Is the new one All Out Revolution next of kin to your debut, Sunflower Sessions, or are they birds of a different feather? All Out Revolution is certainly descended from Sunflower Sessions. Look at the nose. We’ve become better in the studio though, and I think we’ve all grown as individuals and musicians, so we’re bound to sound a bit different. It feels like evolution to me.
Which tracks from All Out Revolution are folks gravitating towards? One never knows about these things. Live, people have always responded well to Running on Empty and Star-Shaped Holes, probably because of all the vocal harmonies. Psych crowds seem to like King of the Underground and Waves. We’ve posted some things to various websites and Daisy Love is popular in India, of all places. It’s been fun for me because we’ve received great feedback on all the songs.
The Red Plastic Buddha has gone through a number of changes since forming in ’06, do you have it ‘together’ now? does that matter? Yeah, lots of changes. It’s weird, because we’re not a band that is at each other’s throat or anything like that. It’s just that life forces things. Careers, kids, stuff like that. Buddhism places a lot of emphasis on the idea of impermanence, and I think that it’s a good idea to just get comfortable with the concept of change. I’ve seen lots of bands break up since we originally formed, but we just keep going. We’re together, but together isn’t a static thing. It’s a process. BTW, our long time drummer Dav Kling will be getting a broken wrist operated on soon. Friends are already on board to fill the void, as always happens. We’re just people pulling together in every sense of the word and that seems to be our path. Dav will be back, but then something else will happen. The only thing certain in this life is change.
What is your favorite thing about RPB today? The people I play with. Despite all the personnel changes we’ve had, there’s been a consistency in the character of band members. Every person who has been part of this group has been intelligent, funny, committed and interesting. A lot of graduate levels, several black belts, business owners, writers, even a doctor. Not what you’d expect from a psychedelic rock band, are we? Everyone has given their all to the project and although the faces have changed, the people who make up this band keep it fun and fresh.
In terms of subject matter, do you see your stuff as light-hearted or serious? or both? Depends on the song, I guess. I try to be more open on the love songs and just write from a purely emotional/ impressionistic place. They don’t really make a lot of sense because I’m trying to write while riding a tilt-a-whirl. For me, those feel the most psychedelic of our songs, probably because I’m completely letting go. Mostly though, I’m pretty serious when it comes to writing lyrics. I can put myself through hell trying to get things right. I love language and try to insert multiple meanings into verses. Hopefully, that makes things interesting for the listener.
Bass parts were once so buoyant and such an integral element of the rock music of late 60’s and bluesy early 70’s, what happened? I still see lots of that style out there. I just don’t do much of it in this band. In the Chicago psych scene alone, bands like Great Society Mind Destroyers, Dark Fog, Rabble Rabble, Secret Colours, Plastic Crimewave Sound … the list goes on and on. All of these bands have excellent bass players that really hold down the bottom end and groove. But because my priority onstage is singing, I have to simplify things. But that leaves lots of room for the other Buddhas to play, so I guess that’s okay too.
We’ve got your feet to the fire, what is your personal, all-time favorite bass-line? Argh! Just one?!?! Boys and Girls by Blur, Damaged Goods by Gang of Four, Monday by The Jam. That’s probably not Bruce Foxton’s best, but he’s my bass hero and it’s really
What music were you listening to in high school, anything that surprises you as you look back? I liked psych even then, but I was a big prog rocker too. I remember trying desperately to turn people on to bands like Van Der Graaf Generator and Eloy. I also had a fascination for what was called ‘space’ music, which later morphed into New Age (ahem). Then punk came along and it was good music for an angry young man. I think all those influences are still there, bubbling away below the surface.
What’s more fun for RPB, crafting tunes, recording, or playing live? They can all be wonderful, they can all be torture. Just depends. Some songs write themselves, some sit on your chest and punch you in the face. We had a BLAST recording All Out Revolution. Working with Brian Leach at Joyride was so much fun (such a kindred spirit). I’m not surprised he won a Grammy recently. Playing live can be a gas if you’re sharing a bill with people you dig and you’re in front of a cool crowd. This is the only job where people scream and shout for you when you have a good day.
You guys ever tempted to, ya know…..tune-in, tune-up, drop acid, play and press record? There’s this romanticized view of drugs in the world of music, but the idea that drugs make you more creative or open your mind to some inner truth is nonsense. If creativity or truth came in pill form, everyone would do it. There’s no easy path. If you’re creating as part of a group, you really need to communicate effectively, on many levels. Adding drugs to the mix only debilitates communication. You spend months or years developing a spiritual chemistry with other musicians, and it’s frightening just how quickly the other chemistry can destroy that.