DC: How carefully do you map out anything for yourself? Do you‚ say‚ pick five songs or four songs‚ let's say‚ that are corners of a square and then everything else is open? Or do you wing it? Or does it change from night to night?
BM: It's everything. It changes from night to night sometimes. Sometimes it's‚ "We gotta have a set-list tonight because sound sucks out there. I can't hear you good enough and we need to just know what tune we're playing." That happens. And then there's other times when it's like‚ "Let's just make a loose list of what we're gonna play tonight and then let's just call it out."
DC: Yeah. (laughter)
BM: That's really the basic MMW philosophy: Let's start with this tune or let's improvise and then go into a song and then‚ after that song‚ let's see how we feel and then someone call something out. And usually that's how these orders come together‚ because you're in the moment. And all of a sudden it's like‚ "Oh‚ this tune!" And then if someone has a strong feeling‚ the other guy can say "Yeah! Let's do that‚ man." So it's really improvising and in the moment. But you don't know. Sometimes you need a list. And sometimes that list can be in order‚ which (sighs) is usually when the sound is really bad‚ when really‚ it's a crisis situation. (laughter)
DC: I never thought of that.
BM: Otherwise‚ it's like the list is there but you talked about the ones you definitely don't want to do. You know? (laughter) And you have a list there to keep some tunes available. We could do these‚ and then sometimes it ends up that you don't do them all. There's no order to it.
DC: It's interesting to hear you talk about it. That's not a big surprise‚ having seen you guys at least half a dozen times. Scofield talked about not giving a shit when you get onstage. Not giving a shit in terms of you trust the other musicians‚ and you trust your own ability‚ and above all you trust the music. And one thing‚ when you're in the zone and you're having a good night‚ will lead beautifully to another. It sounds like you guys have pretty much the same vantage point on it. It's no wonder you guys are so smooth collaborating together.
BM: I think that's growing up‚ you know‚ improvising and playing with jazz musicians. That's kind of the spirit of it. It's kind of a built-in spirit of playing together. And it's not like that with all jazz musicians.
DC: No‚ that's certainly true. Do you guys record your shows on a regular basis?
BM: No. We don't go out of our way to record our shows. Actually‚ we got people doing enough for us. We're not gonna ask them to do any more. (laughter) Like our soundman is piecing stuff off with the other guys. We all have multiple jobs. And we don't want to get caught up in technically trying to get that mike plugged in‚ trying to record tonight like it's the only night‚ and ruin the spirit of just going up there and playing. But‚ also‚ the reason we're not so bent on recording is because there's always someone out there probably recording it anyway. (laughter)
DC: That's true‚ yeah.
BM: Fortunately‚ that kind of subculture is there in general. Some nights I wonder‚ "Wow‚ did someone get that?" Though‚ being in Chile or something‚ or some other country where that subculture isn't there‚ no one's recording. And the funny part is‚ I couldn't listen to it anyway because we've been touring. (laughter) You know?
DC: Yeah. That's the last thing you want to do probably.
BM: Well‚ we have some friends that have recorded us over the years‚ and we might have dinner with them wherever they are in the world‚ at their place‚ and they pull something out and say‚ "Check this out. This is from 1998!" And we'll go‚ "Whoa! Man‚ that's amazing!" Like‚ "We did that? Wow!" (laughter) That's not any tune we've done before or after. That kind of stuff pops up‚ which is really cool. And‚ hopefully‚ we're able to make a record like that‚ too. Just find the jams.
DC: Yeah‚ well‚ that's part of the reason I asked that-in the year and a half prior to the release of End of the World Party I probably saw you guys 4 or 5 times‚ and I began to notice about the third time that there were these rhythmic and melodic tunes that seemed to be familiar. And then when that album came out I went‚ "Holy shit! I watched and listened to these guys record this over the last year or so!" (laughter)
BM: Right.
DC: And I know you did it in a studio‚ but I had to wonder if you regularly took recordings‚ tried to pick out these ideas and then solidify them for the purpose of calling them a song and recording them from there.
BM: You never know. But if it's up to me‚ the song was already developing and so it wasn't just‚ like‚ listening to the performances. So it was trying to keep it fresh. Then when you get the record that's the way we played it.
DC: Yes‚ exactly!
BM: It's the one version‚ but all those live versions that you heard are other versions of the same song. And maybe some are incomplete. And maybe we only played half the song. Maybe it was developing. Maybe it was de-developing. (laughter)
DC: Yeah‚ devolving. You're right.