By: Andrew Bruss
It's been two years and counting since The String Cheese Incident went on hiatus, and in that time, its members have taken to the road, as well as the recording studio. But keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth has taken it easy. He's toured with The Kyle Hollingsworth Band, but for the most part, starting a family seems to have taken priority over launching an intensive solo career.
Then There's Now (released September 15 on SCI Fidelity) is Hollingsworth's second solo record and his first since SCI went on hiatus. From start to finish, Hollingsworth's latest studio effort provides the listener with a snapshot into the mind of an artist mid-transition. Although reunion rumors are running rampant following SCI's headlining performance at Rothbury, this past summer, JamBase spoke with Hollingsworth the day after his album's release, and rather than talk about The Cheese, Hollingsworth went to great depths to discuss his new outlook on life, namely living in the now.
JamBase: The press release I got from your publicist says you've been "more prolific than ever." Does not having bandmates with opposing artistic ideas make it easier for you to produce studio material? Are you more productive as a solo artist?
Kyle Hollingsworth: That's a good question, but not necessarily. In some ways it's harder not having as many people to bounce ideas off of. What's happened in the last year or two, well, first of all, I became a dad. There are always big changes in life that inspire me to be more creative and write in some way. Also, I've been writing and playing with Speech from Arrested Development. Speech, DJ Logic, and I had a project where we'd been throwing ideas around. So, the new album is the way it is because of the influences I've had over the last couple of years.
JamBase: That being said, do you feel like you're more productive with opposing viewpoints and ideas? It seems as though you - as you said - like having people to bounce ideas off of, so is it fair to assume you don't want a band of hired guns that do what they're told?
Hollingsworth: Exactly. This first tour I did I was letting my band know that it wasn't a hired gun situation. The guys I had on the road, and who played on the album, they already had a vested interest in performing the songs well and working on the arrangements and making the production come across well. So, what you do is try and find a way to ensure they get something out of it as well, so it isn't a hired gun situation. Whether it's the arrangement of tunes or the solo opportunities, I agree that it's important to have a band of four or five people, versus four separate musicians onstage.
| Kyle Hollingsworth by Dave Flieshman|
In the age of iTunes, do you think people will appreciate Then There's Now as a whole, or are people going to skip around? And on the other side of that coin, do they have to appreciate the album as a whole or can they skip around?
Every album I make is very thoughtfully produced, and the song order is thought about for months, and changes. I want to make an album as a form of art. I'm not interested in making single songs. I'm always going to make albums that flow from start to finish. It's up to the listener if they're going to jump around.
Do you think String Cheese fans will dig this album? And if you aren't into String Cheese, is Then There's Now something you can sink your teeth into?
Definitely. It's a very accessible CD. That being said, I think String Cheese people will like it. It's got a Kyle-signature sound. One song might have a little bit of jamming going on, and even the vocal oriented tunes run from hip hop to Afrobeat to funk. So it's got all the genres in there that you'd recognize on a String Cheese album, and hopefully the new fans that are hearing it for the first time will dig it. I think it's accessible to everybody.
I know you and Mickey Hart of The Dead performed at the Democratic National Convention last summer. With art imitating life, do you feel like the current artistic climate is reflective of what's been going on with two wars, the first black president, and everything else that's been making headlines? Or do you feel it's been bland and not an accurate representation of the world we're in right now?
I do think musicians are influenced by the world around us, and I think it's been that way for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. So, whether it's musically or lyrically, artists definitely reflect the times.
| Kyle Hollingsworth|
Everyone experiences life in their own way and sees the world differently. What does Then There's Now reflect? Does it represent your take on the world?
It comes down to the name, Then There's Now. The title, for me, defines the album. It has multiple meanings. It's a joke, because, then there's now: Post-String Cheese. What the hell am I doing? And this is where I am right now. And then there's the spiritual, "Then There's Now." This is the moment I'm in right now. It's about me trying to be in the moment. My new life experiences have made me want to be, and relish, the time that exists right now, every moment and every day. It's kind of cliché, but that's what happens when you become a dad [laughs]. Lyrically, with everything I'm doing on the album, there's an ark, from a pedestrian's view of the freaks on the sidewalk, to an end with a super introspective song. So, there's a theme running through the whole idea of living in the moment.
Continue reading for more on Kyle Hollingsworth...