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Steve Kimock & Billy Goodman

A Conversation with Steve Kimock

Puremusic: Steve--Frank. How're you doing?

Steve Kimock: What's up, buddy?

PM: Well, it's time to do another PureMusic interview on the occasion of this musical chapter with brother Billy.

SK: Okay. Cool.

PM: Have you got time?

SK: Sure.

PM: Cool. So tell me, 'cause I don't know--previous to this musical chapter with Bill, what had you been up to previously, and how did this kind of musical rendezvous come about?

SK: What was I doing right before... I don't remember. [laughs]

PM: Yeah. [laughs] That sounds like me.

SK: The last couple years, I've been sort of a free safety, catch-as-catch-can, running to and fro, hither and yon, from one project from the next, just sort of trying stuff on and whatever you'd call it--screwing the pooch. Just basically trying as hard as I can not to have to do all the resource organization right here in the house, 'cause we just had another kid.

PM: Right.

SK: Four months old today.

PM: Wow.

SK: Oh, right--that's what I was doing before. I was doing Ratdog. I was covering for Mark Karan while he recovered from his throat cancer.

PM: Right. How is he doing?

SK: He's fine.

PM: Oh, that's great.

SK: Yeah, it is great.

PM: He's an old friend, obviously. So you were covering Mark Karan's gigs in Ratdog. How long did that go on for?

SK: A while, a couple of months.

PM: Was that a good gig? Was that fun?

SK: It was really fun. But that was what came right before, and then I stopped that. I hopped off in November 'cause the baby was due Christmas-ish. This is why I don't remember what I do, 'cause I wasn't doing anything. It took you to call me up.

PM: [laughs]

SK: So I was sitting around having kids from November 'til whatever. You know, there are a couple of miscellaneous things--there's a jam cruise in there and I may have gone off somewhere else--I don't remember. Then I was getting set to go to California and do some miscellaneous SKF stuff [Steve Kimock & Friends], kind of working under my own name but not with a solidified line-up.

PM: Not SKB, right.

SK: Not working out of the original book. Working out of the party book.

PM: [laughs] Right. The casual book.

SK: The casual book. It's actually more of a party book than a casual book. [laughs] I got a call from Billy. He goes, "Hey man. I wanna come over." I'm like, "Oh great, man. Come on over." He showed up and lived in the barn for twelve weeks or something. [laughs]

PM: [laughs] Excellent.

SK: Yeah, he just moved in. I was like, okay, great.

PM: Just like the old days.

SK: Just like the old days. It was beautiful, yeah--make our coffee, strum our guitars and have fun. It was cool. We thought about you often.

PM: It just seemed to take--

SK: And spoke no ill.

PM: Yeah. And spoke no ill, thank you. It just seemed to sprout organically. First it was--come over and let's play a little with [Steve's drummer son] John Morgan. Let's make a recording. Maybe Steve's got some time--come play--before you knew it, there was a record underway and then there was an invitation to go play some west coast dates, and that turned into--well, let's book some European dates. It just kind of seemed to sprout organically in a productive and fun way.

SK: It just sort of snowballed in--yeah, "organically" works, or maybe in an opportunistic way, which is like, "Oh, that's available. That's fine. Let's do this." Yeah, there was an awful lot going on, because we accidentally wound up with a little bit of product. It was like--well, that doesn't hurt.

PM: Right.

SK: 'Cause as soon as you've got your little cookie--your little biscuit, your little loaf of bread or whatever it is that you can go and here's the thing--the physical product. As soon as there's a physical product, then the other media is interested. It doesn't matter how good you are--and a great guitar player--oh, where's the rest of the story.

PM: Yeah, 'cause the media needs a product.

SK: You guys are really good, you should go see them. The rest of the story needs to be there. And there you are. You know what I mean?

PM: Yeah, exactly. After there's an act and a product, it needs a writer to talk about it, which today is me. So let's talk about it, yeah. It's different, obviously, to play for a long time with somebody and continuously, and quite another to play intermittently or even very occasionally with someone you've known in a musical way for such a long time, so let's say something about what that difference may be, or what it was just like to play with Billy again.

SK: Super easy, kind of like falling off a log. The very intimate and really kind of mutual respect thing we all have going on, Billy and I, for each other's musical styles and directions and sensibilities and what we'll put our foot down for and what we'll put up with and all that stuff--that all developed in such a--when you think about it, all that stuff developed with us in a really healthy way. It's all very honestly felt and experienced stuff. Nobody showed up and punched the clock and did it for a couple hours and went off and did something else. We worked very closely. Something about that dynamic just as a foundation for the thing made the rest of it simple--okay, I don't gotta guess where you're going.

PM: Or why.

SK: You don't gotta guess what I can do or can't do here. You've just gotta ask me to hold up, or go this way or that way, or how about this. You know where the flexibility's gonna be in the situation. Yeah, that was super easy. You and I and Billy have a good foundation for that stuff.

PM: Absolutely.

SK: If we were all playing right now, it would not feel as if we were playing intermittently.

PM: [laughs] Yeah. Right.

SK: We would simply be playing.

PM: Yeah.

SK: It's like falling off a bike. You don't forget how to fall off a bike. [laughs]

PM: It's amazing after all these years that your son John Morgan is playing drums. What's that like for you, and what's his musical personality and contribution like?

SK: Oh, Jesus. It actually really hit me just the other night. I went and sat in with the EOTO/String Cheese drummer--kind of a techno, kind of a trance kind of thing that I've done a couple times, which is a lot of fun. John's band opened up.

PM: Wow.

SK: The gig was in Wilkes-Barre, okay?

PM: Right.

SK: So it's a Pennsylvania gig. I don't do a lot of Pennsylvania gigs. That's something that I've done intermittently, you know what I mean? I know what the rooms look like and feel like--I kind of know what they smell like--the kind of people that are coming in--the feel of the air coming through the back door when you're trying to tune a guitar--all that stuff.

PM: [laughs]

SK: You know where you are. I'm clearly not in Santa Cruz.

PM: [laughs]

SK: I'm not. I'm not in Central Florida. I'm not in the Rockies. I'm in frickin' Pennsylvania. So there I am backstage in this place in Pennsylvania, feeling very much like I'm at a Pennsylvania gig, which to me feels like I'm in my late teens or early twenties, maybe.

PM: Exactly.

SK: And my kid is playing on stage, and I couldn't get my head around that.

PM: [laughs]

SK: Just where the experience of being backstage for a "club date"--quotes, club date--where that puts me in my head and in my own timeline, what that relates to--and then knowing that's Johnny out there and he's kicking ass on the drums--I still haven't figured that one out.

PM: That's just gotta be amazing, yeah.

SK: It is amazing. He's playing beautifully, and is pretty fearlessly experimental with stuff that I think is really cool, and he writes really interesting stuff on the keyboard and on the computer. He went off to a session the other day and he goes, "I need a case." I said, "What do you need a case for?" He needed a guitar case. He had my old Oahu square neck--a Hawaiian guitar.

PM: Wow. I remember that.

SK: He's going to the session, and he's a drummer, and he's taking a laptop, a Hawaiian guitar, and a glockenspiel.

PM: These kids today, I'm telling you.

SK: You know what I mean? It's like, "Well, I just wanna play some bells and I wanna play some slide guitar and I wanna put a couple loops down"--you know what I mean? The drummer, you know.

PM: [laughs]

SK: I just think that's fantastic and cool.

PM: Wow. What's he listening to? Do we know?

SK: Today, no. But everything. He's pretty keen on the current small band improvisation stuff--Ben Russo or Bat Plus. He's kind of gravitating towards the keyboards and is listening--but starting to gravitate toward the guitar players in his playing. He's digging playing with guitar players. Plays with a lot of guitar players.

PM: Wow. He's certainly a beautiful, beautiful kid. He really turned out amazingly well.

SK: Yeah. And he's serious.

PM: Yeah.

SK: Maybe not quite as nuts as me in terms of being serious. I was so pissed at the world, 'cause I was convinced that the world thought I was nuts for trying to play at all. Then I really kind of shut myself in for a long time. I said, "No, no--I don't want the world, because the world is telling me not to do this, and I feel like doing this right now." He's a little better adjusted than that.

PM: Wow.        continue

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