Victor Krummenacher of Camper Van Beethoven Goes Solo (INTERVIEW)

It starts off so simply, with the vibration of one note. Its purity slowly wraps around you and even though you have someplace else to be, you find that you have become so enthralled with the notes, the voice, the hum of the words, that movement is not an option. And this is what Victor Krummenacher, the bass behind Camper Van Beethoven, has woven together in the shadow of his soul. Brilliantly telling tales not necessarily from his own life, he has constructed a nice abode in which to house the various characters that walk through Hard To See Trouble Coming, his new solo album, releasing this week on January 6th. With an almost Appalachian longing with celtic undertones and blues/country spirits, Krummenacher has accomplished what so many musicians have tried before him: make a record better than anything they have done in their past. No steps backward in this catalog of songs, no filler, no feelings of being short-changed. He can bleed one moment and spin a whimsical folly the next and it all feels coherent, entertaining, the cherry on top.

Finding success as a kid in Camper Van Beethoven, wallowing in cult cool kid status, it was all over by the time he hit his mid-twenties. He kept playing music, kept writing songs, but eventually had to take a job in the real world, a job he continues to hold to this day. Yet, that never squelched his musical passion and it’s paying off with Hard To See Trouble Coming. Glide spoke to Krummenacher a few weeks ago for an in depth interview about his life, his music and the importance of letting go to move ahead.

This CD just might be the best one of your career.

Thank you. Bruce Kaphan, who is my engineer/producer and plays on it, and I, we’re very happy with it. We feel pretty strong about it. You know, it’s a hard game doing these things. I’ve been making music for a long time and I have to work a day job to make ends meet and you go in the studio and you wonder, “Why exactly am I doing this?” (laughs) Even with Bruce cutting me a deal, it’s not a cheap undertaking. But then again, the music has value and I feel like making it. If you are committed to the emotional value of music, and I am, then there’s really not a question about it. I mean, it’s what I do. It’s how I process things. I’m a musical person and the way I process the world around me artistically, which is emotionally, is by making music. So I’m kind of doomed anyway so I might as well just do it. So when people tell me stuff like that, I feel like that’s the validation right there.

It’s full of different emotions yet it doesn’t spiral out of control.

Well, it doesn’t spiral out of control because I’ve already spiraled out of control. On a personal level, I have already, as they say, hit my bottom about as hard as you can. Things can just be tough. But it’s really just a collection of songs that seemed to be related, but it wasn’t a concept or anything. It’s like things happen and I just kind of deal with it. I’ve made some pretty serious and pretty dark music in the past and really kind of gone down in some uncomfortable topics. I made a record that was basically a wake for my father and my step-father, who died a few weeks apart. I went in the studio and made a record that was basically a wake in the studio. It was a two day recording session and the record is essentially live and all we did was a little editing and mixed it. I did virtually no overdubs on it. And this record was not that. I wanted some lightness on it, some elements of beauty on it, I wanted some whimsical elements and some of the songs are just story songs and some songs are just kind of a tribute to other songs, stylistically. But they all seem to have an emotional coherence and that’s all I need.

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So when did you know you were ready to make a new solo record?

Essentially what it was, Bruce and I got together for lunch one day and he said, “Have you thought about doing something lately?” And I said, “Yeah, I have a bunch of songs sitting around. I didn’t really plan on it but I just keep writing.” And he said, “I miss writing with you, you’re a good friend, come to the studio and we’ll try something.” Normally when we’ve made records in the past, he and I, we usually go into a big studio, cause there are still a couple of nice old-school studios around here with nice rooms, and we go and set up and track live. And we didn’t do that this time. We just worked at Bruce’s place, which is very small. I mean, it’s a very well designed studio but it’s teeny-tiny and we had these very small, intimate basics and a lot of the basic tracks were actually just demos that I did in my house. Well-recorded, just not really intended to be a song but they just had that root.

You know, I’m one of those people who really like to keep it pretty immediate and that’s why my records are pretty much live in the studio – sung live, played live. It’s what it is. And this record wasn’t that. We actually kind of took it apart a little bit more. But a lot of the basic tracks started from this really fundamental, like first impulse, the first coherent take I got of the song, so we still have that feel. Everything is kind of right there. And you know, this one, maybe more than others, wasn’t planned. It was just kind of happenstance. But I realized as I was doing it what it was about and it’s really about the process of transformation, because when I make a record, there’s a process. The writing and the recording, there’s this emotional and physical process and you’re going through times and it changes you and I kind of realized that’s what the record is really about – the process of going through things. Whereas other things I’d done were rooted in stories about my family and rooted in about trying to process loss or whatever. But I think there is just an undercurrent that people feel, people feel very unsure about the state of the world, both kind of environmentally and economically, on all sorts of levels, and I wanted to kind of hit on that emotional head if I could.

You said you only did a couple of takes on these songs. How did you pick which version went onto the final disc? Was it by gut or did you use more your ears and your head?

You know, I think I wrote twenty plus songs for the record and I kind of picked the ten strongest ideas and then really honed in on those. I’ve got this core rhythm section, a bassist and a drummer who I trust implicitly as far as what they bring to the music and I trust their opinions very strongly; and Bruce and I have worked tightly for a long time and it’s been a very close experience. He and I have done a lot of different projects together over the years so when we’re recording, I usually know if I’ve hit it; sometimes I don’t. Sometimes when I’m recording I’m just kind of in a zone or in a mood and can’t tell where exactly things are going. So I have to kind of rely on them. We recorded a couple of songs that we recorded different versions of and I just wasn’t satisfied with them musically.

You know, I’m a bass player by trade; it’s kind of what I do. Most of the time when I play live, I’m playing bass for other bands and that’s what I came up doing. But I play a lot of guitar work and I really like kind of fingerstyle acoustic guitar and I was trying to really weave those folk elements into my music. So a lot of what was rejected was maybe feeling too harsh. A lot of folk and blues music is rooted in non-standard tuning on a guitar, it’s more open, kind of wider tunings.  I mean, I come from punk rock and everything I recorded for years was all standard tuning and really aggressive. Like Camper is one of those who played everything super fast. As I’ve grown older, I’m not interested in playing super fast anymore. Also, I listen to bands like The Band would be a great example. They recorded some classic recordings when they were like twenty-four and they had this really salty pocket. Punk rock didn’t teach us that so it’s been a lot of growth for me.

What can you tell us about “An Angel Who Sings Like Jacqui McShee?” That is a beautiful, celtic-sounding song.

It’s part real, like the part about playing some obscure music with somebody that you’re interested in and going, wow (laughs). I listen to a lot of stuff that a lot of people, the average man off the street, doesn’t know what this music is. I’m a musician’s musician, I guess, and I had an experience when I was getting together with my partner where I was listening to Fairport Convention and we had a day out and we were driving back to San Francisco and he was like singing along. And I was like, I’m sunk here (laughs), cause he recognized the music that I like. So that was what went into it. And it was also a tribute to Jacqui McShee, who is the singer from Pentangle, who was one of my favorite British folk bands. And the tuning is rooted from a Martin Carthy song, who is also British folk. So it has all these definitively celtic folk elements in there.

But it’s just a tribute to so many things. In this story, I kind of had the idea but it took a long time cause with story songs like that, it’s like writing a novel. It has to have elements of reality to it, there’s some real stuff in it, but it’s quite fictitious and very kind of fantastic. So even though it’s really a work of fiction, it’s got some real elements of truth in it. I’ve worked with the master of story songs. I worked with David Lowery for thirty years and when you work with somebody who’s as good as he can be, you pick up a few things. David has always been the master of writing from the character’s point of view and I was always writing from my own point of view and on this record I didn’t necessarily do that. There’s a lot of stuff that is sung from the character’s point of view.

“Chemtrails” is a very interesting song. When it starts off, it kind of has a little Cajun sound to it and it retains that kind of swing.

Yes, it does. I had this master accordion player come in, and it was actually not my idea, it was Bruce’s idea. He was like, “This needs an accordion,” and I was like, “What are you talking about?” (laughs). I’ve never had an accordion on my records but he brought in this friend of his, this guy Rich Kuhns. He really is a master accordion player and can do everything from like bandoneon style playing to full-on Clifton Chenier Cajun stuff. He shows up with a couple of different accordions and was going over like the reed sounds and you start to realize the diversity of the instrument. Bruce had a lot of melodic ideas and so yeah, it’s definitely more kind of Appalachian, I think. Like the tones we were actually using were just completely like these classic Cajun tones. And I didn’t really expect what it would do to the song but the song is really playful and it was me really just poking fun at myself. I was on tour and we did see a UFO. That’s real. But I’ve always been known as the conspiracy theorist in Camper Van Beethoven. I’m like the guy who is like, I’m not quite in like Merle Haggard black helicopter territory, but I definitely have spent some time on the internet kind of trolling around reading weird stuff (laughs). I don’t know if I believe any of it but I find it fascinating and I find it fascinating how people just get into it. I mean, sometimes it’s just absurd beyond belief, you know.

I do have friends on Facebook who are posting about the chemtrails and the kind of paranoia of it. Like I take my dog out walking every day and there’s a hill very close to our house where there are red-tailed hawks nesting up there and we were walking around one day and it was getting towards dark and I was looking up and I was like, wow, that could be contrails. I mean, that’s chemtrails. We had already been joking about chemtrails in Camper you know, just like a regular joke, and our road manager is like the complete debunker of everything, a lovable but harsh loudmouth, “Crazy people and your g-damn chemtrails.” (laughs) And I was like, that could be me. So that’s what that song is. It’s really just poking fun at the tin foil hat side of my personality.

But we all have that side of our personality

(laughs) I know but then, you know, I think the other thing about it too is that if you look at global warming reports, and you know cause you live in Louisiana, you’d be like, it’s not really a joke. So there is this kind of undercurrent and that’s what I’m talking about as far as emotional undercurrents, that kind of paranoia that things are maybe not very good and we are dealing with oil spills in the Gulf or hurricanes, real stuff. Like my partner’s family is from New Orleans. You know that hurricane, that was not fun and it comes a little too close to home from time to time and I do really worry, did we really screw it up? Maybe we did and I think that’s in there, that’s in that record for sure. Because that’s a big deal emotionally, if we really environmentally so damage the planet that we’ve screwed ourselves. I mean, you could argue that we’re all kind of born into a system that we didn’t create and we don’t have a lot of control over it, but you still have to emotionally contend with it cause it’s your home. And I really think that’s on a lot of people’s minds and they just don’t talk about it a lot cause they don’t know how to articulate it.

We want to trust the news media and the government to tell us the truth but then we’ve been hit so many times by them telling us not the truth that this generation coming up doesn’t know who to believe.

Exactly and I think there is a widespread and very valid skepticism about the media. I mean, I work in the media and it’s an interesting trip sometimes. I’ve seen stories die in newsrooms for reasons that were a little odd but I’ve also seen people fight really good fights too. It’s a very complex thing and also the internet just changed everything in as far as it’s being current and it’s value. Not fifteen/twenty years ago I was making CDs in like a basement studio and we were selling three thousand/four thousand copies of them out of a PO Box off a very primitive website at the time. Now they’re like drink coasters (laughs). The whole environment, like the whole value, has changed on a certain level and it’s still very valuable to people. You know, content is essentially free for people and we’ve had to figure out a way to monetize it. But I just say like screw it. I’m just going to go for it and do it. I make money playing music and try and put the money I make playing music back into it. My day job pays for my life and my music pays for music. That’s how it works.

Have you always been this way? Always the introspective kid?

Oh yeah, I was always like the introspective, sensitive one. I’m like the caretaker. I got it from my mom, she’s a nurse, and came from like a classic divorced family, very Catholic. That’s where I came from. And there’s just a certain personality that kind of comes up going through that. But I was always smart and I was always sensitive.

I’m glad you were smart

(laughs) I am too cause if I wasn’t smart and just sensitive, it probably wouldn’t have been such a good thing (laughs). But you know, that’s just kind of my personality. It just is who I am. I see a lot, I feel a lot; always been tuned in. Like light can really disturb me. I love the summer but it can make me anxious cause of like the light exposure, it’s a weird thing. I’ve always loved cooler weather and the winter way more. It kind of slows me down. I don’t like really hot weather very much even though I grew up in the desert. These things can really hit me and I really have to take care of myself, basically, to get through the day sometimes. I’ve learned how to do it and I think a lot of people feel stuff like that. I don’t think it’s exceptional. You need to either acknowledge it and deal with it or you don’t.victor2

So we didn’t find you out on the football field when you were growing up?

They made me, my dad made me play football. I mean, I could do it. I think I was better than I even thought I would be. But I was like, nah. I was like the pot smoking not perfect kid with not perfect grades whose parents were like, “Why? (laughs) You can read three books a week yet you won’t perform in school.” Until I got put in like the outward bound program, basically, where I was put on a bike and made to do something like a 1500 mile bike ride. I was sixteen or seventeen and I loved it (laughs), cause I was around a bunch of kids who were also kind of fuck-ups. And you know when you’re on a bike, you’re more competing with yourself. We were more a touring team, not doing anything totally competitive, more support-structured. That was cool. It was kind of like getting from point A to point B. I like working with teams when they get along; I don’t like working with teams when they’re not getting along and I’ve had plenty of experience with that (laughs). But yeah, I was kind of an outsider teenager, always, and that’s fine.

What kind of music were you listening to at that time?

I grew up just outside of LA at like the magic moment for me cause I really started listening to music in earnest. As a kid my dad had a lot of music and there was a lot of like Simon & Garfunkel records, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, James Taylor, all that kind of California singer-songwriter stuff, Laurel Canyon stuff, Elton John. My dad saw Elton John at the Troubadour in like 1969 or 1970 and he was just hooked. So all his early Elton John records are deeply infused in me. The Beatles stuff cause everybody had it. But my dad also had some obscure folk records that kind of surprised me and I would listen to that stuff, always listening to that stuff as a kid. Then when I was about thirteen, my sister had a boyfriend who had an Elvis Costello record, probably the first or second one, and he was rebuilding a Ford Model A in my mom’s garage and would play this music. And I was like, “What’s that?” (laughs) “It’s Elvis Costello.”

Not coincidentally, Los Angeles had this burgeoning punk rock scene so I guess in about 1980, the Blasters came out to play with Los Lobos at the University of Redlands and that just kind of cut through the music scene; whereas before, friends of my sister’s was like, “I saw Hendrix in 1969 at the LA Forum.” I was always hearing about this legendary stuff but it was all kind of arena rock. You could go see like The Who or Van Halen and stuff like that. But that stuff didn’t really float my boat. It was going to see club bands and that really started for me when I was about fourteen or fifteen and my first bands were like Elvis Costello and the Blasters and X. Then I went touring with X and the Blasters and meeting these people and Dave Alvin has been a friend of mine for a long time and I learned an awful lot about music from watching him play because he has this style and he’s basically a bass guitar player but I’ve seen him at a bunch of concerts with a bunch of great bands and they had to do sets, kind of improv onstage. He’s not scared of falling flat on his face. That was very inspiring.

So it was like LA punk rock, and I listened to a lot of post-punk and just odd stuff. And we were all, before Camper coalesced, very serious about school, UC Santa Cruz, and we had our Henry Miller books, like our requisite reading: read your William Burroughs, read your Allen Ginsberg, read your Beat poets, listen to Television and listen to the Fall and we did all that. And then Camper was the joke band, nobody expected Camper to be the serious band, and when Camper started playing more as a serious band, cause we all had other bands, people were like, “Oh, you guys play folk music like this band called Kaleidoscope.” And I was like, “What is that?” Because Camper was such a weird hodgepodge, we had a really large group of people coming at us going, “Your music reminds me of this.” Or, “If you like that, you should listen to this.” So I had like Deadheads coming at me turning me on to the Grateful Dead, which I had always hated and am still not the hugest fan, but showing me what was good, and there was good stuff. Then you’d go see the Blasters and I started listening to blues records. Then Pete Buck from REM literally took me to see Richard Thompson and that opened up the whole British folk thing. And I’m all like twenty years old, right, and people are just throwing things at me. I’m like twenty years old and my band’s coming up. I also lived with this great jazz piano player who was deeply rooted in and promoting these jazz shows and promoting several of our shows. So I was just in a very fertile place to listen to a lot of stuff and it all now kind of percolates through the music I play.

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You were still really young when Camper disintegrated.

I just turned twenty-five when the band broke up the first time. All this stuff happened to me before I was twenty-five.

You were still a kid but when you had to start all over again, what did you feel?

You know, I think Jonathan [Segel] and the rest of us went through that break-up and were still left a mark, and not necessarily a good one. You kind of get the feeling, like everything got taken away on a certain level. I mean, I’m the one who said, “Fuck it, I’m walking out.” I just didn’t like where David was, we weren’t getting along, and I didn’t see the advantages of where we were. And also, it was a lot like younger brother kind of envy. Like, “I want to write my own damn music,” you know, and I was already doing it. But Camper is really hard cause you’ve got four or five people who are all pretty skilled musicians, we all have a point of view, and everybody writes, and there’s only so much room in the world, right. We were just young, you know. I didn’t know how to resolve a conflict like that at all.

So I walk out of the band, and we had a side-project called Monks Of Doom, which was kind of like this progressive, harder, weirder side of Camper, and that band toured pretty successfully for about three years and then the lead guitar player in that band [David Immergluck] got a job playing with the Counting Crows. He was suddenly going from playing in punk rock clubs to sitting in a nice studio with T-Bone Burnette. And it was like, “What are you going to do?” “I’m going to go sit in a nice studio with T-Bone Burnette.” I didn’t blame him. But I was like twenty-eight or twenty-nine and not doing much. I played solo for a while and really held on till I was about thirty/thirty-one and I was basically living in a house, basically sleeping in a van, subletting my bedroom cause I didn’t have any money, and I went, “I’ve got to figure out how to do something else.”

So I started doing design cause I had studied some engineering in college at the behest of my step-father and I was working as a draftsman, so I kind of took the draftsman side and turned it into graphic design and was able to start making money. And the funny thing was, cause that was the era of independent newspapers, I started working at independent newspapers when everybody else was in a band or likes my band. Like, “Wow, you like my band?” “Yeah, your band is great.” This was like the nineties, grunge, nobody cared about Camper Van Beethoven. So we were all kind of working day jobs or working in bars, drinking an awful lot, a very down time. It was very down and dark and not good times. Then strangely, Mark Linkous, who we’d known in LA, started recording as Sparklehorse and David produced that record and then Jonathan started playing in Sparklehorse and then I went out and did some work on the road as crew for Sparklehorse. Then David was like, “Are you still playing?” “Yeah, I’ve been playing with bands.” And he was like, “I need a bass player for Cracker.” And I was like, it wasn’t like I didn’t like his stuff, I wouldn’t listen to it cause I was just so predisposed against him. I think we communicated through lawyers for like six or seven years and I had to go back and just reevaluate it and found great merit in it. But I was just so biased that I couldn’t see it. You know, it’s like a product of being young, when you’re really young you have this stuff happen to you. So in the long run, I don’t have any regrets but it put me in an unusual place because I just kind of fell off the map but didn’t stop. You know, I haven’t had a formal record deal; I mean, Camper’s had a couple of formal deals in the last few years, but I haven’t had a formal deal in forever. I’ve just done what I wanted to do.

How did all this come together?

Bruce Kaphan, who mixed and engineered Hard To See Trouble Coming and is like my co-conspirator in a lot of stuff, he was the pedal steel player in American Music Club. And he’s totally like, “You can record.” And I’m like, “No, I’ve got to get a studio.” “No, just record at home.” He really introduced me to the idea of not just staying active as a musician, even if it was as a part-time pursuit, but really just doing my own stuff. And he really challenged me cause he’s from a different school. He’s played a lot of hard country music, a lot of blues stuff and recorded some John Lee Hooker stuff. He’s really from a different world and about ten years older than me and he kind of deconstructed me on a certain level and just basically challenged a lot of my perceptions. The thing is, I grew up in the punk rock scene, very do-it-yourself, kind of cool kid factor to a degree. And people like things because of the influence of the genre but they are unable to see the actual value of the players. So by playing solo, I started working with these guys. You know, my bass player used to play like R&B and soul revues in LA when he was a teenager. And my drummer’s worked for everybody and he wrote songs for Robert Cray. He’s got a different pedigree and is a big New Orleans music fan. And that kind of influence has really opened me up.

What I’m trying to get at is like going off the radar actually really made me a much better musician. It didn’t make me money and it didn’t make me famous but it made me, I mean, I’m good at what I do because I afforded myself the chance to go off the radar and learn and it stimulated a bunch of different influences that wouldn’t have happened if I’d stayed on a major label. No way. I would have been a bass player in a band, which would have been fine and I probably would have made a lot more money, but I wouldn’t have had the journey that I’ve had. There’re no regrets there and I wouldn’t take it back, because it made me. I mean, you can’t take it with you, right. You just can’t and for me it has always been more about the experience.

Which is good for your soul.

Exactly and that really is actually more important to me. You know, I am that kind of stupidly altruistic, and also really willing to admit it, because I think most people won’t.

When you look back at your past musical accomplishments, do you focus on what you could have done differently or do you actually feel satisfied and can enjoy it?

Yeah, some of it. I mean, some of it I like and some of it I don’t. Some of it I feel is kind of too naïve. I was getting pretty emotionally beat up at the time so it was kind of hard to know how to structure. I mean, I was looking for depth and soul in my writing and I kind of felt like I had some depth and soul but I don’t think I really did. You know, it kind of takes going through a lot of stuff. I was a late bloomer on a lot of levels. The only thing I think I picked up fast and quickly was the bass guitar. I was one of those people, like I am smart but it takes me a while to master it. I think I’m a pretty strong graphic designer now but I don’t think I was really good until maybe three or four years ago, and I’m almost fifty.

I think I could write a song and I think I wrote some good songs. And I think the Monks Of Doom, musically, was very pure; really good, adventurous, strong music. That said, I think sometimes it stumbled a little bit and was just immature. But I didn’t know how to write cause I hadn’t used that muscle enough, and I also hadn’t been through enough. And that’s just the classic thing, you have to go through it. Like, I’m a gay man who lived in San Francisco from the late eighties through the nineties. I watched a lot of my friends die young. I’m a musician and I’ve been a musician since I was eighteen and I’ve lost a ton of musician friends, just as many as gay men, a lot of them to their own hands. I’ve lost a couple of parents now. I’ve lost a lot and I think sometimes you just got to go through that and then you start to understand what it really means to love and to care and I think that’s the thing that I bring now. And that’s deep work for me. I’m a poet, right, I’m a songwriter, and I will defend that.

David was always, you know, he’s not that different on a lot of levels but he’s successful and he’s always concerned with kind of modulating the crowds to some degree; not in a bad or manipulative way. But he’s in the game and it did influence his work and it influenced the band and how that stuff was performed in songs we played live. There’s a certain game to it but it satisfies people and people have a deep emotional connection to Camper and Cracker and I think those bands are pretty pure. It’s not like criticism, it’s just he’s got a modality in how he deals with things and I have mine. What I did was I isolated it and said, no, it’s kind of sacrosanct, which in itself is kind of a naïve move but it was an honest move. Like I said, as far as my solo work, I just really protected it and because it was in that space where it really had no influence other than what I wanted to do, and maybe the influence of what I was listening to at the time, it grew and now I look it like, wow, and, where did this come from? (laughs) But that’s the process and I don’t think it would have happened if I hadn’t had all these things go wrong. It just wouldn’t have happened.victorlive2

Are you content with your life now and your music?

I’m pretty content. I made this record and I’m like, well, I don’t know if I’m going to do this again but I’m going to do this one and I’m going to go and really try and push it as hard as I’ve ever pushed. I’m really happy with what I’ve been able to come up with. It’s the music I want to make. And like you said, you put it on and it hits you in a certain way and that’s what I was trying to do and I’ve gotten a lot of really good feedback. And it was kind of worth the struggle, you know. But I didn’t do it because it was worth it, I did it because it wasn’t going to NOT happen. I’m pretty headstrong.

You have to be or else it doesn’t get out there and when it’s out there, who else is going to fight for it.

Right, exactly, and that’s the thing. It’s a very competitive world and people are very competitive about things. There is something that struck me and this was a long time ago and it was a Nick Cave statement. He was invited to an awards ceremony and he was like, “No, I’m not coming.” It was like the MTV Awards or something. And the statement was beautiful. It was like, “My muse is like this sacrosanct thing and if I show up there she will walk out on me.” (laughs). It was a little snotty and a little erudite but I could totally recognize that. Although, I would go to the MTV Music Awards – I don’t know if I would go to them now, but this was like in 1996 and still not totally wretched (laughs). So yeah, I have to protect it. If I don’t protect it, bad things happen to it.

What are your plans for 2015?

The album comes out on the 6th and I’m doing a lot of playing by myself, solo things, because it’s what I can afford to do. Cracker has a new record out, and Camper did a new record earlier [in 2014] so there’s a lot of stuff out. We always tour at the end of the year so I’m going out with those bands and I have a couple of shows in there and then we’re going out to Colorado and we’re going to play New Year’s, and I’m playing bass in both bands which is a lot of work but it’s cool. The new Cracker record is pretty cool and I’m pretty fond of it, it’s pretty good work, so I’m kind of excited to get back in with them as a bass player. Then when I have days off, I’m doing solo acoustic things. I will be sitting down with my acoustic guitar and telling stories and playing songs, which I actually love doing. I used to dread it but now it’s one of my favorite things to do. It’s gotten to be a really good thing. So I’m doing a bunch of those.

The CD release show is formally at the end of January in Berkeley at this club I’ve been playing for years called the Starry Plough and then it’s kind of open after January. But I’ve already gotten a few people like you coming and saying it’s good (laughs) so hopefully if the press picks up then we’ll get more. I’m sure this spring is going to be filled with some road work again. I’m going to have to balance it with the day job cause I have to work (laughs). So I’ll get on an airplane with a guitar and go and play shows and come back, on weekends and stuff. I’ve been doing this dual career for like fifteen years now. But I have to take like a couple of days off, and by a couple of days I mean, the computer is off and I get to stare at the ceiling. If I get that and get to go to the gym, then I’m okay. I actually have to do all that stuff. If I protect myself and force myself to turn off, then it’s cool. You just have to learn, I didn’t get it all done, oh well, it’s not all done (laughs).

So you are ready to go and really happy with everything.

Yeah, I am happy. I feel artistically like I fulfilled it and I got what I wanted to get, more or less, and hopefully I get to do some more. It’s nice to have some options. People always ask, “How do you do everything?” But Camper is really not that busy, right, cause that band lives all over the world. Our drummer is in Australia, our violin player is in Sweden, David is on the East Coast and Greg and I are in the Bay Area. It’s like, it can’t get together that often and I don’t think we ever intend on stopping doing it, it’s just Camper is not a big priority right now because we did the record and we did the touring for it so we’ll play occasionally but we’re not going to play that much. So that gives me a good chance to kind of go and do my own thing and also, doing my own thing is, frankly, easier. It’s not that I don’t love playing with those bands, cause I do, but it’s a big ordeal to get everybody together and get on the road and do all that stuff. There’s something nice about being in this stage in my life where getting in a regular car with just your guitar and it’s both workable and enjoyable. I can deal with that just fine.

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