DC: Sure‚ sure. Tell me a little bit‚ if you would-I'm interested to know how these songs came about.
PL: Well‚ we got a call from Michael Gaiman‚ who's Paul Kantner's manager‚ and they wanted us to do it. We played a gig with the Starship in San Diego a few years ago. It was just me and Bob and a bunch of other people. I don't know if Jerry could get down here‚ and Don wasn't interested. So he liked it 'cause the music sounded good; we had some good players. And so maybe because it's the 40th Anniversary of Monterey Pop and we've played there. But we were gonna do a gig at the Fillmore with Bill Thompson‚ and they were going to put Aynsley Dunbar and Pete Sears‚ which we didn't like.
DC: Was that the January show this year that didn't happen?
PL: Yeah‚ right. We were all geared up to do it‚ so it was a real bummer. Their whole trip was…I mean‚ we can get the Fillmore anytime we want it‚ but the idea was that somehow that was Plan A and there was no Plan B. It involved using Pete Sears and Aynsley Dunbar‚ without telling us in no uncertain terms‚ unless you use these guys‚ then the gig is off. Which would've been a lot cooler. And I don't know why that's true‚ because those guys have nothing to do with us. They're clients and friends of Glen‚ our lawyer‚ and Bill I guess. But those people are all suing each other‚ too. I mean‚ they're suing Michael Gaiman and Paul Kantner now. So Glen calls me‚ our lawyer‚ and he says‚ "We shouldn't play the gig." And all this was fine with him before he heard it was Michael Gaiman putting it on‚ you know. So we just don't want to be involved in all that.
DC: Well‚ you've probably had your fill of that kind of melodrama‚ that's for sure.
PL: Yeah‚ I mean‚ we just got out of our deal and all that. We don't want to…at some point we've got to decide who's in the band and who isn't…the control over the music.
DC: Now that you have the name and rights to the music‚ do you have even some tentative thoughts of solidifying a lineup and playing regularly for a while?
PL: We might‚ you know‚ right now we're in this…I made a bunch of CDs. I have a little digital thing and I made the tracks and have everybody put their parts in there so they can rehearse with not the old record but what we're doing now. We're in the process of trying to figure out exactly what we're supposed to and then we'll have these live rehearsals and then we'll get Jerry down here and add that‚ which he'd kind of like to come in at some point when everybody else is totally sure what they're gonna do.
DC: I see.
PL: And then Don will come down and we'll have the whole band. And if there's a gig that can pay us a certain amount of money‚ yeah‚ we'll go play it. But we're not going to…it's like Big Brother gets out there and they do gigs for‚ I don't know‚ five grand and it's just…you know that isn't worth it. And once you start‚ once you put yourself back on the club trap‚ that's where you stay. Trying to earn that same money and you go work and sometimes you pay for your planes and your hotels‚ but unless you can make a certain amount of money every night‚ it's not worth it to go out there anymore. So I just think with us it may be more worthwhile‚ like these two people want to do a documentary on us‚ and it may be more worthwhile to sort of pursue that.
DC: Well‚ that might be a better first step than doing it the old-school way of just hitting the road and playing clubs.
PL: We could‚ but it would be like...I mean‚ we have suffered through the story of Job‚ and there's a point at which the psychology just kicks in. And if you put too much pressure on it‚ that's what you're going to get‚ is the same result. It's always true with us‚ where it wasn't like the Stones; it wasn't really a road-worthy… you know we could play really great if we had all week to practice and then go play somewhere. But if you're putting us on one plane after the next‚ it was very tough for us to get our act at a point…because there was such a high level of energy required to do it that it's like you just can't wear everybody out in the traveling process and then expect them to perform every night. We could do OK‚ but when we were at our best is when we sort of were in control of our destiny‚ when we felt like we had some control. It wasn't just trying to hang in there with some agent's agenda‚ some manager that wanted to get out there and work you for all it's worth before there's nothing left.
DC: It's a testament to your collective self-respect-at the risk of sounding patronizing-a testament to your self-respect that you don't want to go out there and just do okay‚ because you guys erected a certain standard for yourselves and for Moby Grape. You don't want to undercut that standard. More power to you‚ you know?
PL: Yeah‚ well‚ there's so much bullshit right now that I see going on in the entertainment business. You know‚ there's American Idol and all this crap. They're turning it into something you don't really want to be a part of. Where's the artistic value in some of that? They may be performing well or whatever‚ but these bands in the '60s‚ they performed in a certain context. Their music was about something that might be bigger than‚ you know‚ trying to get a rise out of somebody. I think that's what we lack now‚ is some context‚ where the performers are sort of using whatever they have to make statements about what's going on in the world. There's a nostalgia for the '60s‚ but it's not being turned into anything in particular. It's more like‚ expecting these old people to come back‚ like Joan Baez was supposed to sing at the vets thing‚ and they didn't let her do that. For some reason John Mellencamp wasn't comfortable with it. Now there's a self-serving guy. Everything he says is about America‚ and there's a flag waving in the background. I met him down there in L.A. when he was John Cougar and he was the most mean-spirited little prick I ever met. He did weird things‚ to people he didn't even know. I mean‚ I was just eavesdropping; he was…he was trying to make himself‚ pump himself up or something. It was just this weird thing where you saw the future‚ and it was going to be a certain way.
You're lucky you didn't get to do that‚ you know? Because that really sucks. I mean‚ all it does is‚ you know‚ I'm sure she was slightly aware of like…you know‚ maybe she tried to light a candle instead of curse the darkness‚ but in the end‚ those two things don't belong together. They just couldn't let her in there. It was impossible for them because of the way they view things‚ which is it's either this or that. They are political‚ these people. They've turned themselves into these prophets‚ kind of‚ but it's for the wrong side of it all. Now‚ Toby Keith is another guy who might be okay‚ but it's like…he just doesn't get it‚ man. Maybe he isn't enough of a musician to get it. I mean‚ that's the sense I have about John Mellencamp‚ too. He's really not a good musician; he's just a guy who can sing a little bit and he got lucky.
DC: Yeah‚ he got lucky and then he adopted another role to perpetuate his career and now he's…
PL: Yeah‚ but it's all about him.
DC: Yeah‚ it is about him. It isn't the flag‚ it isn't the music; it's all about him.
PL: Whatever's going get him in the position where he looks like he's on the winning end. I don't know what to say about that‚ because that's so totally un-'60s-ish‚ that you don't want Joan Baez in there with that. I mean‚ if I had a good look at that now‚ like we all are like wooden ships‚ you know‚ it's just like the horror grips us as we watch you die‚ you know. And that's about it. So there are people that are left‚ and they're still out there‚ and there'll be some of them there at the Monterey Pop festival‚ but it's not‚ you know‚ you don't want put them in the casinos. And I think Big Brother‚ that guy‚ I love Sam (Andrew). Sam's a really good friend of mine. I know why they want to do it‚ because it's like‚ Janis ain't here anymore and it's like‚ well‚ what are we‚ chopped liver? (laughter) They get treated a certain way. Janis was great‚ but Sam really has some great songs and he's a good singer. He does a lot of good stuff when you really listen to his music. So there's something for Sam on that level where he can get out with those guys and do a few of his tunes and the other stuff‚ which he's pretty conscientious about making sure that the music sounds good. So I'd like being a part of because there is a courageous thing going with that.
DC: That's a statement of self-respect in and of itself that he's willing to do that.
PL: Keep your chin up‚ man. Be brave. And then‚ you're going to die anyways. And Janis is dead already‚ so her problems are over.
DC: Yeah‚ well one would hope so.
PL: It's like with the rest of them people that were there-it's gonna be hard going there and dealing with their ghosts. But‚ you know‚ we deal with their ghosts everyday anyway.