Outside guitar/ banjo virtuoso Eugene Chadbourne returns to Vancouver on Tuesday, July 24th for a set with Darren Williams, Kenton Loewen and Dave Chokroun at the Kozmik Zoo (53 W. Broadway). Eugene recently released Stop Snoring, a House of Chadula CD recorded with Williams and Scott Henderson, recorded at Sea of Shit; it consists mostly of originals, plus a Rascals' song ("Groovin'") and a Sun Ra cover ("Theme of the Stargazers"); you can read the Downtown Music Gallery review of it here. Doc Chad will be returning to Vancouver Island for another recording session this time out - he tells me that he's "got an ambitious plan" that will preclude his talking to Nardwuar or playing side-gigs. (Last year's phone interview with His Nardness can be heard here). Since I've already bugged Eugene numerous times about his music - see here or here, for instance - I threw a few questions at saxophone player Darren Williams, pictured with Doc Chad and Kenton below at one of their past Vancouver gigs... I think that's Poib in the audience...
Q: What are you and Doc Chad discussing playing this time out? The free jazz versus LSDC&W push-pull between you seems to be getting ironed out a bit - you've found a middle ground with Sun Ra and the odd Sonics cover...
A: The last time we played together there was more emphasis on his original tunes than before (and quite right, too!) I have been putting together a list of possible candidates for covers as well as some of the old chestnuts we have played in the past. I would definitely expect some demento Country & Western in there somewhere, that's inevitable, some 1960's garage rock, maybe an Ayler tune, and possibly (hopefully!) a few obscure covers from a couple of long defunct Canadian bands...
Q: What was the high point for you of the last Kozmik Zoo show? What was the weirdest point?
I thought the show was really well attended, and the crowd really dug what we were doing - that's always a rush for sure. I thought Eugene's original tune called "Feather" really came together, it just seemed to lock into place and not just because Kenton's drumming (though that certainly helped!) - definitely the gem of the show, for me anyway. The weirdest moment came when we played "Watusi Zombie" by Jan Davis. Eugene started playing it in the wrong key (or was he just taking me to the Mingus whipping post?) and the resultant harmonic embolism between the two of us ensured a speedy disintegration from there.
Q: What is something you learned about music itself from playing with Doc Chad?
A: Playing with Eugene and musicians like him is always affirming for me in terms of what music I play and how I do it. It hardly needs to be said that the audience for improv/ experimental/ avant garde (whatever you want to call it) music is always smaller compared to other revivalist or "popular" forms, so it's important as an improv/ experimental/ avant garde (etc.) performer to not only have perseverance but support in the form of meaningful collaborations, as well as supportive venues/ festivals. For me to play with someone like Dr. Chad, who has made a career out of playing this kind of music, I find it very inspiring and it makes me work harder.
Q: What is something you learned about being a musician from playing with Doc Chad?
A: That the saxophone can be used in Country & Western tunes. Eugene would appear not to have any instrumental biases and I think that's an approach that should be shared by everyone making music. Dr. Chad is a very generous performer to play with and there is much humour in his playing, not just his lyrics, but in his actual playing. It's reminiscent of how a lot of the Dutch musicians play, this kind of absurdism; so it's no wonder that Han Bennink and Eugene sound amazing together. I feel that it's a lesson and constant reminder to not take oneself too seriously as a performer.
Photo by Femke van Delft, not to be reused without permission