MM: I love a day of inspiration. So you're going to be playing some live shows with this band that you put together‚ playing compositions that you wrote‚ so what are some of your thoughts on being a band leader?
JH: I'm totally pumped for this opportunity. It's such a...I'm not a control freak (laughs)‚ but I do like to do my own thing and kind of be in control of my own thing‚ and it's not been that way the past couple of years because I've been in Trey's band. It's been really interesting being in somebody else's band because usually I've been in control of what I'm doing. Not to say that he's completely in control of what I'm doing (laughs)‚ but it's really fun to get back to it because I used to run all sorts quartets and jazz ensembles a few years back. It's a really nice thing to be doing this again and to share my ideas and take in ideas from other people. We're having a great time so far.
MM: I remember reading that you grew up being heavily influenced by classical and jazz music‚ and I thought it was really interesting just recently seeing you belt out two Led Zeppelin tunes on the past Trey tour (laughs).
JH: Yeah‚ that's not right. (Laughter)
MM: No‚ but it is‚ it felt so right!
JH: (Laughing) I sort of have these weird pockets of demons hiding that I just have to let out every once in awhile. It's been so fun exploring all different kinds of music. I listened to a lot of classical music up until I was 12 or 13‚ from then on through High School all I listened to was jazz. When I went away to college people started introducing me to hip-hop and stuff that my dad use to listen to‚ stuff that I really should have been listening to the whole time but I just wasn't. So that kind of showed me the validity of all this music that I always was scoffing at (laughs). So it's been a really fun past three or four years delving into this world music that I was never into before.
MM: In terms of more popular rock-oriented type of music?
JH: Yeah‚ the fact that I probably never knowingly heard Sly & The Family Stone until I was eighteen years old‚ which is really unfortunate (laughs). But also though‚ I was listening to really amazing music that most people don't get a chance to listen to or choose not to listen to.
MM: So the past couple of years have been really influential to your progression as a musician...
JH: Yeah‚ it's probably where this whole search for the music on this album came from‚ just in the past couple of years realizing how bad ass Aretha Franklin is (laughs) - it's like‚ "Oh my God!" So I've been smothering myself in music from the sixties and seventies.
MM: I find that really strange that from the time you were twelve until you were eighteen‚ you were all about listening to jazz music. Was that weird going to high school being into that?
JH: No‚ that was actually really normal. The kids I hung around with‚ and there was a bunch of us‚ just couldn't get enough of each other and we couldn't get enough of jazz. We had this killer jazz program in our high school‚ and it still does‚ but it was the type of school where football wasn't the cool thing‚ jazz was the cool thing. So I was really lucky that you know‚ you were never a band nerd at this school‚ if you were in the jazz program that was really cool. It was just so not normal at all‚ but the program was just so killer‚ and John Patton does such a great job at it‚ he was like everyone's surrogate dad. So it wasn't really that weird for me growing up because I had my niche of friends that were exactly like me.
MM: That's really fascinating. Well‚ I know doing the Trey thing has been an incredible opportunity for you‚ what are some of your thoughts about what that experience has brought out of you musically?
JH: Wow‚ there are just so many things. The whole experience is just overwhelming - getting to play in a band of that caliber. It's about never knowing...that's part of my whole love for spontaneous music is that we probably know about 5% to 10% of what we're going to play each night. I love that about that band‚ where everyone has to be on their toes and listening at all times or it doesn't jive at all. Then being a part of that horn section‚ which is so amazing‚ and being so tight it's like this web of family. We've been playing together so much that we know each other inside and out. We can play each others' lines before they even come out of each others' horns (laughs). I can tell you what Grippo is going to play over this thing and he can tell what I'm going to play. We've gotten so close that it's just become so much fun.
MM: It sounds like there's this profound understanding where it's almost like musical telepathy is taking place.
JH: Yeah‚ absolutely.
MM: I remember reading an interview with Trey years ago in which he talked about if the music he was playing ever became boring or stale he would quit. So Phish goes on hiatus and he puts together this 10-piece band and writes all this incredible music. What I find so interesting was it introduced me to all different kinds of music. Phish has definitely done that for me‚ but with this band it's immediate and it's this web of music that has spawned from the band itself. The fact that I'm really interested in what you're going to be doing with this band‚ I love what Ray is doing with Vorcza‚ I've seen different projects that Tony Markellis and Russ Lawton are involved in‚ and I always check out what Andy Moroz and Dave Grippo are doing around town. I actually just got to see Cyro's Beat the Donkey for the first time‚ which absolutely blew my mind…
JH: Yeah‚ aren't they amazing? I see them every chance I get. I've probably seen them six times in the past two months (laughs). I absolutely adore them. It's really interesting to me to go hear my fellow band mates' bands‚ and all the different things they are doing. It's so cool‚ like Ray's trio and Cyro's Beat the Donkey...Cyro has played with so many incredible musicians‚ like John Zorn and Herbie Hancock‚ you know‚ just these ridiculous musicians. It's amazing to go and see what everyone's doing because I only know them as musicians in Trey's band and playing this music‚ and it's just so cool to see what else they're doing and what they have on their musical plate. I try to go see it as much as I can.
MM: Yeah‚ I really like what it's spawned. I'll use a quote I heard "people who view music through a Phish-eyed lens‚" will hopefully be turned on all these different kinds of music.
JH: (Laughs) Yeah‚ I think people really need that right now. There's so much crappy music man (laughter)! There's so much crap on the radio right now. I was in the record store the other day and they have this bar code scanner now where you can listen to 45-seconds of each track on a CD. So I was looking through the popular music section seeing if there was anything I'd want to buy and everything I listened to was exactly the same (laughs). It put me in such a sour mood‚ like‚ "Man‚ come on‚ how many times do we have to hear that? How many times have we heard that beat?" You know? (Laughter) Everything on the radio sounds exactly the same. I love being part of a band that is just so kicking and doing so many cool different kinds of things. I don't know...
MM: I agree completely‚ it's weird because at times I feel like a music snob (laughs)…
JH: I just feel bad for the people who don't know the difference more than anything. You just want them to come and hear good music because maybe they don't know that it even exists. I want to go and hand out CD's to everybody (laughs).