Are you excited to be heading back out to Australia? You’ve been here a few times before.
Yeah, looking forward to it. This will probably be my 5th or 6th, actually more then that, it’s more like my 7th or 8th trip out there. I tour so much it’s just one big blur to me, but it’s one of my favourite places to play.
For those who haven’t seen you play, you play a rather interesting instrument. It kinda looks like a science experiment that has gone wrong. What made you sit back and just decide to create something like that?
It’s something that’s been evolving for quite a while, very slowly, organically I guess you could day. Because I started as a double bass player and my one man band, That One Guy, it started as an acoustic thing initially. I was playing on the double bass and was banging on the body of the instrument like a drum set, sort of functioning as a one man rhythm section and the magic pipe was this, sort of solution to a problem. The problem was me figuring out how I could make those sounds I was going to make with the one instrument, it was just a way for me to be a one man orchestra, a one man rhythm section, a one man rock band, all those things and it’s happened very organically. It wasn’t something I really thought about ahead of time, something that’s been coming together very slowly piece by piece and it’s still being worked on. It’s a work in progress I guess you could say.
Your new album Packs A Wallop was recorded with the famous Billy Hume. How was that experience?
It was amazing, Billy and I really clicked. Mixing all types of music like southern hip-hop, Lil’ John and I guess you could call it the krunk music the kids are going crazy for these days. I just really loved the sound he was getting with the low end and the bass, that’s a big part of what I do the bass and the low end. It’s really important to me and bass is a big part of my background, the way I think about music. Yeah it was just fun, we just clicked and the end result I couldn’t be happier with, I just loved what he did with it.
Your music takes the best from so many styles like jazz, rock and progressive. What inspires you, what makes you sit back and think “I could use that idea and make it really great”?
I really listen to vibes and shapes of sound, I know it sounds weird but when something makes you feel or inspires a reaction, when something grabs you or move you in any way, that’s the stuff I respond to, that’s the stuff I like. Ever since I was a kid music made me laugh, made me kinda be afraid or made me want to dance or move, that’s the sort of stuff that got to me, and that’s what I’m looking to do in my music. It’s sort of that age old debate whether humour belongs in music; what’s a joke, what’s serious what’s for fun? To me there’s no separation for any of that stuff, it’s all one of the same. I just think music is meant to make you feel good and to me feeling good is laughing, it’s also crying, it’s all of those things. I really want my music to contain all those elements and for me, the stuff that inspires me is stuff that takes me on a journey, makes me feel all of these emotions and makes me kinda be a human basically. It’s the stuff that I like and I’ve got a big list of that stuff if you want to hear it.
As you said before you are constantly on the road, sometimes playing over 200 shows a year. So what keeps you sane while you’re traveling all across the globe?
You know the funnies thing, for the longest time touring kept me sane. I actually felt most at home when I was on the road. I know it sounds crazy but I sorta fall into this very routined life, where it is an insane schedule but it’s remarkably consistent. I’ve got to get up, I’ve got to travel a bunch, I get to the gig at a certain time, I load in, I eat dinner around the same time every day, I play and I try to put all of my energy into the show. I play really long shows, I tend to play for many hours sometimes, it depends on the night, especially here in the States, I play really long sets because I usually don’t have anybody opening for me I just usually play my own show, so I’ll do two or three hours. It’s such a mental workout and a physical workout I just feel great afterwards, I sleep really well on the road because I’m always exhausted and always moving. The funniest thing is when I come off the road, thats when I’d start to go crazy, I don’t know what to do with myself. Actually that’s when it can be the most stressful times for any artist because you actually have to make real decisions and maybe think about what you’re going to work on. You kinda have to go to work in a sense mentally speaking. I think the road is much more of a physical work, and to me physical work is easy, you just do it and it feels very satisfying, where mental work is the stuff that is really challenging for me. I’m kind of the opposite these days, I’ve been going crazy when I’m at home. I’ve been staying in Vegas this summer and I’ve really enjoyed being here, so it was a fun summer off for me. I had a bunch of festivals I played here but mostly I stuck around and just had some fun.
What is your favourite That One Guy song? Which one means the most to you?
That’s a good question, I haven’t thought about that in a long time. There’s a couple of things on the new record I really like to play. There’s this song called “Stones Throw” which is a modern, new age classical piece of music and I really like playing that live because I can improvise and it sounds like a whole orchestra and mostly because it’s new and fresh it just feels good to play. There’s another new song off the record called “Modern Man” which has been fun to play just because it’s has a different feel, it’s just very powerful to play it’s got a big sound, very sonically dense. Those two have been super fun to play. There’s this other new song off the new album called “Step Into Striped Light” I get to play this almost distorted guitar solo with my bow on it and I’m playing the drums on my feet at the same time. It’s actually really hard to do and I have just been enjoying the challenge of playing that every night, and every night it’s always different, there is always a different solo and I’m always taking it in a different direction slights. The new stuff has been really fun for me to play, but I love playing the old stuff too. There’s this old song off my first album called “One” and that was sort of this self declaration of me being on my own after I stopped playing with my band. It was me saying “this is what I’m going to do”, sort of my announcement to the world even though at that point no one was listening to me at all. It just felt good to play that song, it felt like me screaming out into the wind “I’m alone and I’m just going to do my best”. It still feels good to play that song live because I still try to hold onto that vibe.
As we said you’ve been touring the world and you have played hundreds of festivals and shows. Any one particular festival or band you have played with that sticks out as one of your favourites?
You know what’s amazing is one of the best festivals in the world is in Australia, and that’s Woodford Folk Festival. I’ve done that one four years in a row, I didn’t do it last year but the four years before that. It was always good and every year that I played it, it was better then the last year and the last year I played it, it was the best time I ever had playing music. Mostly just the way the crowd was responding. They put me as the headliner in the big amphitheater on the last night and I got to play to 15,000 people and it was just so magical because everyone felt familiar with what I was doing and it just felt super, super special. A big light show and big sound, it was just rare, it’s so nice to get to have that kind of experience. It was one of those gigs where I walked away from it where I thought “wow if I never get to do that again at least I got to experience that” it was that special. That has been a fun one but there’s lots of really good ones. I like doing really small shows too, I like when everyone is real close to me when I’m playing and they can see what I’m doing, that feels really good to. It feels almost more intense in a sense.
Do you have any advice for bands to get noticed? Things to look out for when getting their stuff out there?
Yeah this is something I keep learning over and over again. Just play for yourself, if you’re playing for yourself and you’re into what you’re doing other people will notice, it will turn their heads. If you try to hard to get noticed then they’ll notice you are just trying to get noticed. I think really you have to play for yourself and make yourself happy and really be into what you’re doing, just really down with your trip and just down with what you’re doing. That’s all that matters, if you’re a big fan of your own music other people will be to. If they’re not you don’t need then anyways, the world needs more honest music. It just needs more people really into what they’re doing, that means it’s special.