by Patricia Grandjean
Jul 21, 2011
02:50 PMBox Office
Q & A: Bill Million/The Feelies
(page 2 of 3)
I understand that you commuted back and forth between Florida and New Jersey to work on the album.
I still do; even when we rehearse. In fact, last weekend we played in Brooklyn and Boston. I'll drive up, we'll rehearse, we'll play, and then I'll drive back. I travel with three guitars, and I'm just very reluctant to get on an airplane and deal with an airport. That's way too much of a hassle. I kind of enjoy the time alone, just driving. It's something I want to do, so I don't really think too much about it. I'm used to it.
One of the benefits of this is that my son's been going to school at Princeton, in the middle of New Jersey. (Ed. note: He graduated this May.] I'd typically stop off and have lunch with him, then kind of continue on to northern New Jersey, where we'd rehearse. We rehearse up at Glenn's house.
There are several songs on the album that are collaborations between you and Glenn. How do you write together, especially given the physical separation?
This was somewhat a different experience, because we exchanged CDs through the mail. We talked about ideas, and also scheduled some scaled-down rehearsals with just Glenn, myself and Stan [Demeski; the Feelies' drummer], where we did some additional work on the songs. Then we took those home and worked further on them. For the most part, they developed like that.
With Glenn and I, I think for the most part, everything starts on the guitar and goes from there.
Listening to the track "Again Today," I noticed lyrics that almost seem to refer to the band's hiatus, the bit about "turning your back" . . ,
I don't know . . . I'd rather not . . . you can take any number of meanings out of our stuff. But I think most critics have probably over thought it. we prefer not to have everything up front, on the surface. We just find it more interesting if you can discover some elements after repeated listenings. If you figure everything out right away, it just seems like the album would get boring pretty quickly.
Who are your musical influences?
We grew up with bands like the Beatles, the Velvet Underground, Neil Young. There were bands or guitar players who I could say kinda inspired me to pick up the guitar—people like Ron Asheton from the Stooges or Sterling Morrison from the Velvet Underground. But I was just listening to . . . someone had given me a copy of Neil Young Unplugged, which I listened to on the way back from the Northeast last weekend. I listen to something like that and I think it's on a whole other level.
What about Ron Asheton impresses you?
I was just a longtime Stooges fan. I would go anywhere to see them play; I saw them probably 28 times live. he just had a very simple approach to playing, and the sound he got out of his guitar just seemed achievable to me as a teenager. I'd listen to him and think, "I can do that." Whereas you might listen to someone like George Harrison and think he's otherworldly. But something about the Stooges inspired a lot of kids to pick up instruments.
When we're writing music, having listened to someone like Neil Young or the Stooges or any of the people we've listened to—it does kind of come out. I may think there's a song we're putting together that sounds like Neil Young—but I may be the only person in the room who thinks that.
What about your style or approach to guitar-playing is distinctive, would you say?
I don't know if it's distinctive—when I play, I think more in terms of the people I'm playing with. I try to complement what they're doing. And we try always to improve our songs in live performance, even ones written as far back as Crazy Rhythms. And probably what comes out is mostly subtle nuances, which most people wouldn't even hear.