As the Widespread Panic caldron comes to a boil and anticipation for their March return to Atlanta's Fox Theatre reaches fever pitch, JamBase takes a step back to last Spring when Kayceman was touring with the Stockholm Syndrome. While flying from Paris to North Carolina for the final run of the tour, Kayceman had the opportunity to kick back on the plush private jet, pour a drink, grab the attention of Dave Schools and press "play" on the recorder. It was one of those strange moments in ones life when everything seems a bit surreal; private jet, Dave Schools, all the time in the world and a head full of questions... Sit back and relax your mind, 'cause we're about to go deep with Dave Schools.
Kayceman: A little while ago, when we were talking about Panic, you said that there was still something "left to happen." What did you mean?
Schools: Remember that I'm an English major, and all great literature has a beginning, a middle, and an end. I think Panic is a great band that is going to make a mark in history whether it's a footnote, a chapter, or a whole book, but the end isn't here yet. It's the classic story of the beginning and the greening years and the dues paid, then the tragedy, then the overcoming of the tragedy. To me, the story is not finished. And I think if Mikey [Houser] were here he'd say the story's not over yet, he'd probably be proud of us. I hope he would be - I currently assume he would be. He was certainly smart enough to know that no one was ever going to sound like him, so I think he'd say, "Man those guys have nutted up, and they've persevered." And as many second thoughts as I've had about the whole process, like maybe it should be over, you know, it's all part of mourning or dealing with loss or a tragedy or something so completely unexpected like that was. I just feel there are a few chapters left to write. Hey, we've been doing it for 20 years, and there aren't too many bands that make it past that water mark.
Kayceman: Not many at all.
Schools: And it was always more than just a band. It's a family, and there's plenty left to happen. I'm interested to see what happens. I'm really glad we had this time off. We needed it more than anyone probably could have ever known.
Kayceman: I think that's safe to say. So how did you feel about the past year-and-a-half musically with Panic? Was it hard?
Schools: Fuck ya it was hard. It had its amazing moments of grace, which is what Panic has always been about - not a literal definition of grace, but a figurative definition. To me that was always the beauty of the band; the anti-hero, the underdog. Every time it seems like fashion is going to catch up with you, you make a change. It's never been a conscious thing, we are what we do. The few times in the past where we had attempted to do something for reasons other than what would come naturally to us, we always learned a lesson. Half way through this year off I find myself every now and then going, "I wonder what JB is doing?" He's probably working in his garden, spending time with his wife. "What's Jojo doing?" He's gonna have a baby soon [Which he did, a healthy baby girl]. I can see him with that out of tune fuckin' piano in his house, banging away; Kristi upstairs going, "I thought he was on vacation?" Todd, I see him every now and then in Athens when Barbara Cue plays. And Sunny I see more often than not because we have mutual family friends. So everybody is enjoying themselves.
Schools & Sunny by Eve Kakassy
Kayceman: I'm sure it's healthy for everybody.
Schools: It should be.
And hopefully, I assume you would come back with fresh juices and ideas and motivations even. Now, you listen to a wide array of music, and you talk about the other guys in Panic, and how it's the Meters and Van Morrison, but you've always seemed to really dig music.
I do. And let me go ahead and back track, I don't wanna sound like I'm slamming the guys in Panic. Jojo said something that I thought really hit the nail on the head. We were watching a Radiohead video from their last tour that the guy from MTV gave me, and Jojo was like, "These guys used to seem like such a band. But this performance is just the Thom York show." Which then led to him going, "You know there is just no music that excites me. You know what I listen to at home, or driving around in my car?" I said, "I don't know, what?" He said, "Classical music. There isn't any rock and roll that excites me." And I think that's why there is such a tendency, well, if there is nothing new that excites you, then what choice do you have but to go back to the stuff that does, or at least used to? As far as I can tell, Van Morrison is still a very viable artist. Elvis Costello is still a viable artist. Neil Young is still viable.
Dave Schools by Jackie Jasper
Are you still excited about music?
I am, but I've always been excited about types of music that a lot of people we hang out with... like, JB couldn't give a god damn about the new Henry Rollins Band record. It's not his style. I get excited when Mike Watt has a new project. I really don't think those guys get excited in the same way. But I eat and breathe music, and because I do process so much of it, every now and then I do find something that is incredibly moving to me. I love that Super Furry Animals Phantom Power record. Do I think it's like an innovative record? No. The sounds, the melodies, I've heard them all before. But is it an amazing record for me to listen to? Do I personally get a lot of enjoyment out of it? Fuck yeah; it's my favorite record from last year. Is it the same as Radiohead's OK Computer? No. Even though OK Computer - granted, Thom Yorke's melodies are out of the box, but the instrumentation on the record is like Supertramp instrumentation, classic analog keyboards. It's about the production, and it's about the melody.