I feel like I'm playing the best piano of my life and I'm improvising at the highest level of my life. I feel really grateful. We've been having really nice crowds and really nice shows. We just got picked up by a really great booking agent out of Philadelphia called Tree Lawn. They handle some of our heroes. They heard the new quartet at the Winter Jazz Festival in New York City‚ which we had a great show at.
So‚ there's a lot of fire in the band. Like I said‚ we're writing as a group‚ rehearsing at a set time every day when we're not touring. We go to work everyday. The four of us own the business equally--that's the first time in the history of the band that we've done that. It's not really my band. I own this equally with these three other guys. I'm really excited about that. It's the first time that I've been with Jacob Fred where all the people want to put all their balls into it and make all their living off of it. The guys in the band--two of them are 23‚ one of them is 25‚ and I'm 34. These guys grew up with my music.
It's interesting to see how much your music has shaped them.
The guy that plays lap steel [Chris Comb] with us‚ his dad turned him on to JFJO when he was in middle school because we were his dad's favorite band. These guys know the language as well or better than I do‚ and we all bring different strengths to the table. I'm sure you've heard us with [Josh] Raymer--he's an incredible drummer. I mean‚ we're really good at maximizing our strengths and learning from our weaknesses. I look up to the three of them as much as they look up to me. There's a real understanding. We have mutual respect for each other.
Everybody encourages spiritual growth in each other instead of talking smack about the way things used to be‚ which is common with friends and family and wives and husbands. We have a tendency to see our friends as how they used to be and not how they are now. One of the great strengths about this quartet is that we're able to live in the present in a very evolved‚ effortless way. Nobody trying to make anybody else feel wrong or that they should be like they were six months ago or two years ago or yesterday. Everyone has real positive‚ uplifting‚ I would say evolved approach to life. And that's the most important thing to me: waking up every day and trying to be a better person‚ not just musician. That's what I want to be around. A lot of people have a lot things to say: You know‚ the band was this way or the band was that. Or how could you continue doing this? Or why would you? What's the point? And I just say listen to the music. When Jacob Fred stops evolving‚ that's when I'll stop doing it.
I feel like the band is making the best music of its career. All of our shows have been packed since we made the change and put out Winterwood. A lot of old school Fred fans have come up to me and said‚ "I was skeptical and I didn't understand‚ but this is the best Fred has sounded. Congratulations." I really haven't heard any negativity except from those that are attached to cult of personality bullshit. And music doesn't have any room for that shit. Music's way bigger than that. I don't care what people's names are or what identity has been assigned to their fleshy form. Music is about music. It's so big that it can't even be fathomed.
Explaining music is like trying explain God or some shit. Music doesn't have any room for that cult of personality bullshit. I don't care who's in my band. All I care about is that the music is getting better every day. I'm just feeling super lucky‚ Mike. I'm onstage with these three young bad motherfuckers and they just blow me away every night. They play better‚ new‚ different shit every night in the spirit of Jacob Fred. Every night everyone is pushing. Every night nobody sits comfortable and just sinks into the same old fucking song. Every night somebody is pushing‚ the language is evolving. The music is changing and shifting every single night. So‚ I'm basically just blissing out all day‚ every day.
[laughing] That's great to hear…
We have a great manager‚ Eric Dunn. We have a great new booking agency‚ Tree Lawn. We have a bad-ass publicist‚ Kevin Calabro. We have a great team. I mean‚ last year‚ financially‚ was our best year in the history of the band and one of the founding members [Reed] was only on one third of the shows. So‚ music is music. Music will take care of itself. Who the individual people are‚ that's always somewhat of a mystery.
And that's the funny thing about music: it doesn't really work on our timetable. Music doesn't really care about our time structure or our linear calendar‚ who's playing it and how it sounds. Music doesn't care about that. Music has its own agenda. So‚ I definitely feel that I've let go of a lot of bullshit and have given myself over to this incredible thing called Jacob Fred. It's just way bigger than me. Jacob Fred doesn't give a shit about me and Jacob Fred doesn't give a shit about names. Jacob Fred has evolved into its own language. It has a life of its own. I'm reminded of that every day when I'm surrounded by these young‚ bad-ass cats. From their perspective‚ Jacob Fred is theirs. It's theirs‚ not mine. They grew up loving it more than anybody else. They grew up transcribing all the songs from all the records and learning all this music. [laughs] As far as they're concerned‚ they've created it. It's funny to hear them talk about it. It's really eye-opening and humbling because they talk about it like it's their own fucking idea. [laughter] And as far as I know‚ it was! The more I think about it.
It has really brought me down to earth‚ and it's just done so much to be able to share this responsibility with these guys. They want to help me run the business‚ and they want to be a part of it. And not just showing up to rehearsal on time and to the gigs‚ but they do so much more. I mean‚ whenever we're not rehearsing‚ of course‚ all these guys have their laptops out and they're making jazz millions. That's pretty much our operating philosophy. What are you doing today to make jazz millions? And everyone always has something different to do that day. Everyone operates on that independently‚ and‚ of course‚ our management also assigns all four of us tasks. We put Eric Dunn to work‚ and he puts us to work. It's functioning like a true family and a true business more than it ever has in the history of the band. I'm one of the most thankful cats I know.
It's great to get to that point where you're surrounded by a team that believes in it to that extent and with that type of energy.
It's cool because they not only believe in it‚ they live it. Our manager‚ we made a deal with him that he can only manage us‚ because we've learned the hard way. It's the only band that he manages. And he did well last year. Instead of managing five bands half-assed‚ manage one really well. So‚ there's a lot of things that come with 15 years of experience. I can actually put some of this stuff I've learned to work finally. Before‚ it was just a concept; now I can actually make money with what I've learned from 15 years of doing this.
And shows have been killing‚ huh?
Yeah‚ and it's versatile. I mean‚ we can play parties and have people dancing. And we can play for sit-down audiences. But we have just been grooving‚ more than ever before. Just grooving and enjoying the tones of the instruments. When you have a lap steel onstage‚ you don't need to do much more than just groove. I mean‚ it sounds like fucking ear panties.
[laughing] Did you just say ear panties?
Ear panties. The lap steel guitar sounds like little white cotton ear panties. [laughter]