logo  Chum #2, 1995: Ken Vandermark: The Hardest Working Man in Chicago
by Dan Kelly

Is jazz musician Ken Vandermark truly the hardest working man in Chicago? Sure seems that way... Fer Pete’s sake, at last count, Ken was a member of over 364 jazz bands (hey a guy needs at least one day off, right?); and according to some reports, it’s not at all unusual to see him at five different clubs on the same night. Oh, I don’t mean consecutively, I mean simultaneously. Yep, Mayor Daley might just have to clone himself to come even close to Ken’s degree of industry.

I exaggerate, but c’mon! You can’t help but be impressed by the guy’s diligence.

I visited Ken’s apartment way back in early February, and from the moment he answered the door and I entered, a bizarre gift-giving ritual commenced. I handed Ken a bottle of wine (my infrequent token of thanks/method of ensuring a good interview), and he reciprocated with a steaming hot cup of eye-popping coffee. I followed suit with a copy of Chum to which Ken trumped my ace with a copy of the latest Vandermark Quartet CD, Solid Action (Platypus Records), the release party for which was to be held that night at Ken’s most frequent performing venue, The Hothouse. Cowed by this unseasonal display of Christmas cheer, I proceeded with the interview, joined on the couch almost immediately by Ken’s spunky dog Echo.

In typical cleverboy Chum style, I attempted to tailor the interview questions to my subject. In this case, Mr. Vandermark’s startling work ethic beggared questions reflective of the workaday business world. And what suited the workaday business world better than the most frequently asked questions at every job interview? In true jazzmonster style, Mr. Vandermark was game, and proceeded to improvise on even the most seemingly irrelevant of questions. Thus I began, posing the first and most frustrating of interview questions:

Chum: Tell me about yourself.

Ken: That’s, uh... that’s a pretty broad question! [laughs] Well, let’s see... I’m an improvising musician and I work with, for the most part, compositions and integrating compositional music with improvised music. I do a fair amount of free improvisation, which is not based on any preset structure or written material. I’m a reed player: I play bass clarinet, clarinet, and tenor sax. I play in Chicago mostly; but I’ve been able to get over to Europe with some of the groups I’ve been working with. So basically, yeah, I’m a musician, composer and improviser.

Chum: This next question seems to be in every single interview you’ve done, but... what is the current breakdown of bands that you’re in?

Ken: Right now, the ones that I’m performing with on a regular basis are: The Vandermark Quartet, the NRG Ensemble, a group called Caffeine, a group called The Unheard Music Quartet... that’s the only group I play with that does music that isn’t either totally improvised or original to the people in the band... About half the material that we do is made up of compositions by Sun Ra, Eric Dolphy and Ornette Coleman — the so-called "Jazz Avant-Garde" starting in the sixties.

I also play with a garage rock band called The Waste Kings, and just recently we’ve started to work as a soul/R&B instrumental group. We haven’t played out yet, but we’ve been rehearsing pretty extensively. I’ve been working with another free-improvised group called Signal to Noise Unit, which is Kevin Drumm on guitar and Matt Weston as drummer. We’ve done some recording and some performing, but [Matt’s] been out in Bennington College in Vermont. We’ll be performing, I’m hoping, by June... That’s a really interesting group. [Editor’s Note (Chum): Matt Weston has since been replaced by percussionist Steve Butters]

Aside from that, I do a monthly concert series at Hothouse called "Head Exam." It’s basically people from Chicago and outside of Chicago (performing) free, improvised stuff. Every concert is a different collection of musicians; so the music is very different each month. In a weird way it’s like a version of the old jazz jam session, except there are no tunes, no compositions to be played. It’s basically getting up on stage and improvising. That’s been real interesting overall, so I’m hoping to continue doing that. But that’s primarily it, that’s the rundown, I think. [laughs]

Chum: [Getting back to the original idea of asking only job interview questions] Who or what has had the great influence on the development of your career interests?

Ken: Oh man... well, initially I would say the biggest impact on me — and it’s probably been consistent since I left home — is my father’s listening tastes. I’m kind of a freak because I grew up listening to jazz and classical music only, as a kid. Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Stravinsky... all that stuff was played back-to-back. That was all the music that I heard, all the time. I never heard rock, really, until I got into high school, and I never really listened to it at all until I got to college...

That had a lot of impact on me, because by the time I got to college I had a really strong listening background in what’s considered straight-ahead jazz... and then, as I got into college, I got more and more interested in Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor... Since then, that’s the primary music I’ve listened to... Well, not "listened to," but that impacted on me as a musician in terms of what I want to do.

Now, it’s a little bit different because every year I find two or three musicians or kinds of music that I’ve never heard before, that end up having a huge impact on me. The last few years I’ve been really interested in the European free improvisers, like Evan Parker and Paul Lovens and a number of others... [As a reed player] I’m very excited about the developments that they’ve made technically... and in improvising, they’ve opened up a lot of doors.

Chum: Tell me about a difficult decision you have made.

Ken: Deciding to stay in Chicago was a difficult decision. I moved here in the fall of ’89, and for two years, until January of ’92, I didn’t do anything. I’d been playing in Boston... and when I came here it was very difficult for me to find people to play with. The scene is very scattered across the city, and there are pockets of musicians who work together, who don’t really work with other musicians doing similar types of stuff. Very cliquish. I had a really hard time and I was very depressed... Then Michael Zerang, the drummer in the Quartet, convinced me to stay after I had started playing with him for a couple of months... [He said] to just give it a chance and see what happened with the Quartet. Deciding to stay here was one of the best decisions I’ve made, because I’ve been able to accomplish a lot of things since breaking through that wall.

It’s hard to essentially — for two years — sit in a room and practice and compose and have that be the gist of everything that you’re doing. I’m not really a solo artist. If you don’t have people to play with, you just hear stuff in your head, and that’s it. That was incredibly frustrating. So, it was kind of a two-edged things... deciding to stay was hard to do, but then because I decided to stay, I’ve been very, very lucky and happy in terms of what I’ve been able to do since then.

Chum: What challenges are you looking for in this position?

Ken: [laughs] Well, right now, if I can continue to work in the way that I’m working now, I’d be really happy. I’ve been able to record and document stuff, and I’ve been able to perform on a fairly regular basis. Those are two necessary things for people who are trying to do what I’m doing. It’s not enough to just perform and then have no documentation of what you’re doing, because for people who don’t live in Chicago, it doesn’t matter if I play here a lot, they’re not going to hear it. And then, it’s not enough to just record. You know, I’m lucky I get to play probably an average of twice a week, doing this kind of music... maybe three times... And to get up there repeatedly and deal with being creative, and deal with this kind of music; that process, that challenge, is a major part of how I’ve been able to develop. If I recorded a couple of times a year and never performed, my music would suffer measurably, I think. That process of dealing with the improvisation and with the music on a regular basis is pretty necessary. So, in terms of challenges I’m looking for, that whole set-up is a major challenge...

I would like to be able to do more performing outside of Chicago and more in Europe... There seems to be enough money there to make touring possible in Europe, whereas in the United States, the amount of money that goes to this kind of music is totally negligible. It’s a very difficult thing to survive doing this kind of music in the United States, and there are people who do this music in Europe and making a living at it [laughs] which is kind of mind-boggling to me! I would like to be able to do that. That’s the challenge I’m looking for.

Chum: How would your friends describe you?

Ken: My friends would probably describe me as a pain-in-the-ass [sighs]. Yeah, I’m way, way, way too high-strung, at times, for my friends. And those are the people that like me. Yeah, I think they would probably describe me as intense and overbearing some of the time; and that I work pretty hard and am relatively disciplined... that I can be too serious in terms of when things go wrong or mistakes are made or whatever. That’s a failing on my part... So yeah, I think they would say that I need to chill out a little bit. [laughs]

Chum: What would you say you like least about your career and best?

Ken: At this point, least about it would be the money. I like everything else about it. I like playing for people; I like traveling around and dealing with the entirety of performing and all that crap. I like recording, and I like the musicians I play with. I like everything about it. I wish that I could make enough money to make a living, and not have to do any kind of day job or scuffling. It would be nice to have a whole day, every day, to devote to doing this, because there’s so much... [interviewer begins to nod vigorously] Yeah, I mean I’m sure that’s something that a lot of people can appreciate! If I had hours a day to work on the music instead of just a few hours, I know how that would improve me. And to know that I can’t do that, that difference is really miserable.

But the thing I like best about it is everything else: the whole package... I love what I do... I mean I really do, and I’m really lucky to work on the level that I’m working on. In that sense, I’m completely happy. It’d be nice to scrape up a little cash, but you can’t have everything.

Chum: What’s your best asset and what your biggest weaknesses? I should probably just say "your biggest weakness."

Ken: My biggest weakness...

Chum: I mean, you don’t have to list them all... [laughs]

Ken: [laughs] Yeah! I’d be awfully depressed by the time I got done with the interview... Um... the best asset, I think, is that I’m relatively disciplined. I will work at something, and just work at it, and follow through. I may not have as much time to devote to certain aspects of playing as I’d like, but I do them even if it’s piecemeal. I’m pretty good at that.

My biggest weakness is... I don’t feel I’m good at expressing myself verbally — in a way that can communicate my ideas. The dynamics of being in a band is like any kind of business. I’m kind of naive and an idealist in that, to me, it’s about music, and everything else is relegated to making this music functional. I get very frustrated when people don’t agree with that; and I need to realize that sometimes people have different ways of getting to that point-of-view, or... different attitudes even, that enable them to play good music. I’m not good at that, I’m not good at seeing things from another perspective other than "it’s about music." That’s my biggest weakness... at least I think it is.

Chum: [laughs] Okay... Have you ever been arrested?

Ken: Have I ever been arrested? No, I’ve not been arrested. I’ve tried. [interviewer laughs] But, no, I haven’t been arrested.

Chum: How would you handle an irate/irrational customer?

Ken: Well, actually, I’ve dealt with that. That’s like dealing with people who heckle you or give you shit when you play. I did a gig once where the guy was... he was kind of out of his head, actually, and... he stapled papers together, though the whole set. Just pounding on a stapler, making stacks. He was at a table doing this through the whole set... You’d be saying something and he’d [Ken makes explosive sound while banging his fist down], just like [explosive sound] a machine through the whole set! I’ve had people with, you know, that ball and elastic cord paddle thing? I’ve played and had people like [pantomimes hitting a paddleball] right at me. It’s weird... You can’t ignore that stuff.

It depends on my frame of mind. You can either talk it off or you can be confrontational about some of those things. In general, I’ve been lucky in that people have usually realized that that’s bullshit. People in audiences are generally pretty supportive of you if you say, "Look, chill out," to whoever it is. Generally, I’ll try to ignore it until it goes away, or if it doesn’t go away I’ll say, "Look, this is interfering with what’s supposed to be happening here."

So... try not to be too confrontational [laughs] despite what you might want to do.

Chum: If you were starting over again right now, what would you do?

Ken: If I were starting over? I’d probably do what I’ve done. I feel like I’ve done the right things, even not realizing I was doing the right things. In retrospect the decisions I’ve made have caused me to arrive where I am now. I never had this plan, like: "I’ll do this and I’ll dot his and I’ll do this. I’ll study with this person, and then I’ll accomplish this, and I’ll move here..." It’s all been based on the conditions I’ve been in at a certain time, and trying to make those conditions work as best I can. Not going to a music school, not studying music, was a good decision. I have very negative feelings about that, and the way it impacts people. I feel that I’ve been developing my ears in a way that a lot of people don’t. I see a lot of music all the time, I listen to music all the time. That’s my education... I think there are a lot of people who study music who don’t listen to music. I think that there’s this dialectic between what you hear and what you can do. You always have to be hearing something more than you can do. I think that sometimes schools produce people with technical skills, but don’t develop their ideas.

Chum: Are you in good health?

Ken: Not in as good health as I’d like to be. I’d like to spend more time getting my shit together physically and... and also sleeping... I become very depressed if I don’t get enough sleep. I usually go to bed anywhere between three and four o’clock in the morning, and then a couple of days a week I’ve gotta get up early to go to work; and that throws my clock out of whack. And something always happens... like, last night I went to bed at 2:30, and then these guys [gestures upwards, indicating the construction workers on the top floor who provided a backdrop of noise throughout the interview] showed up at eight to do the construction... and then I’ve got to play tonight.

So I get tired, and all the pressure of trying to do this music, and all of the things that I don’t do well... all of that shit kind of comes to the forefront. So, yeah, I can’t complain about my health, but I can complain about my physical frame of mind. It’s physical music, it’s incredibly physical. It’s demanding intellectually and whatnot, but you really put yourself into the music. When I play, I feel very much like, "This is it." I want to feel like if I get hit by a truck when I walk out, that I’ve done the best playing that I could possibly do up to that point in my life. That’s kind of ridiculous, to approach things that way, but I definitely try to feel that way about it: to give everything out. That’s physically taxing... so, it would be nice to get a little more sleep! [laughs]

Chum: What did you do to prepare for this interview?

Ken: [coughs loudly] I made some coffee.

Chum: And FINE coffee it is!

Ken: Yeah... it’s very strong. I kind of like it that way. Um... let’s see, what did I do...

Well, I actually like doing interviews. I like talking about what I do, because I like what I do. I feel kind of self-conscious talking about it with people like friends. I don’t sit around saying [aesthete voice] Well you know I’ve worked on a new piece... I feel that’s really intrusive and inappropriate. I think about what I do a lot, and what’s important and what works and what doesn’t work or whatever... [But] in an interview situation it’s someone who, hopefully, is actually asking questions about what you do and wants to know. I like doing them because, periodically, I get to express my ideas about it.

Chum: Does it give you a chance to take stock?

Ken: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s a periodic consideration of what you’re doing, and I think that’s good. One of my favorite things about being in Chicago is that there are a lot of people who think here. I know that sounds kind of silly, but... In Boston I had a very difficult time finding people who talked. And in Chicago, I’m really lucky because I know a lot of musicians, but I also know people who paint and make prints and write, and they all have attitudes and ideas and most of them really like to talk. I love getting together with people and getting a beer or whatever, and just talking about shit. That’s something about Chicago that I think is really great. I feel really lucky to be here because people... at least the people I know and that I’ve been able to meet are very open about what they think, and are willing to talk about it. And they seem to think about what they do, and what other people do. That’s exciting, because to me it’s interrelated. I don’t see music as being this "thing," and there’s nothing else that interacts with it. I really see it as being one medium of expression of ideas.

We were in Munich a couple of days ago... They have a fantastic contemporary art museum there. I like abstract expressionist stuff and they have this incredible collection of abstract expressionist art... And to be able to stand in front of a Klein or a Motherwell painting, and see it, and not have it be this little reproduction... but to see it in all its size, it makes you want to play. I’ve been inspired by stuff that has nothing to do with music.

So, I feel very lucky to be here because I’m constantly getting inspiration from all kinds of places, not just with the musicians that I work with — which is the primary source — but from the people I’ve been able to know and the things that they are doing. It seems like there are a lot of ideas and things happening here. I hope it continues. I hope that this influx of media attention from outside Chicago, onto Chicago, because of the rock thing and all that shit... I hope it doesn’t jade people and destroy that positive interactive quality that I’ve been able to find here.

It’s very easy to become cynical about stuff when attention is paid and hype is built around things. There are a lot of really cool things happening here. It’d be unfortunate if hype makes people turn their backs on the things that are actually cool about being here. I kind of sound like I’m in love with Chicago, or something like that [laughs], but I think it’s a really healthy atmosphere for being creative.

So that’s kind of a long-winded answer.

Chum: Do you require close supervision?

Ken: Uhhhh... No. I prefer to work by myself. Definitely. Unless I’m rehearsing, or something like that. But with the actual process of doing the work, I definitely prefer to be by myself, and not have any interaction or interruptions. I don’t need someone to breathe down my back to work.

Chum: Not even yourself?

Ken: Ohhhhh... well, yeah, yeah. I guess that’s true, you can’t really get away from yourself. But yeah... "the two of us," definitely. That’s a problem I have, I think. I’m very hard on myself, and I have very high expectations for what I want to try to do. I put a lot of pressure on myself.

[When I] go to play tonight... There’ll be people there who have never seen me play before. I’ll either make some kind of connection or not with those people. That’s the way I perceive that, even if that’s not true. But if I don’t have my shit together, that’s a lost opportunity to say, "Here’s something that I think is worthwhile." I feel very strongly about that. Sometimes that interferes with my ability to just let go; because when you perform and you improvise, it’s really about letting go of everything. It’s like setting up all this discipline, rehearsing and whatnot, and then you hit the stage, play something, and you don’t think about anything anymore. You let go of everything. It gets in the way of letting go if you’re being concerned about bullshit. I have a tendency to... this is stupid but... I have a tendency to mumble. And if I have to talk onstage, I’m really self-conscious of it. If you become self-conscious of what you’re doing on any kind of level, it throws you out. You have to be unconscious almost. If I get caught up in this cycle of being pissed off over doing something stupid or foolish, it can make it worse, because then I’m thinking about that instead of thinking about not thinking. It’s a bad habit, a bad frame of mind.

Chum: Are you a "people person"? That’s in quotes.

Ken: [laughs] A "people person"... ummmm... Yeah! I would say that. Like I said before, my favorite thing to do is hang out with people and talk, listen to music, whatever. So I would say that I would qualify, yes.

Chum: You don’t go for the "sullen, lone jazz musician" image?

Ken: No, no... no, no, no... I can be sullen and alone [both laugh].. But, yeah, I definitely like to hang out with people. No question about that.

Chum: Are you punctual?

Ken: Um, yeah, I would say overall, yeah.

Chum: You could almost stretch this out to saying that you’re very business-like about your career.

Ken: Yes, I feel that’s an essential part of trying to do what I do. There’s business and then there’s — in quotes if you want — the "art" of it, and the business part of it is a bunch of bullshit. But it’s crucial, because in this country there’s no support system for almost any of the arts; never mind this kind of music. I think it’s the responsibility of... and I don’t like throwing the word "artist" around, because it carries a lot of pretension with it... but to anyone who’s working in fields that aren’t commercially viable, it’s important, I think, for those individuals to figure out ways to make what they do commercially viable. Because no one will do it for us.

In that business thing of being on time, showing up for gigs, doing your job, publicizing it, making phone calls; all that crap which takes up an amazing amount of time... that takes up a lot of time from being a musician... enables me to be a musician. If I didn’t show up, and I blew stuff off, and didn’t follow up on things, I wouldn’t be playing as much as I am now. It’s a necessary part of it. This country, whether you like it or not, it’s a capitalist system, and people are interested in functional business. They don’t have sympathy for someone who’s really talented but kind of spaced-out.

I have to put a certain amount of energy into being a businessperson whether I like it or not. Because if I don’t do it, no one else would do it. On an economic level, there’s no reason for someone to be interested in what I do, because there isn’t that much money in it. That’s one thing I like about the Kronos Quartet, even though I don’t really care for them as a group. I think that they’ve kind of indicated something important in that they take music this just not commercially viable — contemporary classical music is not commercially viable and they are big. They’re this big pop act. They come and they play at the Park West to a packed house, because people read about it in Rolling Stone, and they don’t know any better. And the thing that’s cool is that maybe somebody will go see them and hear some Arditti string quartet, and then say, "Shit this is amazing stuff," and go and buy it. But (first, the Kronos Quartet had to) figure out a way to get them into the room. That’s the process that I have to figure out. How do you get them in the room? That’s business, that has nothing to do with "art." The "art" is when you get ’em in the room, and then you do what you do. You should never compromise that. Get ’em in the room somehow, convince them that it’s something worthwhile to do, and then present what you do. You don’t say, [smarmy voice] "I’m going to do a bunch of catchy pop rock tunes to get people to come out and see us, and then slide a little interesting thing in there... sneak it in on them."

We’ve been lucky, in almost all of the groups I play with, people are open-minded come and check this stuff out. It’s not jazz fans in general. Jazz fans can be really closed-minded: "This is jazz, and this is not jazz." You know, we have electric guitars, so it’s not jazz. It’s bullshit. We improvise, we work out of a strong jazz background... it is jazz. I see that process of trying to figure out how to get people out... that’s my responsibility, because no one else will do it for me. There’s not enough money. I mean, on a great night, we make a couple hundred dollars. If we had an agent, that means they make twenty dollars, for hours and hours of work. There’s no money in it, so that’s my responsibility.

Chum: The final question: Do you have any questions for me?

Ken: Yeah! Why were you interested in doing the interview?

Chum: Uh... Oh no! [laughs] Well, I’d heard about you. I’d seen you play with The Coctails. I’ve listened to your Vandermark Quartet 45’s. Have you recorded anything with Caffeine?

Ken: Yeah, there’s one CD, one Caffeine CD.

Chum: I haven’t come across that yet.

Ken: I’ve got a copy of it if you want that as well. It’s quite different from the other stuff... [gets up and leaves the room, returning with a Caffeine CD, out Santa Clausing the interviewer once more] a lot more open-ended. Chum: Plus, I respect anyone who extends himself as much as you do.

Ken: Well, I’m lucky because I get a lot of energy back from the people that I work with. It’s like I said before, I couldn’t do what I do without a lot of help from a lot of people. On a certain level, it’s really selfish to do what I do. I’m obsessed with doing this music. That’s really what it comes down to. I’m lucky in that there are a lot of people who help me accomplish these things that I see as being important. If I’m lucky enough to communicate something to someone... I mean, I’ve had my life changed, literally, by various performers in different kinds of arts. That’s a positive, contributing aspect to the arts. It’s like giving something to people, and in a sense I’d would like to be able to do that. I’d like to think of it as not playing just for myself, but playing for everybody. I work really hard to accomplish these things, but I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to accomplish these things just to get my name out. I like to think of myself as not being obsessed with myself, but obsessed with doing this music; and trying to get the music out and getting it documented and performed.

I happen to play with a lot of people, and a lot of people give me shit for playing with so many different people. But I see all these different groups as representing different sides of myself, and different sides of music that are really interesting; I want to participate in that. I want to be involved in that. Not to control it and decide what happens to it, but to participate in this really interesting stuff that’s happening, and interact with it. It’s hard for me to understand approaching it any other way. Why would I not want to do that? Everyone has different ways of dealing with that. So in that sense, I guess that’s why I do so many different things. I like to think it’s not for me but for the music.

Chum: Do you think you’re kind of a bridge for a lot of people who may not be as... I mean, jazz is pretty intimidating...

Ken: Yeah, I think a lot of people feel that way about it.

Chum: I mean, most people know as much as Miles Davis and Charlie Parker and performers like that — and they’re great, of course — but at the same time, they’re more listenable. Are you introducing people to more esoteric types of jazz?

Ken: [thoughtful] I don’t know... I know a lot of people who have come to see us play [say], "You know, I don’t really like jazz, but I like this." And to me, I see what I’m doing as being part of this jazz tradition. I consider myself to be a jazz musician. To me the word "jazz" doesn’t have negative connotations, but like you say, there are a lot of people who are intimidated by it, because there’s this monolithic history they’ve gotta be aware of, and these weird musical languages that don’t make sense to anybody else but [the musicians] and all that. But, I think that it’s just music... it’s like anything else. When we’re playing and we’re playing well, it doesn’t matter that it’s improvised; or that it’s "jazz"; or that it’s "rock"; or that it’s "classical": all those breakdowns don’t mean anything anymore. It’s about this music that’s happening now, and either you get caught up in that vitality, or you don’t. The thing that’s cool about improvised music is that it’s about right now. When music is being played well in an improvised way, it will never sound that way again. It’s there, right in front of you. You won’t hear that tune the same way twice. To me, that’s the greatest thing about it. Every night I play, I can try anything; I can try something different. And there are a lot of people that have come back to see us again for that reason. It’s not like, "Oh, we’ve heard this tune before..." And that’s something that I think a lot of people — if they weren’t intimidated — that they would kind of get into. With a rock band, one of the drawbacks is — to my mind — that they’ll have like, twenty tunes, and you go and see them three times, and you know the set. One a good night, it’s cool, but the sense of surprise is not continuous. The thing that’s cool about improvised music is that you can go back and hear the same tune and it’s different. That’s why I like playing it. I’m not forced to be relegated to fulfilling set things every time I play.

Chum: Any final words of wisdom or things you want to pass along or something that you want to get out there?

Ken: One thing I would like to say is, right now, for this kind of music, in Chicago, there’s a really, really great scene. There are musicians who are playing and people coming out to see them; and there are some clubs, some performance places that are actually letting the music happen... and there are people like yourself, who are taking an interest, in the press. It’s interactive. If I play and no one ever writes about it, it’s hard for people to hear about what I do. All these things, that’s a scene. You have to have all those elements. It’s not enough just to have a place to play and no one’s documenting the music. The thing that’s cool is, it raises the ante. People go out and they hear something good, or a musician comes and checks us out... or I check out a musician and say, "Man, they’re fucking great," and I go home and I work harder.

I wouldn’t want to be in any other city in the world right now... playing; and I really mean that. There are times when I’d like to go to Europe and stay there... for six months [laughs] or a year, and be involved in that. But right now, there’s a really good scene here, and it would be really exciting for it to continue to develop the way that it has. Because there are a lot of good ideas going around, and there’s definitely years of it, potentially, to continue. And that’s exciting to be involved in.