Victor Wooten Interview 2000

Victor Wooten Interview

This interview took place on February 3rd, 2000 @ Big Shots in Roseville, CA

I was exposed to Mr. Wooten on my local PBS television station during a type of live music show. David Byrne, I think that is his name, the guy from Talking Heads, he interviews the bands or the artists on this show. The night I caught this show was when Bela Fleck and the Flecktones were playing. I heard the bass, and was just freakin blown away to my seat. No doubt that this band is great, but Victor, my gosh, the way he grooved, the sounds he commanded from his bass, the way he complimented the other creative sounds being presented by the rest of the band…………Just left me in “awe.” A few weeks ago, I was looking through my local news magazine where I read about all of the upcoming shows in my area, and I saw the show listing for Victor Wooten’s tour coming to Sacramento, CA.

Victor Wooten is a Grammy winning bassist for the group, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. He has been voted Bass Player of the Year by Bass Player Magazine 3 times, and his latest solo album “Yin-Yang” is up for a Grammy in the best Jazz Performance Category. So, ya know I had to see and talk to this guy, right?

In this interview I was able to expose Mr. Wooten to some of the music I listen to. A couple of hardcore/metal bands known as Candiria, and the Dillinger Escape Plan. After the interview inside the venue, Victor and I moved the remaining part of the interview to my car where we listened to a little bit of each band. You will read his thoughts of them in this interview.

I, a little more or less, started off the interview telling Mr. Wooten basically what I told you guys in the first paragraph, and how much more I appreciated the creation of music after capturing their performance on TV. Here is his response, and the rest of the interview.

Thanks to Sheri at Compass Records, for making this happen.

Victor Wooten – It’s funny because, the people who are not really familiar with Bluegrass, as soon as they hear the banjo, they say “Wow it’s Bluegrass,” but the people who are familiar with Bluegrass and Country, they say “No, it’s nothing like Bluegrass.” I think it is just the instrument of the banjo that makes people hear the Bluegrass, and I think that is great. Traditional “bluegrassers” say “No, that’s Jazz,” and the “jazzers” say that’s something different, but it’s neat, and I like it.

A.M.P. – From reading two or three different stories from the local papers upon you coming here, I read that you have some history in Sacramento, CA, particularly Rancho Cordova, CA. What stands out the most about this city, and what stands out the most on what you were doing while living here?

Victor Wooten – Well I had a lot of friends here. I started elementary school here, going to Cordova Villa Elementary. I remember the school as a round school, and it looked like a spaceship, and I lived just three houses from the school. So I’d go there everyday and play on the playground, you know. Those were some good years for me, care free years, but at the same time we were playing gigs, my brothers and I, the five of us, were playing gigs, and I was five, six, and seven at the time, and that’s where my musical career really started. It was here.

A.M.P. – Can you read music?

Victor Wooten – Yes.

A.M.P. – From you playing bass for so long, and being good at it, I would think that you are pretty good at thinking notes in your head, and playing the notes, and presenting them on bass, the same way you thought them.

Victor Wooten – Pretty much, but it’s kinda like talking. Talking is, the words are a description of what you really feel, and sometimes the words are just not capturing it, it’s not enough. The feeling is the true meaning, and music is the same way. You have a feeling so you describe it with these musical notes, and I use the instrument, the bass, to describe what I am trying to say, just the way we would use words, and most of the time when things are going well, I am having a pretty good day at trying to describe what I’m feeling, but sometimes it’s hard. You hear the notes in your head, but just like talking, sometimes you just can’t get it in the way you want, and music to me in just another language, and I approach it the same way.

A.M.P. – How much of what you play on bass is actually composed and driven through emotion. As opposed to “jamming,” or thought out creations of notes, how often or how much of what you create yourself is brought out from a feeling, and which song, and on what albums have you done that with the least amount of alterations and changes?

Victor Wooten – Most of it, is pretty free. It is sort of like, again, I always relate music to talking, or language. When you are talking, unless you are reading verbatim what you want to say, you are improvising. You have an idea of what you want to say, but it’s because you know the language so well, and your vocabulary is so big, you can freely pick and choose the words you want, without having to think too much about it, and it is pure expression. So for me, music most of the time is the same way. Even though I may have songs, that have a structure, I am going express and describe that structure different every time I play it. So, probably, eighty to ninety percent of what I am playing is pure expression, you know, it’s going to be different each time. It’s rare that I will play something exactly the same as I played it the night before.

A.M.P. – That’s the same way for me when I play drums, I just cannot play things the same way everytime.

Victor Wooten – But it’s hard to. It’s really hard. I mean, if you were to ask me that question again, it would be hard to say it the same way.

A.M.P. – Oh my gosh! This is weird! That is the exact way I think, I mean, I literally cannot play things on drums the same way the second time. Different things motivate it.

Victor Wooten – Exactly.

A.M.P. – Different things will just drive me to do different things, and if I answer questions, if you ask me again they are going to be different because I would have thought of something else.

Victor Wooten – That is life, that’s life. There are no two snowflakes alike, there are no two people, there is nothing in the universe that is totally alike. There are things that appear similar, but nothing is exactly a like.

A.M.P. – You are the only other person that has said something so similar to what I’ve said before. That’s just strange.

Victor Wooten – That’s just truth, that’s just the way it is. You really can’t express yourself the same way as you did once before. That is why every experience, is a blessing, it’s a jewel, because it’s the only experience ever.

A.M.P. – You can’t get it back.

Victor Wooten – Right, so you know, you just enjoy, and love everybody, everything because it’s an individual, and that brings me to another thing. A lot of people always ask me “Well who is your favorite this, who is the best, or are you better then this guy.” Everybody is an individual, everybody is the best. There is not another you. Even if I took a new born baby, and let them crawl on the bass guitar, they are going to get individual sounds that I will never be able to produce, and if I can’t produce what a new born baby can produce on an instrument, who is better? You see, so really, everybody is just, who they are, and that’s just exactly the way I see it, so everybody is the best, in my eyes.

A.M.P. – What artists of today, like hip-hop, blues, metal, rock, etc. have you been paying attention to, and what do you still consisitantly listen to?

Victor Wooten – Lately I have been listening to some, it’s a stuff called throat singing, which is, these guys from a country called Tuva, or either Mongolia, and they do this throat thing where they, it’s like a ( he gives his example ) groaning thing and they start hitting these harmonics with their voices, and they can get two and three notes with their voice. I have been checking that out quite a bit, and I have been into some music from the country India where they are using Tambla drums, and different time signatures. I still love a lot of the rap music, pop music, and jazz. I consider myself to be pretty open when it comes to music. I just like listening to all of it.

A.M.P. – Ok good because I have something for you after the interview.

Victor Wooten – Good.

A.M.P. – Ok, I play drums, and I was happy to see that you the work you did with Carter Beauford on your newest album “Yin-Yang,” which is up for a Grammy, I believe…

Victor Wooten – Yeah.

A.M.P. – That’s great!

Victor Wooten – Thanks.

A.M.P. – …will be on video, and can you tell me what it was like to work with him, and when will that video be available?

Victor Wooten- The video is available right now, actually we have them tonight. Carter is amazing, I have known Carter for many years. After we left Sacramento we moved to Virginia, and Carter lived in Virginia.

A.M.P.- That’s pretty much where all of Dave Matthews is.

Victor Wooten – Exactly, a lot of the guys from Dave Matthews lived in Virginia. So we met Carter, quite soon after we moved to Virginia. A lot of the great musicians, you just kind of gravitate towards each other, people that are thinking a like, you know. So I have known him for a long time, but had not done a lot of playing together. So this was a treat, to get him in the studio, and to see how he works after all these years. He is great. He just came in and had to learn these songs, and they are not typical songs, and you know, it was fun, and I was glad that the people were there to film it, and actually make into a video, because he is an amazing drummer, he’s got his own voice. As soon as he sits behind the drums, you know it’s him.

A.M.P. – Who else is featured on this album?

Victor Wooten – All of the members of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. A sax player named Kirk Whalum, he’s playing sax on a couple of songs. The guys who are my brothers, Regi on guitar, Joseph on keyboards, JD Blair on drums. I have another friend of mine, a lady named Jennie Hoeft. She plays drums on a song, and there’s people, different people helping out with the vocals, cause I’m not much of a singer at all, you know. So I have different people, friends of mine, lots of friends of mine. Some of my friends who have never been on a CD or have recorded before I get them up there, just for the fun and the experience. My daughter is actually doing vocals on two songs. On one song she was sixteen months old, on another song, she was thirteen months. On one of the songs, she was talking, and I just recorded her talking for a long time, and then I orchestrated the music to the pitches of her voice, to make it sound like she was singing. It’s pretty neat.

A.M.P. – How long did it take you from the first and oldest played note that is on the album, to the last played note, how long did it take you?

Victor Wooten – That album probably was done, I would guess three months. The band, the Flecktones, we were on tour at the time, for a lot of the time that we were working on the album. So we would come off the road and I would have maybe five or six days to get into the studio with everybody. Then we (Flecktones) would go out on the road and I would work on stuff while we were out on the road. So, I would say maybe three months. I don’t even really know because I don’t really think of it in that sense.

A.M.P. – I appreciate you taking the time to tell us what to look for on certain songs on the album. I have not heard the album yet, I have only heard the Real Audio parts of it on the site, but, how things came about, and what you were thinking while you were in the studio, I have not seen that much on any other artists site including whats on the album or anything like that. They just put the album out, and you only hear things like that while reading an interview like right now, but you actually have that on the site, like “look for this…,” and “look for that on…” So that it pretty cool.

Victor Wooten – Thank you. I just think about what I would want to see. I see records from Miles Davis, and all these artists. A good example is this. There was a CD just released by the Mahavishu Orchestra. Which is this fusion band with John McLaughlin on guitar, Billy Cobham on drums, Jan Hammer on keyboards, Jerry Goodman on Violins. It’s a great album, but this was an album that they had forgotten about, and someone just found it in the vault, you know, and so they have just released it. On the album they talked to the different musicians. Somebody interviews the musicians about what was going back then.

A.M.P. – Is this actually on the cd?

Victor Wooten – Not on the CD, but in the credits, and so it was so neat reading about what was going on at the time, you know. The band was kinda feuding a little bit, and all that kind of stuff, and the different musicians wanted more of their music on the albums, and more credit. Just all of this inside stuff. It makes you kind of feel like you are getting a little more than your money’s worth, like you are inside there, and I love that kind of stuff. So I want to put it out there for people and let them know what is going on. To me it makes the music more special when you have something to look for, something to go on. You know when you are listening to Kaila and you know she was only 13 months old, and you know how it was recorded.

A.M.P. – You appreciate it more.

Victor Wooten – Of course, I believe so.

A.M.P. – Before joining Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, how well was the rock band that you were in before that, how was that band doing?

Victor Wooten – I was doing a bunch of different things. Like I said I grew up mostly playing with my brothers as a five peice band in Sacramento, CA, and San Francisco, CA we would play all over, and in Virginia we did that more. Then I was doing a bunch of things. Working at an amusement park, playing in a country show, you know, at Busch Gardens in Virginia, and right before I came to Nashville, I was playing with this group, this guy who you used sing with the Platters, who was living in Virginia, and I was playing in his band going around and playing the 60’s, Platters music. So that’s what I was doing right before I actually came to Nashville, and it was doing well but I knew that was not going to be the thing I did for the rest of my life, but I enjoyed it.

A.M.P. – How has the tour been going?

Victor Wooten – The tour is great. It’s been fun. We never know when coming out to the West Coast, especially on my own because for whatever reason it is always a little harder out on the West Coast. You never know who is going to show up, but we have been having a lot of sell outs, and big crowds, and we’re just having fun.

A.M.P. – Where has your best show been so far, on this tour?

Victor Wooten – On this tour… Wow… I don’t know. The first night we did was good. It was a long day because we had some new equipment and we spent all day trying to get it to work right, but it was in Boulder Colarado, at the Fox Theatre, and we always have a great time there. There was just a ton of people, and it’s a big venue, and it was just nice starting up again, and just getting to play, after that long bus ride from Nashville Tennessee.

A.M.P. – I noticed that when people get a certain level of touring experience from playing so many shows through the years, they really never mention bad shows when asked about them, they just say they love playing to however amount of people are there, but, have you had a bad show on this tour?

Victor Wooten – I would not say that I have had a bad show. I have had nights where I did not think I played that well, there are nights where I feel better, but a lot of time it’s really hard to tell because sometimes, like usually we judge our nights by how we felt, and sometimes you go back and listen to the tapes and you realize, wow, that sounded pretty good, you know, no matter how bad I felt. The opposite can be true too. Last nights show, we were in Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, a small place, and my bass to me didn’t sound that good, and when it’s not sounding that great through my rig, I’m having a hard time playing. It’s hard to just let it go and just play, which is what we try to do anyway, and Regi was saying that his guitar wasn’t sounding right, but, Kurt, our soundman, and Anthony who is doing our monitors, who aren’t really part of the show, they can sit back and just watch it, they said it was the best show so far. So it’s like wow, you just never know. The thing is to just play through your feelings you know, and if you are hating it, just play through, and just try to have a good time and just do what you do.

A.M.P. – Where do you see the love, appreciation, and importance of music among the future people headed? Not where you want it to be, or think it should be, but where do you see it going from the way you see it going now?

Victor Wooten – Well to me, it seems like the focus is being put back on music. I guess originality I guess is a good word, but not really people who are out just to be original, but it seems like people are just being themselves a little bit more, like bands like the Dave Matthews band. It’s amazing to me that they are as successful as they are, because they are not really fitting a successful formula, you know. They don’t have the hearthrob who is the good dancer or takes their clothes off or whatever, and when you go and see them play they don’t have a bunch of dancers up there or they are not playing to tracks, they are just up there like a bar band, but they are amazing musicians. They are playing music in odd time signatures with lots of long solos and all of this stuff that is not suppose to sell, but they are the biggest band going right now, and to me, that’s really amazing that it’s really getting back to that, and people are enjoying it, and even more than that, the people who own the business, the record labels, and things like that, they are starting to recognize that stuff can work. It doesn’t have to be a three and a half minute song with no solos. The lead singer doesn’t have to have orange hair, you know, that type of thing. It can just be good music, and people will listen to it and love it. So it seems like it is headed in a good direction.

A.M.P. – alright, so you got four minutes?

Victor Wooten – Sure, yeah.

Right now, Victor is walking with me to my car, so we can expose him to some new tunes and hear his thoughts. I played “Year One” by Candiria, off of their Beyong Reasonable Doubt album. I also played some Dillinger Escape Plan songs, but that was after the interview. Here is what Victor had to say.

A.M.P. – You just heard Candiria, what do you think?

Victor Wooten – It’s cool, it’s cool. It’s not the type of music that I go out and buy, but I enjoy listening to it whenever I get a chance because, a lot of people would probably consider that, not to be, I don’t even know what the word is…Well I’ll just say what it is. It takes musicianship to really be able to pull that kind of stuff off because they are changing time signatures, the meters are changing, I mean all kinds of stuff is going on, and they are doing it together. So there is a lot of musicianship going on there, even though some people, other musicians that are listening to it unless they are familiar with that type of music they may not recognize it as being good musicianship, but to me it DEFINATELY is. I could not understand the lyrics, but I like the style that it was sung in. It’s sort of like that throat singing I was talking about, you know, again it’s not the classical way that we are used to hearing, but I like it. I like the fact that they are just doing whatever it is that they do. It seems like they are doing what they want to do, not what the market or whatever is telling them to do, and I like anybody that is doing that.

A.M.P. – I would like to thank you for, letting me get a little bit of your time to ask you these questions, and it is an honor to have you in my car.

Victor Wooten – Hehe, sure!

A.M.P. – Because I never thought that this would happen, but THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Victor Wooten – You are welcome.

After Victor’s amazing almost three hour long set, I got to thank him again after the show, and he thanked me for turning him on to the music I played for him. If you have the chance, check him out. jAy

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Shot some Cakes

Yesterday I had a photo shoot with some cupcakes, and then I ate them.  A cupcake company that has a booth at the California State Fair in Sacramento, CA needed some photos of their cupcakes and booth for their web page.  Usually, you try to get some of these shots in a controlled environment, but the booth is outside at the fair, and its hot, so when the cakes were done, they had to be shot as soon as possible so they didnt melt!  It took an hour or so, got about a hundred shots.  This was the first time in a while I’ve actually taken some pictures, but I think they turned out pretty good overall.  Got the booth in, some kids eating some cupcakes, a platter full of cupcakes, and their merch.  It was good.

Incubus Interview 98-99-ish.

This interview was around 99, or late 98. I am not too sure. This was behind the Colonial Theater, in Oak Park. Anyone from Sac should know about Oak Park. This venue back then was having some sick shows. The last one I saw there was The Red Chord, like two years ago, and before that was Killswitch Engage. Soulfly has played there, Neurosis, Papa Roach, Ghostface Killah a month ago, really, a lot of bands. The next album they recorded was Make Yourself. Around this time, Papa Roach was getting a lot of attention from labels, and went to LA for some meetings, and to check out NRG where they recorded their demo. I was out with them, and in the studio was Incubus recording that album. I believe Jurassic 5 was in the other studio there as well. Well here ya go.

AMP: Alright, new album, soon, do you have a date when you are going into the studio?

Jose: Umm, mid-April

AMP: How many songs do you have finished now?

Jose: Completely, well none completely finished, but we have done a little bit of recording, like some demos, we did five songs with vocals, and then there is one we haven’t done vocals for yet, and then we got a few more that are pretty much worked out, as far as the music goes. We really have not worked the vocals into them yet. We still got about two and a half weeks to write, so we got some time.

AMP: You guys toured with Black Sabbath a bit, how did the crowd like you?

Jose: I was scared, at first, I thought we were gonna get a lot of things thrown at us, but we had snipers on stage. (he’s kidding), but it was cool. It wasn’t really, our crowd, but we don’t, discriminate (hehe). We were received pretty well, all of us were kind of worried about that, but we really didn’t have single show where we had a bad response. It was awesome to watch Black Sabbath every night, that was amazing.

AMP: Ok, well Mike, last time you guys were here, you played a Sitar (an electric guitar, sounds kind of Middle Eastern), will we be hearing more of that on the next album?

Mike and Jose: YES

AMP: In S.C.I.E.N.C.E we heard tons of different styles on that whole album, in which I heard that you got the electronic, Mr. Bungle type of stuff when you were on tour with KoRn and the Urge over in Europe? Is there any other style that will definitely have an influence on this next album?

Mike: Well most of the stuff that we have been working on, is not as all over the place like S.C.I.E.N.C.E. was, like Jose said, it’s been 2 and a half years since we wrote that album. Two and a half years is a long time to evolve, so I think a lot of the newer stuff just sounds a lot more focused, it is much better arranged, and parts are better put together. There is going to be a lot of ambiance on this record, like maybe not so much going on all the time, a little more room to breathe, we are going to definitely have really really cool DJ parts, and those type of things. It’s a definite leap from S.C.I.E.N.C.E. It will be obvious.

AMP: Umm, what do you think of Jordan Knight and Joey McEntyre’s musical comebacks?

Mike and Jose: Hello?

AMP: The New Kids!!!

Jose: I think it’s insane!

Mike: Yeah, its been a huge influence on us, and we tend to rip them off thouroughly.

Jose: We would like to tour with them soon.

AMP: SO what have you been listening in your free time?

Mike: A lot of stuff Bjork, as always.

Jose: I have been listening to a lot of, I got some new Radiohead CD’s, yeah I’ve just discovered them myself, I think they are insane, um, still some drum & bass stuff, I just got this new CD “FOR a HERO,” it’s kinda like live drum & bass, it has a whole lot of other players that play on the track, like strings and horns, and flutes, it’s just insane.

AMP: Anything new happen to you guys, as a band, personal, anything?

Jose: Just the opportunity to write new songs, you know, which is pretty rare. We have been playing those same songs for 2 and a half year now, and it’s like really refreshing to be off the road and be able to just concentrate on writing music. When we started rehersing for these shows playing our old song I realized that I was sick of it.

AMP: Thats a real important revelation.

Mike: Yeah, we love our old stuff, but it is time to move on.

AMP: Last question, you guys ever done any covers?

Jose: We have not yet, we might in the future.

Mike: We have done fragments, but have never made it through a whole song.

Jose: I don’t know, it’s a tricky thing. We don’t want to build our integrity off of someone else’s music, but, you never know.

AMP: Alright, thank you very much.

Jose: Welcome!

Dredg Interview 99

This is a Dredg interview from 1999, from Bo Jangles in Sacramento, CA, a club that doesnt exist anymore.

AMP- So how much longer until Dredg.com is up?

Dredg- We just talked to the guy yesterday, we paid him the money..well we paid him half….We’ll see it soon, hopefully in the next 2 weeks…From there it will be updated a lot because we are going to put it up and see how it goes… We have not been able to see it altogether…..

Dredg FACT- Out of the 4 of them, two go to University of Santa Clara, one attends an art school, and another attends San Diego State.

AMP- How did this album come about?

Dredg- A lot of Acid (Kidding)……..

AMP- {After leading me on to a couple of other off-the-wall explanations on how the album came about(one being Willy Wonka), they eventually tell me, that a couple of them had recently spent time traveling around the world and a lot of this album deals with most of their personal experiences while traveling.}

Dredg- …..We wanted to do a story to it, to put a little extra, whatever in there, so we just started talking about what we wanted everything to be about.

AMP- Are the words in the booklet, the lyrics?

Dredg- Yeah, you got to find them, they are kind of hidden in there. If you know the whole story, and you know the whole album, you’ll know all the lyrics.

AMP- You guys don’t have a normal or typical sound. I tried describing your sound to my friend at work, and I could not do it. What are the major influences in your music?

Dredg- Probably like, landscapes, and stuff like that.

AMP- A lot of your songs are instrumental, so I guess in a way you could sort of visualize scenery. How long did it take you to finish the album?

Dredg- It was all over a period of time. It was good because we could go in over a weekend and mix, and get a break, and then go in again and record some more. It was probably a full year until it came out.

AMP- What does HDCD do? (On Dredg’s album, they used the HDCD program to record)

Dredg- (Engineer Travis Crenshaw steps in and explains it)- It’s a clarity thing. There are 3-4 different formats you can use, and at this particular mastering studio, Rocket Lab, they offered either HDCD, or not HDCD. HDCD is a lot clearer, a lot more punchier sounding, it works better for rock bands in general. It has a heavier edge to it, it could only benefit the CD, and then you are required to put the label “HDCD” somewhere on your CD.

AMP- (I then go into how I noticed a bigger and in-depth sound on the album, thinking it was the HDCD…….The band then laughed at me, told me that it was not HDCD, but the studio, then we went to the next question. Explain some of the guests on the album, and what they contributed….

Dredg- Ooh, Shannon Harris of Spike 1000 (Track 5), Gus Farwell (Track 6), he does the opera…All of it was pretty much improv.

AMP- Were there any effects on his voice?

Dredg- No, it was just two mics, stereo mics, and that room. (A reverb room that the band liked at the studio.) Oh yeah, and Gianna the cell player…..beautiful Italian girl…..She also did some stuff on the album.

AMP- {The band then goes into explaining what they all went through to make Gianna feel comfortable in the studio, and how Gianna made them feel, while in the studio for 6 days……(smirk).} Where are you guys from?

Dredg- Los Gatos, CA

AMP- How long have you been Dredg?

Dredg- We have been developing for the last 5 years.

AMP- Are you the original members?

Dredg- Yeah.. The old shit, is like the old old shit, we probably have been playing as a band for about 8 years.

AMP- From your 3-song demo, to your album now, has the sound from the two changed, or is this your overall style from the beginning? I mean, from your 3-song demo and the album now has about the same vibe. So I mean before you guys did the first one, were you guys different?

Dredg- Yeah, we were always changing…It’s cool you said that. I always thought the 3-song was a lot different than the new one, but it hints to this one.

AMP- {About this time, a plane went over us, and whatever was said, really was not heard…} I have only seen you twice, at Big Shots, and tonight..What are some of the other bands you have enjoyed sharing the stage with?

Dredg- Far, definitely Far. Papa Roach, Spike 1000. Queens of the Stone Age…

GO SEE DREDG—-www.dredg.com

Past Promoted Shows

Here are some of the many shows Ascensive.net promoted. A lot were never scanned and posted online, but these were what were found lying around in a shoebox. These range from 1999-2001. These fliers were printed and cut up at Kinkos, stuff in envelopes with other promotional items like stickers, posters, tapes, and cd’s, and sent out to team members, or posted at local schools, record stores, and concert venues.

Puya Interview

Puya

I saw Puya, I beleive it was the 13th of February @ Big Shots in Roseville, CA, outside of Sacramento, CA. I had only heard of them 2 week prior to seeing them. I just heard metal/salsa combined. I did not know what to think. How can it be done? I look in the paper and see Puya is playing that weekend. I’m there….Ok, skip all the other stuff. I am blown away buy this band. Hmm…..Maybe kinda like hardcore Santana, maybe? The Latin influence is there, but the metal, and hardcore is right there with it all. I advise you to go see them, if and when, and everytime they are in your area. Here is a quick interview I did with Sergio, the lead singer of Puya, in their tour van after their set that night………

AMP: Sergio, have you ever been to Sacramento, CA?

Sergio: West Sac, we played in West Sac, and um, I can’t remember where the hell it was….

AMP: Where are you guys from?

Sergio: We are from Puerto Rico. Most of the guys are from the Metro area, and I am from the West Coast of Puerto Rico.

AMP: ….and how long have you been together, as a band?

Sergio: As Puya, we have been together for about 6 years….

AMP: Have you played in any bands before then?

Sergio: Yeah, I have played in a couple different bands, but just some local bands, and some cover bands, nothing significant.

AMP: How have the shows been going, ya know, you have been some of the Seupultura tour…….?

Sergio: The shows we have done with Seupultura and Fear Factory have all done really well, ya know, the response has been great, the kids go nuts when we play, ya know, its always been a positive feedback.

AMP: Is there a scene, is there a bigger scene for you guys back home in Puerto Rico?

Sergio: Um….There is not a big scene in Puerto Rico, I mean it’s there, I’d be lying to you if I told you there was, it’s not, its a very small real underground scene. Theres a few good, really good bands. I mean just like everywhere theres a lot of bands, but theres very little, very little good bands…so…

AMP: Who are your influences? I would guess with your Latin influences, and your rock, metal, etc……

Sergio: It varies man…..Personal influences you know, it’s kinda like, everything from like Latin old, like old Salsa, like Hector LaVoe, (Ok, I cannot spell the names he is listing, I will try, if anyone reads this, and knows the spelling of these artists, please email me, and I will correct them…) Rueben Blades, Willie Colongne, Garangcumbo, to like, go right into hip hop, like old school hip hop hardcore like, Public Enemy, Eric B. & Rakim, ya know, like KRS-ONE, and all the way into hardcore shit like old Metallica, Sepultura, Meshuggah, other old shit like Slayer.

AMP: So what other bands, other than Sepultura, other bands that you have played with, earlier on?

Sergio: Actually we opened for Slayer in Puerto Rico, which was really cool. We played a show at the Edge in Florida with Fishbone also, they played inside, and we played on the outside stage, so that was cool, and we have played with Suicidal Tendancies, we have played with S.O.D., their reunion tour we just did that, when they first started up again, and Fear Factory.

AMP: Since your vocals are in Spanish, not all, but (the majority of them are), what is the subject matter of most of your songs?

Sergio: A lot of the subject matter in the songs are, kinda a search, search for the truth, search for your own truth. Dont let people force feed you shit, that you can go find yourself. Go beyond what is right there in front of you. Ya know, some of the stuff is like day to day situations that happen, ya know situations we have found ourselves in, like, dealing with people who want to take control of what is your soul, and body of work. Other stuff is like homage to home, how to like, our first single “Oasis,” and its kind of a tune that reflects on how we sometimes serach for that something all over the world, and when you come to look at it, it’s always been right there, right where you are from, ya know, always been right next to you.

AMP: Well, got one last question, and I’m trying to think of what it was because I forgot. I guess, what is in the works for you right now?

Sergio: Right now we are gonna try to stay on the road as long as possible, we are going to try and hook up with some tours, hopefully be able to do some Summer tours, like maybe the Ozzfest, or the Warped tour, try to get on that, and try to get some exposure, get as much exposure to the people as we can.

AMP: How do you think you guys played tonight?

Sergio: I think we played cool, I think we were tight. I think the crowd took a little while to warm up, but ya know, they got started, I dont think they were expecting anything like us today.

AMP: No, no way, not at all. Well, thank you for letting me interview you.

Sergio: Anytime jAy

Interviewer: jAy Ingram

Interviewed: Sergio Curbelo

Sevendust Interview

One thing about Sevendust. Their shows will blow you away. Their sound, the overtaking fury you thought you didn’t have buried within yourself will somehow jump out of you. They just simply rock. Here is an interview Ascensive Promotions did with John Connolly (stage left guitarist) on their tour bus at Club X-Treme in Cameron Park, CA.

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Sevendust/Clutch/Stuck Mojo/Ultraspank Tour

Interviewer: jAy Ingram

AP: So, how have the tours been going?

JC: Good, the shows have been good. West Coast is always a bit of a struggle, that’s why we figured we would start here and work our way mid-west to the east coast.

AP: The first show was in Las Vegas, NV?

JC: Las Vegas….That was great.

AP: Are you guys going to rest after this tour?

JC: What I think is going to happen, we are probably going to wrap up late November early December, maybe do a handful of radio shows, just for Christmas shows, and then shut down for Christmas, and then after the first of the year we’ll just have to see what’s happening. (John mentioned also that they are releasing a video November 9th, that will be aired from the 9th up til Christmas, and they might go back on the road afterwards)

AP: Is this the first time that Clint Lowery, and his brother (who plays bass for Stuck Mojo) have been on tour together?

JC: Yep. Long time coming.

AP: Does Sevendust have any new songs?

JC: Oh yeah, matter of fact we were just working on something today during sound check. We got one new song in the set right now, and probably about 7-8 songs that we have put together recorded, but ya know, we disassemble it, restructure stuff.

AP: Is it….a new style?

JC: Pretty much it’s an extension of what we were doing on the first record, just a little more mature, the heavier stuff is heavier, the lighter stuff is lighter, and it’s experimental to a sense, but it’s still Sevendust. We still have that Sevendust sound. We are just, really kinda expanding the boundaries of what we can and can’t do as a band. There is no reason why we could not do this type of a song.

AP: How were the UK shows? I saw some of the reviews in Metal Hammer.

JC: The UK shows were great. The show that we did in London was really good. The show we did at the Dynamo Festival was good, but it was scary right out of the gate because they didn’t have any idea who we were.

AP: How did it turn out?

JC: Well, at first they were all just standing there, and then about half way through the set they started to get into it, by the end of the set they were all yelling. Mojo was on the side of the stage and they were like wow, you guys won over a crowd that had no idea who you were. We played the hit single, and it was like crickets. (We both start doing our best impressions of cricket chirping) It was a lot of fun though.

AP: I’m horrible with lyrics, but my favorite song on the album is “My Ruin.” What is that song about?

JC: That song, uh, it’s a good thing I’m doing the interview because I actually wrote the words to that song. That song is about, it’s about a lot of things, but what, it’s basically about a guy, who, um, he is looking back at something that he had done wrong. It does not have to be, actually killing somebody, but it was based on, it’s actually a real life story, it’s a friend of mine, who killed somebody. It was a drunk driving accident, this one you can take it however you want to take it, he is basically looking back inside his shadow, he’s got to live with it, it’s something that is going to be on his back forever. You can take it negatively, or you can take it positively either way, but when you are in a situation like that, once you have done something…….

AP: All you can do is look at it…..

JC: All you can do is look at it, and you gotta deal with it for the rest of your life.

AP: Umm, the name Sevendust. I’ve been thinking about it, and I have come to the conclusion that it is about cocaine. Seven letters in cocaine, C-O-C-A-I-N-E DUST. SO you got cocaine, dust.

JC: That is interesting, that’s the first time I’ve heard that one. I like that one. Sevendust really does not mean anything. Lajon has different meanings for it. Literally Vinny (Vince, the bassist) walked into the rehearsal room one day, because we were looking for a name, we had recorded the record and everything, we were all spacing. Vinny came in and said, what about Sevendust? We had sheets, we must of had 5000 names. He just walked in and said, “what about Sevendust?” We kind of looked around at each other and asked, “what the hell does that mean?” He’s all “I don’t know, just Seven-Dust.” Ya know Lajon is like, seven is a holy number and we are all created from dust, he takes it more from a more religious of thing. That is curious about cocaine. Vinny will get a kick out of that.

AP: Ok, the Reno, NV show, with Papa Roach. I saw Lajon playing guitar. Can he actually play?

JC: He can’t play guitar at all, but he fakes it real well. He will just pick up any instrument and start jamming. He just looks good doing it.

AP: Yeah, I was wondering if he actually plays, and will he actually play during a show sometime soon?

JC: He played, I watched him on stage about six months before we got him in the band. He played bass with his band, for like a song or two. Just grabbed the bass just kinda screwing around, but he really does not know how to play, he looks really good, things just come together for him.

AP: So, what have ya’ll been listening to on the road?

JC: Lately, I really have not been listening to anything, I am in writing mode. I don’t even have a CD in my CD player right now. Before I got into writing mode, I listened to a lot of lighter stuff, don’t listen to a lot of heavy stuff on the road because you are doing it, you are surrounded by it, lot of Sarah McLaughlin….Ya know, stuff like that. I really like the new Zombie, as far as heavy stuff, I like the new Zombie a lot. That’s a good record. Can’t really think of anything else, OH BIG WRECK!! Been listening to a lot of Big Wreck.

AP: Big Wreck?

JC: Yes, strangely enough.

We kinda flow onto the STP subject a little more…..Here’s the last question.

AP: Alright, last question. On the back of the CD, the band is in one picture, and Lajon is in a black and white picture in the corner. Is it to make it look like the room, and he is on a picture on the wall?…..

JC: Yep, that’s exactly what it is, and that was Lajon’s choice because he fell in love with the picture, and I remember when we were looking at a bunch of different pictures, we had them all loaded onto the computer, and Shippee the guy who was doing a lot of the artwork with us, he’d like change the color of the background, and it was done with a fish eye lense so it’s got that distorted feel to it, and he did it in red, and I was looking at the picture and I was like, I don’t know if I like this picture too much. Number one, Vinny is way over here, and LJ, you aren’t even in the picture. Lajon said, “What if we just did a picture on the wall, and put me in it instead?” I was like well that’s pretty trippy ya know. If you wanna do it…..Because I thought it was a pretty cool shot, it’s just a weird shot. Real surreal looking.

AP: Yeah, I was looking at it when I first bought the CD, I was…..Did they kick the original singer out, or is this the new guy, and you just had to stick a picture on the cover real quick, or what the deal was….

JC: Yep, yep…..And that was a conscious choice by him (Lajon) too. I would never suggest having a picture with a member of the band who is not in the picture, unless it was that member of the band who is suggesting using it. It turned out pretty cool. The intention was never for it to be freaky or weird, but after it was on the CD, the president of our company was like, wait a minute, hang on a second, this is like, a little too our there, and LJ was like, no I really wanna do it that way.

AP: So, all that, the presentation of the front cover is all thought about?

JC: Oh yeah, the whole packaging, the whole CD package took us a while because we were working with a couple of different art firms that we were working with through New York that were working through the label, and they were sending us stuff and we were like “shit, shit, sucks, sucks, sucks.” We basically came up with the entire lay out in Atlanta, GA. Just screwing with different things on the computer, just making things grainy, you know taking a picture and twisting it and coloring it…….

AP: Like the front cover?

JC: The front cover and the inside is the exact same picture, you just hit one button on the computer.

AP: Well it does fit with Sevendust, it grainy, kind of dusty looking picture of it.

JC: Yeah, but yeah, all of that was thought about. The only thing, it was kinda cool that we did it, um, I really was not into having the big foldout, the picture on th inside, but the president of the label was really really fighting for it, and…..ya know………..Like I said originally, I was not really too keen on the idea, but now that it’s done, it actually is pretty cool because we sign the hell out of those things, like a little poster.

AP: Yeah, I think you guys have signed mine like twice. The San Francisco show, and a Reno show, because I can’t get a poster.

JC: Right, so we figured if you can’t get a poster, everybody has one in the CD.

AP: Well, that’s about it, thanks for taking the time for the interview!!!!

JC: Yeah man, absolutely…….

Thanks SEVENDUST!

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