Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Artist Interview: Ian Moss

Thank goodness the weather broke.  I wasn't looking forward to sweating it out while I interviewed arguably the best guitar player in Australia, Ian Moss.  But Sydney's early summer heat took a break on Thursday morning, and I took advantage of the cool air.
Preparing for this interview was a great experience for me.  Being both from the US and a few years too young to experience Ian's playing in the 70s and early 80s, I needed to thoroughly research his playing as a member of Cold Chisel and in his solo work (i.e. I got to listen to a lot of great music).  I also took the opportunity to talk to quite a few of the people who have played with Mossy in the last few years.  I wanted the inside scoop so that I could ask questions that would stimulate both us and Ian.
Best of all, I got to see Ian perform live at The Eagle on the Hill on the outskirts of Adelaide.  It was his last tour performance of 2004 and it didn't disappoint.  He came out with a single, beautiful, loved, white Strat and showed off his lovely guitar skills for over 2 hours.  Vocally, I was impressed as well.  Ian has great range and fabulous interpretation - his live performance was better than I expected.  My only disappointment of the evening was not getting to hear him sing his rendition of Georgia.  Guess I'll have to go again....  :-)
A bit nervously, I introduced myself to him that night.  The interview had been organized ahead of time, but, with Adelaide being his second home town, there were a lot of old friends and family around Ian that night.  He stayed up until the wee hours of the morning getting caught up on the goss'.  I wanted to give him some time to relax now that his tour was finished, so we decided to do the interview in Sydney later that week.
We met at Music 101, a new music shop in Annandale owned and managed by Rocco Pezzano (great keyboard player, FYI).  For the interview, Rocco offered me a quiet table to sit at and coffee.  I thought it was be the perfect place to catch up....  Rocco made us 2 flat whites and we were off....
The Metro Gnome:  Was that the last show for the year or is anything else coming up?
Ian Moss:  No that was it.
TMG:  Was it a good tour?
IM:  Um, well yeah, I suppose.....  I haven't actually done a tour in ages  It's just sort of go out and do a couple of gigs here, then come home, then do a couple of gigs there.  That sort of thing.
TMG:  That's what Dave [Blight - harmonica player] said, he said it was sort of a weekend thing....
IM:  Yeah.
TMG:  Were the crowds responsive?
IM:  Absolutely, yeah.  Overall they've been really positive.  It's a good period at the moment.
TMG:  Good in your life, in your career, where?
IM:  All things really.  I was thinking mainly career-wise, I'm just still amazed at the kind of the level of respect, the adulation, or whatever there is out there.  I keep going out to gigs thinking oh I hope they really like us.  But just everywhere we go there's this crowd ready, going, "We like you.  Just go for it."  And all we have to do is play.
TMG:  I talked to a lot of people about whether or not ----
IM:  (Into the recorder) The coffee needs more milk - are you hearing this Rocco?  (We laughed.)
TMG:  You're certainly not forgotten, that's for sure.  I told quite a few people that I would be interviewing you, and I got an amazing response.  From the guitars players especially.  They respect your playing and they just love to listen to the work, love to go to your gigs, love to watch you play.  I was really happy to have the camera there on Sunday because I had a reason, an excuse, to walk right up to the stage and watch you play.  To see your technique.
IM:  Thanks.
TMG:  Just as some background, The Metro Gnome is for musicians - of all levels - new, never started, want to get back into music, play today - anything.  Lots of different levels.  And there's certainly an age group of people who might be starting to get serious.  So this next question is aimed to help them make some of the right moves to achieve their ambitions....
When you moved from Alice Springs to Adelaide, what were your expectations?  What did you think you'd be able to accomplish?
IM:  I don't know.  Typically at that age you're pretty driven.  And just excited about the world - this fantastic oyster to be discovered and explored.  Everything's positive and your head's just totally into music.  I lived it.  Breathed it.  Slept it.  Ate it. 
TMG:  Did you know anybody in Adelaide when you got there?
IM:  No, not really.  The biggest encouragement was my sister.  Really.  She was a fantastic, positive influence.  She, like my older brother, who sort of left town before my older sister did, was....  They were fairly driven as well and kind of believed that you had to get out of Alice Springs if you really wanted to get ahead, and at that time you really had to.  But it was a really hard thing to do.  Just growing up in a small country town, it was so hard, such a brave thing to do to get up and move away from all of your friends and go off to Adelaide.  It was so big - it might as well have been New York. 
TMG:  Exactly.
IM:  A big, frightening, cold city.  And a long way from home.  It was a definite departure.  Because Alice Springs is 1000 miles away, not 1000 kilometres - it wasn't like, "Hey I'll just pop home for the weekend.  You were up and gone.  But my sister just sort of talked to me at the end of my third year of high school.  My mother was trying to get me into some sort of boarding school and that kind of just freaked me out and I wanted to back out of that.  And I pretty much got the adolescent blues.  And between adolescent blues and music I ended up flunking that year.  My sister said, "Look, if you're going to repeat, you might as well go somewhere new."  She really talked it up big.  It was great.  She said, "This is the place to be.  Great bands, great music.  It's where you want to be.  Come down and get out of Alice." 
And it was a really healthy live scene those days.  There seemed to be bands playing everywhere and all sorts of venues.  In those days all of the venues were non-alcoholic.  I was 16.  Back then, early 70s there was an amazing influence from - and I don't know whether it would have been the same scene without the influence of - the British migrants and the Elizabeth thing - that was a massive influence.  I mean they weren't all necessarily from England, there was plenty of local talent, but they seemed to really push it along and some fantastic musicianship came out of the British migrants....
TMG:  On your first album, you played a salmon pink Strat.  Do you remember that guitar?
IM:  Yeah, that was probably on the first on the Cold Chisel album. 
TMG:  Some people have told me that that is the best sounding guitar they've ever heard.  And one person told me a rumour about the guitar almost disintegrating just because you played it so much.  Do you know what happened to that Strat?  Is there a story?
IM:  Yes, there's a bit of a story.  Starting with the fact that I think there was, I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think it was an original 62-63 L series Stratocaster with that wonderful pink colour, and the paint coming off.  And I bought it off the brother of a family friend in Alice Springs.  That's where the guitar was at the time and I heard about it.  And I got it fairly cheap, it was $250 in 1978.  I always felt I must confess that - well, it wasn't as much deception - but it was deception by silence.  I just asked him how much did he want for it.  And he said $250.  And I said OK.  It was worth a lot more than that.
TMG:  So, he didn't know how much it was really worth?
IM:  No.  At the time, I wasn't particularly rich.  It was well before any successes, so it suited my wallet.
TMG:  So what happened to the guitar?
IM:  Oh yeah.  Moving on from that...  Before that I was sort of a Gibson 335 person.  But then I finally got the Strat up and running.  Did a couple of things to it - changed the frets on it - did what everyone did in the 80s.  Started messing around with these things.  Which isn't wise in hindsight, it's sort of a criminal act.  But then again, I probably would have always changed the frets - I like big frets.  Played it for a couple of years and then did the usual guitar playing thing of always messing around with your sound.  Never being happy with your sound.  You get this new pedal.  Try this new amp.  Get this guitar.  Try this sound with the guitar.  And think "Ah great, this is fantastic - I've go the best sound in the world."  Then, three months later, you think, "ah, nah, gotta change it."  And that's the way I got with that guitar.  I kinda got sick of it and said, "No, that's not right, I've got to change it." 
That was at the beginning of the spare parts industry.  I think one of the first companies on the scene was Schecter - Schecter guitars - where they started building, not necessarily whole guitars, they probably did, but you could buy bodies and necks and all the parts.  And they started using exotic woods.  They started campaigning, "Use this timber to get this kind of sound."  So, Schecter, one of the timbers they used to use was this one called, African Walnut.  And it was really hard, dense wood - it actually had just virtually no warmth, body resonance whatsoever, but the thing was "So hard, mate, the sustain, you can go out and have a bite and come back and it'll still be going...."  You know, how it was so beautifully portrayed in Spinal Tap?  Amongst millions of other things where you look at it and say, "Man, I did that."  And then you shrink into your seat with embarrassment.  (He smiles.)
So I did that.  And I got talked into selling the body off for one of these Schecter things.
TMG:  Did you get more than $250 for it?
IM:  No, but I probably got $250 for the body; I suppose I'm doing pretty well, because I paid for the guitar.  In the meantime, the luthier that bought it off me sort of convinces someone else to part with their original '62 neck and gave them a Schecter neck and then put our two bits together and could say, "Look an L Series guitar - original."  And he probably sold it for 1000 percent mark up.
But, the first criminal thing I did before that, though, was to get it painted.  All this beautiful pink paint coming off, and I said, "Na, that's no good."  So we got this ridiculous blue-burst with this light blue and a dark blue and black on the outside.  And then the big Schecter sell off came. 
So that's what happened to that.  But I hung onto the neck for years and years and went through just various bodies.  And two years later I wondered, "Why do I have this thin, hard sound?"  And I thought, "Maybe it has to do with this body, this African Walnut wood that weighs 6 tonnes."
Mind you, it's weird 'cause I also had a Telecaster that was made out of exactly the same timber, and a beautiful old neck an original Telecaster 68 neck.  And somehow that guitar, with the right pickups in it was a great sounding Telecaster.  A really warm sounding Tele. 
TMG:  Do you play with all of these bits and pieces of your guitars yourself, or do you have other people put them together for you?
IM:  No, I'm sort of a handyman's arsehole - both my brothers are really good with their hands, but....
TMG:  So you let other people tweak it?
IM:  Yeah, I just take it in and let someone else do it.  No, I wouldn't dare, I just know for sure I'd stuff it up.... 
TMG:  I have heard that you have used active pickups, rather than passive pickups (of course, I had to ask what the difference was, but I now know).  You don't seem to use them now?  Do you have a preference?
IM:  Oh yeah, I definitely have a preference.  I think one of the biggest benefits of active pickups, and the ones I used for years and years were EMG, was that they eliminate all sorts of problems - noise problems, humming, buzzing, and stuff from electronics - bad wiring in a place in a building can cause all sorts of magnetic interference.  I don't know what it is exactly that does it, but if you go into an old building and the wiring is not shielded properly then it must be transmitting some sort of waves and stuff through the atmosphere.
TMG:  Is it more an issue for recording or live performance?
IM:  Actually it's more live, because recording studios generally will be wired really well.  It comes down to the electricity, the wiring in the building.  And so it's mainly a live thing.  Where the thing will buzz like crazy at a certain angle, and it'll be one of those things where if you turn 90 degrees you'll probably eliminate the buzz, but inevitably, 99.9 percent of the time, that position, where it does go quiet, is totally the wrong position if you're standing on a stage.  Face sideways and it'll be fine, but never is it the right way to stand for the audience.  I don't know why.
TMG:  Were you using active pickups on Sunday?
IM:  I'm digressing all over the place aren't I?
TMG:  That's alright; I'll bring you back...  You're allowed to digress.
IM:  I finally sort of brought the active thing to an end 3-4 years ago.  I'm amazed at how slow my own ears are sometimes.  I must have picked up a guitar with only original pickups and though, oh - cause like everyone else, most of us Strat players I think saw the ultimate tone as Jimi Hendrix kind of tone - and that's what we pursued.  And it was only a few years ago that I picked up a Strat and realised this and thought, "Geez, these EMGs are actually miles away from a real, proper Strat sound - kind of a single polarisation - miles away.  And I found myself doing a fair bit of A/Bing and started really, really not liking EMGs at all.  And foregoing all of the buzzing problems.  The guitar I played last Sunday was the Greg Friar Strat and the pickups in that are Fender - Fender custom 69s.  The blurb is that they are a copy of the way Fender pickups were made in 1969 - around the Hendrix period.  Apparently they've got the lowest inductance - quite a low output - but supposedly more tone.  The only alterations I've made since then is to - all guitar players will identify with this - is when you've got three pick ups with the same output you've always got trouble with the bridge pickup because that's where you get the least amount of vibration in the string, and therefore the least amount of volume - so guys are always looking for a hotter back pickup.  So I've actually had Colin [his luthier, I assume] throw a couple of thousand turns to the bridge pickup of this custom 69 to boost it up.  It's interesting, 'cause after he'd done it he looked on the meter and said it specs up like a Telecaster - and that's what it sounds like to me, somewhere halfway between a Telecaster and a Strat.
TMG:  So two guitars in one....
IM:  Yeah.
TMG:  Alright, I want to switch gears off of guitars and onto music in general - more about songwriting.  Don Walker, of course, gets a lot of credit on your solo work and with Chisel.  But you've written songs yourself.
IM:  Yeah, a few.
TMG:  How much writing do you do?
IM:  Nowhere near enough.
TMG:  How do you do your writing?  That's more important to me, actually.  What kind of zone do you have to get into in order to write a song?
IM:  Yeah....  well, you're right, it is somewhat getting into a zone.  I guess it's that you try to go in your head to a place halfway between sleep and consciousness.  You'll hear stories about people drifting off to sleep and having a little tape recorder or a pen and paper by the side of the bed because it's quite often in that time, in that totally relaxed state, that you get ideas.  The mistake most of us make is sort of being that tired and sleepy you don't want to get out of bed, so you think oh, I'll just let that keep going through my head.  I'll remember that in the morning, I'll remember that in the morning.  And of course, you wake up in the morning and think, oh what was it?!  And you never quite fully remember it, you come up with a slight... an altered version of it, and it's not right.  Essentially you've lost the spirit of it.  And you never get it back.  It's like a little window that opens and the opportunity to reach through that window and grab it right then and there.  And but, generally, most of the time, it's just the thread of an idea, and then comes the 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. 
TMG:  Do you put yourself in a situation to do songwriting.  Do you say, alright, it's quiet in the house right now, I've got a few hours, and I'm going to start writing something and see what happens?  Or do you go away from the house and to a different environment to do it.  Or do you do it like that at all, or just wait for that 1% inspiration to hit you in the middle of the night?
IM:  How you were saying it firstly is how I should be doing it.  Ideally... well, I guess everyone has their own methods, but that's something I need to do.  What I should be doing is getting away from the house.  Because for me, the workplace and the home should be two different things.  But for more than one reason, I dunno, I suppose the fear of not coming up with something.  Everyone goes through this.  "Oh yeah, I've got to write a song today, I'm really looking forward to this.  I'll just, uh, do a bit of office work first.  Just pop down to the bank.  Oh, I'd better do the shopping first."  And you tell yourself that these things have to be done.  But it's all procrastination.  I don't know what that is....
TMG:  I think it's because writing is so personal. 
IM:  Yeah.  It's the fear, because you want to come up with something, so you can always say you didn't have time to get to it....
TMG:  What about collaborative songwriting.  Have some of the songs that you've written been collaborative - where someone will come up with the lyric, someone will come up with the riff and then the rest sort of starts to fall into place?
IM:  It's a funny thing.  It has worked.  I've written songs in both ways.  It is hard, the collaborative thing, because it is such a personal thing.  So it's real easy for you to get an idea and the other person will say....
Rocco came around and we asked him for more milk in our flat whites....  He made us two new coffees.  Nice guy. 
IM:  That is a hard one, because it is such a personal thing, and sometimes you've got this idea and you want to run one way, and the other guy says, why don't we do this, and you're going, uhhhh, that's not what I .....  You know?
I think that ultimately it feels the best if you do the whole thing yourself.  It gives you a good sense of accomplishment as well.  Gee, I did all this and it's great.  But mind you, some of the collaborative writing is good.  I've done' all of my writing with Don Walker.  I tend to think that he likes to take the ball [i.e. to take a song idea from someone else] and run with it rather than do it all on his own.  But I've never been great with the lyrics - I mean, they're good, but they're few and far between.  Whereas Don's pretty good at it.  Songs like Small Town Motel Blues, for example, and Tucker's Daughter was another one, where I'd written all of the music and done a little demo, and it's sort of songwriting by correspondence. 
TMG:  So for you, in general, would you say that lyrics follow music or that music follows lyrics?  Generally?
IM:  In general, it's music first, lyrics second.  But quite often, it's that thing of, going back to that initial seed idea - generally that's just a thread of melody and a thread of lyric.  Whether that be something you've heard before or but quite often it's important to have a look at that initial thread of lyric and try to build on it. 
TMG:  I was going to ask this later, but I sense these are related.  The first question is what are your near term plans professionally?  But I think that's related to another question, what inspires you?  What motivates you?  Those are really interrelated questions.  In 2005 what will you be doing, playing?  Recording? 
The second coffee is the same as the first one, by the way.  Ian looks into the cup and frowns.  I was a little embarrassed, but pushed along anyway....
IM:  The plan is that I'm well overdue for another original album. 
TMG:  Yes.
IM:  So that's the plan, but mind you that I've had these bunch of ideas all sitting on the wrong side of the finishing line for some time now. 
TMG:  Do you have the songs selected for it?
IM:  No, that's what I'm saying, all the songs are all sitting on the wrong side of the finishing line.  No, I don't have them finished.  And until they're finished, you can't really start selecting them. 
TMG:  How do you think you'll progress that?
IM:  Um... I don't know (he laughs).  I don't know.  (A pause....)
TMG:  Is that the most important thing for you right now?  In your life, and in what you're doing right now, is that the most important next step?  To put out another album?  Or are there other projects underway?
IM:  No... there's not a lot of other things at all.  I've got a 16 month old boy. 
TMG:  He's keeping you busy.
IM:  Yeah!  You certainly get a new appreciation for the clock. 
Rocco found the problem with the coffee - the machine was out of milk....  He fixed it and made us 2 more coffees.  That's six so far....
TMG:  So, how has having Julian changed your life?  Or how hasn't it?
IM:  (Laughs)  Oh overall, I think it's been good.  I mean, it's hard, but it's great.  'Cause I'm a slack bastard, and I tend to sort of push that slackness to the point where it takes something really serious to get me going, and, when you've got a small child around, you just have to move....  he comes first.  It's got me up and moving....  A bit (he laughs and jokes) dragging and kicking and screaming.... 
TMG:  Do you get out and about to see other bands?
IM:  Not as much as I should.  In fact, probably that's because I've got this home life to take care of.  But yeah, I know it's important. 
TMG:  One of the things that The Metro Gnome is trying to push along, because, well, I actually think Sydney is moving along in the live music scene - I suppose that's debatable.
IM:  Well, I fuckin' hope so (he says straight into my recorder).  It's about time!  It's the bloody worst city in the country.  Then again, Brisbane's not much better.
TMG:  But better nevertheless....  I do think there's a move up.  I suppose I feel like the late 80s saw a rapid decline in live music in Sydney - and across the country - and then the 90s was the decade of the pokies and the rise of the DJ.  But it does feel like we're on the cusp of a recovery.  And through The Metro Gnome, I want to help push that along.  To get people to get out there.  And whether that's to play or to watch, it's important.  Some purpose built live venues like Space at Pitt and Liverpool, The Marquee around the corner, and The Vanguard in Newtown - to name a few - they're popping up.  They're going to make a go at live music.
IM:  That's good. 
TMG:  So, wrapping up, who are your current influences?  I've been told that when Matchbook came out, you were interviewed ion the radio, and you said that one of your main influences was Terrence Trent D'Arby.  (Ian laughs.)  Do you remember that?
IM:  No.  ...No, I mean, yeah I remember his album.  It'd just been released.  I guess he only really had that album that was big for him.  I can't remember the name of it.  But certainly, that was just a vocal thing.  I think there's some great songwriting on that album.  But... yeah... he was a mighty fine singer. 
TMG:  So is there anyone piquing your interest the same way that that did?
IM:  Well, I must confess to being nowhere near up on that level, and hearing exactly what's happening and being done by other people.  Yeah.... I really need to pull the finger out there. 
My favourite album out right now is by Alison Krause and the Union Station.  Which is country bluegrass, sort of...  it's fascinating with the harmonies.  Keltic, kind of, Irish.  What do they call that?  Irish folk.  Kind of mournful, beautiful, with haunting harmonies.  Shades of that.  But, yeah, it's kind of bluegrass, country.  And with some fantasctic players.  Like the guitar player, Jerry Douglas - he plays a dobro, a slide dobro - overhand.
TMG:  That's becoming a very popular instrument lately, I think.
IM:  Yeah, it's good to see that retro comeback.  Dobros have been around a long time and they've always been canned as a blues thing.  But, Geez, it's good to see players like Jeff Lang, I'd highly recommend anyone to go and see Jeff.  I saw Jeff, well, I heard him, unfortunately I didn't get to go around up front, but I heard him at the Bridgetown Blues Festival recently.  It's just amazing the range of stuff that he does.  I mean he can play any style, but he's got this blues thing down.  All of a sudden it turns into a thundering crescendo, like an orchestra, but with only one instrument - he just builds it and builds it and builds it.  It's fantastic.
Yeah, I've been seriously thinking for awhile about getting back into a semi acoustic kind of guitar.  And just doing a little "back in school" kind of thing - in theory land - looking at a bit of jazz.  Not sort of to become a straight out jazz player, but I'm just looking to throw some new things into my repertoire. 
TMG:  So the way that you refresh yourself is to think out of the square?
IM:  Yeah, I guess so, yeah. 
TMG:  Take the typical Ian Moss routine and challenge it a bit?
IM:  Yeah, I like to look at the odd challenge. 
TMG:  I reckon you're not going to go take a lesson, but maybe you are.  Do you ever do that? 
IM:  Oh yeah... kinda.  These days, I've been, once again, doing it by email.  There's a fantastic guitarist - he's lived in Cairns for the past 25 years, Wayne MacIntosh.  That guy... does he know the guitar back to front?  He started off as kind of a blues player - more blues than rock, in the late 70's here in Sydney in a band called Gunsmoke.  I remember them supporting us at the Lifesaver.  I wasn't really that impressed with many of the support bands, but with this guy I thought, "Man this is real."  It was ever so tasty.  And then he just kind of disappeared.  Then I was up in Cairns and there he had this house, and he'd moved there and he just thought, "Nah, I'm just going to drop out of that Sydney rat race.  I've got myself a boat and all I want to do is play my guitar and fish - teach myself guitar and go out on the reef and do some fishing."  He's got a house just choc-o-block of tuition books and videos and tapes and that guy seriously knows guitar and he knows jazz and.... anyway. 
TMG:  So how will you learn from him over the Internet? 
IM:  It starts with chord charts and cameras and videos and those sorts of things.  Playing a song.  And, as anyone will appreciate, the best way to start is to play a few songs.  Grab a half a dozen songs and just start playing them.  You know, standards, jazz standards.  Cole Porter's Night and Day has been one of the first ones on the list.  He's just sent me a tonne of stuff on the recording 2-5-1 and the jazz harmony.  You know, altered dominant chords and scales you can play over them and... you know....
TMG:  Yes, jazz chords are amazing.
IM:  I guess they are, but then again, it's all - I was living in Adelaide when I was 16 and I went back to trying to learn piano - I didn't maintain the interest - but the teacher I had was a really good jazz pianist and I used to comment about the chords.  And he said, "Mate if you want to know where these really come from, it's classical.  Classical music."  Classical music is where you can find some really fantastic chords.  (His hands formed a complex shape, as if there was a guitar in his hands....)
TMG:  I suppose I need to grow some longer fingers.  I have a 4 fret maximum, and that's a stretch.  (We compared finger sizes.)  I reckon you need to be born with big hands to be a great player. 
IM:  I don't know if it matters.  Phil Small is a good bass player but he's a small guy (5'3") and he's got quite small hands and plays a bloody 5 string bass.
We then talked about Dave Carter and Loonatic Fringe (Dave, he hadn't heard the CD), the US, Arizona, deserts in general, water (or the lack thereof), and Cold Chisel playing in Tucson, Arizona....
TMG:  Why do you think that you guys - that your music - didn't make it in the states?  Was it promotion?  Because it certainly wasn't a lack of skill or talent. 
IM:  No, all it was, was that we should have.... we just had to be there.  We shouldn't have left.  'Cause we were going down real well live.  I can confidently say that we were just knocking them dead everywhere.  But all we had to do was stay there.  I didn't really appreciate it at the time, but it echoes in my head now.  People over there saying, "You've got to be here.  Don't go outside this country and wait for it to happen."  There are so many people there; so many people are lining up to get in the proper people's faces.  They stay there on tour and in stadiums to stay in people's faces.  But we - I almost get angry when I think about how we wimped out.  We quite badly wimped out.  Is that recording? 'Cause you can fuckin' print that.  Yeah, wimped out big time. 
TMG:  I wish you hadn't.
IM:  Yeah.
TMG:  But maybe in some ways you're better off.  Better off professionally.  Better off personally....  You never know what might have happened....
It was a hypothetical situation.  And he didn't answer.  He had talked to me for almost an hour and we had been through some fantastic stories.  But, I sensed that Ian felt regret at that point.   I felt like he wanted more.  He wants to be inspired, to write, and to keep reinventing himself so that he can stay interested in his work.  It's a lesson for all of us actually - you have to prioritise your days to make sure that we do the things that will make us happiest.  We have to make the time for the things that are important.  For Ian, music also happens to be his livelihood, but even if it was just a hobby...  well, you have to make the time to do it.  It won't just happen. 
I said as much to him.  Just like I say throughout The Metro Gnome - you have to GET OUT THERE!  I told him we wanted to hear more from him.  I asked him to make the time.  And to make more music.  He thanked me for the encouragement.  And , with that, we were done.
I sense a great burst of creativity coming in 2005, Ian.  And I can't wait.  Thank you!
Gnome links:
  • The Eagle on the Hill is a GREAT venue.  Aleks Bojanic was an amazing host and runs an exceptional outfit.  If you're in Adelaide - check it out - great bands are there all the time.  If you are planning to visit Adelaide, definitely see what is going on - there's a great view and it'll be a good night out.  We need more places like that in the world!
  • Dave Blight is a great harmonica player and he toured with Ian this year.  You can see what he’s up to on this site:
  • Schecter started as a replacement parts company in 1974.  Marc Knopfler and Pete Townsend helped make it famous.  It is now a full fledged guitar company based in California.  It has a custom shop (Schecter made the symbol shaped guitar for Prince) and a standard range called the Diamond range. 
  • Alison Krauss + Union Station have a website.  Click on the "hear it now" live album link at the top of the page and you can hear snippets of sound from each song:
  • I found a great little interview with Phil Small, called A Beer with Phil Small. 
  • Thank you to Dave Carter for helping me prepare for this interview.  D.C. went on tour with Ian in Europe and Australia a few years ago and had some nice insights.  He is part of a very entertaining duo in Newcastle called, Loonatic Fringe.  You should check them out (and grab a CD):
  • Thanks also to Sue Konon, who seems to have an endless library of rock and roll information in her head. She knows a little bit about everyone and, importantly, knows Joe Malabello, Ian's manager. Without her, I might not have gotten this interview, and without her insight, I might have asked some silly questions. Thanks, Sue!  FYI, Sue is a web designer for (among others) John Swan (  Check it out!  If you like her work, ask her for a quote:
  • A special "thank you" to Ben Little for driving me to Blacktown and giving me a lesson in active versus passive pick-ups and in amplifiers versus speakers.... well, you know - basic stuff that I should know.  I'm glad I'm not too embarrassed to ask.  And I'm grateful for your patience and constant tuition.  XX XX!

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