INTERVIEW WITH BUN E SAULT STE MARIE, MICHIGAN - 3 MARCH 2001
(KG: Kim Gisborne; BEC: Bun E Carlos)
KG: What's the current status of the new studio material? Do you have a release "date" that you're aiming for?
BEC: It's sitting there, we're working on more songs. We don't have a date that we're aiming for.
KG: You recently mentioned reissues this year of both the WUWAM and CT97 CD's (which the band have recently got the rights for). Do you know what bonus tracks will be included?
BEC: We've got the rights for "Woke Up With a Monster... Do we know what bonus tracks will be included? No we don't although for 97 it'll probably be the Albini tracks (KG note: Baby Talk & Brontosaurus). Monster, we don't know yet, but we'll try to multimedia them both and put video's on...
KG: Did you get the rights to the Warners video's as well as the music, so you got "You're All I Wanna Do" and "Woke Up With a Monster"?
BEC: Oh yeah, and there's 3 or 4 extra tracks of the Warners stuff there's Sabre Dance and a couple of others we started in the studio that probably aren't finished, so we have sit down and go through it all and see what we've got.
KG: I recall talking to you about 4 years ago in London, and you'd mentioned that you/the band were unhappy at the production of some of the tracks on WUWAM. Does owning the rights to that album now mean that you can re-work or re-produce the songs that you were unhappy with?
BEC: We could re-work or re-produce the tracks, but we're probably not going to.
KG: I just remember, it was one of the things that stuck in my mind that you'd said that about half of it you could dig and put in a hole! You weren't very happy with some of it...
BEC: At that time and at this time theres still a couple that don't do anything for me, but I'm sure everybody could say that about every record, so...
KG: I remember asking you over a year ago about Sony and the apparent halt to their programme of Remasters. Are there any signs of movement or do things still look to be stationery?
BEC: Not a sign, we don't hear much from those people, so... if you look on Bun E's jukebox you'll notice there's some stuff on there that we kinda wish had gone on something...
KG: The latest jukebox stuff? Yes, there's some nice stuff on there
BEC: There you go! Download it and put it on your own CD's and figure out which ones they go with
KG: How do you feel about how "Silver" has turned out?
BEC: That turned out fine. I didn't know it was going to be an audio double, I just thought it was going to be a DVD. It turned out fine, we mixed it and remixed it and put a lot of work into it...
KG: It took a whole lot longer to work through to be able to release it, I think it had been hoped to release it several months before it finally came out
BEC: But that always happens, things never go as fast as you think they're going to. Every time we plan that stuff it's in a perfect world...
KG: I know that you had three audio tracks to master (DVD, video, audio) - what were the main difficulties in the process?
BEC: We had the 5.1, and the 5 speakers and the bass, and the regular stereo, so it was really two audio tracks to master - the stereo and the 5.1 which is five channel stereo. The main difficulties with that is as we found with Hangovers, that nobody knows how to mix 5.1 so it took us a while to get over that. Once we got it, Silver was not as big a problem as Hangovers. And Hangovers is sitting in the hands of Rhino right now, so we're waiting to see what happens with that
KG: Is "Silver" being released in Japan? Is that what you'll be promoting on that upcoming tour?
BEC: I think it is, yeah. We'll probably be promoting that on the upcoming tour
KG: You've played a few acoustic shows in the past year (Saratoga, Boston and New York). How different do you find those to "regular" shows, and how do you feel about them?
BEC: They're a lot of fun, we get to play a bunch of different stuff, and play it differently...
KG: Do you find the acoustic shows harder work in terms of having to do more rehearsal, to do the arrangements differently?
BEC: The harder work is because its something new and we're trying to get it the way we like it. We've only done a few of them, so it still isn't exactly the way we'd like it. We're still working on it...
KG: How would you envisage the perfect acoustic show then?
BEC: All the stuff that doesn't turn out would be better! All the clinkers wouldn't be there, and everything would be perfect! ... Four part harmony on some songs, which we never do. And when Tod's back (KG note: Tod Howarth, who plays keyboards at acoustic shows) and him and Rick are doubling up on certain parts, it's just little things like that... Its not a big deal really, but it is if you're in the band. For the audience a lot of the stuff isn't noticeable, and sometimes we make too big a deal out of them. That feedback thing in New York, I got blasted feedback , it was like "UHHH!" and the audience is like "Uh, there's a little noise there, so what?". On stage we all got our high end blown out, but people don't know the difference sometimes. But yeah, it's something new, so
KG: The shows seem to have been well received. The Saratoga one went down pretty well... that was nice
BEC: There are different ways of doing acoustic shows I'm finding out. We can set the drums up and all that, or we can do it with poonga's or we can do it with a shaker there's all sorts of different ways for me to do them. I'm working on an acoustic Bun E's Bootleg CD, and for some of these songs there's 3 different acoustic ways of doing them... On Top of the World with two bongo drums from Rockline is not a real need, but if we tried to do it that way live when we're not sitting in a little studio facing each other could be real difficult. So, its something new we're trying. Its hard to do but its a lot of fun
KG: Do you think the band might ever resurrect the "album show" theme, possibly as a one-off? Dream Police is the other album (beyond the first 4) that many fans seem keen to hear.
BEC: We've talked about doing it, but it helps to have a record re-issued to promote it. That's probably one reason why it hasn't been done, because Sony's not doing this reissue thing as much as they said they were going to do at the time. Gee, a corporation exaggerated to us... how unusual!
KG: Rick mentioned in an online interview recently that the band hoped to return to Europe in the summer, possibly playing some Festivals. Do you know if there is any progress with this?
BEC: Yeah, we're hoping to get over there at the end of May. There's progress with it, that's all I can say right now because nothings firm, but if it works we're pencilling it in...
KG: I'm aware that you listen voraciously to a range of bands/artists, old and new. Who are your current favourites?
BEC: For country, Laura Cantrell sounds like a cross between Nancy Griffith and Lucinda Williams, she sounds good. I've listened to that Doves thing a couple of times because I keep reading these great reviews and I still don't like it! Ive also been buying a lot of box sets I just bought that Los Lobos box set and I just got that ELO triple that came out last Fall because someone said "Hey, you should listen to that" but it was never my intention to get it - I have that sitting at home. The Broadsides 5 CD box I got a bunch of stuff sitting around in boxes... I got a bunch of stuff sitting around too. I've listened to some Weezer CD's... I still like the stuff that's in my top 10 list basically. I haven't heard a whole lot since then that has amazed me.
KG: I know you've worked with a lot of different artists over the years. Are there people with whom you (personally) haven't worked with but would like to do so?
BEC: That's all dream material there...It would be kinda neat if Bob Dylan wanted to cut a track or something. That ain't gonna happen, but...! I'm doing another benefit this month in Chicago, the Nick Tremulis thing... I think there's Jeff Tweedy and Gary Louris are going to be doing some Golden Smog, I think I'm going to be drumming on that. I always thought that would be fun to do. I think Billy Corgan and Marianne Faithfull might be doing something there... plus I might do a couple of tunes with the "Shadows of Night" (?) in March up by Madison... They're doing a garage rock TV special for PBS up there. They filmed a big interview with me for it and they wanted to know if I'd come up a do a couple of songs so they could film that... that's on the 18th... I've drummed with Jim Synes (sp?) before so that's not a dream or anything.
KG: Do you think that the TF3 all covers show will ever be made available (say to the fan club as a Basement Boot)? People have been clamouring for it, clinkers and all!
BEC: Yeah, we're working on a covers for a Basement Boot so some of those songs would be on there but not the majority of them by any means, just some of them. Weve got covers from every year, so...
KG: I hear you've been looking at more archive material for further Basement Boot's. What might be coming up?
BEC: We're looking at an acoustic one maybe... All these are maybe's because the other guys have to sit and listen to them... An acoustic one, a covers one there's a Detroit 78 show that's kinda neat. Its right after Budokan and we changed all the arrangements around, but then when Budokan came out we changed all the arrangements back, so its got the same arrangements as that California Man thing in 78 and a longer version of "Clock" and a longer version of "Goodnight", and stuff like "Stiff Competition" and "Need Your Love" are really new versions and things like that, so that's one that's probably going to get on one of the Basement Bootlegs.
KG: It must take a lot of time to sort through your archives, pulling out single tracks for a Basement Boot... have you thought about doing what Pearl Jam did last year, and making available a bunch of complete shows? Perhaps one from each album tour?
BEC: Well, if we do what Pearl Jam did, we'd have to make so many of them, we'd have to print at least 1,000 or 2,000 or 5,000 apiece to save on packaging so that's probably not going to happen. Plus they're doing these 30,000 seat halls so every one of their show tapes probably sounds like a mixed recording already, or they've probably got the gear and the time to sit and mix it, so... its easier for them to do than us to do. And since we don't change our setlist by 40% each night I really don't think it would make much sense for us to do it like they do it. But that's why we're doing the Basement Bootlegs...
KG: It was just a thought, bearing in mind the amount of time it must take you to plough through your archives, and trying to find a great version of something from here, and a version of something from there...
BEC: But that's how you get the good stuff though, you cherry pick or you find a whole show. If we had a stretch of dates from some period it would be fun to whip out two or three of them or something... Like this Detroit 78 show, I wish I had the earlier show just to see the difference. The one I have is the late show, we did two shows that night.
KG: Offhand, do you remember the sources of any of the tracks on BBB #2?
(Bun E. Basement Bootlegs "Soundchecks '82-'97"
1) RN Blues 2) Ooh La La 3) The Losing End 4) Get Off My Cloud 5) Across The Universe
6) Lookin' Out For #1 7) YOYOY 8) Auld Lang Syne 9) If You Want My Love pt. 1
10) If You Want My Love pt. 2 11) RZ Blues 12) Mannish 13) California Man
14) Rock 'n Roll 15) Drums 16) Shelter 17) Cry Baby Blues 18) Wild Horses
19) You Let A Lotta People Down 20) TP Blues 21) Brontosaurus Jam
22) Brontosaurus Rehearsal 23) Brontosaurus 24) It's All Over Now 25) BC Blues)
BEC: Through track 13 is all stuff with Jon Brant, so Ooh La La would be early 80's; Losing End... 84; Get Off My Cloud, all this stuff would be like, 84, 85 and 86. And the album tracks like Looking Out for # 1 will be around One on One... YOYOY will be around Next Position... If You Want My Loves - I don't know where they came from... Rock'n'Roll Tonight starts the stuff with Tom because it's kind of sequential...that ones definitely before we ever even thought of messing with it on the Busted album... same with the drum thing... and they're then out of sequence because Shelter is more recent... and the Cry Baby Blues is back around 94... Wild Horses, Ive got no idea; Lotta People Down of course is 97; Bronto jam is the same thing; Its All Over Now, I've got no idea... and that little jam at the end is probably 98 or 99...
(KG note: BEC then pointed out tracks on my printed list, hence the following references to "this" and "that", and Im sorry that I cant identify some of the tracks hes referring to. However, I thought that the explanation about dropins/outs of interest )
BEC: Stuff like this is 45 seconds long, that's just like me and Robin messing around, that's the whole band, that's me and Robin... there's stuff like "Get Off of my Cloud", it gets to one chorus and the sound man wants to see what the room sounds like so he pulls everything off for a second then fades it back in so theres dropins and dropouts Like, there's Ooh La La that starts with just drums and bass and a little bit of vocal and then some keys come in and some guitars come in as the next verse... some of them build up and some of them cut in and out depending on what the sound mans doing.
KG: It was nice to hear a bit of "I was a Fool " yesterday at soundcheck... it was only a verse or something...
BEC: Because we got to the end of the verse and, there's two riffs in there - ones 6 notes and ones 8 notes or something, and its like, which riff is this? Suddenly everything hits the wall...At this point Bun E needed to get going and do an equipment check. Many thanks to him for making the time and answering so much, and thanks to Carla for arranging the interview.
This Site and all material held within it are Copyright by Kim Gisborne