Wheels A-Flying, Cloud Descending (The Jambands.com Reader Interview With Dave Schools)
Back to setlists, which again was a topic of interest to many people. Is there someone who spearheads it from day to day or night to night? Can you talk a bit about how that’s done?
Well we have that master list with all the songs and all the covers we’ve ever done. Our stage manager Garrie Vereen has a color code system where he writes down the set we just played and crosses those songs off in black and the songs we played the night before are in red and we go back four shows. So we have four colors and we try not to repeat any of the songs that are red and certainly not black two nights in a row. That’s a big jamband foul (laughs).
We do tend to play the new songs a lot but that’s not because we’re trying to shove them down people’s throats. It’s because they’re new and we really enjoy playing them. Also, in a lot of cases we’re allowing them to evolve on stage. So that’s why some songs get played more than others.
But as far as whose responsibility it is, it’s everybody’s. Some people take a more general interest in it from night to night: JoJo and myself. John Bell has been doing a lot of setlists lately. And we do try to do it a little sooner. We used to do the first set and play the first set and then come up with the second set in the dressing room. But that kind of stopped when Mikey passed away because first we had George McConnell and now we have Jimmy Herring and they both love a little extra time to woodshed. Jimmy really likes it if we can have the setlist to him before we even leave the hotel and we’re like, “Good luck, pal.” (laughs) But if we are sitting up and it’s a long bus ride, there might be time to pull out the list and go ahead and do tomorrow’s setlist and give him a chance to work on things because it just makes him comfortable. He doesn’t need the rehearsal but it makes him comfortable.
I also tend to take an interest in setlists in the Virginia area because I have high school friends or whatever. JB likes to take an interest in the Cleveland area, that’s where he grew up and JoJo has interest in the New York area. Things like that come into play but generally anybody can do it.
“Panic credits all of its original songs as ‘by Widespread Panic,’ and I realize that all the members of the band contribute in some way. I was curious, however, if there are any songs that you have personally written the lyrics for?” Chad S.
Lyrics? No, no way (laughs). If I did, you’d hate that song. My services are best utilized on the musical end.
“The Band is obviously well read, what are some of the favorite books, and/or authors that accompany you on the road?” Collin S.
I’ve been enjoying Cormac McCarthy. He’s someone that Mike Houser turned me on to but I never got around to reading the book he gave me until a year ago, which was Suttree. I’m very excited to see this movie of his book The Road which is probably one of the most depressing reads with an uplifting ending that I’ve ever suffered through.
JoJo likes to read a lot. He likes science fiction, Philip K Dick and stuff like that.
I remember for a while Mikey was reading all the classics because his son Waker was getting to be knee high and he thought it would be a good idea to get a grip on the classics. So he actually read War And Peace while we were on tour one summer (laughs). I told him, “You’re a better man than I.”
“During the process of signing off on the music for the archival series do you listen back to archival shows and if so, what have you discovered?” Eric B.
You know I haven’t really listened to do much weeding. That’s why we trust Horace Moore and Chris Rabold because between the two of them, we have all the bases covered. They’re both inside enough to know what a good performance is from the individual members and inside and outside enough to pick up on whether the band’s performance was really special. And Chris has the engineering knowhow to take a look at the sound quality because these are multitracks for the most part, they’re not Betty’s reels [Betty Cantor-Jackson of Grateful Dead recording fame] that were mixed down to two track on the reel to reel while the show was happening.
So these are multitracks and all of the things that are inherently problematic with the media you won’t discover until you pull out a 12 year old multitrack tape and realize there’s no kick drum on the first 3 songs. Things like that all come into play.
And what they’ve been doing is taking all things into account from those perspectives, including what the hardcore fans are looking for, the people who have massive collections of shows. What we can offer them is much better sound quality than even a soundboard because we have the ability to mix these multitracks down. So what’s not out there or what’s out there that is so great that people suffer through a terrible audience recording to get to whatever happened on stage and can we offer a better version of that? We’re really just getting rolling.
I know you had an interview with Horace [Editor’s note: stay tuned]. He’s a terrific guy and he really cares because he’s a fan. He’s an insider who’s been around, I met him right after I came to my freshman year of college in the early 80s. We’ve been friends ever since. He really cares and because he is a fan and he is an insider, he’s got a great grip on it. He really likes receiving wheelbarrows full of emails from people who care enough to voice an opinion and he listens.
So they weed out most of the stuff and we get down to the two or three shows. Sometimes I’ll pop one in and most of the time I’ll remember the show. Like that Carbondale, the first one we released, I remember it being a great night all around. Even though it was almost 10 years ago, I just remember walking off the stage going, “Wow, we knocked it out of the park.” So I just listened to a few things, thought John Keane did a great job, Chris Rabold did a great job, my memories were correct and let it go.
For the most part, I guess I learned it from Garcia, once we’ve played it, we’re done with it. That’s just the way I feel about it. That’s just my personal opinion but there’s obviously 5 other opinions that have equal weight.
So I don’t really listen to them too much. I’m happy when people are happy. The Huntsville release seems to have made a lot of people really happy. And I’m happy we can keep those people happy.