Jack Rose has been a mainstay on the underground American music scene for well over a decade. Appearing first with the improv/drone band Pelt, Rose is now currently focusing on his own brand of Takoma and pre-war inspired guitar explorations. In the late fall/early winter he did a two-month stint with guitarist Peter Walker, I had the fortune to sit down and talk a bit with Jack on their stop in Rochester, NY.
Oh the tour cd..
Yep, all lap steel.
The first session I did I recorded a bunch of other tracks as well, but it didn’t seem to work, at that point. Plus a lot of the new stuff I’ve been writing has been on lap steel, for the past four or five months.
Its pretty good… yeah, good time with Peter… full of stories…
Yeah that makes sense, but a lot of the stuff I do has the same sort of space. I wouldn’t try to contradict you, but the time I had in Pelt definitely informed how I play.
That worked well… that was a really good night, the first couple of shows of that mini-tour were kind of rough, but it seemed to really lock in around that fourth date. Too bad we didn’t have enough time to really expand on it because in Pelt we’re all in different directions, living in different states.
Yeah, not constantly, but I’ve been doing long stretches. I may have… I don’t even count, but I would say it’s between 150 and 170 gigs, this year. I think the most time I had at home was maybe a two-month stretch. But, you know a lot of times I would go out for a certain period of time and then I go back out. Like, after this tour I’m home and then back out, again, in less than a month. I’ll be in Europe in January for a few weeks.
No not this time. I mean a … my agent was like, “hey do you want to try this?” And I just said, “Yeah, that sounds good.” Basically it’s just going to be fourteen gigs, the continent and one gig in London.
Then in January/February I’m going to do some recording, hopefully March too. April I’m going to go out again, probably in the South, and then back to Europe in mid-May, probably the UK and maybe Scandinavia, and then probably the West Coast in the fall.
I don’t want to work man, so yeah.
Yeah man I feel pretty lucky.
Well, we’ll see. I’m basically going to record with a bunch of friends of mine, a lot of duets, a couple trio pieces; mostly in kind of a traditional sort of mold. But, I don’t know…. “Kensington Blues” is a really hard record to live up to. So it’s just gotta be really good.
Yeah, it’s just a tour cd. Out in an edition of 1000, and when that’s gone its gone. There might be a vinyl issue of it… but we’ll see.
Yeah, I should probably do that one on vinyl too.
I just don’t quite see it that way… yeah because… the touring is great and playing all these shows… but with everyone putting out so much stuff, I mean you’ve gotta have new product all the time, its kind of a drag. I like the record, don’t get me wrong, I think its cool stuff, but half of that, like the first half is going to be re-recorded with other players… those songs I really had duets in mind. There’s already one song on there that I’ve found another way to play it on a different instrument and changed it all around. I mean it is sort of a snapshot of what I’m working on and the songs are pretty much formed.
Right even with “Raag Manifestoes,” I kind of see this record that’s out now as sort of like a precursor, which I think “Raag Manifestoes” was a precursor, because two of the songs on “Kensington Blues” were really informed by a lot of those twelve string excursions and that’s just in the raw form on there, where “Kensington Blues” is more refined and totally, exactly the way I want it. But still I think Raag Manifestoes is a great record, but… its because again, I was going out on the road, I was going to Europe for the first time and I was talking with my friend Patrick and he was like, “you gotta go with a tour cd.” And I was like… I don’t know… I tried to record a brand new cd for that, but then it didn’t work out, so then I went through my stack of tapes, stuff I had lying around and picked out stuff that sounded good.
Yeah, I definitely prefer vinyl… of course.
Yeah I just put one out on Tequila Sunrise, recently. It’s called “Untitled”. Do you have that one?
Yeah, but that’s the thing, when you’re on tour you need something to… I hate to sound like a total capitalist here… but when you’re on tour you need to have something to sustain you.
Well, yeah, but not just blues, anything that’s pre 1942; Cajun, Country, Blues, Jazz all that stuff… that’s my favorite kind of music. You know, the raga stuff and Fahey music I love, but if I have to pick one it’s that.
That’s pretty much all I collect.
From that era… I’d pick songs really… “Pacific Railroad Blues” by Coley Jones is one of them, Freddie Keppard; he did this one tune that’s really great. I really love King Oliver; the very first Louis Armstrong recordings from ’23 are really great. I like a lot of jug band stuff, especially Noah Lewis’s Jug Band. I love Mississippi string band music; that stuff’s great. You know I love the Delta Blues and all that stuff too.
It’s weird… I’m a big fan of Skip James but I have a hard time listening to him. There are only thirty-one recordings that I base him on, but I haven’t listened to that record in two or three years, just because I find that music to be totally nihilistic, and just absolutely painful. It’s scary fuckin’ music, it scares the shit out of me, you know. It’s just really, truly staring into the void, you know… I’d rather listen to Whitehouse for the rest of my life, because its heavy stuff. I mean I love it; you’ve really got to be in a frame of mind to listen to that stuff and I’m really not in that frame of mind anymore. I think a lot of folks who listen to “Oh Brother Where Art Thou,” don’t really grasp how heavy that stuff is… I was looking at this cd and it was um… they were talking about how this was such gentle music and I’m like “I don’t know what the fuck you’re listening to… the Carter Family… what? “ No its not.
I’ve also been obsessed with John Martin for the last three years or so… anyone who hasn’t heard him, I would describe him as the sleazy Nick Drake, or something like that… he’s great shit man.
Oh I’m a huge fan of Terry Riley… I made the connection between Terry Riley and Fahey, in regards to the repetition. Especially the twelve string stuff when you get moving on that, and also using certain intervals, you hold them for a while and it creates all that … like LaMonte Young when he was doing the piano stuff, he would create clouds of harmonics and overtones.
Yeah I did see him, and that was part of the reason I played “Sundogs” last night.
Really? No Shit! Well that’s cool... I saw that he was there and was like, “awe I should play that tonight and if…” Ah cool I guess he liked it.
I worked with Josh Rosenthal on the “Imaginational Anthem” 1 and 2 compilations, and he said he found Peter Walker and that’s how that got started. That was a track that I had found when I recorded at VPR in Amsterdam, it was great sounding track, and everything worked out fine.
Oh yeah, this one is much better!
Oh, if its on vinyl, definitely on Tequila Sunrise. They put out “Kensington Blues” on wax, they put out a Meg Baird single, there’s a Meg Baird LP coming out, Michael Blue Smaldone LP and my single, and that’s it, right now. And then he’s got, in the works an LSD March record… that’ll be different, but he wanted it to be that way, so that it’s not just known as a folk label. Tony and I’ve been friends for a long, long time, I work at his shop too. We actually fund the records together, and again not sound capitalist; I get more money out of it than I would when I just give it to someone. As far as cd’s I would just go with VHF.
About twelve years… it’s a great label, its always fair… I’ve been really lucky to have guys like Bill at VHF and Tony at Tequila Sunrise and Ed at Eclipse. And then I have a friend in the UK that puts out my records (Beautiful Happiness) and you know… basically it’s the same record, but just licensed in the UK. I’ve been really lucky to have those guys because I’ve never been ripped off or anything.
It wasn’t a gatefold, but it was paper on cardboard, really nice stock and then black gloss on black matte… 180 gram pressing… people were giving us crap, because we were charging $25 for them, but it took a lot to produce… but its quality, you know.
-- Cory Card (3 April, 2007)