[Note: This interview was conducted through email over the course of a couple of months around
summer 2000. It was originally for the Northwestern PA online-xine, Borax Local, but by the time
I completed it, the server space had been lost and the zine: no more.]
What were your musical influences growing up and what are they now?
I've always been a big music fan and obsessed with records. In 1st grade (1979) I was really into
KISS and eventually I got into the Cars and the Police and that kind of stuff. By 3rd grade, my
oldest sister had turned me onto the Boomtown Rats, a new-wave band who were to be my favorite
band for a few years. In 4th grade, Duran Duran got popular and I was into them.
In 5th grade, I saw my first picture of the Sex Pistols... I remember that there was an article on
collectible records in this "Collector's Illustrated" magazine that my mom had. It was one of the
classic photos of Johnny Rotten from one of their shows and I just remember thinking that that it
just looked so exciting. Here were these very strange looking characters caught in what was
obviously a very intense performance. I read a lot of books on music history around this time and
I immediately began reading everything I could about the Sex Pistols.
After 5th grade, in the summer of 1984, my family went on a tour of colleges my sister was
thinking of attending. After looking at Harvard, I convinced my parents to take me to a Boston
record store to buy me the Sex Pistols record. We got it and I remember just looking at the
pictures on the inner-sleeve for hours. We didn't get back to Louisiana for a few weeks, so I
couldn't play the record anywhere until then. I still remember getting home and going straight to
my bedroom and putting it on. I had never heard them before and obviously I was very excited
because everything I read about them referred to them as "raw."
After that... I got into the later post-punk stuff... Gang Of Four, Public Image, Ltd., The Stranglers,
etc. It wasn't until the summer of 1985 that I really started in on the American independent scene.
I guess this was mainly because there wasn't much written about it... It was very easy to find a
Rolling Stone book on rock music that would talk about all the British Stuff, but none of those
talked about Black Flag or Minor Threat. That changed when I finally discovered the Trouser
Press Record Guide and I found out about all the American bands. Around then my sister bought
me a Husker Du and a Naked Raygun record for my birthday and those quickly became my
favorite bands. It wasn't until later that I really appreciated Black Flag's post-1984 output.
In the late-80's I got into all the Homestead Records stuff eventually leading to the Chicago and
NYC noise-rock bands like Sonic Youth, Nice Strong Arm, Rapeman, Bastro and Bitch Magnet.
Bitch Magnet was particularly important to me... their last record, Ben Hur, is still one of my
favorites and I eventually got to play with Bitch Magnet guitarist, Jon Fine, for a few years in
Anyway... I'm pretty much a fan of all kinds of music. Lately I've been listening to Bob Dylan's
mid-70's records Blood On The Tracks and Desire. I've also been listening to the recent records
by Turing Machine and ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead a good bit, along with
stalwarts like aMiniature and Fugazi.
As far as direct musical inspirations... I guess for electric stuff bands like the Dustdevils, Bitch
Magnet, Moving Targets, Wipers, the Replacements and many others. As far as acoustic stuff... I
like John Fahey's late 60's/early 70's records and I can find some similarities there... I guess Bob
Mould's up there, too... New Day Rising is one of my favorite records of all time.
I know you have talked about Pennsylvania being a musical inspiration for "St.
Marys." Is there a certain place that inspires you or certain situations more then others?
Well... I don't think I said that St. Marys was a musical inspiration, I think I probably said that it
inspired the first couple of lyrics in the song. I've got a bunch of friends from the early 90's that
played in bands there. My song "St. Marys" was originally tentatively titled that because the first
couple of lines were scribbled on a sheet of paper there back in May of 1999... I often use nmonic
devices to remember musical parts or lyrics. For example, right now I have songs called DC and
NYC because I came up with the music in those cities. "The Enemy Calls" from Present Dusk
was originally called KOA East Of Portland because that is where I originally wrote the music. I
guess that it is entirely possible for the characters to have existed in that town, but in no way is the
song based on actual people I knew there.
As far as inspiring situations... lately I've had good luck writing songs in other people's
apartments. As I mentioned before, on tour last fall I wrote one in DC while my friend Darren was
at work and I spent a week in my friend Scott's apartment in NYC and wrote another good one
there. I don't know... I can write pretty much anywhere. Often I'm jotting down ideas while
driving around. I think that traveling is inspiring b/c you just take in so much. I'm a relatively
quiet person and I often sit and observe and things I hear, see or imagine, whatever often end up in
What was the most embarrassing thing that that has happened to you since you started
Well, I was cut short in Portland, Oregon a month ago. I don't know if it was embarrassing so
much as it pissed me off. It was funny because I was playing some songs with Migas right after
my set, so the soundman who cut me short had to deal with me again. He was an idiot... he
claimed to work in a recording studio, but he had no idea what a DI (a direct input box... common
equipment) was. That has happened a couple of times... I guess some people have it out for guys
with acoustic guitars.
What do you like to do when you aren't playing or working on music?
I used to read a lot, but I've been pretty bad about it lately. I guess I do things like anyone else
would... I hang out with my friends, talk to friends on the phone, write letters. I listen to music alot
and I still record bands at my house from time to time. I also work installing doors with my friend,
Greg, who is a contractor. Sometimes I go through a period where I play games on my computer.
Increasingly, I seem to spend more and more time on things having to do with my "career." I've
been recording, but I also work on making my website better and doing all my booking calls and
promo calls, etc. I'm happy with that, but sometimes it seems very self-involved. I guess I am my
own career, so I shouldn't feel weird about it because everyone spends however much time at their
What are you currently working on and what do you plan on working on in the future?
Well, right now I've got enough acoustic songs to do the next record, but I'm still changing some
of the songs around. I've also got some noisy rock songs that I've recorded with the drummer,
Jerry Fuchs. He was in Vineland for a while with me and he was also in Reddy Kilowatt and
Cotillion. I guess the electric songs we've been recording were a few Reddy Kilowatt songs and
some new ones. I haven't even touched the tracks in 6 months because I haven't written lyrics for a
few of the songs and I guess the acoustic stuff is just the priority. Jerry will also be playing on my
next acoustic record, but I think I'm going to do a guitar and vocal only "demo" version of that
before we get around to recording together. He's in school full time as well as playing in his other
band, the Turing Machine.
How did you learn how to play guitar (self taught, lessons, friend, family member,
etc???) and how long have you been playing?
I started playing guitar in the fall of 1988, shortly after I moved to Clearfield, PA from Baton
Rouge. I guess it was a way to combat boredom. I taught myself in that I never had strict
"lessons." A few friends knew things I didn't and I learned from seeing them play. Nothing really
clicked for me until the winter of 1990/1991 when I started playing guitar with my friend Mike
pretty regularly. All of a sudden, my ability jumped incredibly. Around that time, I started writing
complete songs that had 3 parts that made sense together.
I don't know if this has any truth to it but i heard that an ex-drummer from one of your
old bands was going to join you?
I imagine that you heard something about Jerry. No definite plans to tour together... just record...
but I'd like to tour with him at some point. I guess it might happen where I would go with Turing
Machine on a tour and maybe I'd play a few solo songs, have them back me on a few and then
they'd play their set as Turing Machine.
I was wondering about the tuning you use on your 6 string and why you do that what
effect it gives.
Most of the stuff I play is on 12-string. Half of Present Dusk is in DADGAD, which is a
D-modal tuning that I got really familiar with when we used it exclusively in Vineland. The other
half is in standard tuning. All of my new 12-string songs are in standard as well because it is
impossible to retune the 12-string onstage and, while I have 2 guitars, it just makes it easier to stay
with standard. I play one song, "As You Go" on the 6-string, and that song in in EF#DGBE,
which is a tuning I just stumbled upon.