——— Was bass your first instrument? Years back my brother had a guitar laying around the house that I would pick up and mess around on. I’d actually watch RHCP’s “Live at Slane Castle” on my computer and try to learn certain licks by ear and play along. Later that year I asked my parents if I could rent a bass, to which they replied “they’d think about it”. At Christmas there was a bass starter kit under the tree, and my mind was blown.
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…)
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.