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Published: 2012/07/06
by Dean Budnick

"Can’t Wait Another Day": Back on Tour with the String Cheese Incident

Photo by Larry Hulst

After returning to the road this past fall for its first tour in over four years, the String Cheese Incident is at it again this summer. The group is following three nights at the Electric Forest festival with three more at Red Rocks and then will head west before bringing things to a close with three nights at Horning’s Hideout. On Thursday morning, just prior to the sound check before the first night at Red Rocks, the group’s Michael Kang took a few moments to discuss the current run of dates, which saw the band debut a new original song, “Can’t Wait Another Day,” with more to follow…

Tonight you open your three show run at Red Rocks. Can you talk about the venue has meant to yourself and the band over the years?

Being a band from Colorado, Red Rocks is kind of like the holy grail of gigs in a lot of ways. I mean, you can work your entire career and feel like that is the culmination. Just all the lore and the history there.

For us, moving to Boulder and where we stand with it now, in a lot of ways it’s kind of a homecoming for us. Over the years, we’ve been pretty lucky to have arguably the best live music venue in the country right on our doorstep and get to call it home. It’s been a progression. One of the first years we played, we were the opening band on this thing called “Telluride on the Rocks.” Beginning in the early ‘90s, it seemed like for us everything that happened at Red Rocks was pretty much the zenith of everything that we could’ve imagined happening to us. So, 20 years later, to be able to go into it and feel like it’s a homecoming is a pretty awesome feeling.

You mention that it’s like a homecoming, I’m sure there was all measure of excitement that first year and for your first headlining gig. These days how do you approach the Red Rocks shows?

When it comes down to it, Red Rocks is a marquee gig in so many ways and every time we do it, we enter it with a level of excitement and nervousness. It’s always great when people get to go there but we want to feel like we’re not just doing the same old thing, that every time we go there, we’re bringing something new to the table. You’ll have to ask me in a few days.[laughing] Right now, we’re getting ready and about to go up for sound check so we’ll see.

There’s an added intensity with it being a hometown gig where a lot of our family members and people come out, so a lot of times we have to insulate ourselves from a kind of mayhem that comes with the territory because we have a lot of friends and family in the area and it can be a lot of energy to manage. So a lot of times when the band gets together we’re just trying to get into our regular gig-mood and do what we have to do to put on a good show. But yeah, even for me, I have a 20-month-old and both sets of grandparents are coming, so I’m definitely ready to kind of hide from all of that.

Your summer tour includes three marquee runs, which you kicked off at Electric Forest. Can you talk about your experience, the memories you’ll take away from this year’s event?

Well, you know, our management company Madison House [produces the event] and when our band took a hiatus in 2007-2008, I was working on production crew and was responsible for helping bring a lot of artists that were there doing a lot of installation art. So in a lot of ways, what it’s become now is a culmination as a joint effort to create what we envisioned a while ago at Horning’s Hideout and bringing it to a place in the middle of the country that people can experience.

It’s been working out great. There’s definitely a shift that’s happening in the jamband scene these days in terms of all the kids that are coming out who are definitely more versed with electronic music and all of the DJs. That is probably the biggest transition that’s happened in the music industry in the last 5 years, in terms of the jamband thing, anyway. So it’s pretty cool to see the amount of energy that they bring to the whole thing and then watching people like Lorin [Ashton aka Bassnectar] and knowing that I kind of introduced him to the whole jamband scene after finding him at Burning Man close to 10 years ago—just seeing how big he’s gotten.

It’s awesome to see because it’s a lot of our friends carrying the torch, and for us we’re like the elders in a lot of ways of this scene. I look out there, and I’m 41 now, and I see these kids that are like 17 probably just checking out String Cheese for the first time or even beyond that, they may be just checking out a live band for the first time. So it’s cool to see the worlds meet and knowing that it’s all born out of the same intention behind creating transcendental gathering spaces for people. It’s good to know that we’re all still involved in that.

Are you continuing to do your work outside your role as a musician in terms of art and other projects?

I try to help my artist friends get hooked up with festivals, but I’ve been super busy with building my own house and I have a baby now, Also, with String Cheese, even though we’re only playing 14 shows this summer, I’ve been either in rehearsal or getting ready ever since the beginning of May So, even though the number of shows isn’t a lot, the time commitment is actually quite intense. Especially now because I live in California, so for anything having to do with String Cheese I have to uproot and come to Colorado, and basically I’m on tour, whether or not we’re doing a show. So I haven’t really had that much time for other stuff. I don’t even get to go home until the end of July, so it’s pretty much two months on the road for me.

When I interviewed Kyle earlier this year, we spoke about rehearsal and he mentioned that last fall, some of the experience was as much about going on hikes together as it was about performing and getting up to musical speed. Can you talk a little about what the process was like this time?

Well I think whenever we get back in rehearsal, our most important intention is to try and polish up new songs and get as much creativity involved in the process as possible. There’s a certain amount of what I call regurgitation, or just having to get your chops back up with old stuff, but we don’t spend too much time on that. We spend a lot of time arranging and making sure that the new songs we put out are sounding good. Then there’s a fair amount of just hanging out, too.

We’ve been rehearsing up at Billy’s place because he has a studio, so we’ll just kind of hang out and get reacquainted. But the thing about us is we’ve known each other for so long that it’s not like there’s a big time period that it takes for us to get back on track. When we took two years off, when we came back and saw each other, two years is nothing when you have a 20-year relationship with somebody. We may not have even talked to each other for a couple of years but when we saw each other, it was hardly like any time passed in a lot of ways.

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There are 22 comments associated with this post

Shaun July 7, 2012, 12:40:42

Now if these guys would really start TOURING again and not just mostly sticking to the Western states. How about some shows at Alpine Valley, for instance? Also, I really hope the electronica stuff doesn’t overwhelm what SCI is doing, as it threatened to before the break-up/hiatus/whatever. Hearing that electronica is growing trend in the jamband scene is NOT a positive, IMO.

Glenn July 7, 2012, 19:12:10

I really appreciate Kang’s honesty here.

Josh July 8, 2012, 11:33:56

Depends on the “electronica” to me. That’s a pretty big word that encompasses a lot of stuff. I wish they’d start touring too, but I can also totally relate to the idea that many of them are tired of being away from home and aren’t in a hurry to start doing that again.

Charles Brown July 10, 2012, 20:54:50

SCI is the worst band I have ever seen. I cant believe that people like it even a little. It just doesnt have any…integrity, artistic merit, any oomph…

Paul July 11, 2012, 04:44:17

Sorry Charlie, it has all those and then some. You must not have seen many bands if they are the worst.

PDXpeet July 11, 2012, 19:23:26

Go Kang — great interview. totally candid as always. He’s a great guy. I’ve had the pleasure of running into him a few times, and he was always cordial. Huge music nut. I would love to see some fall dates on the WC…

Charles Brown July 12, 2012, 10:36:54

A short list of the bands that I have seen Paul. The only band that was even close to as shitty as the Stringy Poop Accident was Moe.
250 Grateful Dead Shows
50+ Jerry Garcia Band Shows
The Who
The Rolling Stones
Allman Brothers Band
Little Feat
The Cure
Echo and The Bunneyman
Of Montreal
St Vincent
TV on THe Radio
100+ Phish
Talking Heads
The Church
Neville Brothers
Neil Young
David Bowie
Jefferson Airplane
The Kinks
Black Moth Super Rainbow
Anderson Bruford Wakeman and Howe
The Flaming Lips
Meat Puppets
Husker Du
the Replacements
Pat Metheny
The Police
Peter Gabriel
Phil Lesh and Friends
Jerry Garcia/ David Grisman
Booker T
Jimmy Cliff
Lou Reed
Elvis Costello

Charles Brown July 12, 2012, 10:45:34

Thats the short list off of the top of my head….And the SCI was by far the worst. If Phil and Friends hadnt been coming on I would have left…like I did when I saw Moe. Homogenized jamband shit someone forgot to phlush. If its so compelling why are all those people Phocussed on their god damned hula hoops. Puke.

Josh July 12, 2012, 18:39:54

There’s two things I may have learned today from someone who’s been to a lot of shows: 1) Going to a lot of shows apparently makes you a gigantic angry douche.. 2)Going to a lot of shows doesn’t mean you aren’t a gigantic angry douche. I just can’t figure out which lesson I was supposed to have learned. Maybe if I go to like 600 Phish shows and then go see The Cranberries (for variety), and then go have sex with some 70 year old hippie lady that went to 250 Grateful Dead shows before divorcing her gigantic angry douche husband that she met backstage at Jefferson Airplane, I could figure it out. As it stands, I’m having trouble. Can you help me Charlie?

JC July 13, 2012, 05:50:11

I agree with Charles, SCI was good a few times in the 90s when I saw them. But around 03 or so, I saw them and it was bad…REAL BAD, loose, no energy, songs that will not last very long

Love It or Hate It July 13, 2012, 20:51:08

i know some people dislike string cheese but to me, it’s more about the people and being cheesy. there’s no comparison to the dead but compared to phish, they rock them out the water! cheese keeps it fresh, giving a new spin to old songs. my favorite to date is rivertrance. if you listen to that song on 2002 and then what they played in chicago last winter, it has totally progressed in a positive way. they are doing what they can to stay somewhat relevant. i was at electric forest and my friend’s brother, a basshead, said cheese blew his mind. it’s a new scene nowadays so either embrace it or stfu because the love at shows is still there.

Charles Brown July 15, 2012, 12:03:38

I ma not angry about it Josh, but you seem to be. They are shitty homogenized jamband tripe. They havent had an original thought their entire career. Most folks I know who are into music agree….their just not good. Sorry you love em so much Josh. Your taste might evolve, but I doubt it.

David Rubin July 16, 2012, 13:01:07

SCI.... like a fart that lingers…..

David Rubin July 16, 2012, 13:02:56

To say that SCI rocks Phish outta the water is preposterous. If anything they tread water in the wake of Mike’s Bass and Trey’s guitar. The only musician capable of holding a candle to Phish’s members is Kyle.

ForbinsJellyfish July 17, 2012, 01:11:36

You’re all horrible. Accept musicians for who they are and what they do. Save this crap for you bullshit forum on pt.

Charles Brown July 18, 2012, 20:18:41

I am accepting them for what they are, homogenized jamband tripe. What they do is play crappy solos over poor vamps. Cut and dried IMO.

ForbinsJellyfish is Correct July 19, 2012, 15:33:18

Take your whining and complaining to PT Charlie Brown. Good article and great questions, I particularly seeing the ‘billy doesnt like electronic’ rumor addressed. Thanks for taking the time to write this for us, and sorry that douches like Charlie use it as a jump-off point for spewing hate.

Charles Brown July 21, 2012, 22:55:34

Its not hate to tell the truth, they suck. Sorry. And their fans are lame assed cliched jamband warriors who would not know psychedelic music if it was playing in their ears. Phish makes SCI look like what they are, a shitty bar band that rode the jamband magic carpet to where they are today. Its a shame they havent made one good record. All they do is play shows, their records are a joke.

Scott July 31, 2012, 12:48:10

Charlie…opinions are just that. Its great that you have one. However, I find SCI to be the best show out there and the best shows I have ever seen. They have a great and loyal fan following (hence the pushback when you come on here and flame them) and are all great musicians who put on a hell of a spectacle. If you dont like them…its pretty simple…dont listen. Dont go to the shows, dont download any of their music, and go about your merry way. However, that doesnt seem to be your style. I have been rockin to this band for a decade now and am a tried and true fan. No other band brings the emotions out in me like they do, and if they are “tripe”...then hell, I am a huge fan of tripe, and I am ok with that.

Dusan August 9, 2012, 12:52:50

The pictures came out awomsee! You were wonderful, professional, and just awomsee with my family! Thank you so much for everything. Eddie left Tuesday and took his pictures with him. Thank you.

Betty August 11, 2012, 17:26:24

I am so glad that you were happy with them Jenn. Your family was a degilht to work with. Thank you for the beautiful compliment. My best to you, Eddie and the girls and I will pray for a swift and safe return.

Eric Londo August 21, 2012, 12:57:15

Wow, Charlie its always funny watching “Phans” talk about other band’s fanbases…my first show was the Dead at Golden Gate Park in 1967. I’ve been to hundreds of Dead, Phil & Friends, Ratdog and plenty of other shows. I’ve been to many Panic, Phish, Umphrey’s and other jambands. The bottom line is that there are no better fanbase then the cheese fanbase, period. The love, respect, and pure joy experienced at an Incident is only comparable to the early days that the Dead toured. And the worst fanbase in all of the Jam Bands are the “Phans”. Never seen so much disrespect and hate in all my days of seeing shows. Nobody cares about your taste in music, so keep it to yourself. And the best SCI shows I’ve seen are 100,000 times better than any Phish show I’ve ever seen. Phish arn’t even half the musicians that Cheese is, the only band that actually plays EVERY type of music. And I also think its hilarious that everyone jumps on Trey’s jock when he is a complete asshole and Nershi could pick circles around him. So keep your comments where they’re wanted..on the Phish fan site with all the other egotistical and disrespectful kids who call themselves a “community”. Hah, what a joke.

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