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Published: 2014/05/19
by Brian Robbins

Crazy Horse’s Billy Talbot Runs with the Wolves

Eric Haas is the producer for the Wolves sessions, which was no surprise after hearing his work on On The Road To Spearfish album.

That’s right – Eric’s our guy. He even sang with us: you’ll see Eric on the video for “Know Your Knot”, singing the “ooooohs.” They’re pretty psychedelic “ooooohs.” (laughter)

I know that people can’t help but draw comparisons to Crazy Horse because it’s you and Ralph, but if they can’t hear beyond that, they’re just being lazy.

That’s true.

There’s that power there that you and Ralph always generate – but Ryan adds his own vibe to the mix. And George goes out there, but he never loses his sense of melody. He’s improvising, but you can hear him find a little bit of a melody that he’s just created – and then shape it … and reshape it … and reshape it. George doesn’t play licks: he creates a groove and then finds a passage through it.

You’re right; and it works really well with Ryan’s style. He’s an incredible guitar player, too.

I wanted to ask you: there’s a cool story about the old Gibson that Ryan’s playing, right?

Yeah, I gave him that guitar. It’s a ‘66 Gibson ES-335 – a 12-string that we re-strung to be a 6-string. At the end of the third session, when we cut these four songs that are on the EP, I told Ryan he should keep the guitar. He’s playing through his old Bassman amp and my piggyback Fender Bassman … it’s a pretty cool sound.

You’re back on old faithful – your Fender Precision bass with the Tele neck.

Yeah – and the Tillman amp.

And the black Les Paul that George is playing?

That’s mine; I lent it to George for the sessions. When we recorded On The Road To Spearfish, I played it on the title song. George is a Fender man; he usually has a Telecaster – but we put him through a Fender amp and off he went.

He looked pretty comfortable with it.

Yeah, we were having a good time. (laughs)

I have to tell you: I have a natural aversion to videos – sometimes I feel like the music gets pushed aside because of the director’s vision; what he’s seeing … which is cool, if you want to get into the director’s head. But I feel like the music suffers in those cases. However, these videos capture the music being created … what was going down between you all in that room.

Yeah; that was Dan Friedman, who filmed it. Dan edited so you really feel the music. He had three different cameras: Dan was running one; another guy – Tim Schaller – was running one; and then there was a third that was stationary.

The transitions are smooth; it’s edited the way I would’ve expected a musician would edit, with a sense of rhythm and chord changes and the groove.

Dan did a great job; it takes you from one place to another at the right time. We loved it.

So we have these four tunes on the EP; how many more Wolves songs from these sessions are already in the can?

I think about 20. Dan was there with his cameras for the final session, which we released first. We’ll release the rest later on when people know who we are and what we’ve done.

What else do you have on the horizon for solo projects?

Another EP: Ryan and I got together with Jeff Chase and Stephan Junca from the Billy Talbot Band at my ranch out in South Dakota and recorded some new stuff with the Jerde family.

Tell me about them.

The Jerdes are definitely just beginning, in every way. The eldest is about 21, and the youngest of these three is just 16. They’re from an amazing family of talented and beautiful kids, ten in total.

Emily Jerde plays violin and sings on the songs we recorded with them. She also plays piano and guitar.

Payton plays acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin and piano, and sings. On this record, he plays acoustic guitar and sings low harmony.

Eva plays mandolin, violin, piano, acoustic guitar, banjo … and anything else, apparently. She played mandolin and sang on these songs.

We also had Liza Blue on violin and vocals. She’s a friend and neighbor here who teaches music at the local high school and plays around the Northwest as a folk singer. She’s in her early thirties; talented on several instruments, such as violin, cello, acoustic guitar, banjo, piano, and sings.

And the rest of you?

Ryan played guitar; Jeff was on bass; Stephan played drums; I was on the piano. We recorded five songs with the Jerdes, all live – two of mine and three of Ryan’s.

We’ll be re-releasing On The Road To Spearfish on CD and these five songs will be included as a bonus EP. We’ll follow up with some new recordings that we’re going to do with the Jerdes in September.

Sounds like cool stuff, Billy. In the meantime, I hope we can inspire folks to go to your website and check out the Wolves sessions. There may only be four songs at this point, but there’s a lot to dig into.

It’s just a work of art; it’s not an expression of egos or anything – it’s just what it is, plain and simple. It’s out there and it’s up to the people to help it along if they like it. That’s what it’s for.

Hopefully they will. Thanks for taking the time to talk, Billy.

I really appreciate it, Brian. Talk to you soon.

*****

Brian Robbins sings psychedelic “ooooohs” when nobody’s looking over at www.brian-robbins.com

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