Cris Cohen: I get that. Although, what you said earlier, I never thought about it, but now that you mention it, it seems that being on stage in a band is like one of the world's biggest trust fall experiments. You know those trust falls where you fall backwards into someone else's arms? They use it for team building exercises. It seems like a band is one of the ultimate versions of that. The singer is falling backwards into your beat, your groove, your rhythm, and they just have to know, “He is going to be there. He will catch me.”
Sandy Gennaro: Right. And that is why you have rehearsals. That is why a lot of musicians don't get the gigs they go for. And sometimes during rehearsals, everything is hunky dory and there is that trust of falling backwards into somebody's arms. But once you get out on the road and there's no net, so to speak, that's when stuff tends to happen, especially after a certain initial period where the musician gets used to the arrangements and doesn't have to think that much about what's coming next.
Then they tend to maybe embellish. Or maybe that's the point where your mind tends to wander, where you're attracted to the girl in the fifth row making googly eyes at you or you're thinking about what you're going to have to eat after the gig or whatever. You end up playing more than you have to play. You start getting busy. That's when the singer starts thinking, “The falling back into your arms? You just let my butt hit the floor.” You know what I mean?
That happens a lot. It happens a lot where, on a lesser scale, Kenny Laguna, Joan Jett’s manager used to give us all the recorded versions of the material and say, Okay, guys, listen to the songs in the set on these original versions, because it's time to get back to basics.”
Because after a while, like I said, you get used to the whole thing. Everything becomes real comfortable. So you're apt to tend to take liberties that you really shouldn't take.
Cris Cohen: Diving back into “Let Me Down Easy,” I saw in this other interview, when you were talking about this song, you had this great line where you said, “There is darkness in enlightenment.” 1) I thought that could be a song in its own right. 2) Not to go too heavy, but it's such an interesting turn of phrase. With darkness and enlightenment, do you think it's a necessary balance? Or is it because there's a flaw in the system?
Kevin Martin of Candlebox: I think there's a flaw in the system. But it could be that it's a necessary balance as well. We're all sinners. And those of us who choose to throw stones, who live in glass houses, or that holier than thou attitude, until you're walking on water and turning water into wine, you really should keep your mouth shut. You're only here for a short period of time and it's just one of those things. I think that people get so distracted by this kind of belief that there's a God above and He's going to fix everything for us. And I mean, listen, I've been writing about this since the debut album. I was raised Roman Catholic, so I was an altar boy for several years. I've seen it all. And luckily I was one of the Catholic kids that wasn't oppressed by a priest.
I think that there's just so much darkness out there. And these people that go to church to try and find this element of freedom or direction, they're just missing the point most of the time. I think you can find that within yourself. And I don't understand why a megachurch pastor has to have $30M, $40M, when half of his flock can't afford to eat. And that's why I'm saying there's darkness in enlightenment. Because you're supposed to be learning something about yourself going here. And then here's this person that's telling you what you're supposed to be doing, and they're not doing any of it. One example is Jerry Falwell Jr. and what just happened with him.
So I think there's a massive flaw. And it's so simple. I think that flaw is that we're human. And the saying is that God granted us free will. That's the worst thing He could have given us, because we abuse that freedom on an hourly basis.
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Dave Wilson of Chatham County Line: They say to write what you know. If you know more things, you can write from a broader palette. That's really the goal of any person that's trying to create in this society. I write from being a U2 addict and a REM addict and a Jimi Hendrix aficionado and a love of Led Zeppelin. I write from all that stuff. But then when I found the music of Old & In The Way in college and John Hartford and Bill Monroe, it just gave us this lens to filter all this musical knowledge through. And that's really how the band subsisted for so many years and so many albums was just filtering our modern experience through the lens of these older instruments, if you will, and style of performing and harmony work.
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Robbie Wulfsohn of Ripe: We don't necessarily need to be a band where you come in lyric sheet first. But, should you choose to engage with the lyrics, I would love you to find something that amplifies the whole thing that we're about.
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Cris: What drew you to the drums?
Michael McDermott, drummer for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts: When I was a little kid, there was a music store right near this Italian restaurant we would go to. We'd get done with dinner and my two sisters and I would always run next door to A - Z Music. And the drums just always did something for me. My parents encouraged that, nurtured that. I got a practice pad and sticks. From that I just started building. I had buckets and tin cans and things. They were like, "Wow. He's a little more serious. Let's get him a drum set."
Grace Kelly: I try not to overthink the process of 'What type of music is this? What box is it going to fit into? What are we going to call it?' It kind of drives me crazy that, when putting out a new project and disc, when you put it out for digital distribution on streaming services, you have to say what style and genre it is. Because sometimes I don't even know. There is no category for what I want to call it.
Cris Cohen: Actually, the last time we spoke you talked about how a lot of your instrumentals have lyrics that play in your mind as you're playing them. No one's ever heard them… no one ever will hear them… but you've got these lyrics going in your mind even as your performing.
Jake Shimabukuro: Yeah, it helps me to phrase the melody. That's why I love covering songs you know, that have lyrics because I'm singing the song in my head as I'm playing it. And that helps me to draw more emotion. It helps me to phrase the melody properly. And I never realized how much I rely on lyrics until I did a project in Japan maybe almost 20 years ago. I did this recording project where I covered 12 very popular Japanese songs. And I never struggled so much in my life. They were all vocal tunes, but because I don't speak Japanese, I couldn't sing along in my head as I played and it was the most bizarre feeling. So I would memorize a verse and a chorus, just phonetically. Even if I got it wrong, just to be able to say the syllables, like how many syllables there were, then I had something to play to.
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Cris Cohen: One of the things I found really interesting in terms of studio work, was the recording of the song “You, You, You” for this album. From what I read, you guys initially recorded with the entire band playing, but then you stripped it down to just vocals, keys, and a little bit of guitar. Why the U-turn?
John Easdale of Dramarama: Well, it was not a calculated move. It was just happenstance. It was like, “What if we took this out and that out?” That is the beauty of being in a recording studio; you can fiddle with the knobs and the faders. And you usually start from just one thing, and you can fix that sound, and then you add the others. We had it going one way, and then it was like, "What if you took this out? And what if you took that out"? We also added a little bit of atmosphere with the keyboards and the effects and whatnot. I am delighted with it. I think it adds to the feeling of the song.