Amy Ray and Emily Saliers have been together as the Indigo Girls for nearly three decades. Their career took off with their 1989 self-titled second album, with key songs like “Closer to Fine” and “Kid Fears” reminding us that music can be simultaneously beautiful and thought-provoking. Both Ray and Saliers are amazing songwriters, with some additional song highlights being “Strange Fire”, “Secure Yourself”, “Prince of Darkness”, “Galileo”, “Least Complicated”, “Power of Two”, and “Shame on You”. Over the years their music has evolved – perhaps most notably they started plugging in their guitars more often – but their wonderful lyrics and harmonies have always continued to shine. Their most recent album is 2011’s Beauty Queen Sister. The Indigo Girls are also politically active, and have long supported environmental, Native American, and gay rights causes.
This interview with Amy Ray was for a preview article for the Indigo Girls concert on 7/2/14 at the Santa Barbara Bowl, which they co-headlined with folk music legend Joan Baez. It was done by phone on 6/25/14.
The following is a list of some of the notable musicians who passed away in 2013, including a few who performed in the Santa Barbara area in recent years. Some are well-known, many are not, but all are worthy of our respect. R.I.P. — Rock In Peace.
In one of the more memorable scenes from the 1992 movie Wayne’s World, Wayne and Garth get to hang out backstage with Alice Cooper, to which they respond by bowing down and telling him, “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”
Cooper commands such respect, fictional or otherwise, both for his music and pioneering dark theatrics involving guillotines, snakes, twisted makeup, and much more. His efforts have earned him the honorary (or is it dishonorary?) title of the “Godfather of Shock Rock”, plus well-deserved election to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Alice Cooper saga began in the late 1960’s when the band, at that time itself called Alice Cooper, released the psychedelic-tinged album Pretties For You, which Frank Zappa reportedly agreed to produce to get the band to leave his house. Early notoriety came when Alice Cooper, the singer, threw a live chicken from the stage which was subsequently attacked and killed by the audience, an incident exaggerated by the press. The classic Alice Cooper sound was born when producer Bob Ezrin came on board, and the band’s profile grew with hits like “I’m Eighteen”, “School’s Out”, and “No More Mr. Nice Guy”.
Alice Cooper, the singer, launched a successful solo career with his 1975 album Welcome to My Nightmare, and since that time he has released multiple albums and played countless concerts which push the boundaries of what a rock and roll show can be.
This interview was done for a preview article for Alice Cooper’s concert on 11/21/13 at the Chumash Casino. It was done by phone on 11/5/13.
Garland Jeffreys is an acclaimed singer and songwriter whose songs cover a variety of styles including rock, reggae, and soul. His best-known songs are his 1973 single “Wild in the Streets” and his 1979 U.K. and European hit “Matador”. Notably, Jeffreys was named Best New Artist by Rolling Stone magazine in 1977. Jeffreys’ most recent album, The King of In Between, was released in 2011 and is one of the strongest of his career.
Velvet Underground afficionados will also be interested to know that Jeffreys is a long-time friend of Lou Reed and John Cale, and he played on John Cale’s first solo album Vintage Violence, which included Jeffreys’ song “Fairweather Friend”.
Garland answered the following questions by phone on 11/21/12, the day before Thanksgiving, and also the day before he was flying to Europe for some shows. This was for a preview article for his concert on 12/8/12 at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara. (Danny Clinch photo)
Mark Volman and long-time collaborator Howard Kaylan were founding members of The Turtles, whose 1960’s hits include “Happy Together” and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe”. When The Turtles disbanded, Volman and Kaylan joined Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, and due to contractual reasons adopted the names Flo & Eddie. Flo & Eddie performed on the Zappa albums Chunga’s Revenge, Fillmore East June 1971, and Just Another Band from L.A., and in the movie 200 Motels. Flo & Eddie also sang background vocals for T. Rex, including on the worldwide hit “Get It On (Bang A Gong)” and the albums Electric Warrior and The Slider. And that’s just scratching the surface. They also sang on records by notable artists including Bruce Springsteen (“Hungry Heart”), The Psychedelic Furs (“Love My Way”), Stephen Stills, Alice Cooper, Ray Manzarek, Keith Moon, The Ramones, and Blondie. Volman is also the Chair of the Entertainment Industry Studies program at Belmont University in Nashville.
This is from a phone interview with Volman on July 29, 2011.
Gary Lucas has been described as “The Thinking Man’s Guitar Hero” by The New Yorker, a “Guitarist of 1000 Ideas” by The New York Times, and a “legendary leftfield guitarist” by The Guardian (UK). He first gained acclaim for his work with Captain Beefheart (aka Don Van Vliet), appearing on Beefheart’s 1980 album Doc at the Radar Station and 1982’s Ice Cream for Crow. Lucas was also Van Vliet’s manager during this time. He has since released solo albums – the first being 1990’s Skeleton at the Feast featuring effect-heavy interstellar guitar instrumentals – and albums with his band Gods and Monsters, whose ranks once included Jeff Buckley. He has worked with many other artists, and was nominated for a Grammy for co-writing Joan Osborne’s song “Spider Web”.
The Gary Lucas & Gods and Monsters album The Ordeal of Civility will be released on Knitting Factory Records on May 10, 2011. This album is not just for fans of avant guitar – definitely worth checking out!
This interview was conducted by email, with responses received March 1, 2011. Lucas responded from La Habana, Cuba.
Will Oldham has been steadily releasing records for nearly two decades now, under different names including (rarely) his own, Palace Brothers, and, for most of the last decade, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. His music receives much (well-deserved) critical acclaim: for example, his 1999 album I See A Darkness – the title track of which was covered by the late Johnny Cash – was ranked as the 9th best album of the 1990’s by the influential indie-arbiters pitchfork.com, who say that it “confirm[s] that Oldham is indie’s detached and brilliant DeNiro.”
This is the transcription of a phone conversation with Oldham on 9/20/10, and formed the basis of a preview article for his 10/27/10 concert in Santa Ynez, California.