Beasts On Lockdown: An Interview with All Members of PATTERN-SEEKING ANIMALS

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Born in 2019 as the apparent off-spring of Spock’s Beard, Pattern-Seeking Animals features the soaring vocals of Ted Leonard, the dexterous and creative rhythm section of Dave Meros and Jimmy Keegan, and mastermind songwriter and keyboardist John Boegehold. After releasing their debut CD in the summer of 2019 the band wasted no time in coming up with album number two in just ten month’s time. “Prehensile Tales” sees the band further stretching their songwriting skills and the palette of instruments used in the recording session. Although they have yet to play a live concert – their debut at the Rosfest 2020 festival being hampered by the COVID virus – they are quickly building their reputation and impressive catalog.

In this interview Scott Medina is joined by all four members of the band, speaking from their separate stay-at-home locations in California, and going somewhat stir crazy. Amidst interrupting and teasing each other, the band talks about inspirations for their second album, and how the impacts of the virus situation are affecting them. Enjoy this unique interview!

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

So everyone, strap yourselves in, we’re going to be on a wild ride. We’ll be bouncing between four different amazing musicians and personalities, but they’re all based in California, currently on lock-down.This actually is the first interview I’ve done while we’re in the height of the COVID-era. So, to start off, how y’all doing with this? Are you all healthy and well?

John: [fake coughing in the background from Jimmy]Yeah. Yeah. Everything’s good so far.

Ted: I had cold symptoms, actually. I went to Florida right before it got bad, and it was kind of in the news, but it wasn’t there yet. We were actually at Disney World and then flew home and I had this nagging cough for about three weeks, [nervous laughter from the others]but no other symptoms. I dunno if there even is a place to get tested around here, but it’s all done now. But I didn’t even have a runny nose, so it’s like, it might’ve been just because I’ve been so frigging bored that I’ve been smoking too much.

Dave: Yeah, it’s cancer. Don’t worry about it.

Everyone else? Dave? How you doing out there?

Dave: I actually thought that I had it. I had to go to the hospital for another thing at the end of February and there were people in there just brutally sick. I mean with the oxygen masks and coughing and moaning and the whole thing. And a few days later I started to get a dry cough and a hundred degree temperature. And then after a few days with that I got super sick for a couple of weeks and pulled out of it. (that’s what she said.).

Ted: Did you ever get tested, Dave?

Dave: No, they don’t have them. They said, well, unless you can’t breathe anymore, just mind your own business, go home and stay away.

Ted: But isn’t it too late when you can’t breathe anymore?

Dave: Yeah, pretty much. That’s, basically what it was at that time. I mean, it was the first week in March and it was like, well, if you’re not dying then not much we can do at this point. So I don’t know if I had it or not, but I had a flu shot this year, so chances of it being a flu are lower. Anyway, this is really boring…Sorry…

Well there’s certainly nothing holding you back from releasing a new album. And the amazing thing is that it’s only been about 10 months since the release of your debut and you’ve already got album number two ready for release. How are all of you feeling about this follow-up, especially considering this quick turnaround time? John, let’s start with you.

John: Well, it’s interesting because I kind of expected when we set the release date a few months ago and then when all of this started to happen, I’m thinking, oh geez, maybe because the supply chain will be down with CDs or vinyl or whatever…who knows what’s going to happen? And I thought, well maybe we’ll get postponed or something, but they’re following through and everything is on schedule as far as the CDs and the vinyl and everything. So, you know, fingers crossed that it’s all gonna happen and we’re just moving forward. And as far as how do I feel? Geez, it’s just so, it’s so fast. I’m not exactly objective at this point. I’ve told a few people like during the interviews for the first album, I started saying, Oh yeah, we’ll have a new album out within a year! And then right after that I started thinking, why am I saying this? Because it’s putting a lot of pressure on us. And luckily we were in a position where we had a, I think for the first album, there’s one point where Rich Mouser (producer) was on tour with Neal‘s band for a couple months and other people were doing different gigs. So there’s scheduling things, but we just got really lucky with everyone’s schedule that nothing got in the way. So we were able to blast through it. So yeah, I’m really happy it all turned out as planned.

Jimmy, how are you feeling about it?

Jimmy: You know, if I had my way, it’d be out already! I want to hear it. I think that with everyone being in their houses, we should be putting it out now. But that’s just me. But I’m really excited for everyone to hear it.

Well, I saw a couple months ago, Ted mentioned on his Facebook page how proud he is of the album and said that it’s on par with some of his favorite albums ever.

Ted: I was drinking. [laughs].

Yeah, it was posted at like 3:00 AM or something. [joking]

John: [laughing]Did the post disappear the next morning? You always know. When Ted posts something late at night, the next morning it’s gone. Yeah.

Ted: Well, especially if it’s embarrassing, but that’s not even really why…I just get sick of the conversation on a thread and you know, I’m just done with it, it’s just ran its course. So that’s half the reason I erase them. People message me and they’re like, “Oh, why’d you pull it down? I was having fun being an asshole.” So anyway, yeah. [laughing from various band members]Sooooooo, what do I think of the album? [laughs]No, I think it’s great. I think it’s super melodic. I think it’s very much a departure from the first album, which was already a pretty refreshing sound [brief interruption from Jimmy crackling a Frito’s bag, slurping straw noises, laughter ensues]. So anyway, yeah, I’m digging it. I’ve listened to it incessantly. So where’s the mute on Jimmy‘s mic? Yeah. Anyway, I dig it.

Well, it’s pretty impressive because John, I remember you and I spoke probably about a year ago before even the first one came out. And even at that time you said, Oh, we’re just starting the second album tomorrow and we’re going to have that out within a year. And you made good on it! Maybe you’re a little surprised as you just said, but it’s interesting because the time between a Spock’s Beard album or someone’s solo albums – cough, Jimmy Keegan – can be painfully long. So I’m wondering what your secret was in cranking two of these puppies out within 10 months of each other?

Ted: Lowered expectations!

John: One thing is that I can always write material. Whether you like it is another thing. I don’t get into writer’s block at all. But again, there’s so many other factors that could have gotten in the way. You know, I could have gone to the record company said, okay, here’s the second album. And they could’ve said, well our schedule’s all booked up for the next six months. You can’t put out til August now. You never know because it’s a small label and they have a schedule and they can only do one thing at a time. And so that kind of actually happened with the first album. We turned it in and then it didn’t come up for four or five months because I think they had Steve Hackett and someone else already scheduled it and they were already filled up so they couldn’t put it out. But this time again, everything kind of worked in our favor. I think actually they were happy when I brought it to them because they didn’t have someone to put out an album. They wanted to announce something in February or whatever it was and then release it in May. So everything just worked out. I understand why other bands wait so long between albums but these days there’s so much out there to occupy your brain with so many different types of music. So if you don’t put out something for two or three years, eventually just people start to forget about you. And I just didn’t want to get into that position.

So for the first one, John, you wrote the majority of the album. Was that the same approach for this one? Or was there more collaboration this time around?

John: No, this one was all me on this one again. For better or for worse! I just started writing and I’m happy to have anyone chime in with any writing they want to do. Just this time it ended up being all me.

So how about for the rest of you guys? Like Ted, do you have another outlet for your songwriting right now?

Ted: Well, I’m supposed to be writing for Enchant. Enchant‘s trying to get another thing going. I have a couple completed songs, one of which we were kind of batting around for this P-SA album early on. And if Enchant doesn’t get off their laurels and do something, we’ll probably rework that song for the next album.

John: Yeah, I like that song. It’s a cool song, yeah.

Jimmy: Or maybe he’ll just put it out for a, you know, a Ted Leonard solo record.

Ted: Yeah. It’s only been 13 years since the last one.

John: Yeah. Don’t rush, don’t rush it.

Well, now being the lead singer for three different bands and then you’ve got other special cameos like Jesus Christ the Exorcist or something like that, it’s probably good that not all the bands are releasing an album every 10 months.

Ted: I do know what you mean. There was a year where three albums came out. When Enchant‘s “The Great Divide” came out, it was the same year as “Oblivion Particle” and a Thought Chamber album and it was like, okay, that was silly. You know, I just think people are like, okay, another Ted Leonard album, who gives a shit. So I think it is good to space it out a little bit, for sure.

So this time around, in addition to the four of you, there’s a lot of new instruments and sounds happening on the album. What other musicians did you bring in for this recording?

John: First of all, a friend of mine, Susan Craig Winsberg who plays flute…I don’t remember what song but I was writing a flute Mellotron part and I thought, you know what, I should just get someone to actually play a real flute. And I just called her up and she was into doing it, so she played on three of the cuts. And then the violinist is someone I found on the internet on YouTube. Her name is Rini. She’s Indian. And she has an Indian classical music background, which I liked. Plus, she plays obviously all sorts of different stuff. And then trumpet, a guy named John Fumo, a local LA guy who is really good. And then a cellist, uh, Michelle Packman. And the sax player is actually someone I never met, but I did find him online, a guy named Jeff Miguel who I think lives in Colorado, actually. But yeah, I just wanted to give it a little different sound than the last album, go with some more real instruments. Like on the last album, I had a big string section on one of the songs. This time I wanted to use the instruments more as individual voices than just, you know, in a big horn section. Because a lot of times you say, Oh yeah, we have a trumpet player and a sax player, and then you’re thinking, Oh, it’s going to be like a horn section, like Earth, Wind and Fire or something. But no, it’s just a different voice with the lines within the songs.

Well it really adds a lot in something like the song Lifeboat, with having the trumpet in there right before a guitar solo. It adds a whole new huge dimension from the debut. It feels like the band is taking it to a much different level, in the best of ways.

John: Yeah. And you know what’s funny about that is that when I was writing that song I had put down a fake trumpet part, a patch, a sample for which actually there’s a really good one. And I put it down and I thought that’s pretty cool. And I thought, well let’s just try a real trumpet player and we’ll see if it works. And the real trumpet was so much better and it was such a huge difference, it was just night and day. I mean, the fake trumpets may sound great by themselves until they’re compared with the real thing. And then there’s just no comparison.

Jimmy: Kinda like a drum machine!

So bringing in those special guests, does that impact the band members in needing to leave more room for those new sounds? Like, you know, there’s a trumpet solo in Why Don’t We Run and then there’s a quick guitar solo right after. Are people stepping on each other’s toes that way?

Ted: Oh, absolutely. It should have been all guitar.

John: Yeah. Ted was lobbying for no vocals on that song. Just start to finish guitar solo. Not, not really, because if the trumpet solo weren’t in there, that section probably wouldn’t have even been in there. We would’ve gone right to the guitar solo. So it’s not like everyone has to step out of the way, I guess when you’re mixing obviously, you mix certain things out of the way when other things are playing..

And Ted, how has the role of full-time guitarist been treating you on this one?

Ted: Yeah, I really enjoyed some of the sounds that we decided to use for this one and some of those were actually in the mixing room, some of the like different effects. So it was cool to use really cool fuzzes and just a lot of different sounds. And of course playing along with this really super well-grafted music with my two favorite instrumentalists in the drums and bass, I’m happy as a clam. But clams can’t play guitar.

The track “Here In My Autumn” has some really great solos in it and then you’ve got the slide playing in there as well.

Ted: Yeah, that’s the one thing I didn’t do. That was actually a lap steel, right John?

John: No, that’s a pedal steel and that was Rich Mouser. He had this pedal steel sitting in his studio. And as we were mixing stuff, we kept thinking, boy, it’d be really cool to put this on something. And when he started to really put Here In My Autumn together, we thought, let’s try this. I don’t play pedal steel at all. It’s just confusing to me. But Rich plays it and we just sat down and we thought, Oh, this would be cool. Just do a little four bars here. We just kinda went bar by bar and all of a sudden it’s through the last couple of minutes of the song. He was playing the full pedal steel with the pedals and the bends and everything, it was cool. And then of course you had to add the Echoplex to give it that kind of like almost like a Steve Howe thing. When we mixed it in with like the guitar line in a couple of places that Ted was playing and then with the violin, it’s a really cool part. I think it turned out really well. It was fun.

The vocal layering on this album is really strong. I’m sure that having Rich Mouser in the studio really helps with that. But Ted and Jimmy just really seemed to hit it strong vocally on this album.

John: Yeah, I agree. That’s something that I really wanted to focus on because their blend is so great. I’m such a big fan of those kind of vocals. It’s just a killer blend. So that’s fun.

So how does that come around? Jimmy, do you guys come up with the harmonies on the spot, or is that all pre-written out by John or how does that work?

Jimmy: It’s all of the above. We’ll get demo vocals of what he has in mind, but it’s always with the idea of if there’s something you want to add or change, feel free to do that. We tend to stick pretty close to his ideas because, like the rest of the song, it’s very well crafted and thought out, but there’s a handful of spots where either Ted came up with some stuff or I came up with some stuff and it’s a pretty even pretty even distribution in terms of how that works out. But it’s generally John‘s arrangements.

John: But see, I’m not really a singer, so that’s why it’s cool those guys come up with something because as a vocalist, they might come up with a harmony idea which I never even thought of, or an interval or something, which is always really, really cool to me.

One thing I get excited about a new album coming out from you guys is to get to hear Dave and his bass tone, which is always so fantastic, especially playing with Jimmy. But on this album, I was surprised that the track Elegant Vampires is one of my favorites. It’s propelled by Dave but you’ve got a different tone on that one or probably a whole different bass than you use on the rest of the album.

Dave: Yeah, I used a few different kinds of basses on this one. John had the idea to approach it with that type of tone, rear jazz bass pickup kind of a thing. On that song, I think I used a bass that probably no one’s heard of. It’s John Carruthers. It’s got active electronics and it’ll really get that type of tone a lot easier than some of my other ones. But I used my Spock’s Beard bass only for a couple of tracks on this. I used a couple of different Yamaha basses and I used a Fender P bass with flat wounds on spots. That’s the one good thing about recording at home. You’ve got all your toys here, you can just reach up on the wall and grab another one.

And so you all recorded your parts pretty much from home studios. Is that how it worked?

Dave: Yeah, the man cave.

Ted: Except for the group vocals.

John: Yeah, cause we’ve gotten together to shoot some photos. So when they were here, we did some group vocals and some guitar parts. The stuff that was recorded at Rich‘s, obviously the drums, we did those first we recorded those over at Rich‘s and then sent the parts to Dave and Ted to do their stuff at home for the most part. And the other players at Rich‘s…we had the flute and the cello and the trumpet. But aside from that, Dave and Ted did most of their stuff at their home and Jimmy did his vocals at home.

Jimmy, on Elegant Vampires is that you on the hand percussion, the conga there?

Jimmy: Yeah. Basically all the percussion on this record is me. I mean, some of it’s shakers and drum machine-type stuff or loops kinds of things. But any hand percussion, congas and I played a Darbuka on Why Don’t We Run? Yeah.

Ted: I love Indian food.

John: Dumbek!!

Dave: What’d you call me?

[laughter]That Why Don’t We Run has just got such a great South of the border feel with the acoustic guitar, gypsy strumming and the trumpet solo. Where did that inspiration hit from to go in that direction with it?

Jimmy: [smart-ass] Well, technically to be border-conscious would actually be, um, Northeast of the border. Uh, that would be Spanish and the percussion on it is Arabic, which in essence is kind of derivative anyway. It’s all kind of Arabic.

John: Yeah, I think the vibe on that one was like that spaghetti western Ennio Morricone stuff, you know, “The Good, The Bad, the Ugly” …

Jimmy: Not to be anal retentive or anything. But, here I go! [laughing].

John: Yeah. Why stop now? But no, the cool thing I like is there’s so many different influences. Like the percussion that Jimmy played isn’t something you’d normally hear in something like that, but it fits really well with the hand drum. So when people say it’s this or that, I listen to it as though there’s a whole bunch of different weird ethnic things happening in that tune.

Yeah that happens in several places, like the first half of Soon But Not Today has got a totally different reggae groove thing and then you segue into a Beatles-era kind of inspiration.

John: Yeah. Usually what I try and do is if I’m writing something and I find myself getting a little too close to a certain inspiration or whatever, I try and shy away from it because the last thing I want is for someone to go, oh it sounds like Genesis or Yes, or something. But for this one I was reading the Geoff Emerick book “Here, There and Everywhere” at the time. And I was on all the early recording stuff about recording early Beatles. And I thought, what the hell, it sounds like a Beatles thing, let’s just go for it. So yeah, that one goes through a few different changes.

Yeah, the first half is incredible in its own way. But you never go back to those themes again.

John: Yeah, I looked at it like the same way as that song with Spock‘s, “A Better Way to Fly”, where even though there’s a couple of recurring little themes or words, I wanted that one to be more linear where it starts off with something that it just never comes back to. I do touch back on a couple of things, but sometimes rather than running it like a pop song with a verse chorus and the chorus comes in at the very end in a big chorus thing, I wanted something that just starts and end in a different place.

The whole album begins with “Raining Hard in Heaven” which may be my single favorite song that you guys have done thus far. And especially the fantastic instrumental section where we even get a bit of a drum solo from Jimmy early on, that’s really cool.

Jimmy: That’s right! Woo-hoo!!! Hey girls!

John: That’s a perfect example of, uh, ….

Ted: [assorted laughter at John ignoring Jimmy’s enthusiasm]…

John: …example of how much I write and how much the guys come up with. The beginning of that instrumental section I had pretty much bass pedal tones and Dave said I’ve got an idea and he came up with this really cool groove, that seven groove, that bass thing that totally kicks it off. And then that drum solo Jimmy plays in seven was really cool. That whole section turned out great.

When the album begins though, you know, for a second I’m not sure if I’m listening to Billy Jean.

Dave: [sings bass riff from beginning of Billy Jean].

Jimmy: [riffs on Michael Jackson voices]

John: That little riff I’ve had in my head from a song I did like many, many years ago and I always wanted to use it again. The chord progression, cause it never really went anywhere. It changed a lot from the original one, but it definitely has that kind of vibe to it. You know, that four on the floor sound. A couple people have mentioned that and it’s kind of deceptive what you’re going to be hearing on the rest of the album when you start with that one.

Jimmy: It comes back to the concept of when you’re playing a song, when you’re the musician and someone else presents a song to you, even though John has certain parts already sort of flushed out, but either way you’re still looking for what’s the best thing, the best way to approach this song? What’s the best part to play that presents the song that allows the vocal and the melody and the primary instruments to be supported? And I’m always kind of bothered in the world of Prog and fusion and everything like that, where people think that, Oh, because it’s this certain style of music, you have to be complicated. You know, if that’s what the song wants and that’s what the song calls for, then that’s what should be done. So there’s a handful of spots in this record where I’m actually playing just straight knuckle-dragging time and it’s great, I love it.

I was really looking forward to seeing your debut performance at the Rosfest Festival this May.

Jimmy: We were, too!

I’m sure! Had you already been putting together the live version of the band for that?

Jimmy: Yeah, we had already planned rehearsals and had a set list and we were practicing at home.

Ted: We had two people that were already pretty much selected to join us to make it, because John’s not going to be coming out on stage with us. So we have a couple of guys, both play multiple instruments. Dennis Atlas, you might be familiar with from some of his videos and stuff. He was going to be the primary keyboardist and then Walter Eno who is a friend of Jimmy‘s and is a guy who plays everything. So he’ll be covering any places where we layered multiple guitars and stuff like that as well as keyboards.

Jimmy: Walter posted a thing this morning on his Facebook page, because he’s just moved a little while ago and he’s got his studio up and he covered “Overkill” from Men At Work and he’s playing drums, bass, keyboard and singing everything. And it’s just like, Really dude? One of those guys that drive me crazy. People who can play every instrument.

So now that the whole Rosfest is on ice and everything else, how can you plan from here? I know that even last year when you brought out your debut, you were talking about a lot of live dates to come and you probably decided to focus on the second album first instead. But what’s your plans or hopes for gigging once live music gets to be a thing again?

Ted: I think all of us want to get this material out there in front of people, for sure. I know I’m looking forward to it and it just remains to be seen. I’d love to get on one of the cruises. I’d love to play some festivals, maybe even pursue the idea of joining up with another band and doing a quick tour at some point. But I think all of us have an interest in getting it out there.

So there’s enough overlap with you guys and other bands. Would you want to go out on tour with another band that some of you might be in and do double duty? Is that a possibility for you?

Ted: I wouldn’t be completely opposed to it, but I think that it’s better if you’re trying to kind of cross pollinate with fan bases, it’s better to have a completely different band that has maybe a similar vibe. Like the Flower Kings/Spock’s Beard combination was pretty perfect on the last tour we did. Certainly if we could go out with a band like, you know, Big Big Train or something. Of course they’re going to do three shows and they’re all going to be in the same venue, but… [Laughs] But it’d be great to go out with a band that’s kind of like-minded to a degree.

John: Yeah, I agree with that. I always like hearing different styles of bands. It would just seem weird to go see one band and the same lead singer gets up for the second band and the same drummer. That’s always weird to me.

Ted: It’s happened before. It happened on the Bonehold night, actually. [laughter]

John: Oh that’s right. Yeah. I was there. The infamous night! [more laughter]At the Whittier, right? But that’s always weird to me as a fan because of the crossover. It’s like, what am I, what am I watching? You know, cause it’s the same band.

Dave: Bonehold! [laughter]

Ted: Okay. So we probably have to give some context to that.

John: Ted knew me for many years. And he just recently learned my name.

Ted: The thing is, at that point, John was already pretty involved, obviously in the writing and everything, but I had never said his last name before [laughing]and I’ve seen it, I’ve read it. And then we were starting into a song that he had written and I could see his silhouette in the back of the room, (Uh, it was either him or Albert Hitchcock) but I could see a silhouette and I’m like, Hey, here’s the writer of the song! And I immediately realized that I don’t know how to pronounce his last name, but, but for whatever reason, John Bonehold came out of my mouth! [Everyone laughing]

John: Which I thought was very funny actually. [laughing]Ted‘s all embarrassed. But it’s like my entire life no one has gotten my name right. That’s nothing! Believe me.

Ted: It’s kind of homoerotic. I mean I could have gone somewhere…

John: [laughter]Speak for yourself! Right.

And were you able to go into the song after that?

Ted: Well, after we stopped laughing because I know Dave and pretty much everyone’s laughing, except me. I was just sweating.

Dave: I thought he was just being a smart ass.

Ted: See, if I had purposely done it, then it would have been way funny. But… Anyway, so that happened. Yeah.

Dave: What is that, Dutch? What is the origin of that name?

John: German, German [various attempts to pronounce Boegehold in a German accent].

So now that we’ve just about the second album out, do you guys still have this mindset of, All right, we’re moving forward, we’re going to do an album a year…? Because that’s what you were initially talking about,. Do you think that that still would be a good prospect for you?

Ted: I’m very generous with John’s efforts, so yeah!

John: That’s the plan. I’ve been writing for the next one for a couple months now, on and off. And again, taking it in a slightly, uh, not a real different direction, but I want enough distance between it sonically where people won’t go, Oh, these are obviously songs leftover from the last one. I think one good thing about “Prehensile Tails” is that when you listen to it, you don’t automatically think, Oh, this is just stuff they didn’t release from the last one. Cause it’s such a different sound.

Jimmy: We had a song that wasn’t on the last one. And we ended up passing on it again.

John: Exactly. And I’m already re-writing…

Ted: We’re going to use a lot more measuring tape on this album.

And “Prehensile Tails”. You want to tell us where that title came from?

John: Forever, since I’ve been writing lyrics, I’ve looked at words and I love play-on-words and I automatically look at words for lyrics and I think, well how can I rearrange that or do a spoonerism or switch things around? Then I’ll write them in a book that I have just for lyric ideas. And that was one I thought of a couple of years ago, which I just thought was clever. But when I was going looking for a name for the album, going through my list, I thought, Wow, that could actually fit, you know! Actually it’s kind of cool because it has to do with animals and it’s a clever play on words and…

Ted: Cause it’s not really a tail!

John: Yeah, it’s not really a “tail”, get it? It’s a T-A-L-E, get it? And then prehensile tail, like that’s weird because what does that mean? Cause everyone knows it as a prehensile tail or claw or whatever…something which you can grab. But then there’s another definition which is able to perceive quickly or having a keen mental grasp. So I thought, okay, I’ll take that. I thought it was clever.

Ted: I am so not prehensile.

John: Yeah, you’re postensel.

Jimmy: It’s just John monkeying around. [groans].

Ted: I gotta go, guys, after that.

Well it doesn’t look like there’s any tails on these gorillas, on this badass album cover you’ve got, either.

Jimmy: Ironically, gorillas don’t have prehensile tails!

Ted: Ironic. It’s like rain on your wedding day, right?

Just all sorts of built-in irony with this band, I can see. [laughter]All right. So, we’ve got a good trajectory going. We’ve got two excellent albums out within less than a year’s span. We’ve got no live gigs yet, but I assume that some will pop up by the end of the year or at some festival soon and we’ve got more coming on the horizon somewhere. This is a pretty good start to a band, I’d say!

Ted: Yeah, well I think this would be the year to get a third one out and maybe half the fourth one recorded because we are going to have nothing to do for a few months here. But yeah, it is great. I think like you pointed out, we’ve all been in bands where it’s been two to three years between releases and sometimes 10 and so it’s just nice to try momentum for a change!

To bring it into the current state of affairs, I think a number of you are full time musicians. What’s been the impact of the Coronavirus for you now? I’m assuming, obviously, your Rolling Heads band isn’t happening.

Jimmy: The music industry just shut down. The music and film industry has shut down other than things that exist. So the only reason that we’re pushing ahead on this is because it exists already, but there are no gigs of any kind at all, whether it’s corporate-type, bar gigs, touring gigs. I mean everything stopped.

Ted: Even sessions, huh?

Jimmy: Yeah, I’ve actually done a couple of sessions but half of the sessions I’m doing are things that were already commissioned prior to any of this nonsense happening. You know, they asked me to do it. I told them when my studio would be up and running. So it’s like, now that I’m up and running, I’m getting into it. But I was paid for it two months ago. There are a few people that called for sessions for kind of small times thing. I’m just fortunate in the sense that they happen to have money, you know, either savings or other jobs. You know, I’m like a second day job. But otherwise everything’s stopped.

Ted: Yeah, it’s been a drag. I mean, everything’s been postponed. I have a real job, too, but we definitely count on that extra income at this time of year. It’s been a bummer. But also, my wife and I’ve been kicking around the ideas of like doing acoustic things and cute little recordings at home and stuff and she’s probably gonna force me to do that once I set up the green screen.

So Ted, what is your day job?

Ted: I’m a data analyst, so I work for small loan lenders. So I consult for three or four and then I kind of have a main one that’s more like my baby. I’m a big data nerd and even spreadsheets.

And Dave, how are you doing out there?

Dave: Oh, I’m doing okay. I actually did get some bass track session work that I just do here all by myself at home and I’m kind of a hermit anyway, so my life really hasn’t changed that much. I miss doing the gigs on the weekends. It’s a good punctuation for my hermit-ness.

Ted: Yeah. I mean, seriously, I don’t know how much more TV I can watch at this point. The weekends are the worst part when I’m not working. God, I watched two seasons of some new Marvel comic show. I don’t know. It was a, what is it? Who cares? But I couldn’t believe how much I watched.

John: For my day job, I manage a bunch of apartment buildings and I work from home. And like Dave, I am a hermit and have perfected the art of social distancing. It’s a fine art with me now for over 30 years. So I do music and I work from home, so nothing’s changed a whole lot. I mean, obviously some things have, but I’m not a full time musician, so I understand what they saying. Every musician I know is in that position at this point.

Ted: The worst part about this whole thing is that the Starbucks in my town shut down, both of them.

John: You know, the time you’re spending watching TV, you could always try making your own coffee and save…

Ted: I know, I’m forced to, but you know, it’s never quite the same.

So, John, was this a long time coming for you? I mean, I think this must be a thrill. You’re writing the material, you’ve got huge swaths of keyboards in the material here, and you’ve got this killer group of musicians to carry it out and realize your songs in an amazing way. So it’s a pretty cool position to be in, I would think.

John: Oh yeah! Everything just sounds great. Everything just sounds way better than when I started writing it. So it’s all good to me. Everyone plays great, then Rich mixing everything. Yeah, it’s a total dream. But it just kind of happened so quickly. You know, I talked to Thomas at Inside Out over the years. Every couple of years he’d bring it up, Hey, what do you think about putting your own side project together and doing your own thing? And, you know, we’d sit there and talk for a half an hour about it and I would just kinda humor him. And then finally I just thought, well, I’ll just do some songs. And it’s funny because I never wanted to do it because it just seemed like too much was involved, you know, just too many things to think about. I was doing other stuff. And finally when I started doing the first album, I didn’t even tell Thomas, I didn’t even approach the record company until it was close to being done. And I put something up on Facebook. I was working on tunes. I think it was something I was doing with drums, with Jimmy over at Rich‘s or something. And Thomas calls up and says [in feaux German accent], Do you want to talk about this? What are you doing? So that’s where it all started.

Ted: That is the very worst German accent ever.

John: Well, he doesn’t really have a German accent.

Ted: Yeah, it’s weird. He’s got kind of a British…

John: [laughing]Yeah, it’s not like this stereotypical type of German accent, “Vat you thinking?!” It was not one of those. But Thomas said it was great, and he just hopped in and said let’s talk about this and you know, maybe putting together a project and then if you want to go more than one album, we can think about doing a group. It was very organic. I think if I would’ve done it sooner it would have been kind of forced and getting in the way of other bands and all that kind of stuff and this just happened at the right time, which is I’m really happy about.

And the three of you guys, have you still been active in the Rolling Heads endeavor [cover band that Ted, Jimmy and Dave are in]up until recently?

Ted: Yeah. Last year was a banner year. I think we, the band grossed close to 100 K or 90K or something like that. So yeah, it’s still a big part. Sometimes it’s too much when we have multiple gigs on a weekend. We actually had a few weird weeks where we had Wednesday gigs and then Friday, Saturday, Sunday, like it was a Memorial day weekend. So it’s been pretty busy. [sarcastic]And very artistically fulfilling! [laughs]But it’s always fun, and for us it’s like way more fun than just going to a restaurant or something like that. It’s just a nice way to break up the life.

And a few months back, you and Dave were playing a couple of shows with Spock Beard. Were those kind of one-off things, just keeping the band together, or was it moving forward for something in the future?

Ted: I think it was really just keeping the wheels greased a little bit, and a lot of people were starting to speculate, I think partly because this P-SA album is coming out, people were starting to speculate that the band was done or something like that. And so I think Ryo kind of took it upon himself to figure out a way where we could get out and play a couple shows.

Cool. Well, I hope there’s more to come in the future on that. And Jimmy, how’s the solar project going?

Jimmy: Actually in a strange way, this goofy thing is going to probably allow me to finish it. I’ve got a track that’s waiting on two people to finish their parts and it will be done. And it will lead me to one last song. So I’m strangely enough coming a lot closer than I’ve been! I’m setting goals of, uh, of two months to be complete. And all the musicians that I usually beg for their time are kind of just sitting around now, so they have no excuse.

Ted: Am I on that?

Jimmy: You are! You’re actually on it quite a bit.

Ted: And we played my little toy guitar at one point ‘cause it was all fretting out and horrible, but it had a really kind of cool vibe.

Jimmy: Yeah. I played it yesterday on a little show I did.

Scott: Well we’re going to close up our time by playing your first released track “Here in My Autumn”. John, anything you want to say as an intro for this song? And if anyone else has any bits about this piece, feel free to chime in.

Jimmy: This song was a journey for me cause when I was tracking the drums for it, I hear everything first. I didn’t really hear the full song that would become, it’s just a skeleton thing. I was going off of what John really telling me…  I didn’t really have any vocals and everything. So it was a song that I had the most ambivalent feeling about. And then upon hearing it completed, it was the most dramatic turnaround for me ‘cause it has this stunning bridge and these great keyboard bits and this is fantastic, weird poly rhythmic stuff happening. And so it’s the song that stands out to me as the one that I went from, “I’m not sure about this one” to, “Oh my God. This is my favorite song in the record! This week.”

Well guys, thanks so much. Thank you all for joining us and having a little break in your days at home. Thanks for taking off your masks so we actually could hear you talking.

John: Exactly. Yeah, It’s funny because I had to go to the bank earlier and I’m talking to the teller who’s already behind a window. And I would say something like, it would sound like “Mfmnfs snths! [Inaudible]”. She was like, What? Oh yeah, the mask!

All right guys. Well stay healthy, be well and no more sneezing from Jimmy there.

Jimmy: Who sneezed? What? It wasn’t me!

Ted: Thanks a lot, Scott.

John: Good talking to you again. Yeah, we’ll talk to you in a few weeks for the third album, right? [laughs]

All: All right, we’ll see you down the road. Thank you. Cheers. Bye.

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