Interview by Christian Crumlish
Going for It
When a couple of the prime movers of the latter-day
Grateful Dead decided to resurrect that band's repertoire
with a new combo, the Other Ones, they auditioned a
number of guitarists for the unenviable role as Jerry
Garcia's stand-in. At first they went with Mark Karan,
a former Bay Area resident who first heard the Dead on
the back of flatbed truck playing a free show in the
Haight-Ashbury, but then decided that they still needed
that something extra.
Steve Kimock has been playing in various Bay Area
improvisational bands, most notably
which he co-founded with drummer
in 1984, and has long been a favorite guitarist of
Deadheads and other fans of what he likes to call "small-band improvisation"
both in the Bay Area and beyond. In fact, when the Jerry Garcia died
in 1995, his name came up as a replacement as often as those of
the more obvious ringers (such as Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton).
I've long been a fan of both Zero and the Dead and have wanted
to sit Steve down and pepper him with questions for several years
now, but have never found the right moment before. Besides asking
him about his current gig with the Other Ones, I also wanted to
get his view on improvising, hear his thoughts on the production side
of electric-guitar music, and find out what musicians have
He chooses his words as carefully as he chooses his notes.
I've often got the impression that for Steve, the music is always going on.
When he starts to play, it's as if he just moves his hands closer and closer
to the strings until they start to resonate with the music in his head.
When I asked him questions, I was either treated to a brief, quickly
formulated reply, or a long, pensive silence followed by an expansive
disquisition on the question and related topics.
The interview took place at
Studio E, near Sebastopol, where
Steve lives and works. I caught him during a very short break between
the Other Ones' intensive, crash rehearsal schedule and his flight to
Atlanta to start the tour (already underway). To keep things relaxed,
we were joined by Zero list and web-site manager Doug Greene, as
well as Hog Farmers Calico and Walter Karmazyn, Ken Eberhard (known
as Kene, pronounced "Kenny") in the control room, and other Studio E
friends and family passing through.
We broke at one point so Steve could phone in to a Denver
radio station for a call-in tour promotion, but all told we
recorded nearly three hours of material. I condensed it somewhat
in order not to scare away the casual reader, and broke it down
into the categories listed at right, to make the thing more easily
digestible. For those who wish to read the entire edited transcript
of the interview (particularly if you wish to print it out first),
follow the "Complete Interview" link. Questions
are preceded by X if they came from me (xian), DG for Doug Greene,
and Calico for Calico. Answers are preceded by SK.
and, for obsessives only: