Radiolarians In Review With John Medeski
Truckee Regional Park, Truckee, CA, 6/21/04-Photo by Adam Harju
Speaking of DVD’s can you talk about a little bit about Billy’s film for the box set?
Well, it’s definitely a film for people who are fans of the band [laughter]. It’s not the kind of movie that’s gonna turn everybody on—you have to already have some interest in the group. It’s about simple grooves—it’s not an MTV-style documentary. The pacing of it is really incredible. I was surprised that I really loved it, but it shows how we work together and how we communicate. What I’m surprised about when I watch it is how little we communicate in an obvious way. I take it for granted but we barely talk to each other, just little half statements. It’s very telepathic it’s really weird and it comes across in the movie like that. So basically the movie is scenes from the road in South America, and recording Radiolarians. It ends up being three or four “music videos” of MMW and each one is a prelude of us working on the music and hanging out. It’s a representation of what we do—it’s real, we’re not acting, we’re not trying to present stuff in a way other than really what it’s like. There is nothing false, nothing preconceived.
I know another project you’re working on now is curating a series of shows at John Zorn’s New York club The Stone. Who do you have lined up for that series?
If I really had it together I would have done it the whole month. We’re busy and we’re going on the road that month, so I’m doing a week where I do something every day of that week. The first night I’m gonna be out with Zorn, a couple of nights of solo piano. I’m doing a band called Hum with Marc Ribot, Calvin Weston and Billy Martin together. It is the first time we’ve all played together you know, though I’ve done stuff with Calvin, I’ve played lounges with Calvin and Billy and we’ve all played with Ribot but it will be the first time this band will be performing. And then I am doing a thing with a great master guitarist Tisziji Munoz, and it’s really kind of his band with Ra-Kalam Moses and two bass players, John Lockwood, and Don Pate. You can’t even really call it jazz or post jazz—it’s a fiery improvised music. I’m also doing a night with a band called Red Cred, that we’ve actually done here in Woodstock a few times with Ben Perowsky, and Chris Speed. Larry Grenadier also plays bass with us but he’s not around so we might be trio. It will be fun, and then the following week, I got Billy Martin doing a couple of nights.
Getting back to the box set, how much unreleased material is included?
There was only one tune on each set that was left off. We tried to represent the whole set of music, though sometimes certain songs didn’t fit musically. So on our fall tour we’ll draw from everything and the remixes should inspire us to take things in a different direction.
Next thing you know you’ll be covering your remix.
Yeah sure, or elements of the remix will be entering in you know.
Did the band try different recording techniques each time it went into the studio?
You know, having the benefit of touring on it, we went in and in three days, maybe, we recorded it. We were very clear about having to go about it, because as we were touring— we were thinking about what’s the best way of recording it, totally live? Or do we need a little sonic separation, and a little overdub? So that process is already being dealt with. Dave Kent, the guy who mixed the record, is also our front house engineer, so he’s been out there every night hearing these songs, hearing the development, and so he’s really a part of the process. I think he did an amazing job of capturing our live energy and actually making the record which is really great. In the past, a lot of our records have been works on their own and not necessarily reflective of how we sound live. We use the opportunity to be in the studio as a creative tool outside of our live experience. There is a live recording of all our shows out there anyway.
If you really listen with headphones there’s actually a lot of mixing going on during the Radiolarians series—that’s what I was saying, somehow he managed to use the studio and do lots of sonic things that you can only do in the studio and still capture the live experience.