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Published: 1998/12/15
by Jeff Waful

Chris Kuroda Sheds Some Light

JW: Yeah, I was watching the show the other night and in anticipation of this interview, I was trying to concentrate on the lights as much as possible. It occurred to me that there are those four amazing musicians on stage creating sound for 20,000 people, but really your mind is the only one mind that’s in control of the visual aspect. Do you ever think about that? I mean, you have a lot of control over people’s moods.

CK: Yeah, there’s a certain amount of emotional control, but I don’t really like to think of it like that. I’m really just trying to enhance the feeling that the music is giving off with the proper color. I’m not really trying to force a blue on it when it (isn’t appropriate). In my opinion, when things are really moving fast and jamming hard, proper lighting for that is your deep saturated hot colors. So I’m not going to try to force blues and greens on a big, huge rock and roll moment, cause I feel it’s inappropriate. I’m just trying to choose the correct looks to go with what’s going on musically, first. Although, there is a lot of crowd reaction.

JW: I read in the interview with Dean Budnick in 1995, that some of your favorite songs to light are the ones with odd time signatures: Guyute, David Bowie, Reba. Since then, the band’s writing style has become less complex while the lighting system has gotten more complex. Do you miss the old style? A lot of the funk jams don’t give you as much to do.

CK: Well, I do miss certain things, but I like the fact that the band is striving to go in new directions, whether it’s mellower or not. I like the fact that I’ve had to change my style because they’ve changed their style. I’ve done things recently, within the last couple of years. I’ve written lighting cues and instead of being five second lighting cues, they’re thirty-five second cues. I’m experimenting a lot more with adding more time to things. So, it takes thirty-five seconds for something to develop, instead of five seconds. I really enjoy that kind of thing, trying new things out. It’s funny, cause you try new things out and you discover a whole new world that you didn’t even know was there and go “wow, I can do this. That looks really cool. I never knew that would look cool before. I like when it moves reeeeeeally slow and it has a certain soothing vibe to it”. But yes, at the same time I miss….I wish I could have it all.

JW: Can you talk a little bit about “2001”? I mean, that’s sort of been stretched out in recent years. Did the band sit down with you and say, “Chris, you’re doing some amazing stuff. We’re gonna stretch that out for twenty minutes and give you your own little solo”?

CK: No, that would have been nice, but really it has nothing to do with that. They’re just really getting into playing those funk grooves. “2001” is a perfect place to have a good, long funk groove and jam out on it. It’s a music thing.

JW: I think one of the band’s greatest non-musical strengths is its communication with the fan-base. It’s seems like they always know what their fans are thinking. But, this whole glow stick issue, people are very divided on. People don’t really know if the band likes it or not.

CK: I think that the glow-rings, the kind that fit together in the little plastic insert, they’re great. They look great flying around up there. They’re not gonna hurt a fly. The thick, plastic glow sticks are hurting lots of people in the crowd with serious injuries requiring stitches. Some friends of mine, as a matter of fact (have been injured). There is no need to throw those. I mean, it looks great and it looks cool and you’re at a concert, and it’s the heat of the moment. I can understand why people do it, but….. I don’t like the glow sticks. Every time it starts, the first thing I tell my two guys is, “everybody, watch your head, duck.” We’re all looking out. Some people really just whip them. I really have no tolerance for that. You’re gonna really hurt someone. That’s not the heat of the concert-moment getting to you. That’s just a jerk whipping a glow stick.

JW: I completely agree. The first time it happened, at the Great Went, it was just amazing. It was spontaneous. It was beautiful. People were lofting them…

CK: That looked great, but you learn as time goes on. We thought the glow stick thing was gonna be the greatest thing in the world until we realized people were getting hurt.

JW: Can you elaborate a little? I mean, do you hear the band talking about it? I know Trey, that first night said, “go get more of those, they look amazing”. Is there any discussion backstage?

CK: Since then, I would say that they’re a little down on them. I think they feel the exact same way I do. Get thousands and millions of those little ringed ones. They’re thin. They couldn’t hurt a fly. Throw them around. They’ll look amazing. They really will. But I think everyone’s against the thick, plastic ones.

JW: Agreed. So, which of the new material do you really dig?

CK: I dig it all, most of it. I mean, there’s a couple things that just aren’t for me, but I’ve learned to like them. I’ve always liked Phish’s upbeat music, so I really like “Birds of a Feather” and I like “Ghost” and I like “Frankie Says”, just because I think it’s a really pretty song. I really do like most of it, I’d have to say.

JW: “Dark Side of the Moon” in Utah…

CK: The most amazing thing about that is, from the time they put the disc in and began learning it to the time they played it, was about two and a half hours.

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