SCI: The Zac Brown Incident, New Album, Summer Tour
Photo by Larry Hulst
This weekend in Telluride, the String Cheese Incident will return to the stage for their first performances since New Year’s Eve. The band will be on the road for much of the summer, mostly in festival settings, with gigs at Electric Forest, Forecastle and Horning’s Hideout. On September 5 and 6 the group will be appear at the inaugural Interlocken Festival in Arrington, VA. In addition to their own performance the group will appear with special guest Zac Brown as the Zac Brown Incident. Last month, SCI’s Keith Moseley came out to Red Rocks (where String Cheese is slated to appear on July 26 and 27), to watch the Zac Brown Band in preparation for Interlocken. In the following conversation Moseley discusses the ZBB as well as the next String Cheese album and other upcoming endeavors.
You were sidestage during the final night of the Zac Brown Band at Red Rocks. I assume you were prepping for Interlocken. How familiar were you with Zac and the group?
That’s the first time I’d seen them. I first caught wind of Zac Brown Band seeing them play on the Grammys television show, two, three years ago. I checked them out and was interested in the music they’d been making. A jamband playing country was my initial take on it. Fast-forward to a couple months ago when we started talking to Mike Luba, one of our managers who saying, “What do you think about doing the Zac Brown Incident at this upcoming Interlocken festival? Part of the deal there is going to be some collaborations and crossovers between different artists.” And we said, “Yeah, great. That sounds really interesting.” I’ve always had some interest in bluegrass, country roots kind of music, so I was definitely interested. And then they just happened to be playing Red Rocks here, so I went down on Friday and checked out the show, spent a little time getting to know Zac after the show. We met for the first time right before the show, checked it out, and I spent a little time afterwards just talking about the upcoming chance to play together and what tunes we might to, trying to find some common ground.
It turns out there’s a lot of common ground there. Before the Zac Brown Band I guess he did thousands of bar gigs playing all the classic rock covers. He’s a Dead fan, there’s a lot of crossover there, a lot of common ground. So I’m looking forward to playing with him.
I know it’s still a few months out but can you give us a hint as to what folks can expect from the Zac Brown Incident at Interlocken?
I think that the idea will be that we’ll do a few Zac Brown tunes and a few String Cheese tunes and we’ll trade some verses and that will be a start of the originals. We also spoke about, if we do some originals, if we do some Zac Brown tunes, let’s try to do them a little differently than his band does them. We don’t want to come out and try to replicate exactly what they do. We might take “Chicken Fried,” which is a country tune and give it more of a reggae feel, something like that. And then as far as covers we were just brainstorming back and forth, everything from Pink Floyd tunes to Grateful Dead, Tom Petty, The Band, some classic country, George Jones, I don’t want to give it away, but those are the things we were looking up. To be continued. We’ve kind of got a rough list going and we’ve emailed a couple times since then, “Check out this tune.” It turns out Zac has an incredible music vocabulary and library. You know he reminds me a lot of Keller in a lot of ways. Obviously they’re very different in that Keller’s very quirky and into the looping thing and unique, but just in terms of being a pure singer/songwriter with a huge library, catalogue of tunes and being very driven. Those guys are similar in a lot of ways.
Speaking of Keller, do you have any plans to tour or record with him at some point?
You know, I love playing with Keller. The only thing on the horizon right now it looks like there’s potentially a Grateful Grass date or two before the end of the year, which was Keller and myself and Jeff Austin doing some Grateful Dead things. So that might happen before the end of the year. He’s also talked about doing the WMD reunion with myself and [Gibb] Droll and [Jeff] Sipe. I love that and was really proud of that project and hopefully we can figure out some time to do it. It’s all about scheduling of course and String Cheese looks to be a little busier this summer and fall it’s always hard to squeeze these things in there, but I would jump in any camp with Keller at any time.
In terms of String Cheese, when I last spoke with Kyle [Hollingsworth] he mentioned that the band was coming to grips with live material that might manifest itself in a new record. Where does that stand?
Yeah, it’s in the can and the final mixes are happening now. Jerry Harrison from Talking Heads is doing the producing. He came in and helped us in the final stages of recording and is doing all the mixing now. So Jerry and his main engineer, Eric Throngren, are doing the final mixes now and we’re looking at I’m guessing the fall for a release day. So it’s happening and I couldn’t be more excited to finally get another release out there. It’s going to be great.