Steve Kimock:
Going for It

Interview by Christian Crumlish

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 Zero, which he co-founded with drummer Greg Anton 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 influenced him.

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.

Steve with the Florida Guitar

Introducing Steve Kimock

The Other Ones Gig

How Do You Get That Sound?

On Playing


Other Projects

and, for obsessives only:

Complete Interview

Copyright © 1998