Cris Cohen: I read that the songwriting for the album “Color TV” stretched over 20 years. With songs that went back that far, when it came time to record, did you make adjustments, so those songs reflected where you are currently, or did you keep them as time capsules?
John Easdale of Dramarama: I would say they were more of a time capsule, particularly the songs that deal with substance abuse. I wrote them when I was still struggling to get clean. Actually, I left them off the last two albums I put out. They were just a little bit too close for comfort at the time, and they fit into the narrative of this album really well.
Cris Cohen: With the passage of time, are you able to have a little distance between where you are now and the emotional state you were in when you wrote them?
John Easdale: Definitely. It is more like looking back on something rather than being in the middle of something.
Cris Cohen: But then, when you record, do you have to kind of pull all that back into yourself to get the same emotion as when you wrote it?
John Easdale: It is funny, because, when you sing a song, it does not matter if it is a song I wrote 35 years ago, 25 years ago, or 10 years ago. It brings you right back to that moment. And hopefully, if I am doing it right, I channeled that moment. And that moment in time and those emotions come back, and that spurs on the energy of the song.
Cris Cohen: I wanted to start off by talking about your current gig. What was the most challenging aspect of immersing yourself in the Toto catalog?
John Pierce, bassist for Toto: The short answer: Learning the songs. That has been challenging. You're expected to have your stuff together. There is no messing around at a Toto rehearsal. That's thanks to our leader, Steve Lukather. He runs a tight ship. I've known the guy all my life and he's always been that way. If I make a little mistake or something, he'll turn around. He'll let me know that he knows.
So I am doing my homework. The toughest parts are the song beginnings and endings that are different than the records.
Joey Secchiaroli of Kindo: Deadlines are really good for any creative project. Because artists need a fire under their ass. Deadlines have forced us to become prolific.
Matt Frenette of the band Loverboy: As a drummer in a band, listen to the song, and don't get in the way of the singer. That is key. There is always going to be a time for you to show off. But during the songs, just keep it cool. Embellish the lyrics and the guitar solos. When recording, just try to keep it straight up so that all that stuff stands out in the mix.
Cris Cohen: I've seen a lot of interesting titles for band members before. I've never seen “lawyer” listed as one of those titles. Why do you include that with guitarist, lead singer, etc?
Guitar Gabby of The Txlips: That's part of what I do. I am a music lawyer, and a lot of what I do is consulting. I work with a lot of different clients in the industry to teach them about their rights, intellectual property, contracts, and things of that nature. The whole objective is to teach people in the industry about the industry and the business side of it before they enter it. A lot of artists and musicians get snubbed because there were things that they didn't quite understand. Or they didn't realize that they needed to file for copyright for their work.
Cris Cohen: It was just so interesting to see that as part of a band profile. And it's interesting that you embrace all of that. Because in some ways, the term “lawyer” is one of the least rock and roll terms you can have for a title. And when you think of a lawyer, you don't think of someone shredding away on the guitar. I think it's interesting that you've embraced those dual sides of your personality. Were you always intent on, “I'm going to be both. I'm going to be the person who really gets into the emotion that is the art of it all, and then also have the business mind.”?
Guitar Gabby: Yeah, I always wanted to go into the industry having the business side under lock. A lot of it came from… my grandfather did some things in the music industry. He was a songwriter, outside of being a police officer. But his contribution in the industry was songwriting. And so from a young age, my dad was very keen on me figuring out ways to protect my artistry. I didn't know that that would include pursuing anything within the legal industry, but I did always want to get into the business side of it. Because I did realize early on that if I'm going to have any type of longevity, I'm going to have to understand the business and the industry.
Cris Cohen: How does the bass, which is an under-the-radar instrument that does not usually stand out like the guitar does, influence a song or a performance?
John Pierce (Toto): Basically it is one of those instruments where no one is really aware of it. But if you remove it, people will go, "What happened? Something just changed. Somebody left the room or something. The bottom fell out of (the song)."
That's actually literally what would happen. I don't think people are zoned in on a bass part when they listen to the radio, but they feel it. It's much more subtle and in the background generally.
They say the common bass player is more of a team player. And that's why I think a number of bass players become producers. They are always listening to everybody. It's not like a solo instrument, at least in the type of work I do.
Cris Cohen: I read another interview where you said, "We're not rock stars. We're musicians." How do you define the difference between the two?
John McFee (The Doobie Brothers): In general, a rock star to me is like, that's what people think you are. That's an outside perception. To the public, that guy's in a band, or he's an artist that's famous, sells a lot of records or whatever, all that, has this degree of success. That's a rock star. This is a perception from the outside. But there are some people that think they're rock stars. And so there's that, and that's what I was addressing when I said, "We just want to be musicians. "We're not into this rock star thing at all. It's like, hey, it's about the music. And that's something, before I joined the Doobies, I always felt like that's a band that seems like they must be just focused on the music.
Anthony "Tiny" Biuso (The Dickies, TSOL): I do not sit still. I'm not good at sitting still. I would make money on tour, come back, be home for one day, and go to work doing construction on a movie.
Cris Cohen: Just because, sitting still… not you.
Anthony "Tiny" Biuso: Because then you spend your money. And then over there was some money for you to have. And you're a foolish Dodo bird if you leave money over there.
"Here I got some money. I'm just going to eat and get fat and wait for the next tour. Like every other guy, I'm going to go to the Rainbow and try to drink my life away and make sure everyone knows that I might be on tour sometime soon."
No. I just go to work. Just get work. Just get money. Get paid. Get gear. Get smart. It's been a process like that for like a long time.
Huey Lewis: Tico Torres, the drummer for Bon Jovi, and I became really good friends through golf. Every year we play in an event called the Alfred Dunhill Cup in Scotland. On Saturday, the last day, there's a banquet and we sit in and jam with the band a bit.
Tico's a great guy. His heart's in the right place.
The year I lost my hearing, we met up at the golf tournament and Tico said, "Huey, how you doin'?" He's from New Jersey. He sounds like one of The Sopranos. "How you doin?"
I said, "Tico, it's bad. I lost my hearing. I can't sing anymore." I explained the whole deal to him.
He listened to me with furrowed brows, gently shaking his head, looking downward the whole time. When I finished, he shook his head and said, "What ya gonna do?"
And so that's been my new mantra: What are you gonna do? I mean, I have to do something. I want to stay creative. I want to stay busy and not focus on how bad my hearing is. So I concentrate on our theatrical endeavors, fishing, that little TV show I'm working on… It's something to hope for. It keeps me going.