Washed Up Emo

#33 - Geoff Farina (Karate, Exit Verse)

November 19, 2014
Washed Up Emo
#33 - Geoff Farina (Karate, Exit Verse)
Chapters
Washed Up Emo
#33 - Geoff Farina (Karate, Exit Verse)
Nov 19, 2014
Tom Mullen
Show Notes Transcript
Geoff Farina of Karate’s first response to my request to be on the podcast wasn’t the best. Truth be told, he’s not a fan of his music from the late 90s. Ha, what a place to start. Years ago I had done Karate’s first interview ever for my high school zine and had completely ridiculous questions then for a 16 year old so at 36 I’d hope to be a bit better. Geoff couldn’t have been more pleasant and comfortable with himself, his music and life. Maybe it’s age or wisdom or just something someone have in themselves but I felt each moment I was learning something from the discussion. Through Geoff’s days in DC, his thoughts on emo, conserving music for future generations with his uncle and his new band Exit Verse, it was a pleasure to chat with Geoff. I hope you learn something too.
Speaker 1:
0:13
Forgive me,:
Speaker 2:
0:54
welcome to the podcast today. We welcome Jeff Greener from karate, a secret stars to the podcast. So thanks for coming on the program. Jeff, thanks for having us. So full circle. I know I mentioned this to you over email, um, but while we were setting it up, setting this up and I did an interview with karate back in the early nineties for my high school dean with Eamon and it was your first interview is what he emailed me. And so the questions were horrible, but everyone was super nice in his responses and you guys even sent me the first seven inch, the depth kit, a nerve seven inch. Um, so to complete the circle of horrible questions we have to start with, I think a lot of people. I've talked about karate on the podcast, I've mentioned it on a lot of social stuff and people have found out about them, but I think, you know, for the, for the posterity of the podcast, I'd love to kind of hear how you guys got together in, in Boston, even if it's, you know, the 32nd tour. I'm just because I think a lot of people are interested.:
Speaker 3:
1:54
Sure. We, uh, let's see. Um, I guess there were a few different people in the band very early on. Um, and I guess Kevin and I were sort of the two original members and um, and I'll, I'm asleep. I actually don't remember how I met Gavin now that I think about it, but we played with, uh, you know, he was going through, he was kind of, um, I think he was going to be you. You went to bu for like a year and then you went to Berkeley and he was kind of bouncing around in different bands and he and I had looked for a bass player. I think we put up like an ad in, you know, in a coffee shop where you tear off the bottom of the flyer with the phone number. Um, and even answered it. I remember. And uh, we uh, played with him a few times and he, um, he was really good, but he was kind of like a Jersey kid who was, we kinda thought he was like a redneck or something like that. At first, um, and of course he became a doctor and is probably one of the smartest, most articulate and interesting person I've ever met in my life.:
Speaker 2:
3:04
He definitely did not come off:
Speaker 3:
3:07
that way when we met him. So we were kind of questioning if it was gonna work with him or not. But um, yeah it did. And we started playing, um, we chose the name karate, which we thought was kind of funny and ironic. I don't know how old I was, maybe 22 or 23, um, for, you know, we thought it was a great name for about 10 minutes and then we had a show it was on the flyer so we were kind of stuck with it after that. And um, and jeff was in this band called balloon that we played with. I think her, I think we played our very first show in 1993 with the loon who we instantly, like totally fell in love with like we had, there was definitely like this kinship. We were both playing, you know, we, we all came out of like 80 [inaudible] punk rock, but the loon was doing kind of this.:
Speaker 3:
3:57
They'll play accordion and piano and had this whole kind of acoustic side where they were doing this kind of, some kind of weird American thing. But then this really kind of the edgy, um, you know, really kind of intense. I'm edgy punk punk thing also. Um, and we were kind of in the same boat, like we were all very interested in blues and jazz and different things. But I'm also, you know, we're playing in this kind of what we, you know, I guess at the time we didn't call it Indie Rock, you know, we thought we were like a punk band or something like that. And so, um, and then eventually wanted to play guitar. Um, because he also wrote songs and play guitar and he kind of engineered for a second record this whole thing where jeff was going to play bass and he was going to play guitar and that's what we did on the second record. And then he, um, we at the end of the tour for the second record, he told us he wanted to go to med school and quit the band and then it was the three of us for the rest of the, you know, 10 years from now.:
Speaker 2:
4:57
That's kind of how we get committed. What did you like about the, you know, the Boston scene, there was so much going on and so much you were at Berkeley, there was so much thing music going on. Were there, did you feel connected to it or was it more, I can't wait to get out and tour.:
Speaker 3:
5:18
I guess you had. The thing about Boston, and I think it's probably still that way this way today, is it's really isolated and kind of a, there's a little, you know, there was this whole thing going on where like, there were still these major labels that were kind of like picking band out of Boston to a, you don't have this little record deals. And of course they would inevitably fail. And uh, you know, the Boston was really, um, kind of just kind of into itself and into its own scene and not super hospitable to outside bands. And what happened actually is I graduated from Berkeley College of Music in 1992 and I moved to DC with my sister. I grew up near DC and I had what I saw a lot of dc bands in the eighties. Um, and that kind of, those bands for sort of my biggest influences, I think at least in terms of, you know, pop punk rock or something.:
Speaker 3:
6:15
And I moved back there with the intention of starting a band and I actually did start a band down there and we only played a few shows. Um, and when I moved and I hated the sea, I love the people in the music community there and I had a lot of friends who had moved there from Pennsylvania or who I met when I was in high school down there. So it was nice in that way, but I just really missed Boston for some reason. There was something about Boston I really loved and still love. I'm just about the grumpiness and isolation which are two kind of themes:
Speaker 2:
6:49
that made me feel really at home. So I moved back to Boston there:
Speaker 3:
6:53
and uh, I started to stand and I guess, you know, all the DC bands would go on these big tours and my friends were in this band called hoover and I would kind of go to all their shows and go into a little trips and see them. And when I got back to Boston I was like, okay, I'm going to start a touring band. Like I know a lot of musicians and I'm going to try to do this. And so that's, that's kind of what happened. I had this kind of little spark of inspiration from living in DC for a little while. Um, so, so we were, you know, we were like, the standards we're going to get out of Boston. We just wanted to go on tour. Um, that was, that was the big thing in 1993 and that, that's what really motivated us.:
Speaker 2:
7:37
Definitely. That's great. About your access to so many amazing bands and obviously discord. Um, what kind of stuff did you grow up on and were your parents into music? Was it, how did you learn about bands? All that kind of discovery period,:
Speaker 3:
7:53
I guess, you know, my first musical influences, I grew up in Harrisburg, not even in Harrisburg but close by and I like to compare my upbringing to the movie on the river's edge because my friends were really kind of similar to that. It was definitely like a, a very, um, isolated and a lot of people who were kind of inspired but also completely lost. You know, there was no internet and there was no punk rock and you know, there was like eight of us in high school and we all got beat up and you know, that whole story and we put on our own shows and you know, it was, it was really like this, this new discovery period of, of what even punk rock was. And um, you know, I guess I now feel a little bit with all the nostalgia and everything. Pretty fortunate to have grown up and had that experience of doing things, you know, people talk about diy now and there is no doubt in my mind.:
Speaker 2:
8:54
It's nothing left.:
Speaker 3:
8:57
Like figure out, you know, who the hell you are. And like what is the name of this music and what are the qualities of this social environment that you're creating for yourself. All the putting on the shows and everything kind of came to that. But on the, I had a lot of friends who are really um, you know, kind of bright kids who are super had it, had, you know, we're really kind of open and have these great attitudes. But it was this, you know, Reagan era, isolation of, you know, small suburb of a city and we would just have a, we have a couple of different spaces there in this place called. It was like a democratic club. And there was this guy who, uh, he was actually in jail, his name was Mike rage and he was in this band called the late teams in the, uh, in the eighties and I think he went to jail for some little drug charge or something like that.:
Speaker 3:
9:54
And he got out of jail and was kind of like the leader of this group of people who put on shows that this democratic club. And I would say, you know, we would get all the touring bands, but we were so close to Baltimore in dc that we would just have a lot of bands from Baltimore in DC. And we, I probably saw a government issue more than any band in my entire life. I mean, I must have seen 30 times or something like that in the eighties and just over and over and over again. It was like they were there every month for years and you know, there are these great bands. One band I really remember are two bands that were kind of okay, influence I think on karate and still are, at least on me. And they still kind of defined the way that I think about rock music.:
Speaker 3:
10:38
I'm, one of them was called Bainbridge and uh, the drummer for that band with Dave Grohl and then there was a, the other bands called beefeater and both of those bands were punk them, but they had these very kind of this, this, this kind of testy shows, different, um, influences like beefeater had come to funk slap bass thing going on with this player Doug Berg's Xcel, um, who was in a lot of bands in DC and uh, just kind of heavy metal guitar, but they played, you know, this, this kind of. I mean, we call the email back then actually because of Tomas, the singer and his, you know, incredibly emotional kind of performances or something. The first time I ever heard that term emo, there were other pumps that were making fun of me and my friends because we were in the rights of spring and beefeater and this was the mid eighties I think.:
Speaker 3:
11:35
And uh, those two bands were, you know, described as email by these other punk because I think of the vocal performances in the band and um, you know, racist spring of course, you know, it did something. And so his, his, uh, style of singing I think, um, but it was even more kind of histrionic in the span of the rights of spring. And Tomas was very similar I think. I mean, he wasn't, he didn't sound like he but he, you know, a similar aesthetic or something. And that's to me what emo was and how, how I thought of it. And then of course the 90. So it just kind of became this weird derogatory thing that, I don't know what it meant after that,:
Speaker 2:
12:25
but you know, that's, that's for me what it was the first time we've had someone on from the DCC and it usually was midwest or west coast or east coast, but more Boston, New York, but to kind of hearing a couple punk say that and you're like, wait, what do you mean were, were they making fun of it or were they just describing it?:
Speaker 3:
12:51
They were saying it in a really kind of like an excuse, excuse me, listeners, but, and I'm quoting the language that was used in 1988. I would never use that word today. And I think it's, you know, horrible language. But that's, that's how they would say it. And, and uh, so, and, and you know, it, it meant, you know, some kind of like Sissy punk rock or something or some kind of. I mean it was certainly in kind of a, you know, derogatory and until in a way, and these are people who are, I don't know what they were probably into. I don't know what they were into, like, you know, harder more macho punk, I guess they considered, you know, the rights of spring to be, you know, kind of, kind of kind of thing,:
Speaker 2:
13:41
but you definitely liked it and were like, didn't, didn't care that they said all that. Let's like, let's dive into this. Let's really learn more about those two bands. Definitely. Um, rights of spring and then, you know, having a band that you got to see Dave Grohl play and obviously he was from Virginia and all that. That's great. That's a, that is a great place to come from.:
Speaker 3:
14:06
Yeah. I mean, you know, when you ask about the. I mean there was that side of it and this other side, like the first records I ever owned were, I'm Dave Brubeck records that I bought at a thrift store. Like I'm, you know, I bought all my clothes stores in when I was in high school and junior high and it was just kind of as punk skater thing, just getting stuff from the thrift stores and like, so clean the name of our skating gang or whatever on it. And I would go through the records and thrift stores and buy these Dave Brubeck records that to me, I guess they still do sound this way, but they, you know, they found it very, it wasn't jazz in, there was obviously a lot of improvisation, but it was also this really kind of orchestrated thing. And it was almost like this.:
Speaker 3:
14:51
Prague had this like Prague jazz kind of feel to some of those records where there were these really sophisticated parse that everybody in the band would play together. And, and that kind of played into some of this punk rock that was a little bit more. I mean Dan Brown, which was, there were these amazing players in the tech and the bass player from that band who, I don't know his name, but he became a pretty successful kind of free jazz bass player, kind of downtown scene kind of guy in New York. So they were really good musicians. And, and there was this, you know, those were the first records I am. Or like these punk records. I would get it shows. But then these jazz records I would find at thrift stores and you know, and I was kind of this, I was also a little bit of a highschool jasmine at a time.:
Speaker 3:
15:36
Um, you know, I played with jazz musicians in my high school if you want to call, call us that. And we were kids basically. So there's kind of this double, you know, this double thing going on. And it's funny because I think that I'm pumped to me and the great thing and that was so attractive about it, that quickly dissipated when it became even a little bit popular like in, in, in the eighties or something, was that it was just this place that was into all these different things. Like all these crazy things. I mean I had friends who were like really into, you know, all kinds of weird bands. I mean I remember my one friend would play a Dishpan, gone all the time and then he would play Stravinsky's the rite of spring and then we would play like SSD kids. Well, the kids will have their say and fresh fruit for rotting vegetables and like these records that are like, if you think of them today, they're so far apart from each other.:
Speaker 3:
16:28
But that's what it was for me. It was like this outlet where I could just, you know, there was no, you know, you just, it was interesting that you just bring in all this interesting stuff from all different kinds of music and all different kinds of like social scenes or something. And that's what it really felt like. And it's funny. I'm reading lexicon devil, which is this oral history of the germs and uh, that's what, you know, that they talk about like Darby crash and sort make good talk about this. It is la scene and how that's what it was like. And they were really bummed out like when black flag started and it became, this codes emerged, you know, this one unified kind of sand and you had to be a part of that sound to be considered like, you know, hardcore punk or something. And all of a sudden there's like 500 people at shows trying to, you know, kind of enact this code or something. But before that it was just a bunch of people who are interested in all kinds of different things and kind of open minded and they sort of lamented, um, you know, this kind of codification of punk rock. I think when black flag emerged. And:
Speaker 2:
17:38
I mean it definitely happens. There's a hardcore band, there was an emo band, maybe there was a kid with an acoustic guitar and it all of made sense and you were okay with it. And then when a certain genre got popular, everyone was trying to do that one genre. So there's these tours of just those type of bands, five in a row. And I was so more, I was more used to seeing different stuff. I didn't know what the band was going to sound like. Was it going to be post or is it going to be a straight edge hardcore band or it seemed to whatever got popular seemed to be the way people gravitated to. And it sort of left the scene where everyone was being organic about it versus, Oh, I'm going to get signed.:
Speaker 3:
18:24
Yeah. One thing about going, talking about karate. And one thing I love about Jeff and you know, I spent a lot more time with Kevin and jeff both also came from that and when we would go on tour and we had a lot of fun playing in Chicago and New York and I just looked, you know, it was really fun to go to these big cities and play. But I think the most fun that we had is we would end up in these tiny little towns like here and in Europe where there were these weird little scenes and these weird little bands that were just. I'm not really very stylish and not really very um, you know, kind of happening in any way. But they were just having so much fun. And you know, we would end up a lot of these, especially in Europe. We'd end up in these little towns in Italy and Germany where we just kept going back because the people were.:
Speaker 3:
19:16
It felt like this. Seeing that we all grew up in, which was just like anything goes and it's just a bunch of Weirdos who are having fun and kind of like appreciate our band for what they think of it instead of like what it's supposed to be or something and that, you know, I think that that was really reflected and I think you probably still can go out and find these people who just, you know, don't spend too much time on the internet or just young and having fun or something and you know, and kind of into just experimenting.:
Speaker 2:
19:47
Is there a significance to the number nine first five full length all include nine total tracks. I don't know if there was any.:
Speaker 3:
19:56
All the glory records have nine songs and the new exit verse record has nine songs on it. There's no significance to it, but it always. I mean a lot of people have commented on that and we've thought about it and talked about it. And to me nine songs on an LP is like what a record is supposed to be and you know, the last one, some kind of epic thing or have some kind of commentary that just Kinda goes a little bit farther than the rest of the record. And so I've always, I always kind of feel like it's done, you know, when you have good songs, I feel like the record is kind of finished. And so yeah, I mean that's the significance I think. And it's just a personal kind of a personal, you know, there's always one, just one time that's too long. It's like seven or eight or nine minutes long. So I'm not trying to be LP. You cannot have four songs we cannot of. Because there's not enough, the grooves aren't big enough. You know what I mean? You start losing the baby.:
Speaker 2:
20:54
You had a long partnership with southern records. I mean, can you, can you talk about that partnership? It just seemed like a great fit for you guys for a long time.:
Speaker 3:
21:04
They still are around, they just shrunk a lot and you know, they still have all the crazy stuff and still go to the website and buy a karate records and Gluco psychogenic solo records and everything. And you're John Loder who started in Ramat label, um, you know, that that's a great story of, you know, he started to record craft. Um, and that's kind of how that label started in his studio started and the just, yeah, early on I think you had something. Well we were on tour with warmers and Alec Mci was friends with them through all the discord connection and they had an office here in Chicago and when we came through Chicago, uh, Danielle who was running the office in Chicago at the time came to cf and got excited about us and we signed a contract and just kind of stayed with them through the years. And um, yeah, I mean they were, you know, when people bought records, it was, we had a great, great time. I mean we've sold a lot of records. We would sell, you know, I don't know, 12 or 14,000 during the late nineties when people were actually still buying a lot of records and it was great. I wish that, I wish we could do that now.:
Speaker 2:
22:20
And then over the course of your records, you know, progressed somewhat longer structures, more guitar brakes. Was it a conscious decision to be more challenging music over there? Other factors?:
Speaker 3:
22:35
I guess, you know, I mean it was certainly conscious, like we were certainly aware of what we were doing, but I would have to put it in the terms of let's do something more challenging. It was more, I think we were all, all of us were kind of just played trumpet and was kind of a jazz nerd and I was a little bit of a jazz nerd and Gavin within to all kinds of different things and we would listen to soft machine records and talktalk records and there were a lot of bands like that that were kind of like a point of reference. I think, you know, when we would go on tour and, and just listen to music and talk about music and, you know, the first two records I kind of lumped them together. They were done very quickly and the records that people remember and I think they're the most derivative of, you know, the Rock and Indie rock kind of thing that we were around at the time, but we spent a lot more time in the later records and uh, we, I think never wanted to repeat ourselves.:
Speaker 3:
23:37
I think that was definitely. No, we definitely never. We always kind of wanted to one up ourselves with the next record and which we did or did not do, you know, I think there's a really a mixed track record with a lot of the songs, but we tried a lot of stuff, you know, we really tried a lot of stuff and I think we were really afraid to like throw away what we had built up with the last record and we made it. We definitely pissed off a lot of people. I mean, every tour we did, we were playing the record. That wasn't out yet and everybody was just buying the record that had come out the year before and that's definitely, you know, alienates people really quickly. So it was only kind of at the end, you know, we started having these bigger shows in Europe where we were playing for, you know, maybe many hundreds of people at some point and uh, regularly. And uh, we just realized we, we kind of realized like, wow, people are really pissed off:
Speaker 2:
24:34
really, really,:
Speaker 3:
24:37
it was just kind of out of not, you know, we kinda like glued shut. We'd get home and we'd be like, okay, you know, let's not be assholes. Like let's, let's do like the new stuff. But then let's do like everybody's favorite song off of these last couple records. There were the song over and everybody was really into that song and then everybody wanted to hear something off the first record. And so towards the end we kind of yoga a religion a little bit and try and realizing that, you know, are fans opinion matter.:
Speaker 2:
25:07
A lot of people talk about the artwork. Um, was there a general consensus about the aesthetic that you guys wanted to present and was very minimal and I loved that about the artwork:
Speaker 3:
25:21
I did the first two records myself. I'm actually, I did the first three records in the ocean, which I guess the third record, in fact I did all of them except for unsolved. And the first two I did by hand actually before it was before it was before there were like, I mean I guess there were computers and stuff, but my, I think I had a black and white computer when I was in Grad school or something that you couldn't, I couldn't do much with it. So I cut out stuff and put it together on a big piece of paper and sent it to southern, like on a poster board or whatever. And:
Speaker 2:
25:54
they have no idea how hard it is:
Speaker 3:
25:59
I guess. Yeah, I think I did. I think I liked those better. Like I think when you have to do stuff that way. And I'm actually recently, not super recently, but in the last five years I've made some flyers and stuff by hand and I'm like, wow, these look way better than anything I've done in photoshop or something. But, um, so I guess it's my, you know, to answer your question, it was my, there's definitely this kind of like minimalist aesthetic that was Kinda my little way of doing things or something. Um, with some of those. And uh, you know, my favorite one of all of them I think is the one that was done by this artist. I can't remember his name. It's unsolved. And uh, I don't know if you've ever seen, there's a very popular video game called, I can't remember what it's called now.:
Speaker 3:
26:43
Um, it's called, it's about, it's a car racing video game that, uh, is, was super huge and they, they stole that artwork. I mean, it's, it's when you look at it and you look at the cover of unsolved, you can't believe like how similar. They are almost identical. And uh, I always wondered about that. Like they just basically stole that artwork and made this huge video game that was like, you know, it was under the cover of like every video game magazine and it was even on, like, there was a bit on Saturday night live and they had this video game outside and nobody, that's the cover of a record and it's very strange. But um, yeah, that's the only one I didn't do. Um, and I think it's definitely my favorite one or whatever. I was never happy with. I mean I'm not a, I come from a family of visual artists. So I guess I have a little bit of a concept of it, but I'm definitely not a designer artist themselves as much as I would love to be.:
Speaker 2:
27:42
I can't. That was my one dream I dreamed every night that I could draw. I could never work the lyrics too. With karate, if you close your eyes, they've really show photos, they show an image and you know, they were like small snapshots of feelings or events or places without really getting specific. And was that something intentional that you were kind of leaving room for interpretation? Because you can really close your eyes and just kind of envelop yourself into it. Um, and it was something really beautiful about it.:
Speaker 3:
28:22
I guess the one caveat I should say, and I told you this over email.:
Speaker 2:
28:29
Yes.:
Speaker 3:
28:32
Um, it makes me cringe. I mean, I hate God. I hate my old music. I really don't.:
Speaker 3:
28:39
I like some instrumental part of like the separate record had some really kind of rock and parks and I think Gavin is like one of my favorite drummers that I've ever heard. And uh, you know, some of those instrumental parts I start tapping my foot and I'm into it, but I hate, I can't stand the lyrics. I think they're super pretentious and like trying too hard and, and self conscious and embarrassing. And I, I generally, you know, don't, don't know that's my general feeling, although there are a couple songs that I think are kind of successful and clever but not to maybe one on every record or something. So with that said, um,:
Speaker 2:
29:19
yes. At that time you were, was, it, was it, do you feel like you were just young and that was just what came out?:
Speaker 3:
29:28
I think I was young and trying to be too clever and I think I'm a Newbie, still suffers from that. I think that, um, I tried too hard and I try to be too clever and you get that I really love and that moved me. Um, feel simple and natural and uh, when I listened to, you know, anything like ramones or the rolling stones or, you know, all kinds of different, you know, kind of classic things that I love and that has really stayed with me over the years. There are way more simple and natural and come from the gut and a lot of mine, I think I'm trying to too hard. You need to be to trying to be that way or trying to imitate those things and it just never, at least in my mind, the way that I hear it. Um, and I always thought, you know, I think we were much more popular in Europe than in the states.:
Speaker 3:
30:19
And I think that's a reason why I think a lot of a lot of people in Europe don't understand their and the music is pretty good and you know, the music at times, at least if it's pretty cool. So I kind of, I often tell myself like that's why, you know, we kind of never hit hard and in the US or something like that. But, um, but to answer your question, the thing I used to always say in interviews is, you know, if I wanted to say something literal, I would write a book or write a pamphlet or something. And I always kind of thought, you know, with the songs they should be open to interpretation and not make 100 percent sense in some way. So I guess in that sense, at the time when I was writing the song, so I tried to keep them open and abstract and not too literal.:
Speaker 2:
31:10
Lyrics are probably the last thing for me sometimes I'm always like, what's the, what's the guitar riff or what's the, you know, the drum beat. And then like the last thing I remember his lyrics. So I think for you that don't, don't worry about it most. Most people, uh,:
Speaker 4:
31:26
that's a great thing to just good to know.:
Speaker 2:
31:32
The other thing too that I, I know that you're super passionate about gear and you know, you're writing for tape op and, you know, do you have a preferred, you know, guitar amp set up for the nerds out there that are. I'm loving the, you know, the guitar tone and stuff that you've had over the years.:
Speaker 4:
31:51
Are you doing currently?:
Speaker 3:
31:55
I, for one thing I should say in the last 10 or 12 years and most of what I do, um, I play a lot of old music from the Twenties and thirties on acoustic guitar and actually collect old Gibson and Martin Acoustic Guitars from the twenties and thirties and forties. I've got about 20, a little over 20 guitars that I've kind of accumulated over the past decade that, um, so, you know, I'm really in love with, um, you know, these particular eras of as a very specific years of Martin Gibson, acoustic guitars. And then I have this a lot in the past, I think for fiber and it never really stopped playing electric. But in the past I'd say five years I moved to Chicago. Um, I ended up in a couple bands, a few people ask me and then I have a exit verse, which is my new band, that's where I play electric guitar and sing.:
Speaker 3:
32:53
And that'd be, um, I played mostly telecasters and get written. I have a custom built telecaster by this guy, mark writers who he actually builds every part of the guitar. He builds the knobs and fabricates to saddles out of steel and fabricates the bridge out of steel. And um, it's a very good. This looks like a backyard, like no telecaster, but, um, it's really a special guitar and that's of all my guitars. Um, that's the only time. It's not a vintage guitar. And I own about 25 other guitars that are all, um, mostly, uh, from the 40th or 50th or thirties or twenties. Um, and I have to, I have a 1957, a center, ethical liar. That's the Best Electric Guitar I've ever owned. Replayed, played and then I have a 60, late 66 telecaster that I also love very much. And so that's, that's where they play now.:
Speaker 3:
33:53
And um, I have, I really like a tweed fender tweed amps. I have a 50 slash seven super and a couple other old smaller tweed amps and the one that I use in this band is a, is a Victoria, um, which is uh, this company here in Illinois that builds on replica's of tweed amps and I'm the one that uses a super two to 10. Um, it's a tweet super of their setup that I liked very much. It's like the perfect size where you can kind of, you know, still still play a little bit clean and then just turn up the volume not a little bit and all of a sudden, you know, it's really Raunchy, dirty tweed found. And:
Speaker 2:
34:34
do you have some effects that you love to use as well?:
Speaker 3:
34:40
I mean, I own a lot of effects but I don't use them much anymore. Um, and uh, what I use now is I use a spring reverb. It's kind of like a, it's an actual spring reverb, um, that's like a giant pedal with a, with a spring in it that's made by this company called mad at aunt. Um, and it really, um, is a great sounding. It sounds better than like I have a couple of blackface reverb, single deluxe from 64 and this reverb is better. It's just really wonderful timing. Spring reverb and then they use, um, uh, I use a, a full time 69 or a white dot analog man.:
Speaker 3:
35:30
I forgot the deposit, but it's one of those, one of those depending on what is on board at the time. And then a couple of other things like a, I use a diamond, a memory lane to analog delay that I love and a couple of like a full term, a tremolo and, but I own a ton of panels, panels. I have some kind of rare stuff. I used to work for a Bill Finnegan. I'm making the clown, sent our pedal in the early nineties and he gave me one of those when I worked for him that I still have. And then he just recently sent me, he kind of had a false start with this new one that he built a bunch of them and then he wasn't satisfied with how they were being produced, but he is kind of funny because he built it and released it so that it would be something that sounded like a center that people could actually afford, but then he stopped producing it. So now people are buying and selling those for like 800 bucks or something. But he sent me one of those which I really like. And then I have a bunch of other stuff I won't go on.:
Speaker 4:
36:41
I am a guitar player so I might email you because this is the list, you know, it's just absolutely fast. What I was going to say, I feel like I'm boring the hell out of anybody who's not a guitar player. So:
Speaker 2:
36:58
the listeners who always right in always ask about these stuff too. It's almost like, could you have asked this? Like they're always go deeper. So that was fantastic. Um, and then, uh, I mean actually this was something that someone had mentioned to me, a close friend, um, and it's something that I suffer with as well. Are you still struggling with tinnitus and, you know, can you talk about how, you know, it sort of affected, you know, music or playing it loud or volumes?:
Speaker 3:
37:27
Sure. Um, so in 2005 I was up in the mountains with my wife in Italy and were super, super quiet and I was like, I asked her what is that crazy noise? And she said there is no noise. It's so quiet there you can't, um, you know, like you could hear a pin drop in the other room and that's when I first had tinnitus and it got progressively worse over a period of months. It actually kept me awake for a couple of months and that's when I left karate. Um, it was, our last show was in Rome in the summer of 2005 and I just, um, was freaking out. I was like, what is wrong? Like I had this really loud ringing in my ears when we were playing all these shows. And I didn't, you know, I would try to put your plugs in, but they would fall out when I would sing and it was just, I was like really scared.:
Speaker 3:
38:19
I thought I was going deaf or wasn't going to be able to hear. And I mean there were other reasons why karate ylf crowd your why we split. But that was sort of probably the biggest one, at least at my thinking at the time. And uh, so I went, you know, and I learned a lot more about it. I went to two different audiologists, one in Italy and one in Rhode Island where I was living at the time and I'm kind of learn more about it. And fortunately, like asked her a few months, it got a little bit better. Um, and I still, I mean, I could have constant ringing in my ears and I probably will. And uh, it's not nearly as bad as it was for those few months, although, you know, in 2005. And I, you know, I stopped playing in loud bands because I didn't, I couldn't sing with earplugs in because your jaw moves and they gradually worked the cells out and uh, they, um, yeah, they just gradually, I just couldn't figure out how to, how to make it work.:
Speaker 3:
39:22
And when I moved to Chicago, which was about five years ago, I guess, company here that I think somebody told me about it, like Bob Western or somebody mentioned it to me and said, yeah, you got to get these. Like these are the ones like that everybody uses. And uh, they're really made out of this kind of super soft silicone. Just like if you, if you get like, you know, an oven, like, like something that, you know, this rubber thing that you put in the oven like that you can buy like a panel that's made of rubber, that's what it's made out of this medical silicone. So, and then another thing I didn't know at the time is, um, you can get these filters that um, you can change and they are different levels of, um, of noise reduction. So the ones I had were, so there were the filters were so they would attenuate the sound so much that I couldn't hear anything and I would sing out of tune and it was just a mess.:
Speaker 3:
40:19
But I got ones that are just wanting to go into Chicago. I got these ones, first of all, they were soft so they wouldn't fall out when I move my jaw and second of all they have filters where I can actually kind of hear what's going on, but it's not as definitely volume. So that was kind of like let's go like let's rock bands and it actually works really well. And now I wear 'em all all the time. When I'm on stage, I wear these, these earplugs. Like I never, I always played with them when I play electric guitar and, and I don't even now he doesn't even notice, you know, that they happened in or it's not even something that I think about them. I kind of wish I would've known, you know, known all this, um, in 2005. But I took it a lot of secret out:
Speaker 2:
41:04
that is really, really fight that I had the exact same thing happened. I playing in these bands. I had a permanent ring. It was a flat. Um, I couldn't, you know, same thing, couldn't sleep. I ended up finding these old ultimate ears and I have the filters. And I remember the audiologist was like, well, what filter do you want to buy? I was like, what's the top one you got? What is it? Twenty five, 20. And she's like, are you sure? And I was like, Yup. And so I have, I have the, I have 20 and I have like a 10. Um, and they're amazing. And every person that I know or tell, I say it's like someone just turned it down. I can hear absolutely everything and it's just turned down.:
Speaker 4:
41:47
I'm kind of changed my career. Which, which for the, for the better.:
Speaker 2:
41:54
Yeah. I actually had to quit a Bantu because it seems. And then I actually, I started playing music again recently because of getting them. So it's, yeah, it's would here. And I was like, wow, that's something I'm not the only one that, that story. Um, I know you mentioned, yeah, I know you mentioned exit verse and I really want to, um, I love doing this podcast because bands are still doing music, you know, if it's David from the promise ring, doing maritime or someone else, always having another project. I love the, you're still doing music. I'd love to kind of find out more about it. What's next and uh, about, about the new exit. First record.:
Speaker 3:
42:31
Yeah. It's, um, it's myself playing guitar and singing. John Dugan who was in a chisel who's an old friend of mine who I taught her with a bunch of back and:
Speaker 2:
42:45
I saw that in Chapel Hill. Okay.:
Speaker 3:
42:52
I, you know, I just recently saw a picture of all of us from that poor and it's pretty, pretty great. Um, the, uh, there are a number of households that were a lot of fun. Um, and then yeah, the Bass player is p who's in a lot of here in Chicago. He probably the best known Dan that he's in this book back. Um, but he was also an pink avalanche and type panels who were southern band and some other bands and you know, it's very, um, well yeah, we just played it. We've been playing for maybe a year and we recorded last year. We did actually just played with maritime of a few weeks ago at the wicker park fest and a bunch of other bands and neat and we're going to, the record comes out in November. It's just about to be announced that by the time people hear this podcast it will have been announced.:
Speaker 3:
43:39
Um, and it'll come out in November and we're going to do, I think maybe like a 10 day tour, uh, here probably between Chicago and the east coast the first week of December. And then go to Europe and try to just, you know, play know, play a different shows. We were playing pygmalion fest in a couple weeks in champagne and some other St Louis and some other stuff. And, and it's, you know, it's really, I mean, I'm sure it probably sounds you don't think I would say is, it sounds obviously like karate, but the songs are much simpler and probably faster and there's definitely more of kind of like a rock element to it and much less of like a, you know, cerebral jazz or, or, you know, proggy element to it. And there's a lot of kind of, um, you know, it's kind of a little bit of a trap thing.:
Speaker 3:
44:34
Like this is definitely. I mean, I was listening to a lot of like thin lizzy and, and you know, stones from the early seventies and the faces and all that kind of stuff. It's definitely in there. But also, you know, all the punk rock stuff that I kind of grew up with or they'll be on, grew up with. And um, so yeah, there's, there's bad and, and um, you know, I've done this records with Christabel car and I do a lot of stuff with, with steel string guitar. I played probably two days a week in Chicago just doing solo guitar stuff. And um, I played with his band in Rome that does a Roman folk songs and kind of a kind of a updated way in the way that maybe Tom Wade goes kind of old American songs, sort of similar kind of concept and I just finished a bunch of recording with them and I'm working on a song with Sarah loves this great songwriter from a la and you know, there's all kinds of little things. And since we broke up, I think a lot of you, I've done a whole bunch of little things and that's kept me really busy, like nothing very high profile but:
Speaker 2:
45:46
into the preservation of music and I mean just the interest levels of, you know, having the, all the vintage guitars or you know, knowing, you know, writing for tape op or what, where did that interest come from? That sort of preservation of music.:
Speaker 3:
46:05
I guess my first guitar I ever owned in plays when I was in high school with to guitar and stuff. I ever learned these Mississippi John hurt or Elizabeth cotton songs that I would play in this kind of rudimentary way when it was really young. And uh, what karate broke up and, you know, I had this problem with my ears. I couldn't pick up acoustic guitar again. And I got really interested in that. And um, I teach music at Depaul University. I teach at blues history course and I teach a course on Goldman row who's a musician who basically his music became known as bluegrass music and every great bluegrass musician was in his band and, you know, during their 50 year career. And so, you know, I kind of have gotten, I think probably through the guitar, like I've sort of gotten really into a lot of, um, old American music, but all kinds of blues, ragtime and things like that.:
Speaker 3:
47:03
Um, that were, you know, there's, there's, there's a whole, there's a lot of different, um, kind of repertoires of acoustic guitar and all these different styles. And I've spent a lot of time the last 10 years or so. I'm kind of trying to serve some of those. And a lot of the things I do are just playing that old music. I do a Gig at this place called the whistler and Logan Square, um, every Friday night and for two hours I just play a old time and all these whole tar arrangements that, um, you know, I think it's, I love it because people react to it who don't care about rock music and they don't care about my history or who I am. They just, it's music that anybody can get any, you can just be going out for a drink and see somebody do that music and really, you know, see the bed in it and it doesn't have anything to do with a who is playing it in a way if it's played well and it's played kind of honestly. It can be a really nice way to um, you know, kind of share it, share an artistic experience or something like that. So, you know, I, I, um, so as far as preservation, I mean that I'm not directly, I mean the one project that I was part of a for a while had to do with my, my uncle who is a communications professor at Clarkson University and he has always been interested in music and um, trying to think of how to make this story short.:
Speaker 4:
48:38
That's true. He discovered, um,:
Speaker 3:
48:41
true. He was trying to write a book about music at some point and he was interviewing a lot of different musicians from the 60th and one of them, uh, with Juma Sultan who is best known, um, you could see him in the woodstock video. He was the percussionist for Jimi Hendrix at, at the time that, that video was made and that's kind of how he's best known. But he was more of a jazz musician and kind of a promoter of a lot of, um, you know, kind of a, I don't know what you'd call it, but, you know, the, the progressive, late sixties and early seventies jazz. Um, and both in, in New York. I'm in Woodstock and in New York City, where were the two places that he was active and my uncle went to interview him and he mentioned just kind of as an aside, if I have this barn full of recordings that I did in the late sixties and the seventies, and he showed my uncle and there was literally a barn, like a giant barn that had hundreds upon hundreds of a analog reel to reel tapes of many, many great.:
Speaker 3:
49:54
That's musicians and even some rock musicians, um, that had never been heard. There were live recordings that he had done, um, in his loft in New York or I'm at concerts. He recorded every concert that he put on, um, in the late sixties and early seventies in Woodstock, New York, and they're stuffed by Pharaoh Sanders and Sam rivers and James Blood Ulmer and all these really, um, people who are now very, very important musicians. Um, and this stuff has never been heard. So to make a long story short, we met my uncle and I, and a bunch of his. I had a very minor role in. But, um, the, my uncle basically procured an nea grant and the grant is called access to artistic excellence. That's the name of this nea grant that funded, uh, Clarkson University, um, basically to make this giant archive of all of this music and digitize it and make sure that it wasn't going to decay and in June this barn and:
Speaker 2:
50:52
amazing.:
Speaker 3:
50:53
So we, yeah, we spent a few years, I'm just, you know, organizing, trying to get that grant. And I was just a consultant on the grant. I had really minor. I'm rolling the whole thing. But, um, I, you know, I did a few kind of lectures based on that experience and I held my uncle in kind of low. You're in a very, again, a very small role, but, um, you know, try and trying to get this grant and uh, now, um, you can actually go to the website. It's called juveniles, archives, Dicom, and all of the music is being digitized at Clarkson. And there's a guy at Harvard who made this his phd, uh, thesis. And I think that he, I don't even remember his name, but I think that he is now, I'm the person who is working with this archive and making sure that this is all this music is I'm continuing to, you know, become part of this archive and digitized and organized and documented the knowledgeable, all the right ways. So that's the, that's the extent of my music preservation experience.:
Speaker 2:
52:06
Just being able to be a part of continuing something that could have and gone away. No one would hear it again:
Speaker 3:
52:15
just to represent this very cosmopolitan, super smart, wonderful guy who he knew what he had. It wasn't, you know, he, he was trying to do this also, but I think he just needed some help to do that. And in fact, there's a great, um, you know, through this, I have to go to my lp shelter, slammed the title of it, but through all this, there was actually an lp relief, like a box set of all of the juniors music. Um, that was part of these tapes and like him playing with all these different different people. And um, so there were a bunch of releases that came out of this. I can't remember the labels that did it, but um, so it became this real fruitful thing for a lot of people. Um, and it was all based on, you know, my uncle just basically stumbled over this archive and:
Speaker 5:
53:11
fabric.:
Speaker 2:
53:22
I'd love to touch on, you know, teaching. I know what kind of led you to. Was it out of the just I, I have all this information about this, this music. I love it. I would love to share it with people or did it Kinda come a different way?:
Speaker 3:
53:36
I guess, you know, I tried when I lived in Boston and I was kind of realizing that, you know, no matter how great or successful my dad was going to be, that it was really like a dim future to like just be in a band when I was starting to get to my 30th. This is just like, that, you know, like I'm going to just burn myself out really quickly or you know, all the terrible things that come with being an aging, aging, you know, rocker. So I tried when I was in Boston at some through when I was in karate, I got a master's degree, um, and I wrote about music for my master's thesis and I always kind of flirted with, um, academia a little bit. And um, what happened is, um, my, my wife's, who should, Italian, but she got her phd in Boston and her first job was in Maine and it was in I guess 20 2009 or something like that.:
Speaker 3:
54:40
And we moved up to Maine for just one year. And when, I guess the thing I wanted to say about Boston is, you know, it's like the best and worst place to be involved in music because they're half the city as music schools and some of the best music schools in the world. And there are so many musicians there and you can start these great bands and make these great records. But nobody goes to shows. It's this tiny little city and the only people that go to shows or musicians and they're all your friends and all the bands are just like this reorganization of the same people. And that just is, you know, there's no market for it. And so, you know, teaching, uh, getting a job, teaching music in Boston in university is just next to impossible. I mean, you really have to be, um, you know, incredibly successful and it's just, I mean, I know jazz musicians in Boston who are far more successful than I will ever be and they just can't even get a foot in the door doing, doing that because there's way too many musicians and way too few, you know, every.:
Speaker 3:
55:38
Everybody else. So what do you mean? I make a long story short, I got a job teaching at the University of Maine and also at, um, at add, I'm blanking on the name of the other school, but I got a couple of teaching jobs up there and since I did that when I Chicago, um, it was relatively easy because, you know, I had the experience and I had designed these courses and I kind of had, had this stuff on my resume where I had taught a couple of years in the university and it was a little bit easier once I got out here to do it. And you know, I just really wanted to avoid the guitar lessons route, which is:
Speaker 3:
56:21
kind of where everybody goes. When I was in college I gave guitar lessons, Bass lessons, and it just, I just, you know, for me, I just wanted more than, than that route of. So I, you know, I tried, I just tried really hard to do it individually. Worked out and, and you know, I love the, I mean when I went to Berkeley and he'd been in high school, I had a lot of crappy teachers, new teachers that just blew my mind with their, just because they were so deeply in love with what they were teaching and you know, I really am trying to be that person. I mean I teach this course on the blues and it really just teaches itself [inaudible]. There's so many, you know, when you look at a video of Lonnie Johnson, I mean he just has this beautiful dignified man and you know, he plays this guitar playing that just tears your heart out, you know, the first to notice. And it's very easy to get people excited about that. And so I, you know, it's something that I love and, and um, I, I look forward to it. I really look forward to, it just reinforces my love for the music, but it also sounds to where I could share with younger people and kind of get off on their enthusiasm about it. Then I love the students who are just trying to start bands, get out there and do these things. That's really fun to watch and you're part of.:
Speaker 5:
57:49
Let me leave the key:
Speaker 2:
58:13
marketplace on NPR radio. They're still using the last wars as his bumper music and it's, you know, I'm with my dad or someone listening to NPR. It always makes me giggle. I'm, is it funny that it's still, they still use it or I just, someone was asking and I thought it was really funny.:
Speaker 3:
58:29
No, it's cool. I mean, today, you know, I know who you're talking about that. Do they use it actually, I mean, I know it's on NPR like all the time, but is it actually like a theme or do they just play it all the time?:
Speaker 2:
58:43
I think it's, I think it's bumper music for. I thought it was for marketplace.:
Speaker 3:
58:52
Well, I'm psyched about it. There's this guy, I'm Brendan a benefactor and he was a karate fan and he became a producer of all these npr shows and he actually invited me to come on to talk in the nation and play music and do the interview. Um, which was man, I don't know, probably 10 years ago or something like that and I've always, you know, all the, most of the music I do now, I kind of grew out of my way to a vocal too. I always called them TV mixes, which I think is like the seven year term for them, but they're, they're uh, the mixes without vocals and sent him. I'll send him the record and then I'll send him the mixed without the vocals. So he put tons of my stuff on NPR and I'm, yeah, I'm psyched. I mean, it's cool. It's fun. I love it. I really missed Wbur in Boston in I don't like Wbz in Chicago. I don't think it's, we don't have a good npr station, so market, you know, a lot of the [inaudible] I'm like kind of a news addict. So all the news shows they don't play here. They just play like all kinds of arts shows, which are kind of boring to me, but the, so I don't listen to NPR here. I just listened to Wbur podcast occasionally, but yeah, it's like, that's great. I'm glad they're still doing that.:
Speaker 2:
60:10
Um, I just love to kind of finish up and see, you know, what's next, what haven't you done that you want to do? You've done amazing things and I think produced even though you do hate the late nineties part, I think the volume music and just keep your, creating constantly. What have you done? What, what's getting you excited next? Yes. You have a new record with exit verse, but was there something kind of crazy that's in your head that you're like, I can't wait to do this,:
Speaker 3:
60:40
you know, I'm 40. I turned 45 on the 15th, which is Monday. So it's kind of like a milestone and a no man. I'm like a homebody. I want to hang out with my wife.:
Speaker 2:
60:57
I'm just trying to support:
Speaker 3:
60:59
those habits. Like I just want to like stay home and strumming a guitar and learn. I mean I love practicing. I practiced, I practiced for hours a day for 25 years and I want to do it for the next 25 years and it's my favorite thing to do is learn. I love learning like an old, you know, country guitar part or, or like a, you know, like Steve Cropper, like, or something like that. And you know, I'd just love to. I, it just, I just enjoyed doing those things that I just am a homebody, like I don't even go out that much and love to play shows, but I hate to travel and going up towards I was like a kind of an emotional ordeal for me. But so that, you know, I, I just want to make it to retirement. Like I just want to uh, you know, enjoy my life and enjoy my.:
Speaker 3:
61:49
I have a wonderful wife and we spend a lot of time together and you know, have these long talks and take walks through Chicago and that's like my absolute favorite thing to do and I just really want to do more of that. And I, you know, I love making music and I always write my own songs and that kind of slowly dad and I don't even, it just kind of happens, you know what I mean? Like I don't, it's not, I don't have these big ambitious project. And, uh, I just, um, I just, my wife just handed me a note that said dinner. Ready? Yeah. So I just want to enjoy my life really. And um, that's, that's my, that's my big project.:
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