The Other Ones Gig
It Started with Phil & FriendsX
I hear you're going to sit
in on a Phil Lesh & Friends show.
There are Phil & Friends shows August
7th and 8th  at the Fillmore. That's how that whole Other Ones thing
got started. This lady Kathy who works for Phil at the Unbroken Chain
thing called me up and said, Do you want to do a Phil & Friends? and
so I said, Sure. She called up like a week later and said, Do you want to
audition for the Furthur Tour? for the Other Ones thing. So I went and
auditioned on a Monday morning, just like this, and I'm totally fogged. I
went down there and played, and it was fun, and it was nice to see those
guys. Then a couple of days later they called back and said, "Nah, never
mind. We got somebody else." And I said, "Cool." Then a week later they
called back and said, "Will you come back to rehearsal?" And I went, "OK,
I'll think about it." So I went back, and that was it, so I'm already in
and out of the thing.
What I get in our communications - and we get a lot of it
because we get hundred of phone calls and more e-mail messages every day -
is, "Wow, now that Kimock's on the tour, I want to go to more places."
Cool. That's good! Is any of that
information communicated in any way to the band or to anybody else?
The people that can do something about
stuff, generally don't surround themselves with people who know, because
people that know then get into the thing with people that do stuff about
stuff, right? So people that know talk to people who care, and then people
that care eventually talk to the people that can do something about stuff,
but people that know generally don't talk to people that can do something
about anything, and the people that can do something about anything
generally don't talk to people that know. There's like this "people that
care" thing in the middle. You know what I mean?
I think I'm following you.
Bass Greats, Lesh and VegaX
I was going to ask about playing
with Phil Lesh, because you said of Bobby Vega "when in doubt, he's
funky." I love Phil Lesh's lead bass playing, but I would almost never
describe him as funky. That doesn't seem to be his thing. He's more out of
some classical western field.
Maybe he's never in doubt.
That could be it.
That's a good answer. No, both of those
guys are great players. They're both unfailingly musical. Bobby is never
at a loss for the groove, and Phil is never at a loss for the note choice
thing. Phil's a great player. Playing melodically on the bass - and this
is something that I deal with with Bobby all the time - there's some
hierarchy of note choice relative to register, where there's different
kinds of tension and release, and relative degrees of consonance and
dissonance, relative to the register you're in. In higher registers
there's obviously way more stuff you can get away with, so to understand
how to play melodically in that register Phil plays or Bobby Vega plays,
it's a whole different ballgame down there. I don't really understand it,
in fact. I know how to work my side of the street, but it's different,
down that low.
Who Plays What Solo?X
The Other Ones is an eight-piece band...
Yeah, with like 30 guitar players.
... with three guitars, and in this fairly short amount of time,
the whole group has had to rehearse and get familiar with material and
arrangements. Have you literally worked out where you're going to play a
lead or a melody or a fill here and Mark Karan
is going to play it there? Is it mapped out who's going to solo?
Well, not much. There's some stuff where
right inside a tune - for example, in Sugar Magnolia, after the first
little chorus, I think it's my job to take that break. I think! We'll see.
It kind of gets switched around, and it's hither and yon. It'll settle in
once we get going, I think. And there's a couple of tunes, what the hell
is it? Corinna, I think.
A very rhythm-based song.
Yeah, where I was just like, Oh, this is
cool. I can just skank on this. And then somebody says, How about some
solos? and I'm like, "No, man, I'm with the rhythm section." I dig
The Dead used to be accused of being all rhythm section. You've
got two drummers, and at times they've had two keyboard players. You often
have many different rhythms overlaid, going on at the same time. Is it
hard to pick your way between them, or float something in there?
It's cool. I have so much fun. Admittedly
it's been like one gig. "One data point," as Doug [Greene] would say,
"does not a curve make," but I really dig playing with both those
drummers. Of course, I don't really know either of them or their stuff
that much, but just being in the section, I actually got to the point
where I could have one eye on Molo and one eye on Mickey Hart, and play
with both of them at the same time, limbs going everywhere. It was very
cool. So I dig that.
But, specifically in terms of the distribution of the soloing and the
parts, I came to the thing a little late, so as much of the responsibility
for playing any of the parts stuff that Mark is willing to take, he's more
than welcome to. I don't know the material all that very well. I've heard
a lot of it, but I've never played it before, because the whole Jerry
Garcia thing, as cool as it is, has also kind of cast a pretty long
shadow over the stuff that I've been doing. I showed up in California
in '75 or '76 and people would say, "You sound like Jerry Garcia," and I
would go, "Well, I was trying to sound like Roy Buchanan, so I'm obviously
fucking it up." In many way, I'm clueless. Probably in many other ways,
it's perfect that I am clueless. So, how it's exactly going to work out, I
Rehearsing the OldiesX
One of the features of those earlier
Phil & Friends shows was that they started resurrecting what was from
the fan point of view the "forgotten repertoire" of the Grateful Dead,
such as Alligator, which hadn't been played since forever, Mountains of
the Moon, and The Eleven at the show you played in, which the Dead hadn't
played really since 1970.
I'm relatively clueless. I think most of
the stuff that got played at the Warfield was the "A List" of stuff to
learn, either because they wanted to do it or because they thought it
would be easy to learn. For example, they just asked me this in the radio
interview, "Are you going to play Dark Star?" And I said, yeah, I guess
so. We spent all damn day on it!
I listened to Dark Star the other day from the record [Live/Dead] and -
what a great track, man! that's a bad jam! there's all kind of great stuff
going on there - where they're coming from, playing that stuff, playing
the spaces, playing the music, I'm there anyway. I don't have to rehearse
that. I might be patting myself on the back, but I think I'm there to do
the unrehearsable part of it. But everybody else in rehearsal, they're
learning that stuff. They're figuring it out. I don't care how many times
they've played it. What do you work on when you're working on St. Stephen,
when you're working on Dark Star? You're working on the text of the tune.
The exploratory portions of it are necessarily left for later.
The Depth and Breadth of Hornsby's BagX
Are there other new
tunes in the works?
Yeah, there's going to be other good
stuff, different stuff. We got to whatever we could get to in rehearsal.
The Hornsby stuff I really dug too.
Hornsby seems like the kind of player who can pick up on little
sounds he hears and throw them back at other musicians.
He's so sharp and fast. He's great. His
presence as a player and a person was probably the thing that hit me most
strongly initially, because he just does it all. There's a lot of music in
that guy, and obviously in everybody else who's playing too, but Hornsby
plays the piano and knows all that literature. There's so much great piano
music, and he knows all of it. He'll sit down and play Gershwin. He'll sit
down and play Charles Ives. He sits down and plays Bach. Sits down and
plays Bill Evans, just like Bill Evans played. It's spooky. And he rocks,
and he writes hit tunes. Guys that play all that stuff, they either play
the piano or they're some kind of rock star or something like that and
they don't get it, but Hornsby, the depth and breadth of his bag, man, is
fuckin' amazing. Inconceivable. He's got it all. He's cool.
Call the Tune?X
Are there new covers, material that the
audience would know but wouldn't expect this band to be playing?
And you haven't brought material to them to play, like, "Let's
play Elizabeth Reed," or anything along those lines?
Hardly my place.
Have Guitars, Will TravelDG
How many guitars are you
taking with you?
I'm bringing the new guitar (which is the Florida
guitar), the Explorer (the one with the angles), the white
stratocaster (which is kind of like my main squeeze), the Vega (which is
the guitar that I play the most around the house), the Epiphone Emperor,
and a couple of lap steels. That's it.
One thing that's cool is I'm going to get to play some more lap steel
on the thing, which I'm real excited about. At first I thought, it's going
to be the usual, a couple of guitars, but I'll get a chance to play some
more steel just to help spread out the available guitar tonality.
There are tunes that had steel on them, like the Wheel, which was
on a Jerry Garcia solo album originally. He plays several guitars on the
cut, but he plays a pedal steel on that.
Yeah, see that's good, because I wasn't
aware of that. That's good to know. I'll have to look at that song.
Then there's the question of playing it where it wasn't played
I think the lap steel thing is going to
work nice. I'm not going to play pedal steel with these guys. That's too
much of a hassle, just another layer of production complexity that I'm not
willing to deal with relative to the time involved playing it.
How come the lap steel isn't a hassle?
Well, I've got the legs, man. I've got
legs, so I can stand up and play that. And that's cool. You have to sit
down and play the pedal steel. And then, you play too much steel, man, it
makes it hard to play the guitar. The angles that you have to hold your
body at are so different, and the weight of the big steel bar is a lot to
Editor's Note: Steve's lap steel guitars appear to have been
mounted on legs for the Other Ones tour, according to show reports (often
misidentifying them as pedal steel guitars) and photographs.