Describe your first experience playing music.
My first live gig was a nightmare that makes for a great story. We were playing a school gym doing poor covers of Iron Maiden and Ozzy tunes. The “singer” was really nervous as we we all. For some unknown reason he kept spraying Chloroseptic down his throat and was on his knees punching himself in the stomach trying to hit the high notes. He then went off stage and threw up. I couldn’t make that up.
What has been your most significant musical experience?
There are so many but I would have to say my first tours with a band called Liquid Hips. I was 23 and we went to Europe a number of times. We did quite well over there for a while. I was the youngest guy in the band and the others guys were way more experienced than I was. They were grizzled touring cats and I was as green as you could get, I am sure I was very annoying actually! It was really painful at times often being the weakest link in many ways but it sure made me better. I had my butt handed to me a number of times. I now always try to play with people who I think are better than me, it keeps me on my toes and pushes me to evolve.
What is the best advice on pursuing a career in music you were ever given?
It was from George Burns “Don’t leave your wallet in the dressing room.” Also as I said in the last question, try to play with people who challenge you.
What is your favorite sound?
Well besides a Strat through a cranked 1967 100 watt Marshall plexi through 8 12″ Greenbacks, and my son laughing, I’d have to say someone doing their own thing. We talk about Clapton, Page, Miles, Hendrix, Coltrane, etc… All these guys had their own voice and worked their asses off. I love hearing that from a player, when you can hear the time, dedication, and love they have for the instrument. When you can hear them as a person, when the instrument is just an extension of who they are, not an impersonation of someone else. That actually carries through to many other things as well like art, film etc. The sound of a master.
Name some of your biggest non-musical influences.
My Uncle Angus, I worked on his sheep farm in Scotland as a kid one summer. I was about 13 doing all sorts of stupid stuff so my mother shipped me off to Scotland because she was a single working mom. He taught me what work was, here I was this kid from NJ put on a farm where I had to shear sheep, clean out stalls, walk miles a day, tag sheep, milk goats, etc. I am paraphrasing due to his salty language “Stop complaining and do it”. It is often hard to remember that lesson but it is true across the board. Apart from him, my family, my students, Monty Python, and Woody Allen.
What is the most memorable concert you ever attended?
I’d love to give a guitar geek answer but I’d have to say U2 on the Elevation tour. It was simply the absolute best concert I have seen, I had a great time and it amazed me that almost every song they played was a hit, they were amazing, tight, fun, and exciting. Bono connected with an audience like no one I have ever seen, and this was Madison Square Garden. Granted I had great seats…I think what struck me most was I wasn’t too much of a fan before that now I am. A close second was my favorite musician Tom Waits.
Put your iPod on shuffle and name the first 5 songs that come up.
Chalk – Buddy and Julie Miller
Cemetery Polka – Tom Waits
Emerald – Thin Lizzy
Cream – Meet Me At the Bottom ( bootleg from Klooks Kleek a must have)
Oazaca – Daniel Lanois