home listen a- z back next

A Conversation with Luther and Cody Dickinson
of the North Mississippi Allstars

Puremusic: Thanks for having us on the bus for a conversation and a few photos. [Along for the ride was graphic artist and photographer Griffin Norman who shot snaps while we talked.] We're going to make it brief, because you guys got sound check and an in-store to do at Gibson.

So, yeah, I've been listening to Polaris the last three days, almost nonstop.

Luther Dickinson: Nice.

PM: And it's really amazing. I mean, as well-received and as great as the first couple of records were, and I liked them a lot, Polaris is really a remarkable evolution.

LD: Thank you.

PM: And one is led to believe from the press kit that this was really part of a bigger plan, that you guys had Polaris planned from the start. Is that how it is?

Cody Dickinson: We had it loosely planned. And basically, after making the first two records, they gave us--well, we just had freedom to do new different and things, and we took those liberties.

LD: We were able to work in Ardent Studios [a legendary Memphis facility, where they had seen many productions of their father's take place] for the first time, and recorded sixteen-track analog, which is more expensive.

CD: The only real planning, basically, was there are a couple of songs, like "Meet Me in the City" and "Sunrise" we knew we would cut. And another loose blueprint was Electric Ladyland, Jimi Hendrix' third and double LP--we were trying to make a parallel to that.

PM: That's a good analogy.

CD: Yeah, we wanted to make a psychedelic rock record.

PM: And there are fantastic psychedelic moments. That mentality is present, whether or not it's a blues song. There's a psychedelic vibe throughout the record, beginning with the composing.

CD: Right, exactly.

PM: Just hanging with you guys for a few minutes, it's obvious to me that that's not just a musical style, that you are some psychedelic mofos. There are people out there trying to manufacture it--and you can really hear it. But the tripped out moments on your record are deep. And when that vibe comes up in the jamming, it's like the magic of old. Like you say, it really does harken back to Electric Ladyland and records of that vintage.

LD: That's really good to hear.

CD: Wow.

LD: And there was the English bent, too. We definitely let our English influences come out in the atmosphere. You don't have to have long guitar solos to be psychedelic.

PM: Yeah.

LD: You could have like orchestral arrangements and be psychedelic.

PM: When you say your English psychedelic influences, who do they include?

LD: Well, that's everything from the classic Beatles to Spiritualized to... Oasis is not a psychedelic band, but--

PM: Right.

LD: Actually, when you see them live, they stretch out.

PM: They do? I've never seen them live. Do they jam, then?

LD: They do, they sure do.

PM: So what's Noel Gallagher like? I know he's a buddy and appears on this record. What kind of a cat is he?

CD: He's super supportive of music and bands. Every time I've hung out with him, he's been going to see a band that night.

PM: Wow.

CD: That's just the kind of guy he is.

PM: That's unusual for a rock star.

CD: Yeah, definitely. But he goes out. That's how we met him, he started coming to our shows. He and Gem [Archer], the new guitar player, came to a show we did at the Garage in London. And then the next time we played in London, we played the LA II, and he brought his whole band. He brought Liam [Gallagher], the bass player, and everybody. And that blew my mind, not only that he came back, but he brought the band. And so that's when I really started--I met him briefly at the Garage, but at LA II we really sat down and talked. And I told him how much I admired his work and stuff. And that's when we exchanged numbers. He gave me his cell number, and I'd call him every once in a while. We would just talk. I got drunk as hell one night and stayed up all night. And that morning, it was early over there, so I called relatively early.

PM: Yeah.

CD: And when I called him, I was like, "Hey, man, I've got this song"--truth be told, he took me to their studio when they were doing Heathen Chemistry. And one of the songs, "Little By Little," sort of influenced me. I ripped it off--

PM: [laughs]

CD: --on our new record. And I asked him to sing on it. And he said, "Yeah."

LD: Did you tell him that was influenced by "Little By Little"?

CD: Yeah, I said, "Man, I got this tune called 'One To Grow On' and--"

PM: Great song, love that song.

CD: Thank you, man. And I said,"'Little By Little' really gave me the direction on this, and I was wondering if you'd sing." And he said, "Yeah!"

PM: Wow.

CD: So that's just the way he is. Honestly, they joke--like he and Liam, the brothers, they get along. In my opinion, I think the whole rivalry thing is more--

PM: Oh, it's just a press angle, right?  continue

print (PDF)      listen to clips       puremusic home