Some cutting room floor extras from
our Moby interview…
Are you going to tour behind the record this spring?
I think so. The record comes out at the end of March and the touring will begin in April. It’s kind of win-win situation in the sense that if the record is successful, that’s great, because it’s fun to have a successful record. But if it isn’t it means I get to do less touring. [Laughs]
I thought the Area: One and Area:Two tours you did were fantastic. Are you thinking of doing something along those lines again?
Not anytime soon. I’d love to, but my role on that was more on a creative level. I think it ended up being really hard for the people who did the logistical work, and I don’t think they’re in a hurry to do it again.
The title of the album, Hotel, makes me think of a lot of different stories in a lot of different rooms, yet the feeling I get from the songs and the way they’re sequenced is that maybe it’s the same one or two people in every song. It feels like one story.
Maybe if I was to think of it conceptually, and I haven’t really, I’d be tempted to say that it’s one couple’s experience in a hotel room…basically locking two people in a hotel room for 12 hours and seeing what happens.
The track “Very” has a serious Giorgio Moroder feel to it, with that electronic pulse…
That was my homage to Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer.
Their song, “I Feel Love,” was probably the only disco record I ever bought.
Y’know there’s that possibly apocryphal story that when Bowie was making Heroes, I think it was, Brian Eno came into the studio with the 12-inch of “I Feel Love” and forced everyone to stop working and played themn the disc and said, “This si the most revolutionary piece of music ever made.” Today, I hear “I Feel Love” and I still love it. If it came out now I would still rush out and buy it. My song is an homage, but I wouldn’t say it’s the same caliber as “I Feel Love.”
Is Laura Dawn the female singer on the entire album?
Most of it. On “raining Again” and “Lift Me Up” there are some background vocals that woman named Shana Steele sings. But apart from that it’s Laura.
How did you find her? Were you familiar with her solo album?
She and I have been friends for about ten years. We met in a bar and we became friends. We played chess together and we worked on a lot of political things together. She and her husband and I are very good friends.
How much was your songwriting affected by being on the big Area tours and playing in a big band before thousands of people?
To be honest with you, I don’t know. A lot of the songs get written in the back of a tour bus, I guess.
A rock ‘n’ roll tradition for 50 years!
Exactly. Luckily there aren’t any classic rock n’ roll “road” songs on [Hotel]. As far as being influenced on tour…it probably is quite a big influence because left to my own devices at home I tend to play around more with electronics, and on tour the only instrument I bring [to play around with] is an acoustic guitar. So most of the songs I wrote on acoustic guitar are probably a result of being on tour.
Also, having toured so extensively for such a long time…everyone who goes on tour, even if you’re playing electronic music, you become a rock ‘n’ roll musician after a period of time, because you’re constantly surrounded by electric guitars and by bands. One of the most frustrating things is if you’re a guy who just plays an electronic keyboard onstage and you look over and see the punk rock bands thrashing around and having so much fun. It makes you want to throw away your keyboard and pick up a guitar. [Laughs]
I remember seeing Tangerine Dream in concert a number of years ago and these three guys barely moved for two hours. One guy would flick some switch on a sequencer every five or ten minutes. It was not a dynamic spectacle…
Yeah, Kraut-rock was not exactly known for it’s dynamic presentation. It had a lot of chin-scratching.
Are there any pieces of gear that have come out since 18 that excites you?
The one piece of equipment that I just got, and to be honest with you I don’t know when it came out originally, is a transient designer-this weir compressor. I used it a lot on this record. Let’s see…I’m looking at it right now. It’s made by Sound Performance Laboratory. It’s like a really viscious compressor. It’s only got four knobs on it; it’s stereo, so it’s ttwo little knobs per channel. And you just turn the knobs until something interesting happens.
What do you put it on, guitars?
Drums mainly. One of the things we did in recording the live drums is we had a bunch of dufferent drum mics and we’d take one good stereo room mic and put it through the transient room designer. It can make something really tight and squashed so you lose all the atmosphere, or it gives you nothing but atmosphere. It’s my favorite box right now.
Will Laura Dawn tour with you?
I hope so. We’re trying to figure that out right now. She’s got a really good job with moveon [.org]; she’s their creative director.
I bet she’s really depressed with what happened in November!
Nobody was too happy after that election, to say the least. We worked on a lot of things for moveon together. So she’s trying to figure out if she can keep her position with moveon and go on tour as well. Hopefully it will work out.
I would be remiss if I didn’t let you hype your restaurant or tea shop…
My ex-girlfriend, Kelly, and I opened a little restaurant on the Lower East Side called Teany, and its’ been wonderful. I can’t take any of the credit for it because basically she’s done all the work. And the good thing is we get along much better as friends and business partners than we did as boyfriend and girlfriend.
By Blair Jackson