Oct 6, 2014

April 1972: Jerry Garcia Interview, Frankfurt

GRATEFUL DEAD IN EUROPE  (translated from German) 

It was probably the most unusual traveling company that has afflicted Europe in recent years: this refers to the 44 musicians, managers, roadies and friends of the "Grateful Dead" music-commune of San Francisco. Contrary to previous announcements of a European tour, this time it was reality; a myth went traveling, a myth that already in the ‘50s had its beginning. 
[ . . . ]  (History of the band omitted.)
After the "Dead" concert in Frankfurt we have asked Jerry Garcia some questions:
POP: Jerry, what is the life of a musician in San Francisco today? Has the music become more part of daily life?
JERRY: Yes, it is a creative community. At home I have [something] to do with music in some form every day. We are in a recording studio or playing in a bar [or] something with different musicians, under a variety of circumstances. It is very lively, enterprising. And the studio scene is now more in the hands of the musicians than anyone else.
POP: The newspapers always present you as a guru or hippie leader? What do you think about this?
JERRY: Everyone believes that now, and only because I talk a lot. I do not consider myself a leader. I want to be seen as a musician, everything else does not interest me, my normal role as a musician is apart from [being] a person. I am aware you like me as a musician, but the American youth do not need a leader.
POP: Was it perhaps the idea of the industry?
JERRY: Yes, exactly. The industry pricks someone out and makes him the leader. So it is.
POP: How do the "Grateful Dead" develop their music during a concert?
JERRY: Usually we start a gig with material that is very familiar to us, or is pretty simple. So we have enough time, about three quarters of an hour to review the situation on the stage, then we can plan further. A fine balance between the different instruments is very important for our music. On the other hand we have to adapt acoustically to our environment. Each performance is like a new beginning. Therefore, we use the first 45 minutes of a performance to warm up ourselves, and there we play fixed (arranged) material. The second half of a concert is typically for us more direct than the first. We now have everything in hand, everything is in order, the audience has responded to our trip; so we have a chance to develop. This really happens only in the second half.
POP: After Altamont you once said the "Dead" would play no festivals anymore. How do you feel about it today?
JERRY: If I had a chance to choose, I would prefer [them] small, manageable. We have never had much luck at festivals, and the things that we did earlier, love-ins in parks and so on, that corresponds to my idea of festivals much more. Festivals are advertising campaigns, a commercial thing, an unfortunate idea.
POP: That was not always so.
JERRY: No. It started with the first of these pay-the-money-see-the-festival trips which were set up, such as Monterey Pop. At the moment when an entrance fee was required, it was evil. This is my firm opinion.
POP: Why did the former European tours of the “Dead” always burst?
JERRY: First of all, we are a bunch of creative people, but no one says, tomorrow we go to Europe. Decisions are taken with us more through the power that springs from the group - and that takes time. The second is financial. We could never afford to drag 44 people across Europe. But since our record deal with Warner Brothers is about to expire and we have to make another two discs, they have paid us a big advance, with which we financed this tour. At the same time we will be using material from live recordings in Europe for a double LP.
POP: What do the "Dead" get per performance?
JERRY: Approximately 10,000 DM, but we bear all expenses ourselves.
POP: What will you do after the expiration of the contract with Warner Brothers?
JERRY: Something of our own, but nothing like Jefferson Airplane’s "Grunt." A private label is interesting only with its own distribution system. We have various ideas, and we have been negotiating with various people, but nothing is certain yet.


(from Pop magazine, August 1972) 

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Here is the German original: 

GRATEFUL DEAD IN EUROPA

Es war wohl die ungewoehnlichste Reisegesellschaft, die Europa in den letzten Jahren heimgesucht hat: Gemeint sind die 44 Musiker, Manager, Roadies und Freunde der “Grateful Dead” Musik-Kommune aus San Fransisco. Entgegen frueherer Ankuendigungen einer Europatournee wurde sie diesesmal Wirklichkeit; ein Mythos ging auf Reisen, ein Mythos, der bereits in den 50er Jahren seinen Anfang hatte. [ … ]
Nach dem “Dead”-Konzert in Frankfurt haben wir Jerry Garcia einige Fragen gestellt:
POP: Jerry, wie sieht das Leben eines Musikers in San Fransisco heute aus? Ist die Musik mehr Bestandteil des taeglichen Lebens geworden?
JERRY: Ja, es ist eine kreative Kommune. Zu Hause habe ich jeden Tag in irgendeiner Form mit Musik zu tun. Wir sind in einem Tonstudio oder spielen in einem Lokal, irgendeine Sache, mit verschiedenen Musikern, unter den verschiedensten Umstaenden. Es ist sehr lebendig, unter nehmungslustig. Und die Studio-Szene ist heute mehr in den Haenden der Musiker als von irgend jemand anderem.
POP: In den Zeitungen stellt man dich immer als Guru oder Hippie-leader hin? Wie stehst du dazu?
JERRY: Jeder glaubt das inzwischen, und nur deshalb, weil ich eine Menge rede. Ich betrachte mich nicht als Fuehrer. Ich moechte als Musiker gesehen werden, alles andere interessiert mich nicht, meine normale Rolle als Musiker ist die einer Nebenperson. Ich bin bekannt, man mag mich als Musiker, aber die amerikanische Jugend braucht keinen Fuehrer.
POP: War es vielleicht die Idee der Industrie?
JERRY: Ja, genau. Die Industrie piekt sich jemanden heraus und macht aus ihn den Fuehrer. So ist es.
POP: Wie entwickelt die “Grateful Dead” ihre Musik waehrend eines Konzerts?
JERRY: Normalerweise beginnen wir einen Auftritt mit Material, das uns sehr vertraut ist, oder ziemlich einfach ist. So haben wir genuegend Zeit, etwa eine Dreiviertelstunde, um die Lage auf der Buehne zu ueberblicken, dann koennen wir weiterplanen. Fuer unsere Musik ist eine feinausgewogene Balance zwischen den einzelnen Instrumenten sehr wichtig. Auf der anderen Seite muessen wir uns akustisch unserer Umgebung anpassen. Jeder Auftritt ist wie ein neuer Beginn. Deshalb benuetzen wir die ersten 45 Minuten eines Auftritts, um uns warmzuspielen, und da spielen wir festgelegtes Material. Die zweite Haelfte eines Konzerts, die typischer fuer uns ist als die erste, wird direkter. Wir haben jetzt alles in der Hand, alles ist in Ordnung, das Publikum hat sich auf unseren Trip eingestellt; da haben wir eine Chance, uns zu entwickeln. Das passiert wirklich erst in der zweiten Haelfte.
POP: Nach Altamont hast du einmal gesagt, die “Dead” wuerden auf keinem Festival mehr spielen. Wie denkst du heute darueber?
JERRY: Wenn ich eine Chance haette zu entscheiden, wuerde ich kleine, ueberschaubare bevorzugen. Wir hatten auf Festivals nie viel Glueck, und die Sachen, die wir frueher machten, Love-Ins in Parks und so, das entspricht meiner Idee von Festivals weitaus mehr. Festivals sind Werbefeldzuege, eine kommerzielle Sache, eine undglueckliche Idee.
POP: Das war nicht immer so.
JERRY: Nein. Es hat mit dem ersten dieser Zahlt-das-Geld-seht-das-Festival-Trip angefangen, der auf die Beine gestellt wurde, wie etwa Monterey Pop. In dem Augenblick, wo dafuer Eintritt verlangt wurde, wurde es uebel. Das ist eine feststehende Meinung von mir.
POP: Warum sind die frueheren Europatourneen der “Dead” immer geplatzt?
JERRY: Zuerst einmal sind wir ein Haufen kreativer Leute, aber keiner sagt, morgen fahren wir nach Europa. Entschluesse werden bei uns mehr durch die Kraft, die der Gruppe entspringt, gefasst – und das dauert. Der zweite ist finanzieller Art. Wir haben es uns nie leisten koennen, mit 44 Leuten quer durch Europa zu ziehen. Da aber unser Plattenvertrag bei Warner Brothers bald ablaeuft und wir noch 2 Platten machen muessen, haben sie uns eine Menge Vorschuss bezahlt, mit dem wir diese Tournee finanzieren. Gleichzeitig werden wir Material von Live-Aufnahmen in Europa fuer eine Doppel-LP verwenden.
POP: Was bekommt die “Dead” pro Auftritt?
JERRY: Ungefaehr 10000 DM, aber wir tragen alle Spesen selbst.
POP: Was werdet ihr nach dem Vertragsablauf bei Warner Brothers machen?
JERRY: Etwas Eigenes, aber nichts wie “Grunt” von Jefferson Airplane. Ein eigenes Label ist nur mit einem eigenen Vertriebssystem interessant. Wir haben verschiedene Ideen, und wir haben mit verschiedenen Leuten schon verhandelt, aber es steht noch nichts fest.


Thanks to Uli Teute.

4 comments:

  1. The translation process was much easier for this article; as a dialogue, the language is fairly simple, and Garcia's answers are things he frequently said (though phrased more formally here in translation). So I think this is probably mostly accurate, though a few phrases were tricky so the translation may be loose in places.
    I skipped a little recap of the Dead's history which didn't look like it contained anything but the most basic info. There was nothing about the European tour in the article, oddly.

    Not a very revealing piece - it's a short interview, so I suppose they were in a hurry. Garcia talks a bit about how the average Dead concert develops, and gripes about the commercialization of festivals. "We have never had much luck at festivals!"
    I might be forgetting earlier instances, but I think this tour is when Garcia first starts talking about each show as 'starting fresh,' using the first half of each show to adapt to the hall, adjust the instruments, play simple warmup numbers for the audience, and waiting til the second set to really "develop." This procedure had evolved over the past couple of years, as the Dead came to guarantee long shows. Garcia saw it as a kind of fine-tuning process - feeling out the audience, warming up the band, working out any sound problems before they started any big jams. No longer would there be any first-set Dark Stars! The Dead obviously felt this gradually-sticking-your-toes-in approach worked well since they stuck to it til the end - you might call it part of their progress towards professionalism (or towards stagnation, depending on your perspective).
    Here we see the "Grunt" label as kind of a model for Garcia to avoid - when Jefferson Airplane does something first, he can see what not to do! In this case, since Grunt was still distributed by RCA, it wasn't truly independent. The Dead would reach a decision on how to put their own independent label together in July '72.
    When he says that the Dead get "approximately 10,000 Deutsche marks" per performance, I wondered about that.... In 1972 the exchange rate was roughly 3.2 DM to 1 dollar, leaving the Dead with little more than $3000 per show. This might not be far off - McNally mentions that in 1972 the Dead "was not yet averaging $5,000 per show" (p.439); and Blair Jackson writes in the E72 book that in Europe "they were scheduled to play mostly small theaters at low ticket prices, so the group actually made less per night than they did in the US at that time."

    The next post here will be in November.

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    1. "The next post here will be in November."

      I'll try to catch up, look forward to more. Be well!

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  2. Thanks for these German pieces. I should have mentioned it before now but I'm sure the people over at The Wheel, http://www.germanheads.de/ would be happy to help you with translations, they might have more sources too.

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    1. http://www.germanheads.de/
      this page mainly lives from its messageboard and that deals mainly with festivals and shows to attend ( in germany)
      i doubt anyone who is active there has anymore clippings

      uli teute

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