NM: Well‚ our first run was about 8 years long. We got really tired and decided to go our separate ways. We got back together after a three year hiatus. And now we're back together as a four piece string band‚ and before we were bass‚ drums‚ guitar and mandolin. It was definitely more rocking. The Slip gig wasn't the first time I rocked (laughs). It felt like it because it had been a while. We definitely rocked on our best nights‚ but now we're a string band which is new for all of us. It's interesting; we're still figuring out all of the possibilities of the sound. At the end of our last tour we were starting to get some convictions with the sounds we were making. We were down at Frogville in Santa Fe and recorded and now we're working on getting that packaged and getting that out. You can hear in that where we're going. There's an amazing amount of energy with the new addition. The other three of us are the original founding members - we started as an acoustic trio and now we're an acoustic quartet. So this tour is going to end in Virginia where the mandolin player and the violinist are getting married.
MM: Wow! That's really cool. So there's some irrepressible chemistry there?
NM: Yeah. There's some great history there. We get along good and...there's just too much to talk about. Dave (Tiller) and Enion (Pelta) have another band that tours a lot so we haven't completely immersed ourselves in the act. It's something we're working on slowly...
MM: Kind of testing it out?
NM: Yes‚ and experimenting and playing. So it's different than it was back in the day when it was all we did and we were completely consumed by it. We were ThaMuseMeant and that was our life and we'd be playing on the sidewalk on days we didn't have a gig. But nowadays it's a little different and more grown up‚ but a lot of the magic is there. It's really cool and interesting. The last time we were playing some of the seeds were starting to sprout. So there are so many aspect that I'm excited about and so many musical challenges. One of the things as a string band is trying to make it percussive and provide the bounce rhythmically for the dancers. The drums always took care of that. So it's challenging me to expand and understand that kind of stuff. It's really exciting finding ways to fill the holes. It's also a real challenge to come out and play for the old ThaMuseMeant fans that were really into what we were doing then because we were definitely a dance band.
MM: Yeah‚ finding ways to keep people on their feet and grooving.
NM: It's tough. There's also a part of me that really wants to go to a direction that doesn't cater to that but I can't really figure out how to pull that off (laughter). I see other people like Gillian Welch or Greg Brown where they have great crowds of beautiful people who just love the songs and want to just sit and listen. I'd love to know more about that world. I'm just not hip to it. All of the work I've done has been in the jam scene. I feel like we could really thrive in the more listening crowd environment. Well‚ you saw the Radio Bean show (with Brad Barr) where it was more of a conversational‚ magical song kind of air thing going on. I haven't found the door to that club yet...
MM: (Laughing) They exist…
NM: I know.
MM: I think it's about getting the people to understand that they're going to come out and see you and the setting is going to be where they're going to sit down and listen.
NM: It's always nice. Every time I've had the opportunity to play shows like that it's been a great experience. (Laughing) There's so much turmoil within me because I want to rock and I want people to dance and party. I want to be part of that. Once you taste that...I guess‚ again‚ it's "all of the above."
Originally published on www.LiveMusicBeth.com‚ April 2004
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