Well‚ sure‚ that's a perfect example. I mean‚ it's not just the music itself; it's the relationships that you form when you're trying to make music. It's really difficult to make music all by yourself.
Yeah‚ I just thought of the Bob Dylan line: "You can't make love all by yourself." [laughter]
Yeah‚ and on a non-erotic level‚ that's very much like what it really is: it's a love. It's a love thing‚ man. [laughs]
When I found out I was talking to you‚ I went back to read your book again [Searching For the Sound]. And‚ man‚ it's just filled with so many great things -- all the musical concepts that you and the band were discovering over the years. It's so fascinating to me. But one of the things that was really cool was that when you started playing electric bass‚ the instrument was so new in rock music. There was Paul McCartney‚ Bill Wyman; there was James Jamerson…
And then there was Jack Casady [Jefferson Airplane‚ Hot Tuna].
Jack Casady‚ right.
I learned a lot from Jack‚ and he told me he liked my playing. I don't know if he learned anything from me or not. It was easy to just not be influenced‚ because the easy way was to imitate one of those guys‚ and then just continue on. But that wouldn't have been what we were looking for in our band. We were looking for our thing.
Yeah‚ whatever felt right‚ and whatever the music needed.
And whatever made it the most artistic.
Right. So over the years‚ are there other players that came along who would make you think‚ "Wow‚ they're doing something really interesting with the instrument"?
Jaco [Pastorius]‚ of course. Just in terms of his sheer prolixity and virtuosity‚ and his heart‚ too. To be honest‚ I respect a lot of bass players and admire them‚ from Scott LaFaro on down‚ but none of that has really influenced me. The biggest influence on my playing is sixteenth century counterpoint. The bass lines in Bach cantatas or in Palestrina's work. They have a melody of their own and yet still hold the underpinning. They provide the pillars for the superstructure of the harmony and the melody on top of everything. So that's basically‚ in the purest musical sense‚ that's been my main inspiration all along.
Let me ask you about being onstage. When it's really happening‚ where do you go these days?
Well‚ when it's really happening‚ I'm not there at all. [pauses] This is the truth; I am not there at all. Nobody else is either. There are no humans on that stage; there is only music. In that zone‚ it's very wide and deep. You might almost say it's infinite. You can see forever in there‚ and the difficulty is to keep yourself anchored in some way‚ or at least floating in the same place‚ so you just don't drift off into the infinite. Somewhere in the back of that group mind there are these little notes of etheric awareness: "Oh‚ over here is my body‚ which is a component of this‚" you know? It's really quite wonderful to be in that space. And it's a little bit addictive. That's one of the reasons we keep trying to go back there. Because it's almost blissful‚ yet it's not passion. There's a very active component to it: the music is just pouring through and we're kind of writing it and directing it at the same time. It's kind of an awesome responsibility. And who are we here? But that's part of the game. This is how we grow. This is our karma. This is how we grow spiritually. So that's what goes on‚ kind of‚ when it's really happening.
And I think it's similar for the audience as well.
Yeah. And since the audience really is part of the circuit that's created‚ that makes this possible -- that makes the opening of the pipeline possible -- the audience experiences that also. To a greater or lesser extent‚ I guess‚ depending on the individual and what their situation is. Actually‚ you know what it really is? It's prayer. It really is.
Yeah‚ in the truest sense of what you're trying to achieve‚ I think it is.
In the highest sense‚ we're all bound together. We're all kind of praying for the same thing. It's a single thought‚ in other words. A single feeling. And it's going out into the universe. It radiates out spherically‚ or even beyond that‚ maybe. So‚ that's one of the reasons that it's so addictive. It feels good to be one with the universe.
[laughs] It most certainly does. So you're ready to go back out there on tour.
Oh‚ you're damn straight. I don't know how I stayed away from it for so long. It's funny -- you can play isolated shows not as part of a tour‚ and sometimes it will happen‚ but it's more likely to happen if you've been at it for a while‚ building up some momentum.
Yeah‚ you need a few shows to really get in there and for everyone to dial in.
I'm excited. This band's really gonna be outstanding. Where am I talking to you from?
I live in Vermont.
Oh‚ OK‚ I didn't recognize the area code. And who are you writing for?