I grew up as a "faculty brat", meaning we moved wherever my dad taught, he was professor of botany at the University of Maine in Orono,Stanford in Palo Alto California, and Keene State College in New Hampshire. After graduating from Oberlin College in Ohio, I moved to Los Angeles and attended the Guitar Institute of Technology, settling in Hollywood, where I still live. Though I will also say that home is where the heart is, and I am most at home lying in some mountain stream.
Which song do you most enjoy performing as part of Brian's band?
It changes constantly, right now it is Deck the Halls, but a while
back it was Breakaway. Perhaps we should make a distinction between
"enjoy" and "feel relief that I pulled it off"; into the latter category
would fall just about every time I have to play the theremin part at the
end of I Just Wasn't Made for These Times.
Can you describe the atmosphere amongst the band just before the show
on February 20, 2004 (first SMiLE show)?
I think nervous would be the consistent sentiment amongst us all,
especially Brian; of course, not wanting to affect Brian with our own
nervousness, we tried to hide ours. After the show: elation.
You are known as something of a multi-instrumentalist -how many
different musical instument can you play?
HA! I don't even know! You mean the number I have made money playing?
Or the number I play well enough to put myself in the union book for? My
main instruments are guitar and brass. On SMiLE I played guitar, french
horn, trumpet, flugelhorn, tannerin, piano, melodica, dobro, banjo,
mandolin, ukulele, slide whistle, sheet metal, acme whistle, a few
others I forgot, plus I loaned Staffan my sousaphone on Child is Father.
I also have been in bands on bass, cornet, valve trombone, baritone
horn, percussion, synthesizer. i have recorded (for pay even!) on saw,
Highland bagpipe, kalimba, theremin, pedal steel, ocarina, tenor sax,
alto sax, clarinet, euphonium, mellophone, tuba, recorder, flute,
piccolo and taut pieces of grass.
How aware were you of the SMiLE legend before you were part of
Brian's band? What was your view on SMiLE before its completion and release in
Very aware; Darian and I met long ago over our mutual love of the
original SMILE fragments. I once posted a personal ad in the Los Angeles
Reader magazine in the early 1980s begging anyone with influence at
Capitol to release SMILE. My view was that it was a sublime piece of
work interrupted and tantalizingly never brought to fruition, but
certainly worthy of being put in the public eye, even unfinished.
What music is currently in rotation on your IPod/Cd Changer/Car
The new McCartney album at home, the car radio is tuned to National
Public Radio, so I can get as much world news as possible. So much music
goes through my head and hands that I need a sonic break!
I know you have a day job in economics/accounts. What exactly is your job and how easy it is to fit in your musical commitments?
This is my 20th year as editor at the consulting firm Economics
Research Associates, working the red pen and doing whatever else needs
to be done (last week I sawed a huge countertop to make way for the new
printer). Though I used to work fulltime and for a while played 5 sets a
night on top of that, ERA has been gracious enough to let me go on tour
for many years. I just come in when I can (usually nighttime after any
daytime music jobs are through) and do what's on my desk. I'll be
playing trombone at the company Christmas party.
I saw on one site on the internet that your only lead vocal is on
the Wondermints version of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart." -would you like to
do more lead vocals?
Well, my only Wondermints lead vocal is on that song, but I have done
many other recordings over the years with me on lead. For a while I ran
a business called Valentunes, creating personalized musical valentines.
In general, I have come to the realization that as far as loud rock
bands are concerned, I don't have the kind of voice which cuts through
the din. In fact, for the first half of my life, I only possessed a
falsetto. So I play to my vocal strength, which is as high harmony
I know it is sub-judice and all, but any comment on the current
lawsuit by Mike Love against Brian.
Not really, other than that it is very sad because these continuing
lawsuits get in the way of a real rapprochement between Mike and Brian,
which I would hope would be worth more than money to both men.
Finally, any message you would to give to the readers of the Cabin
If you are a budding musician, you could do worse than to study
Brian's music not only for the harmony and theory but also for the way
he has created sonic combinations of instruments and voices that
consistently deeply touch more listeners than any other major pop
artist. And everyone, please play Beach Boys music to children, they
need this stuff growing up!
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