13 ANSWERS TO 13 RAVINIA SHOW AND AEGEA RELEASE QUESTIONS/FROM WPC
Question #1, from Dayvid:
Will you be working on and releasing more music along the lines of AEGEA? I love the idea of you pursuing a brave path like Cluster or Popul Vuh making soundtrack-ish or (transcendental) meditative music.
“Thank you, appreciate the question. As far as more instrumental work, the answer is a general yes, but I’d caution anyone who pays attention to these sorts of things not to see my work disparately meaning: I personally don’t see much difference in the different work: from electronic, to rock, to acoustic plainsong, they’re all textures to me and in that way, like shades of paint: as in, ‘what color should I use today?’ I realize in the marketing of music (especially today) that it behooves the artist and labels and radio stations to categorize to a niche, but I would just like to move beyond that from here on. I make what I make: some of it commercial, but most of it, not. An album like AEGEA is strictly an experience without a binding concept (so I suggest making up your own). But in the future I might have albums with one vocal song and the rest instrumental, based around a fairy tale. So that doesn’t mean anything (to me) beyond making a choice. So as opposed saying: ‘well, this is instrumental, this isn’t,’ I just say, ‘it’s music for that circumstance.’ And that way, Billy, WPC, The Ivory Tower, SP, Zwan, Djali Zwan, The Marked are/were all just filters to rummage around in; the Light as such comes from higher source, and I’m one translator among many of those frequencies.
As for your suggestion that it is ‘brave’ to make that kind of music, I disagree. For I believe the most courageous a songwriter can do is write a song for everyone.”
Question #2, from Victor:
Might AEGEA someday be available in CD or digital format?
“Currently I have no plans to release the music digitally. Part of the reason for that is I’m not prepared to sell that way through MadameZuzus.com, and the other part is that I’d like the music (at least in the beginning) to be felt through experience too (i.e. opening up record, seeing art, liner notes, and so on); because the textural aspects of listening interest me just as much as sound.
Plus, I just don’t want to put what is essentially avant-garde music through normal channels/release systems at this time. For now I’m quite comfortable with AEGEA being released ‘as is;’ from us, ‘here,’ to anyone; with love.”
Question #3, from Haunted Hare:
In reviewing material to come up with a set list for the career-spanning acoustic show (at Ravinia), have you been surprised by anything about your body of work (so far)? Any previously unnoticed themes? Changes over time? Or consistent, melodic or compositional approaches?
“Overall, in listening back, I’m struck how the better songs transcend their times, and the rest get mired in some coquettish need to live within their times. For me this is illustrative: the message being that it’s the bones that count, and not the seersucker suit you stretch over them.
Thematically, I do tend to drone on about the same subjects often, so that makes putting together songs from different eras easy. You know: songs about broken hearts, songs about hope and dreams, and songs about what might have been. And here and there, a glimpse of some future as yet unbound.”
Question #4, from Gaby (@gabydearest)
This concert is mobilizing fans from all over the world because we can sense there is significance to you playing, not only in Chicago, but in this specific venue. Can you tell us in your own words what's so special to you about playing in your hometown and Ravinia in particular ?
“Well, home is where it begins and ends, no? Seems so. As far as Chicago or Highland Park, etc (the local signifiers, if you like) the significance of playing here has everything to do with marking time; this Ravinia show being, so far, the only concert I’ve scheduled for 2014. Ravinia, if you haven’t been, is a fantastic and historic venue, and to be honest it took a place like that (asking) for me to consider playing in what was meant as ‘off’ year. Every concert is a unique opportunity, but as you can see from most tours you get into a rhythm, and are moving around so much that it’s hard to design a show for just one gig like we are this one. Put together the import of playing in my hometown with the chance of a one-of-a-kind evening, and you can see why I’m thrilled to present what will be a memory making night.”
Question #5, from @chelsealouanne
You mentioned there may be a little surprise during your Ravinia set for Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness' 20th Anniversary; if this is still happening (without giving too much away), what can fans expect or look forward to?
“I don’t know what ‘surprise’ you are referring to, but if I said something to that effect it would most certainly have had to do with the presentation of the material, or the songs chosen. Say, for example: ‘Methusela’, which has never been played live. I’m certainly not out to create an expectation of the past coming forward, if that’s what’s being wondered about. For me, inclusion of a ‘Mellon Collie’ suite is all about honoring the anniversary of the writing, which was done in almost all cases on acoustic guitar or piano. The enticement being that I could choose to present some of those songs ‘as written,’ or, as they ‘might have been’ if produced otherwise.”
Question #6, from @aspeer70
For the upcoming show at The Ravinia, will this be purely acoustic (i.e. two acoustic guitars on stage and nothing else) or will we get accompaniment on other instruments such as keyboards, synthesizers, or electric guitar?
“The show will definitely not be acoustic-only. That, Jeff and I feel, would be a bit dour.”
Question #7, from Aaron
As a SP fan and your fan for the past 20+ years, I've seen many of your shows (two on Mellon Collie tour in Seattle; three on Adore- SF and Los Angeles- two on Machina (portland and Vancouver BC), one Zwan (Portland), poetry reading / performance in Seattle; one residency show in San Francisco; and most recent Oceania show in SF. Each has its own mood and sonic ambiance, what can fans expect your effort at the Ravinia show will produce in terms of mood or ambiance for the audience given the breadth of your repertoire over the past nearly 3 decades of making music?
“I expect a mood unlike all those other tours you mentioned. Yes, it will have the dynamic range of intimacy and how space can be thundering, but I can say we have been planning on these types of shows for awhile, and always the thought it to create something that fills in the gap where rock-SP live leaves off.
Playing this show under my name also doesn’t preclude acoustic-based tours to come under the SP name, which would obviously generate more interest, but also higher expectations of what songs SHOULD be played (a contentious debate as always, I’m guessing). At least here, the work can be presented thus: from the songwriter to you in a preferred, and more personal, form.
As far as spanning all those songs, all those years, without limitation, it’s really fun to choose what belongs and what doesn’t. It most definitely won’t be typical, but it definitely won’t be too-insidery either. We expect lots of Chicagoans just out for a nice night under the stars, and Ravinia attracts a crowd who love good music. So we’ll have to bring our A game to an A-level venue.”
Question #8, from @pinkypeas
Would like to know if things go well at Ravinia fest, will you consider more acoustic shows in the future? @pinkypeas
“See above answer, and yes, additional shows are under consideration and would appear more sporadically then a major SP tour. One plan is to even film a documentary as we randomly loll around America, announcing shows as we go at casual, outdoor locations; like barnyards and backyards. That, we feel, could be a fantastic journey.”
Question #9, from @randelius
I still listen to the Djali Zwan bootlegs despite their poor quality because the songs are amazing, and I think some of your very best work in terms of subtlety and beauty(e.g. I love how Pony Express gracefully unravels around a slow, steady tempo). Will we see any those songs played at Ravinia?
“Actually, ‘Pony Express’ is one of the songs on ‘our list’ for Ravinia. So yes, definitely, we’ll be playing some from that era.”
Question #10, from Chris, Brooklyn
How does it feel to be performing songs spanning your entire catalog in one concert? Do you relate to songs differently based on whether you wrote them as Smashing Pumpkins, Zwan, or solo songs?
“Not at all, and mentioning my earlier answer obliquely, I don’t see how anyone manages to separate me from what I’ve written. I’m not saying that’s what your question implies (it probably doesn’t), yet that’s how I receive it. There are many roles played, of course, and some age better than others. But the songs remain, to me, the same; snapshots, if you will, of marking a singular moment in my life. The only thing I can vouch for is that I (in most cases) wrote them alone, and that’s that. The rest is a mystery. In terms of how I might relate, feeling-wise, to play songs from over 25 years of writing, that changes based on a host of factors. But again, what I feel today is as unimportant as what I felt then. There is no right, wrong, or indifferent. Once a song is created/made, it exists in reality as much as anything exists in reality. And therefore it doesn’t define me any more than a rock I pick up in my hand does. If I throw it, skip it, or save it for a rainy day; it’s all the same over here in the Land of William of Orange. The only qualifier being that I’m proud to have been involved with so many rocks-golden apples-magpies thrown, etc, etc.”
Question #11, from Travis
With the Ravinia show being your first "hometown" show in quite sometime. There are some songs that are obviously written about Chicago, but what is your favorite song that you have written about "home"?
“Believe it or not it’s a toss-up between the song ‘Home’ from MACHINA, or the song ‘Chicago’ from the ChicagoKid album. One could argue ‘Tonight, Tonight’ belongs there too, but I didn’t write that one for me.”
Question #12, from Ben
Is there any chance of doing some sort of VIP, or meet-and-greet at the upcoming Ravinia show?
“Yes, a meet and greet is in the planning stages, as well as the possibility of some other chances to hear some songs pre-concert. But nothing concrete as of yet.”
Question #13, from Alison
Any chance you might perform at the AEGEA release party on the 24th?
“Can’t say for sure. Having been so busy finishing the MONUMENTS record, I haven’t planned much beyond saying, ‘we should have a party!’ It’ll be kinda like the OCEANIA cruise, but with the Highland Park skyline replacing that little ‘ol Chicago one.
Still, the chance to perform always beguiles me…”