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Published: 2009/08/26
by Dean Budnick

Wheels A-Flying, Cloud Descending (The Jambands.com Reader Interview With Dave Schools)

On the eve of Widespread Panic’s twenty date co-headlining tour with the Allman Brothers Band, we thought it was a fine time to sit down with Dave Schools. Well over 200 of you submitted questions for the bass player when we put out our call a while ago, and Dave was quite generous with his time in addressing many of them. What follows is the first installment of a two part feature in which he takes on your queries, with plenty more to come…
Let’s start with a question that a number of people asked in a variety of ways. “When will the new Stockholm Album be out and what should we expect?” Joseph G.

The new Stockholm album is finished. You should expect a more cohesive effort as far as songwriting. It never was really a side project, it just seemed that way because life got in the way and the fight for life as far as Wally Ingram was concerned. And with Danny Louis on keyboards, there’s a whole new soul going on. We may put it out ourselves, we may ask someone else to put it out, someone may just be desperate enough to put it out for us. Either way, I’d look for it around the beginning of the year.

Stockholm has those three performances in early September. Will there be other dates before disc hits?

No, these are just, “Hi, we’re here” dates. And the date in the Santa Cruz record store, Streetlight, we’re going to record that sort of stripped down. This band is so well versed at doing that with Wally’s ability to make anything into a percussive device, Eric’s ability to play flamenco gut string guitar and mandolin, Danny’s a great piano player and I just turn down (laughs). Jerry’s great with an acoustic guitar and no microphone with his voice. That should be at CIMS stores, I believe. I’m not sure when but keep an eye out for that.

In terms of swapping Danny [Louis] for Danny [Dziuk], was that matter of logistics? I imagine it was challenging bringing him in from Germany.

Well, Danny Dziuk is very well-respected in Germany not only as a songwriter but also a composer, he does film scores. He is in the band of this guy Stoppok, who I’ve described as the German Prince, the Purple One. So he plays in his band and he’s plenty busy. We loved having him but it was always a part time thing. We were lucky to have him on the record and even luckier to have him on the road for that year when we were touring. And he loved it because he got to see the States. But Danny Louis is someone that I’ve worked with off and on since I first met him playing in Warren Haynes’ solo band back in 1990 or ’91. The crossover when I was still playing with the Mule and Danny joined up was a pleasure. We see eye to eye and now there are two bald guys in the band.

“I recently listened to some old Gov’t Mule with Allen Woody. His bass lines were just incredible. And to watch him on video, he had just such a big presence musically (Yes he was a big guy physically, but “big” musically too. That’s the adjective that comes to mind.). Can you share with us some of your thoughts/stories about dear Woody?” Geoff E.

I really can’t share too many stories because if he were still alive we’d both be hard pressed to remember many of things we did together. We liked a lot of the same kind of music and we loved to sit around and talk about the music we loved. Woody was also a prankster with a heart of gold.

Yes he was an amazing bassist. Not only could he play but he understood tones and he understood grungy bass tones and how they really fill in. We were really great friends so it was such an honor when Warren called and said, “Can you fill in at One for Woody?” That remains one of the best tribute type multi-band rock nights I’ve ever participated in. It was at Roseland and the Black Crowes played, Phil Lesh Quintet played, Lesley West from Mountain showed up. It was just a great night and I think about him all the time, he was such a sweetheart.

“Ever think about bringing back that standup bass you used to play in ’99?” Mike M.

I do think about it but the closest I ever get is sitting on the giant case that’s about the size of a coffin that is off to stage left. Sometimes I’ll sit on it because it’s so huge. We’ve thought about it and the opportunities we’ve had to do an acoustic thing with Panic in sort of Panic 3.0 or whatever you want to call it, haven’t been frequent. I really like to bring that thing out when the whole band is playing acoustic or as close as we get to it. I think it’s a good direction and everybody mentions from time to time how much they enjoy that stripped down thing, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see that bass come out in 2010.

“What factors go into the deciding the songs for Jimmy to learn and play? I know he is a relentless player, who will practice rigorously to learn a new song, but I also know there are a lot of songs that haven’t been brought back into set list rotation, mostly from the Mikey era.” Al W.

Well Jimmy learned everything. He even learned songs we stopped playing when Mikey passed away, certain songs that John Bell just didn’t feel right singing. As a singer he likes to have some personal experience behind the words he’s singing. And some of the songs that have been on the shelf so to speak were really personal for Mikey. So we’ve sort of let those be a bittersweet memory.

But Jimmy learned everything and he’s relentlessly attentive to detail. He takes his opportunity and I won’t call it a job because I don’t think any of us looks at it as a job but he takes his opportunity so seriously that it rubs off on the rest of us. This guy uses every possible minute to think about and create music. So as far as the songs we chose, Jimmy asked about some of the others: “What about this one?” And we we’re like, “Gosh, we forgot we even played that.”

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