A Conversation with Andy Summers
Mike Ragogna: Triboluminescence breaks a little bit from what you've done before. The layering is something familiar to your work, but it seems you have more world music in mind than your previous albums. Was that the intention or just my impression?
Andy Summers: As a fairly general answer, yes. On the previous album Metal Dog, I thought I'd sort of go in there a bit. There was a track called "Qualia" that was very beautiful. I started finding myself getting more and more into loops, but with unusual instruments. I think mostly in my head when I'm thinking in this world perspective is Balinese gamelan music, actually. You'll notice a lot of sounds I use are these high-pitched, mallet-chiming gamelan style things, which give it a real flavor and an exotic quality. I like to play against them, I think they sound very hip and modern. In terms of, say, jazz improvisation, I think I'm sort of moving on from the traditional quartet setting where you would have a pianist playing harmonies. I think this is a way of sounding more up to date. That's not the only goal. Of course I have to like it, first and foremost. I'm trying to knock myself out first. If I don't like it, no one else is going to like it. Sort of a caveman philosophy. I'm enjoying these sounds and the textures. I like to solo against them, and at the same time it's satisfied a desire to make it fresh and modern, at least in my mind.
MR: You’re also paying tribute to improvisational artists like Miles Davis. The reason I bring up Miles is because he was able to evoke other cultures without necessarily going into their scales. He was able to pull up a lot of global imagery through notes and imagination. It seems like you're trying to do something similar.
AS: It's definitely something I'm trying to achieve. I think one of the things that Miles brought in with the early sixties progression of jazz was modal music; in other words, not playing the standard bebop chord progressions and trying to play through all those changes at lightning speed. Of course it's a wonderful thing to do and it's what I was always trained to do--play through as many chord changes as fluently as possible. You can spend your life doing it. But these days it sort of sounds a little bit old school to do that. Back many years ago, I would've said, "I'm not going to just play on one chord, man. I can play through all of these chords," but it's sort of changed up. It sounds more retro now to do that, much as a joy it is for those of us who can do it, jazz improvisation.
MR: So your mission seems to be about innovation.
AS: I certainly feel that I'm someone who always tries to push on, and I've done that over most of my solo albums. I don't just sit around trying to recreate the old sounds. It has become quite important for me to make these weird and attractive and beautiful sounds. That's a culmination of hooking up all sorts of devices until you get the signal to sound very engaging and new. That's what I'm looking for. You start with modal loops and play various scales over it and start getting into new territory, and then it starts sounding interesting to me.
MR: I don't know any other artists who are using your particular chordal guitar harmonies.
AS: Yeah. I'm doing all kinds of things. I'm de-tuning guitars, capo-ing them, playing them with drum sticks and napkins to create these textures. It's not just one guitar in standard tuning. I'm really going to different places and bending what the guitar can do. I'm certainly trying to create an atmosphere by doing these things, which you wouldn't necessarily get out of a straight ahead tuned guitar. I'm still trying to push the edge of all that. I should say that along with all that there is composition skill involved. You've still got to put the song together so that it makes some kind of musical sense. It has to have a structure. I suppose you could just play on one chord in one mode, but I tend to find that after a while the ear likes you to move somewhere, whether it's a drumming pattern or a slight change of the mode or something. In a piece like "Elephant Bird,” there are a couple of chords in it just because I think the ear wants to go there. It just makes it more interesting.
MR: "Haunted Doll" is one of those to me as well. Again you're evoking jazz artists from that era, in this case, probably Thelonius Monk.
AS: Exactly right. Thank you very much, you got it in one. It's very Monk-like, and I love that melody. Of course, the interesting thing was not to put it against a bunch of Monk-style chords but to put it against the loop. The melody really holds up on its own against that loop and implies other harmonies. It's an interesting melody because it's based on those intervallic leaps. It's very pretty, and it changes key for the solo.
MR: We joked a little about the album title Triboluminescence offline for a minute. But was there a runner up title for this album?
AS: A couple of them are on the album. At one point it was going to be Shadyland. I was with that for a while. Then at one point it was going to be called If Anything but that's a bit Brit, I think. I tried on this word Triboluminescence and I just thought it's such a great word, it sort of follows on from words like Synchronicity or Synesthesia. It's actually a scientific word that means striking something and creating light from dark. I thought that was a very apt metaphor for any creative act, particularly the act of creating music. Apart from all the stuff that's in your head, you walk into a studio and you haven't got anything.
MR: And if we're going to make a fuss about titles, "Gigantopithecus" certainly needs some attention.
AS: [laughs] That came afterwards. I have a hobbyist thing of collecting titles and strange words that I keep in my computer. This came from a piece I wrote for a rock band some time back. It always had this great drum rhythm. I took it and rebuilt this Gigantopithecus on it. As I progressed onwards, I thought, "It sounds like this giant creature lumbering across the landscape" and afterwards I discovered this word.
MR: And that recording was meant to be humorous, right?
AS: Yes! It's kind of droll. All of the music, I hope, has a little bit of drollery to it, if you like.
MR: I don't think I'm going to pronounce "Pukul Bunye Bunye" correctly, but let’s talk about it regardless.
AS: [laughs] I know how I pronounce it, but I don't know if it's correct. That's an Indonesian phrase that means basically striking something with a hammer, and that's exactly the first musical move I made on this piece. It's two detuned guitars played simultaneously with chopsticks and the guitars were capo-ed up. I had to move the capos around until I got whatever that harmonic background was and then play the rhythm. That was the first move, and somewhere in that I found the phrase "Pukul Bunye Bunye," which is sort of intriguing, and it actually describe the music.
MR: Is "Garden Of The Sea" using backwards loops?
AS: It's an effect I've got, not actually a loop. It's played from beginning to end. The whole guitar background is played. If you listen towards the end, I start repeating one note over and over and it goes higher and higher and stays there.
MR: Going from Metal Dog to Triboluminescence seems like there was a major transition that happened. What happened between albums?
AS: A couple things in the last few years. Before I did Metal Dog, I made an album called Circus Hero with a guy in LA. We were going to be a band called Circa Zero--it was a little play on words. It was an amazing rock record—f**k, maybe the best one I ever made in my life. It didn't ultimately pan out, so coming out of that, I thought, "That's it." That was really quite an extended effort to get a rock album at that level, which we did, but I didn't want to do it again. I didn't even want to try to do it again. Just towards the end of that whole process I got involved in theory with making music in combination with a visual artist. It was going to be for a dance company. I started writing this music and it didn't ultimately pan out and a lot of it became Metal Dog. I put a lot of time in the studio making these tracks so I thought, "I'm going to turn it into an album." It sort of re-fired me with the making of this kind of music. I got very enthusiastic about it. That sort of reset my path forward. I'm not going to write for a rock band again unless it's The Police in a stadium. There's a sort of logic to this, but I think in a sense I just got my chops up and moving again with metal dog and on into this one. Obviously, there's some intention to make it better, or a little bit different or to progress the musical style on somewhat.
MR: When you're creating an album, it seems like you’re also creating a new phase of your career. For instance, how would you step back from this process for the next project? You can’t do that, right?
AS: I don't really want to. I actually have a very good idea. I feel in my egotistical, aimless mental wanderings, "Maybe it should be a trilogy." "Oh that's good, yeah." I've actually got a couple of tracks that I'm excited about outside of Triboluminescence. I could do part three, but I also have a good idea for a concept album that would be different. I just have to see how it goes.
MR: Maybe you could have simultaneous releases. Ivo Perelman puts out six albums at a time.
AS: We're in an era where that can happen. I make my records in my studio and then get somebody to distribute and help get it out on all the digital platforms. That's the name of the game now unless you're still somebody like Lady Gaga or Rihanna who's got an actual recording contract. Those days are over.
MR: Do you find yourself thinking promotionally? It might not come into the creativity, but when you finish an album, do you have a more hands-on approach as far as getting your music around?
AS: Yeah, I got a lot of help on this one. It sort of surprised me because I've got enough ego to want it to get some attention and not just die a death. "I made a record, no one ever heard of it. It sold three copies." You could go that route, I suppose. It all takes effort. I actually hired a publicist, I worked with her on Circus Hero and we carried on and she was great. I thought, "Well, it really does help." That's actually money well spent. The sales of that record were really good. This one is unusual. I could get that previous publicist, but I met somebody working for Roland when I got this Roland Lifetime Achievement award back in January. They've really stepped up to the plate and provided me two free publicists, plus I've got another one and a guy who is great at all the digital stuff, he's gotten everything out there. Weirdly to me, somehow I've ended up with four people working this record.
MR: Including Lisa Roy who seems to be an industry icon now.
AS: Brilliant! It was all just sheer luck. I went out to get this prize at the NAMM show with Roland and everyone was very, very sweet and nice. Lisa completely micromanaged the whole thing and took care of it. It all went very well, so I thought, "Maybe Lisa could help me with this," and it all turned out really great. I've gotten great action on it over here, for a record that's as arty and whatever as it is--it's not a mainstream record--I've gotten a lot of attention. I'm pretty pleased about it actually. Of course like anyone else, I don't want to live in a hole and not expose my work to anybody. Part of the thrill is I could get some attention.
MR: What's going on beyond music? What's going on with your photography?
AS: That's pretty active. Over the last two or three years, I've done six, seven, eight exhibitions across the world. This year I've had a visit with Steidl, a great photo book publisher, best in the world. He said he would print the book. The book is done, I've got the whole layout and sequencing of it so that's supposed to come out with Steidl in October. I'm just waiting to hear from them. I have to actually go to Germany for five days or whatever to put it together with him. I'm waiting to hear about that, but that's the plan. The book will come out then, I'll probably do a big show with it, but alongside that I don't know why everything's going so well this year! I’ve got this record out, but also I've got Leica making a signature camera, a Leica model with my name on it, which is incredibly cool. I never thought that would ever happen. It's fantastic. I know the camera's going to be an M10, which is an incredible new one. Based on that there are a couple of more probably decorative stuff that I'm going to do with it. Actually, I'm in Brazil for three weeks. The company that's going to run the whole inside of that is Saatchi & Saatchi in São Paulo, Brazil. Because of my career and all that, Leica wanted to hook-up with Fender guitars. Long story short, I got a hold of Fender and they were totally interested in it. Then I came up with this idea, "Okay, they'll make a signature guitar that will go along with the camera," but then I came up with this idea that Fender absolutely were thrilled with, which will be to do a collage of my black and white photography all across the body and headstock of a Stratocaster. It will look super cool. From fifteen feet away it'll look like some kind of black and white model guitar but as you get up closer, it's hundreds of pictures that are shot all over the world. That is totally thrilling to me.
MR: You didn't want to hold out and make them give you a Lifetime Achievement Award like Gibson did?
AS: [laughs] Yeah, actually I'm seeing the Fender guy on Friday with the art guy who will put the whole thing together. I'll ask him. Point blank. Let's finish this whole f**king thing off. [laughs]
MR: Andy, what advice do you have for new artists?
AS: They're all corny clichés. What can you say? Only do it if you love it and be prepared to live in poverty. We all do. I absolutely believe that if you really do--I can't believe I'm saying this--follow what's in your heart and you do it well, you'll get something for it.
MR: What would you have told you?
AS: I'm the living proof. I didn't come to the surface until sometime after I should have. Ten years later was my rising to where I ultimately got to. I certainly starved and lived on the breadline for a few years, but I never gave up the thought that I was going to get there. I never stopped working on my musical skills ever. I never stood back from it until finally in the weirdest possible way I cracked it, which was joining a punk band with dyed-blonde hair. You never know where it's going to go.
MR: When you look back at The Police and that period, what are your thoughts about it all in 2017?
AS: I just watched that Beatles film, by the way, Eight Days A Week. not bad. People said The Police were The Beatles of the eighties, which was reasonably true, I think. It went on for seven or eight years like that, nonstop, total adulation and craziness. It's like watching your own life story. I look back on it and cherish it because it's when you're young and starting out and there's this incredibly camaraderie. Obviously, things evolve personally, but I look back on it with great pleasure and pride. We're so lucky that we all went through that and had that amazing time together.
MR: You mentioned that people refer to it as The Beatles of the eighties, and part of that was because there was so much emulation and so much inspired by the group that you just couldn't get away from—a lot of the techniques and things that you used at the time. I would venture to say that U2 might not have ended up where it did without The Police.
AS: They were coming up as we were mid-career or whatever and we basically handed it over to them, and they took it and ran with it.
MR: It’s funny how every time someone intentionally tries to mimic a group, let’s say, The Beatles it's like, "That's nice, but you're not The Beatles."
AS: No, you're not. No one could mimic us either. It was a unique chemistry and what used to rile me up was guys saying, "Well we could have thought of that." "Oh really? I don't think so." [laughs] Looking at that Beatles film, it's just really how good they were. Fantastic. I'm sorry. Great songs, great singers. They all sang harmonies so well. It's brilliant.
MR: Even Ringo gets credit for his drumming now. People’s opinions do change over the years.
AS: I used to think, "Ringo's crap." After I watched that Beatles film, I thought, "No, he's really good." He's right there and he's playing all the heat and passion and he's really staying with it. I actually came out thinking he's really good. I'm completely into drums. The Beatles were the blueprint for everyone. They were the ones who got it. They were such solid power in their songwriting ability and their ability to sing and play, it was amazing.
MR: Are you tempted at all to be a part of a band again?
AS: Oh, yeah. That desire never leaves. But let me tell you something, because you're sort of going there anyway. In Brazil, I'm playing with two famous Brazilian musicians, a bass player singer and a drummer. The singer [Rodrigo] is from a band called Red Baron and the drummer [Barone] is from the Paralamas. They're legendary down there. We have a trio with the three of us and we're going to do a bunch of pretty big-looking gigs. The band is going to be called Call The Police.
AS: That was Barone’s idea. The music is all Police. I've done it with Rodrigo singing; it's fantastic. It's going to be a real fun tour, and in a way it really will be like being back in a band. We'll be traveling around together all over Brazil playing these shows, all music I know but very loose and we can jam out on it. It's going to be great fun for me and, of course, part of the attraction is the old vibe of being back on the road with the guys. I don't do so much of that anymore. I'm very comfortable in Brazil, too. I've been here a few times.
MR: Do you ever hear The Police and Andy Summers’ influence in music?
AS: Absolutely! The band as a whole was incredibly influential. I think people really loved the music and the way we played together but you need chemistry to produce the music of the Police. I think all of us in our own way influenced the evolution of these instruments. I think my guitar sound was totally absorbed into the lexicon of rock guitar. I think I opened up a lot of things for a lot of guitar players. That's what they tell me. A lot of guitar players have come up and told me that. Just as Stewart was influential with his drumming. It's a matter of some pride. Certainly, the effort at the moment in the band was to keep evolving and sound different. The crucible of the personnel on The Police was what allowed me to do that. With a different singer, I might have just been sitting there playing bar chords through a fuzz box.
MR: What do you still need to get to in music and art?
AS: I'll toss out a few clichés. Obviously, if it's possible you get better at doing what you do and deepen it even further. I think the natural tendency at this point for me is to get more and more abstract. You get so refined with your taste and your sophistication if you've done it for most of your life. I think at this point, Triboluminescence is somewhat a reflection of that, to go darker and deeper. I'm very happy to keep making music, I've never thought, "I really shouldn't be doing this, I really want to be an actor" or something. I quite like playing music.
Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne
A Conversation with Matt Maeson
Mike Ragogna: Your debut single “Cringe” is included on your new EP release, Who Killed Matt Maeson. What led up to your label signing and can you talk a little about how you got into music and who your influences were?
MM: Well, I dropped two singles "Melons" and "Grave Digger" in late 2015 and early 2016 and they got some traction so that's when the labels started contacting me. After that, I was able to kind of hand pick the people who really cared about the music and the message rather than the check. I was raised on music. My whole family is musically inclined in some way or another. My biggest influences are Johnny Cash, Jeff Buckley and Andy Hull. They write songs that tell a story. I've always been attracted to music that can captivate and inspire me, so that exactly what I try to do.
MR: For a while, you worked twelve hours a day at construction six days a week and on your day off, you had to do community service. How did you get through that period?
MM: That was a rough year filled with drugs, violence and depression. To be honest, I really don't know how I got through that. I had a lot of things I needed to experience. That was definitely rock bottom for me.
MR: One of the songs on your EP, “Straight Razor,” has a video release this week. Do you have any stories about the clip's recording and the song’s story? Who’s idea was it to have everyone on Planet Earth sing at the end?
MM: Haha! That's actually only me and my producer James Flannigan in that choir section. We just went crazy with it and stacked the vocals. “Straight Razor” is a song about desperation and how when you try to so hard to better and still fail it makes it easy to look at people who are doing well and feel discouraged.
MR: The EP also includes the sensitive “Tribulation.” How have relationships worked out for you and do you turn some of them into songs?
MM: I've never had a successful relationship. I've had a few very unsuccessful ones and it's a truly exhausting thing. A lot of times I get in my head about what could happen or what the consequences of making a decision will make me feel like. That's kind of what Tribulation is about. The question, "What if I can't love you like you deserve?" is something I think about a lot.
MR: “Me And My Friends Are Lonely” pretty much speaks for itself. What is your view of yourself versus the world these days and how close are you with the people you love and those you call friends?
MM: It took a long time for me to figure out who really cared about me. I love my family. I have quite a small circle of people that I call true friends. They've stuck with me through all my trials and I'm truly thankful for them. It was when the thought "Wait, they're probably through s**t just like me. They're just better at hiding it" that I wrote that song, essentially equating how I was feeling to how I thought they were feeling.
MR: Your car’s name switches between Frank Elantra and Carmen Elantra depending on the day. What determines the gender switches?
MM: Frank changed his name when I gave him/her to my parents last year. Carmen suffers from identity issues.
MR: [laughs] You’ve been compared to Jeff Buckley. Do you think that’s a good comparison, do you think you have anything in common?
MM: Well, as I said above, he's one of my all time favorites so yes, I take that as a major compliment. I don't believe I have anywhere near the talent that man had. He's a true inspiration.
MR: What advice do you have for new artists?
MM: “Hey kids, Matt here. I wrote music in my closet for ten years before being successful with it and I would be just as happy writing songs in that closet with no success right now. So my advice would be to get to a point where you love music that much. Practice your ass off and make music that YOU love. If it's supposed to be heard, it will be.”
MR: Nice. What advice would you give your younger self?
MM: Love people more than they love you
MR: How do you think your past molded you into the 2017 Matt Maeson?
MM: It gave me a lot of insight on people. I experienced both sides of the spectrum. I was the good Christian boy, then the runaway pastor’s kid selling drugs to pay off his court bills. That introduced me to a lot of different people. Now that I know what rock bottom looks like, it keeps a pretty steady head on my shoulder about what I will and won't do.
MR: Would you change anything?
MM: I don't really spend time thinking about that because, well, I can't change anything. All of that s**t made me the man I am and gave me a story to tell.
MR: What kinds of songs can we expect for the full album when it’s released?
MM: I'm working that out. I have a lot of songs written for it. One thing I'm really focused on is using all live instruments. It's kind of writing itself out of the last year of my life.
MR: Are you enjoying yourself?
MM: Absolutely. You hear a lot of horror stories about the music industry and I'm so grateful to have such an amazing team. My dream was always to be a "rock star" and that dream has definitely come true.
A Conversation with Jaime Dailey & Darrin Vincent
Mike Ragogna: Your new album, Patriots & Poets, mainly takes on the theme of patriotism. What inspired that decision?
Jaime Dailey: Well, Darrin Vincent and I both are defenders of our country and we love America. We believe in our country and believe in its diversity and all of the wonderful things that the American people get to experience by being Americans. We felt like we’re patriots. And then we had wanted to write a CD for a long time, write every song on the CD. So we started writing with a lot of our favorite writers or alone and came up with this collection of fifteen or sixteen songs, then basically called ourselves “poets” at that time though maybe we shouldn’t have. We said, “Well, we’ve written songs and we love America, so why not Patriots & Poets?”
MR: What does “patriot” mean to you guys? Like when somebody says you’re a “patriot,” what do you think that means these days?
JD: To me, a patriot means the defender of our country. The defender of the belief in America. That’s part of what a patriot means to me.
Darrin Vincent: You know the soul is on this record. It talks about America, how much we love America and what it means to us on there. Like the last song on the CD, “America We Love You,” it talks about loving the mountains, all the way from the East Coast to the West Coast. It talks about the wonderful things in America. And then we’ve got another one called “Here Comes the Flood.” Of course, it’s a tragedy in America but that’s another American song so it’s got the threads of the greatness of America in it. I think that’s another thing about being a patriot is the greatness of America.
MR: So it’s “America” that’s the focus. You’re not thinking so much contemporarily, right?
JD: No, no. I mean of course, we support our country and we’re very patriotic but no, I wouldn’t think so.
MR: Do you think there is a difference between how politicians and how people who are “being political” are using the terms “patriotic” and “patriot,” and what you guys are thinking as far as those terms? It seems like things have gotten a bit muddy regarding those concepts.
JD: With me, it’s not muddy. I’m not making a political statement by using the words “patriots” and “poets.” I guess it would be somewhat a little tongue-in-cheek when we say Patriots & Poets because we are patriotic and we love our country, and these songs that we have written and the lyrics in the songs talk about, as Darrin said, life in America for a lot of rural and great Americans that we all appreciate and love.
MR: Patriots & Poets features some amazing guest artists—Steve Martin one of my childhood idols, Bela Fleck, and Dave Rawlings. What was the recording process like? You spoke about the songwriting but what was the recording like?
JD: The recording process was a lot of fun. It was a ton of fun! There were certain songs that Darrin and I have on the album that we felt needed a different touch than what we or our immediate band could give it. For instance, on the song “No Place Love Won’t Go,” we were listening to it, and Darrin and I both decided that Bela Fleck would be the right call to come in and play banjo on that song to take it to another level. And it did! So we went to Bela’s house—his studio in his house—and we sat and we watched him record this in awe at what he does and how he approaches music. It was such a fun process to watch him, a master of the banjo, create his art on our song right there in front of our eyes.
With the song “California,” we wrote it to be kind of tongue-in-cheek, kind of fun and funny, kind of whimsical. We wrote a talking part toward the end of the song, and it was supposed to be kind of funny. I went in and tried to make it funny but I couldn’t make it funny. So Darrin and I said, “Well, what about Steve Martin?” We’ve known Steve for probably about ten years. Darrin called Steve up and he did it. It sounds like he’s acting in a movie. It’s really funny.
MR: Darrin, can you remember that day in the studio? What was it like?
DV: Actually, since Steve’s so busy, I sent him an MP3 of the song, and then me and Jamie sent him a video text kind of outlining what we had in our head. He sent me three different takes and said, “You boys make it what you want.” I edited it together, and what you hear is what we came up with that we thought was the funniest and the best fit of the thing.
MR: Did other contributing musicians mail in their parts as well?
DV: Steve Martin was the only one who did that. Everybody else was in the studio. We either brought them in as an overdub or we brought them in and tracked them at the studio.
MR: Dailey & Vincent were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and have collected a few awards along the way. As musicians, how do you look at yourselves and what you’re achieving within your field? For example, maybe within bluegrass?
JD: Well, we’re not just bluegrass. Sometimes people don’t realize it but we do all kinds of different music. We do folk, we do country, we do bluegrass, we do gospel. How I look at it is our number one priority and our number one goal is to make sure the ticket buyer that comes and puts their tails in the seat gets a 90-minute ride that will make them happier when they leave than when they came in and maybe take the daily stresses a little bit out of their life and put some joy in their hearts. You know, this is still an art and I think sometimes this world seems to try to get away from that or don’t look at it that way as much anymore. But it’s still an art and we hope people enjoy the art of we do and the creation of music that we bring and the types of traditional humor that we bring to the stage. If we can make them smile and make them enjoy themselves, and they get something from our songs and get a good feeling and feel inspired when they leave, our job is done. That’s our ultimate goal.
MR: Do you have any studio stories? Anything outrageous happen?
JD: We had the Grand Ole Opry dancers come in and dance on the end of a song. They got out there on these boards to dance with their dancing shoes and when they were recording it, Darrin and I got out there and danced with them and we can’t even dance. So it was quite funny watching us bounce around in the studio and we had no clue what we were doing.
MR: Darrin your turn!
DV: That’s the funniest thing that happened besides trying to do the “California” thing with a comedian that didn’t work out but he had us rolling in the aisles on that one. I don’t know. I’m sure there were fun moments but that’s really the best one that sticks out to me, what Jaime just mentioned.
MR: Wait, a comedian? What happened with him?
DV: Well, we didn’t use him. He’s a really funny comedian who tried to do “California” and make it what we thought it could be. It just didn’t work out the way we had it in our head. But boy, for the two hours we spent with him in the studio, we were crying, and today when we get on stage, one of the best lines of the whole day, Jamie had asked him. He asked, “So do you change your show from venue to venue no matter where you’re at. Do you change your show to cater towards the audience?” He said, “No. It’s their problem if they don’t laugh.” He said, “I’m giving them the best stuff every night.”
JD: He said, “I’m the professional. They’re the amateurs.”
DV: So when we’re up on stage and we’re playing our song and the audience really ain’t clapping, I turn to Jamie and say “Well it’s their problem, not ours.”
JD: And then there have been a few times that I’ve told a joke and it would just bomb because it was not a laughing crowd. I would look at Darrin after telling this big joke, I would lean over as we’re playing the next song and get in his ear and say, “They’re taking us serious, Darrin...”
MR: Dailey & Vincent also has its own television series, two seasons worth. What’s happening with the show?
DV: We’re currently re-editing what we had done before and adding some other songs from our Alive! DVD in there. We’ve taken it and tried to make it a quicker paced show for this season and we’re looking for funding to record a whole new set of shows for 2018. It’s on Friday nights right now on RFD-TV at 7:30 ET throughout the rest of this year.
MR: Maybe you need that comedian for the show.
JD: We’ve had Mark Lowry on the show a few times and he’s a comedian. But yes, we enjoy comedians quite a bit. We’re very blessed and thankful to have a great sponsor Springer Mountain Farms Chicken who has helped us tremendously through the years achieve a lot of our goals and get to see a lot of dreams come true, so kudos to Springer Mountain Farms Chicken and Gus Arrendale.
DV: That’s right. We had another group on they’re called The Cleverlys. I don’t know what you’d call them. They dress up in other outfits; it’s an alter-ego kind of thing. I’m telling you what—they had me crying on our TV show. They are so funny.
JD: Yeah, he said his brother had lost his tongue and they gave him a bionic tongue. They saw it walking down the hallway, and they couldn’t catch it but the next day, they found it in a sticky trap behind the refrigerator. It just got me. One of the best things I’ve ever heard. It’s deep, you know? It’s real deep.
MR: Is what I’m listening to right now during the interview what ends up on stage? Is this your brand of banter?
DV: This is it!
JD: Pretty much! We like to go out and show the whole world how we’re morons. That’s what we do. The funny thing is it got us memberships to the Opry, so that’s pretty cool.
MR: How long is the tour going to be? Where’s it going?
JD: We’re already in the middle of it, from Maine to Florida to Texas, Oklahoma, just everywhere. We’re doing about a 100 dates in promotion of this record and, of course, our career and making a living is kind of going everywhere right now. We did our European tour last year so we won’t go back over there until late 2018 or 2019. When they hear that we’re coming, they try to usually move the country to another location in the world.
MR: [laughs] You record and perform in various genres. Who are your contemporaries?
JD: We recently did a show at CRS in Nashville with Lady Antebellum and The Zac Brown Band, and we were put on in between them and Michael Ray and some of the new country artists. The week before that, we were doing a show at Bridgestone Arena with Garth Brooks, Alison Krauss, Jamey Johnson for Randy Travis with a bunch of different artists, so they’re some of our contemporaries, I suppose. We were just on a cruise with Lee Greenwood, Vince Gill, Brenda Lee, The Oak Ridge Boys, Charley Pride, Johnny Lee and several others, so I guess they’re our contemporaries too. When we do shows with a lot of bluegrass artists, they include Chris Thile and The Punch Brothers and a lot of others. It goes back to my original statement that we don’t just do bluegrass. We do a lot of different kinds of music within our band. We have a nine-piece band and we do a lot of different styles, so that’s why we get to play with all these different people.
MR: And how often has Cledus T. Judd asked to join the troupe?
JD: Oh, two or three times but I believe he’s recovering from an autopsy right now.
MR: [laughs] Okay, I don’t want to get all serious but what advice do you have for new artists?
JD: I think you have to be persistent but first of all, you have to have the love for it. You have to have passion. You have to have love. If you’ve got that, you’ve got a big part of what you need but then you have to be persistent, you have to work hard, you have to study and hone your skills and be fair with everybody around you, and do your best and be the best you can be.
DV: I agree with what Jamie said. It’s persistence and staying there. You know, in two or three of the biggest things we’ve ever done, everybody around us said, “No, that won’t work,” and said, “No,” to us. That’s the thing of it. If you believe in it in your heart, you need to see it through and find somebody that will say, “Yes,” or try to prove the point that yes, it will work for you. Cracker Barrel was a huge help for us back in 2009 and 2010. We had gotten a no on The Statler Brother record and the Gospel side was another one, and those have been two of our biggest selling records in our entire career.
JD: Another thing, The Statler Brother Tribute record that we did, that they told us ‘No, no, no. You don’t need to do that.’ It wound up bringing us our very first mainstream Country Music Grammy nomination—our first Grammy nomination. It was mainstream country and we were nominated with Lady Antebellum and The Zac Brown Band and Little Big Town. Had we listened to everybody around, we wouldn’t have had that opportunity and that fabulous thing happen for us, so sometimes, you just have to follow your heart.
MR: Speaking of The Statler Brothers, it seems you carried that love you have for them throughout Patriots And Poets.
JD: Yeah, I suspect it is. It’s what we grew up on, and I suspect it is.
MR: What was the best advice ever given to Dailey & Vincent?
JD: “Stay home,” but we didn’t listen.
DV: It’s really the Lord that’s helped us get to this point because we really didn’t have a lot of encouragement honestly. I think between the two of us following our heart and following the Lord has been the best advice we could give anybody and what we took. And that’s sticking with your gut feeling, doing what you think is the right thing to do, and not trying to tear anybody else down. There’s a lot of jealously and a lot of backbiting, and I think that’s in everything. My wife is a principal and the same thing there in her school. The thing of it is to love through that and to love others and to try to always help somebody else that is needing help. I think if you do unto others as you would have them do unto you, I think that’s the best thing you could do, and that’s the best advice we’ve ever gotten.
JD: And you’ve got to remember four letters—and if you can’t count, five letters—but anyway four letters, KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid. That will serve you well in a lot of areas.
MR: [laughs] Nice! So where is this Dailey & Vincent thing headed?
JD: Alright look up the GPS Darrin and see where we are.
MR & DV: [laughter]
JD: We are looking at what would be our exit strategy at some point. We are working toward getting things put back and ready for retirement at some point. But for now, for the pretty good long haul, we want to make the best music possible. We have a lot of other ideas that we want to pursue as Dailey & Vincent and maybe even a sitcom show where we do some acting—a comedy, sitcom show... So that’s on the agenda for later on and some other cool ideas that we’ve got. Lots of things; we’re not out of ideas yet.
DV: I want to mention one other thing. We’d love to do some movie soundtracks because Jamie is such a great writer and we know a lot of wonderful writers. We would love to have that opportunity to be a part of another Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? kind of movie soundtrack; that would be cool. Speaking of that, our friend John Carter Cash called Jamie and wrote a song. He’s got a new one coming out. He took his daddy’s lyrics and he’s asked these artists to write the music to them and then record them. So that’s getting ready to come out, and hopefully, that will really help with awareness about us because they’ve got people like Alison Krauss, Jamey Johnson... I’ve heard that Paul McCartney is on it, and Bono, Elvis Costello and people like that. So we’re really looking forward to having that coming out.
MR: Wow. What are some other goals, maybe further down the pike?
JD: Well, I hope when we do the farewell tour and farewell dates someday and leave the stage. I hope that we leave a legacy of inspiration to not just musicians but to human beings. I hope they can look back and listen back on our songs and the books we write and things that we’re working on. I hope that they can look back on it, listen back on it, and take things from it to help their lives and to help other people’s lives. Once again, to make them smile and chuckle along the way because we’re only here for just a little while. That’s what I hope we will see.
DV: My take on that is one of the things that we really incorporate—and Eddie Stubbs says it over and over to us every time we see him—it’s just not a band out there playing music. We go out there to entertain the folks. We want to bring laughter. With the songs we choose to sing, we bring tears—tears of joy and tears of bringing back memories for the folks.
JD: Probably tears of pain too.
DV: And healing the people. It brings me to a story. I met a guy this week. He’s been to a bunch of our shows. His name was Dean, and I woke up Sunday morning just crying my eyes out praying for him. He came up to me and he had a trach tube in him. He said, “I’ve had throat cancer and now the cancer has spread all over my body. I love you and Jamie and I hope that I live long enough to see your show again. You bring me so much joy.” He said he had to have surgery, and he said, “I want you to know that when they were putting me under, I was singing the song…”, which was the very first song we ever recorded, which is “By the Mark,” a Gillian Welch and David Rawlings tune. To have a fan come up there and share those kind of intimate feelings and emotion to us and ask us to pray for him, that is what it’s about to me—to try to make somebody else feel better. The kind of legacy we want to leave is we’ve done our part to help mankind out. I think that’s a really cool thing.
MR: In the whole context of wanting to leave significant work behind, do you think Patriots & Poets is one of those shining moments?
JD: I guess every artist says this about their newest CD at the time but I can honestly say this and know that I’m telling the truth and not trying to hype anything. This CD is the best thing we’ve ever cut. It’s some of our best material we’ve ever had. I think the singing and playing is better than it’s ever been on it. I hope that this will be one of those CDs that’s a classic, a Dailey & Vincent classic for years to come.
MR: Even though Cledus isn’t on it?
JD: Even though Cledus isn’t on it. But once he recovers from that autopsy, we’ll have him on it.