Interview | Part One | Jimmy Herring

JAMBASE: I wanted to ask you about the Wood Tour and about acoustic shows in general. It isn’t often we get to hear you acoustic, especially within the context of Panic, but it seems like you guys were happy doing that and the audiences loved it. What was your experience?

JH: Well it was a first for me on a number of levels. Using in-ear monitors is not something I’d done before. I need to feel the pant legs flapping around my ankles when I play, you know? In-ear monitors won’t provide that. But with the acoustic setup it seemed logical.

One of the reasons you don’t hear me play much acoustic is that when you plug in an acoustic guitar, it’s just not acoustic anymore. And I’m being a purist, yeah, fine. But it’s not my principal instrument – people who know me and how I play know that – and I wish there was a way we could use microphones on the guitars instead of a pickup system on the guitar plugged into a D.I. But that’s not easy to do because we’re pretty loud. Even with acoustic instruments, we have percussion and then the audience is pretty loud and that all bleeds into the mics.

We tried to do it that way but it didn’t work, the mics were just picking up too much other activity. So the next step is to try to find the newest, coolest tech that can get a plugged-in acoustic to sound like a real acoustic. My whole purist attitude is that you can have a $20,000 acoustic guitar, a beautiful guitar, and if it’s plugged into a pickup, you’re not hearing the guitar, you’re hearing the pickup.

Having said that, there have been some amazing strides in the technology. But when I go to hear Alison Krauss and her band, I just sit there with my jaw dropping – that’s what those instruments are supposed to sound like. I’ve seen her band twice with my family at the Fox [in Atlanta] and it sounded like a CD playing, man, it was devastating. I’d love to know how they do that.

But getting back to your question, it’s all about getting the right sound so you can feel free to play and not be thinking about getting the sound different. The other guys may not feel that way, it’s just me. But as far as it being a fun time, it was.

What’s funny to me is that it was like walking around with leg weights on – you know athletes do that when they’re training, and playing acoustic – when you have nothing helping you or no overdrive sound or anything – is physically taxing. So after that, playing electric was like picking up a toy guitar! But when we do it again I’m going to spend some time and try and build up my stamina.

JAMBASE: So you guys will be doing more acoustic shows?

JH: We haven’t announced anything but [those shows] were stripped down and real. It was definitely fun. And I think when it’s like that, it shows what types of players people really are.

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