It's so young; it's like you don't even know who your fans are. It could be everybody.
Yeah. I guess we feel like we're getting stronger and stronger as a band. This unit that we have together right now is the most devastating version of the band we've had. It's so tight and full and energetic. Even in Des Moines, Iowa, on a Monday night. If we're sounding great, the idea of balancing that thing even in the face of struggle, knowing that you're really good and that what you're doing is right and just because there's not that many people thereā€¦ just kind of dealing with that. Dealing with that kind of thing and persevering. And these last tours really indicated that we're a band where each member is really devoted and believes in the music. Even if we have a difficult tour, we know that we're onto something or into it, and we all love each other. It's a really awesome and positive thing to feel that, you know?
Yeah, that camaraderie definitely adds to the energy and vibe of the music when you're onstage playing together. I know seeing you guys when you're in the thick of it, it looks like you're all pretty much lost in what you're doing. Do you ever have one of those moments where you step out and you watch the rest of the band kind of being transported?
It's interesting to see different personalities get transported. And I guess it's easy to get transported when you have a huge crowd of energetic people, and it's more difficult if you're playing the music night after night for it just to happen, especially in the face of a tough venue or something that wasn't well promoted. It's interesting to see that happen. I'll watch Adam [Dotson] a lot. You can tell when he's uncomfortable or when he's completely feeling it. We all get better as performers, but I'm at the point where the opportunity to be onstage and to perform for people, I've started more and more to find a way to turn it into a cathartic thing for me night after night, where I'm just able to get in the zone and get a lot of crazy energy out. It's really fun just to get in that zone.
Yeah, where you kind of become who you need to be onstage. That's cool.
Yeah, it's hard to have an outside perspective. I honestly haven't seen too many videos of the band performing, but I just know how it feels when the audience and everyone in the band is freaking out. For me, I just go completely fucking insane on and off the stage, and it's so liberating to do that. Just let it out. I don't even know all the demons that are being channeled, but it's really liberating.
That's awesome. Was this something you've always had, or was there a time when you had that breakthrough when you let your inhibitions go?
There was an exact time in my life when I had this transition. It was really amazing. I really started getting heavy into jazz around my sophomore/junior year of high school. I was really into improvising before that, but I started digging into Sonny Rollins and all kinds of stuff around then. I would have these amazing sessions in my living room with these recordings, just improvising. But, up through my junior year, I would stand up to take a solo, and the adrenaline in my body would shake me so much that my legs and my whole body would start convulsing, and I couldn't breathe right, and I couldn't take a coherent solo, performance-wise. I was unable to improvise with confidence. And all of a sudden, my senior year, I started getting in with a crew of people, and we were all free and creative with stuff, just this crew of people who really freed me up. And we started having these James Brown dance parties outside my car, where we would blast James Brown and just dance like crazy. And that was the first time in my life that I ever felt comfortable just dancing around other people. And, literally, after a few sessions of that, I just noticed all of a sudden I didn't freak out when I was taking a solo onstage. I was able to hold it together. All of a sudden I had the confidence to solo. Once I was uninhibited about dancing, I was able to improvise freely in front of people. It was a weird thing that happened and it was amazing. Literally, after that moment, I was able to hold it together when I was soloing. It was really cool.
That is awesome. That's really cool to hear.
Yeah. Dancing is definitely a huge part. Performing with John Brown's Body and the two and a half years we were with them -- every chance to perform is a chance to get better at performing. I have way more confidence than I had even six months ago, which is really cool.
And I wasn't dancing while I was soloing. Just the idea that when I became comfortable enough with my body to express it in a dancing form around even friends, just throwing together a dance party outside an old beater with James Brown in high school. Just comfortable enough to express myself in that situation, that's when I became comfortable enough with my body to solo in front of people.
Was that experience a revelation because it was the first time you were aware that you didn't give a shit about the way you looked?
Yeah, it's like that feeling of being completely uninhibited. Some days when I'm onstage, everything is just there beyond the music, audience-wise. And there's no question -- it's there; you're just there. Other times, for me, I do this thing with my body where I squeeze all my muscles together and squint my eyes and I get into the channel, this place that I go where I'm like, "Fuck it! I'm out here. Everything is so crazy, and I put my entire being into this moment, right now, being here, so fuck everything else and just do it and go for it." And that's when I start kicking around and doing this angry little robotic stuff and jumping around. And once I get past that initial channel zone, then I just start welcoming this experience as one to completely throw myself into and enjoy. Because what other point is there than to be here and now and throw all this stuff into all the crazy shit we do? And I find that I'm able to get into it whether I'm drinking or not drinking. Sometimes it's even easier when I have an initial reserve, when I have an initial thought holding me back because I'm angry at that thought thing, and I just smack it away, and it's even more enjoyable to be released from it.
If you're going to do it, you might as well make it religious. So when you're getting to that place -- when you're pushing all the bullshit that might get in your way, that might be jamming you up -- and you get to that place, how far have you gone with it? Have you had those experiences where it's almost to the point of transcendence, where either you're having some form of revelation or some kind of out of body experience?
Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I think that's what probably happens amidst a tour. We were playing this big show in Chicago, and I did all this driving and I didn't drink at all, and the process of the show was almost the feeling of having an orgasm or something, like this floaty-ness. And as it's happening, it's such a release. Every movement in my body I have no control over. The different steps I get into, stuff like that, they're just sort of happening and directing themselves. And I don't fall into a set thing at that moment; my mind and ears and body are open to all the variables in the room, including the music, so that this fresh thing is happening and it allows even further progression into this animalistic state or whatever it is. It's definitely really exhilarating. And either out of body or more-in-the-body-zone ever than in my daily routine.
Yeah. Do you ever talk about this with the other guys in the band -- like if they ever have similar experiences?
We haven't really talked about it that much. I remember being in Salvation Army back in the day. We would do these shows, and Mike Gorgoni would completely freak out every night. He would jump up on the kick drum, screaming, doing splits on the ground. And I remember that always making me relax as a performer. When the band sees me abandoning all inhibitions, I feel like I'm uplifting all other people in the band to a similar degree. Like, we're not taking ourselves too seriously; we're just playing music. But we never really talk about it too much. One thing that's interesting is that on any given night, eight different people will have eight different opinions from "that was amazing" to "that was the worst shit ever." [laughter] It's really hard to come together on it. And unless you have a really amazing audience, it's hard to be objective about the music. I guess if there's an actual recording, as a band you can tell that, "OK, this is an amazing audience, but the actual performance was flawed, or this was a terrible audience and it felt terrible, but the music was good." Again, it runs wide on that one.
Well, it sounds like a lot of the really exhilarating experiences you're having with music are through really intense energy. What about the experiences where you're playing where it's a little more pensive and quiet, maybe where you're playing just stream of consciousness, and you've reached a really deep meditative state?