Music Writing by Carson Arnold

 

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Photo from Move the Mob

Sunday At One-Thirty ~ An Interview with Peter Siegel

Peter Siegel is best described in a comment he made to me during our discussion concerning what exactly the evolution of folk music should be today: "I think that if that message comes across in a funky way, if it comes across as hip-hop, if it comes across as you know, straight folk with a guitar, it's folk music to me".

Siegel's approach of radicalism and political folk in his 2001 debut, Move The Mob , is a healthy script of crafted talent, a jungle of genre, and satirical observations to the mayhem of our modern cultural attitude- all of which reveals itself in a flaming paradox that is slowly burning to the core of a prime target.  And with hard work, he may soon find it. His best moments can be heard on "Talking Denial" and "Those Festivals" (hardly under any instrumentation), and release Siegel from the unnecessary burden of technicality, and both separates and enlightens the model "folkie" liberal of whom Siegel often criticizes as being just as much as a catalyst to a sleepy nation as fascism and industry is to a bloody world (right on!). A classically trained musician with a topical signature, however underneath this badge-for-honor I can hear a loud and believing voice muffled by the weight of content that Siegel, right now, seems to have to attend, fill, and prove. If he packs his guitar with less intellect and digs more into the vernacular roots that have dusted his heroes, the conflict of his vital shout will be one heard far beyond contemporary... And that's why I'm interested in him.

Already you can see various amplifiers resting inside the front porch where I'm politely asked to take my boots off so I don't comb the floors of their new house with Vermont mud and snow. Inside, it is casual and shining warm, a thick aroma of coffee grain scrapes through the air, fiddle music is echoing within many rooms, and more guitar cases seem to stick their necks out around corner bookshelves. After a tour of the house by Peter's wife Michelle, we all chat about the country, the woods, neighbors, schooling, and their commuting jobs. Their dog Lucy cartwheels around the house looking for an open door.  Recorder on, we start the interview.

 

(This interview was conducted on December 29th, 2002)

 

Carson: So Move The Mob was you first album, solo album?

 

Peter: Yes.

 

C: Signature Sounds you recorded it?

 

P: Yeah...Recorded it there. They didn't fund it...I did it with Mark {Thayer} there. He was the engineer...Just decided to spend a lot of money to do it right . But, I have some mixed feelings about the way it ended up...Turning out.

 

C: Yeah? What's that?

 

P: Well...Um...I have mixed feelings about digital recording in the first place, which I'm sure you probably have the same-You know it's very crisp, and what happens is the sound gets really sorta' separated  and it ends up sounding like... FM radio. It ends up sounding like- Everything could be differentiated but it doesn't squash together in the way that you really wanted to.

 

C: So it sort of lost that raw essence that you were trying to capture on that Joe Hill song that you were doing? Direct simplistic "all out there" sort of sound. Cuz' it was very clean and well produced and everything, but the trumpets in there, very crisp and together. But with the lyrics, it almost sounded... it almost sounded like the lyrics wanted to be separate from the music at times. (Peter responds a "yep" quickly). Other times it worked. Sorta' rapping, rap folk. Other times it seemed like you wanted to spread out and just stomp your feet.

 

P: Right, exactly. Right. And I think what's interesting is that when I play that album- when I record that album on to a tape and I play it in my car- I like it. Cuz' it goes through this sorta' processing that Mark wasn't able to produce. Like, no matter what they do, 'make it sound analog, it really doesn't.

 

C: Digital recording. Everybody's really into that now. Roger McGuinn just did an album, do you know that one?

 

P: No, I don't.

 

C: 'Traveled around to all different people's houses. Pete Seeger, Josh White, with his computer.

 

P: Oh yeah, I did hear about that. Right.

 

C: Recorded there. Turned out pretty well, but, I sorta' like the intimacy of tapes and recorders in analog. That sort of equipment is much more portable...

So... What was your dream, what were you trying to do politically and musically on Move The Mob ? It was your first debut so...

 

P: {pause} Well I think too much {laughter}. I think the idea was- You know, I had all these different songs. I tend to play songs in a lot of different genres and I didn't want to, I didn't think about this, but I think I just didn't want to leave out anything. I ended up covering all the bases. And I think there were ways to cover all the bases much more subtly.

 

C: Lyrically?

 

P: Lyrically, I think...Lyrically, I think things were fine. I think stylistically. Because I think what happens is- cuz' I don't generally think of myself commercially- but what happens is I think that radio stations and reviewers and anyone, they want to be able to define you in a sentence. Or in three words if they could.

 

C: Control you.

 

P: Right. If they could say... "grassroots", or like "roots music with a funk edge" or something like that- you know, something that would define you- then they would be satisfied. So um...what I was trying to achieve I think...at this point, I don't know exactly what I was trying to achieve. But I think the bottom line is that I...let me think... {changing style of dialect to a more serious tone}... I'm a folkie. But I don't like the definitions of a folkie, as you could probably tell. And so I think what I was overall, what I was trying to achieve was the going-beyond what people perceive as folk music, but still being folkie, and understanding the lyrics, and understanding that that album was not meant to make money or any kind of commercial purpose it was just...

 

C: Well music now-a-days seems it's escaped that sort of Woody Guthrie Phil Ochs tradition. It's gone more into what you would say as being able to control all different genres mixed in, somewhat what you talked about in your song "Those Festivals". This sort of conformed liberal- "Love Me I'm A Liberal"- you know, sort of basis... That would be opposed to something you'd more interested in like a lone-aucostic singer, just straight forward political. That'd be something you'd be more interested in maybe now?

 

P: More of the acoustic?

 

C: Yeah, just the raw acoustic without the music, or?

 

P. Mmm, no. Not necessarily. {pause). Hmm...I'm interested in... in a message beyond sort of like personal-day-to-day.... I think that if that message comes across in a funky way, if it comes across as hip-hop, if it comes across as you know, straight folk with a guitar, it's folk music to me. It doesn't really matter...In terms of the way...I dunno... Here's...What I'm trying to convey, what I would be trying to convey in a cd, is a lot different what I would be trying to convey in a concert. In a concert, I wouldn't hold back. And I play with a lot of different people when I perform, and I tend to go from genre to genre because it keeps people "entertained", it doesn't really matter. In terms of a cd...I try to make a little more packagable so people can sort of listen to from end to end and not feel like they're skipping around. In terms of folk...Wait, what was your original question?

 

C: Were {are} you more interested now pursuing sort of just a lone-aucostic singer with a political conscience?

 

P: Pursuing, like my next album?

 

C: Yeah.

 

P: I'm actually in the process of making my next album. And what I'm doing is...I'm actually working with Michael Daves who plays with the Inner Orchestra- you may have heard of them, they play around a lot, he also plays with Gordon Stone. He's just, he's sort of a jazz-funk. He also is an old time bluegrass player, we have a big group together, Underbelly. And so he has real feel for all these different genres of music. But what we're trying to do is make an album that has sort of uniformed instrumentation. Like' has a guitar, banjo man, mandolin, acoustic bass, and percussion. But like hand percussion...Stylistically, it'll range quite a bit. But I think the way it "sounds", it will have the same sound throughout so that it doesn't sort of hurt your ears to listen to from one track to another. Even if one track is a hip-hop piece and one track is actually an old time song, it'll be sort of uniformed sound wise. But I think it's all "folk". Cuz' my...my feeling what folk music is, is not based on the way the music sounds, it's based on what the intent of the music is and what the origin of the music is and if it follows a certain lineage. Like for instance, I don't consider... There's a lot of acoustic players, I just can't think of any names right now that I would not...{Michelle says something from the next room}. What'd you say? {light laughter. Michelle says "Dar Williams"}. No, I would consider Dar folk to some degree. But... I'm trying to think who I wouldn't consider folk who are acoustic players...I you go to Falcon Ridge- I don't know if you ever been to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival- but, if you go there, there are an awful lot of players that you know, they stand up stage with their guitar and they play. And if you look at them, the image, is of a folk singer. But they're not folk to me cuz' they're not... They're singing pop songs with an acoustic guitar.

 

C: Entertaining.

 

P: They're entertaining. And the entertaining is fine. You can be an entertaining folk singer but... if you don't have some sort of tie to...

 

C: Expression? Political expression or some sort of traditional expression?

 

P: Yeah, tradition, political. It could even be love. An expression of love. But not for... Not in the sort of narcissistic way. So many of the lyrics that are out today- I'd say eighty percent of the lyrics that you hear on, say WRSI- which are what a lot of what people consider folk- are songs about, you know, waking up this morning and-

 

C: Yeah, they're looking for a hit rather than a commune or social-

 

P: It doesn't even have to be social or political in sort of like a revolutionary way, it can just be sort of a commentary on what life is about right now in general. And- we were on Wanda Fisher's, Valley folk music, Underbelly- {chuckling} Wanda kinda' looked at me and said, "you are the topical songwriter of the group". Almost in like a disdainful way, and I was like "yeah". {laughing} Like I guess, you know? And she said "well, if you look back at history, would you consider old time music to be topical? Was it topical music in old times?" And I thought about it, and I said, "yeah". And you know, if you listen to the lyrics, in some ways they might sound sort of narcissistic cuz' they were about drinking and gambling, lost love or whatever. But a lot of the songs were written with the intention of portraying life. It wasn't necessarily about that one event. It was almost like a painting of what life was like where those people were singing those songs...

 

C: They came from a culture too. Tradition as opposed to now where it's more of a hit and entertainment, which is what people try to achieve on stage {or} on an album. Society was also different back then obviously. It wasn't as isolated as it is now....So any person, no matter if it's rock music, hip-hop, jazz, should be more of a- I don't want to say political- less of an entertainer, less of looking for the hit, less of the sort of commercialism attached to it. Just singing for the something.

 

P: Right. And the most effective folk singer is the one that can be all of that. Somebody that can get a message across. Like you know, like a lot of people would say that Bruce Springsteen is in some ways a folk singer in the sense he can get this message across, he can be politically radical, and, he get all these people from the right to the left to listen to what he's saying... I mean I don't like to Bruce Springsteen necessarily but-

 

C: Certainly there's a market too that helps him {chuckling}.

 

P: Yeah, a huge market. And he appeals to the vast array of people {"people" said by everybody}

 

C: So what was some of your musical influences growing up? You grew up in the suburbs in New York?

 

P: Yeah {long delay of chuckling}.

 

C: Escaped from that?

 

P: Yeah. Well you know I grew up with politically radical grandparents, and my parents were pretty politically active too. The main influence of my life, which started me singing, was I use to, when I was a little kid, go on the Hudson River Clearwater- which was a folk' environmental education on the Hudson River and it was started by Pete Seeger. So when people went out on this boat, everybody would pick up their guitars and sing. And so, from the earliest I can remember, people were just singing songs. Pete was on the boat, everybody from like Pete to...uh...John..uh...you know, "American Pie". John McClean. John?

 

C: Don {said all at once}.

 

P: Don McClean. Right. He was a river clearwater member and they used to all sing these songs on the boat and just go wild. There was this singing along with participation. And so there was that, and my grandfather was a classical violinist, so I studied classical guitar...

 

C: Blends of both.

 

P: Right. And I used to take jazz lessons. When I was in high school, my mother didn't know this for a long time, but I would hop on the train from the suburbs and go to Harlem and there was this thing called 'Jazzmobiles'. Go down every Saturday, all day long. It was funded by the government, I think the federal government and the city of New York, and they got all these jazz musicians to basically teach for like four or five hours a day. You'd go to these classes with Charlie Christian and like all these incredible musicians and they'd just teach you jazz riffs.

 

C: You sound like Miles Davis escaping from Julliard.

 

P: Right...

 

C: You still in touch with Pete Seeger?

 

P: I'm pretty good friends with his grandson. Like I never was really friends with Pete Seeger, I went to a lot of parties at his house, he knows who I am...

 

C: Just seems like you had a real bond and connection to Pete Seeger.

 

P: Yeah, it's just sorta' being around him and the culture. My sister is actually pretty good friends with him. Her boyfriend actually does a lot of cool work with him. My parents actually sang in the chorus he started and do a lot of work with him now, they do big concerts in like Lincoln Center and the Walkabout Chorus.

 

C: You tour a lot? What's your touring schedule?

 

P: It's not the rigorous these days. Like what it is, is it's like I play- Well I play a lot of traditional music in the area for the contra-dances in the northeast, and then what happens is, I have this agent in Chicago who books college gigs for me where I go and talk about this kinda' stuff- you know, what is folk music?

 

C: Oh, you talk?

 

P: Yeah, I go and I'll teach a class on songs of political and social change, or the corporate influence of the media, stuff like that, and then I'll do songs along with that and then I'll do a concert. And then I'll...So you know I go, and I'll do like three gigs at three colleges in Chicago or something like that for a week and I'll come home.

 

C: How hard has it been promoting 'Move The Mob'?

 

P: Well..I think promoting music is just generally hard unless you have somebody else doing it for you. 'Very beginning, I really wasn't doing any kind of promotion, I was just selling it where I was selling it, wherever. But as soon as Josh started sending it around, he started finding like these niche audiences. It's really started circulating around the country. I've been goin' on-line and typing in Move The Mob  and folk, and I'll notice that radio shows in California have played songs from it...What I've also come to realize which is really weird, is that I have this appeal to like thirteen and fourteen year olds {laughing}. I have no idea why! I think it's because, well I think it's because of the bad words, but it's also because...

 

C: "Bullshit sells, bullshit smells".

 

P: Yeah, exactly. But it's like, somebody ask me to describe what my album is like before, and thought about as like almost an adult-Sesame-Street album. Because of variety of stuff- the genres I'm doing- is so different, and it's very clear, and I got these messages (but obviously the message isn't so for little kids)...And then there are kids who can comprehend who are a little older.

 

C: Well certainly songs like "My Grandmother", and "Those Festivals", and especially "Talking Denial", struck me as real strong. Especially "Talking Denial". Those three you very happy with? Cuz' they seemed quite different from all the other ones.

 

P: {nodding head in enthusiasm} It's so funny that you say that. Yeah, cuz' "Talking Denial" is the one that seems to get... it's the one that....I went to the studio for forty minutes with Michelle, we were on our way to Montreal for like a drive, a trip. And I went to the studio, recorded "Talking Denial" in forty minutes in one take, and it was like nothing , you know. And I thought, ok I'll stick this on the album. And I'm really glad I did. And that's the reason why I went into the studio to do it. But...I think there's a message there which is that, like sorta' simpler....songs with messages. Very clear messages are-

 

C: Yeah I heard definitely- First my impression was Woody Guthrie. Just the ramblin', spoken word, simple guitar. And then I heard "Those Festivals", which is about a track after it, and it really worked well- course' "My Grandmother" before hand. It just sort of stuck between the other eleven songs- eleven, I think- as your... strongest points I suppose. Politically, you had your vengeance and satire all mixed well, and you didn't have to be bothered with all the music and genres behind you trying to blend it. Even though on "My Culture" and the other ones it worked well, but it just seemed like it was your real strong point where you didn't have to be trying to pretend you were a liberal or radical it was all right there.

 

P: Right. Yeah.

 

C: What do you think of the times? I mean, I mean sure you have a slew of ideas since post-9/11. When did your album come out?

 

P: It came out I guess a year before that.

 

C: So I'm sure you have what, tons of ideas? Now?

 

P: Yeah...I have all sorts of songs....A lot of the songs I'm doing now are sort of in the vein of like the strip-mall-song {"My Culture"}. That they're reflected of our culture but they're not necessarily biting , pointing fingers at like "you, you, you". It's almost like reflected of me in a sense and where I come from and sort of biting into what my cultural flaws are. 9/11, I mean, it inspired a whole bunch of songs but to me the issue

is so complicated that it's really hard to convey.

 

C: Even now with the whole Iraqi war coming up and everything in between?

 

P: Yeah. I wrote...It's hard to write a song about these things without sounding like you're a protest singer. And I did write a song,"send them back to kindergarten" basically, about our leaders and how basically it's just a bunch of kids fighting it out. And it's just ridiculous. And I am probably going to put that on there {new album}. I think it'll stand out from a lot of the other stuff that I've written, which is just about how numb we are as a culture. How completely...

 

C: Acceptance.

 

P: Yeah, our acceptance of ridiculous stuff, and yet, we have no sensitivity to what's around us.

 

C: The natural world.

 

P: The natural world, and we're just inhibited by the mass media and the corporate media. But it's conveyed in a way that isn't necessarily sticking a finger at someone saying, "it's your fault". It's more like, "this what we're all about". And this is what has caused this problem, this is causing us to get into war now.

 

C: Society and all of us. So you're trying to go for more of a political vengeance, higher than before?

 

P: Yeah...

 

C: Dig deeper into the wounds.

 

P: Dig deeper into the wounds. And also sort of layer the message a little bit more. Not put it right there, but just have it more...It's like the opposite of "that's bullshit", it's more poetic I would say.

 

C: So how do you balance between your solo work and your traditional work? Obviously it's not fiction you're writing, so how do you, how do you say it "Beverwyk"?

 

P: Oh yeah Beverwyk {String Band}, right.

 

C:- Balance between that type of music and your own solo stuff? How do you keep "sane"?

 

P: Oh, I dunno. I think a lot of the traditional music- lot of the playing of those gigs- is almost like calisthenics for me. Like I just play. 'Get up on stage, set up, you play for four hours, and you try to get the dancers going. There's not really striking a balance between the two. I think the thing that I find most difficult is that I have two other {inaudible} in Greenfield dancing to me and like they don't even know who I'am. {laughing} It's sort of like an ego thing. But it's like I played this concert in Amherst... at the high school {peace rally}, and a lot of people I recognized from the contra dance world were there, and suddenly, there's a certain cross over. My dream years ago, which I've kind of forgotten actually, was sort of to merge the contra-dance scene and the folk "people who listen to political music" scene... The problem with contra dances are contra-dances, and they just wanna dance.

 

C: They don't look at the stage.

 

P: They don't look at the stage. I just think that that in itself has lost the essence of why I got into contra-dancing in the first place. I used to do it at political gatherings. It was a way for people who were doing political work to sing together and get together to do something completely different.

 

C: Perhaps contra-dancing relatively is the same as if you were singing politically. Get together in a social group and participate.

 

P: Right.

 

C: People, when you play your solo stuff, what does the audience do? What do you think of the audience?

 

P: Well the audience is completely tuned into what I do. I try to keep people engaged. I do a lot of participatory stuff, and I do funny stuff, and I do stuff that sort of acts like a show.

 

C: Performance?

 

P: Yeah, total performance. I'm just the kind of person that can't perform in a bar where people are drinking. I have to have total engagement.

 

C: Have you ever done protest rallies, demonstrations, or anything like that?

 

P: Yeah. Yeah, I've done a lot of those a while ago. I haven't been to any in years. I'm trying to get back out there in the-

 

C: Yeah, I imagine now it would be pretty daring to do it and should do it.

 

P: Yeah...but the movement has changed. People who were politically active, especially younger people, are not as receptive to 'singing' together. I dunno if you noticed, the Washington rally, the big one that took place like two months ago, the had an advertisement for it- not advertisement, something on the internet about it- it said, there'll be reggae, there'll be this and there'll be that, "nothing too folkie". It twas' almost like the conservatives taking the word 'liberal' and turning into something dirty. It's like folk, turn into something dirty. It makes people more powerless. Because again, what folk was in the sixties was it really united people. And what it did for the civil rights movement is just absolutely immeasurable, it really bonded people together. It was not dorky, it was not... 'Course like your middle-class white guy who's singing, are often very dorky, you know. But if it's done well, and people are together and singing, it's really really important.

 

C: It's lost that now?

 

P: I feel like it has. People are not as receptive to that kind of thing. And I think part of it is as a result of less music education too. People not having music in the schools and not understanding what it is to participate in music. There are a lot of non-musicians out there who are afraid to sing...

 

C: Well there's also a lot of strike in talent too. People think they don't have a lot of talent. Which I think has come from schools and education. People who think they have non-such no-such- which are most of my friends or old friends- when they do, more than most musicians actually.

 

P: Yeah.

 

C: Do you think that music can make a movement still socially? Folk music, can it make a movement like it was in the sixties?

 

P: Yeah {said abruptly}. And it still is making movements in places. I mean it's not necessarily doing it in this country right now- {Michelle says something from the next room}- You can butt in, I don't mind you butting in {Peter replies smiling}.

 

Michelle: I was just going to say like rap music.

 

C: Right.

 

P: Oh yeah exactly, rap music....

 

C: It seems like now it's {done, and I believe should be} more in revolutionary tactics. Rap seems like it's more revolutionary than what folk might be.

 

P: Right. Which makes rap folk in a way. Especially if it doesn't come through the commercial media and that's...There's was a story on NPR about Pat Humphrey's song, I don't know if you heard this. A few months ago they had a story about someone from the other side. She's someone I worked with on the Clearwater. And her song had made it all the way around the world without ever being on commercial radio. It's been sung in the International Women's Conference in China, it's been sung...It's been sung everywhere basically. And a lot of people wanted to know where it comes from, but it was only written four or five- more like ten years ago now. And that song has united people all around the world. I think a song can be able to do that because of the dominance of the mass media now, it can kinda' work around that. It'd have to literally be through the folk channels.

 

C: You have a lyric in "Those Festivals": folk music isn't something that promotes a person's name, though there's nothing wrong with recognition and a little fame. {Peter laughs} What's behind that one?

 

P: Well I mean...everyone has an ego. There are a lot of people who are selfless in this world, a few people who are selfless in this world, and singing for the sake of singing and just being a part of something. But there are also people who have to make a living, or want to make a living, doing music. You could be creating these useful heart-felt songs and it really needs to be recognized for doing that too. So, I think there's a balance between having your ego out there- And there's a balance between like commercialism and non-commercialism too. It's like what I was talking about before with my album, I wanted to make it so people would buy it, and maybe they'll get the message. They're only going to buy it if they recognize who I am-

 

C: Something to grab? What do you think of the liberal community? The leftist? What do you think they should do in these times with music, to help a cause?

 

P: Huh, that's pretty broad...

 

C: It is broad, but I mean, you were talking about the decline of people appreciating folk music and...

 

P: I think people need to turn off their television sets. I mean I think people have to start...

 

C: Getting involved.

 

P: Getting involved and also start being inspired by... Well I think people have to work for alternative media for one thing. I think alternative media is key in this country, because I think we can't have a democracy without information.... Especially here in the valley, you know? There are a lot of incredibly interesting people here but we have terrible media here. We just have NPR. NPR is great for some things but it's not for-

 

C: You're not gonna' hear rap on it.

 

P: You're not gonna' hear rap on it, and you're not gonna' hear a whole radical Latin music show. And you're also not going to here Amy Goodman- I don't know if you know Amy Goodman in Democracy Now- but that is a show that broadcasts these mass movements all around the world, and we're not hearing about them. Like East Timor became independent. Which you cannot hear more than a formal story on the news, which was a huge thing. It's so huge that the United States has a corporate interest in it, an oil interest in it... you heard nothing about it. But the Pacific Radio did a whole week of stories from East Timor, they were basically based in East Timor....It's just ridiculous how much stuff gets covered up. I think that's the bottom line. You can't build a movement unless the truth gets out there. And people are not receiving the truth right now.

 

C: Yeah, there's no culture. It seems like our society- the American society especially- have become real isolationists within themselves but imperialists politically. It's this real odd combination that's ready to explode...Youth and the counter-culture is caught in between that, and there's really no counter-culture anymore striking much of a match, basically it's tied up in consumerism and what have you.

 

P: Right. One cool thing I heard, one idea, was that you know, there are a couple of really great radio shows that NPR {inaudible}... alternative radio that's done. People said that in the next fund-drive that WFCR does, everyone should call saying "we'll pledge, only if you put on alternative radio once a week". And that's one way that people can really work towards getting new information out there. So...

 

C: {pause, chuckling} Trying to look at all these questions sort of skipping' around. Um....... What do you think of the present, my age group, the counter-culture, the youth?

 

P: They're our only hope {said desperately}.

 

C: Is there much a one?

 

P: Um...Actually I really don't know, it's real hard to say. Michelle can probably answer that question better than I can, cuz' she works with more well-read youth. I work with mostly disturbed kids down in Holyoke. And what I see is just a lot of total dis-empowerment. You know, people feeling like there's no hope. Why Vote? Why try?...I think that there's just this feeling of powerlessness....I dunno, we're living in this culture of fear right now that has been created or fostered by the Bush administration. And I think that it's really hard for anyone, especially for younger people, to feel like they have any power, especially when you have to fear your neighbors, you have to fear your other nations, you have to fear everything

 

C: The youth isn't going to realize that fear is being created because they're totally buying into it, that fear.

 

P: Just on a positive note... When I see the young social movement in high schools and in colleges I think that it's much more intelligent a deeper than it was ten years ago when I was in college. People are much more well thought about issues. Especially about issues of free-trade and globalization, I think to understand these issues you have to understand them a lot  more.  So I think that younger people just have a deeper understanding about what makes the world- at least the people that are in the social movements- have a deeper understanding.

 

C: I'm not sure how much- academies and colleges- I'm not sure how much universally  how much a message can spread when there is colleges, though. Do you agree?

 

P: When there is...

 

C: When there is colleges and academies blocking the way. I mean the underclass in kind of abominable.

 

P: Yep, that's true. I think that education is becoming less and less accessible because of the Bush administration. I mean, I think the thing that probably made the movement in the sixties was that you know, some many people in this country were in colleges, if not community colleges. CUNY was free in the sixties. So 'course you had a huge mass movement in NYC because you had all these people who were poor people who were angry about stuff who were also educated. And you would not have that now because you have to pay thousands of dollars to get into a university.

 

C: Also the kids back then like my parents, and maybe yours too I'm not sure, were taught by more of a conservative crowd. More fundamentals and elegance. Now, it seemed like the parents, our parents, not my parents, my generation's parents, didn't teach them anything about the dream. It left them like orphans. An entire nation...

 

P: I think the whole education conspiracy is Bush, and I shouldn't even say Bush, I should say the whole Republican establishment, just knows  what they're doing when they don't make education accessible. It makes more room for them to basically put forth their agenda.

 

C: Yeah, more one percent to get richer.... You play a lot instruments, I couldn't quite tackle how many you play.

 

P: Well, I play mandolin, guitar, and banjo. Those are like my primaries. But then I also play tenor banjo, which is pretty similar to the mandolin. I play a lot of percussion or bodhran. Like when I play live by myself, I do Bodhran myself, as sort of a percussive instrument. And I clog with my feet when I play.

 

C: You ever think about doing a hard-core rap/acoustic album?

 

P: Yeah, I have actually thought about it. I have written that many raps to cover a whole album. I would actually consider taking all the raps that I've written, and a couple of new raps, and just putting them all one cd. And just making it like one mix. The Peter Siegel Dance Album  {laughing}.

 

C: {laughing} It'd be alota' fun.

 

P: I think it would if I did it right. I think the one thing that has happened with Michael, is that he has an idea and understanding of production that's really going to help with this next album. And if I have someone like him working on this mix album, then...

 

C: You do any home-recording?

 

P: That's basically how we're doing it. He basically has this great board and we do it up in the room upstairs, in the empty room. And just put up all the stuff on the walls and create the sound zones.

 

C: Is it still digital?

 

P: It's still digital, but he is pretty good at- See, one thing we're doing that's rounding out the sound movement a little more, is that the rudiments of the place that I'm recording is actually making more of a warmer sound. I actually didn't sing that loud into any of the mics that I recorded on in Mark's studio, Signature Sounds. I think for a lot of the songs that I did, it would've actually helped being a distance from the mic, and just create more of a room-full-of-sound. And maybe even do more of a live thing. Be in the same space as the bass player or drum player.

 

C: You did the vocals last on something like "My Culture", or did you do it what you were playing guitar? 

 

P: "My Culture", I did the vocals last. All the songs that you think are the most produced are the ones that I did the vocals last. 'Course like "Talking Denial" I did...live.

 

C: All right...Anything else you wanna say?

 

P: No. Just that your perceptivity, your ideas of where I'm going and what my album was, was probably the most....probably the most understanding that I've seen of my music.  The things that you distilled from my album, that things that you liked, were the things I...would have liked, and do like, and want to sort of build on for the next  album. So it was really cool to see that. And when you wrote that first review, in some ways I was like, "oh god, he's a little harsh", you know. And then I was like "yeah, he's totally right'. Completely right.

 

C: My pleasure, thank you. Looking forward to the next one.

 

P: Yeah, it was cool.

 

 

-Carson Arnold February 21, 2003

 

copyright 2003 Carson Arnold

 


 

Other Interviews ~

RUSS TOLMAN SHOOTS SOME GLORY HOLES

MATTHEW YOUNG REVISITED

AFTER THE REHEARSAL (A Scott Rosenberg Interview)

RAINBOW SPLASH (An Interview with Essra Mohawk)

MIDNIGHT ANGEL (An Interview With Joshua)

Calling Dudley Laufman (An Interview)

Monday High Noon - An Interview with Dredd Foole

 

H(ear) Reviews and Essays

H(ear) is an online music column consisting of interviews, articles, and investigations written by Carson Arnold. As a freelance writer for various magazines and liner notes, living in the woods of Vermont with his family, Carson widely encourages one to submit their art, writing or any interesting piece of material that you would like to share. H(ear) is accepting both promos and demos for review or any other valuable music-related subjects. If you wish to make a comment or would like to receive H(ear) weekly by email please contact Carson at poetry@sover.net

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