CONVERSATION WITH LEO KOTTKE (continued)
PM: How did the title piece come together? How did Mike bring it to you as a tune, and how did you make up your part?
LK: I think it was in Minneapolis, and just fooling around, seeing what we could do. He just started telling me the story of his clone, a guy who would appear on stage with him. And he showed me a picture of this guy--they really were like twins. The guy has a younger brother the same age as Mike's younger brother, the same name. And he just started telling me that there was this clone, and that he traveled with Phish for a little while, and he and Mike would kind of switch places and terrify the crowd. But he said after a while the clone started to bother him because people were getting as interested in the clone as they were in Mike.
LK: And then he suspected his girlfriend of spending more time with the clone than with him. And we started just running around with that and finding some lyrics. And it really didn't actually get done until about an hour before we recorded it.
PM: Well, it's just so unusual the way the two parts go together. I mean, would the guitar part, for instance, would it hang together without the bass part that's there?
LK: But like all of that stuff on the record, without Mike, you really miss something. And the same is true in the other direction, I would suppose.
PM: I would think so.
LK: Part of that is that with Mike's tunes, frequently there would be a bass line and a vocal melody, and that would be it. So I would find a way in there. It really is a duet. A couple of those tunes--all of "June," for example, was written together, note by note and so forth. We just kind of shared the brain.
PM: Was that up in Minneapolis or in California?
LK: "June" we got in Burlington in--no, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Yeah, we got most of "June" in Burlington. And we did some stuff in Minneapolis. But most of it was generated out in L.A.
PM: So a good bit of hanging out and playing went into this project.
LK: Oh, yeah. Really, for me, I mean, I don't know how Mike would put it, but for me it was really just making a friend. We just got along, and had a lot of the same ideas about how a guitar and a bass could work together. And in a lot of ways, what we do is kind of against the law, because I leave no room. My playing is very busy, and I hog all the room, because I'm a solo guy. And so I'm stepping all over the twos and fours and the roots and everything. But Mike is very happy going outside of the ordinary bass domain.
PM: Oh, yeah, he's counter punching all the way.
LK: Yeah. And he's more like a horn, which is something that I've always hoped to find in a bass player. It's very hard to ask a musician to step outside of--obviously, outside of who they are, but especially outside of the kind of prescribed spectrum for their instrument.
PM: Right. Forget everything you've learned so far and let's jam.
LK: Yeah. And Mike was very happy with that. We're both very busy players, so it could have been just awful, but it works. And if I really think about it, it is kind of puzzling that it works, but it works great.
PM: And not only does it work, but it's really, really fun. And really musical.
PM: As a longtime fan, one of the things that excites me about this new collaboration is it will probably generate, inevitably, a whole new family of fans.
LK: I think that may happen. We'll see. Kind of as a warmup, and sort of so we don't just dive in all at once, we're playing a club before we start the concerts. It's in Massachusetts somewhere. And the club has already asked if I would do a show by myself the night before, because all of the tickets sold out on the Phish website.
PM: No doubt.
LK: And they're getting calls from people who want to see me and can't get tickets.
PM: Right. The old die-hard fans got boxed out because they don't anything about the Phish website.
LK: Yeah. So to some degree, I'll definitely be exposed to some new ears. I've always had a few Phish fans and jam fans out there, but there will be more of them now, at least I hope.
PM: Definitely. It's going to be crazy now. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
LK: Oh, thanks. continue