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We read that you started out on the drums. when did you realize that you had an incredible singing voice?
I started playing guitar when I was 16, and singing as well. i dnt think i was very good to begin with. I remember listening to a cassette tape of some songs I had done when i was 16 or 17, and its awful. It was a rough start. A couple of the first songs, which are not awful songs, I did were “Just Like Heaven” that my Aunt Liz taught me, and “Last Dance with Mary Jane”. I remember some burley biker dude in a leather jacket taught me how to play that.
It’s recorded. we have to get it mastered. It’s kind of funny, I have no idea exactly how because I liked “The Sky is Falling” title the best, but at some point it got out there and now I’m like “Well I guess that IS the name of the record.” Which is good because I actually like it, but a couple people have asked me about it and I’m like “How’d you find that out?” so now im stuck with it, which is not a bad thing at all, it’s probably the push that I need because i spend so much time thinking about that stuff, you know I could drive myself crazy. But yeah, the record is recorded, we master at the end of June and we’re working on artwork. There’s no definite date for it to be out. We’re shopping it to labels. It’ll come out one way or another whether we do it independently or with somebody else.
Actually, I’m not even the one that came up with “The Sky is Falling”, Kasey Anderson came up with that and I was like “Oh, I really like that.”. That’s happened before, like “The Only Thing That Matters“, a friend came up with that. It sounds so much better when someone else says it then the ideas you have in your head.
Will “Only Guessing” be on the record?
Yeah, I mean theres no set date for when its coming out. You know, but touring is always really good for bands just as far as getting out there and getting seen, but the hard part is saying “we’re gonna have this new record out” and then going out on tour without having it. So as much of a bummer as it is to kind of hold off on scheduling a tour, I think we have to have an idea of when the record will come out, because we want to go out and have it in our hands when we travel far from Seattle. So the last records been out for almost a year now, it’s kinda nice to go out an have something new for people.
A lot of folks mentioned on our Facebook page and in emails, wondering about you going back to the east coast. Do you think that would be part of the next tour?
Last year you got snowed in right?
Yeah, right, three of us … me, Justin, and Travis, were staying with family in Nanuet, NY and then the other two guys were staying in a hotel not that far from us. We woke up and it was snowing and we went out to try and dig the van out and there were just cars sliding all over the road. We couldn’t even get to where the other guys were at the hotel. It took an hour to make a 5 minute drive to the grocery store. It just kinda got to the point where even if we made it to the show, which probably we wouldn’t have, no one else would be there. That was hard though, we don’t like to cancel shows. That was sort of out of our hands.
So for the new record, is the sound kind of similar to what you guys have done in the past? “Crooked Path” had more of a country-ish vibe to it, alone in this together was a little more bluesy rock, what’s “The Sky is Falling”?
It’s actually a lot different, and i guess its less of a band record. I mean, everyone thats in the band played on it, but I guess the best way to kind of describe it is that its more of a solo record, I guess, but everyone played on it. I’ve gotten a couple of comments from people that have heard it that it seems more introspective than the other records.
On gremmie.net we focus on b-sides and unreleased material. For example, we’ve got “Choking on the Words” which is a b-side from “The Only Thing That Matters”. Is there other stuff out there that people haven’t heard?
There is. I think weve done a couple of live things that have some songs that we pretty much dont play anymore. I don’t know where it’s all at. I’d have to really dig into it. There’s an acoustic version of “Spinning My Wheels” that’s not like the acoustic version we do now, but it’s from before that song got turned into the song that it is now. The first time i played it and recorded it acoustic, that exists somewhere. And then theres some really really old stuff thats actually terrible and embarrassing.
I love doing Otis Redding covers… like, “That’s How Strong My Love Is”. And we do the Elvis song “Power of My Love”, that one’s a lot of fun. And, you know, we’ve done covers that maybe we have only done once but for like the Wine, Women & Song and song we have done some pretty cool ones. My favorite I think was doing “Because the Night” at the second Wine, Women & Song song that we did. That was fun.
Mutual music friends in seattle. the first time we met him was at a benefit he was doing around Christmas time, and we got asked to do it. We played acoustic, and then we met him and he was really nice… it was really fun… and then a year later the Hootenanny happened and we got involved in that. Then we really got to know mike and spend time with him. there were rehearsals and stuff, and then the show happened, and he said that he was watching from off the stage when we did “That’s How Strong My Love Is” and he was blown away by the song and the reaction of the crowd.
We’d been talking about “yeah were trying to work on a record, and hopefully get it out, but we haven’t done that yet”. At one point were all hanging out on stage and hes sitting next to justin and he leans over to Justin and says “Hey so when are you putting that record out?” and Justin says “Well, we have most of the songs for it, we’re just not really financially in a place where we can do it yet”. Then mike was like “Well how much do you need? How much do you need to make the record?” So then we all talked and he seemed really, really interested in it, but that’s hard to believe sometimes.
I remember the day Justin had the phone conversation with Mike, we were coming back from a Montana show that we played and Justin was in the back because at the time we had a pretty nice motor home we’d go on tour in. And he was in the back on the bed talking to Mike McCready on the phone and i filmed it because he looked like a teenage girl talking to the boy, you know, asking her to prom, and he’s all giddy and hes playing with his hair and rocking back and forth. It was really awesome. Mike was like “Well, let’s put that record out.” He played on it, he helped us get it made. So yeah, I think there’s this group of musicians in Seattle thats very close and Mike’s one of those people, and the events for charities he puts on, that’s how we came to know Mike.
Full disclosure, you know how you were just talking about Justin being all giddy, twirling his hair? That’s me right now. That’s basically how we feel about this phone call. We’re so excited to talk to you.
Yeah, you know, he asked me to sing on that song he’d written “Keep On” which was originally intended for something else. Right when I first moved to Seattle, a month went by and the thing it was supposed to be for wasn’t happening, but he wanted to put it out anyway. I was like “Oh, ok, yeah!”. I would do anything for Mike, he’s such a good guy and he has such a big heart and he’s so passionate about music, and it’s really nice to see that because you think people who’ve made it and get so big, you think they don’t have to care anymore. They don’t have to give a shit about music. They’ve already done what they’re gonna do, and they’ve made it big and people love them. He’s just not that guy, he just loves it. When he hears something that he loves he just wants to be a part of it and he wants to move it forward. He wants the world to see what he sees, and he’s so famous that he has that ability, and he knows that. He knows he can help. He doesn’t look at it with dollar signs in his eyes, he just loves it.
Well that kind of brings us to PJ20. For us, when you played “For When I Go” it was THE highlight of the weekend. What about you? What did you like the most about PJ20?
Meeting Dhani Harrison was amazing really. He was as excited as we were… his dad’s a Beatle but when he got off stage after he played with Pearl Jam he was like “oh my god i just played with Pearl Jam.” I was like, “Oh my god your dad is a beatle”. It’s just like Mike, it doesnt matter, he fuckin’ loves it. He was just so excited to play with this band that means so much to him. So getting to meet him was really really neat. also we got to watch the shows both times from the side stage. which was just surreal. It was kind of a bummer ’cause you couldnt hear anything that eddie was sayn into the microphone. I don’t know if it comes out clearer in the front, but every time he would talk it would be like “grumble grumble” then we’d cheer and be like “What did he say? I dont know.” you know, but then you hear the songs, and the songs are amazing, and the energy is amazing… that was just really really cool. i gotta say too, i loved the strokes. they’ve been goin for what, 10? 11?, years so i was 15 or 16 when they started happening, which i think is a pretty crucial time for people and music so they were a big deal to me. I enjoyed their music a lot and they made an impression on me, so it was cool to get to see them as well. Just the whole festival was awesome. Oh, and we got to see the hotel where Jeffrey Dahmer killed that guy. You know, the guy was dead so his first thought was “Oh i better go buy a suitcase to stuff him in so I can take him to my grandma’s basement and do disgusting things to his body.”
Mostly the food was really, really good, so it was hard to pull myself away from that. The hills were daunting. Catering was at the bottom of the hill, but our green room trailer was all the way at the top, and there were golf carts that would drive you up, but because I ate so much I insisted that we walk everywhere.
I do. I was just thinking about it that I haven’t cooked in kind of awhile, which bums me out. I haven’t had time. By the time i get home I’m not thinking about how delicious the food is gonna be, I’m thinking about the gigantic mess. Then I get lazy and just eat a sandwich, but I do love to cook. I look to cook stir fry. I like to stuff things into chickens. The best thing i ever made, in my opinion, was I took hamburger meat and made a little cup out of it, then I stuffed that… filled it with blue cheese, and bacon, and mushrooms… then i built a little hamburger lid, and put the lid on top. So it was just a giant bowl full of delicious inside. You didn’t even have to have a bun because the burger was about an inch and a half thick. Might be my most favorite thing I’ve ever made.
If it were up to me? In a heartbeat. If they ever asked me I would say yes in a heartbeat. I would love to. For PJ20, each member of the band picked 2 of the bands that were on the bill, us being Mike’s choice, Ed picked Finn and John Doe, Jeff picked Joseph Arthur, etc. I have no idea how they decide for big tours, but don’t think I haven’t tried. They’re all aware of me, so I’m just waiting for the call.
Donny Anderson, who runs the great PJ podcast “All That’s Sacred“, asked “What inspired you to bleach your hair?”
Oh! Hahaha. I don’t know. I was at SXSW, and I sent my friend, a hair stylist, a text. Actually, can I tell the longer story? When I was born I had thick thick thick black hair and my mom thought “This is not my baby”. I was her baby, and all that hair fell out a few weeks after i was born…and when it came back in I had wispy blonde hair, and I had blonde hair all through growing up. Got into high school and thought I’d be cool so I started really bleaching my hair, then i started dying my hair brown. I thought that it would just grow back blonde, no big deal, but it didn’t… it grew back brown. For some reason in that period of time my hair got darker and went back and turned brown.
So then I just started dying my hair black for a long time. Then I was at SXSW and I sent my friend hairstylist a text like “Heeey, I wanna dye my hair blonde, how hard do you think that would be?” and he’s like “Well how much hair do you want to lose?” I kinda changed my mind, maybe I don’t wanna do that, and then finally I just decided that it’ll be fun and I might as well do it now. I went in and it took all of a Saturday. I had layers and layers of dye, and after stripping it all out i was left with a natural dark orange color. When he cut out all the orange I was left with a Kate Gosselin haircut. Oh, and I’d been watching a lot of America’s Next Top Model… a lot… like 10 seasons of it. I just kept getting so angry at the girls because every time they’d get a makeover they’d always cry… they’d get their hair chopped and be like “Oooh I dont feel like a girl anymore.” So i don’t know if I was trying to make a point, like “I can do it!” but that’s what happened. and I didn’t cry.
Yeah. My answer is the same as opening for Pearl Jam. If someone asked me to do it, I’d say yes. There’s a lot of things I’d like to do. I might actually make it to Australia in the next year or two, but these are things that are so up in the air. My answer is yes, I would love to.
Hmmmm. probably…. I’d love to see Tom Waits live, I’d love to see Elvis Costello live, I’d love to see Patti Smith live. lets see… I’d love to see Iggy Pop live. this could go on for a long time, so I’ll just stop there.
Hey, I just realized that this is not the first interview I’ve done that has included food and serial killers.