Aoife O’Donovan has plenty of fire and more than enough irons for this summer and beyond
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 1, 2015
On paper, Aoife O’Donovan is the busiest
woman in the music business.
by Amy Harris
Hard rockers headline this year's Uproar tour, hitting Cincinnati Sunday
Looking on music shelves this week, it will be hard to miss the bright and loud 1000hp, the latest offering and No. 1 Rock album from Godsmack. It may be a little bit different vibe, but it is the same great Rock music they have given audiences for well over a decade. Since the breakout Awake album in 2000, they have literally been evolving with the genre, captivating audiences and gathering fans with each performance. CityBeat was able to preview their show at the Uproar Festival Sunday night at Riverbend with drummer Shannon Larkin. After a couple subdued tours in which they let the music speak, they are back to their roots with hard hitting, pyro-filled, knock-you-back action.Find tickets/more info on Sunday’s Uproar stop here.CityBeat: You guys have been working hard. You will be releasing the album next week,1000hp. What can the fans expect from this album?Shannon Larkin: We kind of infused a different sound for us. It’s more of a punkier vibe as far as upbeats and down stroking. Not so much chunk-chunk as the last record or box or Metal. It is a fine tuned thing we do each record because we don’t want to keep making the same record over and over again. Yet you can’t change your sound and alienate your fan base. The last record we went balls out Metal sound. So on this one, we made a conscious effort to try and change things up and give a more punky vibe to it.CB: What is your favorite track to play off the new album?SL: “1000hp” the song. I just love it. It has an AC/DC vibe to me. I don’t get to play much four to the floor drumming so it is just a straight ahead full fierce and I love it.CB: I actually watched the webisodes that you guys created to promote the new album and that was interesting. I’m sure the fans love to see the behind the scenes of the new album and how the album was made. During one of the webisodes, the band talks about how you were the one who introduced Dave Fortman, the current producer, to the band on the last record. Why did you think he would be a good fit for Godsmack?SL: I was in a band called Ugly Kid Joe with Dave and he was the guitar player and we toured the world together for six years and made a couple records. I knew that not only was he a great producer with great ears and a great engineer and a great mixer, but I knew also he was this great dude. When you start making records, it gets balanced and pressure on and arguments ensue, the producer has to almost be a psychiatrist and step in when band members get in each other’s face and Dave is just a great person that if there is any tension in the room over a part for instance, if we are arguing what is a better part or arrangement of the song, Dave diffuses the situation with humor. He is good at that and just making everybody feel comfortable when the red light comes on. He is just brilliant. I can’t say enough about him. It doesn’t hurt he had made hit records with Evanescence, Mudvayne, Slipknot, and the list goes on and on, but that helped too when I introduced him to (Godsmack singer) Sully (Erna). But then an hour after meeting with Dave, Sully loved him too. I knew he’d get the gig after talking to Sully if it was up to Sully because he co-produces every record. I knew Sully had to like Dave and I knew he would. Perfect fit.CB: Where did the name come from for the album?SL:: When we were writing that song, Sully was trying to do a history-of-the-band-type song. He was thinking we are at 100,000 horse power. When the song came together, it was too many syllables and 1,000 horsepower fits perfectly, but is that enough horse power? Ironically, we have this Top Performance Pro Shop beside our headquarters here in New England. They soup up cars and rev up cars and we went next door and the dude fired up a 1003 horsepower Chevelle and that was enough horsepower. It wasn’t even street legal. It ended up being the car we recorded to start the album and the song.CB: You have been doing a lot of drum clinics. Why is it important for you to get out and work with younger people and do drum clinics across the country?SL: My company Yamaha gives away drums. They are the best set drums I’ve played, No. 1, so I just love and am honored to be endorsed by them. They have been on me for years about getting out there and trying to push the company. I am the guy who had never done a clinic before and I am not a solo artist or soloist. I am a band guy and always have been a band guy. I never even do a drum solo. When Sully & I play together the whole band is on stage and it is a drum feature. I had always said no to Yamaha about doing these clinics. Then I heard Paul Bostaphwho plays for Slayer. He did the clinics, but he didn’t do it as a soloist or solos, he played along to Slayer songs he recorded and got the drums taken out. So when I realized I could do that, then I was like “Wow,” I had done like 30 records and I had played a bunch of session work and all these cool records I hadn’t been able to play in years. So when I found out I could have all these drum tracks removed and play a clinic and play my favorite songs I had recorded the last 30 years, I was in. I only did a one week tour so far and I only did the West Coast and it was really fun and cool but weird with nobody around, not having my guys. It’s funny, I told people you can be on stage in front of 50,000 people and not be nervous, not one butterfly in my stomach, but walk into a Guitar Center that is lit up like a K-Mart and there is only 150 dudes out there, but they are all drummers staring at me, and I’m scared to death. It turned out to be really fun. I was happy to do it.CB: Have you gotten any tattoos recently?SL: I haven’t. The last tattoo I got was the Ugly Kid Joe Devil logo on my leg. I did a record with them the year before last. I still jam with Ugly. I did a record with them calledStairway to Hell and so I got this logo.CB: I know you are a big fan of The Ramones too and we just lost the last Ramone. Do you have any thoughts about that?SL: It’s devastating in so many ways. I just don’t like them, they are my favorite band of all time and I have seen them over 20 times over the last 25 years. When Tommy died, I really felt my mortality because, I don’t know (what) your favorite band is, say it’s Led Zeppelin — there are three out of four of those guys still alive and they were older than The Ramones. I asked everybody. Not one person I know has had every original member of their favorite band die. It really hit me hard. Am I next? It was really crazy there for a minute. Of course, I just saturated my ears with Ramones songs for the last two weeks. It was devastating.CB: Last time I spoke to you we were talking about your daughters and now they are teenagers. Do you have any advice for other dads?SL: Yeah, just try to hang in there because they all go through that teenage time where they seem to hate their parents and they don’t. They don’t hate you and will come back around.CB: What can the fans look forward to here with Uproar here in Cincinnati?SL: Well we are going to play a bunch of new stuff. I don’t know if fans look forward to that but we sure do as a band. We have been together for 12 years and we love the old stuff, and we will play plenty of that too, but we will be doing five new songs in the set which is exciting for us. They can definitely look forward to a big show also. You know, the last few tours we toned it down because we used to have these monstrous shows with the pyro going off and bombs going off and video. The last couple tours, we tried to prove to ourselves, we try to be a great live band and don’t need all the bells and whistles, so the last few tours (have) just been the band and some lights. But this time we are bringing it all back, things blowing up and flames flying off the stage.CB: I always loved the fire.SL: It definitely is cool having the big columns of flames shooting up. It’s funny because these summer tours are hot as hell anyway and they are flames and are hotter than hell. So we are up there sweating and it is worth it, especially when those concussion bombs go off. I love those, they are my favorite parts, those real loud mortars and everybody flinches in the crowd. It is crazy and cool.
Mötley Crüe’s current tour really is its final one — legally
0 Comments · Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Tommy Lee might sound a bit morbid when he
says he wants each show on the final tour with his band, Mötley Crüe,
to be like a wake.
Saturday • PNC Pavilion at Riverbend
0 Comments · Tuesday, June 10, 2014
“Drive-In Movies,” the last song on Ray LaMontagne’s latest album, Supernova,
is a nostalgic ode to the past in an album teeming with retro
flourishes: “I miss those drive-in movies/I spent all my childhood years
wishin’ that I looked like a movie star.”
by Amy Harris
Shinedown's Carnival of Madness tour hits PNC Pavilion Saturday night
Shinedown has been touring on its most recent album, Amaryllis,
for the last two years and has just started its Carnival of Madness
tour to complete touring on the record. It is the band's biggest,
brightest and loudest tour yet. With each album, Shinedown's rocking
sound shows bigger energy and different sides, as well as different
CityBeat was able to catch up with bass player Eric
Bass to discuss life on tour and the close bond the band members have,
even after all these years. Shinedown will be tearing up the PNC
Pavilion at Riverbend on Saturday night on its Carnival of Madness tour
stop with Papa Roach, In This Moment and Skillet. (The concert is sold out.)
CityBeat: You guys have really been successful with the last couple albums. You have been on the Billboard charts for over two consecutive years. Did you ever expect that would happen?
Eric Bass: Did I ever expect it? I always hoped it
would happen, I guess. You work really hard. We have this thing we say:
"Keep your head down, stay humble and move forward." We are blown away
by the success. To be honest with you, if you had told the 17-year-old
me this was what was going to be happening, he’d be ecstatic. I can’t
say that I expected it to happen. We wanted it to happen. We worked
really hard for it. We are not surprised, I guess you could say, because
of the hard work. It is a true blessing to be able to do what we do and
have the success we have had.
CB: The band has been touring constantly. How do you make time to write new songs on the road?
EB: We actually don’t write on the road. We like to
separate the two. We go home when we are done with this tour. We will
lock ourselves away for a year and write as many songs as we can. Then,
when we are done with that, we will go out and tour again and complete
the process. We wrote “Diamond Eyes” on tour because it was for a movie
soundtrack. That was the first experience we had with that. It worked
out and everything went well with it. We work really hard when we are on
tour. We are a go-go-go all day long band with interviews, meet and
greets and that sort of thing. So there is really not a lot of time to
get in and be creative like that. We prefer to separate the two and that
creates the situation where each record is pretty different from the
others because they are different times and you are not overlapping time
periods. You are separating into blocks. It makes the records really
CB: I have photographed you on your last
couple tours. Your shows have grown larger and larger with more pyro and
turned into huge Rock shows. How did you guys prepare for Carnival of
EB: Well we started talking about it two or three months
ago and we said, “It’s not going to be small.” That was the whole thing.
We were going to make it as big as we could possibly make it. We are
bringing our whole sound system with us. We are bringing our own lights.
We are bringing our own pyro. We basically have carnival performers
that are out with us. It is just a conscious, concerted effort to, every
time, step your game up. We have sort of become known for that when we
do these big headlining runs. We don’t want to disappoint anybody.
People paid good money and want to see a great Rock show and that’s what
they are going to get.
CB: You actually have carnival performers on stage with you?
EB: We actually do, yes. It’s going to be fun. I think everybody is going to really enjoy the show.
CB: The first show was this past weekend. How is it going so far?
EB: We are one down. We have the second one
tonight. The first one was great. Internally, we found a couple things
we could do differently, do a little bit better. We are definitely going
to do that. The first show was great. The crowd was very receptive. It
was awesome. I think tonight is going to be even better. Then the
Cincinnati show, by that time, we will be well-oiled machines and
CB: Shinedown has a huge social media presence. Why is it important for you guys to stay connected to your fans in that way?
EB: Because the fans are the reason we get to do
what we do. We never forget that. The fans are the boss, the most
important thing. The fans buy the tickets, they buy the records. I have
to say, and it’s going to sound cliché but it’s not meant to be, we have
the best fans. Our fans are ridiculously loyal. We like to keep up with
them. We actually know … you would be surprised how many fans we know.
I’ll see fans at meet and greets that I will know from Twitter. We keep
up with them and we know what’s going on. We like to hear what they have
to say. They are going to let us know if something is not right. They
will let us know if they don’t like something, if they like something.
It’s a great tool to utilize as well. You get instant feedback on what
you are doing.
CB: What are your hobbies outside of playing music all the time?
EB: It’s kind of funny. I say all my hobbies become my
jobs. I produce records. I do a lot of songwriting. I engineer, mix
records. A lot of my hobbies have become my job.
I am a golfer. I enjoy golf a lot. More recently, I have
started building model airplanes. I needed a quiet hobby I can sit in my
house and do. It is something I have found solace in. It may be a
little geeky, a little nerdy, but it is fun.
CB: You actually co-wrote “I’ll Follow You” correct?
CB: I love that song. I know it is the new single and it is out, but what is the story behind the song?
EB: The story of the song is pretty interesting.
The piano part I had for a couple years. I had been playing it in sound
checks. We don’t write on the road, but if it’s something someone in the
band hears, “Hey remember that. Record that.” We are pretty in tune
with that sort of stuff.
We were out on our acoustic tour that we did on the end of
our last record cycle with Will Hoge, a great singer-songwriter from
Nashville. Nobody had really said anything about the piano thing I had,
so I thought maybe it will be good for Will.
So I hit him up and said, 'On the next day off, I want to
show you this piano piece I have got and we can write a song.' He gave
me his number and said to give him a call. I gave him a call the day of,
I called him like three times, never went to voicemail, never picked
The next day, I was like, “I called you three times.” He
said, “It never came through. I don’t know what happened.” That day at
soundcheck, Brent was like, “What’s that thing you are playing?” I was
like, “Man, I have been playing it for three years.” He finally woke up
to it. We actually had the recording that day at sound check kind of
going through the song. Some of the lyrics are actually in there from
that first time we ever played it through, he and I.
If you fast forward six months when we finally wrote it,
finally sat down and wrote the song, it happened seamlessly. We wrote it
in like two hours, the whole thing was done. Lyrically, it is about the
person in your life who is your best friend, your spouse or your
girlfriend, your boyfriend or someone really close to you, that person
you will always be there for and they will always be there for you.
CB: The band took a different turn on the latest album, playing with the full orchestra. How did that concept come about?
EB: We talked about how Madness had a lot of
string-sections stuff. We just talked while we were writing the record
about how to make this record a little bigger and a little more grand.
That was the first thing that came up, we need to do something with
horns and full orchestra, rather than just string sections.
It was fun. It was a blast to be in there to watch that
stuff be recorded, watching your vision come to life was amazing. There
is very little that we do that is not a conscious decision. We kind of
see what we want to do next. We were talking about our next record the
other day on the bus. We will probably start working on that next year.
We already kind of got an idea for it of what we want it to be. It is
pretty phenomenal to have this type and level of instruments on
something you have worked on. You pinch yourself every once in a while
because it’s so cool.
CB: You guys have been together for some time. Are you all still friends? Do you still hang out?
EB: It’s pretty funny, we love each other so much.
We all still ride the same bus even though we don’t have to. We, all
four of us, camp out in the same place. We work out together every day.
We eat together every day. We really are brothers. We have our moments
of getting agitated with each other and angry with each other. There is
something different that I don’t see in a lot of bands we travel with.
There are some, but they are few and far between. You get a group of
people that genuinely like each other and genuinely get along.
I can count on one hand the times I have been up in
someone’s face in my band, that I have been that angry with someone. We
just don’t get like that. We talk things out. If there is a problem, we
sit down and we are very honest with each other. We don’t harbor any
animosity toward each other for anything.
“I’ll Follow You” is out right now and is a song Brent and
I wrote. Everybody in the band is happy as hell about that because it
is doing well. “Bully” is a song Brent and Zach wrote, and I was happy
as hell that was doing well. A lot of people get caught up in the
unimportant stuff, like who makes more money or what’s going on with
this or who’s more popular in the band. We don’t care about that stuff.
It’s about the band, the entire group. We all really care about each
other. We hang out when we aren’t on tour. It is really a blessing.
CB: It is amazing you guys spend so much
time together and it is still like that. There aren’t many people I
could spend 24 hours a day with?
EB: We see each other more than we see our wives
and girlfriends and our families. We are married. We have to get along.
There is no way around it. You can tell on stage. We smile at each other
on stage. We joke around. We throw picks at each other. It’s genuine.
It’s not an act. You can tell bands on stage that don’t like each other,
and you can definitely tell bands on stage that do, and we are one of
those bands that really like each other.
Click here for a full photo set by Amy Harris of the Carnival of Madness tour stop in Cleveland this past Tuesday.
The legendary Buddy Guy continues his efforts to keep the Blues alive
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Buddy Guy may be 77 now, but he doesn’t act
anywhere near his age. He’s energetic and passionate about Blues and is
doing more shows this year than many musicians half his age. Guy and
longtime friend B.B. King, though, are among the last of the major Blues
stars from the post-World War II wave of Blues artists still alive and
by Amy Harris
The 'Frampton's Guitar Circus' tour with B.B. King hits Riverbend's PNC Pavilion Wednesday evening
Peter Frampton is a true guitar legend, revered by every single one of his peers. As his Guitar Circus tour rolls into town this week, crowds will be amazed by the beautiful music from his catalog of 40 years of music, as well as performances by Blues legend B.B. King and special guests Sonny Landreth and Dave Hidalgo (Los Lobos). CityBeat caught up with Frampton in advance of Wednesday’s tour stop at Riverbend’s PNC Pavilion and discussed how this tour concept came together and what it has been like working with one of his heroes on a nightly basis. CityBeat: What has been the highlight of Frampton’s Guitar Circus so far?Peter Frampton: It is hard to say because we have had so many incredible guitar players play with us already. The list is growing every day. From the other night, Vinnie Moore to Vince Gill to Don Felder to Roger McGuinn. It is like every night is so different. Every night is a highlight with all of these amazing players. Sometimes we only have someone for one night because of scheduling, like Vinnie Moore was only one night. John Jorgenson was only one night from Elton John’s band, who is also a wonderful Jazz artist (and) was with me on my Fingerprints CD. Some nights we get one, some nights we get three and sometimes we are lucky enough and we get Don Felder for six (shows) and Roger McGuinn for six (shows). They are all split up and don’t happen at the same time. I can’t really pick one.CB: When did you come up with the idea and how did you bring it all together for the tour this year?PF: It was last year after my little sabbatical, my year off after the Comes Alive (anniversary) tour. I was going, “What can I follow this with?” because it was a very successful tour and probably one of the most successful tours I have done in years. It was one of those things where I said I have got to do something with other artists. We had been doing shows for quite a few years now with just me, "An Evening with," as it were. It was something I wanted to do with as many guitarists as I could, to have an opening act with a great guitar player and then have some guests. The idea was there. I sat down with my manager Ken Levitan and I said what I wanted to do. He said, “Why don’t we call it something like a 'guitar circus'?" I said that was great. It was fantastic. I have to give him credit. He came up with the idea and then we have as many guests as we can along the way. At that point, we decided we would try to have a three-act show, which is what it is in Cincinnati, where it is Sonny Landreth opening it up. He is not an opening act, he just starts the evening because he is a headliner himself. He is a phenomenal player and has such a great history. We have him starting the evening off for us with his amazing band and himself. The person that when we first put our feelers out (for) who might be interested in coming along with us on the Guitar Circus and said yes was B.B. King, which blew me away. That set the whole tone for the whole Guitar Circus because everyone said, “If B.B. King is doing it, I’ve got to do it.” It gave us great credibility right from the start. So B.B. King will come on. We played for the first time with him the other night. I got to sit in and jam with him, which was a dream come true. After B.B. goes off we come on and do our hour and a half. During that period, David Hidalgo will come on, he is our guest in Cincy, from Los Lobos. He has played a couple dates with us already and it is incredible. We become Los Lobos and it is phenomenal. It is just great. It is very exciting every night. It is a challenge to be that person’s band when they come on. I’ve got an excellent band so we do a really good job.CB: You mentioned B.B. King, who is an all-time legend. What do you talk to B.B. King about backstage?PF: Well, I went back and saw him when he arrived in his own bus. I thanked him for being the reason why this whole tour is being successful, because he was the first person to say yes. I said, “Not only is it an honor that you are on one date, but you are on nearly four weeks of dates with me, every night.” I just couldn’t thank him enough. He said he was thrilled to be a part of it. I think there is a mutual respect as guitarists, definitely my way. To be able to sit and play with him the night before last was incredible. He is going to be 88 and he is still doing it. It is absolutely incredible that he is, and we are all thrilled that he is. He is just the sweetest guy. You wouldn’t think that someone as legendary as him is that nice but he is. He is a sweet, sweet man. You can’t believe it. It is how you wish everybody could be when you meet them. He takes the cake that is for sure.CB: I can hear you smiling through the phone just talking about playing with him. PF: It doesn’t get any better. It is one of those moments I won’t ever forget. I am not sure I will be doing it every night. I hope so. He said I can tell him what I want to do and walk out and play. He means what he says. I am just getting to know him. It is unbelievable that we had never met before until the other night. Now it feels like we have known each other for years.CB: I saw you recently perform this Spring on The Voice. You went on with Terry McDermott during the finals. A lot of artists are coming out and speaking negatively about shows like this that try to make people stars overnight because they don’t have to pay their dues over years. Do you have any feelings about that?PF: I am not a big fan of those shows in general. The part that I don’t like is that it is this nationwide talent show. These people come on, and it’s their fault, they put themselves in that position to have someone ream them on national TV. I sort of cringe every time I see that, (no matter how) rightly or wrongly how the judge is. I have been asked to be a judge on those things. You will never see me as a judge. I would be saying everybody stays. That’s not me. I know what I like and everything, and I will say it in private, but I am not going to say, “You suck and get out of here,” which is basically what happens. They asked me over a weekend, like two days before the show, if I would do The Voice. I asked them to fill me in and tell me what it was about. Then I listened to Terry and liked him a lot, all his clips and everything. I thought it was just excellent. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to go on there and do a duet. For me it was just a performance within one of those types of shows. I wasn’t part of voting anybody on or off. It was something I enjoyed doing and I think it came off really well. We got such a demand for the song, we mixed it and released it as a single. So it is on iTunes as well.CB: What is your favorite guitar to play?PF: I just got my Phoenix back, that is what it has been called. It is the guitar that was supposedly lost and burnt up in the plane crash in South America in Venezuela. After having that back for a year and a bit now, it is definitely my favorite. I have other favorites, but there is something about that one and the history, you know of me getting it in time to play on Humble Pie’s live record, Rockin’ the Fillmore, and everything I did in the 70s, all my solo records. It was one of only two electric guitars that I had. To have that back, it has become my favorite again overnight.CB: I own a few Jim Marshall photographs and one is of you at Oakland Stadium in 1975. Do you remember that day? Obviously that photograph is iconic itself, but is there anything special about that day in California? Did that photo change you in any way?PF: In San Francisco and Detroit and New York, we were already pulling huge crowds just from word of mouth and the solo albums I had out, and obviously my time with Humble Pie. I think that was the very first time we did it at a stadium. There is nothing quite like looking out to 65,000 people … I think the biggest place we had played was Madison Square Garden. There is a huge energy-level discrepancy between an arena and a stadium. There is nothing quite like the adrenaline it gives you to see 65,000 people with their hands in the air shouting at you. You never forget that first time. There were many after that in stadiums, but that first one was pretty incredible.CB: I speak to a lot of guitar players. I spoke to one the other day that said a guitar broke up his relationship. Have you ever had a guitar break up a relationship?PF: No, but it has come really close. The guitar, she is the other woman, always. The passion you have for music is very strong and it does come with jealousy sometimes when you prefer to play the guitar than be with the woman.
Aug. 11 • Riverbend Music Center
0 Comments · Tuesday, August 6, 2013
The group’s centerpiece is undoubtedly
Joey Bada$$, an MC whose style of smart lyrical firepower harkens back
to 1990s Hip Hop, even though Bada$$ didn’t exist until the middle of
by Amy Harris
Legendar rocker to perform 'Thick as a Brick' and more at PNC Pavilion Saturday
Jethro Tull's unique sound — which eloquently combines
Rock, Blues, and Classical music — continues to outlast Father Time and
thrill legions of dedicated fans. Leader/singer/Rock flautist
extraordinaire Ian Anderson performs the classic Tull album Thick as a Brick (and more, including Thick as a Brick II) at Riverbend's PNC Pavilion Saturday night at 8 p.m., continuing the legacy of Tull’s self-proclaimed “music for grown-ups.”
CityBeat was able to speak with Anderson this week about protests, social issues and his thoughts on performance art.
CityBeat: Why did decide to bring the flute to Rock music?
Ian Anderson: When I was a young aspiring guitar
player in my late teens I became aware of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and
Richard Blackmore, who were the hot-shot guitar players down in London,
and I decided maybe I should switch from guitar and find something else
to play. The shiny precision of the flute, the ergonomics, the design,
the manufacture — it’s kind of like a Swiss watch. It appeals to my
sense of physics and engineering. For a particularly good reason, other
than the way it looks, I decided I would give that a go. I learned to
play it by trying to imitate the lines I played on guitar — solos and
rifts. So I became the flute player in a Blues band and I was the only flute player in a Blues band, which gave me the difference that helped Jethro Tull stand out from the crowd.
CB: One of my favorites on Thick as a Brick II is “Adrift and Dumbfounded.” Can you tell me a little bit of the story behind that song or how it came about?
IA: Having been picketed a couple nights ago in
Kansas City by the Westboro Church, the “Godhatesfags.com” people … I am
seen as a fag-hyphen-enabler according to that unworthy organization. I
don’t think I am a homosexual, but I am a supporter of gay rights and a
lot of my friends and people close to me are gay people and I find that
the prejudices and difficulties faced by young people, particularly in
post-puberty, where they are sometimes questioning their gender and
their physiology because some people are just born that way … so, it is a
difficult time for relationships with parents and for society around
It’s difficult now. Back in the ’60s, it was really scary.
So at the time when homosexuality wasn’t just a predilection but an
actual crime, punishable by the courts by incarceration, being gay was a
difficult position for any young person to be in, so I decided I would
write a parent’s perspective of what that may be like — to lose a child
through lack of communication and understanding with the parental, to
lose that child to drugs and to, essentially, male prostitution.
That is an extreme scenario but it happens out there in
the world. These are issues that face society today. These are issues
that have faced society throughout the history of mankind. These days I
suppose we are more able to talk about it and to examine the
possibilities themselves. I always have to think when I was 15 years old
and a little unsure of myself, maybe that could have happened to me. I
try to use some of my personal history with my parents, with the lack of
communication, particular on matters of sex. I try to extrapolate a
little on my own limited experiences in that world.
CB: The Westboro Baptist Church never ceases to amaze me. How did you handle it that day?
IA: I was rather hoping to see them in the flesh.
Unfortunately, I had my spies out. I had my spies out to try to keep an
eye out because I tried to get a photograph opportunity with these
people. Unfortunately, at the time, I guess they showed up when the
audience was coming in or going out. When the audience is coming in, I
am busy in my dressing room changing and tuning up my guitar.
Afterwards, I am busy changing again and packing up my instruments.
Unfortunately, I did not get to see them. That is very disappointing. I
was really hoping to have the opportunity to have a nice smiling
photograph with them and their evil representatives.
CB: Why did you choose this tour to play the Thick as a Brick albums in their entireties?
IA: When you are planning any kind of stage show,
your first obligation is to keep it on a level that will engage people
and keep it interesting for them and present them with a lengthy piece
of musical work with a 15-minute intermission. You have to put your
thinking cap on and try to construct everything to keep the audience
with you, especially if you are playing a lot of music (with) which the
audience is unfamiliar, you have got to make it work the first time
around. It is not the result of hearing it many times so you have to
make it a piece of working entertainment.
It seems to be successful because I have yet to see, when I
go onto the second half of the show, any empty seats as a result of
people leaving at halftime. Normally people stay until the end of the
show and they seem to follow the momentum of the whole show. You get a
personal sense of achievement when you present a large amount of
relatively unknown music and you keep people engaged and enjoying the
I don’t think many bands would attempt to do that. I can
afford to do it because, a) I am prepared to take more risks musically
and, b) I am really kind of doing it for me more than I am doing it for
the audience anyway. I have always been a musician who has gone out
there to make myself happy. You have to really have your own personal
goals you achieve every night in performance. Primarily, I will say, it
is nice you folks are here as well, but if you weren’t here, I would be
doing this anyway. I am just doing this for fun.
CB: You have seen music change in the way it is recorded over many decades. Do you think it sounds better or worse today?
IA: Music has evolved in the terms of recording
techniques over a period of about 60 years, hugely. It goes back to the
early stages of monophonic and stereophonic tape recorders, which is
what it was when I was a teenager.
When it got to the mid-’60s, it was becoming possible to
create the simplest multi-track recordings, usually using two-track
recorders, but bouncing back between the two to get a four-track sound.
The very first Beatles recordings were made that way. By the time they
got to Sgt. Pepper, they were recording with four-track and shortly on the heels of that came eight-track.
The first album I recorded was done on eight-track in
1968. That quickly evolved into 16-track and then to the most often used
standard of 24-track, which continued through the late ’80s and even in
some cases into the ’90s.
Frankly, the digital age really came about not in the ’80s
or the ’90s but in the last 10 years, because that technology began to
support 24-bit audio recording, which effectively mimics the human
hearing to detect the difference between that and the original audio
signal. We have 24-bit 96k recording, which is essentially all we need.
We don’t need to advance upon that standard. We’d have to grow new ears
before we could benefit any further resolution of earlier technology.
It is the same thing as when cameras hit the 10 mega-pixel
mark … essentially equal (to) the very best film quality of film
cameras in the last 50 or 60 or 70 years. We have now fairly commonly
cameras that will deliver resolutions of 24 megapixels, which will be
essentially much better quality you or my eye could fully appreciate.
We are there with audio and visual. We have now reached,
during these last four or five years, human physiology would have to
change for us to benefit from any increase of the resolution of the
technology we are working with now. It is as good as it needs to be. We
are there. We are done. We have reached the limit in terms of audio
recording and digital recording.
CB: Was there a single incident that changed how you approached music?
IA: Well, I suppose a single incident was the first
moment I played notes on a musical instrument, because I was aware as a
small child of music as church music and music of Big Band Wartime
Jazz, which my Father played on 78-rpm records.
It wasn’t until I was 9 years old and I acquired for a
couple of dollars a plastic Elvis Presley ukulele and I strummed my
first simple chord on the ukulele. At that point, even though the
instrument was a rubbish piece, I could actually strum some little
chords and sing along with it, and that was the magic moment of making
music the first time.
I suppose that was the single most important moment of
discovering music. There are a lot of people who never learn to play
anything on a musical instrument and I feel like they are missing out on
something. But some of them might be bungee jumpers and they feel like I
am missing out on something, because I haven’t thrown myself off a
bridge attached to a long piece of elastic.
CB: What is your ideal day look like these days?
IA: It depends if I’m on tour. My ideal day is to
wake up around 7 a.m. and be driving rather than flying and getting to
another city, another hotel by lunchtime, finding a Red Lobster or
McCormack & Schmidt and (eating) some seafood or that sort for lunch
and then having a rest and getting my e-mails in the afternoon before
going to sound check.
That’s kind of normal practice. If I am at home, I wake up
a little earlier, usually around 6:30 a.m. and I usually, again because
of working in different time zones, it’s a good time to check e-mails
from last night, generally prepare, shower, play with the cats, let the
dogs out. If it’s the weekends, I have to go and feed the chickens.
In my ideal world, it would be a mixture of sitting at my
office desk, playing a little bit of music and having a little bit of
time to walk around the garden and sit and talk to my cats.
CB: What is the biggest difference in touring in 2013 versus 1970?
IA: The biggest difference is you can take a little
stress (out) as you are touring easily because of more organization.
Twenty years ago and 40 years ago, travel was a lot more disorganized
that it is today. We can now be planning the next tour while we are
doing this one.
Later today and tomorrow morning when I have a little time
off, I shall be booking some internal U.S. flights for the next tour,
looking at the various cities and suggesting to my U.S. travel agent
some hotels I would like to get quotes on. Generally speaking, doing
that planning exercise, when it comes to doing the tour itself,
hopefully everything is in place. Everybody knows where everybody will
be on most hours on most days.
You can take the stress out of things these days, where it
was not so easy many years ago. We had to employ tour managers and
people to carry our bags and people to herd us like sheep through
airports. These days, people have their virtual boarding pass, which
they can collect online from the booking reference code, which was on
the tour itinerary, and they can print out their own boarding pass and
head straight to the gate. I think things are easier these days, not
because of the level of security we face now that we didn’t face 40
years ago, even 20 years ago. That makes lines a little more stressful
and perhaps a little longer in the course of the day. We allow for two
hours at airports from flight times to be safe these days, not knowing
how long security queues may be or what indignities we may have to
suffer to keep ourselves safe from the bad guys.
CB: Do you have any fond or crazy Cincinnati tour memories from the past?
IA: Probably with a Holiday Inn, Hilton or a
Marriott or two. My bonds tend to be with what my particular life throws
at me. The airport, even after all these years, is strangely familiar. I
have been tracking the evolution of the airport from the late ’70s —
when we were accosted by the children of God, doing their evangelical
work, trying to hand out bibles and stuff — all the way to today.
Airports quite often have that sense of déjà vu, even that nostalgic
memory for me — certain hotels, certain venues of course, iconic venues
we still play today.
CB: What was your favorite live performance ever?
IA: It is probably the show in an American venue
near Washington D.C. called Wolf Trap. It is my favorite because it is
the one I am going to be doing tomorrow and the one I have to focus on
and prepare for.
Past shows are in the past. I don’t dwell on those. I
don’t have favorites. I don’t have preferences, except for a couple
iconic venues, as I suggested. My favorite show is the one I am about to
go out and attempt to do because I always have to think it could be my
last. Walking on stage is not a God-given right; it is a privilege to be
able to step out there into the spotlight another time. I just take
each show as they come. My next show is always the best show of my life.
CB: What can the fans expect here in Cincinnati this weekend?
IA: They can expect all they like, but it won’t
vary one iota in delivery to them. Their expectation may be many and may
be varied, but we try to make a point of emphasis to play Brick 1 and then Brick 2, then a long call of classic repertoire.
We have a very tightly organized show. If anybody starts
shouting out during the quiet moments of the show, they will be
studiously ignored. I don’t even have time to admonish them. It happened
to me last night when I came on stage, I was astonished to hear two
female voices shouting at me in one of the spoken words sections with a
delivery of theatrical passion. You wouldn’t be considered cultured to
be shouting and whistling during a Shakespeare play — please don’t shout
and whistle during the performance of mine because I am here to do the
work. You are here to listen and if you don’t like it get up and leave.
Don’t start interrupting me.
Once in a while you get a drunkard out there that gets to
shout at your band, but it happens so rarely these days and it strikes
me as so being incredibly curious. I think our audiences do understand
this is not a regular Rock show but a theatrical presentation (for
which) they have to sit and let me do the work. That’s what I am there
for. I may be 66 years old but I am there to do a man’s work for two and
a half hours, where you can sit back and, if necessary, bring yourself a
comfy cushion and maybe a sandwich because it is a long show.
Increased collaboration made Wilco’s latest release the sum of all the band’s parts
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 3, 2013
While Tweedy is the band’s songwriter and he makes the call in
terms of what songs end up on the band’s albums, Wilco is far from a