How's your approach to percussion different in 7 Walkers?
Well‚ it's two different styles of music. Not to be rude to the music‚ but the Rhythm Devils is straighter. Mickey does his looping and stuff. I play just a good 'ol groove. With 7 Walkers‚ I play the whole thing‚ in the New Orleans spirit‚ snare kind of music. The hard stuff.
Where was 7 Walkers recorded?
In Austin‚ Texas. A place called The Nest. It's an analog studio‚ all analog‚ in and out. Has a really warm sound. I don't know if you have a chance to hear it yet?
Yes. "Evangeline" was a real treat. I see that Willie Nelson makes a guest appearance.
He lives out here on Maui. But‚ he's on tour right now. When he was here‚ I tried to talk him into coming down and doing a song together.
You ever bump into him in Hawaii?
No‚ not really. We're on different islands and it's funny because the other islands are like the mainland. The flights between them aren't much fun. People tend to stay on their own island. There are older people‚ locals‚ here that haven't even left their neighborhood.
I stayed at the hostel in Kauai. The manager of the place hadn't left in 20 years. It was pretty crazy to talk with to someone with that mindset.
I like to get out. I'm more diversified now. I know how people can do that‚ but if you want to play music and hangout with good musicians‚ you've got to move around.
Do you ever get tired of the road? Is it still exciting?
The excitement is not being on the road‚ the excitement is playing the music. And‚ the music has been happening. I'm having the busiest year I've ever had. I didn't plan to go back to work this much‚ this year. I thought with the Grateful Dead stuff‚ in 1995 after Jerry left‚ I thought‚ "Well‚ that's that." I took some time off and healed myself‚ got my energy back in Kauai. That's one of the reasons I moved here. Jerry and I had this dream of living in Hawaii when the band stopped. Unfortunately‚ I was the only one that held up the agreement. This year‚ I don't know how many gigs I've played. It's fun. I'm not complaining.
15 years since he passed away. Pretty surreal.
Yeah‚ it is.
And you‚ yourself‚ turn 64 this year. What does that number mean to you?
I don't know. Will you still love me when I'm 64?
Watching you onstage with the Rhythm Devils‚ you really see this youthful exuberance and curiosity in your presence. It's incredible to witness someone doing what they truly love.
It really was a fun band.
You starting playing in the Dead as a teenager. What would your 64-year-old self say to that kid?
Stick with it. Stick with it and it'll pay off. You'll have a great time playing music. Don't give up. I mean‚ we had this manager -- way back when the Grateful Dead first got together -- and we were playing this funny nightclub called the In Room in the Bay Area somewhere. He said to us‚ "You guys are too weird. You're never going to make it." [Laughs]
I came across this book that came out this summer‚ Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead. It's pretty interesting how you guys always did what you wanted to do and bucked the system‚ especially during the 1960s and 1970s‚ and here this book states you had the right formula all along.
It wasn't that we started out with a marketing idea‚ we just went with what felt right. Over the years this became a marketing idea for somebody‚ but it was never a concise idea for us‚ like‚ "OK‚ this is Plan A and this is how we are going to do it." We just made choices that felt right for everybody.