. Thanks a lot for staying with us.
J: Yeah, I appreciate it man.
You know how the song goes… “One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain.” And for the tens of thousands of people that were there during The Wailers’ set at Lollapalooza, they certainly were feeling no pain at all. It’s not too often that someone gets to sit down with one of the most influential and legendary bands of all time, but at Lollapalooza, Moe Train’s Tracks had the honor and privilege to sit down with Aston “Family Man” Barrett… The original bassist and “architect” of Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Aston “Family Man” Barrett, Elan Attias, Monty “Moe” Wiradilaga
“Family Man” (FM) – Yeah man, it’s a great pleasure to be here again in Chicago, you know… Partake with the Chicago blues!
Moe – Do you feel a certain responsibility of being a member, in my personal opinion, of the most famous band… the most influential band of all time?
FM – Ya mon, we come together from the late 60′s ya know… as singers and players of instruments and our duty is to spread the message… four corner of the Earth. And thy will must be done by all means, no matter the crisis.
Moe – I’ve heard that you feel that you’re destined to be continuing on the legacy of Bob Marley and the Wailers.
FM – Well yes! My legacy is also to keep the music going because I am on the road officially from 1969 until 2007…
Moe – Wow.
FM – Nonstop…
Moe – Nonstop… How does it feel?
FM – It’s good! Ya know… to be doing it before Bob, with Bob and after Bob! Ya my man!
Moe – You were the band director during the time with Bob, and still now, correct?
FM – Yes. Before Bob, with Bob and after Bob! (Laughs)
Moe – (Same Time) … with Bob and after… (Laughs) Right! What were your duties of being band director? Did you write a lot of the songs? Were you doing the lyrics?
FM – Well between Bob, my brother and I, we wrote like… eleven tracks. And we registered six out of that. And I put the band together, not only as the band leader, but the musical producer and arranger, bass player, and I play many other instruments too on all the catalogs. I play rhythm guitar, lead pluck guitar, keyboards and percussions.
Moe – You joined with the Upsetters, correct? Your brother and yourself were together, and you were recruited to play with Bob?
FM – Yeah… The first band was called… I mean, the first name was the Ippy Boys! And from the Ippy Boys, to the Upsetters… and also Youths Professionals, that’s what become Wailers International.
Moe – Well you were working with Lee Perry, correct?
FM – Yes.
Moe – His nickname was “The Upsetter,” correct?
FM – Yes… He’s “The Upsetter,” and we are “The Upsetters!” (Laughs)
Moe – (Laughs) How was the team? Was it a great team working together?
FM – Yes! And that was the state where we started out with Bob, Bunny and Peter…
Moe – Right.
FM – And the first track we doing was “My Cup Is Runneth Over.”
Moe – One of my favorites…
FM – Yeah, my man…
Moe – When you joined Peter, Bunny and Bob… How was it getting acclimated to that new scene?
FM – I know it’s kind of “joining,” but what we really do, we come together as singers and players of instruments, ya know? And to carry on Jah Jah, the Almighty Message, and create the reggae music… and I am the Architect of Reggae, and they know that reggae music is the heartbeat of the people. It’s the universal language what carry that every message of roots, culture, and reality… (Laughs)
Moe – Well speaking of the message, you say that “Riddim is the Message,” correct? And the heartbeat…
FM – The drum is the heartbeat, and the bass is the backbone… Yeah…
Moe – Your basslines are some of the most recognizable basslines in all of music. How do you take the spirit and passion of reggae, and put it into your basslines and into your music?
FM – It’s simple, because I love singin’, but I didn’t practice!
Moe – (Laughs)
FM – So when I play the bass, I sing baritone… So I give that melodic lines…
Moe – Yes you do… Yes you do!
FM – (Laughs)
Moe – I think it’s a culmination, you say, of everyone working together… and your basslines do hold it together and just really gives it a great overall feeling of the music…
FM – So true my man… So true!
Moe – When you were with Bob Marley and the Wailers… Reggae music was primarily in Jamaica, but you brought it together as a global consciousness of reggae music…
FM – Yeah… In Jamaica, the first music… you know… constructed was called ska. And it go from ska to rocksteady, and I and I bring it to be reggae! (Laughs)
Moe – (Laughs) How was the influence of ska in your music?
FM – Well the reggae music is consists of all different cultures of music. It got funk, it got soul, rhythm and blues… and of course some of the Chicago blues here…
Moe – Right.
FM – And it’s very jazzy…
Moe – When Al Anderson joined the band, didn’t he bring a blues influence to The Wailers?
FM – Also… from 1974.
Moe – Yes… What are your thoughts of Bob Marley being a prophet?
FM – Yes, we all are prophets of lyrics and we are musicians of the… we call… the archangels. (Laughs) Yes….
Moe – (Laughs) There’s so many different messages with The Wailers… Love, unity… What do you feel the main message of Bob Marley and the Wailers… What do feel that it has been?
FM – It’s to keep all nations… especially the young people… in line, so they don’t walk on the wild side. (Laughs)
Moe – (Laughs) You don’t think they walk on the wild side? (Laughs)
FM – (Laughs) To keep it in a straight line… Positive!
Moe – When I spoke with Ziggy Marley… I spoke with him at Bonnaroo… We were talking about how he feels he was on a quest for the truth, and he felt that it wasn’t through religion, through politics, but he feels that “love is the truth.” What have you found to be the truth in your life and in your music?
FM – Well, we know there’s lots of errors globally, you know… near and far… over abroad… That’s why we choose to do the positive thing, and make songs like “Rastaman Vibration… is positive…” And we always talk about what is taking place on Earth… you know… a lifetime… and you know… politics, the global issues.. (Laughs) Things like that….
Moe – What’s your favorite song out of your whole Bob Marley and the Wailers catalog? What song means the most to you?
FM – I’ll tell ya man… there are so many! But I’ll give you the first one… “We will be… forever…”
FM and Moe – (In Unison) “Loving Jah.”
FM – (Laughs)
Moe – Beautiful! Your life is following… Preaching… The word of Jah.
FM – Yes, the gospel… Musically.
Moe – This year is the year 2000 of the Rastafarian calendar isn’t it? Didn’t they say that this year is supposed to be the return of The Almighty?
FM – Oh yeah… The year 2007 here… We officially just reached the year 2000, you know, the west side, the colonies are like 7 years ahead… Like daylight savings time, ya know?! (Laughs)
Moe – Right, but with reaching the year 2007, didn’t they say The Almighty was supposed to be returning in the year 2000 in the Rastafarian calendar?
FM – Yes, they all have got 7 years to prepare. God Rasta’s in the heart, you know, of the true Rastaman for sure. And we have a lot of other thing taking part, like the good, the band and the indifferences. (Laughs) Yeah…
Moe – (Laughs) Everyone knows the serious and social influences that your band has on the world.
FM – Yes.
Moe – But it couldn’t have been all serious. What are some funny moments that you remember from your days on the road with Bob Marley and the Wailers?
FM – Well it’s good to hear people talk all over the world! We changed their lives. They thank us for bringing the message. They even named their kids after us and things like that! (Laughs) Ya know?
Moe – (Laughs) Yeah.
FM – And young people who could not come to the show when Bob was alive, they were underage… They are comin’ today. And even young people who were born after the passing of Bob, take on to the message and the music just the same.
Moe – The message is still the same. From back in the 70′s, back in the 60′s, to 2007, the message is still the same.
FM – Just the same. The reggae music… It’s for all age and all times. It’s for past, present and future. And it’s like the moon… As we say, “The older the moon, the brighter it shines!”
Moe – (Laughs)
FM – Yeah my man!
Moe – It’s still shining today. Out of any band, without a doubt, your band has heard by more than anyone in the whole festival here at Lollapalooza… Everyone knows your music. And I guarantee during your set that you’re going to hear tens of thousands of people singing along with your music.
FM – Yeah mon. Give thanks and praise to the most high… Ah God… Jah Rastafari!
Moe – Is there any particular moment that you remember of your personal time with Bob Marley that really stands out most in your mind out of any other moment?
FM – I’ll tell you one. When we were in Italy, playing for about 265 thousand people… and before we were interviewed by journalists, and I recall, they say to me, “What you guys think of the revolutionaries? Are you guys not-a-scared?”
Moe – (Laughs)
FM – I said, “No! We not-a-scared!” They say, “Why?” I say, “ALL the revolutionaries are our fans!” (Laughs)
Moe – (Laughs) That’s right! One of the moments that I remember the most out of Bob Marley and the Wailers, is the One Love Peace Concert in Jamaica.
FM – Yes!
Moe – When you brought together the two opposing leaders…
FM – Position and Oppositions… Yeah.
Moe – No matter if it was a very true sentiment between the two, they did come together with Bob standing in the middle, both hands almost with a triangle, with Bob in the middle.
FM – Yes.
Moe – Which was a very symbolic… Very, very symbolic moment.
FM – Yeah my man. I were there standing on the stage, playin’, and …
Elan – For today, it would be like if you took Michael Moore and George Bush, but even worse, with Michael Manley and Edward Seaga was like two “Dons of Jamaica” at that time.
FM – Yes.
Elan – There were shootings and killings. But if you took George Bush, our president, and you took Michael Moore… Someone who, you know, two that hate one another, and put them together like that.
Moe – You have to know the true power in your music, but when you bring it together in front of a nation that was divided at the time… So much political unrest at that time… How did that personally feel to you, standing on the stage?
FM – It was a good feeling of knowing that we are trying to get the people to come together… Bring them all together to know that “how good and and how pleasant it would be to see the unification of everyone. Ya know? (Laughs)
Moe – Ah… These lyrics you’re bringing to me are hitting right here.
(FM and Moe both put fists over their hearts)
FM – Yes!
Moe – It’s a beautiful feeling. What was your favorite song that you had written?
FM – Different from “We Will Be Forever Loving Jah?”
Moe – Right. But different from that.
FM – We love songs like “Exodus…”
Moe – “Movement of Jah people…”
FM – “Movement of Jah people!” And “Get up and stand up… and fight for your right.” And “Who the Cap Fit…”
Moe – “Let them wear it.”
FM – Which is “man to man.. you know, sure that your best friend could be your worst enemy or your worst enemy could be…”
FM and Moe – (In unison) “Your best friend.”
FM – You know? So you have to keep praying to The Almighty for health and strength, wisdom, knowledge and overstanding… Not understanding… OVERstanding! When you understand, you end up as a believer, and belief kills and it cures, but the greatest thing is to know. So when you know, then you overstand! (Laughs)
Moe – (Laughs)
FM – You have a lot of saying that sort of twist words around that bring words to your message, right?
Elan – Mind tricks!
FM – Yeah! I give you parables, and then I interpret it! (Laughs)
Moe – (Laughs) Are there any common misconceptions about Bob Marley and the Wailers that you hear all the time, and… “Oh, that’s not right!”
FM – Well what we do is bring in the prophet from the old age, and what is to be fulfilled in fulfillments in this time! (Laughs)
Elan – We’re actually working on a new album right now, that is like the Santana “Supernatural” album, that concept. We’re working on a new album that will bring in all these new contemporary artists… All these different names, like all across the board, from all different genres.
FM – Yes!
Elan – To do new songs, new material, with the whole original band, even with his brother Carlie. We have him on drums… Old two inch tapes we transferred to WAV files… Pro Tools files.
Moe – Wow!
Elan – And all these artists are going to give their own vibe and play their own music. Not play their own music, but their own instruments and sing and add to it. And we’ve had every artist that we’ve approached, they all have been super inspired by The Wailers, and obviously their music… And “Family Man,” “The Architect” of all of it. Really. The musical director and the architect of all of Bob Marley and the Wailers stuff, and reggae music. It even goes further than reggae music, it goes into hip-hop and everything that we hear today, ’cause that sound of the bass, that thickness that you hear in the clubs today, is from this man right here. So, look out for it next year, hopefully, God willing, next year this summer. It’s in the infant stages right now. I’ve approached a lot of friends of mine, who are musicians, so every single one of them has said, “Yes! Whatever you want to do!”
Moe – “Family Man,” if you could pick anyone for this album… Anyone! Who would it be?
FM – Well of course, I’d pick some of the name brands, the popular people, what everyone is listening to. Especially the young people, for sure.
Elan – The foundation is going to be a reggae album. The roots will be the foundation, but they’re gonna bring their own elements to it. A lot of them are playing here. It’s gonna be across the board… A world thing.
Moe – That’s some incredible news. How are you feeling about doing this sort of concept of album?
FM – Yeah man! It feels good! As the man could tell you, it was our hope for many years, and the time has come for it.
Elan – Since “Supernatural” came out, I always had this idea, ya know?
Moe – Basically, you got it from “Supernatural.”
Elan – Yeah, when Carlos did that album, I was like, ‘Man, this is what we need to do… The Wailers need to do… Comin’ out with a album with new material, but collaborating with all these other artists.
FM – Collaborate first and then after that one… Then we give you a full Wailers album after that.
Moe – When you do this album, you have to have a huge concert about this…
Elan – Oh yeah… Yeah!
Moe – You know that it would absolutely fill this whole park.
Elan – Maybe a TV special or something.
FM – Yes, we’re gonna make sure we set it up just like when Michael was in his swing. I heard that there there’s a 45 released in Jamaica with Michael Jackson. But we were workin on a song… Reggae! It’s called… “My World!”
Elan – Really? Wow. I didn’t even know that.
Moe – So, we have one minute left. I just want to say… My favorite song of all time is “One Love,” because “One Love” means more to me than any other song on so many different levels.
FM – Yeah mon! “One Love” is tellin’ ya about Jah Love… You know? The Almighty Love. Universal love! Not like I love you and you love me… Global love!
Moe – But I’ve never heard it played live! Why?
Elan – You’re gonna hear it tonight!
FM – I was just gonna say, if you played “One Love” tonight, I would be forever indebted to you, because I have never heard it…
Elan – (Laughs)
Moe – Honestly, I have never heard it, and I’m gonna be right up front singing along every single word. “Family Man,” thank you very, very much for your time. Much honor and much love to you and the rest of the family.
FM – Yeah, The Wailers! Yeah man… And The Wailers say, “Greetings to all the people of Chicago… and America… and the globe!”
Interview with The Knux on Moe Train’s Tracks
Krispy Kreme, Rah Almillio, Brian Kracyla, Monty Wiradilaga
Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo
B: Standing back here with Krispy Kreme and Rah Almillio, the Knux, the duo out of New Orleans that is currently in L.A… No strangers to the festival scene…
R: No strangers, love these festivals.
B: But probably new to the Bonnaroonians..
R: Yeah, no doubt.
K: I like that! Bonnaroonians, I like that.
R: That’s dope.
R: The show today, man, all you can expect is some explosive, ego-flying action. Getting crazy.
K: Releasing the eagle, like he says.
R: Releasing the eagle tonight!
B: Now I like that.
K: Getting crazy. We’re flying like an eagle today.
B: It’s cathartic for you guys to get out there and let it out?
R: Yeah, just let it out. It’s a musical orgasm on stage.
K: I explode. So don’t stand directly in front of me.
B: The first album, Remind Me In 3 Days, was super-nova hot.
R: Thanks man.
B: What are you gonna do on this next album, you’ve got one coming out soon, right?
R: We’re in the process of recording the next album. We got crazy songs done and right now we’re just kinda going through what we’re gonna use on the album. We got some features on there this time. I know everybody was like, “Yo, why the Knux don’t feature?!” We had to put ourselves out there first.
K: We wanted everybody to get to know us.
R: So we got some little features, some unexpected features. And, you know, can’t really say the names… Lupe is on the remix of Fire!, so look out for that.
K: In about ten days it’ll be out. See, it had been delayed, man, had to be delayed. You know, some industry blah-blah-blah, but now we’re ready to release it. So the Fire!remix gonna be out this week for ya’ll, a summertime jam, so you got to have that. Lupe, the Knux, Currency, you know what I mean!? Bow!
R: Getting crazy. On this record you can expect a lot more of the same thing; sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll.
K: But way more sex.
R: No, I think it was more drugs on this.
K: Yo, this is about us destroying our lives. People will say, like if you didn’t know me and you looked at those Say No to Drugs commercials and all the safe-sex shit, I mean, honestly, we’re destroying our lives on this album! Destroying it! You guys are witnessing the destruction and reconstruction of The Knux.
B: So, basically, the first album was that you had to dip your toe in the water and the second album is just a straight cannonball!
R: Yeah, it’s just straight cannonball. It’s like if Iggy Pop rapped or something, you know what I mean, it’s just raw.
K: I liken it to ZZ Top in that most sexual, late 70’s, coke rush. I liken it to that.
B: Yeah, you guys need to start spinning the guitars.
R: Yeah! But, it gets a little deeper as far as bending the genres, we didn’t fall off of that. We didn’t go backwards, it’s only forward.
K: The hip-hop’s harder, the rock’s harder, the electronic is harder…
K: It’s like everything now but boosted up. We had our fans who were really into our rock stuff, and we kinda gave them something. And we had our fans who were really into our hip-hop stuff, we kinda gave them something. And our electronic fans who like up-tempo, they were like, “Yeah, The Knux do all these remixes, yeah…” And we gave them something too on the last album. But this album is like hard-ass rock, hard rock, like Stones in the 70’s. You got straight up just fuckin hard-ass boom-bap, this is like hard spitting. You gonna hear some blistering breaks, some treacherous…
K: Your about to hear some Euro-techno-ridiculousness.
K: And we’re gonna rip your fuckin heads off.
B: So, I’m the oldest of five brothers and I don’t know how you guys can do it on a day-to-day basis. What’s the dynamic? Isn’t your youngest brother your tour manager as well? How do you guys do it without ripping each other’s heads off?
K: I do rip heads off.
R: Yeah, that’s what I was about to say. There’s a lot of fist fights, a lot of brother issues. Eventually, at the end of the day, we’re all trying to make money. So we’re like, “Whatever, I can stick it out with this asshole.” That’s how we see it. We’re kinda like the Bee-Gees, you know.
K: Yo, my girl said the same thing! She just trying to make some money so she’s gonna stick it out with this asshole. Damn, that’s a universal thing with me!
R: He sucks. Just talentless, terrible. But we get through it somehow.
K: I’m just a leech.
B: I read somewhere that Nas’ second album was one of the most influential albums for you guys…
R: Yeah, It Was Written.
B: That was one of my favorite hip-hop albums of all-time. I mean The Message, Affirmative Action, all those tracks…
K: Yes, thank you!
R: Exactly, you know what I mean, Take It In Blood! A lot people skip over Take It In Blood.
K: This is what I tell about people, Illmatic was like for pure New York dudes, but outside of New York, It Was Written was written for everybody else. I mean we likedIllmatic, but It Was Written was for everybody else.
R: And I actually went back to Illmatic as a classic, but It Was Written really did it for me. I think he sort of came into himself as song writer and everything.
B: You guys actually had a chance to tour with Nas, what was that all about?
R: Actually, we only did one show with Nas. I didn’t do a tour with him, we did a show, and it was dope, crazy, fresh.
K: We’re gonna do Rock The Bells with him.
B: What are some of your other top five albums? Well, they don’t have to be top five, but maybe some of your sleepers out there, or…
K: The Fugees’ The Score! It’s one of the best hip-hop albums of all-time. They took the genre to another level.
B: Ready or not…
R: Here I come!
K: It just made our genre more credible, honestly. It took it from these mothafuckas in the closet rapping to, honestly, I grew up in the jazz world and people outside of hip-hop look down on hip-hop. ‘Cleaf, Lauren, and Praz made it credible. And ‘Pac, Fugees and ‘Pac, credible to the genre. And then you have The Roots coming out later.
B: So where do The Knux fit into the equation?
R: I don’t know…
K: Krispy has to take the sunglasses off for this one! Let me tell you something. We’re the greatest fuckin genreless group ever. There has never been anyone that can play guitar and rap like my bro does. We are multi-instrumentalists. You’re gonna see this on stage, it’s crazy. I’m sorry you guys can’t witness this firsthand, but if you want to witness this, check us out on the countless, endless tours that we do year ‘round. Nobody tours like us. Nobody performs like us live. Nobody can rap like us. Nobody can produce like us, nobody can sing like us, nobody can do none of this stuff like us. We are totally the jacks of everything.
R: Exactly, so basically what keeps us there is the four elements…
K: And the DJ-ing!!
K: Everybody, your grandmother, can listen to The Knux. The clean version though, not the dirty version. And take Hush out. Boom.
R: Boom, done.
B: Well, my grandmother could not be here tonight, but we will definitely be in the audience…
R: Yo, come check us out, it’ll be crazy. We’re gonna bring some girls on stage, ya’ll come, we’ll get you on stage, you know, whatever.
B: Thank you so much for taking the time, I know you guys are in a hurry. We appreciate it.
R: Yeah, no doubt! Appreciate you for listening to the album.
K: Yeah, you got great energy, dog.
B: Thank you, thank you.