Taxi Interview ° Where did you grow up ? I grew up in San Mateo, a small town in the suburbs of San Francisco. Famous for it's beautiful Japanese Garden and foggy redwood valleys, And lately,as the home of Napster and YouTube. ° What made you realize that music was your path? I started my first group when I was nine, with two friends from my neighbourhood. We had all seen "A hard day's night", the Beatles film, and I guess as much as most kids who saw that film, we were pretty impressed with what the Beatles were up to, their music and "lifestyle" it was obvious to us that those English guys were living the coolest life that we could imagine, and that is what we wanted to do as well.. And just pretending to play the guitar, using my sister's tennis racket was not really going to do it.. We all bugged our parents and after Christmas and birthdays finally got the instruments that we needed to get started. Dan got a Sears Silvertone guitar and a small amp, I got a Japanese guitar and used an old tape recorder my Uncle gave me for an amp and Lee got a drum set and we started to inhabit the lower realms of our family homes, making noise and learning how to start and end songs at the same time. Since we needed a bass player, I decided that I would play bass and since no one else wanted to sing, I sang. Eventually I convinced my parents to buy me a bass ,(my Mom didn't want me to become a bass player I guess) and we stared to work on our sound. I started writing songs, copying some of the vibe of the Beatles and getting ideas from the books I was reading "Lord of the Rings", Shakespeare, Science Fiction, Richard Brautigan, and my sister's Folk music songbooks... The crucial musical moment for me was hearing "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix for the first time, on my little radio as I was going to sleep one night. It was like a direct line to outer space, Heaven, some extremely cool place and I could feel it resonate deep in me. We started to play Hendrix songs and tried to figure out how to make "noise" with our instruments. We also were inspired by the way Jimi would take somebody else's song and make it his own. "All along the watchtower" for instance. I felt this incredible freedom to just play and create that came from Jimi's music, it was like an invitation to try our own ideas out, experiment, jam, try to play songs our "own" way, not to copy just like the record. We learned other songs off the radio we liked and a lot of songs that we were hearing from our older brothers and sisters. The Doors were really big at my house as well as the Stones. Some of the older guys in the neighbourhood were playing the Stones and it was really a "wicked" sound, there was nastiness and extreme cool in what they were doing. They had Fender amps and boy did that sound really get to me... We started playing parties for our parents, Scout parties and school and church dances and eventually got a gig down at the local YMCA, opening up for some older guys. Our band was called "Fresh Garbage", after that great Spirit ( the LA band) song and the other band was a new band that Neil Schon had formed. Neil lived in a funky house across the street form the Y, and rumours had it that he was jamming a lot over there with Carlos Santana. Carlos didn't show up that night but that's probably just as well.. We got a whole lot of things wrong and were pretty nervous and the most prevalent comment during and after the show was, "yea, you guys sure stink like garbage..etc" Well as bad as it was, we had at least done it, down there were it mattered, were the older guys were doing it, and that was a big thrill. I guess it was a few months later when I had my first chance to see Jimi Hendrix. He was headlining a big concert at the Alameda County fairgrounds, in San Jose, which was in fact set up in a big dusty rodeo rink. There was a serious amount of music there, Poco, Lee Michels, Taj Mahal (playing string bass) Noel Redding's band "Fat Mattress" and eventually the Jimi Hendrix Experience.. I was completely overwhelmed with the sound and the energy of all that music.. at one point I was just hanging out in front of that big stage, trying to be cool and just looking at all those people, when this kid came up wearing one of those mirrored Nazi helmets, that bikers usually wore and he asked me" Hey, you're in Fresh Garbage aren't you?" I don't think I even replied I was so stunned. I couldn't believe that someone from out there, all those people had some idea of what I was doing with my own music. I felt like somehow I belonged there, in that world and that just maybe I could find myself up on the big stage one day, and when Jimi smiled up at me after leaving the stage, (I had managed to sneak behind the stage to take pictures while he was playing), I felt blessed- that somehow Music would take me somewhere if I stuck with her.. I kept writing and playing in bands, and in High School, when I didn't make the cut for the football team, I really got into working on music, trying to learn all that I could. The Band director, Phil Grary, was really helpful to me. Outside of starting to play all that great "Big Band" swing music, he pushed me to compose and perform my own music, and I learned a lot about "just doing it", just putting it down on the paper , so to speak from him. I started another band with some older guys and we hooked up with a local booking agency and started plying dances all over California, mainly playing the top 40 of the time, but what great music .. Led Zep, the Stones, Elton John, The Doobie Bros. Steely Dan, Earth Wind and Fire, Tower of Power, The Eagles, Wilson Pickett, The Allmann Bros, Linard Skinard, Free, I learned a lot and for the first time, I was actually making some money doing it.. I had a feeling that I could do something with music, if I just stuck with it and tried to learn as much as I could, and I started to feel a connection with Music, like "she" was leading me on, was going to take me to some interesting places if only I could hang in there... ° What kind of music do you typically create? I'm omnivorous when it comes to musical styles. I've written large ensemble instrumental music, big band arrangements, film and theatre music and songs. I try and capture what I'm feeling at the moment and focus my emotions into whatever form they might take, be it a song with lyrics or a musical theme. Depending on what I need to do, from a "this is what I'm going to get paid to do" to "This sounds interesting, I wonder where this will go" I have a few things going at any given moment. ° Who are your biggest musical influences? Listening to music in church, the organ and the choir put music for me in a certain "Functional" context, that is outside of whatever was going on on the radio or the turntable, there was a "service" that music fulfilled that has always inspired me, creating an emotional resonance, surrounding a ritual, bringing people together to share an emotional experience. A lot of the musicians and artists that inspire me have this similar power of bringing people together.. Jimi Hendrix for his freedom and ability to make me dream of infinite possibilitiy BB King for his ability to transcend tradition and keep the deep roots of his expression of the blues Bob Dylan for the poetic richness and constant re-discovery of a way to tell a story and his respect and Disrespect for traditions, age old or otherwise Miles Davis and David Bowie for their great intuition as band leaders and striving to always be at the "edge" of what is "pop" and "avant garde" Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Rickie Lee Jones, as well in the way that they keep a very personal expression "timeless" and in the manner that they explore and experiment with the possibilities of color, texture and style in their music. Chris Kristopherson, for his simplicity and humour The Jazz Giants John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk for their deepness of expression and the humanity in their very spiritual and personal creations Duke Ellington and Count Basie for the sheer genius of their creation, humble and powerful, never condescending and truly inspiring and most of all, always "Swinging" A lot of my friends and artists I have had the chance to work with inspire me a great deal, On the level of "were all just out here trying to do our best" which can be a comfort sometimes when the "Big" world of the Music Business seems so distant and unreachable... Charles Duncan, Mark Kelton, Steve Perry ,Louis Bertignac, Paul Breslin, Eliott Murphy, Jeff Jolly, Gabriela Arnon, Janice deRosa, Martyn Mulhaire ,Paddy Sherlock, Nina Van Horn, to name but a few... ° What makes your music unique? I believe that all of us humans have an unique "voice" in the universe, an expression of the deepness of our souls. No matter how deep or shallow each persons "soundings" of their souls' depths may be it's up to each of us to try and bring those feelings and emotions up, to put them into music, songs, paintings, words , a regard or a movement to create something 'living' in the fleeting moments of time When I'm successful with a very small degree of clarity to give form to a feeling, a resonance, an emotion, that may somehow vibrate in someone else, then I think this is when I am being the most "myself" and maybe the most "universal" I agree with Bob Dylan when he said, "Sometimes you just want to do things your way, want to see for yourself what lies behind the misty curtain." ° Has there been one particular moment in your musical career that you are most proud of? The chance to play music is a amazing gift in itself, and the moments that have been rewarding have been many, but I think a lot of different emotions came together for me when I played "When a man loves a woman" with Percy Sledge on the Jools Holland Show,' LIVE" on the BBC- I was proud for Percy to be doing his thing, I was proud of the way the band was slamming the groove and I was proud to be doing the best that I could at that moment in time. ° What's next for you? I have finished a collection of songs that I will be marketing and promoting as an CD album called 'Faraway Radioland' I have concerts coming up with my band, and a few café gigs in duo with an Irish guitarist, Kevin Kretch I am writing today and will be doing some production work this evening with some friends.