Since you've left Strangefolk, have the lines of communication been open between you and other guys?
Yeah, I mean we've kept track of each other at some level, but certainly not getting together and chatting with any regularity.
Were there any hard feelings when you left?
I think so. I think people were pretty upset.
People as in the fans or directly in the band?
Both. I think it was really just a disappointment, a sense of disbelief to a thing that was so central to the band members and the audience, in the form that it had been.
When you left in 2000, was it a notion that was coming down the pike or was everyone flat out caught off guard?
It depends on who you ask. The fans were certainly caught off guard. With Strangefolk, it's a question you'd have to ask them. But, from my perspective, there was an imbalance that was created on a whole number of levels that was just not sustainable and, at the time, with age and the insanity of being in a band, we just didn't have the skill set to work through the bigger chunks that weren't working and it just got unaddressed.
You felt your time in there had run its course?
Yes. There were these big pieces that weren't adding up for me and there wasn't a comfortable venue for any of us. It was a long lead up to me leaving. It's a whole range of things that are pretty garden variety in life, how each of the band members and folks working for the band are communicating or not communicating with each other, direction and quality and health of the band, broad vision and a sense of destiny, the commercial piece of the band. There were all of these things that were so perplex and interwoven and it's such a heroic feat to get a band up and going with all the constraints and to keep it alive and healthy and it definitely takes an immense amount of energy, maturity, insight and luck.
Myself, as a longtime follower of your work, I still, over a decade later, hear chatter at your shows, or even at the latest Strangefolk shows with the new line-up, about "the good old days with Reid leading the Folk." It must be a quite a feeling, for good or ill, to have fans over the years mention this or whisper that about you and the boys.
Well, if ever it was hard, those were the times, when hearing that kind of chatter -- that was most challenging. Over the years, Strangefolk and Assembly of Dust have become two very distinct things. For me personally, it's my musical self and it has chapters and layers. I look at it all fondly and proudly.
Who knows, if it had kept going, you could have lost some serious friendships.
Yeah, I think that's right. You need to come back to it with a fresh perspective. That old thing that "hindsight is 20/20" -- I'm not sure it's 20/20, but it certainly blends clarity.
What do you remember from that last show in 2000 at the Garden of Eden?
I was a wreck. I remember being real emotional, being in this suspended state of disbelief. Although it may be a little extreme, but it's not totally inaccurate to say I was in shock. I do remember feeling quite a bit in shock, sort of detached from what's going on. In some ways, I felt very detached. But, in other ways, I felt, on a personal front, very acutely aware and detached from the greater goings on.
Was there a sense of "what the hell am I going to do now?"
I had a sense of loss. I don't remember my exact feelings the next morning, but it was surreal.
And then Assembly of Dust emerged. Was that ever intended to become a full-time thing when you first started it?
When we came together, it was just very informal. I think one of the things that happened for me was, in the wake of leaving Strangefolk, I was unclear as to if I would have a musical life, at all. Pretty soon, it became apparent to me that I felt driven. It was really a wait and see and explore this, test the waters, evolve over time. Whereas with Strangefolk, it was its own evolution. Jon [Trafton] and I started out as a duo and had very clear intentions of having a band.
Was there any apprehension, when Assembly of Dust took off, to get back into that touring schedule and mindset of running a band?
No. I had sort of learned my lesson and figured out how to keep my hand on the stick, so to speak, the stick shift to be able to put it into gear at will, take it back to second gear if need be.