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Published: 2014/08/26
by Sam D'Arcangelo

Kyle Hollingsworth: Brewing at the Speed of Life

Kyle Hollingsworth gets to have all the fun. As a full-time musician and part-time brewer, he’s managed to find the best of both worlds. That’s why it was great to hear that he was combining these passions for the release of his third solo album, Speed of Life. The record, which dropped last week, finds the String Cheese Incident keyboardist teaming up with some great musicians to both explore his roots and venture into new, electro-pop influenced territory. To top it off, he also helped brew three tasty craft beers that have been paired with three singles from Speed of Life.

I ran into Hollingsworth at the Electric Forest Festival, where was gearing up to play six sets with The String Cheese Incident, including the highly anticipated Ms. Lauryn Hill Incident. We sat down for a bit to discuss the new album, the similarities between brewing and music, what’s in store for Cheese and more.

Let’s talk about your new album, Speed of Life. There’s great players on this one: some of the guys from The Motet, Bonnie from Elephant Revival, Dom from Big Gigantic. What can we expect from this record?

I’m excited about the release. Although it’s a very familiar group of people, it’s gonna go from Billy Preston to like LCD Soundsystem. So you have these sixties funk moments throughout the album, but also you have these kind of live disco grooves. So it will be a departure for me, as far as being a straight up funk keyboard player from String Cheese, but it’s also very accessible on many levels. It’s kind of where I am right now. It’s a little bit about the speed of my life. Especially the lyrics, which are very centered around what’s happening in my life now. The grooves are also very much about what I’m into at the moment.

So are the musicians that you brought into the studio going to be on the road with you when you tour on this album?

Dom’s gonna be on the road with me. The funny thing about Dominic is that Dominic was originally in my band, the Kyle Hollingsworth Band. It was actually called Remarkable Elba Kramer. I love palindromes. Remarkable Elba Kramer is spelled exactly the same backwards as it is forwards. We actually would do some songs that were palindromes as well.

Are you familiar with the guys from Dopapod? Their name is also a palindrome.

Oh cool! So yeah, Remarkable Elba Kramer was our name and we went on tour with Dom and we did about ten days worth of dates on the west coast. That was quite the adventure. This was back in ’98, I think. So yeah, whoever I can get on board for as much time as I can will be at the shows. You know there’s a great singer called Kim Dawson, who’s a local vocalist who plays with the Motet and a lot with George Porter. She’s gonna be on a lot of my dates this summer.

Will you with a rotating cast of musicians or are you going to have a core band?

Well there’s gonna be a core band, The Motet guys. Then I’ll bring in my special guests when they can make it.

What kind of a tour you guys planning?

The plan is to release three tracks with three separate breweries. Each one is a national beer and each one has a track that goes with it, and you can scan the back of the beer to get that track for free. They all culminate into the first date of my real tour, which is my Brewfest. I do one of those every year. So all three beers will be on tap at my own brew festival, the first date of the tour will be the brewfest, and then from there on we’re gonna hit the east coast, Midwest, and west coast.

Every time I do a brew festival I try to make local versions of beers from everywhere around. I have breweries in mind and we’re gonna make a special brew that’s only in existence for that one day. So those beers will be on tap, but then my national beers will be there as well. It’s a charity event for Conscious Alliance.

So when you make a beer for one day, how does that go? Are you just done with it? Is the recipe just gone?

That’s it! You have to be there at the beer festival to get that one beer, yes. We’ll do like two kegs. And two kegs will last us, you know, three hours. We’ll do like—I’ll add an adjunctive, like maybe some extra hops. For Avery brewing company, for example, I do a Rosemary IPA with them where we dry-hop rosemary from my backyard into the beer and we make two kegs of it. So you have to be there, that’s right.

So these three different beers that you’ve collaborated with these breweries on: Can we talk a little bit about those? What’s going on with each of those?

The first one was, I made—awesome story, actually. I made it with Alice Cooper’s guitar player. So I’d been courting Stone Brewery for awhile, and they finally said, “Yes, we’ll make a beer.” And that’s one of my favorite breweries, Stone. They’re pretty epic. They said yes, but we need another musician because it’s a trinity theory. So we looked around for musicians. We asked Dave Matthews’ bass player and he wasn’t interested. They came up with Keri [Kelly], who’s a great guitar player that plays with Alice Cooper. So Alice Cooper’s guitar player, Keri and I got together and we formulated a killer recipe that’s a double IPA that goes to 11—you get the whole music connotation there—but actually in fact it goes to 9.3, the alcohol. But it’s a very strong beer. So that was the first one. Then Hoopla, I’ve had for many years. Hoopla is made with Boulder Beer, and the third one is made with Cigar City. That’s more of a session IPA, more of a festival style pale ale for watching your favorite bands in the hot sun.

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