Welcome back to another episode of Fret
Buzz The Podcast. Hi, my name is Aaron Sefchick and each week we focus on how we
musicians and professionals approach our craft, giving insight to help us all
become more informed and better musicians. This week, we change things up
just a little bit… It’s a blast from the past. Mr. Tony Scaltz is joining us to
talk with Paul Barsom about his new project The Weed Garden and his new
album Boy Interrupted. I’m gonna let Tony do all the introductions, so let’s jump
right in on Fret Buzz The Podcast. Fret Buzzers! Good morning! How is everybody?
So today on the show, I want to introduce one of our guest hosts Paul Barsom.
Composer, multi-instrumentalist, very good friend of ours and personally I
would have to say, someone I have a lot of history with in terms of
teaching and this man had taught me a lot about not just how to sort of live
in a creative way but how to assess things and always look for sort of the
critical aspects of what I was trying to do and just maybe
all around, just a better musician and just have a tremendous amount of respect for him so when he asked
to come on the podcast I jumped at the chance whenever Aaron had put
this together so Paul Barsoms new project The Weed Garden right it just
came out the new album a boy interrupted recent this week so welcome Paul to the
show and yeah anxious to hear sort of the genesis of this project and lots of
other things out there yeah yeah well thank you Tony I really appreciate the
chance to to do this yeah I didn’t know where to where to start with all this I
mean we go back quite a ways um you know mm yeah mm mm one I think was when I
first started shut up your studio with a guitar like I just we got it right well
I appreciate the nice words um yeah I don’t know I mean I guess I’m I’m
ready to go here I got I got my got my favorite coffee mug yeah I should share
this actually this is this is this used to be this is a beloved mug here you
used to do this thing where you know you it has all these like kids swimming in
the ocean and you’d put it in the microwave or whatever and heat it up and
the heat would actually revealed it well I’ll show you what it’ll reveal it’s old
enough now where you can kind of see it but if you look really carefully you can
see that there’s like giant sharks yeah that’s awesome
anyway that’s my my my totem here I’m good with you a shameless coffee plug no
boy only the bones coffee have you guys tried bones Aaron you’re not a coffee no
I don’t write off okay so that yeah we won’t have to longer all if you’re into
it bones coffee or me stuff yeah it’s like 45 bucks a bag or something like
that for a pound of coffee but it’s like really brilliant stuff yeah okay yeah
just right yeah after like I actually have a tumblr when I go into classes
make students you’re like how do you drink that tumblr so much anyway yeah so I guess we should start with maybe like
you know because what Aaron I had listened to it the album has now come
out what’s that October first was the release okay really yeah if I just want
to get maybe get into the beginnings of its Genesis maybe you like some of
things that you felt compelled to do with this recording this project yeah
and maybe a little bit of history of I know you’ve put out some previous stuff
so what number album is this and what yeah exactly like what differs yeah this
album versus the ones that you maybe have done in the past well okay so
that’s something I ought to probably come right out with it’s like I’ve been
I’ve been living in the Academy for the last 30 years so all of this stuff has
been on the back burner for like since in a way since before I met Tony I
mean I when I was 19 I was playing in a band full time ago in a school full time
and you know it was about 1980 so 1980 is the year that Pablo Escobar
made I think twenty four billion dollars selling cocaine right so you know the
band thing was where all of the that’s where all the fun was you know that’s
where the rush was and I was having a great time and we were playing a lot we
were playing every week and we were playing along Gulf Coast area in and
farther north and you know having a blast and writing some music starting to
get into doing some originals and stuff but I was also going to school full-time
so we’d be playing three to seven nights a week we had a gig at Keesler Air Force
Base in Biloxi Mississippi though if you’ve ever been there there’s nothing
around there there’s just you know the Gulf which at that point isn’t the white
sand beaches or anything and then you go inland and it’s pretty much just bayous
right so there were something like 10,000 enlisted personnel on his base
and we had this gig that was out there and their club the enlisted men’s club
was it was a converted c-130 hercules hanger which i don’t know if you know
what that is a giant cargo plane so that was a huge hangar that was a club so but
nothing else to do there’d be 3,000 people in this place every night yeah
and back in those days down there you got booked for them for the week like
you didn’t just play come in and play the night and then the next band the
next night you were like that house band for the week so we just either drive
over there from mobile where we were based or we just sleep on the bus behind
the club you know but meanwhile I’m going to school full-time so I’m kind of
burning the candle in the middle and I realized after a while that that’s not
you know you know that’s just not sustainable so I would go to school and
see my professors because there was a music major at the time and I’d see them
you know looking like they’d had a decent night’s sleep and we’re in danger
of getting their utilities cut off or any of that kind of stuff and then I go
and play it’s good but don’t every break there’d be somebody you know something
friend trying to stick something under my nose you know so I just thought okay
if I wanna if I want to figure out how to make this work you know and you know
maybe I don’t know have some sort of a stable life meet somebody settle down
have kids live to be 30 you know because it was just you know there was crazy
stuff going all around so I just sort of made the call when I was 19 it’s like
I’m gonna pursue a more stable music career and kind of put all this stuff
you know on the side burner back burner and over the years that you know Clayton
a lot of bands actually played in a Tony and I had a band for about a year about
a year yeah you know that I mean it was a blast but it was all stuff that I was
kind of doing just to kind of keep a hand in just to remember like do I
remember how to play in a band you know any of that kind of stuff so so really
this is so what this all comes down to is this is the first album you know all
the rest of my music output that’s published is concert music because
that’s been my career for the last thirty years is you know teaching and
and you know composing for you know Orchestra and chamber ensembles and
stuff like that so so that’s that’s been the bulk of my output so I’ve got this
backlog of all of this music that has to be you know arranged and produced and
recorded and put out there so that’s kind of this is the first step in that
process well interesting so some of the stuff does go back decades no not really
actually what happened with the creative side of it is but I mean this is when I
decided to lead mobile and go to music school seriously and really kind of down
that road you know spend the rest of my life you can practice and double berries
and stuff like that you know that was my instrument and so you know I mean I just
needed back in that basket so I stopped writing songs for probably 15 I just
didn’t even think about it because I just knew that if I started diving back
into that you’d be like this big magnet that would suck me there and you know I
had a family too we needed to you know they do the whole
academic track and tenure and all that kind of stuff just felt like that was
what I needed to do so so it wasn’t until about the mid 2000s that I started
to get back in songwriting and of course by that time you know recording
technology had completely changed so I had to retool all of the work that I had
done in recording was you know from pre digital days so I had to relearn all
that stuff because one of the things I wanted to do was I wanted to create a
curriculum where I was teaching that was included songwriting and you know
analyzing that stuff to whatever degree and you know recording and production
and stuff so I came up with new classes and you know started moving things in
that way and then we got a recording studio which really I moved out along but you know I had to relearn how to do
all this stuff so it wasn’t really you know most all the songs on this album
really come from probably post 2008 or 10 you know and some of them are new I
mean the plan was done I think I wrote it last fall and recorded it in May or
something in this tiny I’m in a closet here I don’t know if you can really tell
it’s like a few feet over here it’s a bunch of guitars and there’s some amps
over here and it’s about five and a half feet deep I mean I’m like right yeah and
so it’s a really challenging place to record you know maybe we could talk
about that at some point oh yeah very much so yeah it’s it’s kind of a new
venture you know and it’s just been sitting around for a long time I think I
probably have about 50 songs that are just they’re not I mean not even
counting anything I’m gonna write in the next you know year right so I work to do
one of the things that I found fascinating and you should all listen to
it people who are listening because I think it’s a really good record when man
Paul sort of gave me the sort of the preview of the album and I started to
write the review for it there are a lot of things that I kind of noticed around
the gate and one of those I think which kind of connects to something we’re
talking about right now is is this idea that I
know how you feel about this Paul but I don’t know that if you could achieved if
you could have achieved the same effect with this record had you not had what 30
years of compositional experience and Western art music under your belt and
I’m not sure if you say it’s that’s unfair assessment or not but for me as a
listener I kind of hear like all all these vestiges of just compositional
technique behind these tracks that are supposed to be in some ways pop but at
the same time not pop you know I mean it’s it’s not a traditional sounding
rock record I think it’s sort of an amalgamation of so many different styles
and techniques I think it’s what makes it really compelling mmm well thanks I
mean I guess I was kind of hoping that because I know I’m coming at this from a
really bizarre path this is not the usual thing at all so yeah I mean you
know when I listen to it I hear that stuff too and some of it surprises me
because none of its intentional and this is very intuitively created kind of
music for me so so when I listen to it or when somebody points out oh you know
this kind of reminds me of this song or or somebody else you know oh I think oh
I hadn’t thought of that but yeah absolutely makes sense and I think part
of it has to do with that I mean actually one of the things I think it’d
be kind of cool talking about it’s like listening you know what do people how
does people’s listening reflect or even you know produce the kind of creative
decisions that they make so my listening is kind of weird it’s like a mile wide
and an inch deep in everything except for rock and the classical tradition
because that’s what all my training is in I’ve kind of heard a little bit of
everything you know so you know North African guitar bands from Mali or
whatever it’s like yeah I’ve heard that I don’t know I can’t tell you that much
about it except for maybe would have observed but I think there’s just all
that stuff shows up and people notice it now what I’m wondering is does that make
a sort of interesting eclectic synthesis of something or is it just kind of a
mess you know you know I I don’t think it’s a mess
obviously but but I guess what I’m curious about is what is it you know
because like Tony said I mean I listen to this and if you listen to the bass
lines on this album I mean everything’s melodic like the whole thing the vocals
in the bass are like this too voice texture and all the stuff that I do and
I don’t think of it that way it just comes out that way and I think it has to
do with I mean I’m really a bass player you know so and my influences are
players that were pretty melodic people like you know Squire and McCartney and
Berlin and people like that those are the people that I listened to growing up
so yeah so they I can’t sort of just play eighth notes straight I mean I
would love to be in ac/dc but I can’t okay oh right right yeah yeah I guess I
think it gets to the heart of it something that Aaron you and I have
talked about even in the past on the show about sort of how we assimilate
style and are we conscious of that you know sort of that bringing in of
different styles does it inform our playing or or in some ways do we just
kind of make conscious decisions to sound like a certain band and we’re
writing I know I know and I sit down and I actually write some things for the
guitar in the back of my mind I’m like okay I want I want sort of this effect
to happen like I want to sound like Satriani or honestly like this kind of
thing and then I have to shut that off and say you know what it’s not the way
to go ahead and compose I should just sort of just like hear in my head sort
of the passage are trying to emulate but for whatever reason no matter how
complex or how stylistic or something I try to create comes out there’s always
this little kind of I don’t know flavor of an influence and I can’t get rid of
it you know I mean I don’t you guys feel the same way
don’t I mean that’s you know that’s what I mean that’s what I mean who was it
like Ravel or somebody you know was somebody asked him about you know
developing your voice as a composer and you just said you know just imitate what
you know and once you get attuned enough with your own tendencies and everything
it’ll be your voice you know but it’ll also be based on something that already
works so you know that’s not bad advice I don’t think but I there are ways to
get I mean there are a lot of you know sort
of very not self-conscious composition I mean this is one of the things is that
it’s a little it’s almost too much of a benefit is that since I’ve been teaching
composition for 30 years you know I have all these tools to not get stuck because
I like dealing with students all the time they come in I just like I don’t
know what to do with this so I gotta give them all these things my problem is
that I have too many of them because I can sit around and just come up with
stuff all day and then now you have to make decisions about 14 different things
and you know it just makes the whole drags the whole process that takes a lot
of energy so you know you got to kind of balance that but what one of the things
I do is I just force the situation so that almost all of my decisions are
totally intuitive like everything you’re on this album that it sounds like it’s
all worked out like there’s counterpoint all over it it’s just I can’t help it
you know it’s just like in it and it sort of behaves kind of like
counterpoint does but I don’t think about that I make everything I’ve
everything like all these guitar parts and the bass parts and the voice parts
and the drum parts and everything else I kind of usually start out by just
singing them yeah yeah I had a really good teacher who just passed away a
couple of weeks ago actually um caught John Chris Chris Rado Chris Ross yeah
and yeah he was like the first one to say oh just get your hands off the
instrument cuz you’re just gonna do motor memory yep there
I just vocalize it it’s the closest connection to your brain anyway so just
see if you can sing it and if you can sing it you can kind of capture at least
the essence of what you’re trying to do this is something for our listeners this
is for me one of the most important techniques that I’ve learned from Paul I
remember when I was a student and I was a really yeah yeah yeah I recognize this
argument I was a bad student later decades decades later that was like oh
this dude he was trying to tell me okay I kind of get this but at the time I
don’t know you’re right you know many times where you come back from one of
Paul’s it’s like you tell me this stuff I’m like I don’t remember very much at
time you were still trying to find your way out of that box and kind of what you
were just talking about how you were struggling with with you know finding
your own identity and I remember there was a really simple I don’t remember the
name of the song but there was a simple tune that Paul had you write and it was
pretty much against everything that you were doing at the time and kind of it
was it was forcing you to go in a direction that you weren’t really used
to going it was kind of kind of entertaining to watch the whole thing
happen oh you mean oh yeah I remember actually
remember that piece that was a that was and it serve an extrapolation on a joke
Pat you were that Paula the Jill past progression that oh yeah yeah or
something like that or whatever and but lately remembered I remember that what
you’re talking about they can’t remember oh yeah and the way you kind of had me
do the progressions I was like oh I don’t I don’t hear it that way but it’s
true it’s like I there are new exposures I think to new idioms that we have to
listen to and well okay so be that as it may I think the point of trying to go
with this is that one of the most important things I learned which I when
I figured this out for me as a writer it made things just lot more sense is to
always Oddie eight things first and and that was really liberating because I
mean I I would make guitar players we’re just guilty of this we picked the guitar
up we are so mechanically driven to what we feel in the hands and shaping and
formations feel good that we serve that that informs our compositional
techniques more than anything I think for listeners out there especially
guitar players you know if you want to become better writers that’s sort of
what I take away from all this is that you know it is okay to sort of put the
instrument aside and hear passages before you put them to paper I mean I
even when in the realm of guitar guitar writing even the values to talk about
this in guitar tech thanks a lot you’d say try to hear the next note before you
play it you know try it here the next on the piano is that right you’re already
barking up the wrong tree yeah yeah even up your your decision maybe right I
think of it as force happy accidents you know so like for
instance okay for a guitar like here’s here’s a trick I advise everybody to try
go to a guitar in your studio that has fairly light gauge strings on it so that
won’t cause any real problems and just randomly crank the tuning pegs a couple
of times and don’t pay any attention to what you’re doing okay
now tune them all to the closest pitch that they have to arrive at clay
standard chords on them see what comes out like a lot of it’s going to be
trained right but every once in a while you find a tuning you just go oh there’s
magic in these sounds I have all the right resonant open strings when I play
a C chord on the seventh fret or whatever I get this and mate I don’t
even know what it is you know and you let that kind of stuff
happen burden cage is written that way I just took a guitar and just like on
three pegs or something and it came out to be pretty close to a a seven chord or
something like the open tuning you know pulling on DS and C’s and with that can
I ask you a question let me let me in your opinion because I know Aaron I’ve
had this discussion many times in the past do you think guitar players get
locked into the theoretical thing too much where we where we sort of we judge
and analyze to a degree where the the I don’t there’s a magic quality to
composition but like sort of the you know I mean the stuff that breeds and
and really sounds good organically just gets kind of washed out by judging it
and saying well should this progression work this way I’m not really resolving
my seven chord this way because credit our players we just we are good at that
thinking formulas and it’s a good last resort I think you know it’s the kind of
thing where it’s like if if the if if you don’t really just know spontaneously
what the solution is so like by telling you to hear the next note then there are
intellectual doors you know that you can use but they’re they’re kind of you know
they’re kind of a last resort or for specific purposes I guess so you know
that anything you can do to break that is good so you know like
instance one of the best things I can refer people to is Brian Eno’s oblique
strategies do you guys know that’s a no so in 1977 Brian you know published this
deck of cards called oblique strategies he and the designer named Peter Schmidt
mate and they’re really cool you know if you get an original deck it’s like three
hundred bucks and you can buy a new one or there’s an app and basically the
whole idea was in Oh was in the studio they’re paying all his money every day
just to be there and he’s got to make all these production decisions because
that was you know he’s producing you know talking heads and starting to work
with you too and making these really iconic recordings and so he just said
well I need a shortcut to ideas in it he realized I don’t know where actually I
should look this up I don’t know where he got the other day but that just a
little phrase of the right kind whether it has anything to do with music or not
it’s going to make you think of a solution so you know so it’s called
oblique strategies because I think it up now actually because instead of taking a
direct path to the problem you go the long way around the barn and just sort
of arrive at wherever you arrive but the beauty of this is that the phrase is
involved don’t necessarily have anything to do with music but they will make you
think of something related to what you’re working on so let me just open it
up the car that came up here on my app isn’t you can only make one dot at a
time that could mean any fear if you put it in the context of a problem that
you’re trying to solve it’s gonna mean something and the point is it may not be
the solution but you weren’t thinking of anything a minute ago
like you were just a blank like I don’t know what to do you know so at least now
you’ve got a prompt you think of a solution and then you just go well okay
it’s just actually a valid viable solution of the problem or not and you
go on that’s why you know you can never get stuck I mean other solutions are
things like just write it down as a problem just write it as a question on a
piece of paper or on a word processor or something and just start making up
answers just bullshit answers don’t even think about like is it a
viable solution because the creative side of it and the evaluative
decision-making side are two totally different things there’s a great podcast
by John Cleese he’s not podcast it’s a it’s a video that you can find on
YouTube call about yeah yeah yeah yeah and he just got it’s beautiful because
he just breaks the whole thing down into open mode which is where you’re just
curious and making stuff up and you don’t care what comes up in closed mode
which is okay now we got to decide we have to we have to count this guitar
solo that I just improvised right mm-hmm like now I have to go decide like which
first phrase is really getting what I want you know and that kind of stuff you
know so it’s just two totally different parts of the process but the reason
people get stuck is because they tried to do the second thing simultaneously
with the first thing so it’s almost better just to not even know what your
solutions gonna be until it happens so another technique is like this is
something exercise they used to make composer to all the time I don’t know if
I ever had you do this but um where you write a melody right or something a
chord progression whatever it is you’re right then you write something that goes
with it you know so maybe an a counter melody or you know something to go over
a chords letter then what you do is you mute because I’m having people do this
in a dog you have people me the second thing they
came up with and now they are sorry if the first thing that came up with now
make up something to go with the second thing so another make the third thing
that goes with that and at the end of the day you get rid of the second thing
put the first and third things together and see what happens you know there’s
gonna be train wrecks and weird like noon I have to fix that but there are
gonna be these moments where you just go oh my god that’s magic and I never would
have thought of it I never would have just put my hand there you know I never
would have thought that no goes with this one yeah you know so often times
I’ll take like a guitar solo and because you know it’s on a grid and in a doll
I’ll just shift it you know a BL or to a head and then all a sudden the accents
hittin in a different spot you’re like whoa that’s I never would have done
but that’s amazing that sounds great that’s kind of what it’s sort of what
part of genius is is knowing hmm this orientation might be cool do it and then
all of a sudden it’s like wow and that’s one of the things that the dog gives you
is that low investment testing platform where you can just go what happens if I
take this line and and and have it imitate itself at one measure yeah yeah
you can always that leap next thing you know it’s like you’re ready you know
music that sounds like some crazy person made it and it’s awesome but all you did
was just you know dragging stuff around on the screen you know enough one of the
reasons why I say that I was a really bad student in my Paul was because I I
wasn’t ready for the sort of the creative freedom and flexibility I think
many many writers use and it wasn’t until after I kind of got on my own and
and and ironically had to sort of teach writing in a larger context beyond music
into literature and different things then I got to guys like I’m not sure if
you guys were familiar with Edward de Bono for listeners out there if you want
a really good book on creative like like lateral thinking and thinking about you
know the phrase outside the box is really cliched today with thinking in a
way that is we’re talking about today so we’re using different modes of thinking
he wrote a book called serious creativity which is its kind of things
like this like you take like take a chair identify the elements of the chair
what else do I take two legs away what what was it share become how can I apply
that to a problem and these and this sort of approaches like more model for
for business models and innovation in business but I think creatively speaking
there’s a lot to be said by experimentation just like the one if I
do this thing but if I just take away with it you know I mean yeah because the
best way to break a bad habit is to destroy it so if you just make whatever
that is off limits now you’ve got to find another solution so normal legs
might have or chairs might have four legs right now you have a problem you’re
not going to solve by the conventional thinking and so you know that’s that’s a
really and that bakes the question as and why
do at university we teach tradition so much is it just a matter of to kind of
let you you got time for another podcast I was going to say this is going it
right yeah yeah well there’s lots of reasons for that you know and I mean
it’s you know and even on my website I say some stuff about how what tough
sledding doing the kind of music that son boy interrupted met with in academia
you know because I mean these are classical musicians they didn’t get
there by you know they got there by being laser focused on being really good
at that one thing and these people as performers I mean you just can’t little
Tony it has a sense mean a lot of people do but I mean these people can just play
they are players they’re amazing but they didn’t get that by being broad and
interested in a whole bunch of different you know music and stuff and they may
know a lot about art but when it comes to playing the cello they kind of know
everything about that and that’s really the requirement for the job so it’s not
surprising that they’re not open to a lot of other stuff close there’s also
this classical music bias thing it’s a pretty classist you know part of musical
culture it just always has been and I mean the church and the aristocracy this
is where this all stuff was done white men kind of doing their thing and yeah
and when it didn’t when it got out from under the thumb of that kind of stuff
with people like Beethoven who was doing things like having public concerts in
the early 1800s it’s kind of you know that was unheard of
you know much prior to that so even with that he would still be holding to the
same basic patronage that everybody else was so you know so there’s this kind of
hard and fast classist kind of thing to it so lowbrow music like you know rock
and roll you know is you know some people love it some people hate it but I
mean there are people the more traditional instruments tend to have
practitioners that are less open to that stuff than others and that’s fine
because you know cool music like that they’re their basic job is to preserve
the tradition and teach people how to do it and in the case of where I taught
which was big music ed program with two trained good high
school band directors and choir directors and stuff like that so you
know really for creativity is just not really on it’s not some work on the
to-do list so that was the goal would you say that would be sort of like the
that was the focus of the academic side of things was to kind of get your
students come through I mean not that that was your personal pedagogy but sort
of in terms of the institution the expectation has produced people who
would out and be band directors and music educators for me right the other
50 colleagues on my faculty that was really the parcel of the goal their
training music educators okay my composition students were composition
majors they weren’t music ed majors they wanted to just do creative work and
write you know which is great but you know that’s not an easy environment to
do that and you know because you’re it’s just a climate that’s pretty
conservative and you know for perfectly understandable reasons it’s fine
but they I mean some people I just ran into some bad luck with you know cuz
when you’re in academia and you get reviewed things kind of depends
sometimes who’s on the committee well I happen to get you know post-tenure
review committee one year that had people on it that just hated the fact
that I was writing you know rock music instead oh yeah and you know I mean I
even got it this is I got to cut this out in frame it somewhere I got a letter
from my Dean I hope I can say this you know they had actually well performing
original music in bars is an inappropriate activity for a tenured
professor of composition I love no way are you serious the whole
thing it’s like okay I know where you’re coming from
you know I’m sympathetic to it but wow that’s kind of all I need to know about
you know what status of this stuff is here so yeah that was part of the
Congress took me this long to just say okay I’m just gonna start putting the
stuff out now cuz I just you know I didn’t the thing is State College is a
great place in lots of ways but it’s kind of remote it’s not very big and
it’s really conservative yeah Vania kind of
place oh yeah um you know there wasn’t like a new music scene there you know
there was small stuff there were the house parties and the you know the the
venues that every Thursday would have you know some singer songwriters or
whatever I mean there’s a lot of that kind of stuff but there wasn’t like a
scene so I tried to put some bands together to do this stuff while I was
while I was working there and you know they were the the upside was they were
really good bands cuz I was working with music majors and people who like you
just write the parts out and give it to them and their music musical enough to
where you can be really efficient and make a really good sound really fast and
they’re wonderful kids and some of them were my students but at the end of the
day they’re different music students they’ve got other priorities and they’re
not gonna be able to just drop everything and you know go out for two
weeks playing this stuff out right go so it was good practice for you know
finding out the limits of what I can do with this because the thing is these
songs are kind of compliments are kind of complicated so to do them live is
kind of a challenge I do some of them solo but not the real elaborate ones
interestingly when we had Big Bang which I remember was in some ways tied to if
not mistaken here on sabbatical at that point right when we were doing Big Bang
Theory yeah I’m yeah and to remember it’s when you call me that one day said
hey I’m putting this group together I think you were saying well my question
is like what was the reaction because I think cuz I always assumed that was that
was your sabbatical project was that project no it was not
no it was actually I think Big Bang was a couple of years after that I took a
sabbatical and wrote like 35 songs and I was like wow okay I didn’t know I could
do that that I should be doing work so you know yeah that was so couple a
couple years later that was that was at a point where you know I just I needed
to be in a band you know and with people who could I mean I mean I was a bass
player in his band know I get tourists and I also wanted to say like I’m I just
want to be clear like I I don’t consider myself a guitar player like at all I
mean I don’t know you know I mean I’ve always every project I’ve
worked with it is as a basis a mana start playing you know professional gigs
when I was 13 as a bass player and just did that so you know the idea of being a
guitarist and performing as a guitarist it’s still something I’m trying to get
my my head around especially when I played with guys like you know Tony who
I mean look the guy can play the organ solo from highway star with a pic used
to I think about that those do one of yours yeah so you know compared to the
players and also the other people you’d have on this podcast them and I looked
at some of the older episodes and I’m just like yeah
these people are players you know a lot of these people are people who have you
know just sort of walked that path of being the player I mean my favorite one
and of course I think was Brian Quinn I mean partly because I know him a little
bit and you know I just he’s the kind of guy that I wanted to be when I was 19
like that’s I sort of saw myself as this really kind of dug in working musician
and who’s you know connected to you know projects that really believes in but
it’s capable of doing you know piece work like you know like do you need to
lay down a track for somebody’s record or something but at the time I didn’t
know anything about the music business I didn’t have any mentors and I didn’t I
didn’t know what I was doing so you know there was just no way to follow that and
I’m not sure I had the temperament for it either that’s the other thing is I
look at guys like Brian I’m just like wow how do you do that I look to what he
does day you know just kind of walk in that
thing and he’s got balls of steel that kid yeah yeah well okay there you go
that pretty much what he does I mean he does to have that level of commitment
I’m you know I okay I don’t know if this comes down to like on my end
a lazy factor of things but I I could see if you put me and Brian in the same
room and I grew up with Brian I mean we went to high school together he’d be the
kind of kid if you said to him we’re gonna go down to Georgia for three
weeks and you have to look live on you know in a car and rough it but you know
this you’re gonna get to play in front of you know thousands of people go ahead
and do it he’d be like yeah I’m done I’m going there I’m going right now we’re at
me I’d be like I’d like wait am I gonna be able to take like my sunscreen or I’m
gonna take you know you know I feel like I’m – I don’t call it civilize I know
what the idea is but I’m not there I’m not at that level it’s mindset it’s it’s
a matter of you’re not a road dog like he is you know it’s like it’s like
tailor tailored Nordberg I was the same way after 14 I just contacted him the
other day he’s like yep gonna join another a massacre and old eighties
metal band and I’m I’m in I’m the new member and I’m like you’re you’re in
this for life and you’ve always been that way yeah yeah he’s always been like
that since he was 14 years old with us that would be me if I know how to do it
cuz I can do the road thing I mean I can live on the bus and eat the crappy food
and do all that kind of stuff I mean I do it on the bicycle a lot you know so
um I just didn’t know how to do it you know and I didn’t have people one thing
that I love that he said that’s also a little bit different for for some people
is that he said he made he put himself in the presence of people that he
admired and respected and had learned from and he made himself a sponge that’s
a kind of sort of solid humility that I think a lot of creative people either
don’t have or don’t want to exercise and you know when I was when I was 19 I was
just an angry young man that wanted to you know you know do stuff and I didn’t
know how you know so but you know you got to have that kind of humility and
you know I I’m not sure I have it or had it but but yeah I always admire that and
people that just go yeah just humbled myself to the process and just like
walked out yeah I know I know Aaron and I a many years ago we had this
conversation Aaron you and I from it for many years
about how we did that you know those are our 20th of being in Benson and you know
of course life is different for us now with the kids and everything but at the
same time it music doesn’t always have to take the path of just being in a band
there’s got to be avenues and I know there’s a lot of
listeners that kind of feel the same way that you know is it possible to you know
have a really strong career let’s say as a creator of music and not necessarily
be like the Road Dogg so I guess like poverty sit down on this like could you
be kind of the person that you know literally could be based in a home can
be based in a hometown a song on your absurdity and and still and still make a
lucrative living still kind of be pretty solid with that yeah oh yeah but you
have to be a songwriter that’s the only way to do it I mean because then you own
you know at least your share of you know the creative rights royalty money and
all that stuff to the song so if you’re in Nashville I mean you know you can you
can do that you know I mean and it but it takes the same kind of you know
determination and you know I was gonna say don’t take no for an answer but the
ability to take no for an answer like 3,000 times before something works
that’s that’s the kind of grit that I think a lot of people you know I mean
that’s just hard yeah yeah I’m just about like all of the guests that we’ve
had on the podcast and whether it’s Quist or Don Ross or any one of these
guys who were actually making a living doing music mm-hmm Don Ross he lives in
Canada Nova Scotia and he travels over to Germany and does you know stuff over
there he’s always doing stuff in Canada and he’s been doing it all his life but
now he’s you know number one in the world and finger picking but all of
these guys well so I said Quist Quest is out in LA and he’s making a living doing
studio work and then there are people who are going to hire him to go out on
tour for them and then he’ll get done with that tour and then he’ll come back
to do more studio work and he does a bunch of youth new pages and our YouTube
channel and so there’s there’s definitely a way to
especially nowadays with with the technology that’s available in the
Internet as opposed to even 20 or 30 years ago you know there’s a lot more
opportunity to put yourself out there and make it living from it but you do
have to put the time and the effort into it it doesn’t come easily that’s for
sure and you have to be pretty stable you know emotionally you know which is a
problem for a lot of creative types yes you know it tend to be you know just a
little a lot of fragile is really the word or if they just yeah I don’t know
where it is but yeah just maintaining that consistency I mean that was another
thing too that it didn’t take me long to figure out I mean I mean California now
but I spent you know the last 30 years mostly in the Northeast and actually
more than that which is not my native territory at all I mean I grew up in the
deep south I’m from Alabama hey y’all I’ve never lent y’all oh you do that so
you know they because they were once in slave state they think of themselves as
seven yeah but anyway and then I went to school in Arizona and then I moved to
Rochester New York which if anybody knows Rochester New York is like it’s
cloudy for seven straight months and the six feet of snow yeah where it is yeah
you know but I didn’t I didn’t know anything about you know seasonal kind of
stuff and it took me about five or ten years to figure out like why am i a
completely different person in March than I am in July you know like why is
that why is it like why did why is it sec second week in november all of a
sudden I’m kind of hating everybody and don’t really care about all that stuff
that I thought was so cool to be working on a month ago you know I didn’t know
you know and so after a while I realized like oh this is a cycle that I’m gonna
have to sort of figure out how to how to manage you know cuz one of the things
about academia and music is crunch time is march/april it’s like being a tax
accountant or something like that’s when all titles are that’s when all the
papers are you got a supervise people are graduating
there’s all this stuff going on and that’s when I’m like I don’t care you
know so to to get the work done was you know just after that many years of doing
it just got to be kind of a thing but one of the side effects of that was I
knew that getting involved in any kind of really sustained project that
required energy and enthusiasm for more than about five or six months was just
going to be really hard so that’s one of the reasons I left the Northeast and one
of the reasons that I retired you know I mean I actually retired from the tenured
professorship that you know aged 58 that’s kind of you know wasn’t easy to
take but it just had to happen I mean I couldn’t really spend too many more
February’s and say oh there’s a reason February is the shortest month by the
way yeah cuz it just sucks balls it’s just awful I know for a scientific
answer I’m like I’m Way too here like like on the calendars good how fast can
we get this over with yeah really good at least four weeks
otherwise it’s just kind of it’s too wimpy about a month you know do you
think I mean I won’t ask you this question for a while do you think that
since retirement your creative side of things that’s been as improved like do
you think like now you’ve got rid of the I don’t want to call it baggage but I
know I experienced this too like I’m 15 years into a teaching position and when
I said then I try to write stuff I just I can’t divorce my mind from the joy of
creating new things and having the great papers you know I mean I’ll come in that
I’m in that mode right now and I don’t yeah yeah I think once you get written
once you jettison that stuff I hope that the creative side of things takes more
of a front seat I’m just curious since it are you in that place that’s a really
good question um well I know what you’re talking about with the sort of feeling
like there’s something looking over your shoulder well it’s an emotional drain
really well yeah and you know with my interaction with that thing I was
talking about before you know kind of trying to make this songwriting a
production thing part of my professional portfolio as part of my academic job and
how that went you know it’s like that sort of made it just that much harder to
do it based on the kind of thing you’re talking about um so I don’t know you
know I think in a way it has but it’s only been like six weeks since I
officially you know retired so I don’t know the other thing is you know there’s
a lot going on right now we’re actually moving at the end of the month from
California to New Mexico where we have a little house and so I got to build a
studio down there nice yeah yeah it should be yeah yeah I’m really looking
forward to it very cool I’d be good so I’ll know after that where I stand in
terms of that stuff but meanwhile I’m still working on stuff I mean I got I’m
working on some the second album and some singles and things like that so I
seem to be able to get work done just fine I mean it took get here after my
last semester of teaching in Pennsylvania to be able to get this
album finally mixed and out the door you know I was going to ask what kind of I
mean I I like the record you know I said I when I wrote the review on the record
I was listening to it from different angles and I have favorites on the album
I’m curious as to like you know what has been the the public reaction to this
record and maybe how does it inform what you’re gonna do next
well so far it’s I’ve been kind of lucky in the sense that everything I’ve heard
has been positive and believe me after all these years of sitting on the stuff
going what’s gonna be the take on this when I put it out the door you know that
that’s really reassuring I mean you’re you know review actually other people
said some things kind of like you know talking about the they were just the
arrangements and just the sound of the thing you know that there were things
that they really like too you know so that’s been good for some reason the
song that people seem to like the most and of course now we live in this world
and maybe this would be an interesting thing to talk about Internet we live in
this world where your value as a whatever
is entirely dependent on how often you can get people to click on you so you
know based on that the opening track to my surprise because it’s long and kind
of meanders a little bit seems to be a really popular one that one and the last
one hmm that’s interesting yeah that’s really interesting
um but it spread out I mean I get a lot of reaction to different songs and some
people will just go wow I had a former composition student in mind you know
text me a day and just went anchors holy awesome that’s like right in the center
that’s like right in the middle of it it’s yeah yeah it’s just after the
midpoint and um you know and it’s sort of a relief tune for me and in the scope
of the album it’s one of those there needs to be something kind of buoyant
and light here you know before I lean into this next heavy thing you know so
um so yeah but for some reason people steel of that first draft it’s yes
feedback stuff if you know there’s this really weird thing going on at right now
which I think probably because we’re becoming dinosaurs as how I feel that
the the generation of music listeners today they want something spoon-fed them
quickly they Swan it click it quickly they want to hear quickly and if they’re
not interested then we want to the next thing because it’s so readily available
to them we might grown up it’s like we invested our time into an album we
listen to it you know yeah well you know people still do that oh yeah but you
know those are that’s a niche you know the hardcore listener is kind of a niche
you know the rest everybody’s you know kind of I mean I have a another former
student why that interns in a studio in Philadelphia it’s one of the bigger you
know houses there and you know mostly what they do is they come in and they
get talented young people and and have them rap to pre-made beats and you know
and put a product together you know and so it’s like that’s got its place but
that’s kind of in a way the McDonald’s hamburger of the music cuisine world you
know so there are always many people that are gonna be into really
thoughtfully made food you know it’s just that that’s
not they’re not gonna have billions sir that’s all that’s interesting I was I
can’t remember who it was famous person well-liked I can’t remember who it was I
want to say it’s like Pete Townsend but it wasn’t like I don’t think it was him
but it was basically this person saying that the rap/hip-hop
of today is like the rock and roll of the 60s and how you know at that time
back in the 60s it was this big push against music at the time and all this
you know what was happening and the same thing that is kind of going on now with
rap and hip-hop and whatnot like that and obviously that was you know him rap
and hip-hop was back in the 90s and in the beginning of but was back in the 80s
but now it’s really hit the mainstream you go to the top you know 100 hot top
50 it’s all hip-hop and rap and that’s that’s kind of the way things have
turned it’s it’s kind of interesting how you said dinosaurs and how we look at
things and no longer is it rock and roll anymore it’s now morphed into something
different and quite possibly 30 years from now 20 years now in a morphing
again it’s it’s just really neat to see this whole thing happen before our eyes
and and albums you know they have gone down and streaming has gone way way way
up and in terms of the numbers and how people consume their music now with
streaming and the album an album actually vinyl sales are actually
increasing right they are increasing so yeah and it’s kind of interesting that
people are starting to get back in to the music but it’s different now it’s
it’s it’s definitely a different scene it’s a different environment in terms of
how people consume it and how people actually listen to it and and why
they’re listening to it it’d be an amazing time right now to be a
musicologist I really do I don’t know why I just think it’s you know if you if
you’re looking at music as a type of like pseudo anthropology if you want to
call it that how we sort of process our culture I mean I think
so many things are changing right now it’s fascinating really fast well the
one thing that stays the same through all of this and even you know with
classical music like I was talking about is patronage like if you look at paying
for it and how its curated because you know sometimes the patron and the
curator or the same you know like and you to create this thing right so
they’re there for I’m saying it will exist and it will be shared or whatever
now it’s you know streaming services which of course sprung up in the absence
of any kind of guidelines or regulation so now we have this like really weird
sort of self generated industry that has all of these layers to it that’s
completely different from the record company model of in the 1970s you know
so now again it’s that thing about how many people will click on you so you
can’t get plays really on Spotify for instance unless your play listed right
so you have to get onto these playlists that people will click on and then just
play all the tunes on the playlist because it’s soft rock or it’s whatever
it is so the trick is to get on all of these playlists that seems to be the you
know the main business model for getting streams these days so now there’s this
whole intermediary layer in the music industry of people that will pitch your
stuff to the playlist curators so you can pay I’ll pay to play it’s like in
the 50s Paola was criminal now it’s the business model yeah you know and that’s
just a reality that just crept up on us and so we just have to kind of deal with
it and I think you know smart commerce regulations will help creative people
and all of that but that’s that’s gonna be a while coming I think so yeah be
interesting to see like in I don’t know a couple of decades for now where all
this is you know I mean but I just it’s funny like I remember we’re just growing
up being 15 years old air near the same we remember we have like the little
tascam 4 track record with the cassettes and we still like you know yeah he’s
like make make little demos and stuff and Reese’s remembers to say like we’re
gonna shop this little demo and we’re gonna have to go
door-to-door and get feedback and how it’s like you could literally just drop
anything on YouTube it have a global audience like that and that Nene ously
it’s a met and that’s the mixed blessing because the platforms allow you to make
I mean one of the reasons look you know I saw it quality aside one of the
reasons that rap is such a popular medium is it’s really easy to make
yeah like because you buy a laptop and it’s pretty much anything you buy it’s
got several beats on it to make a rap album like just go into the loop library
and find what you want and if you’re really good and tweaking it you can make
something really really interesting you know so just the access is great though
because it allows creative people that otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance to
make anything to make it you know I really like that about it’s a problem
obviously is that it what it does is in addition to you know making great stuff
it also kind of creates a lot of landfill right now now the people who
really have something to say have to kind of rise through all of this muck
welcome to get you know to the point where somebody’s going to recognize that
wow this is a really cool thing so so this is you know I’ve been thinking
about this because I just put this album out and I’m like okay where is this fit
like that’s one of the things like Tony mentioned earlier like but my path
through creative work to this thing is kind of odd and a little unique and one
of the byproducts of that is that there’s elements of just about every
kind of music I’ve ever heard on this album but it means that it doesn’t fit
into a genre you know it’s some kind of rock but I mean I’ve been thinking about
it for a while like what I mean wait let me just ask you guys a look kind of what
is this and that is where we’re gonna leave it for today do me a favor go out
and listen to boy interrupted and leave your comments below as to what you think
the answer is next week we’ll get into part two and continue this awesome
conversation with Paul parson as always if you like what you’re hearing hit that
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today’s show again make sure you check out the weed gardens new album boy
interrupted and you join us next week as we continue the conversation with Paul
barsen on fret buzz the podcast you