What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
The Junior High School guitar god rock ’n roll dream. At some point in the proceedings, it became obvious that I really liked sound for the sake of sound, from distortion and feedback to tape delay and reverb which eventually brought me to minimalism and avant-garde improvisation, all of which influence my composition to this day, and ties in nicely with my penchant for the visual.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
Music for Driving and Film, vol iii (the desert years) is the third in a series of music that has been used in film and serves equally well for, and often inspired by, roadtrips. This particular volume is specifically influenced by the western desert environment, which has been a part of my life for the past five years, so there is a lot of guitar, twang and atmosphere.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
The band Low is a constant inspiration. Their albums get more daring as they age. Great drumming. Danny Frankel adds his distinct, solid touch to a bunch of tracks on this new record. Fred Frith’s guitar improvisations and techniques. Robert Quine, Marc Ribot. Huge fan of Lou Reed. Radiohead. I love a good song. Great filmmakers and philosophies inspire me to no end, Kurosawa, Jarmusch, Herzog, Tarkovsky, Orson Welles, etc. The Zhuang Zhou. The deep, the dark, the witty, playful, sexy and smart. Staring at the night sky. Being in the woods. Shadows on distant mountains. Visiting great public spaces in busy cities. Contrast. Stories. Fields of color and sound.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
I don’t feel constrained by genre. There are styles and sounds I love and as a composer find areas that are appealing. Only my lack of skills at making competent music beyond whatever genres I am working within is an impediment. For this latest record I definitely tried to stay within certain ‘rock/soundtrack’ boundaries and avoided more manic ideas. Sometimes it’s a simple guitar melody with weird subtle shit going on, sometimes it is a wash of chords and nothing. I love blues, I love noise, I love melody, I love dissonance, minimalism, maximalism. Beyond that wherever ideas and the moment takes things is fine. Probably why I love improvisation as much as composition.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
Impossible question…I’ll shoot fast:
Albums: Sonic Youth Dirty, Arvo Pårt Arinuska, Howling Wolf Moaning at Midnight. Movies: The Third Man, Apocalypse Now and BladeRunner
Books: The Master and the Margarita, The Rings of Saturn and…Moby Dick. Never finished that.
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
These days I love recording as live as possible with great musicians in a studio setting. The sort of awe you feel after capturing that elusive magic moment, where everyone knows it was special. It sort of hangs in the air for a bit after the last note rings out. Nice when that happens in performance, as you get to share it with an audience, but I have less tolerance these days for less than optimal sound and generic venues. But if there is an interesting twist to the situation, or certain electricity to an event, damn the details, I’m probably all in.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
I played Pete Townshend in a punk rock ‘Live at Leeds” era Who cover band called the Ho! with Dave Mello from Operation Ivy. He was a brilliant Keith. We would have reunion shows every few years when The Who occasionally toured back in the early 00’s. At some point we hatched a plan to follow them around and play the same cities with the motto “don’t go see those poseurs, come see the real deal’. Brutal physically but really fun.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
Unique I don’t know, but this Music for Driving and Film series has covered a bit of ground, from sweet to soundscape to epic rock and I’m proud of that range. I’ll cheat: Sleep from Vol I, East Meets West from Vol II and Dream of the Desperado from Vol III.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
To perform this music in environments where it thrives – with film projection and good sound – and to release new work more frequently. Integrating my work in improvisation, soundscape, noise, alternative tunings with this material. My friend Victoria Williams really opened my eyes to the idea that songs in performance need not be like the record at all. Compositions must be allowed to grow and sometimes wander off.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
“Hey, what year is your guitar?”
“Oh man…that’s so cool! …wait, they didn’t have electric guitars back then.
They didn’t? Man, I think you’re right. Ok, Next question!
Photo credits: Michele Thomas
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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