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Published: 2009/10/14
by Brian Robbins

Jeff Austin: Not All Show

At this point, I go right off into the puckerbrush of unfocused conversation: “Hey – have you ever tried those Sam Bush signature Monel-wrapped strings that Gibson makes? They’re not a great sustaining string, but they pack a lot of punch.”

“You know, I have, but I just don’t like the way they sound on my mandolin. I use the D’Addario J-75 phosphor bronze … they really give those E strings on top a big sound – a great round sound. But it really is what works best for a given player on a given mando, you know?”

All of a sudden, the ticking of the clock drowns out everything else. I yank the wheel of the interview back on track with the big question about Yonder and the whole drum thing. That’s where everything went to hell … and I figured I’d killed Jeff Austin.

I decide if it turns into a legal matter of some sort, I’m going to use the abbreviated interview period as a defense. “I was hurrying, Your Honor – if I’d had more time to think about it, I never would’ve said what I said and initiated the deceased’s coughing attack.”

Just as I’m about to cut the connection and call for help, Jeff’s gagging slacks up and he begins to get his breath back. “That whole thing about you and your wife – that’s a great story. That’s so awesome to hear – I’m taking that to heart, man. Thank you.”

I think: “Thank you for not dying on me.”

In The Studio & On The Road

With Jeff back from the grave, I quickly prioritize my questions for our remaining minutes. “Hey, what’s the latest on your 30dB project with Brendan Bayliss?” I ask. (Austin and guitarist Bayliss of Umphrey’s McGee have been doing occasional side gigs as a duo since 2006, with rumors flying of an upcoming album.

“We do have an album coming out – we just completed the final round of mixing and now we’re into the mastering … we’re looking to get it out either late this year or early next. At this point, we’re trying to find the ideal time to release it. We’d like to put it out and then travel a little bit with it, but we’re both a little busy – it looks like we probably wouldn’t have a chance to go out on the road together until early next year. The website should be active pretty soon – – and we’re going to have a little bit of fun with it. You know, it’s one of those things that people have known about for a while, but they really don’t know what it is.”

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