|For the video of the interview, visit this section.
Justin from Missouri
Chuck, your vocals sounded great on YOTC. Any chance hearing a one-off SR song with you at the helm? Have you ever been a lead vocalist, and is it something that you would be comfortable doing?
Chuck: It would be a challenge, for sure. I don’t think we’ll hear a State Radio song with me at the helm, cause Chad is pretty comfortable with that. But I have a side-project of my own and I was in bands where I did most of the singing. I’m sure at some point I’ll try and put out something, some music where I write the songs and do the singing.
Julian from Argentina
What are your musical influences?
Mike: I really like heavy bands. Like System of a Down, Tool, Nirvana. You know, stuff you can bash heads with. That’s it.
Chuck: Tool, Nirvana and System of a Down, cool (laughs). I like all sorts of stuff. Classical music, Jazz, I love Mo-Town, a lot of the same stuff Mike likes as far as heavier rock bands and hip-hop, whatever the…
Mike: Pete Francis.
Chuck: Pete Francis, Braddigan.
Do you have a favourite Dispatch CD by now Mike?I asked you in June and you weren’t sure.
Mike: No, no, I like them all. That’s it (laughs).
Justin from Texas
Mike, where did the name "Mad dog" originate?
Mike: It originated from Chad in the van one day. Trying to come up with a gimmick for me. That’s pretty much how it happened.
Chuck: And it’s funny cause it sort of works really well.
Mike: I think so.
Chuck: I think he fulfilled the prophecy of his name. He has become a mad-dog.
Chuck: Very angry.
Mike, can you play any instrument besides the drums? And if so, have you ever asked Chad to let you play it on a song or two?
Mike: Ooh, this a good question (grins). Yeah, I can play guitar as well. I do play guitar in a band with some of my friends at home. Have I asked Chad? I think I’ve hinted at it. I know Chad can play percussion, so maybe we can arrange something. It’s a great question (smiles).
Chris from Willow Grove, Pennsylvania
Chuck, what made you decide to leave Princes of Babylon and join up with State Radio?
Chuck: Well, Princes of Babylon, which was an old band I was in, sort of disintegrated on its own. So, I didn’t really leave as much as the band just ended. And then I had some time, I was working on another band with friends of mine and left that band for State Radio.
Philip from Malaysia
What are your favourite artists who play that same instruments as you?
Chuck: Favourite drummer? (gives the mic to Mike)
Mike: Well, I think I have to go back to Tool. Danny Carey is probably my favourite. I like Dave Grohl a lot. Those two are pretty much my biggest influences, a little bit of Bonham, too.
Chuck: I really like Michael Henderson. He’s a great bassist and played for Miles Davis and Aretha Franklin. James Jamerson, Chris Wood. There’s a lot of great bass players.
Joe from New Jersey
Why did you guys record (your new record) in Europe? Was it just the studio or is there some significance or inspiration there?
Chuck: It was primarily the producer we wanted to work with for a while, Tchad Blake. He is based out of Box, England. So, in order to work with him we needed to go over there. The studio was sort of like a nice park perk? It was primarily to work with Tchad.
Justin from Missouri
Mike, do you think your drumming style has changed the direction of the band, or is the heavier YOTC already the direction the band was going in? And how often do you have to change sticks during a show?
Mike: Ooh, I like this kid (laughs), a lot.
Chuck: He’s tuned in.
Mike: I think the band has definitely moved a little bit in that direction, because I’m a little bit better at playing it. I’ve just been playing that style for a long time. And, it goes show by show. At some shows I’ll have a pair of sticks the whole show, at other shows I’ll crack like five of them. Something like that. It really depends on how I’m hitting that night. And a lot of times I break them because I miss hits, so, that’s an interesting fact. You mess up, you break a stick. So it looks cool to mess up (grins).
Chris aka "Shirtless Chris" from Wall, New Jersey
What is your favourite song to play live?
Mike: Oh yeah, I know him. What’s up Chris? (everybody laughs)
Chuck: I think that changes daily. Or at least week to week. What’s your favourite right now?
Mike: I would say definitely “Guantanamo”, because we’ve been nailing the beginning of it at almost every show. Me and Chuck, really killing it. What do you think Chuck?
Chuck: I’m sort of looking forward to songs we’ve been working on, but haven’t played live yet. Like “Rash Of Robberies” and “Fight No More”. Some of the newer ones on the record that haven’t gotten back into the rotation yet.
What are some of your most memorable live show moments when it comes to screw ups, on stage antics, or fans?
Mike: I would say it’s Chris, I’m going with Chris! That’s it!
Chuck: I think my bass broke at a show in Washington D.C. once. So Chad gave me the oil can to play and then preceded to jump around like an idiot and was crowd-surfing. That was a real special night.
Mike: It was special.
Chuck: It was special (holds the mic in Mike’s direction)
Mike: I already answered.
Chuck: I know. You want to add anything more to that particular one?
Mike: You look great with your head shaved.
Matt from Connecticut
If State Radio could open for any band (existing or no longer existing), who would it be?
Mike: I would say Nirvana. That would be a very interesting show.
Chuck: Opening up for Rage (Anm. d. A.: Against The Machine) would be pretty awesome. That would be my vote.
Wells from Connecticut
What are your favorite home-cooked meals?
Mike: It depends. I’ll get in trouble for saying this, but my mom makes really good steak. I know some people don’t like to eat meat, in the band. But I’m going for it.
Chuck: My favorite home-cooked meal would have to be the ridiculous
nachos my step-dad makes. There’s enough to feed like a small country. When I can get that when I’m at home, that’s a good thing.
Chris from Willow Grove, Pennsylvania
Do you guys think that the crowd at some shows act too crazy and out of control or do you like that?
Mike: I like it. The more out of control, the better.
Chuck: I don’t know. When I remember going to shows that had mosh-pits and people were dancing around pretty heavy. There seemed to be more respect, people picking others up when they fell down. We’ve had a couple of show where there has been some dumb shit going on. People fighting, it’s not supposed to be about that. If you want to get rowdy, make sure you don’t hurt anybody. Sometimes it’s a little disappointing when shit goes down like that.
Mike: You see more of that stuff because you’re up front. I don’t see as much, I just feel good energy. If someone gets their head cracked open I have no idea.
James from New York
What’s your favourite venue to play at?
Chuck: Well, I don’t know. The “Paradiso” (Anm. d. A.: Amsterdam) is pretty awesome where we just spend two nights. The “Stone Poney” in north Jersey is a classic.
Mike: “9:30 Club” (Anm. d. A.: in Washington D.C.), they give you food right when you walk in. I like that a lot.
Philip from Malaysia
What books are you all currently reading? And what are some of you favourite books?
Mike: Books? (grins)
Chuck: Actually, I’m reading this book called “Water” right now. It’s sort of like the pink elephant in the middle of the room. It deals with water as a resource and conservation and how it’s being squandered. How we’re gonna deal with the water crisis at some point in the first world in the next 20 to 30 years. It’s a limited resource and populations are just exploding. It’s been a pretty interesting read. You got any?
Mike: I’m not much of a reader, but I did see the “The Count of Monte Christo” on television the other day and it reminded me that I liked that book when I read it. It’s a good book.
Chuck: There you go. And we wanna go to Malaysia.
Christian from Hannover, Germany
Mike, why does it say Ed on your shirt?
Mike: Oh, I hope Ed doesn’t see this. I stole it from him about six years ago (laughs). Me and my friend had a job doing water sampling and he had like six shirts. Maybe he had five, I don’t know if he has to double up for one day of the week. But I have this one and my friend, who’s actually gonna do some tech-ing for the band, has another one. I forgot the name on it though. That’s how we got it.
Where have you been on that Zimbabwe weekend? What have you felt and thought about that gig?
Chuck: Well, I was there one night and you were there two nights, right?
Chuck: It was pretty wild to watch, to see those guys up there in Madison Square Garden. All the production was done really well, all the short little vignettes, films about Zimbabwe.
Mike: The choir.
Chuck: The choir was awesome. They were super cool. All the energy around the weekend was pretty surreal for sure.
Mike: It was great, really good show. The sound was great, the production was great, the message.
Chuck: You said Saturday night was better?
Mike: I’m trying to remember. Yeah, I think the set was a little better. I think I liked the set a little better, for my personal taste. It was good, both nights.
What were your friends and family saying as you told them that you are heading to Europe for the third time in one year?
Chuck: (laughs) Bye again! I mean everybody is just excited for us. My girlfriend is not too happy.
Mike: My mom loves Europe. So any time anyone gets to go over there she has a small fit of excitement. So she’s had three small fits of excitement this year.
What was your craziest experience during your European tours?
Chuck: I think when we came over in the summer and did Southside and Hurricane we were driving ourselves in a station-wagon. It was fun to drive on the Autobahn for sure. And it was helpful because it’s not a short distance between those two festivals. From Hurricane, where we played at like nine o’clock at night, we had to get to Southside where we played at eleven in the morning. It was a lot of fast driving, not much sleep and just sort of a whirlwind.
Mike: My craziest experience: I pushed a girl into a little pole and she got really mad and said that people piss on it and puke on it and she wouldn’t talk to me. I don’t know if she’ll ever talk to me again after it. I was like wohoa, it’s just a little pole. It was in Germany.
Chuck: It was a lovely girl and things were going really well between them. And then…
Mike: I pushed her into the piss-pole.
Chuck: You got a little too physical.
In which way did the work on “Year Of The Crow” influence your relationships?
Mike: We’re definitely a tighter band. It was good to have our stuff under the microscope. To hear it played back and hear exactly what we were doing and how the band was meshing together. That definitely helps a lot to see what works and what doesn’t between each musician. And we were spending a lot of time together so that made us a little closer too.
Chuck: The studio is good. Like Mike said, any time you go in, you can really focus on the music. Also, working with somebody like Tchad Blake gives you a different perspective on things. On music itself, the sounds. It’s a good way to grow as a band and obviously get closer.
Mike: And a way to make a new friend, two new friends. Tchad and Don.
Chuck: It was a great experience.
Mike, how was it to do vocals on a record?
Mike: That was the first time I did anything on a record. Yeah, I did some vocals on the record. Which was nice to hear as well. Because a lot of times it gets lost when I’m playing drums, it’s hard to hear myself and stuff like that.
Red from Illinois
What can we expect to see live this coming tour? Are you mostly focusing on new material, or can we hope to see some old songs revived?
Chuck: Well, you’ll definitely see some new ones. I know what Red wants to hear.
Mike: What does he want?
Chuck: He wants “Flag Of The Shiners”.
Mike: Yeah, I like “Flag Of The Shiners”
Chuck: I’m sure we’ll get into some old stuff. Songs run their course, they disappear for a while and come back. So I think some of the elder stuff that’s been off the table will come back at some point in the tour. So, fear not Red, it’s coming.
Justin from Missouri
How much material do you have left that is unrecorded/unreleased? I’m thinking of songs like “Help Up” and “Madusa”.
Chuck: There is a lot of stuff. Chad’s like a machine, he just cranks out songs. It’s sort of frustrating for the rest of us who’re trying to write songs, cause he’s so good at it.
Mike: I mean, that definitely your opinion (laughs).
Chuck: (laughs) I think there’s plenty of stuff left. There’s the obvious ones, the ones we played live like once or twice. But then there’s other songs that Chad brought out in practice once or twice and we ran through them. There’s lots of good stuff there.
Nobody likes to dis their own music, but are there any songs you wish you had never put out, or wish you could change?
Chuck: Hell yes (laughs).
Mike: (laughs) I think the songs are always evolving, even old ones, when we put new parts in them, do different things. That’s definitely a good thing about this band, we’re not tied down to playing a certain song a certain way forever. What do you think Chuck?
Chuck: Yeah; I think there’s obviously stuff with the different records that have come out that I wouldn’t, personally, choose to do. As far as production or whatever, but that’s part of being in a band, you make compromises. But yeah, I can dis State Radio, I can get down with that.
Chuck: We suck.
Mike: We’ll dis the hell out of this band.
Rici from Germany
Besides from just rocking for as many people as you can and making enough bucks for a warm meal every day, have you guys set yourself any goals that you want to achieve in your musical career?
Mike: Not in particular. This is definitely farther than I thought I would get. A year and a half ago before I joined the band I was doing accounting work. So anything that has to do with music is kind of a bonus now. But probably not for Chuck, he’s a pro.
Chuck: Goals would be, trying to put out some of my own stuff. And trying to keep playing as many new places as possible.
Mike: Who’s drumming on your own stuff?
Chuck: You are.
Mike: Really? Nice!
Chuck: I haven’t asked you about it yet. I think if we can keep touring, keep playing and keep getting more meals, that’s pretty good.
Matthias from Aurich, Germany
Which song is to "holy" to cover it?
Mike: I’ve been speaking about Danny Carey earlier. I don’t think I would be able to cover a Tool song, it’s too good. Definitely drummers like that for me, I just couldn’t play like them. So that rules out a lot of songs.
Chuck: Too holy to cover (thinks). I don’t know, we have to come back to that one.
Devo from Brandon, Manitoba
Would you guys consider coming out to the flat prairies of Manitoba to play a show?
Chuck: Yeah, we would love to go to Manitoba. Our Canadian experience has been pretty limited so far. But it’s been great. We’ll go anywhere and everywhere if we are asked to go. Yeah, we would love to go to Manitoba.
Lindsay from Virginia
Do you see the music continuing in the harder more electric style, or will there be somewhat of a return to acoustic?
Mike: Not acoustic if I have anything to do with it! (grins) Lindsay better like the hard stuff. It was Lindsay, right? (Yeah) What do you think Chuck?
Chuck: Yeah, probably as long as you’re around.
Mike: Or if Chad wants to do a couple of acoustic songs, we can go and get a shot of Whiskey or something. Just kick it. That’s cool too, as long as I don’t have to sit there.
Tyler from Concord, N.H.
When State Radio writes songs do you use music theory?
Chuck: Definitely not, at all. Basically Chad will come with a sketch or a close to complete idea. The only thing close to theory that we get into would be song-structure and how to balance a song. But not harmony or composing actual musical changes or things like that.
Mike: It’s too complex.
Chuck: We’re not studied or learned musicians.
Mike: It comes from the heart.
Chuck: I think Chad can read a little bit, that’s about it.
Why did you guys pick “The Diner Song” to be the song you play at just about every show?
Chuck: It’s a good question for Chad.
Mike: Yeah, cause we all know that I don’t pick the setlist.
Chuck: Yeah, you don’t. I think “The Diner Song” was in heavy rotation because it’s silly and it’s nice to have a little levity in the set. Cause we don’t want to come out and be shoving stuff down people’s throats the whole time. But also it’s an opportunity for Chad to play his gas-can guitar.
Mike: It’s a good bottle-throwing song!
Chuck: Yeah, and it’s good for throwing shit too.
Mike: Sometimes I’m throwing an empty water-bottle at Chuck just to say “hey man, what’s going on, you’re playing great”. And he thinks I’m trying to embarrass or belittle him.
Chuck: It’s annoying as hell (laughs). (pause) But I do think that “The Diner Song” may not be as prevalent, I dare say, as prevalent in the future.
Philip from Malaysia
Have you ever thought of doing more covers?
Mike: Yeah, definitely.
Chuck: It sort of back to the “What song is to holy to cover?” question. It’s hard to pick the right song to cover. And plus, we’re not really good musicians. So we have to like replicate what somebody else has done who’s probably more talented than we are. (pause) We cover Dispatch.
Mike: Yeah, we do cover Dispatch.
Mike from Connecticut
What are the odds of a tour with Tom Morello aka The Nightwatchman?
Chuck: The odds…
Mike: One in seven.
Chuck: Somewhere between one in seven and one in five. So we’ll say, whatever, between 14 and 20 percent likelihood. That would be great though.
Mike: If you’re watching Tom, we love you.
Chuck: Come on tour.
Mike: We’re cool guys, I swear.
Justin from Texas
Which of you guys should I nominate for President of the US in '08 and why?
Chuck: Definitely Mad-Dog! He has charisma, I’m more of a vice-presidential candidate. You’re more of a figurehead.
Mike: Basically he’ll come up with all the ideas, he’s the brains.
Chuck: (laughs) You’re the good looks.
Red from Illinois
Can you explain the acoustic song at the end of “Year of the Crow”?
Chad: Ah, can I explain it (thinks). Well, it’s like Sybil II. The second in the series of songs dedicated to that cosmic force we know as Sybil. It has these references to things that we’ve done in our life, like the liquor at the end, Italian liquor we would have every now and then. Little references to our life basically.
What is “Rash of Robberies” about?
Chad: It’s about an elderly couple who are coming to grips with dementia. The man in the couple has dementia. It’s him trying to remember his life, but he can only remember fragments of it. So in that way it comes of as a nonsensical thing, that he’s trying to put his life together, but it’s like a puzzle that has all the wrong pieces. It doesn’t make sense to him, but he can remember certain things. And his wife is trying to cope with this man who has been her partner for 50 years and he doesn’t recognize her. The end is about her accepting his dementia and continuing to love him and accepting his exit from this life to the next one.
Justin from Missouri
In regards to “Benjamin Darling Pt. 1”: Did you write Part 2 at the same time, or has it even been written? Are you planning a stylistically similar song for part 2, and will it be a direct "sequel"? Or is this like Mel Brooks History of the World Part 1, and there really is no intention of a sequel?
Chad: There is going to be a sequel and it’s going to be stylistically different, but it will carry some of the same melodies.
A lot of music today seems generic and has no meaning behind the lyrics. State Radio is different. Just about every song is carrying a story, moral, or meaning. Why do you think bands refrain from putting more stories/meanings in their songs? Is there a risk in wearing your beliefs on your sleeve in the way that you might alienate some fans?
Chad: I think sometimes. Sometimes the story that you’re telling may not appeal to everyone, it may be too specific I suppose. I think bands write about what inspires them. And that’s different for everyone. It’s less intentional than it may appear to listeners.
Rici from Germany and Rydog and Max
Why is there an anarchy symbol on the YOTC artwork and what’s the meaning behind the whole concept of your YOTC album-art?
Chad: Originally that image is from an old wooden box that belonged to my great-great-great-grandmother. It was one of those boxes that fits together and a smaller box fits inside that and a smaller one fits inside that. And this was one of the panels on one of the larger boxes. In the initial picture there’s a cross on the book, because it’s a wedding scene. So that’s the one thing we changed in the whole picture, we took out the cross and put in the anarchy symbol. That move is sort of loaded with symbolism, you could interpret it in many ways. One obvious one is that coming from Boston, we didn’t feel comfortable with having a cross on the cover. Especially because there has been this big expose about paedophile priests. We didn’t want to support the church, we didn’t want to promote that sort of thing. Because the crow in the image is a priest. So we thought if the crow was a priest of anarchy, that’s far more interesting to us and a lot less offensive then the way that cross has been abused in many different examples. But especially recently in Boston, that is sort of what “Good Graces” is about. The corrupt archdiocese has really been exposed in Boston, so that has been on the forefronts of our minds a little bit.
Adam from New Jersey
How do you think your music and your songwriting will change in the next 10-20 years?
Chad: (Laughs) Hopefully it will get better. It don’t know, we’re working on new stuff now. It’ll go through waves. I feel the next record will have maybe a little bit more rock and less of some of the ska and reggae. Because it seems that’s the newer stuff we’re working on. But that could just be within the next year, I don’t know where it’ll go from there.
Matthias, from Aurich (Germany)
Who would be the most perfect partner for a duet? Robert Plant, Kurt Cobain or Bob Marley?
Chad: Ah, that’s tough (thinks). I would feel like a little mouse standing next to one of those guys and singing. (Laughs) They’re just monsters in the world of music. I love all three of them. I guess a duet…probably Kurt Cobain. (Mike, who sits on a couch nearby, says something) You like that Mad-Dog? We could do some really nice harmonies (laughs). Maybe some show-tunes, cabaret… (Chad sings some lyrics from “Up Where We Belong” by Kenny Rogers).
Matthias + Dylan:
When will there be a live DVD from State Radio?
Chad: As soon as we start filming one. We did a lot of filming of the recording process. Those videos that came out. Did you see those? (Yeah) That might be a cool special feature on the DVD, the recording process. I don’t know, we’re bringing Mad-Dogs friend Shells out on the road with us and he’s going to help us out. One thing he can do is maybe film, pick up a camera every now and then. But, I don’t know when the real State Radio-DVD is coming out. That’s something we have to plan and it seems that we’re always trying to catch up to ourselves. We’re not quite there yet. But we better do it soon, before we start sucking.
Matt from Connecticut
What makes you guys randomly perform old songs such as "Sister" at Toad's in '06 - can we expect more goodies in the future?
Chad: (Mike walks by) Get in here man. (Mike takes a seat on the chair next to Chad) Hey man!
Mike: Hey, what’s up! … I lost Glen’s sweater.
Mike: It’s gotta be here somewhere.
Chad: You look so handsome in that Sybil-set.
Mike: Yeah. It might be on the stage. I’ll keep it low though, until I find it.
Chad: You’re also wearing Glens shoes. How do they feel?
Chad: Glen is our tour-manager from Liverpool. What else, what were we answering? Oh, I remember! We don’t practice very much, we should practice much more than we do. But when we do get a chance to practice: If we’re not working on something new, we try to reach back into the old catalogue. Eventually we would like to play three nights in row someplace and play different tunes the whole time. We can always get away with doing that for two nights at the moment, but we would like to have as big a catalogue as possible. Those are sometimes experiments, like when we go back to really old ones like “Sister”. I think we decided that it needed a little more works before it came into the fold.
Julian from Argentina
Would you consider adding another guitar player, since many studio songs are played with more than one guitar?
Chad: Sometimes we think of adding another musician who could do a bunch of different things. Not just guitar. It would be fun to get back-pipes, a piano, harmonica, timpani, accordion. It would be fun to have someone who is free to run around and do everything, fill in a little bit. Some of the new recordings are pretty full, so we’re trying to figure out how to do it best as a trio. Our friend Michelle is going to join us for a couple of shows to play bass while Chuck plays piano, or keyboards. We’re looking for a Wurlitzer or a Fender-Rhoades at the moment. That’s what he’s doing on the phone right now.
Mike: Cheap, we want it cheap.
Chad: Anyone out there in the world-wide-web?
What is your opinion about Cuban communism and "21st. century socialism" from Venezuela?
Chad: Oh, I have so much to say about this (everybody laughs). I haven’t been to Cuba, I don’t know that much about present day Cuba. I’ve read a lot about Che Guevara and a big part of his life was the Cuban revolution. I think that’s an amazing story, it’s captivating. It started off with a lot of promise, but the communist experiment never seems to quite work. Although intentions seem to start off well enough. So I can’t really comment on current day Cuba. I wish I could, I’d love to go there and play. And the second question is about? (21.st century socialism…) Oh, in Venezuela. I think there’s a place of what they call “a merging of the two ideas”. You have socialism that is excepting certain ethos or pathos from capitalism. Everything is a compromise. I don’t think the US and capitalism as we know it is the best template. I don’t know much about Venezuela, but we’ve been to Sweden and the way that they do things there and the way health-care is nationalized in the UK, there’s a lot to be learned from that way of doing things. I imagine that Venezuela is probably more similar to Sweden than it is to China, which I guess is also freeing up a little bit, because they are trying to privatise parts of their industry a little bit as well. I think everyone knows that it’s not just black and white, that there’s some middle ground where it’s helpful. I think it’s a good trend.
Wells from Connecticut
Who is 'Sally'? She appears in “Fall of the American Empire” and the new “As with Gladness”. Is it random chance, a real person, or a symbol of some kind?
Chad: I don’t think Sally is in “As With Gladness”. It could be that I don’t pronunciate very well, I know that much. Sally in “Fall Of The American Empire” is Sally Simpson. It’s sort of a cross between Sally Ride, the first female astronaut, and Sally Simpson from The Who’s “Tommy”. She’s also like a Heidi Fleiss character, running an escort service within the White House.
(What do you think about this, Mike?)
Mike: I didn’t know any of that. But I like it.
If you could completely abolish one blemish of society covered in your music (poverty, political corruption, police state, etc) what would it be and why?
Chad: I think it would probably be political corruption. Because maybe then there would be a trickle down effect and it would help with the poverty problem. There is enough food to feed everyone, at the moment. It’s just not allocated to the right sources, it’s not distributed well enough. But if the right politicians were in charge and they had sound hearts, then that would lead to the end of poverty. So that would probably be my answer to that.
Justin, from Texas
Have you guys ever thought about changing up your set for a song or two such as having Chuck play guitar, Mike be lead vocals, and Chad on bass and backup vocals?
Mike: (laughs) This kid got it going on!
Chad: Sometimes we think about that.
Mike: I think I’m thinking about than…I’m just kidding. I never really thought about that particular set-up, but changing around instruments has been thought about before.
Chad: I think we would do it, if we had more time. Like I said, we’re always just catching up with ourselves to prepare for the next tour. I think if we had a couple of weeks where we were in our band house… Where, San Diego? Or where did you want to do the band house? (What Mike responds is inaudible) Then we would try all sort of things. I do look forward to a time when that’s possible, when we can get creative with the line-up and do all sorts of different things. When we get a breather hopefully something like that might transpire.
There is a legend surrounding Robert Johnson, the proclaimed king of the delta blues. Johnson says that he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for mad guitar skills. Hypothetically speaking, if you could sell your soul to the devil, what would it be in exchange for?
Chad: Well, I think it’s pretty obvious that I haven’t sold my soul to the devil, because I’m not a very accomplished guitar-player.
Mike: Come on.
Chad: It’s true, it’s true.
Chad: I mean, I’m better than you (laughs). I think Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, they might’ve sold their souls to the devil as well, the legend has it. Would I sell my soul to the devil? Is it a music thing?
It’s up to you.
Chad: I would sell my soul for world-peace.
Mike: It’s better than the guitar-skills.
Chad: Although that’d be cool too.
Nicole from Massachusetts
Do you think the lyrics in your songs have made a big impact on your fans? And if so, which songs do you feel have the greatest impact?
Chad: I think maybe “Mr. Larkin” had some impact. Because you could actually follow the story. A lot of our songs are, unless you get the inside-scoop, hard to exactly know what they’re about. And hopefully the song about Sudan. It’s pretty clear what that song is about. I see people in the states maybe getting more active about that. There are all sort of college and high-school organizations that are geared towards raising awareness about the genocide in Darfur. That might be a more applicable outlet than let’s say “Mr. Larkin” and worrying about elder-care. Hopefully “Sudan” is a song that reaches that kind of impact.
Jacek from New York City
What was the reasoning behind the drastic rewrite of “As With Gladness”?
Chad: The original “As With Gladness” had like seven or eight parts to it. It sounded okay, but sometimes I sort of run away with myself, as far as different parts are concerned. (Chuck is off the phone and bumps into a chair next to Mike and Chad. Chad explains to Chuck where we’re at) The drastic rewrite of “As With Gladness”, from the Middle East days… I think I was just simplifying and trying to figure out what exactly is this song about. It’s not like anyone ever requested the first “As With Gladness”, or maybe one in a thousand. So, it was a “back to the drawing board”-kind of song.
Lindsay, from Virginia
Are you going to shave your 'fro anytime?
Chad: I was thinking about it.
Mike: It’s playoff time, right before the tour.
Chad: We could get like little lines, like the high-school football players. Our numbers in our back. I was thinking about doing something with these guys, like shaving my head, or a Mohawk. I don’t know, these guys look really cool. So how can you not want to jump in that tub? Everybody laughs.
Mike: The water is fine.
Philip from Malaysia
What Happened to “Hopeless Tender” and “Biscuits and Tea”?
Chad: “Hopeless Tender” is… I don’t know, maybe some songs are just meant to simmer. That’s cool that someone in Malaysia is listening to us, that’s awesome. Hello Philip, if you’re out there, thanks for listening.
Mike: “Biscuits and Tea”.
Chad: “Biscuits and Tea” is on the drawing board, or almost off it. I was gonna say on the chopping block (laughs), it’s ready to be chopped into the set.
Do any of you have any pets?
Chuck: I do, yeah. I have a dog named Bruback. He’s at home right now with some of his buddies. Foster and Kaiser, two other dogs.
Mike: I don’t. My mom was allergic to pet dander. We had a gerbil for a little while. But no, no pets right now.
Chad: What was the gerbil’s name?
Chad: How come?
Mike: The gerbil was my sisters.
Chad: It’s like per diem. Yeah, we’re not allowed pets in our apartment. I used to have a dog named Tank or ‘Sir Tank’. My folks live pretty close by and there we have Rupert and Finn and we used to have a turtle named Donatello, but he ran away. (Laughter) We have some chickens too, one of them is named Hector. Actually the rooster.
Chuck: We have some fake pets in the van.
Mike: That’s true (laughs).
Chuck: We have Merkin…
Chad: Do you know the names? (Laughter)
Chuck: Reggie the pine-cone, can’t remember the squirrel
Chad: Chachi, Raoul, Coilzone…
Mike: Which one is that, the stupid monkey?
Chad: No, that’s Winston.
Mike: Oh, Winston. I hate Winston!
Chad: Bob, the big, black bear. He’s so nice.
Mike: He’s cool.
Chad: That’s about it.
I ask how much time they have left. A couple more questions, before they have to get back to business.
When will Uncertain come back? And would a full cover of Zombie be possible?
Chad: Oh, if I could sing it. “Uncertain” is also on the chopping block (laughs), or the chopping board, or the drawing block. Hopefully we get to practice a little more on “Uncertain”, but Mad Dog (Chad in a funny voice) kiiiillls it.
Mike: You said it.
Chad: I don’t know about a full cover of “Zombie”. There are some other songs that are ahead of it on the full-cover-list. That list that’s always on our mind, long and distinguished.
Can you give us one example of a song that’s on the list?
Chad: “Black Eyed…”, no “Cross Eyed Mary”. A Jethro Tull song.
Mike: I thought you were gonna say Black Eyed Peas. (Everybody laughs)
Chad: Black Eyed Peas. Where’s the love ya’ll!
Chad: I like that new Fergie song.
Mike: Which one?
Chad: Like “Girl’s don’t cry” or something. Do you guys know that song? How does it go, the chorus? (Christian sings the chorus)
Chad: (repeats) “I hope you know, it’s sososo”. She’s no Rihanna, but…
Mike: We have to cut that, saying that, we have to cut that.
Chad: What? It’s Fergie! Did you see her on the cover of Rolling Stone?
Mike: I have to go. (Laughter) I’m just kidding.
Maybe the next cover is by Fergie.
Chad: That’s the duet.
Mike: Fergie was going to ask us on tour until she heard me say that.
Chad: Shit, it’s ruined!
The harmonica makes a big difference in a band. Who played the harmonica in “Indian Moon” and why don't you consider adding the harmonica to other acoustic songs?
Chad: I think we’re more into adding it to some electric songs. I played it in “Indian Moon”, albeit not that skilfully. Chuck is playing it in some of the newer tunes. I think it’s cool for a trio to bring that out. I was thinking it’d be cool if we all had Dylan-rigs on and played it. No one does that, right? At the end of “Rash” where we would just blast out play one chord. We’re going to incorporate the harmonica into more songs.
Justin from Texas
What are each of your favourite movies?
Chad: Justin. (with a funny voice) God damn you. (Laughter)
Chad: Yeah, maybe like “Footloose”. No, no.
Chuck: “Goonies” is my favourite movie.
Mike: I like the movie “Snatch”. Brad Pitt looks hot, as usual.
Chad: Sort of like you these days… Probably “Bottle Rocket” is one of my favourites.
Justin from Missouri
Is it safe to say you aren't doing it for the money?
Chad: Is it save? The world’s a dangerous place! I think we’re glad that we can play music for a living. We tried living without money and you’re belly gets pretty empty after a while. Unless you’re a good farmer and we’re not very good farmers. Well, Chuck has a little bit of a green-thumb.
Chuck: But it’s hard to farm when you’re touring, you just can’t tender things.
Chad: We’ve been doing this for a little while now, you can pan right to our lodging (laughter). We’re not in it for any other reason than we believe in it and we enjoy playing music together.
Christian from Hannover
Chad, thinking of the “Dispatch: Zimbabwe”-Weekend – do you feel like your, Brads and Petes mission was successful?
Chad: I think so. The New York Times had never written an article on Zimbabwe, or hadn’t written one in three years on Zimbabwe. After we got a terrible review from them… Well, it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great by any means. They called our music “downright unpleasant”. Then my friend wrote them a letter saying “you’re missing the point, this is about an independent band getting together to raise awareness about a country that’s dying”. So he wrote a letter to the editor and two weeks after that, or not even, a pretty prominent article came out in the Times, I don’t know if it was on the front page or not. Whether we were part of that or not, we were happy to see that. We raised a bunch of money, which we hope will go to the right people in Zimbabwe. We’re sort of looking into that now. Judging just on the number of people who came up to us and said: “I had no idea that this was going on in Zimbabwe and now I know”. I think we felt some impact was made, we felt pretty good about it.
A last word to your fans?
Chad: (To Mike) You could sing the song you were talking about, about the roses.
Mike: I can’t sing that.
Chad: Well, we hope this hasn’t been too long for people to sit through. I’m not sure we’re one of the most captivating… We feel so grateful. People making that effort to not just listen to music, but listening to independent music and finding music on their own terms. That’s always really appreciated for any bands like us out there. And also for coming out to shows. This means a lot to us, that you would…
Chuck: Spend your hard earned cash.
Chad: Yeah, some of the shows are getting to be above 15 dollars. We’re trying to keep it low, but it’s really cool that people take a chunk out of their day and the money and decide to go to a State Radio show. It means a lot to us.
Mike: I would also like to challenge everyone to try to make this the most watched video on Youtube, ever! (Laughter) Whatever you can do! Look at us, look at where we’re staying! We need some help (Laughter).
Thanks a lot for doing the interview!