Guitar player, composer, producer and music legend Gary Lucas will be performing at Zappanale. The perfect reason to ask Gary some questions.
UniMuta : Hi Gary. I've seen you in concert a number of times (solo, with Jozef van Wissem, with Fast 'n Bulbous) and I've heard most of your albums, and what keeps on suprising me is the diversity of the music that you make. You play electric rock, acoustic blues, Beefheart, Chinese pop, ... How do you do it? I mean, are you always on the search for new music or are these things that just happen to cross your path?
Gary Lucas : Well I would put it down to being a double Gemini, like Walt Whitman said "I contain multitudes"... I like a zillion different kinds of music and I like playing it all too, why go around through life with one hand tied behind your back? I can find something worthy in just about any genre of music you might care to name as long as real soul shines through it--the sound of human struggle--that's what moves me the most.
UniMuta : Saying that you play the guitar is an understatement. You play electric, acoustic, dobro, and use slide, fingerpicking,... How does it work when you're composing. Do you pick the guitar and the sound in function of the composition, or is it the other way around?
Gary Lucas : I don't really know, its kind of a mysterious process, I just pass my fingers over the strings until I hit magic sounds that move me (Brian Wilson, fellow Gemini, does this as well on the piano apparently--he calls them "feels") and then I obsessively work the material and push it around through subjective intellection unjtil the composition takes on a definite shape, guided by my own sensibilities. If I compose an instrumental and then can remember it in the morning I think I have a keeper song-wise.
UniMuta : Do you have favourite guitars? For recording? For touring?
Gary Lucas : I play the same guitars everywhere I go pretty much in the studio and on the road--a '66 Fender Strat , a '46 Gibson J-45, and a National steel Duolian from 1926. I have some more but really am not a collector per se, I beat the shit out of these guitars constantty and I think they sound the better for it. I met a collector in Tokyo once who came to see me play a '64 Strat (which I lost on a train--boo hoo--but I had it insured--and I collected on it!) and he told me he owned 3 like them and kept them in a temperature controlled vault in his house. I laughed and said I had just the one and that I took it with me and played it everywhere I go. I hate being too precious about anything,
UniMuta : You're coming over to Europe in August for the Zappanale Festival and for the Captain Beefheart tribute at the Rochefort festival in the south of France. Do you think that the world is finally catching up on the music of Captain Beefheart?
Gary Lucas : Well I hope so! But we'll see, one should never underestimate the limitless capacity of--let's face it-- fundamental human indifference of the majority of people to art that is not automatically mainstream.
UniMuta : Besides doing concerts, you've recently also been doing a "Captain Beefheart Lecture / Symposion". http://garylucas.com/www/capt/ What is it like to dive into the Beefheart years again? Has it changed the way you look back on things?
Gary Lucas : I find it bracingly refreshing, like taking a swim in the Bering Sea. Yes, it definitely warped my perspective as far as having a similar window on the world/weltanschaung-- I learned so much from the guy in terms of the games people play. He ultimately wanted nothing to do with them--me, I am out to confront them and convert them :-)
UniMuta : Your Zappanale schedule looks rather packed. You will be performing the Don Van Vliet tribute "I Have A Cat" with Co de Kloet on the main stage, you might be playing a solo set, and you might even do a couple of guest appearances. Can you already tell us a bit about it?
Gary Lucas : Sure, I probably will be sitting in with Essra Mohwak, my old friend, a great singer/songwriter who should be much better known. Also my pals the Plastic People, fellow Bohemians I have performed with many times in NYC (I am of Czech ancestry on my father's side, and we hit it off right away when I met several of them in the late 80's). And perhaps I will sit in with my pals Project Object, whom I have guested with in the past. I really like their approach to Frank's music.
UniMuta : That sounds great. I know where I will be in a couple of weeks !
Really looking forward to see you again.
Thanks for the interview.
Gary Lucas will be performing at various times at the Zappanale Festival.
On Saturday, August 20, 2011, he'll be performing "I Have A Cat" with Co de Kloet, but he'll be performing solo and guesting with other bands as well !!
Zappanale - August 17 - 21, Bad Doberan, Germany