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I can’t believe you referenced McCabe & Mrs. Miller. Not may people bring up Robert Altman – at all.
“Robert Altman, man – aesthetically, that’s where we are. If my next band were a Robert Altman film, it would be Images. I got to smoke a joint with Robert Altman once. That’s well on my list of the coolest things I ever got to do. The Long Goodbye is one of the coolest films about Los Angeles ever made. He had a few clunkers, but for the most part Altman was rad.”
The song About A Stranger sounds as if it could have come from the Grateful Dead.
“Totally. The GDs run right through us. Neal and I are huge, unashamed Grateful Dead fans. I think the big difference between us and other Deadheads, the garden variety-type, is that they only listen to the Dead, whereas I have 8,000 records in my house. I have all the Grateful Dead records, and I have thousands of shows, but I also have tons of other stuff.
“I take any kind of comparison between us and the Dead as a huge compliment. As an influence and inspiration, Jerry looms over a lot of us. As times go by, we forget about that core energy and musicality that he and the band had. It’s not nostalgic, either – he still rings true.”
You guys get a little proggy in the song Clear Blue Skies. Where does that come from?
“Well, everybody has to deal with my interests on the bus. I’m not exactly a fascist when it comes to playing music, but I do like to play certain stuff. Nobody’s complained yet. [Laughs] We’re really into mid-Century avant-garde electronic composition, and that got me into other electronic music. Nothing on the dance end of it, though. Julian House has this label in England called Ghost Box – lots of cool spaces being investigated. That and progressive music, too.”
What kind of progressive music are we talking?
“I'm into the English prog stuff. We’ll have some Gentle Giant jams on the bus. I’m a huge fan of the first Van der Graaf Generator record, as well. That’s a little more psych. Bands like The Canterbury Scene and Nektar and those kinds of groups, we’re into that stuff. The Nice was cool. I like progressive music when it’s more psychedelic; when it got more classical, not as much. I think Yes is a different animal. They could play all of this complicated, classically composed architecture, but then they could also have these super-pop melodies. There was a Beatles meets West Coast thing going on there. Yes were more of a pop band and not so much a prog band.”