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Published: 2013/09/20
by Mike Greenhaus

From The Archives: Addison Groove Gives Their Project a Professional Go (September 2003)

MG: Looking back, do you feel it was beneficial or detrimental attending different colleges?

BM: If we had been at the same place I don't think anything would be that much different. Obviously there is the whole rehearsal issue but, at the same time, everyone had a different approach to college and, when it came down to it, I think we did the right thing in going where our interests outside the band lie. Luckily, it was going well enough so that we decided to continue.

MG: When you went your separate ways after high school did you have any doubts that the group wouldn’t stay together? Would you have continued if certain members decided to pursue other career paths?

BM: When we went to college we all wanted the band to work out, but it seemed like such a far-fetched thing at the time given the circumstances. But the more we did it, the more it developed naturally. While we were in school, we were able to play weekends and we made it accommodate our schedule. It was enjoyable instead of just trying to play any gig we could get. The fanbase has developed naturally- it's kind of a lot of preparation for what we're doing now. I'm glad we really had that four years to say, "Ok this is how we're going to do it-how we want to do it." Instead of making it up as we go along, as we would have been forced into if we had gone straight into touring full-time, we had a blueprint for what we wanted.

MG: By your sophomore year in college, you were playing in front of thousands of fans at festivals like Gathering of the Vibes and Berkfest. Did you ever considering putting your education on hold?

BM: No. Definitely not. It got to the point where we'd see that those things were happening anyway, while we're still in school. Obviously you think about what if we weren't in school, but it almost makes holding out that much more exciting for where we are right now. We don't feel any less in a position to take advantage of previous experiences.

MG: Addison Groove Project released its last studio album in early 2002. Does the band hope to return to the studio within the next year?

BM: Yea, definitely. We don't have any recording plans, but we've been overdue…
This summer I think we're trying to get in [a studio] somewhere. Our ideal situation would be where we have unlimited entry. Just finding some living room recording situation where we can really have a lot of time to lay out our tracks, go away from it for a while, and then come back. I guess in a sense we're going to try and do it independently. We're really into making every studio experience different.

MG: Would the next studio album consist of songs you debuted this summer, or new material?

BM: I'd imagine anything that will probably be on our next album hasn't even been written yet. By the time we play our ten or fifteen new tracks before the falls over, I'm sure we'll be sick of them [laughs]. Some stuff will still be hanging around, but the majority of the album hasn't been written yet in my ears.

MG: Ultimately, would you like to see Addison Groove Project on a major label?

BM: Yeah, I mean why not? If the situation is right. My whole perspective on the music industry is so negative that I can't see a place for us in the industry right now and all the legal parameters that go along with it "signing your soul over"...[laughs]. But there are many different levels and, if it's the right situation, sure. Just as long as in the end we can choose how we present ourselves; Right now our focus is making sure the live shows and the tours are solid. Our purpose is not to write a hit single, as I'm sure any jamband or improvisational-based band would tell you. But sometimes it happens in freakish ways..

MG: Addison Groove Project has been documenting various stages of their career through the Wicked Live series. Does the band plan to continue releasing live albums?

BM: I'd love to keep doing that. It's always a blast. Maybe if we can get the situation ready, we can record a New Years show or something like that or maybe our next one will be recorded in New York City.

MG: Is there a specific recent show you’d like to see released?

BM: It's not always like a specific show that comes to mind. Sometimes you remember certain songs and wish you had the luxury of some larger bands that can record every single show and can pick and choose your best. We kind of take the risk that goes along with recording just one show and saying, "this better be it."

MG: Shifting gears to a more serious note, this summer John Hall was diagnosed with rectal cancer, a very rare condition for a twenty-three year old. When did you learn that John was ill?

BM: We found out the day before we were supposed to go out on the road [in late June]. Initially, it took a few days to know exactly what was going on, but after [the rest of us] had gone out on the road, we learned more about it.

MG: Did John stay off the road for the entire summer tour?

BM: Yeah, he did. It was pretty special to have him back [at BB King's] tonight. We're not going to be able to go out with him in the fall and he's slated for surgery in late September-it's the last time we'll be on stage with him for at least a couple of weeks.

MG: Did you ever consider forgoing your tour while John recovered? How did you adapt to his absence?

BM: It's kind of like cutting off one of your limbs. But luckily Rob's done a great job covering the low-end [on his keyboards], but it's definitely not the same. It's caused us to change some things and, I'm sure if you ask Rob, he'll say it's restricting. But as soon as we played those first two shows, we realized we could pull something off while John was home recovering. As a tribute to him, we weren't not going to go out on the road. He's given us the energy to keep going. But it's going to be weird [this fall]. You kind of take it a few weeks at a time. We're pretty busy through the middle October with this tour. When that's over we'll re-evaluate what's going on. Basically the goal has been to get John incorporated on a regular basis as soon as possible. If that means being sparing on how long we have to be on the road or staying local, that's something we're psyched to do.

MG: As Addison Groove Project’s primary lyricist, have you addressed your own feelings about John’s illness through your songs?

BM: No, not initially. We're still trying to keep the vibe as positive as we can. John's helping out with some of the writing and whether or not it's going to be more introspective or not I'm not sure. Right now, we haven't let [cancer] become a focus.

BM: Have you worked on lyrics with John in the past?

BM: This is John's first endeavor at it, but we wanted to have him involved in the creative process. If we couldn't have him playing, we'd definitely want to him involved creatively.

MG: Having established a strong following on the east coast and throughout the Midwest, where does the group hope to expand its tour schedule next?

BM: When John gets back in the lineup I'm sure we're going try to head to the west coast and western Canada. That will hopefully be after New Years. If this hadn't happened maybe we would have been there right now. But we've never had a problem taking things slow.

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