DAVID KEMPER

david_manns

What was the first album you ever bought and how do you rate it today? 

It was either:

a)    Steely Dan, Can’t Buy a Thrill

b)   Kiss, Alive!

c)    Thin Lizzy, Nightlife

I was a very mixed up boy.  As for the rating part…

a)   Aaa  (Moody’s doesn’t go any higher, or I would, too.)

b)   C (Moody’s doesn’t go any lower…)

c)    A2

What does your 8-track collection look like?

It looks like a poltergeist taking a polygraph (as observed by seven blind pygmies from Paducah).  The only time I ever saw 8-track tapes in person was when we went to visit some distant cousins in Wisconsin – Sonny & Cher Live, Bobby Sherman, that kind of thing.

Was bass your first instrument or an evolution?

It happened all at once.  I awoke one morning to find myself transformed in my bed into a giant, grotesque, bass fiddle.  I couldn’t move.  I couldn’t speak.  My family and all the neighbors shunned me as the sickening vermin I’d become.  Those snooty violinists and cellists wouldn’t play with me.  All I could do was lay there, staring at the ceiling while sawing away on pithy quotes from Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben.  Very weird.

Bass is my only real instrument, actually.  I often do “play” other instruments on my recordings, however the word “bad” has to be appended to the front (Badguitar, Badkeyboards, Badmelodica, etc.) to get an accurate description of the kinds of sounds I tend to make.

Does being the guy holding down the low end frequencies inform your personality in any way outside of music?

Hello, cowgirls.  I like being on the bottom.

What came easiest to you early on, playing or writing?

The only writing I did when I was young was in the sand traps of certain North Shore country clubs I won’t name.  We used to jump the fence late at night, run around wild on the fairways, throw all the patio furniture into the deep end of the pool and steal all eighteen flags from those immaculately manicured greens – but not before using them to write “ZZ TOP” really, really BIG in all the sand traps.  That’ll show ‘em, eh?

So…I guess the answer would be: Playing.

What’s Brahms’ 3rd Racket all about and is it true you have an affinity for concepts?

Brahms’ 3rd Rocket is all about the concept of having an affinity for calling all God’s creatures (inanimate or otherwise) by the name of which they truly, in fact, are, and should forever be, including (but not limited to) calling kettles Kettles, calling pots Pots, and calling my band by its correct name, which is Brahms’ 3rd Racket.

(Editors note: David was kind enough to catch my error…. “It’s RACKET not ROCKET!!  But don’t sweat it.  I hear even Yoko was in the habit of repeatedly referring to her husband’s band as “Beatles” (“Beatles this, Beatles that”- errantly omitting the “The” every time).  So “Rocket” I can understand.  Hell, I used to know this one guy who kept calling it “Brahms’ 3rd Reich.”  I’ll take “Rocket” any day”)

What’s more enjoyable for you, writing a good pop song or developing the picture music you create for tv n’ film?

I like it all.  I don’t distinguish.  Do I write pop songs?

Sometimes just a simple twist in the arrangement of a song can make a huge difference, is that tinkering part of why you enjoy the role of producer or is it a more technical fascination for you?

I’m an arranger, basically, a collage artist, making sound mosaics.  This inevitably encompasses many different sub-disciplines: composing, performing, scoring music, recording, setting up mics, pushing “Record,” buying beer, asking very nicely for the drummer to hit harder, etc., etc., etc.

That said, I couldn’t give a shit about “technique,” “technical”-anything, or any other derivation of that cold and lifeless word.  Ever try kissing a dead fish?  It’s a means to an end.  I’m not infatuated with methods or systems or techniques.  And I really don’t think of myself as a “Producer,” either.  I used to think it was cool to call myself that (“Yo, bro, didya check out that one young chick that I produced?  Man, did I produce her!”)  I used to like it.  Not anymore.  “Producer?”  Yuk.  Let Bob Rock have it.  Sounds like a guy with nice hair who sells insurance.

Since you aren’t famous drummer David Kemper, do you think this is a good time to challenge him to bass n’ drum throw down to stop all of the chatter between camps?

I don’t want to stop the chatter between camps.  Perish the thought.  I just sent off a four-page letter in response to some lawyer dude in San Francisco who mistakenly emailed me some kind of artist agreement (complete with royalty breakdowns) for the “live” Jerry Garcia Band album they’re going to be putting out soon.  Four pages.  Arguing for a better % (the drummer plays four times as many notes than the bass player, etc.)…PowerPoint charts and graphs in support of this theory…bogus legalese…more prissy rock star demands than Van Halen in the dressing room…in short, pure balderdash!  I had that lawyer dude doing figure eights around the page, revealing only in the last paragraph that he had sent his little agreement to the wrong David Kemper.  Stop the chatter?  Hell no!  If all the chatter were to suddenly stop – and I no longer had a reason to write goofy letters like that – whatever would I do with all the empty hours?

If you could be the first artist to perform a song on the moon, on behalf of mankind, what song would you choose?

I wouldn’t perform it myself.  Assuming – since I’d been selected for this great honor on behalf of all mankind – that I would then have the full financial and technical resources of Planet Earth at my disposal, I would graciously defer and instead use those combined resources to have Andrea True exhumed and resurrected so the Andrea True Connection could do “More, More, More” on the edge of the Aitken Basin while Evel Knievel (since money is no object, right?) jumps back and forth over it riding a giant neon dildo.

Get the action going…get the cameras rolling…holy, shit, can you imagine that on the fucking moon?  But…hey…realistically…if the resurrections didn’t work out?  In that case I’d just get Carl Douglas to do “Kung Fu Fighting” and be done with it.

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MATT SPIEGEL w/ TRIBUTOSAURUS

1.0 – Was there a specific band or artist that got you hooked on rock & roll as a kid? 

Well, my sister left some vinyl around when she went to college. Abbey Road, The Kinks’ live album, Billy Joel’s debut, and Springsteen’s The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle. So it starts in that pile, and probably with “She Came in Through The Bathroom Window” specifically. That vocal made the hairs stick up on my neck…after hearing lots and lots of classical music from mom and dad. The classical had an impact too.

2.0 – What was the first album you ever purchased?

REO Speedwagon’s High Infidelity. There’s no lying when answering this question, no matter the quality of the album in question. “Keep On Lovin’ You” had owned me on the radio, enough to make me ride my bike to the mall.

3.0 – What music is in your car right now? 

It’s whatever’s on my phone, or maybe an Android tablet I use too. I don’t keep a ton on either of them. Whatever Tributosaurus is working on (Pink Floyd, Tom Petty) , plus: Funkadelic (America Eats It’s Young), Fleet Foxes, Wilco (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Engineer Demos), Spoon (Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga), Grant Green (Sunday Morning). There’s a little more…I swap it out often. Also, Sound Opinions podcasts rotate.

3.0 – How did the Tributosaurus concept come about? 

My brother Jon throws a big birthday party concert every year, and one year (when he was in the pit band for Blue Man Group), some NYC Blue Man extended family was there. They told me about something in New York called Loser’s Lounge. Every few months they got a wide array of NYC musicians together to do the music of, say, Burt Bacharach, and they’d all cover a tune or two doing their own spin. Brilliant. So I thought of doing that in Chicago, but clarifying it to be iconic rock and roll artists, and to do it as close to note for note as possible. The idea was to treat the rock canon with the same reverence and respect with which orchestras treat Brahms or Shostakovich.

4.0 – It must be fun to argue about which tunes to do by a given artists, is there a formula for Tributosaurus set lists?

Yes..there are five core members, and we each get 3 or 4 picks, depending on the set length we’re going for. Every once in a while we might say “well, this and that HAS to be in,” but for the most part the list ends up being a product of our individual tastes coming together. No veto is allowed either, so if I, or anyone, picks an absolute dog, you suffer through it. Of course, tunes you thought you hated always end up being appreciated. That’s one of the real joys of the thing.

5.0 – What five homage’s are you most proud of?

The first time we did Steely Dan, we surprised even ourselves. It kind of made us realize that absolutely anything was suddenly possible. Marvin Gaye gave me the best appreciation for the deconstruction/reconstruction nature of the project, because it took 15 or 16 people to re-create the deceptively simple Motown sound. Stevie Wonder with a huge band was a joy and an absolute party. The Replacements holds a place in my heart, because we were properly gritty, sloppy, and a little drunk, but nailed the stuff we had to nail in that great music. Queen last month at The Vic, with 1100 people singing along to “Bohemian Rhapsody”, is a beautiful memory right now. Those are the first 5 that popped into my head…there are many others.

6.0 – Did your confidence in your voice as a singer lead to your career in radio in any way? 

Interesting. No..they’ve always been concurrent careers, one sometimes jumping ahead of the other. My dad was a sports guy, mom a music teacher and opera singer. My brother 10 years older is a musician; my brother 9 years older was a baseball player and sports fan. I’ve always been consumed by both, and done both. College was full of both. They inform each other far more than you might expect. Team and locker room concepts inform band situations. Musical narrative/lyrical concepts show up in game theories and radio production. There’s probably a book in there.

7.0 – As the resident rocker at The Score you have contributed many musical spoofs & bits, any personal favorites?

‘The 12 days of Bearsmas’ was a lucky and fun concept. We tried it last year too, and may this year, but it’s better when the Bears are terrible. 7 false starts, 6 prime time losses, 5 Cutler picks, etc. ‘The Hossa’ song to the Kink’s “Lola” became a Blackhawks favorite, sometimes played on the ice for their afternoon skate, and put on jukeboxes at sports bars in town. That’s pretty cool. Truly, I’m proud of the music you hear on our show in production, and as bumpers coming out of opens and back from commercials. The producers have good, varied tastes, in addition to stuff that Mac and I like. I have no doubt that you hear the most interesting, eclectic mix of music on our show that big city talk radio has ever seen.

8.0 – Musically speaking, where does the road part for you and Danny Mac?

Um, in about 1986 I think. The man loves his 70’s, and a touch of his skinny tie 80’s period. So I kind of have anything after that covered. In the vintages we do share, I go into soul and funk more than him. I like punk and new wave more than him. But I dig much of his taste, even if it’s a bit narrow. He loves the Stones, ACDC, Zeppelin, Alice Cooper. And he seriously LOVES it. You have to respect when someone is as passionate about it as he is. Plus, like so much with him, he’ll surprise you when you least expect it, and quote a lyric from Pete Townsend’s Empty Glass or XTC’s Black Sea. He turned me on to Todd Rundgren. As long as he doesn’t veer into UFO and Nazareth too much, we’re cool.

10.0 – What’s the best concert you’ve ever seen?

Wow. Peter Gabriel’s “Up” tour at the United Center, in the round was pretty great. Saw the So tour in 1986 I think as well…he’s wonderful live. The Pavement reunion last summer at Pitchfork was a wonderful night personally, with my buddy who shared the history with me, and my wife to be who was discovering them. But I’ll cheat and say Lollapalooza 1994. I had the full combo platter: moshing for the Beastie Boys on the lawn, up front dancing for George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars, I sat completely in love with Kim Deal & The Breeders. Even though I left during the unnecessarily loud Smashing Pumpkins, that day ruled. I heard enough from “Siamese Dream” to cap the show perfectly.