THE GRATEFUL DEAD SAY:
“Come one come all! Hard-working honeys, willing to take care of and feed a band, must be eighteen or over, with their own car and plenty of $.”
MOJO: Let’s interviews, boys; come on.
DEAD: Well come on, ask us questions.
LEISH: You mean we’re supposed to ask you questions? Hey that’d be a switch.
GARCIA: Where’d you get that coat?
MOJO: What’s your favorite color?
LEISH: What kind of microphone do you like? Would you rather have a fifteen dollar condenser?
MOJO: Yeah, I would.
MOJO: I’d feel more comfortable with it. (Pause) Let’s see… How do you feel about people putting out…
GARCIA: Wier, quiet.
MOJO: …newspapers that try hard but probably misunderstand?
LEISH: I hate ‘em.
MOJO: How do you feel about audiences?
LEISH: We love audiences!
GARCIA: Audiences are where it’s at. That’s what playing is all about… I mean audiences… It’s between the musicians and the audience. If we play by ourselves it’s one thing. We get into a thing by ourselves, but like if there’s a few people listening it makes a big difference. It gives us somebody to work against.
MOJO: We got a question that we gotta ask…
LEISH: Oh, the Wolfman, didn’t you hear about the Wolfman? (to Wier and Pigpen)
LEISH: Oh the Wolfman is really wild, man. He’s from Chula Vista, California…
MOJO: He isn’t anymore. He’s moved to Sunset Strip…
LEISH: Oh no!
MOJO: …they’ve commercialized him. He plays soul records now…
LEISH: …during all his songs he has this wolf howl RARROOH! in the middle of the song, and at the end of the song he goes RARRR! that was a record!
MOJO: …the Wolfman went down bad… He used to put out an album of his own stuff that was supposed to be pretty…
GARCIA: Oh that’s a groove…
MOJO: …yeah he’s a really good singer too.
MOJO: …he sings just like Captain Beefheart.
LEISH: Oh yeah?
WIER: I heard he was a Howling Wolf freak.
MOJO: Yeah. Lately it hasn’t been that much… We got a question we gotta ask Pigpen… Our downstairs neighbor has to find this out. We had a rumor that you are seventeen years old.
PIGPEN: No, I’m thirty-five, man.
(Laughter from Weir, Leish, and the rest of the Dead)
MOJO: Well, as long as you’re not seventeen.
GARCIA: He’s not seventeen. He’s over seventeen and under twenty-six.
WIER: The only thing you can find out about him is his draft classification. It’s the only thing we admit, that we release about him.
LEISH: Also his measurements. We have his measurements.
GARCIA: He remains a man cloaked in mystery.
LEISH: His arms are short.
WIER: He got short arms.
PIGPEN: My arms are short.
GARCIA: Twenty-one inches is enough.
LEISH: So anyone with short arms you might meet…
WIER: But other than that his draft classification is 1A and fit as a fiddle.
MOJO: And did you ever actually live in San Bruno, California?
(Laughter from Wier, Leish and Garcia.)
MOJO: We used to live there too so…
GARCIA: That’s his home town.
WIER (to Pigpen and Leish): Hey that’s right man, we don’t have to practice here after this week because uh…
GARCIA: I know we’ll work one…anyway that’s another point.
WIER: It’ll cost us five dollars a day.
PIGPEN: Fuck it.
WIER: Oh man that’s nothing.
GARCIA: I know man, that’s cheaper than renting a studio…
PIGPEN: What about Gene’s?
GARCIA: What about it?
WIER: Well he’s still busy.
GARCIA: …yeah he’s still building it…anyway we’re working for this independent producer who’s got his own scene, four-track machine.
WIER: Oh yeah, you might print in your newspaper that we’re looking for a place…
PIGPEN: We’re looking for somebody to take care of us.
WIER: A beautiful expensive place, with plenty of land around it so we can practice there, because otherwise the neighbors always complain man, even if they’re hip.
GARCIA: Yeah, we have to get an isolated house somewhere…
MOJO: Marin, or something like that?
GARCIA: Yeah, Marin county preferably; maybe out by the coast.
WIER: Someplace beautiful.
PIGPEN: No, not on the coast man.
GARCIA: We’re in Laguanitas, they won’t let us practice there.
PIGPEN: Yeah, don’t move to the coast, it’ll be miserable.
WIER: I don’t know, it won’t be hard-edge, but it won’t be miserable.
PIGPEN: It’ll be miserable, all the time.
MOJO: There’s a lot of people up in Peacock Gap right now.
GARCIA: Peacock Gap? Where’s that?
MOJO: It’s a country club up by San Rafael.
GARCIA: Oh really?
MOJO: Yeah, a lot of people moved from the Crystal Palace to Peacock Gap more or less instantaneously…
GARCIA: Oh I see. Hunhh… (Laughs)
MOJO: So you know…but they’re not gonna have the bread…
GARCIA: …Well anyway we start recording this week. That is when we start recording, and hopefully we’ll have something out. I don’t know what it’ll be. Presumably it will be the best we can do under the circumstances, a single and then probably an album.
MOJO: What kind of titles are you thinking of?
GARCIA: Oh, don’t even know. We just…we have a lot of material and we just uhh… It’ll be between us and the producer whether what’ll be first released, whatever one we put out.
MOJO: What was the story behind your record of ‘Stealin’’?
GARCIA: Well that was with the same producer, but we did it before we rushed off to L.A. and we never got around to…we never got in on the mixing of it and we didn’t really like the cuts and the performances were bad and the recordings were bad and everything else was bad so we didn’t want it out.
MOJO: We have the record.
GARCIA: Well, you’re one of the few.
WIER: Go burn it.
MOJO: It’s a treasure to, you know, like the people who have it.
GARCIA: It’s not that bad, but…
MOJO: It’s better than a lot of the stuff on the radio.
WIER: Oh the fuck it is.
GARCIA: Well it might be and then again it might not be.
MOJO: It doesn’t sound like you though.
GARCIA: Right, yeah, right that’s the big thing about it is that it doesn’t sound like us…
MOJO: Did you ever hear what they did with the Great Society?
GARCIA: Well that was with Autumn Records the way I heard about it… Anything I know about that is pure hearsay and Autumn Records folded, I don’t know what exactly they’re up to now.
WIER: Tom Donahue is working for Warner Brothers now.
GARCIA: It’s possible they may be recording for Warner Brothers but I don’t know about that, whether it’s for sure or not.
MOJO: Why did you change sound systems?
GARCIA: Well, mostly because this stuff is less of a hassle to move around, and we like the sound of it better, in the long run.
MOJO: What would you rather play, the Avalon or the Fillmore? Or is there a difference? …Can we print this?
GARCIA: Yeah, you can print whatever you want. Yeah, there’s a difference. But they’re…they both are different; they’re different, but they’re both good. I like to play both of them. I don’t have a, really a preference one over the other. They’re both good places to work for. Chet and Bill Graham are both good guys to work for. And, you know, I think they’re doing a good thing.
MOJO: What about L.A.? What was happening down there?
GARCIA: Well, we just went down there mostly…we went down with Kes—well, not Kesey; he was gone by then. With the Pranksters and the Acid Test. And we played down there some, but mostly we just practiced and holed up kind of, you know, and worked out new material and whatever.
MOJO: You played that Trips Festival in Vancouver, didn’t you?
MOJO: What was it like?
GARCIA: It was kind of funny. Stiff, is what it was. And the people are a certain kind of reserved.
MOJO: Who was there besides you and Big Brother?
GARCIA: The Daily Flash, and some local band, I don’t remember what their name was. The Painted Ship I believe. And the P.H. Phactor Jug Band.
MOJO: How did they react to the San Francisco sound?
GARCIA: Well, actually we did much better on the next weekend, when we played again at another dance, and had a fairly good crowd; but it was really good, you know, it was responsive. Much more so than the Trips Festival because the Trips Festival wasn’t really a Trips Festival; it was just a light show…a very complex light show, but in terms of what it did with the music it was pretty meaningless also. The whole thing didn’t work out, being very together, you know. It was more like, there was one thing happening on the screen, there was another thing happening on the stage; it wasn’t very well run, and it wasn’t well-conceived, and it was mostly done by people who weren’t very experienced at it. So it wasn’t really…the way I see it is the amount of money they spent they would have done better by, you know, using what they had a little bit in a more intelligent way. They would do things like have every band every night, so a band would only get to play maybe one set a night and it would be a short one. You couldn’t really get warmed up, you know, or get any kind of thing going. It wasn’t really much fun to play. The next weekend was much better.
MOJO: Do you think there’s any possibility, commercial possibility of getting San Francisco sound across in the Top 30 nationwide?
GARCIA: I think it’s just a matter of the stuff, the bands being recorded and promoted in a good way, you know. They’re all making pretty good music. And Lord knows there’ve been enough guys, record guys and promoters of one sort or another trying to find some way to package the whole thing up neatly and carry it off to New York or whatever. Actually, right here, all the bands here are on their way to Chicago. Big Brother is leaving for there tomorrow, Jefferson Airplane’s there now. Let’s see, the Holding Company’s leaving tomorrow and then the Messenger Service in about two weeks. And then we’re going in November.
MOJO: Wow, this is something else. What’s happening in Chicago?
GARCIA: There’s just clubs there that are finding out about us and all and are sending for us. Contacting our managers.
MOJO: Like Big John’s?
GARCIA: Well, clubs is what they are, six night a week clubs… Yeah, Big John’s is one of them I believe, come to think of it. I’m not sure. There seems to be a chain of them, maybe three or four, all owned by the same guy, or the same group of guys maybe, and they’re sending for the San Francisco groups.
MOJO: I never even heard about that. That’s pretty scary.
GARCIA: Yeah, it’s pretty new. So anyway most of the bands won’t be around for a few weeks or maybe a few months.
MOJO: That’s funny because Butterfield’s coming to San Francisco.
GARCIA: That’s right. That’ll be good too. With Muddy Waters. Right after the Monterey Jazz Festival. I think the week following the Monterey Jazz Festival Howlin’ Wolf will be up here. That’s another good thing. Memphis Slim’s down at Both/And.
MOJO: Okay, here comes an influence question. What was the first record that really turned you on; hit you between the ears?
GARCIA: You mean, the very first?
MOJO: The first sound that really influenced you. –Not back to the cradle.
GARCIA: Well jeez, that’s a… I don’t know man, I’ve listened to so much stuff and played so many different kinds of things that, I don’t know, I couldn’t say, I wouldn’t want to have to pick one, there’s really a lot of them. The first stuff I started playing when I first started playing the guitar was Chuck Berry stuff, and I guess that’s when everybody was learning from that stuff.
MOJO: A sort of personal question. How did you form, were you friends or what?
GARCIA: Yeah, we’ve all been friends for awhile before we ever got together. Me and Pigpen and Bob used to be in a jug band together and Phil’s an old friend of mine, and Bill was the only really good drummer in the town we were in. We were in Palo Alto you know, around there.
MOJO: Did you play around the peninsula?
GARCIA: Yeah we organized down there and played in clubs mostly and bars…the Fireside, the In Room, stuff like that. We played that stuff for about three or four months, six nights a week, and that’s where we really learned how to play. In that kind of grind. That was a really good thing. That’s where the best stuff goes down. You know, if the group’s energetic enough you know you can get into more…playing five sets a night you really get hot by the third or fourth set, and you can start playing some really insane stuff.
MOJO: I heard Bloomfield say something about like that. He said the only time he felt he was really playing great was when drunks were falling all over his amplifiers, and all that stuff.
GARCIA: The same thing. We used to have that. The place would be real crowded on the weekends and there’d be all kinds of balls and hassle going on all the time.
MOJO: A homey atmosphere…
GARCIA: Yeah right. A family bar…
MOJO: What about the Trips Festival we had last January?
GARCIA: That was a Trips Festival. That was the only Trips Festival. Probably the first, last, and as far as I was concerned the only really good one. That was really great.
MOJO: Yeah, I agree.
GARCIA: Well it was fun…
WIER: There was a feeling of unity.
GARCIA: Yeah it was… Everybody in the place was having a really good time on Saturday night.
WIER: Everybody got gassed…
GARCIA: Everybody was stoned and all on the same trip and everybody having a good time, and a lot of people who were responding to everything that was going around and doing stuff to change it, you know, when it was time to change it, you know, it was a responsive atmosphere, the whole thing. So it really worked good, and everybody had a good time. It was a great big party, is what it was. It wasn’t a dance or anything else, it was a huge party; it was a very successful one.
MOJO: Remember the New Brothers?
MOJO: What ever happened to them?
GARCIA: I heard that they re-organized and…
MOJO: Re-organized? Only two of them?
GARCIA: Well, they got together again…
PIGPEN: Next week…
GARCIA: …but I don’t know how true that is. I’ve also heard that they were playing around somewhere but I don’t know how true that is either.
MOJO: That’s funny because they were so…
GARCIA: They’re good…
MOJO: Yeah, good.
GARCIA: …real good, real fine sound.
MOJO: What about the Trips Festivals they’ve had in L.A. and other places? Just a gimmick, or what?
GARCIA: Well, I think that’s mostly what it is, whether that’s the intention of the people involved or not that’s the result. You know, I think it’s mostly a matter of…
WIER: A look-at-me thing…
GARCIA: People making money. You know, L.A. is kind of freak-conscious is where it’s at, you know, they’re not really into anything besides that; there’s nothing behind it.
WIER: It’s just a great big look-at-me thing.
GARCIA: Right. San Francisco is really different from anyplace else. And the result of the things that happen, the way they go… People are better. (laughs) I hate to say that but it seems like it’s true. Really good people in this city.
(The second half of the Grateful Dead interview will appear in the next issue of the Mojo Navigator.)
(From the MOJO NAVIGATOR R&R NEWS #4, August 30 1966)
GRATEFUL DEAD EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
MOJO: What did you think of Jim Gurley’s guitar playing the first time you heard it?
GARCIA: Well, the first time I heard it, I was in no position to comment about it, or you know… (Laughs from the rest of the Dead) I don’t know. I like it. I think that his approach to it is a lot different from mine; he plays with fingerpicks you know; I play with a flat pick. I like his playing.
MOJO: He hasn’t been playing the same recently as he did when he started…
GARCIA: That’s true, but I think that’s largely because of his amplifiers, which he’s been complaining about to some extent…
MOJO: And his wrist…
GARCIA: Well you know… I mean, those guys are pretty new at electric instruments and…
VOICE FROM OUTSIDE: You’re all busted for loitering.
GARCIA: Oh, go away… And they still have to get used to what comes out and what doesn’t come out… I don’t know. I think they are going through an adjustment, a period of adjustment.
MOJO: What about the singer that they added?
I really like her. I think she's an incredibly powerful singer and her
knowledge of style and her control is really phenomenal, as well as her
range. I think that the big thing is that they need more material that's
adapted to her style, which they don't have so far, just a few things.
MOJO: They've just got their old stuff...
GARCIA: Right, and I don't think that'll work out too well.
MOJO: You've heard the old stuff so much that the change...I don't know, it sorta sounds like Minnie Mouse at 78...
MOJO: ...mixed with Peter Albin's voice.
Right, it's a different, a whole different thing and I think that they
just have to get used to working that way, is really where it is, I mean
I sorta, I can sympathise with that, it's a rough adjustment to make,
but if they can once find a way to really showcase Janice and get good
material for her as well as her and Peter working together... you know
it's, mostly what they need is experience and I think that they'll come
back from Chicago a lot tighter than they are and will have learned a
lot by the time they're back.
MOJO: It's a funny thing, you know, you
hear the bands and you go out and listen to 'em and you'll listen to
somebody like...I heard you guys last January when you were still the
Warlocks and you were playing at a pretty high level, I thought it was a
pretty high level and yet the band seems to get better and better and
better, and they keep changing, like the Great Society, I've heard them,
gee many times and for awhile there they went through a real bad
period, then they came out of it.
GARCIA: Yeah, it's one of those
things, you have your ups and downs like you kinda get into a slump
behind playing the same material for awhile so you work on new material
and maybe it takes awhile for you to really work into it, to make it
your own material, or if it's like a new song that you've just written
you have to get natural with it, you know and that means going over it
and over it and performing it a lot of times and starting to develop
some ideas with it. That's another thing about playing, when you play
six nights a week, you have a chance to go, you know, you play the same
song maybe three times a night, sometimes you know if you want to you
can do it and get away with it, nobody ever knows and you can get
something to really turn into a whole different thing, that's the way
most of our longer material has gotten, we've just decided to let it go
and see what happens to it and that's the way we play, in fact. There's
no, you know, some of our stuff isn't arranged at all, it just happens, however it happens, we sort of prescribe a way it's kinda gonna go.
MOJO: Are you playing for the music or to make a living at it?
I played music before I could ever make a living at it and I've always
played music and that part of it isn't that important to me, the
importance is just being able to play and that's the way we all feel
about it, I mean you know we're not playing for money, that's for sure.
MOJO: So many musicians are.
MOJO: Bad musicians.
GARCIA: I know, it's too bad, I think it brings the level of the music down.
MOJO: The funny thing I've noticed is good musicians play, you know, like people that could be playing at a pretty decent level you know, backing up Jan and Dean or…
GARCIA: (laughs) Well, here’s the thing: it’s these guys that are good musicians and they’re playing what they think is bad music, and because they think it’s bad music it is bad music, they get paid for it, but you know, where is that? It’s like having any other kind of job, it certainly doesn’t seem very rewarding. I really respect everything we do; I can’t play anything besides what we play, really; I’m not a jazz guitarist.
MOJO: What about recording in San Francisco…?
GARCIA: I think it’s starting to develop into… There are two or three good studios, I think there’s two or three four-channel machines and I think more bands are gonna want to record in the city because just the conditions of living in L.A. are so lousy, I wouldn’t record down there.
MOJO: The thing I was thinking of is for a recording scene to develop here like they have in New York, where somebody like Al Kooper can make a pretty good living just playing in the studios and turn out good records.
GARCIA: I don’t think that San Francisco recording as it is can really support any studio musicians. I don’t think there are any in town.
WIER: Anyway it’s a group thing. The whole idea is a group thing, pretty much, because each group is unique.
MOJO: What about studio technicians?
GARCIA: There are engineers in town; there aren’t any A&R men that I know of, none…with a few of the smaller companies there are…
MOJO: Is it this thing of they want to change your sound for you?
GARCIA: Well, what an A&R man usually does, his usual function is to produce, to make whatever material you have that’s potentially saleable more saleable, by suggesting maybe some changes or whatever…a good, I don’t know how far that gets into because I haven’t really observed that many recording sessions, but frequently A&R men don’t have much taste and don’t really understand a group or who they’re working with or anything like that, and as a result sometimes records’ll have the sound of the A&R man rather than the group. And that’s unfortunate.
MOJO: Something like what happened to the Jefferson Airplane, or what RCA Victor tried to do to the Jefferson Airplane?
GARCIA: Yeah, kinda uhh… Well, you know, just little things like the guy playing glockenspiel on “Come Up The Years” or whatever. That was the A&R man, you know it was his idea, thought it’d be cute or something… But you can get your record contracts, you can get, if you work ‘em right, so that you have the artistic control. In other words you can do your material the way you think it should go.
MOJO: Was the Scorpio Records that you were on the same Scorpio Records that somebody called the Golliwogs recorded for?
GARCIA: Geez I don’t think so, it was just the first, or actually the second record put out by this guy, or rather the independent producer that we’re working for.
MOJO: If not it’s a funny coincidence because a record came out just about the same time as your record called “Brown Eyed Girl” by the Golliwogs, and it made the charts, and it wasn’t a bad record actually.
GARCIA: Well, what happened with the Scorpio label was that the guy went ahead and applied for it, had the labels printed up and everything like that, but after the record came out and after he had the labels out, they discovered that there was some other label named Scorpio, so the big clearing house, wherever it is, said “No, you can’t use that name.” So at any rate I don’t think our next record will be out on Scorpio, I don’t know what the label’ll be. Could be a major company, we may work a thing like that. Record it here and then…
MOJO: Lease the masters?
GARCIA: Yeah, something like that.
MOJO: O.K., so you’re going to Chicago next?
MOJO: November you’re going to Chicago, and you’ll be around here for the next few months.
GARCIA: Right, playing whatever we got. I think we’re booked up.
MOJO: That’s good; booked solid… What kind of a deal do you work out with Chet and Bill, anyway? Who gets the bread?
GARCIA: We arrange for a price and we’re paid for a specific amount; it’s agreed upon in the contract and everything like that.
MOJO: And it isn’t based upon the door intake?
GARCIA: No, they could, you know, if we wanted it that way we might be able to work it but…
WIER: The union wouldn’t like that very much…
GARCIA: Yeah, I don’t think the union would go for it. See, the union is insisting that you get half your pay in advance.
MOJO: You’re in the union?
MOJO: What kind of a hassle have you had with them?
GARCIA: Well, the usual hassles. The hassle is that there are unscrupulous promoters in town (actually there’s only one) is uh, you know, been hiring bands that are in the union and paying them ridiculous amounts of money. And it looked pretty, for awhile they were demanding that Chet and Bill you know, the guys that are legitimate, they were demanding that they pay half the pay for bands in front, a lot of things like that, really picayune and stupid things, I think. But we really, went down there enough times and gave them a bad enough time often enough so that they haven’t been hassling us too much lately.
MOJO: That must have been interesting.
GARCIA: All the bands in the city were doing that, I mean it was it really was, you know, rock ‘n’ roll bands usually don’t have any other source of income, and when it might mean if you don’t get paid on the night you play you might not eat for the next few days, and we weren’t getting paid until Wednesday of the following week, we’d have to go down to the union and get the money, and so forth, and it was really, you know, more than inconvenient, it was stupid as well.
WIER: Besides that they took more than they should get, they took something like 20%. And uh, who needs it?
GARCIA: Don’t go putting down figures, man, they didn’t take no 20 percent.
WIER: They took it from the Quicksilver.
GARCIA: No, I don’t think 20% cold shot.
WIER: They did.
GARCIA: Oh well, man, I wouldn’t say it.
MOJO: O.K. let’s just say they took a large amount, a substantial amount.
WIER: Yeah, who needs it man, it never does anything for us, you know, the union, and all it does is take money from us and bum kick us. And it never gets you any jobs.
MOJO: Do you guys know of any groups in other cities that are doing stuff that’s comparable to the San Francisco sound, the type of music we’re doing here?
GARCIA: I don’t know what the other groups in the other cities are doing, there’s a lot of stuff that sounds like…well, it sounds like it could be San Francisco groups, the 13th Story Elevator…
GARCIA: …the Thirteenth Floor Elevator, they’re supposed to be up at the Avalon this weekend, their sound is like a San Francisco sound sort of, a little like Big Brother.
WIER: Oh there’s a lot of groups around. I mean it’s not really, I wouldn’t go so far to say it’s San Francisco sound so much as a San Francisco scene.
MOJO: Yeah, well it’s the new sound in rock ‘n’ roll that’s happening here.
WIER: Yeah, it’s happening here but it’s happening in other places too.
GARCIA: The thing is that there are a lot of really imaginative people around here and each of the bands sounds different from each other as it does from everybody else, and you know the San Francisco bands aren’t alike at all really. But that’s the thing about it: like the L.A. bands are all very similar.
MOJO: There are groups like Thorin’s Shield in L.A. that nobody there knows about, they come up here and do a set every once in a while and they’re doing stuff which is really different…
DIFFERENT MOJO: …the Rising Sons. You talk to people from L.A., they don’t know about the Rising Sons.
GARCIA: The Rising Sons have broken up.
MOJO: Oh have they? When was this?
GARCIA: I don’t know, I think it was awhile ago.
MOJO: They’re such a good group.
GARCIA: They were. (laughs)
PIGPEN: They’re going to be on Elektra now, Elektra’s putting together some kind of blues package.
MOJO: Oh really, maybe they got the tapes from Columbia, cause Columbia had all kinds of things from them.
GARCIA: Yeah, it’s possible, there’s no telling…
MOJO: Do you have any last message for all the little kids out there in the world who read our publication, all them little teeny boppers…?
WIER: Yeah, we could use some hard-workin’ honeys up at the house.
THE REST OF THE DEAD (in chorus): YEAH!
MOJO: We’ll put that on the masthead…
WIER: Put an ad in the paper for uh, “Come one, come all healthy, well-fed young honeys, willing to do work, and uh…
GARCIA: Take care of…
WIER: Take care of the group, preferably with their own money and stuff like that.
PIGPEN: Their own money, their own cars, and 18 years old.
MOJO: I’ll see what I can do. Thanks a lot!
(From the MOJO NAVIGATOR R&R NEWS #5, September 7 1966)
THANKS TO JGMF.BLOGSPOT.COM FOR THE MOJOS.
The Vancouver Trips Festival tapes: