MM: It sounds like a cool idea‚ I look forward to hearing it.
TH: It was a really cool experience; we locked ourselves in the basement for two weeks doing a lot of pre-production and working on all these songs. It was really a group process‚ and up until that point in time we didn't really work that way. It was more like Tom had a song‚ it would be finished‚ and then we would work on it. This was different‚ where I would come in with a piece of music‚ or even a guitar lick. For instance when we wrote "Tired Sigh(t)‚" it starts with this really weepy guitar thing and that's all I had. I started playing and said to the band "all right‚ do what you do." They ended up writing their own parts to it‚ and really created the vibe and the feel for the songs. Then we took the party into the studio and recorded for seven days straight and recorded all the music. We took another month or so to lay down the vocals. It was a cool experience and I definitely can't wait to make another one‚ that's for damn sure.
MM: So you really like going in the studio…
TH: Love it! It's one of my most favorite things in the world.
MM: Does the rest of the band share that feeling about the studio‚ and that philosophy behind making an album? You know‚ to focus and construct a magical record?
TH: Yeah‚ but it's kind of like forget about making something magical‚ let's make something that doesn't completely suck. (laughs) We're not the fucking Beatles. (in a British accent) "What do you say we make a brilliant record‚ can me girlfriend come?" (laughs)
We're a small band with a small budget and not a lot of time. We went and made the most out of it and tried to do the best we could do. I think we did so‚ and I think it came out really well.
MM: Well‚ about your own playing‚ I think you definitely have an interesting style. Correct me if I'm wrong‚ but I think you're way more into laying down a groove that the rest of band can feed off. It's kind of like the build is very subtle.
TH: Not like "hey‚ look at me I can play."
MM: Right‚ like "my guitar is gonna fuck your brain!"
TH: Well‚ believe me it's hard not to come out and just play like that‚ where you're running all over the place. Every guitar player on the planet can do that‚ and they take lessons‚ and at all times they want to make sure you know how well they can play their instrument. I just think that's crap.
MM: I think it takes a long time for some of the best musicians‚ or I should say guitarists‚ before they realize they have to shut up every once in a while.
TH: Especially in our "scene" there is a lot stuff going on that‚ you know‚ Phish did in '88. There's no need to keep doing that. We're taking a much more ensemble approach to jamming‚ where each person will peak out. At least for me‚ your listening to everything and you don't know what sound is coming from where at any particular time. So you're not sitting there going "wow‚ that guy's a great guitar player‚" or "that dude is ripping that bass up‚" etc. It's more about sitting there enjoying an ensemble of music. I think‚ pardon the term‚ but to be an "electronic" type of band‚ is definitely a more organic way of going about it. It's not like playing over changes and I'm going solo for a half hour until I run out of licks that I learned‚ and then I'll hand it over to the keyboard player. I just think that's been done... to death.
MM: I agree - that definitely can get boring.
TH: I think the fact of the matter is no matter how cool I could be ripping out great licks or whatever‚ there's always going to be another guitar player that's better than you. So what's the point? Someone else will always be able to do it better or quicker‚ so let someone else play that game. I would rather play a different part in the music.
MM: Yeah‚ I think that's a good philosophy towards playing.
TH: Well‚ believe me‚ I wasn't always that way. I was a kid who wanted to be Stevie Ray Vaughn‚ you know‚ a shredder. I was into Randy Rhoades when I first started playing‚ or Van Halen‚ or Zack Wylde I still say is a great guitar player‚ and Slash‚ you know‚ shit like that. I think right now less is more‚ and that's the kind of philosophy I'm trying to keep.
MM: Well do you think you've come to a point in your playing where you can hear the "you" through the instrument? Where it's not so much what you learned beforehand‚ it's just you through your instrument. Follow me?
TH: Yes‚ I know exactly what you mean‚ I think. One of my biggest problems with the really proficient players is that they're all playing licks that were written thirty years ago and there is nothing really original about it. You're playing something Coltrane played‚ or something Jerry played in '78‚ or something like that. I was like the worst case of that‚ a Trey lick here‚ a Stevie Ray lick there‚ and eventually I just stopped listening to guitar players. I don't really listen to music with a lead guitarist right now. So what I play is really what's going on in my head‚ you know‚ whatever I'm hearing in my head. It's not based on something I heard on a CD earlier that day. I'm at a point with all those guitar licks‚ all those guitar licks I spent hours locked in room trying to learn‚ I forgot. If I'm playing something‚ it may not be the hardest thing ever‚ or the most amazing thing technically‚ but at least it's mine.
MM: Well yeah‚ and in terms of group improvisation...
TH: It doesn't even matter‚ a lot of the time you don't even know what the guitar is doing‚ you could think it's the keyboard. I think it's a much more comfortable role.
MM: I think that's really interesting where within group improvisation you treat the guitar as anything that's going through your head. It doesn't necessarily have to be a sound that comes from guitar‚ it can be a sound that's in your head. I think over the years you've developed this array of effects that really creates a sound that allows you to play what fits‚ and allows you to bounce off of anyone you're playing with.