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Published: 2016/11/08
by Rob Slater

Scott Metzger’s WOLF! Tracks (Plus, JRAD, John Mayer and ‘Roadies’)

Scott Metzger is a busy man. Just a quick look at his website reveals a host of projects including Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Phil Lesh & Friends, Chris Harford & The Band of Changes, The Complete Last Waltz and more of a homebase for Metzger, WOLF!, who return with their latest record 1-800-WOLF!.

Catching up with Metzger fresh off Almost Dead’s triumphant run at the Brooklyn Bowl which included a collaboration with Dead & Company’s John Mayer, he digs into just about every one of his projects including WOLF!, who will take their new album out on the road for a series of shows, including some backing Metzger’s Roadies co-star, Nicole Atkins.

You played in a cool Allman Brothers Tribute show last night in New York City.

Yeah, last night was led by kind of a pick-up band with some real New York City heavy hitters, led by Scott Sharrard who is Gregg Allman’s guitarist and he did songs in that vein. It was a whole night of songs that Duane Allman has played on or Allman Brothers stuff and it was super cool. It was super cool to play with those guys and a lot of guys on that gig aren’t big improvisers necessarily. They’re not like jamband guys all of them so it was cool, it was a totally different approach than what one might expect. It was refreshing I think we did something different with it, which is always cool.

Jackie Greene was in that lineup as well. You two have played a couple acoustic shows together. How did that come about?

We’re just two guys that hung out a bunch. I’ve always respected his overall songwriting and overall musicality so much that it was just one of those things for a long time we were talking about—it was years that we were going around with that idea and then finally last year we were able to nail it down and—I’m super busy, Jackie’s super busy so it’s hard to line up schedules. I love his songs, he’s a cool dude.

So how’d you two end up on Roadies ?

That was all Nicole. Nicole knew Cameron Crowe and Cameron was a fan and he had been telling her for years that one of these days I’m going to get you involved in one of my projects. We went out there and shot the thing in July. He reached out and he wanted her on the season finale and he wanted the scene to be a duo, just Nicole and someone else.

She called and I was available and it was as Hollywood as Hollywood gets. They sent out two first class tickets for us and flew us out there and I think we were out there for a total of 48 hours or something. It was real fast, it was the whole thing—it was wardrobe and make up and we got to hang with Eddie Vedder. He did a scene for the same episode so he was there for his shot. Robyn Hitchcock was there for the same episode. It was a really cool experience.

Tell me you have a good Vedder story from that day.

Nothing that’s legendary. He and Cameron go way back so they got a lot of history and not only was it the last day they were shooting for that season but it was also Cameron’s birthday so they brought out a birthday cake for him and I have these great pictures on my iPhone of Eddie Vedder stuffing cake into Cameron Crowe’s face and then Cameron pushing Eddie’s face into the cake.

And you’ve also gotten in on some Phil Lesh gigs over the year too. What have you enjoyed about playing with Phil?

First of all, it’s such an honor to be asked by somebody who’s really one of the most important rock bass players ever to share the stage with him and I’m always psyched because we always have a stage left situation going on. And nobody plays music like that guy so you always come away learning something.

It sounds dramatic but you really do walk away feeling like you were part of something special. More than anybody, his whole thing is he really walks the walk. The courage that he brings to it is pretty amazing because there are times up there where I really have no idea what’s going on. Completely off the form, completely off the harmonic thing and it forces you to really listen and you look back at him and he’s just leading the charge right into it, it’s amazing.

We should all be so lucky. Like mid-70’s and playing 3 ½ hours a night and I swear to God the last note you play with that guy every night he’s hitting it and means it just as much as the first note of the night. The intensity is jaw dropping really.

I’ll leave you with this: It feels like 2016 has been a really transformative year for Almost Dead. Can you reflect on it thus far?

I was just talking to somebody about this last night—I just feel really lucky to be a part of it. Me personally to be able to go and play music with some of my best friends and have people get so much out of it is such a rewarding feeling. JRAD’s just one of those things that if we had tried to plan it it never would’ve worked. It was just a happy accident and to me we’re still on the upswing and we’re still getting better and we’re getting tighter as a band and it’s really a privilege to be traveling around the country and playing this music for people who enjoy it so much and I don’t see any end in sight.

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