Interviewed by Jonathan Nimerfroh via email March 2001
When did you start playing guitar?
I started playing when i was 12. I bought a beginner guitar from the
equivalent of best buy for $35. It was a harmony junior scale. About a year later my brother gave me his old harmony electric for Christmas. Still the best present I ever got.
Growing up did you take lessons in school and did you play in any bands back then?
I took drum lessons from 5th grade until my freshman year in High School. By that time i was favoring guitar allot more. I took guitar lessons from my neighbor across the street while growing up. She was an elderly woman named Mrs. Crafts who maily taught classical. I did that with her for about 2 years and when i was 12 and 13 I started with a jazz teacher when I was a junior in High School. My first band was with my best friend Seth in Junior High. We were called "Aged Milk". Never played out but recorded a demo. I always jammed around with kids but my first real band that played out was called "Blunt". We were a SKA core band and played a handful of shows and recorded a
demo we'd sell in school. Blunt was responsible for writing "Alone with Quincy Jones". My second high school band was Jasmin Buddha. Just a three piece, which only performed three times winning two battle of the bands and performing at my senior prom fashion show. (Tapes from this show are know to be circulating..this show also contains the first "Farm Song")
When did you start writing songs? And is it something that came natural to you?
I started writing when i was about 13 for fun. Actually Llamas Pajamas was written by my brother and me when i was about ten. It did come natral to me. I just enjoyed makeing my own music instead of playing someone else's.
How did Manic Mule start?
Mike B's college roommate was a good friend of mine and in my fraternity. He basically set up the first jam sessions between the two Mikes and sat in on sax. The same guy knew Jay Ganis and invited him to come out and play. Jay roomed with Dan Bliss at the time and walla...MANIC MULE
Out of all the shows you have played does anyhing stand out in your mind that was unusual?
One time we were playing a show with Max Creek in Philly. They were a band that I use to see when i was younger at local fairs and such. It was pretty odd to be playing with them some 15 years later. I am continually amazed at the accomplishments and company that the band has had. Its great playing with some of the top jam bands and some of my favorite acts. To be caterized with them is always a trip for me.
When you listen to a tape from a show, what's it like hearing your own music?
I am extremely critical when listening to our band. It's really cool to hear crowd reactions to things and see how we pull off certain aspects of a jam. I hate hearing us in a room occupied by others. I think its pretty weird to listen to myself with others around.
How oftan do you listen to Manic Mule tapes from shows?
I listen to our stuff most when I get a new show on tape. Other then that I hear an awful lot of live so I don't hear taped Mule all that often.
When your performing/practicing, what's going threw your head? What are some of the things your thinking about and how do you feel?
Usually I think a lot about the upcoming parts I have to play or how I can be more innovating with what I'm doing. When performing I like to get in my own zone and feed off what the crowd does. If they're down I will play more timid. If their hype I tend to get real aggressive. I really reflect a lot lately when i see a mob of people dancing and singing, most that i don't know all that well.. How the hell did my music touch these people and how lucky I am to have people enjoy what we do.
The band has been on a short break, what's some of the plans for the Spring and Summer?
Write, write and then write more. We have been playing an awful lot and will continue too, but we as a band want to have some new stuff to play so we have a broader range of material and thus more places to explore in a show. Basically we don't want to bore our fans or ourselves by continually playing the same old songs.
Who are some of your influences?
Allmans particularly Duane... Bob Marley has an awful lot to say and remains of influence. I'd be lying to you if i didn't say Phish. But lately I have been listening to all kinds of stuff. From old school Meters to Techno...Hip Hop and a steady surge of jam oriented bands. I think I probably have the most diverse selection of music at my disposle so I like to hear as much as possible.
What do you usually do in the course of a day? possible the night of a show...
Since I do almost all the booking I spend about four hours a day on the phone. I work as a guitar teacher three days a week and I could bet cha I sleep more than most people you know with the exception of Kelly G Irelend.
What are some of your future plans?
I plan to play as long as the world lets me. So i guess the answer would be Manic Mule in whatever shpe it comes too.
What makes you want to travel and play every night?
The thrill I get from being able to play my music to people who come dance, listen and join the family. I really feel a good vibe at our shows because the people are kind, have similar interests and usally were brought together as friends and show goers by the music that the four of us make. You couldn't ask anymore then dreaming your dream. and to do it with a tight group of friends puts the icing on the cake.