You guys just kicked off the tour last night, right?
Yep, we played Shreveport last night and we play in New Orleans tonight and tomorrow.
How did that one go?
I went good. It did. It went good. It was just nice to be somewhere we haven’t been in a really long time.
Does it feel good to be out on the road instead of being at home? I know you guys did those Fireside shows, but it must be nice to be on the road with an actual crowd.
Last June, we started touring and did the Fireside size band, which was not the whole band. It was a six piece. And we did that in June, July and a bunch of August, and then starting in August, we started touring with the whole 12 piece. And so it was good to get back to work and be in front of people of course, you know, and you don’t realize how important it is not just for you, but for the audience, you know, to have live music. It’s so healing and it just helps break up the monotony every day for people. It felt good to just be back on the road.
It’s a little scary right now, just because so many things are getting canceled. And now at least people are getting vaccinated and people aren’t dying as much. So that’s good. That’s very good!
Hopefully, that trend continues upward. I will say, as a music fan, to really not have any concerts for about almost two years, you really do miss it. And so being able to go back to shows again, kind of like you said, it’s just a great thing for fans, like you miss that communal experience and hearing this music that everybody knows and love.
Yeah. For mental health. Absolutely. Mental health is underrated. I know how important it is, but they don’t know what to do to maintain it. You know, it’s an interesting thing, but we’re working on it.
Well, you guys are contributing to the overall positivity.
Well, we’re trying! Honestly, we even though we were awful lot last year, we made a ton of new music. And we’ve been in the studio kind of nonstop mixing it and trying to finish it up. So you know, it’s been great getting the band back out there and just getting, you know, back playing, but we really want to play all the new stuff that we can’t until this summer.
I know you kept busy. You recorded a lot. You guys also had the Fireside shows. Derek did a movie score. You guys did some touring. You did so much stuff. It’s crazy!
I know, we kind of did a ridiculous amount. I mean, it really didn’t start until 2021. We did talk a little bit and did a few things here and there in 2020. But it really wasn’t until 2021 that we really started working. But but like you said we were at home during 2020. Literally recording and writing and doing a huge project. And and now we’re mixing. It’s basically enough material for four records. And they’re all going to be coming out in like June, late June, early July.
We’re going to get them all at once?
I think we’re going to spread them out a little bit. I’m not exactly sure how we’re going to do it yet, but they’re probably going to come out space a little bit, maybe every two weeks or something. It’s going to be great!
It must have been fun to just have the time to just record and make whatever you wanted. But now at this point, if you made it so long ago, you probably are just itching for people to hear it or like you said for us to be able to play it.
I think that’s the hardest part. In the old days, we would be able to play the stuff and kind of test it out on the road. But now with people with phones and stuff, you just can’t do it. They put everything on YouTube. It’s funny how technology has kind of changed things. But at the same time, hey, we’re lucky to do it, we’d love to do and we’re excited to get a bunch of new stuff out there for people. And the band is so happy to be back together as a whole 12 piece with our crew and everything. So it’s it’s definitely been been nice just to get back to normal a little bit. Even with the world still on hold a little.
Right? Well, and even you’re talking about technology, I mean, even the you guys able to do those streaming shows is really cool. I think 10 years ago, we wouldn’t have had that. It just wouldn’t have existed.
It’s true that we wouldn’t have had that. Can you imagine if we didn’t have that or even zoom or even be able to see people on FaceTime? I mean, you really could still feel the human interaction even though we weren’t physically together all the time. At least people are still connected. So yeah, we’re lucky that we had sort of that jump in technology in some ways.
What are you playing on this tour?
We’re playing stuff from all of the records, like sort of a little mix of different stuff and mixing it up every night, of course. And if we’re, you know, multiple nights in the city, then we definitely mix up the setlist from night tonight.
And then we also have fun stuff like we started playing like Outside Woman Blues, which is an old Big Joe Reynolds song that Eric Clapton wrote for Cream back in the day. It’s been really fun like that. I really get a kick out of playing more like the blues rock kind of stuff. It’s really fun.
That’s my favorite stuff. The kind of the surprises, the things that maybe you didn’t hear last time you saw the band.
Yeah, exactly. We’ve been adding some new stuff and maybe doing some old classics. We’re also pulling stuff from both of our old repertoires like DTB and my old band. So that’s been nice. We’re mixing it up, and just trying to bring some of the old classic stuff back into the mix as well until the new stuff comes out.
I know it was recorded a couple years ago, and but it came out last summer was the Layla record was just a really cool project. And I know you performed it a couple years ago, but it’s cool for everybody who wasn’t at that festival, to be able to hear that it was such a neat album and project that you guys did.
Oh, it was so fun. And it was really nice to get to Trey (Anastasio), and get to know him a little bit more. He’s so sweet. very talented and down to earth, and he’s just an angel of a person. You know, he really is super nice. So that’s always nice to work with people and and find out that there is nice as you think they are.
That’s always the best.
It is, it’s the best thing. That record really did come out so well. Like you don’t really know in the moment when you’re doing it live, like how it’s really coming across. But our guys did an incredible job recording it and mixing it.
You’ve done so much. You could have sat on your couch.
I can’t really say that we were bored like some people like, “Oh, it feels so good to get back to work.” I’m like, “What are you talking about? I’ve been working my ass off.” But at the same time, it’s nice to be back out playing live. I personally love playing live. I’m more of a live person, performer and, you know, it’s just been great to just connect with the audience and just to feel people and feel their energy and, and just be with the band. So it’s been really nice, really positive.
One thing I did want to ask, and I know you can’t say much about it, but can you talk a little bit about the new stuff that you guys have recorded? What’s it like?
I’ve been asking Derek, “What am I allowed to say?” He’s like, “Well, don’t tell him too much.” And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, okay.”
I can tell you this: Mike Mattison, who’s really one of our most prolific writers in the band, he’s a Harvard English major. Early on in the pandemic, in 2020, he gave us sort of a nice assignment, which was, “Everybody go home and read this poem from the 15th century. And then write songs, based on it from this perspective.” We got this slew of totally different types of songs, but they all are kind of related. So that’s sort of where we are. There’s a theme, which I can’t really get into yet.
But it’s nice to have a record that you actually are getting the label excited about. This is the first time a label is so excited. They’re like, “Oh, my gosh, this is awesome.” Five of us in the band wrote songs for this record. There is a lot of variety in the writing, which is nice because when you have one writer, a lot of stuff can be kind of samey.
I think everybody just did a fabulous job with this. And I think people are going to be really excited about it.
It must have been nice to have a large amount of time to be able to work on that.
Oh, it really did. It was really nice. It was just nice to, like you said, not be under a time crunch and have no rules and be able to do what you want to do and create and collaborate together.
We are really excited about all that new stuff. And it also it’ll be something to look forward to for the next tour.
For more than a decade, Kevin Coffey has been Omaha's music guy. He's also a journalist, photographer, husband, dad, Mets fan, comic nerd, Dungeon Master and Jays fan. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.