Saturday, May 26

Peter Holsapple - Exclusive Q & A (Part 1)


The dB’s Repercussion Blog Q & A
With Peter Holsapple

Peter Holsapple: ready for any old thing that might come along...

Pop quiz for fans of The dB’s:  

To which member of the band would you give
the Most Valuable Player award?

Without hesitation, my vote goes to Peter Holsapple.

There would be no dB’s, of course, without founder Chris Stamey. In my book, he will forever have the title The Guy Who Launched the Best American Alt-Pop Band, Ever. More recently, Chris gets major props from me for his songwriting, singing, arranging and production work on the new and most excellent Falling Off the Sky. 

The last 'proper' studio album
When the continued existence of The dB’s came into question, however, it was Peter who stepped up to the plate. Along with founding member and drummer Will Rigby, Peter carried forward the spirit of the band for years after Chris left in 1982 for a solo career. The other founding member of the band, Gene Holder, said good-bye shortly after the recording of the group’s final studio album, 1987’s The Sound of Music. That left Will and Peter to soldier on with Jeff Beninato (who had joined the band for TSOM) and an assortment of musicians who toured with the group in the mid to late 1980s.

In the early phase of The dB’s musical life, Peter shared songwriting and lead vocal duties with Chris. After the latter’s departure, however, these two major responsibilities fell entirely on Peter’s shoulders. So it was an impressive achievement for the Holsapple-led dB’s to retain the same level of respect from music critics — not to mention credibility among dB’s fans.

As you can surmise from this preamble, it was a tremendous honor and thrill for me to spend an hour chatting with Peter recently about the band’s reunion and, in particular, Falling Off the Sky the recorded fruit of The dB’s sporadic 21st century labors.

I’ve split my conversation with Peter into two parts. Part 1 is the Q & A that appears below. Part 2 (coming in a week) will be a longer, more in-depth, and more free form feature story. It will offer further details regarding Peter’s perspective on the new album as well as the joys and challenges of making music again with the same three guys with whom he grew up so many years ago.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure to present to you my nominee for MVP of The dB’s — Mr. Peter Holsapple.

Peter Holsapple: sharing the load once again with Chris Stamey.
The dB's, Hoboken, NJ, May 6, 2012 jvdalton photo via Flickr
 
First, congratulations on a great achievement: Falling Off the Sky is a beauty. It stands up to the best of your catalog, as a group and as solo artists. Lots of us will be trying to describe Falling Off the Sky, so let me give you the same opportunity: how do you describe it?
 
PETER: It sounds to me like a dB’s record that’s got all the elements you’ve come to hope for with a dB’s song — good melody and good harmony, there’s interesting guitar. The incredible rhythm section, who’re able to turn anything into something good. We wanted it to sound effortless. It’s the old suspension of disbelief, I guess. They may know it took a million years to make it, they may know it took a thousand vocal takes, but they think it [sounds as if it] took only one. That’s what you want, you want it to all sound like it’s a natural, organic process. I’d like to think that we did succeed in that.

In between recording dates for
Falling Off the Sky, the second Stamey-Holsapple duo album was recorded, and the two of you also worked on solo material. With so many songs available, how did you decide which ones were right for The dB's album?
 
"Santa Monica"  from this album
features Will & Gene
We did spend a lot of time trying to think, “What is this record supposed to sound like? What does a dB’s record sound like?” In fact, there was a point where “She Won’t Drive In the Rain Anymore” was on the chopping block. The feeling was, “Well, is this really a dB’s song?” And, yes, we finally determined that it was. On Here & Now, you’ll notice the song “Santa Monica” features Will and Gene on drums and bass.  We recorded that at a dB’s session, the same session I think that we ended up getting “Send Me Something Real” and “World to Cry” out of. “Santa Monica” is a perfect example: same personnel, but does it really sound like a dB’s song? No, it ended up sounding like something that should be on a record that’s just me and Chris that happened to have those guys on it. As we were recording Falling Off the Sky, it became evident [which] songs really benefited specifically from Will and Gene’s take on them.

I'm intrigued by the running order. I hear a difference between "Side A" & "Side B". The first six songs seem like a great collection of singles. But Side B has this amazing flow, which I think is best appreciated as a whole. Does this reflect your intent?
 
Little Feat's Sailin' Shoes
I honestly couldn’t say we really felt like that. Only when we were talking about the vinyl did it really get down to an A and a B-side kind of thing. We knew the first few songs really had to pull people in; you want people to sit up on their hind legs and like this — make it so it’s undeniable. And I think we did that. Great records [have] that knockout one-two punch. I always think of Sailin’ Shoes by Little Feat; starts with “Easy to Slip” and then “Cold Cold Cold.” That’s a perfect way to start a record.

I assume that recording this album was quite a challenge: squeezing in studio time between all your other commitments and musical projects. How different do you think the album would be if you'd had the old scenario, "We've got just 8 weeks to record & mix this"?
 
It will be different if you do it like that, without a doubt. Somebody asked me the other day, “How do you know when an album is finished?” And we were laughingly saying, “Well, ask Axl Rose.” The album is finished when the checkbook closes, in a lot of cases. But the winnowing process for us was, I guess, about trying to get as many songs done so we would have enough to choose from. If we’d had 15 songs to choose from, it would have been harder to decide what a 12-song album would be. We tried to get the most intelligent collection of songs that we could put together. We were able to ferret out the ones that made the most sense together.

"Write Back" is Will's first composition and first solo lead vocal on a dB's album. (I love the song, and hope his other solo work gets a wider audience because of it.) Did Will have to endure jokes from the other guys about Ringo or "Octopus's Garden"?!?
 
One of Peter's favorites
No. That Paradoxaholic record [by Will] is one of our family favorites. There are so many great songs on there: “Leanin’ On Bob” is just great. Chris and I at one point looked at each other and said, “Hmm — this may be the best songwriter in The dB’s, ultimately.” I’m really happy that Will has a song on the record — it’s about frickin’ time! The real question is how we’re going to play it live. I love that song, and we love that song. It fit in very nicely.

GET WILL RIGBY SOLO MUSIC (2 albums, 1 EP, 1 single) HERE
 

Lyrically, a lot of these songs revolve around memories, dreams and coming to terms with the past. Some are tinged with regret, while others have a more hopeful tone. Is the thematic coherence something you aimed for?
 
I think, not to quote another song, it was just happenstance that we did happen to find these lyrics [that share some common themes]. It may be a product of our individual experiences, growing and what our lives have been like. It certainly is a reflective record. In order to get back together again, we had to do some reflecting because there was a reason why there was no dB’s. In 1988, when the band finally called it quits, I think at that point the feeling was, “It’s obviously not going to happen for The dB’s.” It’s so different now. You put some time in there, Chris and I do some things [musical projects] together, we hang with each other — we still love each other very much — we still care very much about each others' parents. So the bond is there. I think this record is the product of a certain amount of maturity. I think you have to have lived these lives to have written these songs.

Will and Gene sound so solid on this album, yet they can't have much time to rehearse or play together live. How do you explain the musical telepathy they seem to have?
 
Will Rigby, drums
Gene Holder, bass
They didn’t have a lot of time to rehearse or play together. But Gene’s got a style and Will’s got a style, and somehow or other, whenever they pick up and play together — even if they’re just faffing around — it always sounds great. We launched into “Rice Pudding” by the Jeff Beck Group at rehearsal the other day, and everybody knew all the changes. We just know this stuff. This is the “shared hallucination,” I guess [referring to memories of growing up together]. My wife is constantly amazed that I still have a clutch of friends that I’ve known since third grade.

What will become of the music that didn't make it onto the album?
 
There were a lot of songs. We ended up recording about 30, … but I don’t know what’s going to happen to those. There are a number of others, Chris’ and mine both. Hopefully, they’ll see the light of day. Our whole thing was trying to make this into the best possible presentation we could. We realized that 31 years is a very long time between records with the same band. We tried to pull together the best stuff that we could. We knew we wanted to make an album. We toyed with the idea of, “What about three EPs or four EPs? Downloads, single downloads for each month for a year!” — all sorts of Today’s New Marketing Ideas. But it just didn’t ring true for us. We’re album guys; we’ve always made albums. 
 
All good music collections need it

Chris has said, “We should just have this in the can as another record.” But to my way of thinking, it is not necessarily a record’s worth of songs. It’s a number of songs, but I don’t know that they would hang together as well as Falling Off the Sky does. There’s a reason they didn’t make the final cut — which is not that they’re bad songs. It’s just because they didn’t necessarily seem to fit the emotional flow that this record has.


 

Some of us are salivating at the thought of getting to see The dB's live, especially playing the new songs. (I've already got my tickets for the album release show in Durham on June 9 and your Mountain Stage date later in the month.) Right now, though, it appears that you guys are planning sporadic live dates rather than playing a "tour" per se. Can you offer any more info?
 
Don't call him Pete!  photo by Sean Davis via Flickr
Between my new full-time job and Will’s touring schedule with Steve Earle, we’re just going to have to do live dates when we’re able. Gene’s got two children and Chris has his studio; we’ve all got our various lives.

Describe the future you'd like to see for The dB's.
 
I’d like to see this record bought in duplicate by everybody. The reason being, going back to when you first heard Repercussion — the radio play we got back in those days was not from anybody servicing stations. It was all really nice people who had bought the record and fallen in love with it and had shifts on their college station or local community station. They’d bring their own copy in and play it! Or they’d put it on a mix tape. We lived and died by the mix tape: that’s how we got known, it was by word of mouth. Without actually asking everyone to seriously go out and buy two copies, if you want to give a gift to somebody, it’s a good record to give as a gift. It’s beautiful music, it’s worth hearing. And there’s a limit to how much any record company can do.

Tell the truth: you owe the success of this album to the Reptile Brain Activator
TM, right?!?

You’re gonna have to talk to Chris about that because that’s totally his invention, and it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing!

End note: if you're curious as to what the Reptile Brain Activator is, or why it receives a thank you in the liner notes to Falling Off the Sky, have a look HERE.

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT 
AS TO WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THIS Q & A !


Friday, May 25

Peter Holsapple - Solo 1998

Peter Holsapple solo
Ziggy's, Winston-Salem, NC
Aug. 8, 1998

This is one of those audience recordings that deserves the title 'cuz the audience is louder than the performer... (sound quality VG-)

BIG THANKS to glenn s for the share!

01 Next to the Last Waltz
02 Invisible Boyfriend
03 Lonely Is as Lonely Does        
04 Obsession (Peter Blegvad cover)
05 Daddy Just Wants It to Rain (P. Holsapple song, rec. by Cont. Drifters)

Don Dixon was the headliner for this show & Peter was the opener. 

MP3@320
Alt. Link

BONUS: fantom has kindly provided a soundboard version of track 3; Enjoy! 


 

Friday, May 18

The Blue Note - Columbia, MO 1984


The dB's
The Blue Note
Columbia, MO
1984-07-16
You reckon it was hot in Columbia, MO in July of 1984?? Hope the AC was working...
audience recording (VG quality)

BIG THANKS to glenn s for recording & sharing!

SETLIST:

01 Neverland
02 We Were Happy There
03 Love Is for Lovers
04 She Got Soul
05 Spitting Into the Wind
06 Amplifier
07 Bad Reputation
08 Not Cool
09 A Spy In the House of Love
10 Any Old Thing
11 Living a Lie
12 Rendezvous
13 New Gun In Town
14 White Train
15 Black and White
16 Suspicious Minds




The dB’s:
Will Rigby – drums & vocals
Gene Holder – guitar
Peter Holsapple – guitar & vocals
Rick Wagner - bass


Thursday, May 17

Hoboken, NJ - Music & Arts Fest 2012


The dB’s
Music & Arts Festival
Hoboken, NJ
May 6, 2012

Audience recording (sound quality VG+)
One of the first concert-length live shows of 2012, featuring a most excellent "World to Cry" (still smokin' seven years later...)
BIG THANKS to tamlyn for the share & permission to use it here!


Good thing Gene is from Hoboken; how else 
would they have found this place??
photo by jvdalton via Flickr
Setlist:

1.  That Time Is Gone  
2.  Before We Were Born
3.  Happenstance
4.  Lonely Is as Lonely Does    
5.  Ask for Jill
6.  World to Cry
7.  pH Factor  
8.  Collide-oOo-Scope
9.  Love Is for Lovers
10. Nothing Is Wrong
11. I Didn’t Mean to Say That
12. The Adventures of Albatross & Doggerel
13. Big Brown Eyes  
14. Send Me Something Real
15. Neverland
16. (encore break)
17. If and When
18. Dynamite
19. Amplifier



Will does the whap-a-dang on the drums.
photo by jvdalton via Flickr
The dB’s:
Chris Stamey – guitar & vocals
Peter Holsapple – guitar & vocals
Gene Holder – bass
Will Rigby – drums & vocals

Brett Harris – keyboards & guitar

 

Friday, May 11

The Cubby Bear - Chicago, IL 1987

The dB’s
The Cubby Bear
Chicago, IL
1987-11-07

soundboard recording (quality Ex-; there’s very little bass sound or audience noise, so be prepared for that!).

Highlights: Two great covers, the rarely-performed "Message From the Country" (The Move) and the Berry Gordy, Jr. / J. Bradford chestnut, "Money."

This show was a fundraiser for a children’s hospital. It’s one of the only recorded dB’s shows with Harold Kelt, who toured with the band on keyboards for a brief time.

BIG THANKS to the taper & glenn s for the share!

01 Today Could Be the Day
02 Never Say When
03 Change With the Changing Times
04 Living a Lie
05 Love Is for Lovers        
06 She Got Soul
07 Lonely Is as Lonely Does
08 Working for Somebody Else        
09 Molly Says        
10 Think Too Hard
11 I Lie
12 Never Before and Never Again        
13 Message From the Country (The Move cover)        
14 A Better Place
15 Feel Alright        
16 Amplifier
17 A Spy In the House of Love        
18 Why Did You Sleep with My Girlfriend?        
19 Neverland
20 Money (That's What I Want) 

MP3@320
Alt. Link        

The dB’s:
Peter Holsapple – guitar & vocals
Will Rigby – drums, vocals
Jeff Beninato bass
Harold Kelt keyboard & additional guitar

Looks like a nice spot for a show. If anyone's been there, please leave a comment...


Friday, May 4

Falling Off the Sky - The Countdown Has Begun!

To celebrate the impending release of the first album by The dB's original lineup in 30 years — about 5 weeks from now! — I have two music posts for you, plus
 

"The reunited dB's sound as compelling as ever" — Austin360

"The return of an old friend whose sound hasn't aged a bit. The dB's ace pop melodicism and harmonic sensibility hasn't been affected by the break" — Billboard

"A great listen with a plethora of killer tracks" — Examiner
 
"The rare comeback effort worthy of its legacy" - Uncut

 
"Even more than I had hoped for" — Earbuddy
 
"Falling Off the Sky may be the best dB's album" — 

Bill Lloyd

"You might not hear a more perfect pop record this year" — Roy Trakin
 
"This record is excellent. Better than excellent. Wonderful. Perfect." — Kent Newsome

Order Falling Off the Sky right now: 
CD / LP
FYI: these links take you to Barnes & Noble. BN has the same policy as Amazon of
"free shipping for orders of $25 or more".
Why not order a copy of each format and get the free shipping?!?

PRICE WAR! Amazon just dropped its price for the CD to $9.99!
Amazon order link for CD HERE.
Even better: BestBuy is offering free shipping right now with either format, apparently with no restrictions. 
That's $9.99 for the CD or $18.98 for vinyl LP + CD + bonus download package. 


COMING SOON to The dB's Repercussion blog: 
an exclusive interview 
and 
complete review of the album! 
(I can't believe I only used one exclamation point for that...)



The Ritz NYC 1982


The dB's
(with the Horns of Plenty)
The Ritz, New York, NY
February 1982

FM recording (quality Ex-; new & improved source files) 

Highlight: This show may be the cream of the crop in terms of song selection, performance and sound quality. Plus a horn section playing on several numbers! Bonus mystery: Chris refers to the audience as “sports fans” several times; whassup with that?
The dB's and Arto Lindsay, Bond's, NYC, 1982
(Goldmine magazine, 1997)


BIG THANKS to the original taper & uploader, edarthur for the re-up, and big-time dB's fan John L for the upgrade!
 
There’s some confusion about the correct date for this performance. It’s appeared in trading circles as Feb. 22 as well as Feb. 23. But there's a New York Times article indicating there was a dB’s concert Saturday, Feb. 20, 1982 at The Ritz with horns playing on a few numbers, just like this show. (Perhaps the Feb. 20 concert was broadcast on Feb. 22...) 

SAMPLE: "Ask for Jill (The Ritz 1982)"
 
1.  Living a Lie
2.  We Were Happy There
3.  Happenstance
4.  Bad Reputation
5.  Ask for Jill
6.  Black & White*
7.  Amplifier
8.  (I Thought) You Wanted to Know
9.  Walking the Ceiling (It’s Good to Be Alive)
10. The Fight
11. Excitement
12. Soul Kiss
13. pH Factor
14. Neverland
15. Storm Warning
16. Death Garage
     *There’s a weird speed hiccup on Black & White starting at 1:44, but only lasts about 18 secs. 

NOTE: I’ve separated out the four tracks from a show in Atlanta, GA, that circulate with some versions of this recording. Those tracks will appear in a future post.

MP3@320 
Alt. Link

The dB's:
Chris Stamey
Will Rigby
Gene Holder
Peter Holsapple

The Horns of Plenty are not identified, except that Chris refers to them as “geezers”!
The dB’s at The Ritz in NYC, 1981 or ’82.
Will seems to be looking around for another beer...
  

Peter & The Drifters - Sandy Denny Tribute 1998

Listen, Listen: The Music of Sandy Denny
Peter stages a tribute concert (with a little help from his friends)
St. Ann's Church, Brooklyn Heights, NY
November 21, 1998
recording & broadcast by WFUV-FM, NYC
Cover art for Set 1 (art for both sets included in download). Levent Varlik
web stream (quality Ex--; this recording has some of the usual anomalies of a web capture plus a very occasional computer-generated volume adjustment beep tone)

Highlights: Multiple, but I was especially knocked out by the contributions of Susan Cowsill, Susan McKeown, Marti Jones & Don Dixon.

BIG THANKS to the taper and ALL PRAISE to Levent Varlik of the Sandy Denny fan forum at Yahoo for the generous share (sent to me all the way from Turkey)!

CLICK highlighted names below for a link to learn more about the artist’s music.
 
SAMPLE: "Take Me Away (Marti Jones vocal)"

SET 1
01  intro - Meg Griffin (WFUV announcer)
02  Come All Ye - Katell Keineg
03  Listen, Listen - Vicki Peterson
04  Next Time Around Sloan Wainwright  
05  One Way Donkey Ride* - Deni Bonet 
06  Banks of the Nile  - Michael Steele   
07  Blackwaterside Darius Rucker
08  Tam Lin - Susan McKeown
09  It Suits Me Well - Mike Mills
10  Autopsy - Dana (and Karen?) Kletter
11  Gold Dust - Don Dixon
12  At the End of the Day* - Susan Cowsill
13  outro
 
*Indicates tracks with very occasional beep tones from the computer’s volume adjustment control. Let this be a lesson to you young, budding tapers out there: mute that sucker before you try to record a webcast or web stream!
The Continental Drifters served as the house band for the show. 
(That’s Peter on the right, sittin’ and strummin’…)
SET 2 
01  intro
02  The Northstar Grassman and the Ravens - Michael Steele
03  John the Gun - John Crooke
04  A Sailor's Life - Amanda Thorpe
05  Take Me Away - Marti Jones
06  Stranger to Himself - Dana Kletter
07  Solo - Susan McKeown
08  I'm a Dreamer - Susan Cowsill
09  Matty Groves - Robyn Hitchcock
10  Who Knows Where the Time Goes? - Katell Keineg
11  Peace In the End* Don Dixon & Marti Jones
12  Meet On the Ledge Susan Cowsill & The Continental Drifters, et al

Other versions of this show list two additional tracks, absent here: an encore, “Farewell, Farewell” (sung by Amanda Thorpe), followed by the final outro.

MP3@320
Disc 2  

MF linx
Disc 2

Musicians (in addition to the vocalists listed above, some of whom also played on some tracks):
Peter Holsapple (musical director for the show)
Russ Broussard
Robert Maché
Mark Walton

For a few years in the late 1990s, Peter had the enviable job of organizing tributes to some of the great, lesser-known artists of popular music. This one (like the 1997 show at the same venue performed in honor/memory of Nick Drake's music) is a beauty. It was part of a short-lived, but extraordinary, program called Arts at St. Ann’s.
YOU CAN STILL BUY the most excellent album Listen Listen by The Continental Drifters directly from Blue Rose Records in Germany. It features the Drifters’ versions of several Sandy Denny classics as well as Richard Thompson compositions. (AllMusic gave it a 4-star review.) I’ve ordered from Blue Rose and can vouch for their great service — even for non-German speakers. The CD is listed for Euro 8.90 plus S&H – not bad!
 

GO HERE for a video of John Crooke singing a good chunk of “John the Gun” from this show. 
 
GO HERE for a video of Darius Rocker singing “Blackwaterside” from this show (and see Peter play the squeezebox for a few exciting seconds).

  
THANKS to kinskilee for the uploads!