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Published: 2012/08/31
by Rob Slater

Jeff Coffin: Into the Air and Away From the World

As far as the music creative process goes- what are some of your favorite aspects of creating music with DMB, and what are some of your favorite creative aspects with the Mu’tet?

Hmm, actually, I think I have the same favorite parts with both. I love to rehearse, and I love to hear what people are creating underneath other things. Like, with Dave’s band, I think everybody is a composer, and I think that makes a huge difference. I’ve played with musicians who don’t really have any compositional triumphs, I guess. And it’s difficult, because they’ll listen to the part that’s on the record, and they’ll only play that. And, my thing is- I want to hear you. When I hear Stefan play a good bass line- that’s part of where his virtuosity lies. I think that people’s virtuosity is in a lot of different places other than just a physical, shredding virtuosity. That’s one of the things that I really love. When someone is so uniquely themselves that you hear them when they play- that’s a particular kind of virtuosity also. So, listening to people figuring out a new part or adding something that they haven’t played before- it changes the way everybody else plays. So it comes down to that particular kind of chemistry as well.

I think both projects you’re involved in right now have an incredible amount of chemistry.

I would agree. And why that works, I don’t know, but it does. And I’m very thankful that it holds. Very thankful.

Can you make chemistry work? Or is it just something that happens?

I don’t think you can force it, but I think you can develop it with familiarity, but sometimes you play with people and you go, “oh my God,’ and it just works. For whatever that reason is, I don’t exactly know. When you meet someone, you feel really familiar with all of a sudden, and then you can know someone for ten years and still have a bit of a distance, and why is that? I don’t know. One of the great mysteries of life.

You guys played with Stanley Jordan recently as well, and he’s another guy who has high chemistry and personality on stage.

Oh yeah, he’s a joy to play with.

Stanley played with another band recently that you’re familiar with, and that’s Umphrey’s McGee…

Oh yeah!

I was actually in New Years for St. Louis this past December and saw you sit in with them for two nights.

Yeah, I’ll be with them again this New Year’s in Atlanta as well.

How’d you get together with those guys initially?

We did some stuff with The Flecktones with them a few years ago, as a part of the Acoustic Planet tour, and we just totally hit it off. They asked me to come up for a New Year’s gig one year and we just had a blast. I love those guys.

They’re another group where anything goes.

Absolutely, and I love that about them. No rules whatsoever.

We’ve been talking about drummers a lot, and Kris Myers is right in line with the guys we spoke about earlier. He really drives the boat when it comes to their improv.

Oh, for sure. He’s a great musician, and a level human being also. That’s one of the things I find, you know, I do a lot of music clinics also as a Yamaha artist. A lot of times students will ask about how to get out there and make a living as a musician- like “making it”. I say that with quotations because I think you’re always trying to make it- even at a certain level, you’re still out there pushing. I see Bela out there pushing, and Vic and Roy and Dave and Stefan and Boyd and everybody, you know. I always tell them, I say, ‘the most successful musicians I’ve known have always been the nicest people,’ and I think there’s really something in there. Success is more difficult if you’re a jerk.

I’m going to get a bumper sticker that says that.

There you go (laughs)

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