Gerald Veasley Interview Page 2
Smitty: Do you prefer the studio or do you prefer the live performance?
GV: I prefer live (laughing). One thing is that I've always enjoyed the certain attention to detail that you have in the studio. I also enjoy the challenge of capturing something, like the musical idea and getting it on record. I've always been happy doing records even prior to doing my own records, I've been involved with people like Grover Washington Jr., Joe Zawinul, and even gospel records way back in the early 80s, late 70s with the Dixie Hummingbirds and Gospel records. And I was always the kind of guy that would go into the studio, you know, you're hired to do bass, I would get there early, check out what the engineer was doing, do my part and then still stay and hang out see what everybody else is doing. Stay and listen, watch the producer work, and watch the engineer work. So I'm also very, very fascinated by the whole studio process, definitely, but, you know, my real love is live performance without a doubt.
Smitty: Yes, you mentioned this great band. Tell me about their reaction to this project before, during and after.
GV: The guys were very excited about having the chance to do a record like this because I think they recognized what I recognized; that this band is something special that needed to be documented. So we spent a lot of time rehearsing, making sure we had it right and, to-a-man, they all gave of their time and their energy and put their hearts into it, just like I did. You can't ask for more than that. Those guys are very, very proud of their work and of the result .
Smitty: Very cool. Well, let's get into the record a little bit more, talk to me about the great track, "Celebrating Sipho".
GV: Yes, Sipho Gumede was a really talented bass player from South Africa… because as you remember Smitty, I have a love affair with South Africa.
Smitty: Yes, I remember.
GV: It's one of the places on the planet that endured so much in terms of what the people, the people struggle and yet they are people who are now triumphant and not bitter, they are moving forward. So I have had a love affair with the country, the people, and with the music and Sipho Gumede is one of those musicians, a fellow bass player that I met, we connected right away and he unfortunately passed away last year. And I've had a kind of yearning to do something, a tribute to South Africa, what I did was wrote this piece and dedicate it to his memory. So Celebrating Sipho is not really a sad and melancholy piece, it's more of a triumphant piece about the fall of a great musician and the soul of a great country.
Smitty: It's a great tune.
GV: When people hear that tune they kind of immediately start bobbing their head, and really have a smile on their face, because it has that whole kind of lazy but yet rhythmic South African bounce to it. So I think it came off pretty well.
Smitty: I love Sugar Time, nice track.
GV: Oh thank you, thanks. "Sugar Time" has a little bit of bluesy melodicism in there and it also has a kind of old school groove to it, just a real street driving rhythm and it's one of those melodies that just popped in my head one day. When I was working on Velvet I created a lot of melodies or I guess a lot of melodies came to me, and what I did was I carried around a tape recorder and I would just sing into it everything that popped into my head. When I had enough of these, I would sit down at my kitchen table and start writing out some of these melodies on paper, and they became most of the tunes for Velvet. That process just continued in writing new tunes for the live album .
Smitty: Right. It has a seriously cool melody to it. I just want to know the story behind Bread Puddin', come on (both laughing).
GV: Well, you know, Bread Pudding, it's one of those irresistible desserts. I grew up in a family where we had a lot of wonderful things growing up. We had lots of experiences and somehow we managed to travel and have just great fun. We didn't have much money but my family always made sure that we enjoyed life. Bread Pudding is something that I will order anyway, even when I'm not suppose to at a restaurant. If I see it on the menu I'll order it because it reminds me of the bread pudding that my aunt and my mother used to make. And I was always fascinated by that as a dessert, it's a long story, but I'm fascinated because you take something so basic and you make something really sublime out of it. I call it, making something from nothing. A lot of this is how music is, the creative process, for all the artists; you take just the essence of an idea and you can create something so wonderful that people can enjoy so, that's the whole Bread Puddin' story (both laughing).
Smitty: That's pretty cool, I can truly identify with that. I miss my mom's bread pudding and had to ask you about that. Just listening to all of the tunes on this great record and thinking about how versatile you were with this record, I wondered, how does the songs come to Gerald; are you in a certain mood or are you in a certain location, what's happening when a song come to you?
GV: Well, I hinted with my earlier answer. My songs will come to me at any time and when that happens whether I'm driving down the street, a lot of thoughts come to you when you're driving or it could be walking in the mall or it could be planting something in the garden, and I hear a melody, and what I try to do is either remember it, write it down, sing it into a recorder and then develop it later. I think the main thing one has to do is not block all of those influences and those sounds that you hear in your head, don't block them, try to work with those things. Sometimes as creative people we can edit ourselves too much, we think, well, 'I wonder if people will like this, I wonder if this is commercial', just let it flow through you. So I'm fortunate that I have a pretty good flow these days.
Smitty: Yes indeed.
GV: Thank you.
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