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PB : Who will be going on the European tour with the band ?
RF : I wanted to bring a full band this time, so we are going out with seven members. All of the opening acts will be playing with us a
PB : Who will be going on the European tour with the band ?
RF : I wanted to bring a full band this time, so we are going out with seven members. All of the opening acts will be playing with us as well , with an additional person guesting here and there. The group itself will consist of Terri Moeller from The Walkabouts on drums, and Paul, of course, and myself, and Dave Curry on viola and whatever else he decides to play. A friend of mine, Yuko Morati, who is Japanese and who lives in Holland, will be playing piano, while Pete Sutton will be on bass. Pete's an old friend, and an amazing bass player. He has always wanted to play with us, but he has always been busy with other bands, and we've only been able to make it work recently. He has a band now The Red Corvette Trio, which is like a little surf kind of thing, and before that he was in a group called Trauna, which released quite a few records. Simon Alpin from Saltgrass UK will also be there. He is going to be playing second guitar. I've seen him play and he's going to be another good addition.That's the great thing about The Willard Grant Conspiracy. It's always a little different.
PB : As well as 'Everything's Fine', you've also recently released a limited edition live album 'The Green Green Grasses of Slovenia' which also features The Walkabouts and which is a recording of a Slovenian show from one of the two European tours you played last year. It sounds very, very different again.
RF : It does, doesn't it ? (Laughs). I love that recording. It's a great, great recording. That night was one of the weirdest technical nights that I have ever seen on a tour. We were working with this PA system in a beautiful theatre, and the people who brought the PA system in and owned it didn't know how to set it up. We spent about six hours trying to wire it, and never got it exactly right. The fact that it sounds as good as it does sound is totally amazing (Laughs).
PB : Why did you choose to record and release that particular show rather than any of the other ones on that tour ?
RF : Basically because it is such a good recording. It was also the second to last date on the tour, and everyone was playing freely and really well.
It is great too to have both The Walkabouts and us together on one album. That's been a great friendship and partnership. When we play on tour with each other everybody joins in with one another. Paul plays with them as well. Everyone in The Walkabouts appears at a different point in that set and it makes it a really nice document of our friendship. It is a way too for us to share our friendship with our audience as well. I think of our audience basically as friends also.
PB : How many copies of that album have you made ?
RF : Glitterhouse made a 1000 to begin with, and I think that they have sold almost all of it right now, so we are going to do another 1000.
PB : The band used to informally gather in peoples' front rooms. Do you still have those gatherings ?
RF : Yes ! It's harder now to have those gatherings because we tour a lot, but we still bring everybody together in my living room and make music and it happens pretty regularly.I think that it is healthy to keep it that way. While the band is serious from the business point of view of making music, we try to keep it loose and informal in the way that it is conceived. For me it keeps it as fresh and interesting as possible.
PB : You and Paul have now been working together for many many years now. Is it still a challenge ?
RF : There are obviously challenges there, but I don't think that it is any different from what it was three or four years ago. I think the things that make our creative partnership work are all there, and still the same. I think it gets better though. One of the things I try to keep in mind is that like with everything else it's a process and journey. I think we can get better each time we approach things, and I hope too I am getting better as a songwriter and a craftsman as I go along. I'm not interested in making the same record over and over again.
PB : Yeah ! Each album has been really very different. Regardless of who appears on it, that's always been one of the major factors of your work.
RF : '3a.m.' was an accident really.That was a great example of intituitive recording. We just put down what we were hearing and listening to when we were doing it, and we took that as a blueprint and then both refined it and also expanded it at the same time on 'Flying Low'.
Then on 'Mojave', because we recorded it over the three month period, we had a lot of songs involved. Some of the songs didn't make it onto the record, but when it got down to editing, I thought "To Hell with it ! I'm putting everything on there." For the most part I did. I think 'Mojave' strikes a very wide territory, moving the way it does from something like 'Go ! Jimmy ! Go !' to something like 'Another Lonely Night' (Thrashy punk to soft ballad-Ed). It's very broad. I wanted it to be that way, and to be able to say to people "You think you've got our sound down. It's not going to be what you think it is though. We're going to take it to wherever we want to take it."
I think with this record we decided we wanted to make a more abbrievated, distilled version of what we have been doing and I think we have succeeded in that. Who knows what the next one is going to be ? Paul and I have been talking though about maybe doing a record that uses a guitar and vocal, and maybe just one other instrument on each song or something like that. We may go the opposite way the next time.
PB : Yeah ! Last couple of questions ! In the past you've described the band as a happy accident. Do you still see it several years down the line as that way ?
RF : Yes ! Very much so ! Think about this ! I'm waiting as we speak for three airplanes to arrive from three different parts of the world, and with three different musicians. While I have played with two of them at different points, one I have never played with. I'm going to integrate them in with the rest of the group.
PB : Have they ever met each other before ?
RF : Some of them haven't. Some have. So talk about a happy accident ! People will meet with each other, and mean something to each other by the time that it is all over. They will have shared playing music together. Things are a little less happenstance than when we recorded '3 a.m'. They take a lot more organisation. You know that book 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' . With us, it's like 'Zen and the Art of Making Music'' (Laughs). We leave room for things to occur. Generally though it works out just fine.
PB : Last question ! The band's tour finishes in mid December ! What are the group's plans after that ?
RF : We'll be taking a rest. The plan then is to release the record over here in the States on February 6th and then I think we're going to do a US tour. We toured the US twice this summer with 'Mojave, and one of those tours we did with Kristin Hersh and Vic Chesnutt which was amazing. We are talking about doing another similar kind of tour. I'd like to do it with Kristin. She's got another record coming out at the same time. We have talked a little about doing that together, and maybe combining our bands at different points along the way, which I think would be really fun to do, so I think we'll probably be working at that. Other than that I want to try and to be able to support the record as much as I can.
PB : Robert Fisher, thank you.
RF : Thank you !