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Published: 2009/10/14
by Brian Robbins

Jeff Austin: Not All Show

Knowing that fan forums have been abuzz with drums/no drums discussions, I wanted to hear it from Jeff himself: “What’s the consensus of opinion out on the road – are people expecting to see a drum kit out on stage? Are they disappointed when there isn’t?”

“Oh, I don’t know … I don’t think so,” he answers. “I don’t think people are looking for drums and mad when there aren’t any.”

“Ahh, that’s the other side,” I say. “Do you have people who are relieved when they find out that you aren’t out on the road with a full-time drummer?”

“Oh, yeah – you have people showing up saying, ‘Oh, man – I thought you were going all drums,’ and I’m like, ‘You gotta be kidding…’ But Tom was right – and that’s the thing that we’re conscious of: in the end, the songs have to be just as powerful in a live setting with the four-piece band, you know?”

And that’s the point where I probably went too far, albeit in an effort to lay Jeff Austin’s worries to rest. I tell him about the first time my wife and I heard “Complicated” (the current single off The Show): “We were on a road trip up in Newfoundland and this song comes pounding over Sirius on the Jambands channel. It had this yin/yang thing of the big, big drum against Dave Johnston’s banjo and the mando chugging along. Ben’s vocal was great – and then when Adam just ripped the living dogsnot out of the guitar solo, we were hooked, man.” (Austin’s reaction to the “dogsnot” thing is the first sign of trouble: the road rasp that’s been in his voice cracks into a short, violent cough as he laughs.)

“But the part you need to know,” I continue, “is after we got back home, my wife calls up the YouTube video of just the four of you guys playing “Complicated” at Red Rocks back in August. There’s that big bowl filled with thousands of people and the four of you are just playing your guts out, man.”

“Yeah?” says Austin with some hesitation – he’s not sure where I’m going with this.

“And there we were, two 50-something-year-olds, holding hands with the tears in our eyes -”

“HAW-WAAAARRRRK!” the phone blats as Jeff Austin starts to laugh and then explodes into a lung-wrenching cough. And I don’t have enough brains to stop there.

“That’s right – you made us cry, you bastards.”

“HARROOO! AWWARRK!” gags Jeff Austin.

That’s when I realize what I’ve done.

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