80年代のカレッジ・シーンから登場したバンドといば、真っ先に浮かぶのはR.E.M.でしょう。でも、このバンドも忘れてはいけません。Camper Van Beethoven、よりマニアックな方向性で一部の音楽ファンから熱狂的な支持を受けたバンドです。中でも、CVBサウンドが他バンドと一線を画す要因の1つとも言えるのが、ヴァイオリンの音色。そのサウンドを担っている人物こそJonathan Segel（ジョナサン・シーゲル）その人。CVB以外にもソロやØresund Space Collective、Sista Majなど様々なフィールドで活動を続ける彼。2月に発売された最新ソロ・アルバムの話題を中心に、音楽的な背景から機材の話など、たっぷり語ってくださいました。
私はずっと音楽と共に生きてきた。子供の頃、まずギターを、そしてヴァイオリンを学び始めた。ティーンエイジャーになってバンドを組んだけど、その頃はすっかりヴァイオリンのことなんて忘れていたなぁ…。その後、カリフォルニア大学サンタクルーズ校に進学して組成を学んでいた頃、後にCamper Van Beethovenを組むことになる仲間たちに会って、再びヴァイオリンを手にした。そして、大学を卒業したまさしくその週（1985年6月）、CVBの最初のアルバムが出たんだ。それ以来ずっと、私はアルバムを製作したり、曲を書き続けている。ロックや映画音楽、ダンスと同じくらい多くの即興音楽に関わってきた。そして、ギターやヴァイオリンだけでなく、コンピュータ・ベースの電子音楽にもね。
Q. Congratulations on “Superfluity” release.There may be a new fan knowing you by this interview for the first time. Therefore, at first tell it from your simple profile.
I’ve been a musician my entire life. I started playing guitar as a child, and tried to learn violin later, I started playing in bands as a teenager and forgot the violin for a while, and then went on to study composition in the university, (University of California at Santa Cruz) which is where I met the other guys in Camper Van Beethoven, and started playing violin again. CVB’s first album came out the very week that I graduated (June 1985!) and I’ve been making albums and writing music ever since, both rock music and music for film and dance companies, as well as being involved with a lot of improvised music, both on guitar and violin, as well as computer-based electronic music.
Q. Please express your music using three adjectives. (And Why?)
Progressive – in that I’m trying to be forward-thinking, trying to continue the development of the musical language of the world.
Psychedelic – (with or without drugs) in that I’m trying to express a sense of synesthesia, or an openness to seeing, feeling the patterns of the music on both micro- and macro-levels.
Real – in that I am not trying to fake anything, the music is personal and I am singing things that I mean, I am not trying to write in any particular style nor be part of any genre, I am doing what I think is real.
Q.“Superfluity” is awesome! Frankly speaking, how is the present feeling?
I’m extremely happy with it! It feels like a summation of all of the things that I know about music, all of the ways I have learned how to make music, in writing and playing, and also in recording and mixing.
初まりの頃は、この欲にまみれた短絡的で愚かな社会の中で、音楽を作り続けることへの価値を見出せなくなっていた。一部の企業とそれを支援する政府に支配された世界は、この惑星を破滅へと導いている。音楽なんて何の役にも立たないのでは…だからこそ私は、自身が楽しむためにギターを演奏しなければと思い始めた。そして、これらの考えは、曲のアイデアへと繋がっていった。私達人間が現在していること、それが100年先1000年先の世界にどのような影響を及ぼすのだろう。人間が個々ではなく、何万年の長きにわたり脈々と続く人類という中の一部に過ぎないとしたら…という大まかなアイデアが浮かんできたんだ。これをアルバムにしてみよう。そう思った途端、曲達はどんどんと成長を遂げていった。アルバム10曲目に収録した約24分というとても長い曲 （“Phenomenon and On”）は、悠久の時を物語るにふさわしい曲になったと思う。
Q. This album is so voluminous, 2CDs, 17songs, 110 minutes at total time. When did you elaborate a plan from? When did you write these songs? Do you work out directionality and the concept of the album to some extent before beginning recording? The record did develop over time. In the beginning, I had come to a point where I just could not see the value of continuing to make music, given its devaluation in society and the idiocy of humanity’s generally short-sighted obsession with greed. The world is ruled by corporations, governments go along willingly and it is destroying the planet and making it impossible for humanity to survive, ultimately. So what’s the use? I started thinking that I was going to play guitar to entertain only myself. Of course, these ideas developed into song ideas. And I started to think about the long-view, what if humans thought in terms of a hundred years or a thousand years, about what they do now, how it would affect the world. See yourself as part of a continuum of people, not just as your own individual self, but a line of persons over tens of thousands of years. So I got a rough idea of outlining the album to describe that. The songs at the beginning are much more here-and-now, as it goes on it stretches out. The unlisted track in the middle that is super long (actually called “Phenomenon and On”) is meant to illustrate the passage of great lengths of time.
まず、ドラムのAndreas Axelssonとジャム・セッションから始まった。私もいくつかの曲のベーシックなアイデアが浮かんできていたので、それを録音して、森の中のコテージにこもって歌詞を書き始めた。一夏が過ぎてストックホルムに戻り、Roth Händleスタジオで、このスタジオの主でもあるMattias Olssonとより多くの楽曲と即興演奏を録音した。数か月間は並行してØresund Space Collectiveのアルバム（“Different Creatures”）・ミックスも手がけたね。秋になると、MattiasはNecromonkeyとのツアーに出たので、私はスタジオに入って最終的な重ね録り（あとレコーディングを少々）と、（Kungens Mänのギター/ボーカル）Mikael Tuominenをベースに、Sista Majで一緒にプレイしているAndreas Axelssonをドラムに迎え、最初の公式盤である「Series of Nested Universes」をリリースした。Kelly Atkinsのボーカル・アレンジをして、ミックスを終えるまでは6か月かかった。アルバム「Superfluity」と「Series of Nested Universes」のミックス（多少の重ね録り）をしている時に、並行してØresund Space Collectiveの「Visions Of..」のミックスも行っていたよ。こうして「Visions Of..」と「Series of Nested Universes」は、2016年12月にドイツのスペース・ロック・プロダクションズ/サファイア・レコードから、「Superfluity」は2017年2月にロンドンのフローティング・ワールドからリリースされた。これらのアルバムの全てを終えるまで合計2年かかったけど、ここまで音楽に全てを注いだことは今までなかったのではないか、そう感じるくらいの充足感がある。これらの作品が私に更なる飛躍をもたらしてくれるだろうね。Camper Van Beethovenのファンは、スペース・ロック好きが多いんだ。だから私はCVBのツアーの時にSista MajとØSCのディスクも物販に持っていってるよ。
Q. Did the recording proceed smoothly? Were there the points that had a hard time? The very first recordings were improvisational sessions with Andreas Axelsson playing drums, they resulted in the long pieces on the album. I also had some song ideas at that point, and began some basics for them at this point, but then I took the tracks from that studio and went out to a cottage in the woods for the summer to work it all out. At this point the lyrics started and the whole idea coalesced. We I came back to the city (Stockholm), I booked time with Mattias Olsson at his Roth Händle studio and we recorded basics for many more songs, and improvised several as well. I worked on these for several months at home in between recording with and then mixing albums for Øresund Space Collective from Copenhagen, (the “Different Creatures” album.)
The following fall, Mattias was on tour with Necromonkey, so I got keys to the studio and did final overdubs (and recorded more, as yet unused) and also got Mikael Tuominen on bass (the guitarist/vocalist from Kungens Män) and Andreas Axelsson on drums to the studio to record—together we play as Sista Maj—and we recorded what became our first official release, “Series of Nested Universes.”
I spent the following six months at home finishing the mixing while Kelly Atkins finished working on her vocal arrangements. I mixed (and did some overdubs at home) both “Superfluity” and “Series of Nested Universes” at the same time as mixing ØSC’s “Visions Of..” “Visions Of…” and “Series..” came out in December 2016 on Space Rock Productions/Sapphire Records from Germany, and “Superfluity” came out in Feb 2017 on Floating World from London. It took a total of two years to finish all of these albums, but I have never felt more fulfilled by music that I was personally responsible for and I feel like this represents a great leap forward for both me and my world of music. It’s great to see that the Camper Van Beethoven fans like the space rock stuff also, I bring Sista Maj and ØSC discs on tour with CVB to sell at the merch area.
Q. What is the secret of the making of your songs? Is there anything that you keep in mind for songwriting?
Really, I’m just trying to do the best that I can. I want to make it worth it to write, arrange, record the song, as well as worth the listeners’ time to listen to it. I try to write and mix so that there is enough to keep the listener interested and coming back to hear more. Usually, for me, a “song” comes out of me playing something that sticks in my own ear, so that I play it again and start to hear lyrics in it. I figure that if it sticks in my head, it might stick in someone else’s also. If I make music that I like to listen to, hopefully there will be other people who like is as much!
ーソロの他にもCamper Van Beethoven,やSista Majなどのバンドでも活動されていますが、それらとの違いは何ですか？
Camper Van Beethovenは、ソロより共同制作の場、協力的。一緒に曲を書いて、アレンジして、ミックスについて議論を重ねる。 このやり方で何枚か素晴らしいレコード（特に最後の2枚、2013年の「La Costa Perdida」と、2014年の「El Camino Real」）を生み出すことができた。ボーカルのDavidは、彼独自の驚くべきやり方で歌詞を書くんだけど、それがCVBの色にもなっているな。
Sista Majは、即興をベースににしているという点で、私が過去に在籍していたØresund Space Collectiveとも似ているかな。Sista Majは素晴らしいメンバーが揃っているよ。ジャズ系がバック・グラウンドのAndreas Axelsson、ベースのMickeは、自身のバンドKungens Mänのギター/ボーカルとしても活動している。サイケなアンサンブルが持ち味のクラウト・ロック・バンドだ。ØSCとKungens Män、どちらのバンドにもアナログ・シンセのプレーヤーがいるけど、Sista Majにはいない。アルバムでは私が全てのキーボード、シンセを弾いているんだ。ドローニーなサウンドを志向したアルバム「Series」は、予想を超えた美しさが表現できて自分でも驚いたよ。
Q. How would you differentiate what you do as Camper Van Beethoven, Sista Maj?
Camper Van Beethoven is definitely more collaborative, we try to write music together and then arrange it and come back and argue over how to mix it! It has produced some excellent records, (the last two in particular, “La Costa Perdida” from 2013 and “El Camino Real” from 2014). David does all the lead singing, and he has his own amazing way of writing and delivering lyrics, so that makes Camper what it is.
Sista Maj has been an improv-based ensemble, similar to Øresund Space Collective, whom I’ve also been playing with for the past few years. But Sista Maj has very different members, so it isn’t specifically “space rock,” as Andreas Axelsson comes from a jazz/outside jazz background. Micke, who plays bass in Sista Maj, has his own band, Kungens Män, where he plays guitar and sings, and they are a very kraut-rock psychedelic ensemble. Both ØSC and Kungens Män also have dedicated analog synth players, which Sista Maj does not (I did all the synth and keyboard overdubs on our album.) It was surprising that when Sista Maj recorded “Series” that it was so droney and pulse-oriented, actually! Not what I had expected, but a lovely outcome!
それはリスナー次第かな。ポップ/ロックなら“Sleep for a Hundred Years”と“No Backup Plan、サイケ・ロックなら“Strawberry Sun”、プログレなら“Superfluity”、サイケ・フォークなら“Mouse”か“Cat and Mouse”。ギター・ジャムだったら“The Dying Stars”か“Like Mercury…”だね。
Q. What is the highlight of this album which you recommend?
That depends on what type of thing you are after! The highlight pop/rock songs would be “Sleep for a Hundred Years” and “No Backup Plan,” but if you wanted more psych-rock, then “Strawberry Sun” or more prog-rock, then “Superfluity”, or more psych-folk, then “Mouse” or “Cat and Mouse.” If you like guitar jams, then “The Dying Stars” or “Like Mercury…”
他では1973年製レスポール・スタンダード。この年は、ミニハムバッカーのレスポールが多いんだけど、これは普通のハムバッカーを搭載している。ペグとブリッジ以外はほぼオリジナル。“Superfluity”、“Imply It, Deny It”、“Like Mercury, It Slips Through Your Fingers”のリードは、このギター。もちろん、ØSCのアルバムでも使用しているよ。Sista Majでは、ダンカンのピックアップとデューセンバーグのLes Tremブリッジに交換した1979年製ザ・ポールを使うことが多いね。
Q. What are the main equipments which you used in this recording? Oooh, boy! I love talking about equipment.
First off, I mainly record with two guitars, one is a Stratocaster which is mostly from 1962 (though sadly a July ’62 neck which is not slab board!) which is badly refinished in black. It’s not super original/collector value, being refinished (I also have drawn on it) and the pickups are rewound, it has a DeTemple titanium bridge on it. I have several Stratocasters, but I mostly tend to go for this one. It’s on many of the songs (and on Sista Maj and ØSC albums). “The Dying Stars” is a good example of how I use this guitar, with a Fender amp for the more direct signal, and a delayed signal to a Vox amp. When I can I use my own ’72 Fender Princeton Reverb to record with. (again on most of the songs). (Note, on earlier albums of mine I have also used my ’72 Deluxe Reverb amp, one that I’ve owned for 35 years and tour with with CVB.)
The other guitar used on a lot of these song is a 1973 Gibson Les Paul Standard, one of very few produced that year with the full sized humbuckers. It’s mostly stock, original pickups and all, but I have put on new tuners and bridge. This guitar is the lead on songs like “Superfluity,” “Imply It, Deny It,” and “Like Mercury, It Slips Through Your Fingers.” Again, this one was also on the ØSC albums. On the Sista Maj album, I used a Gibson “The Paul” from 1979 also, which has Seymour Duncan pickups and a Deusenberg “Les Trem” bridge.
I have a zillion pedals, so it’s tough to trace which I used, but there are a few that stand out. I generally like a tube screamer first, then a Rat, a combo I’ve used for decades, but I also use an Xotic EP boost a lot of the time now. I’ve built several pedals that I use on all of these recordings, both tube screamer type overdrives and octave fuzz type, but on several of these recordings I ended up using a 1969 Vox Tone Bender that my wife found at a flea market! I’ve tended to use the Line 6 Delay, both the DM4 and the Echo Park versions, and I like to split my signal from one into the other and send one to a separate amp (maybe backwards?) On the Sista Maj album, I also had use to Mattias’ pedals that he has at the studio, which included an old Zvex Fuzz Factory and several Moog pedals, Ring Mod, Delay, etc. I also use a not-very-old Cry Baby wah, but live I’ve been using a “Chi Wah Wah” tiny wah wah pedal as well.
My main acoustic is a Martin 000-28 that is only 5 years old, and I play a 1916 Gibson A-1 Mandolin. I used my ’72 Fender Precision bass and a late 70s Musicmaster bass with the frets sanded off and a Seymour Duncan “early Precision” bass pickup for the fretless bass parts. These were mostly recorded directly, but I use the SoftTubes Bass Amp Room in mixing. I use a lot of Universal Audio plugins (and hardware) for EQ and compression in mixing.
Q. When is it that you emigrated to Sweden from the United States?
I moved here in June of 2012, it’s a long story but basically, my wife is from Sweden and we had lived in Oakland, California for ten years and then had a child, and then I lost my job so we thought it would be best to move here. I spent a couple years taking language classes, and I’m ok at speaking Swedish now, but I’m definitely an immigrant! It’s a lot different than where I grew up in Northern California.
たぶんね。私が一緒に働くほとんどのミュージシャンはスカンジナビア人。そして、私もこの地域の音楽をたくさん知ろうとしている。ここスウェーデンには本当にクールな即興音楽、プログレ、サイケの音楽がたくさんあるんだ。国外では無名であろうけどね。Øresund Space Collective（スウェーデンに移住する前からよく聴いていたバンド。スコット・ヘラーがDr.スペースだということを知らずにね。彼がバークレー（CA）に住んでいた1990年代の初め頃に会ったことがあるし、私のバンドHieronymus Firebrainも観に来てくれたんだ！）でプレーすることで、私は居場所を見つけたよ。それに、以前から大ファンであるGösta Berlings Sagaと、今ではコンサート共演したりしているんだ！
Q. Did it have any influence on a style and the way of thinking that you lived in Sweden?
Probably. I mean, most of the musicians I work with now are Scandinavian, and I try to listen to a lot of music from here. There’s a lot of really cool improv and prog and psychedelic music that probably isn’t very well known outside of the area. I’ve definitely found a place in the space rock world by playing with Øresund Space Collective (whom I had listened to before moving here, not knowing that Scott Heller was Dr Space, I had met him in the early 1990s when he lived in Berkeley, CA and came to see my band Hieronymus Firebrain!) Also, I was a big fan of Gösta Berlings Saga before coming here, and now I have even sat in with them in concert!
ーギター以外にも様々な楽器を演奏されますが、あなたの音楽的なバックグラウンド、ルーツを教えてください 私は自分をヴァイオリンも弾けるギター・プレーヤーだと認識している。毛むくじゃらみたいな絵ばかり描いてるような子供の頃に、ラジオから流れるロックに夢中になったんだ。そして、2、3のピアノ教室通いを経て、7歳の頃にギターを始めたんだけど、10歳の時に好きになった女の子がヴァイオリンを演奏してたんだよね。それで私もトライし始めたんだ。でも、14歳の頃にはヴァイオリンのことなどすっかり忘れてバンドでギターを弾いていたけど。大学に入って作曲の勉強を始めたことがきっかけで、再びヴァイオリンを手にしたんだ。初歩の初歩からレッスンを受けなおしたよ。この時にCamper Van Beethovenの連中とプレイし始めたので、CVBのレコードを辿っていけば私の成長具合がわかると思うよ。この頃には、音楽スタジオで働き始めた。Eugene Chadbourneと演奏し始めたのは1987年頃。即興音楽の可能性を信じ、自分の限界を超えたいと思ったから。その頃はジミヘンのソロとか聴いて即興性を感じていたけど、「Camper Van Chadbourne」では、ジャズもロックもフォークも飲み込んでしまうような自由な演奏ができたんだ。まさしく文字通りの即興音楽。私自身もどんどん学んでいかなければ追いつかないくらいだったよ。
Camper Van Beethovenから離れた90年代は、自身のバンド（Hieronymus FirebrainとJack and Jill）の他、Dieselhed、Granfaloon Bus、Clyde Wrenn、Sparklehorseのサイドマンとしてプレイした。この間にダンス・カンパニーのために多くの曲を書いて、録音して、2、3の映画音楽を担当した。1年半くらいSparklehorseでプレイした後に、私は再び作曲を学ぶためにミルズ・カレッジに戻った。この頃一緒だったのがFred Frith、Alvin Curran、Chris Brown、Pauline Oliveros。2001から2003年の出来事。その間に、CVBは再び一緒に演奏し始めた。それ以来ずっと続いているよ。私は即興音楽だけでなく電子音楽への興味も湧いてきて、両方のアルバムを何枚か製作したし、ダンス・カンパニーのための音楽をやり続けつつ、 Dina Emersonとのエレクトロ-アコースティック・デュオChaos Butterflyでも活動した。ロックのフィールドでは、2003年に「Edgy not Antsy」というアルバムをリリースした。そういえば…2004年のCVBツアーでは、私が20年間ずっと演奏していた1971年製ストラトキャスターが盗難にあってしまった。新しいギターを探しているうちに再びギターそのものに対する熱が高まってきたんだ。そこで私は主にパーツを買い集めて、現在使用している（’62年を含む）ストラトを2本作ったんだ。 これはブログに見ることができるよ。jsegel.wordpress.com Q. You play not only guitar but also violin and more. Please tell me your musical background and roots. I tend to think of myself as a guitar player who plays violin. I was obsessed with rock music on the radio when I was a child and drew little pictures of hairy things playing guitars, so after a few piano lessons, I started on guitar when I was about 7 (~1970). But then, when I was 10, I liked a girl who played violin, so I started to try to play that too. By the time I was about 14, I wasn’t as interested in violin and played electric guitar in high school bands, up until I went to college, where I started studying music composition and started playing violin again. I sucked at violin, I took lesson again but the teacher started me over from the beginning. I also started playing with Camper Van Beethoven at this time, so you can basically hear my progress at learning to play the violin over the course of that band’s recordings! At this time, I also started working in electronic music studios, first with tape music and then with synthesis.
I credit playing with Eugene Chadbourne starting in about 1987 for opening my horizons as to what was possible in improvised music. Up until then, I think, I was just thinking of improv as being like Jimi Hendrix taking a solo. With “Camper Van Chadbourne” we played jazz, rock, folk, show tunes, free improv, whatever genre we wanted to, complete with improvisation whether it fit the idiom or not. This also meant that I had to do a lot of listening.
Of course I played in several bands in the 1990s while Camper Van Beethoven didn’t exist, both fronting my own bands (Hieronymus Firebrain and Jack and Jill) and playing as a sideman in Dieselhed, Granfaloon Bus, with Clyde Wrenn and in Sparklehorse. I wrote and recorded a lot of music for dance companies during this time, and did a few film scores. After playing with Sparklehorse for a year and a half, I went back to graduate school at Mills College to study music composition again, this time with Fred Frith, Alvin Curran, Chris Brown and Pauline Oliveros. This was ~2001-2003, during which time CVB started playing together again (and we have ever since). I came out of this with even more interest in both improvised music and electronic music, and made several albums of both. I continued to do music for dance companies, and played in an electro-acoustic improv duo called Chaos Butterfly with Dina Emerson. I also continued to make rock music, my “Edgy not Antsy” album came out in 2003. On tour with CVB in 2004 my 1971 Stratocaster that I had been playing for 20 years was stolen, and the search for a new guitar re-ignited my interest in all things electric-guitar-related. I bought parts mostly, as I couldn’t afford to replace the guitar, but I ended up getting some great parts cheaply and built two of the Strats that I use now (including the ’62.) I have written some entries on my blog about this! see jsegel.wordpress.com
ーあなたの弾くヴァイオリンは、バンドのオリジナリティにつながっていると思います いやいや、そこまで上手くないよ、独学だしね。カントリーのフィドルとかも、まぁ、フェイクから始めたようなものだ。同様に、クラシカルなヴァイオリンもね。おかげで、独自のユニークなスタイルになってると思うよ！UCSCのオーケストラで演奏してたから譜面は読めるし、ギター・プレーヤーだから、他のギタリストがどう弾いているかわかるので、自身のフレージングに役立てている。 Q. Especially the violin which you play leads to originality of your each band sound. Well, again, I’m not that great a violin player. I have learned to do it my own way, and I can read music (I actually played in the orchestra at UCSC—they let me mostly because I was enthusiastic) Also, being a guitar player, I can see what other guitarists’ hands are doing, so I can figure out what notes to play. I have never really learned how to correctly play, say, country fiddle, but I have faked it. Similarly, I am not really a classical violinist, so in the end my style is somewhat unique, if not exactly in tune!
ーソロ活動の他にCamper Van Beethoven、Sista Majなどもやってますね ソロが1番タフだな…バック・バンドを得て、より自由にギターを弾ける方が好みだね。何曲か歌うこともできるし。ストックホルムでソロのコンサートをしたときは、1人で演奏しやすい曲で演奏した。CrackerやCamper Van Beethovenなどがアメリカでコンサートを開くときは私抜きでリハーサルすることが多いので、私はベースのVictor Krummenacher、ドラムのChris PedersenもしくはJohn Hanesとスペース・ロックの即興を演ることが多いね。Sista Majは、異なるバックグラウンドを持つメンバー同士の即興の応酬がたまらなく面白い。現在、私達は組成的に何曲かの音楽をオーガナイズできるかに興味があるんだ。うまくいく気がしているよ。CVBは2000年の再始動後、2002年にニューヨークのニッティング・ファクトリーでコンサートを開いたのだが、そのリハーサルで私は初めて、このバンドでプレイする楽しさがわかった気がした。お互い慣れ親しんだ間柄で、それぞれの役割を理解し合えていることは、とても素晴らしく、心地が良い。最近ではアメリカで昨年末のクリスマス頃から約1ヵ月間のツアーをした。そのツアー中、バンドがどんどん良くなっていくのを感じたんだ。悪いショーが1つもない、素晴らしいツアーになったよ。ミュージシャンは学び演奏し続ける。その年輪は年をとるごとに深みを増していくんだ。ロック・ミュージック界は、常に「新しい人々」を求めるようだけどね。 Q. You play not only Solo but also the bands such as Camper Van Beethoven, Sista Maj. Please tell me each activity. Solo is the toughest, I would prefer to have a backing band so I could be freer on guitar, but I am able to play and sing some songs! For the most part when I’ve played “solo” sets here in Stockholm I’ve chosen the songs to fit the concert, depending on what band I’m opening for. When I play solo sets with a rhythm section in the US, like at the Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven Camp-Out festival, since we don’t get to rehearse anymore with me living in Europe, I have tended to just do improvised space rock with Victor Krummenacher on bass and either Chris Pedersen or John Hanes on drums.
Sista Maj, like ØSC, has been improvised from the get-go. I feel confident enough to be the solo treble instrument, guitar or bass, and it has been very interesting adapting what I know to play with these guys who come from different music backgrounds. We are now talking about trying to organize some music compositionally, we’ll see how that works out!
Camper started playing again in 2000, and our first full band concerts were in 2002 at the Knitting Factory in New York. In rehearsing for that, I realized that playing with those guys was how I learned to really play in a band. We are very accustomed to each other, each has our specific role and part to play. It’s quite amazing and it feels great. We just recently did a month of shows in the US after Christmas into January and the band just got tighter and tighter and better and better over the course of the run. Not one single bad show. Incredible. It’s an amazing thing when musicians get to continue learning and playing as they get older. Most of the interest in rock music seems to be the “new guys”.
ーCamper Van Beethoven結成からおよそ34年、紆余曲折ありましたが長年に渡りバンドを継続できる秘密は何ですか？ 成長だね。知ってのとおり私達は一度バラバラになっている…私は1989年に追い出されてるし、残ったメンバーも1990年にそれぞれの道へ進んだ。みんな本当に愚かな青くさい子供だったんだ。私達に起こった問題を片付けて、再び音楽的なケミストリーに集中できるようになるには、10年という月日が必要だった（Victor Krummenacherとは時々プレイしてたけど）。今では 1980年代よりも長く一緒に演れているよ！ Q. 34 years passed after you formed the Camper Van Beethoven. What is the secret to that kind of longevity? We grew up. We broke up, you know, I was actually kicked out in 1989, then the rest of the guys left in 1990. We were kids, we were assholes. Young men. After a decade or so of not playing together (though I did play with Victor that whole time off and on!) when we started again, it was obvious to us that we needed to put aside issues that we had and concentrate on the musical chemistry. We’ve now been playing for longer than we did in the 1980s!
Q. What is the motivation that you fuel the spark of imagination for a long time?
I’m not certain I can answer this accurately. I feel like I am part of an ever-expanding spiral of human culture, just a piece of it as we go on. Any artist is a filter, they view and perceive the world around them and then make something that reflects what they have seen or heard. So there is a lot of duplication of past things, of course, (“nothing is original” say some people) but it is in a constant state of flux, changing to reflect the current world. I find inspiration in the world around me, that it exists at all is just so unbelievable. David Lowery, the main lyricist for CVB, said once that he writes from the point of view of characters because he thought that nobody could write love songs enough to fill 10 albums. I, on the other hand, disagree: an experience of love is enough to fill a lifetime of albums. My character-voice that I write in is not that far removed from myself. That’s another reason why I don’t try to play “Americana” or some specific genre of music, because I am always trying to learn more and expand the world of music into the future, to make it different than it is now, and hopefully better!
Q. In a longtime career more than 30 years, any changes your mind from 34 years ago?
Oh, sure. I’ve gone through numerous changes in ideas about guitar tone, reverb, mixing, whatever. It’s a process. And I’ve been obsessed as a listener by different music over the course of time, as well, and that has a big influence. But I don’t think it’s super important to map it all out in specifics.
Q. On the other hand, what is the feelings that never change?
That music itself is actually an important thing, that I must keep trying to make it better and learning to play better. I’ve had periods of great doubt, of course, but in the end I come back to that. Especially when I see an audience reacting at a live show.
Q. The music industry has changed a lot. The country and the language do not matter. In our time, anyone can appeal to audience of the world for own music. I think that it is a benefit of the Internet. How do you feel the present music industry to be as a musician? What did it bring you?
I hope that is true, because the other side of the coin is that songwriters are not making any money from the streaming music services. It’s a good thing to have music be accessible, but it’s hard to keep even a sustenance-level existence as a musician now. I think that the internet has not been good for those that actually create anything, but has been great for those that consume it. Ultimately, this is not sustainable. However, knowing that what you make has no commercial value means that you are not constrained by commerce and you can make whatever you want to make—provided you can raise enough money to do it in the first place. For me, this meant that it takes a lot of time to finish the albums I work on, I can’t afford to do it all at once. And by now I have the technical skills to do nearly everything myself, so I have that advantage. However, since “the playing field is leveled” by the internet, it means that you have a flat field of possible music to listen to! How do you find the mountains amidst the vast numbers of musics available to you? There’s an awful lot of mediocrity out there. I strive to be better than that.
Q. If you were stuck on a desert island what five albums/CDs could you not live without?
Too tough to say, I’m glad this isn’t really happening to me! If I could only listen to 5 albums for the rest of my life, they might all be classical music, say Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier and Beethoven late String Quartets. I don’t know!
いくつかね。Built To Spill、彼らはずっとアメイジングだ。スウェーデンのバンドではDungenとGösta Berlings Saga。
Q. Do you have the band or artist to sympathize with in recent music scene?
Several. I love Built To Spill, they continue to be amazing. The Swedish bands Dungen and Gösta Berlings Saga.
Chris Xefos（King Missile、Moth Wranglersや、Victor Krummenacherとも何年か活動を共にしていて、私のアルバムのミックスなども手掛けている)が、Facebookに私とEyelidsのChris Slusarenkoが夢の中で共演してたって書き込んでたんだ。Chris Slusarenkoとは全く面識がなかったんだけどね。それがきっかけになり、私とChris Slusarenkoは友人になった。そこで彼が、新作のレコーディングを始める予定だということを教えてくれたんだ。元R.E.M.のPeter Buckプロデュースでね。そして、私にヴァイオリンを弾いてくれないかというオファーがあった。喜んで受けたよ。何曲か送ってもらって、自宅で私のパートを録音したんだ。
Q. Did you participate in a New album of the Eyelids? Please tell me the process.
Chris Xefos (King Missile, Moth Wranglers, played with Victor Krummenacher for years, mixed and worked on some of my albums) wrote on Facebook that he had had a dream that I was playing music with Chris Slusarenko (I don’t know how they know each other, actually!) So Chris S and I became friends and he mentioned that they were just about to record an album with Peter Buck producing, so I offered my services as a violinist. They sent me some tracks to play to and I recorded here at home and sent them back! Voila!
Music in general? Music is a mysterious language: it communicates *something*, but since there are no specific semantics, you can’t say exactly what it is. But you know that it means something!
正直に言うと、未定なんだ。長い間アルバム制作に取りかかっていたから、今は次のことが考えられない。本でも書こうかな?! とりあえず…昨年11月にコペンハーゲンで録音したØresund Space Collectiveのミックスをやらなきゃいけないな。あとは「Superfluity」のプロモーション・ライブの構成などを考える必要はあるな。CVBでもライブを年内に何本かやろうと思ってるよ。
Q. Please tell me your plans from now on.
To be honest, I’m not sure. It took so long to make these albums that have just come out that I hadn’t thought about what to do next. Write a book? I am currently finishing up mixing more Øresund Space Collective music that we recorded last November in Copenhagen, so there’s that. I guess I need to figure out how to play shows to promote “Superfluity”. I do have several CVB concerts lined up this year.
Q. Would you please provide some message to the fans in Japan?
I love Japan, just by the way. I actually studied Japanese language for a few years in the mid 1990s (just to keep my brain working, I was worried that I was becoming stupid.) I ended up going to Japan twice in 2000 and 2002, and I played some improv concerts in Tokyo, violin, guitar and computer. I traveled as a tourist with my girlfriend to Osaka and Kyoto as well. I would love to travel and see more.
But Camper Van Beethoven never got to play in Japan (yet) and we would love to. I would love to play rock concerts there! We’ve always had some fans in Japan who have written to us over the years. It would be amazing to come to Japan to play music.