MM: Yeah. So growing up‚ was there a particular time or a particular experience that changed you?
KM: Well‚ I think I was always drawn to music. My parents weren't-well my dad played trumpet in high school band‚ my sister and I took piano lessons until I quit that and started playing guitar. Just kind of sucked in by the radio and any kind of live music I got exposed to I always ate it up. As teenager I was totally engrossed in classic rock and for me it was The Stones‚ AC/DC‚ and Aerosmith‚ and all that 70s rock. That's what I grew up on and played for hours and hours. I was just really obsessed with it and then later got into bluegrass and The Grateful Dead and that stuff came in the college years. And now we get to do a little bit of all of that. So the band is satisfying in that way that it's really musically diverse and everybody gets to have input and write and sing and it's a great outlet for all of our musical desires.
MM: Yeah‚ that is a really interesting thing. Everyone has a unique background but still open…
KM: Yeah‚ there's no leader in the band. There's no Trey in the band or whatever‚ that may be the guy writing most of the songs‚ singing of the songs‚ calling the shots‚ the main soloist. It's really more of a democratic‚ shared effort which can be both very rewarding and really frustrating sometimes too. But it is what String Cheese is all about‚ which is a little bit of everybody's input and that makes us who we are.
MM: Is there anything that some of the other guys have brought to the table that really…maybe starting out that opened you up? Maybe something that you weren't necessarily into?
KM: Well yeah. Everyone is from different backgrounds as you mentioned. Kyle's got a degree in jazz piano. He's the only one with a music degree. So he's a wealth of information. I'm much more self-taught and so the gaps and holes in my musical knowledge-I'm often going to Kyle with questions and he's able to help that out. Travis started out as a hand drummer and doing Afro-Cuban hand drumming and congas and stuff was his forte. He just started playing a kit when the band started. Michael Kang has classical training on the violin. And Billy came from a similar background as me in that he grew up on the Allman Brothers and classic rock and then started playing bluegrass after that. And now we've added Jason Hann on percussion so we've really filled out the rhythm section. And he is really well versed in the Latin styles of percussion so it's been a good learning process having Jason on as well.
MM: Did he play on the album?
KM: He did play on the album. He's done the last two full tours and we plan to continue having him around. He's a great dude and I think really adds something to the rhythm section that excites all of us.
MM: Yeah‚ so he's bringing something fresh to the mix.
KM: Exactly. That's good stuff he's bringing. He's the nicest guy you'd ever hang out with as well. It's a really easy fit.
MM: That's part of it. You can chemistry and then also if you're going to be on stage and off stage and traveling together‚ you want to get along with the person.
KM: You want to have someone that you want to hang out with in the downtime. Because there is a lot of downtime.
MM: I was talking to Oteil Burbridge and he was talking about chemistry. Obviously‚ you guys have this incredible chemistry together. He said that sometimes you have chemistry with people you don't even like (laughter).
KM: Well‚ you have some kind of chemistry. There's always some kind of reaction when you get two people or more together. As they say‚ the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. There's always something brewing. We're fortunate that we do still like each other after all these years and do enjoy hanging out together. But you have to work at it. It's like a marriage or some other intense long-term relationship; you're going to go through your ups and downs and your highs and lows and you've got continue to put energy into it to be able to get along.
MM: Right. Continuously work at it. I think we've covered a lot of good stuff here. Congratulations again-the album is great. Just love it.
KM: I'm so glad to hear that. I'm hoping everyone will feel that way. We're proud of it. Again‚ I think it's a great studio effort for us and was really fun to make. While it's not balls-out rock and roll‚ I think its good quality music and people are going to enjoy it.
MM: Yeah. It's the songs. Great songs. I'm glad I got to talk with you because I've always connected with your songwriting.
KM: Thank you.
MM: And this album you've got three of them on here.
KM: Well‚ I was fortunate enough to do some co-writing with some really talented folks. I wrote with Todd Sheaffer from Railroad Earth.
MM: Oh right.
KM: That's where Todd's from. I don't know if you knew that.
MM: Yeah‚ he was in From Good Homes too‚ right?
KM: Yeah‚ that was his band. And now Railroad Earth. Todd's a great songwriter and a great dude‚ a great singer. I've become a big fan of his and was fortunate to get to work with him. We did "Sometimes a River." And Todd‚ Malcolm‚ and I on "Until the Music's Over." And then I got to write with Jim Lauderdale on "Brand New Start." And I'm a big Jim Lauderdale fan as well. He's a great songwriter‚ too. So that was another aspect of the album that was fresh‚ is that we all looked outside and did a little outside collaborating with the songwriting. And you always learn something from other people when you work with them…if you're paying attention (laughs). So that was good for the band too to be able to bring in some outside collaborations and influence our songwriting that way.