HERE IS AN INTERVIEW I DID A COUPLE MONTHS AGO FOR A PAPER IN DELAWARE…NOT SURE IF IT EVER CAME OUT BUT FIGURED I’D THROW IT UP HERE…and that’s me eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich!
1. Do you still have people who recognize you or contact you from the Samples?
I do get emails from Samples fans for sure, and I’ve recently been reaching out to a lot of those folks. A lot of Mr.Â Anonymous fans remember me from my drumming days in that band, so it’s cool for me to still keep in touch, especially since I’m back on the drum throne when I play live. As far as walking down the street getting recognized I would say no. I’m actually opening for the “new” Samples in September down in Denver which will be fun because I can share my new vibe as a drummer and musician to a lot of folks who think i’ve disappeared over the last 10 years.
2. Do you look at the success a band like O.A.R has had and think the Samples were ahead of their time?
I don’t know much about OAR but I have heard the name…I assume they are kind of a jam band..?? yes? As far as The Samples, I don’t feel like we were ahead of our time necessarily. I think we started up with an original sound for sure. We were always linked in with the “jam” bands, but we had more of a pop sensibility with the songs. We also brought in a lot of world, ska, punk and reggae elements to the music. The biggest difference to me was that we were more of a non “noodling guitar solo” band than some of our cohorts at the time like Widespread Panic, Phish, etc….so maybe in that sense we inspired similar vibes that followed us.
3. Mr. Anonymous is mostly a studio animal. Do you miss touring? Do you do any live gigging?
It is a studio animal but we do perform live and are planning on doing some touring this year. The way we do it live is with me on drums and my dj/co-producer Ben Bussard on turntables. It is presented as kind of a live dub sound system, and sometimes we bring a singer with us and sometimes just the 2 of us. I approach the music drummingwise as kind of a dub meets ministry vibe with a lot of tribal beats on toms to augment what the dj is doing. Some of it is rehearsed and some is very freeflow. Vibewise it kind of comes alive similarly to the old jazz/bebop context with a lot of improv over a rough sketch of the song. Playing with a dj for me has opened up a whole new approach to my instrument because I am really more of a percussionist there to augment what he is laying down rather than holding down the backbeat like a band situation
4. So why reggae or dub? Why not find influence say in Stax or the punk movement?
Reggae and dub have always been my favorite music. The vocals, drumming, etc…I love it all…and before that old R&B like Stevie Wonder, Zapp,and The Gap Band. The first album I ever bought was “Talking Book” by Stevie Wonder. I do listen to Minor Threat and Husker Du though…I would love to do a project with Bob Mould or Ian Mckai down the road…maybe “Mr. Anonymous 7” will be a punk collaboration. I dont have any preconceived limits on anything musically. I like to flow with what feels good to me at the time and the reggae sound has ALWAYS made me feel good!
5. Mr. Anonymous 2 sounds like it has an added layer of studio craft than your first release. Was that intentional? The sound of Mr. Anonymous 2 is a huge step above the first album in terms of experimenting and pushing the limits of the music…and it WAS intentional in the sense of me working with Ben. He has an approach to everything he does as a live dj(DJ Psychonaut) and as a producer(21 Dread) that is like nobody else I have heard… and I feel like he and I have the same ear for trippyness and psychedelia and “less is more”. His biggest asset as a mixer, first and foremost, is that he hears the beauty in the “song” and vibes off of that more than anything. Sometimes when a tune just isn’t working, we start pulling out stuff to give the space for the song to speak. There is always going to be somebody who makes a “fatter” groove or “faster” drumming skill or “shreddier” guitar solo etc….but the song has to have a vibe without all the chops. Some of the songs on Mr. Anonymous 2 are guided by the acoustic guitar and others by the drums or vocals or bass, etc. It’s almost like letting the tune drive its own vibe rather than forcing it into something it’s not. Sometimes I listen to stuff, and I can hear that the band or mixer was simply trying to have the biggest bass sound with the most loops crammed in…and at the end of the day, theres nothing memorable to walk away with. My vibe on the Mr. Anonymous music is that it has to leave you with a feeling, kind of like watching a classic movie orÂ looking at a beautful painting and seeing new images every time you see it….and Ben steers the mixes with that same vibe!
6. You’ve written and spoken about working with reggae legends like Sly and Robbie. What’s something about working with Sly and Robbie or another collaborator that surprised you?Â My biggest surprise was working with Ranking Roger from The English Beat. I went to Birmingham to do the tracks with him and instantly we felt like we were best buddies with the same views and taste for music and everything. We drank coffee, ate curries, and went to record stores and hung out for a couple days just as friends before we even did the first song…It felt like hanging with an old buddy from 3rd grade playing with G.I. joes with Kung Fu Grip. He and I are planning on doing more music together for sure, and I’m in the midst of organizing a west coast tour with him as the singer…It was a pleasant surprise linking up with him for sure!
7. You’ve got a regular spot DJing for a Boulder radio station. A look at your playlists shows a heavy dose of reggae. Is there a non-reggae band/ artist that you’re enjoying listening to?Â Well it’s called the “Mr. Anonymous reggae radio show” so that’s a good thing as far as my playlists. As far as my music taste, I am very seasonal with what I listen to. I am a huge fan of jazz and bebop in particular, so I tend to listen to a lot of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dizzy, etc. in the fall and winter months…I also LOVE the band Sugar(Bob Mould’s former power pop band) and some hiphop like Tribe Called Quest, the new Mos Def(which is AWESOME), and some new dancehall artists.
8. What’s your take on the current state of reggae music? Do you get a chance to listen to what the Easy Star All Stars are doing with their Tribute albums?Â Yeah I like the Easy Star stuff for sure. As far as the current state of reggae music and dancehall in particular, I think there are a lot of hugely talented singers with amazing skills…Sean Paul has some SERIOUS skills along with Beenie Man, Buju Banton, etc. My biggest complaint with a lot of it though is the music behind what they are doing. I feel the same way with hiphop in this country. This is partially why I do what I do with Mr. Anonymous because I try to showcase that vocal talent in a different context with melody and depth. Some of the grooves coming out of Jamaica are slamming for sure but a lot of them for me get a little boring and redundant, at least for my taste. I hate saying anything is good or bad when it comes to music because it’s all just art and as long as even one person enjoys it, that’s everything!