Bob Weir Chats Grateful Dead With Rick Rubin On ‘Broken Record’ Podcast
Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir spoke about the band with famed producer Rick Rubin on the latest episode of the Broken Record podcast. Weir discussed the start of the Grateful Dead, their move to two drummers, how Brent Mydland was a victim of the success of “Touch Of Grey,” Dead & Company and more. Bobby also performed a new song he’s working on for a project produced by the acclaimed Dave Cobb.
Weir and Rubin chatted at Rick’s Shangri-La facility in Malibu, a studio created by The Band. Note that the podcast was recorded before the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. The discussion begins with talk of how Bobby writes songs and his process with the late John Perry Barlow. Weir recalled a dream he had in which he wrote a tune with Jerry Garcia. “That just confirmed my notion that I held for the longest time that a song is a lifeform and it comes and visits us. It comes through certain people for whatever reason,” Weir explained. “Those characters in those songs, they tell their stories and they just want to be heard” Sadly, Bobby doesn’t remember much of the song he wrote with Jerry in the dream which he described as a jazz ballad.
Bobby then was asked about how setlists worked with the Grateful Dead. Weir explained how he took turns back and forth with Jerry and that they’d figure out the first few songs they’d play and the set-closer and then they would decide what would come in the middle organically. He noted the band did have a list they drew from towards the end. The guitarist then discussed covers and how some worked out well for the Grateful Dead and others didn’t. Weir picked out “This Is A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” as one that just didn’t fit the band’s performance style.
The next topic was how the Grateful Dead was formed and the different influences each member brought to the group. Weir and Rubin then dove into Bob’s earliest days as a musician and the Dead’s days as a jug band. Rick went on to ask Bobby about how he delineates the different eras of the Grateful Dead to which Weir had an interesting response. Then, Weir talked about the internal politics of the band. Bobby noted that the Dead worked democratically besides one member, who Weir wouldn’t name, that had veto privileges. The pair then discussed audience taping and the viral marketing it brought to the band’s music.
Rubin became a fan of the Grateful Dead in recent years. Rick explained it took him a long time to realize it’s about more than the song when it comes to that band. The producer then asked Bobby how the Dead came to have two drummers. Weir explained Bill Kreutzmann recruited Mickey Hart and “the rhythms were so complicated that [having two drummers] expanded our awareness of what you can do with a rhythm.” He went on to reveal, “I’m not sure I was never altogether sold on the two drummer business because it started to take it more in the direction of playing than the song for me.”
Rick brought up the success the Dead had when they scored a hit with “Touch Of Grey.” Weir noted, “The predictable thing happened, it took one of us out. It took Brent [Mydland] out. Too much too soon.” He explained the Dead became successful and famous slowly and gradually but “the too much too soon phenomenon hit Brent because he hadn’t been through that whole developmental phase.” Another topic hit upon was the formation of Dead & Company. Bobby recalled how Don Was introduced him to John Mayer and that the pair first performed together when Mayer was a guest host on The Late Late Show. He revealed Dead & Company are plotting their first trip to Europe.
The final part of the podcast deals with an opera Weir is writing and recording. Bobby revealed he’s tracking the project in Nashville with Dave Cobb and previewed the project by performing a part of a new song on acoustic guitar. Listen to Bob Weir and Rick Rubin’s chat on Broken Record below: