Posts Tagged ‘take cover and shoot


*SLIPKNOT @ the Pensacola Bay Center 04/29/15. INTERVIEW w/ JIM ROOT

Reserved, insecure, rebellious I really didn’t care much for authority.” – Jim Root

aIMG_2581 Michael Smith Slipknot

Just The Facts: Unpublished answers from my Pensacola News Journal interview with Slipknot guitarist Jim Root (#4)  for a feature promoting their Pensacola Bay Center show on August 29, 2015-minus the questions.

“Pretty much thought I knew it all. I had all kinds of weird afflictions growing up.”

“I must have seen some video on MTV or something and the Fender Strat…I felt connected to it.”

“I grew up listening to music. My parents had vinyl and all that. I can honestly say from my earliest memories that’s what I always wanted to do. I begged and pleaded. Everything I could do to get my parents to get me a guitar for a birthday or a Christmas or anything. Dropping hints, leaving catalogs laying around. I didn’t get one until I was 14. I wish I could have got more of a head start on it.”

“My first guitar was a Memphis Les Paul Jr. copy. And it was a pretty brutal guitar. Not very well made, but it was a guitar and it was good enough for me to break and mistreat and not appreciate until I got my next real guitar that I really started learning on, a Takamine electric.”

“They sound relatively the same. I designed them with the same woods and the same pickups and all that, but they’re definitely not made for blues or jazz or chicken pickin’ country or slide guitar or any of that stuff. So a lot of the tele purists probably hate the guitar, but it’s an iconic body shape.

“Tele’s, Strats and Jazzmasters to me are so legendary that to be able to endorse a company like Fender and have them on my side and listen to my ideas, it’s absolutely a dream come true. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I find myself extremely lucky be able to take an idea that I’ve had and have them go, ‘Yeah, that sounds like a great idea. Let’s go ahead and do it.’ You’re talking about Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Rory Gallagher. All these iconic players. It’s amazing to be in that kind of company. You can’t hardly believe it sometimes.”

“Oh man. Jimmy Page. George Harrison. All these guys were larger than life to me. Pete Townsend, Tom Petty, guys like this that are just amazing songwriters, gifted players, gifted ears. When I was in my teens, 16, 17 years old, I was into guys like Malmsteem and Dave Mustaine, all these guys that were doing the metal that I was listening to and that’s where I honed my skills. I learned to play by ear by playing along to the records that I was listening to which was ‘Killing is My Business…and Business is Good!’ and Anthrax. All these records, Iron Maiden, Dave Murray and guys like that, Adrian Smith. Tony Iommi and even guys like Stevie Ray Vaughn. There’s just so much you can do with a guitar. Everybody approaches it a little bit differently. It’s crazy.

“It’s tough. I ain’t going to lie. There are a lot of relationships that tend to suffer when you spend so much time away and for me, over the past 16 years, for a time, I was juggling two bands. When I come home from a tour, I tend to shut off, lock myself up in my house and I don’t ever want to leave or do anything because I just saw every country in Europe. I got to eat at all these amazing places and I basically just had a vacation playing all these shows everywhere.”

“So when I get home, it’s like home is my vacation. It’s part of the reason why I moved down to Florida. I want to be able to ride motorcycles and drive my old cars without worrying about snow on the ground and all that shit. It’s tough. I have friends that I went to high school with, that I don’t really see that often, partly because they live in Iowa and I live down here and partly because they’ve all started families and careers and things like that. When I come home from a tour, if I have a month off, I can sleep as late as I want. I can stay out as late as I want. These guys, ‘Well, I got to wake up and take my kid to school before I go to work and then after I go to work, I got to do this and that,” so you don’t get a lot of hang time anymore. I had a good buddy back in Iowa and we used to go fishing every once in awhile and you can’t really do that so much anymore.”

Questions and photos by Michael L. Hulin-Smith


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* dada 20th anniversary tour: dada, 7Horse, Jerad Finck, Elyse Therose. 02/25/2013

Martin Scorsese knows music. The Hollywood director, whose track record of iconic films includes Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, is known for assembling songs to capture the mood of his movies.


His most recent film, 2013’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” is faithful to Scorsese’s formula of flowing rock n’ roll throughout a film’s journey. One of the most popular songs from the film is is “Meth Lab Zoso Sticker” by 7Horse. The song was originally released in 2011 on their album “Let the 7Horse Run”. The California duo is made of Phil Leavitt (drums/lead vocals) and Joie Calio (guitars and vocals) who also play with Michael Gurley in 90’s rock band dada.




20 years after the release of dada’s debut album “Puzzle”, the group celebrated by hitting the road for an anniversary tour, but on a night that included Elyse Therose, Jerad Finck and dada playing their biggest hit “Dizz Knee Land”, 7Horse also performed.

Exactly 10 months before  “The Wolf of Wall Street”  Christmas day release date,  7Horse played “Meth Lab Zoso Sticker” at Vinyl Music Hall.

– Michael L. Smith




* Alan Parsons Live Project, That 1 Guy, Wolff @ Vinyl Music Hall + INTERVIEW W/ ALAN PARSONS 02/21/13

“I’ve been talking about Pink Floyd for 40 years and I think it’s time to stop now…I realized that it’s the 40 anniversary and everything, but they’ve made millions and I haven’t.”  Alan Parsons


Alan Parsons shut the door on “The Dark Side of the Moon” with one sentence. Not many artists can turn their back on a chapter in their life that includes one of the best selling albums of all time, but there aren’t many artists like Alan Parsons.

His earliest gig took him to Abbey Road to work with The Beatles. “The Dark Side of the Moon” is one of many projects. Parsons is proudest of the Alan Parsons Project.

Parsons chose Vinyl Music Hall in Pensacola, Florida as one of eight venues for the 2013 Alan Parsons Live Project U.S. tour.


One month before the Pensacola concert, I called Parsons as part of my feature for the Pensacola News Journal. We talked about life, music and his career. His upcoming tour was billed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the release of “The Dark Side of the Moon”, but Parsons would have none of that.

AP:  You’re in Pensacola, right?

MS: Yes, sir. Pensacola, Florida.

AP: And it’s a newspaper?

MS: Yes, sir. The Pensacola News Journal. I’m a music columnist. We’re honored to have you. I know that there are only eight select cities that you’re doing the Alan Parsons Live Project. So I do appreciate that. Thank you.

AP: No problems, no problems.

MS: Alan Parsons Live Project is a special treat for music lovers. What are you most excited about sharing during these special performances?

AP: We’ve been doing this about as long as you might think and only since 95’ that I’ve been playing live and, considering we made our last album in 87’, that was quite a wait. We’re there to entertain; we’re there to share the hits with people who haven’t heard them live. It’s a very different experience having the hits in a live situation instead of a recorded situation. We’ve had really good reactions in general to the live shows. Although, I’m sorry to say that Pensacola isn’t one of them, we’re doing a show in Clearwater, Florida with a symphony orchestra which is going to be really fun. In fact that’s a real opportunity to recreate some of the (phone cuts out)

MS: 40 years, “The Dark Side of the Moon.” What is the greatest memory you have from that ambitious project?

AP: Too long ago. Sorry. You know what, I hate to be boofy on this, I’ve been talking about Pink Floyd for 40 years and I think it’s time to stop now.

MS: That’s fine with me. You have a body of work that’s amazing.

AP: I realized that it’s the 40 anniversary and everything, but they’ve made millions and I haven’t (distinguished English laugh)

MS: In a recent interview you stated that you really weren’t considered a musician on the Alan Parsons Project, but with all of the titles you’ve earned; engineer, artist, musician and now actor as well, how do you consider yourself?

AP: (laughs) The acting thing is just an amusing side, I don’t know if it will go anywhere. My wife gave me a couple of acting lessons for my birthday. I’m excited about it. I’ve had a couple of small parts in movies. I come from a family of actors; Oliver Reed is my cousin, my great grandfather was Sir Herbert Beerbohm celebrated contemporary of Oscar Wilde and both my mother and uncle were…it’s a new sideline.

MS: With everything you’ve been through; your experience, what would Alan Parsons of today tell a younger Alan just starting out?

AP: I think I was probably predestined to be in recording because I was always interested in recording. I studied piano. I was a recording enthusiast amateur when I was young. I did have an enthusiasm for recording from a very early age. I kind of went on a quest to find out more and bid my way through school towards a job in a recording studio.

MS: As far as recording, decades after you started in this industry, Dave Grohl and his band the Foo Fighters won a Grammy for their album recorded on tape. How do you see this affecting the recording and engineering of records now?

AP: It is different. You don’t see tape machines anymore. Everything is recorded to computer like most things computers have completely taken over the world and recording is just like anything else. I still use essentially old school techniques and I don’t sit at a computer, I still sit at a console and work with music and performances and I leave them.

MS: This is a crazy question; do you ever have friends come over and say, “Alan, I just got a new studio system or home system. Can you check it out and tell me if it is good or not.” Do they ask you that?

AP: Almost every day of my life. Yeah. It’s one thing to be considered the next artist. I don’t think I often seriously help people in that problem. What I have done, I don’t know if it’s in the bio, but I did a DVD series about sound and sound recording. So that was an attempt to pass on some of my knowledge to others in a more general sense.

MS: With so much knowledge you have, I can’t even imagine trying to pass that down, but I have looked at the series.

AP: In ten hours of video you can get quite a lot of information across apart from going to someone’s house and saying, “Yeah, you made the right choice there and the wrong choice there.”

MS: Would The Beatles have survived in today’s music industry? Would they have “made it”, would they have succeeded in today’s industry?

AP: I think so. Had they never happened and they happened now, I think Beatlemania would be just as strong as it was. They really did have something that nobody else has ever emulated. So yeah, I think they would make it.

MS: Of all the artists you’ve worked with, who blew your mind like nobody else?

AP: There is one guy and he is perhaps less unknown to American audiences, his name is Roy Wood and he was one of the founding members of ELO and he was also in The Move, way back. He’s just an incredible musician and as a producer, he has every note in his head before he goes into the studio. He has such an amazing sense of what he wants to achieve in music. And he’s a great player too. He can pick up just about any instrument and play it.

MS: As far as your musicianship, how often do you practice?

AP: Oh, I don’t practice at all; I’m really just a rhythm guitarist in the back row. I have to do some practice with the tour coming up. My main role in recording is being an engineer and producer and I’ve been doing quite a lot of that lately with other artists. I just an album with Steven Wilson, if you know who that is, so yeah, I’ve been concentrating on activities outside the Alan Parsons solo efforts.


MS: With all the experience you have, what is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

AP:  I think just the experience, I wouldn’t say the advice, just the experience of working with some of the best in the business and obviously the people in Pink Floyd and the associated producers and engineers were all incredibly influential on the way my career materialized and I’ll always be grateful for that, just having the experience of working with so many great artists and producers and engineers. You could hardly ask for a better upbringing than Abbey Road Studios, working with the greatest records of all times remains.

MS: What’s your fondest memory of Abbey Road? I can only imagine, so many things happened there, but is there one moment that sticks out in your mind?

AP: Not really. Every day was an experience. I just remember walking up the steps every day. I was on the staff, it was my job. Walking up those steps every day and saying “Wow. This is the best job that anybody could ever ask for. I just felt very blessed and very lucky to be there and being paid for it to boot.

MS: With your body of work-there are so many things that you’ve done-what do you feel is your greatest contribution to music history?

AP: I’m very proud of the Alan Parsons Project. In particular, the first couple of albums, I’d be happy to be remembered for those if nothing else.

MS: Do you prefer crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

AP: (laughs) You know, I like creamy. In the U.K. crunchy didn’t exist until I was probably 10, 11, 12, years old and I loved it then. And I like almond butter in particular. I think almond butter is better tasting.

MS: We have good food here. I hope you have time to enjoy the South here in Pensacola, especially because we have great food. We’re on the water so it’s…

AP: What’s the local specialty there?

MS: It’s seafood. Seafood is the biggest thing here, but there’s everything for you here. When you come downtown, there’s so much here.

AP: We’re big seafood lovers, my wife and I. My wife’s family used to-or still does own a crab restaurant in Pennsylvania.

MS: Oh wow. Then you’ll be right at home here. We have great seafood here. Do you still have time to shop for vinyl when you go traveling?

AP: I pretty much stopped vinyl, I have a record player, but I haven’t used it very often. But I realize that there’s an upsurge in vinyl sales and when we put out our boxed set of Alan Parsons in the summer, there might be a new release on vinyl as well.

MS: Mr. Parsons, my last question for you; is there anything you would like to add for the fans coming out to Pensacola, Florida to see you?

AP: Please come. I know that there are still tickets available. I’d love to fill the place. I’m sure, especially if they’re fans of the music, they won’t be disappointed with the live show.

–          Michael L. Smith


* The Pretty Things Peepshow @ Vinyl Music Hall. 02/14/13

A burlesque show on Valentine’s Day.


The Pretty Things Peepshow provided a special treat for couples at Vinyl Music Hall. The company, which was formed in New York by Go-Go Amy, returned with Donny Vomit, Lil’ Miss Firefly, Vivacious Miss Audacious and The Two Man Gentleman Band to the popular Pensacola, Florida venue.

-Michael L. Smith




* The Marshall Tucker Band, Timberhawk @ Vinyl Music Hall + INTERVIEW W/ DOUG GRAY 02/17/13

My father is rarely impressed. Be it by nature or by spending a lifetime in the Navy, seeing things he would never forget and things he wishes he could.

Pop stopped by the office to treat me to lunch after my interview with Doug Gray, founding member of The Marshall Tucker Band. I was interviewing Gray for the Music Matters column of the Pensacola News Journal.

Gray was in between 40 years since their biggest hit “Can’t You See” was released on their self-titled, debut album and one week away from their concert with local support from Timberhawk at Vinyl Music Hall.


Gray called a few minutes early.

DG: I just wanted to make sure that I called. It’s either supposed to be 10:15 A.M. or 10:30 A.M. I can’t keep up with my publicist, you know.

MS: Thank you, Doug. Let me tell you a quick story; I told my father that I was interviewing you, He served in the Navy and he told me, he lit up, he never lights up when I tell him I’m interviewing somebody, but he lit up when I told him that I was interviewing Doug Gray because he used to listen to you on all the bases and he was impressed.

DG: Tell him to light up a little bit more; I was a sergeant in Vietnam myself.

MS: Thank you for your service (I yell to my father) Pop! Come here while we talk. My father’s walking in right now. I’ll ask you the first question; Mr. Gray, you said that you were a sergeant, where again?

DG: I was in Vietnam in 67, 68…

Pop: Oh, man, I was in the 10th grade then. How are you doing, sir?

DG: You know, I’m just riding around, man. I doing these interviews making people think I’m young. (We all laugh)

MS: The Marshall Tucker Band is tagged as a Southern rock band, but I always saw you as a rock band with a lot of influences. For example, your solo album “Soul of the South”. What kind of music did you listen to growing up?

DG: I grew up in Spartanburg, South Carolina so, believe it or not, we had more rhythm and blues and bands like The Tams and the Four Tops and stuff like that, so if you listen to “Soul of the South” you’re listening to something that was my particular choice of music at the time. Soulful stuff that you could bed your woman and dance with her and do all that crazy stuff. I was basically listening to B.B. King and we don’t live to far from where James Brown hung out all the time. I used to go and I’d be the only white guy that could sneak in and get away with it at the auditorium here. Man, I’d sneak in and go in there and talk to the band and end up hanging out with them ‘til four or five in the morning. I learned not a lot about music, I just learned a lot about people. That enabled me to go out there and still do what we do today and then all of a sudden, we end up last year, we played the Grand Ole Opry doing country music. So, I really don’t know what kind of band we really are.

MS: With the history of touring, recording and performing, what’s been the most amazing part of this entire Marshall Tucker Band experience for you?

DG: The most amazing part is, if you look out there and you see kids 20 years old dancing and singing the lyrics to our songs. That’ s the most amazing part of it all. And I know it’s because that they’re in a lot of movies and beer commercials and stuff like that, but when they hear new bands, I mean, let’s face it, Zac Brown is doing one of our songs at the end of his show. Then you got groups like Poison which I never really listened to, but you got groups like that and then you got a new country band coming out called Parmalee,  I haven’t really heard the song, but they’re doing one of our songs too, so I guess that could be the reason that a lot of these young people coming to see us and we still get our old people. I’m 64 years old man, they’re coming to see the guy that landed from that place on the moon, you know what I mean?




MS: Yes, sir. That leads to my next question; with everything you’ve seen so far in the new generations coming up, what can fans expect on this new tour?

DG: In all honesty, we never stopped touring. We originally had the original band that lasted eight years and then we never stopped touring; we took off whenever one of our comrades in 1980, he died in a car wreck and we stopped for about four months and didn’t do anything. So we continuously play. We don’t set up for one tour and go out and work the whole year and play that same show. We play our favorite show every night because there’s something like 23 or 33 CDs out there worth of music and we’re known to stand up there and change it around at any time, and I think that’s what keeps a lot of people coming back and that’s what’s going to make people come back this time.

MS: As far as live shows, when was the moment that you decided to let the audience sing “Can’t You See?”

DG: Well, when I realized when Toy was no longer in the band, when he decided to stay at home before he passed away, which was about 30 years ago. I just decided that there would be a time, since that was, I sing 99 percent of those songs, so Toy needed to sing that song because he was testifying. That was his way of testifying, was to sing that song. And now you look out there and men and women and children, Indian chiefs and crazy people and all these people are singing that song. And what I did was 30 years ago, I just decided that I would stick that microphone out there since it’s been played and nominated for all these different things, I stick that microphone out there and they enjoy it the same way as the way that they’re enjoying it, just singing my heart out along with them.

MS: On that same note, the songs been recorded by so many people-nothing compares to the original, but who has come the closest to doing it right, doing your favorite version of can’t you see?

DG: I think Zac Brown’s doing it right now. Zac Brown has my nephew in the band so I had to give him a little slide there, you know. (We laugh) He’s the one that gets out there and sings that song, you pull it up on Youtube, it will knock you out man. His name is Clay Cook and he studied with me when he was 15 until he was 25 then he went off to Berklee (College of Music) and wrote some stuff with John Mayer and then he went to Zac Brown and now he’s producing a band called Blackberry Smoke. What you got is a bunch of guys who know how to play and somebody’s kind of directing traffic. That’ what we all need.

MS: Well, Mr. Gray, I just have two more questions for you. I thank you for your time. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding “Can’t You See”, it’s almost like “Stairway to Heaven”. What really inspired Toy to write it?

DG: Well, what I think it had to be was, every time, regardless, times have changed and I’m so glad that they have, time’s changed from a long time ago when a woman could scream at a man and get away with it, a man could scream at a woman and get away with it and to be able to testify through the words “Can’t you see what that woman’s been doing to me?” I’m going to find me a hole in the wall, I’m going to crawl inside and die” that used to be what it’s all about.  With Toy, I thought we all grew up in that period of time, he wasn’t talking about his wife, he wasn’t talking about anything except for maybe what he saw going around.  Some of that song primarily came out of just seeing the things around and how they all approached…it’s just really…you’d think you’d come out of the bathroom and “Look, here’s what I just wrote.”, but it didn’t happen that way. It came out, he said “Write these lyrics down, go take a freight train all the way to Georgia” which you know we were in Macon, Georgia recording the entire time. So, you got to think about all those things put together. Do I see woman out there singing that as much now and I’m kind of happy that it’s happening. Women are singing these songs and they’ve got other people with them and the times have changed so much and I really think that’s good; a guy can be with his wife. I’ve stood out there sang “Can’t You See” a million times I’ve listened to a club band do it and it’s an anthem for a lot of people that ‘s going through a hard time, I guess that’s a quick way to say it. It’s really an anthem for people that’s going through a tough time with their wife or their or husband or whoever and a lot of times you want to crawl up in a ball and die and I think that’s what that songs all about. It approaches and touches so many different types of people.

MS: With your history in the music business, what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

DG: To not get into the music business. (We all laugh)

MS: Excellent.

DG: I always say that, I started when I was seven, my mom and daddy took me to-my dad was in the Air Force- and he took me to an AmVets club and he said, “Alright! Get up there and sing some of those songs you copied from Elvis.” I was seven years old and you could get away with taking your son in there to the AmVets club and he took me in there and he’d have a drink and then they’d go there on Saturday night, there wasn’t a whole lot of places to go back then and he’d go and say “Alright, you’re all the time singing that Elvis Presley stuff, get up there and sing.” I got up and sang “Love Me Tender” one night and all these people dancing and slobbering all over each other. I made $5 and that was my first entrance at seven years old to my music career.

MS: Excellent way to start. This is my crazy food question, Doug. Do you prefer crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

DG: Oh, it has to be creamy. Well, I tell you, I just got asked that question yesterday by this girl, ok. She wasn’t reviewing me or nothing, we were just talking, I figured out where she was going, alright. We were having dinner and I looked over at her. She said, “What’d you prefer, crunchy or creamy?” I said “Well…” I don’t want to have to go there, a lot of things went through my mind, but I’ll treat you right, right now. (We all laugh) I said, “Peter Pan Creamy” and she said, “Aw, yeah. That’s my favorite kind.” And she never finished her sentence so I said, “Well, maybe I should’ve waited to see what she said first, you know.” (We laugh)

MS: Is there anything else you’d like to add for the fans that are coming out to Pensacola, Florida?

DG: Just tell them all to come and have a good time cause I know if they come and give it a chance, if they’ve never heard the band. We’ve been through many generations and people’s got their grandkids off, they’re not keeping their grandkids at night or their kids are out now, just come on out and experience this again and maybe we’ll recreate a memory that they had a long time ago.

MS: I’m dragging my dad’s ass out there. We’re going to shake hands with you when we get there.

DG: I’ll tell you what, I’ll be there waiting on it and listen, I ain’t going to have no crunchy on my hand. Ok! (We all laugh).

– Michael L. Smith

Here is a link to my Pensacola News Journal article “Marshall Tucker Band, Dark Star Orchestra on Vinyl stage this week.”


* Intronaut, Rainey’s Revenge @ The Handlebar + INTERVIEW W/ SACHA DUNABLE. 02/09/13

In the February 8, 2013 edition of the Pensacola News Journal, I referenced a show at The Handlebar that happened nearly a decade ago.

On January 27, 2004, Mastodon was the tour support for stoner rock band Nebula. My band Cockfight opened that show at The Handlebar. Within 12 months of that show, Mastodon would tour Europe with Slayer and Slipknot for the inaugural “Unholy Alliance” tour and then, the Atlanta band would release “Leviathan”.

The Handlebar was packed for that show in 2004, not so much for soon-to-be metal giants Mastodon, but for the Eddie Glass led Nebula. The Handlebar was even less crowded for Intronaut’s headlining show in 2013, one of only six shows the band would play before joining Meshuggah’s North American tour.

The Los Angeles band are striking a Mastodon-similar path.

Only a handful of people can say they saw that Pensacola Mastodon show. Even fewer can say they say Intronaut at The Handlebar.


One week before their Pensacola show, I interviewed frontman Sacha Dunable for the PNJ Music Matters column.


MS: I’ve listened to you guys for awhile. One of my buddies in Pensacola turned me onto your music, so I’m looking forward to seeing you live. This will be my first time seeing you perform.

SD: Awesome. We normally don’t make it to that region too often, I guess.

MS: You have a few dates coming up, and then you have your tour with Meshugga. It’s an amazing year. The new album “Habitual Levitations” comes out in March, what does this new album mean for you?

SD: It’s the next step in the progression of us as a band. I think it’s our best record to date, absolutely. But as far as what it means to me, I’m just stoked on it. That we’re still able to do this band, and make this music, and get to hit the road some more, and play with some killer bands, and have a good time.

MS: I know you guys have toured with Tool, Mastodon; what’s the coolest thing about this entire Intronaut experience for you?

SD: That’s definitely one of the coolest things about it, you know, getting to tour with all of these amazing bands. When you’re starting a band, you might think that it would be cool to tour with all these bands that are like the most legitimate bands that we can ever hope to tour with. It just keeps happening, so we definitely know how lucky we are and we’re just thankful to be able to keep on doing it.


MS: When did you know that this is what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?

SD: Well, I don’t know if I want to do this for the rest of my life. (Laughs) Well no, actually I do. That’s exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life. A long time ago. I’ve been playing guitar-I’m 31 years old-and I’ve been playing guitar since I was 9 or 10 and it was Motley Crue in like late 80’s that got me into it. So, it’s been awhile.

MS: Every kid dreams of touring and playing music; some guys end up in bar bands, some guys travel the world; did you ever imagine you’d be doing all of this at this level now?

SD: I don’t know. You sort of aspire to do that, yeah, but I don’t know if I ever thought it would really happen and that, especially, be able to do the stuff that we’ve done. I don’t know if I ever thought that it would happen especially playing this kind of music. It’s kind of a niche thing. Again, we’re lucky and we definitely know that.

MS: That kind of leads to my next question; you guys have a unique sound and like you said, this market, there are so many artists that sound like somebody else; how do you stay so original?

SD: I think it’s about being well rounded. We’re a metal band, but that’s not the only thing that we’re influenced by, and as time goes on, probably less influenced by other metal bands. In order to stay fresh and new, you got to be looking to other forms of music or any kind of art, really, for inspiration. And if you can apply that to a metal aesthetic then I think-at least that’s what we’re kind of doing, I think-that just keeps it fresh and new.

MS: I play guitar, so I have to ask you a geeky guitar question. How much do you have time to practice now?

SD: We practice a lot. I would say we’re pretty tight right now because we just finished an album and so we spent the last year playing together four or five nights a week getting ready, writing and then recording it and then we’ve wrapped recording in December and we’ve just been rehearsing for whatever tour that we’re doing. We’ve been practicing four nights a week. So we practice a lot just to stay on top of everything.

MS: What kind of music did you listen to growing up? You mentioned Motley Crue.

SD: Well that was one band. When I was a little kid, it was like the first band that I got into. When I was 9 years old, like 88’, 89’ something; MTV at that time, you’re talking Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue, Skid Row, Aerosmith, so those are the bands that initially got me into wanting to play guitar and buying records and stuff and then from there, kind of just moved into punk rock kind of stuff, and then from there, back in the heavy metal, death metal, just getting more extreme, and then all while I listened to classic rock and other stuff too. From there, you get into anything more extreme, which could be fusion or math rock kind of stuff, just always looking for something new and a lot of the other guys are into jazz and funk. A lot of different music from all over the world; African, Indian stuff, there’s all kinds of good stuff out there, man.

MS: For you diversity did you take lessons for the guitar or did you just pick it up? How did you dive into it?

SD:  I took lessons when I was younger. I’ve picked up stuff here and there. When I was a kid, I took lessons just to learn how to play the guitar and then I did some theory classes in college and just picked up stuff here and there. Nothing to intense though. Joe, our bass player has a bachelor’s degree in music. Dave studied all kinds of music; percussion and guitar. These guys are pretty well rounded. Danny took some lessons, but I think he’s pretty much a natural. We’re somewhat educated as a whole, some of us more than others.


SD: Let me go back to touring; what’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at one of your shows?

MS:  It’s been awhile. We haven’t even played a show in like a year, so I’m trying to think. I don’t know if I can think of one crazy thing that I’ve seen at one of our shows. Sometimes, it gets kind of weird, like you tour with some of these bigger bands that bring in more, not mainstream crowd, but just like a more general metal kind of crowd. Like when we toured with Mastodon, they’d just done Ozzfest or something. You get a lot of people-at that point, especially too, we’re used to playing smaller shows where there are a hundred people that all are kind of like me; collecting records, like to go to shows, watch bands and respectfully watch and be attentive the whole time. Some of these bigger shows, it starts to get a little bit more meat heady and you deal with some funny characters like that. It just seems like a completely different environment where they’re yelling at you to play some more mosh-friendly music and that’s always something that you or I would never think to do. That always makes me laugh, when you get that kind of stuff.

MS: Have you had a moment where you’re like-I hate to say it-but like a rock star moment where you were hanging out or talking to somebody that just blew your mind? “I’m actually talking to this person.”

SD: Oh for sure. Yeah. Definitely.

MS: Is there one that stands out above the other?

SD: Yeah, I’m trying to think. I remember the first time I really hung out with Justin from Tool. He’s been friends with Dave, our other guitar player for awhile, but when we were talking about having him on a song on our last record, he kind of co-wrote and played on one of the songs on the last record. And before that happened, we were hanging out at a show and talking about and halfway conceptualizing what would happen in this song or whatever. It wasn’t weird at the time, but an hour later I was like, “Wait a minute. Did I just talk about writing a song with that guy?” Not that I was like a huge Tool fanboy or anything, but that just hit me. I guess that’s kind of a big deal. I could recognize that as being a big deal.

MS: Last two questions for you Sacha. This is a crazy food question; Do you prefer crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

SD: Crunchy any day of the week.


MS: I as well. And my last question for you. Is there anything else you would like the fans in Pensacola to know before you guys hit town?

SD: (Laughs) I’m trying to think of something that you can actually print in your paper.

MS: Oh no, hell, say whatever you want to say because I’m going to put it one in the local paper, but then I also have a site, my own site. Artists can say what they want to say.

SD: Ok. Well, not me personally, but some of the other guys definitely appreciate it if…you know some kids are coming out and smoking weed to share the wealth. Keep them happy. Also, if you can point us in the direction of any good food, especially down there, like some good barbeque or something.

MS: What else do you guys like? We have  a ton of great places here.

SD: Are you guys…you’re on the water right?

MS: Yes.

– Michael L. Smith


* Old 97’s, The O’s @ Vinyl Music Hall + INTERVIEW W/ RHETT MILLER 02/08/13

“Speaking of X, John Doe gave me some advice that I think back on a lot…he said, ‘You don’t want to be a bar band. You’re better than that, you don’t want to spend your life just being in a bar band.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s a good point.’ I still play bars all the time, but there’s a difference between being just in a bar band and being an artist… You’re creating something that didn’t exist before you sat down and thought it up…it makes the world a better place.” – RHETT MILLER of OLD 97’S


Rhett Miller is a writer.

When I called Miller for this interview, the Old 97’s frontman was tackling a novel.  He wasn’t reading a book. He was writing one.

Miller turned his back on a creative writing scholarship. Since making that decision to follow music, Miller created the Old 97’s. His fans continue to swoon, shake and listen to every word.

A few weeks before their “Too Far to Care” 15th Anniversary Tour hit Vinyl Music Hall, I interviewed Miller for my Music Matters column in the Pensacola News Journal.



MS: One of my best friends is a diehard Old 97s fan and she loves your solo work as well. She told me to ask you to play “Eyes for You” on this tour and especially when you play Pensacola.

RM: That’s sweet. Maybe, sure.

MS: She also wants to know when is your next solo album coming out?

RM: Good question. I’m sort of working on it right now.

MS: Cool. With all of the history; the recording, touring, the fans, what is the coolest part of this entire Old 97s ride for you?

RM: God. Between the 97s and the solo stuff, I don’t know. I really love travelling. I love getting to go to Japan and getting to go all across the United States and meet people. One of the coolest things is getting to meet the people that are sort of my heroes and idols and become friends with them. I get to make a living singing, writing songs and that’s crazy to me and it’s something my kids seem to be proud of and they think it’s cool and I think it crazy that I get to feed them by singing…just weird. It’s a good life.

MS: You mentioned your family; how do you juggle being a father, husband and artist in this crazy business?

RM: Probably like everybody else does. Nothing easy, but my job means that I have to leave for long chunks of time, but I’m also home for long chunks of time, so there’s up side and down side. My kids think it’s pretty cool that my job is kind of a glamorous job and they get to see some perks from it.  We went to see a Cowboys game and sit in Roger Staubach’s box this season. All the festivals and shows that they get to go to. It’s pretty fun. It’s not always easy, especially given the current situation of the music industry, but it’s definitely fun and there’s a lot of perks.

MS: When you dropped out of college to pursue your music, is this what you imagined when you made that decision?

RM: You know, it’s funny. I guess it is. I don’t know that I ever thought I was going to be like a Bono or one of those huge just unapproachable rock stars. Bowie was one of my heroes, but I didn’t ever really imagine that I was going to live that kind of life; back of limos, drugs and a different supermodel every night or whatever. I feel lucky that I’ve gotten to live kind of a normal life, yet have a pretty successful career making music and it’s a weird thing. There’s a certain dichotomy at work in my life. When I’m not on tour, I don’t have handlers, I sort of am a handler.

MS: As far as creatively, writing especially, is there a possibility that maybe we see a memoir or maybe even a novel from you in the future?

RM: That’s so funny that you ask, that’s what I was working on when I got the email from my manager. He was like, “Can you do an interview right now?” I’m actually sitting here working on… “I’m trying to write a novel, man.” I shouldn’t even talk about it until it’s done, but I’m trying. How’s that?”

MS: I know that’s a very huge undertaking as far as novels…I know you write a lot.

RM: I’ve been doing mostly short stories and essays and stuff like that, but the novel is the ultimate goal. And I’ve always dreamt of it and I always figured I would do it once I got a little older and had accomplished what I wanted to accomplish with music, which is sort of a younger person’s game. My long term plan has always been to make a career out of music and then segue into some sort of more a life of the mind kind of thing where you just stay home and use your brain.

MS: Now that you mention it-I talked to David Lowery (Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven) awhile back, is there any chance that you would be willing to lecture or teach courses as well as what you’re doing now.


RM: That’s funny. I don’t think I’d be allowed to teach for real because I dropped out of college, but I’ve done some little songs and stuff where I do stuff for high school kids mostly and it’s sweet. It’s one of my favorite things to do because I really approach it as a craft and I really love the craft of it and the sort of rule set that goes into the discipline of it. Yeah, that’s something I’ve thought about. I’m not sure how I’d get into it. Maybe I’ll hit up someone for an honorary degree.

MS: I’m sure some university in Texas if not somewhere in this world would be willing to take you up on that offer. So I could see it happening.

RM: Well, I dropped out of Sarah Lawrence, so maybe they’d go for it.

MS: What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at one of your shows?

RM: There’s just so much that’s so nuts. Craziness is sort of a common theme in this life, but right when you asked that, the thing that popped in my head was a gig at Buffalo a few years ago when a girl jumped up on stage during an encore-just this really beautiful girl-and did this crazy booty dance right next to me and the security started to throw her off, but then I think they thought, “Ah, she’s harmless.” And by the time I got to the end of the song, she had pulled her really cute friend up and then as the song ended, they just started making out on stage right next to me. I was like, “This is a pretty good job to have.” (Laughs) And it’s on Youtube too. If you look up Old 97s, Buffalo or whatever, that will pop up. It’s a pretty cool little moment.

MS: I’ll definitely check that out. As far as advice, what would Rhett Miller of today tell a younger Rhett just starting out?

RM: I tend not to be very nostalgic and I don’t get caught up in “then and now” thoughts, but it does occur to me every once in a while when something really cool happens, I’ll think, “What does 15 year old me think about this incredible moment?” you know, where I’m hanging out with X, my favorite band from when I was 15 or whatever. When I was 15 I was just so caught up in the angst of that transitional, becoming an adult. I would just tell myself, “Take a deep breath. Everything’s going to be cool. Don’t worry so much about what other people think about you because, what do they fucking know?”

MS: On that same line, what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

RM: Well, speaking of X, John Doe gave me some advice that I think back on a lot, where he said, “You don’t want to be a bar band.” He said, “You’re better than that, you don’t want to spend your life just being in a bar band.” And I was like, “Yeah, that’s a good point.” I mean, I still play bars all the time, but there’s a difference between being just in a bar band and being an artist and I know that word is so…I don’t know…it’s just annoying, but, the word artist, but you do have to think of yourself as that. You’re creating something that didn’t exist before you sat down and thought it up and its…however incongruently it makes the world a better place and that’s a noble thing and it’s easy to just get caught up in this thought like, “Ah, I go around the country shaking my ass and selling beer for-you know-bar owners, but there’s more to it than that and there is something noble about this weird job.


MS: Well said. As far as your art, when you’re creating, are you critical about yourself or are you able to put that art, your music, out there and let it go out where it goes or do you beat yourself up about it sometimes?

RM: Yeah, I’m definitely self-critical, but I think you kind of have to be because, when I’m writing the songs, it’s not like I have a focus-group that I can sit down and play them for and get all the feedback. I’ve got my friends, and my wife, my bandmates (laughs) there is something of a focus group. You know, for the first-however long- part of that song’s life, it’s just me. So, I’ve got to be really self-critical about it because if I start walking out with a…trotting out a bunch of crappy stuff, it’s going to diminish my legacy or whatever; the catalog that I’ve worked so hard to make sure is pretty consistently good. You put out just a couple of stinkers and then everything else gets called into question. So yeah, I’m a pretty harsh self-critic, but I found a way to make it not hurt so much.

MS: What are you looking forward to in 2013?

RM: I’m hoping that I’m not spreading myself too thin, but I’ve got this list of different things I’d like to do; there’s a solo record that coming together, there’s a 97’s idea for a record that’s sort of theme record that I don’t want to jinx it by getting too into it, but there’s a 97’s record that I want to do. I’m talking to Murry about a Ranchero Brothers’ which is our sort of side project, alter ego band and then, as I said, I’m also really focusing on trying to write fiction, so I hope I’m not spreading myself too thin. I’d like to become more of a Renaissance person.

MS: I think you’ve already accomplished that, but that’s just my opinion.

RM: Thanks, Michael.

MS: This is a crazy question; a food question. Do you prefer crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

RM: Crunchy! I don’t even understand why people would want creamy peanut butter. It’s just boring and bland. Peanuts…you want peanuts in your peanut butter.

MS: Very true. I’m a crunchy fan. This is the last question for you Rhett; is there anything else you want to add for the fans coming to your show in Pensacola, Florida?

RM: For a long time, the 97’s and I have neglected Florida and we’re really trying to make up for it. If you look at the last couple of years of our itineraries, you’ll see we’ve done a lot of Florida. The 97’s are coming through in February-three or four Florida dates-I’ll be there solo in Pensacola…or is Pensacola a 97’s show.

MS: Both. Solo and 97’s show in Pensacola.

RM: Then, I’m also playing on March 1st. I’m playing a festival in Panama City. Yeah. Panama City Beach, Florida. That’s close to Pensacola, right?

MS: Yes.

RM: Oh good, because I’m flying out of Pensacola the next morning. Yes, so that should also be a blast. I’ll get to play a full solo acoustic show at Panama City Beach March 1.

MS: Are you going to get a chance to enjoy the beach? Because the beaches here are gorgeous, I have to say.

RM: Believe me, I know. My wife’s family goes down to Florida every year and so we get to go down a lot. I’m a big fan, I don’t even mind all the old people so much.

MS: That’s true. We have a lot here. Rhett, is there anything else you wanted to say? I appreciate talking with you finally.

RM: No, but it’s going to be fun. I’ll definitely be enjoying the sunshine in Florida. Where I’m at right now, it’s 16 degrees outside.

MS: Stay warm. Well, thank you so much Rhett, It’s been a pleasure speaking with you.

RM: You too and who was it that you said was a big fan? Was a girlfriend or just a friend?

MS: We’re best of friends. I’m the godfather of her kids. Shannon McGraw. She lives in Springfield, Missouri. Actually, she has a photo of you and her together at a show, I think in Missouri and that’s her profile picture on Facebook, she’s a huge fan, a great mom, a great friend, and she loves your music.

RM: That’s sweet. Well, tell her if she wants to remind me about any kind of a song request or whatever, tell her to hit me up on Twitter is usually the best. I don’t check Facebook as much, but Twitter is the best.

– Michael L. Smith


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