Don't click or your IP will be banned

Hittin' The Web with the Allman Brothers Band Forum
You are not logged in

< Last Thread   Next Thread >Ascending sortDescending sorting  
Author: Subject: Jimmy Herring Interview- First Solo Album In The Works With Derek T and More

Zen Peach

Posts: 19456
(19470 all sites)
Registered: 6/9/2002
Status: Offline

  posted on 3/25/2008 at 12:54 PM

Snapshots With Jimmy Herring: A Reader Interview

Our latest reader interview was conducted with a musician who has been profiled a few times on this site over the years in a variety of contexts. Jimmy Herring has appeared with such groups as Aquarium Rescue Unit, Project Z, Allman Brothers Band, Phil & Friends, Frogwings and Jazz Is Dead. We received well over a hundred questions from our readers, most of which focused on Herring’s tenure with Widespread Panic which began in September 2006. Herring took time off from laying down guitar tracks for his forthcoming solo record to address a number of these queries.

Let’s start out with this question, which seems appropriate since you’re in the studio as we speak. “What do you have planned for the next WSP offseason, any touring or recording? I've heard mention of an album with you, Jeff Sipe, Oteil Burbridge and Derek Trucks. Any details that you can shed on this?” [Question from HP]

It’s my first album. I’ve never done an album before. I mean I’ve worked with other people but this is the first one that’s my vision, my songs. Well there’s six of my songs, two of Kofi Burbridge's songs and two covers. I’ve never done anything like this before. I don’t even know what it’s going to be called yet. It’s not going to be the Jimmy Herring Band or anything like that but it’s going to be my first solo album, I guess.

Who else plays on it?

Jeff Sipe, Oteil Burbridge, Derek Trucks, Greg Osby, Kofi Burbridge and Matt Slocum, the keyboard player who plays in Oteil’s band. Did I leave anyone out? Oh, Ike Stubblefield is going to play on some stuff and maybe Bobby Lee Rodgers, too. But you know everyone is not on every song. Oteil and Jeff played on every song but Derek is only going to be on two. And then Kofi played on five or six songs and Greg Osby played on five or six songs and Ike Stubblefield and Bobby Lee Rodgers are going to play on at least one song.

Do you have any idea of when it will be released?

That’s the big question. Man, my goal was to finish my guitar by the end of today. I don’t know if that’s going to happen, it might have to be part of tomorrow too. I’m close but I’ve got a lot to do because these tunes are hard. I’ve never done my own songs my own way before and they’re my orchestrations and it’s a very compositional-based album. It’s got a lot of improvisation on it but it’s all within the context of songs. And these songs are very hard to play on because the chord progressions are very demanding.

So I’m having to do a lot of takes when I’m doing solos and my engineer here Rush Anderson is absolutely integral in this process. I’ll do like ten solos and then we’ll listen to them and I’ll say, “Oh the beginning of that one’s good but I don’t like what comes after.” Then we’ll switch to another pass that I’d already laid down and I’ll go, “Oh, I like the middle of that one but I don’t like the end.”

But that’s a typical way that Pat Metheny and John Scofield cut solos when they’re in the studio. I’m determined in this project to use the studio for what it is. It is not a live gig and if I don’t get one performance all the way through on a solo that I’m happy with, I don’t have qualms about using a piece of this one and a piece of that one. As long as when it’s over and I’ve used pieces of a few of them, if it still sounds like something I would have played, I have no problem doing that.

I haven’t had an opportunity to do that that much because most of the time you’re on a real strict time thing with the budget and everything. I’m at my friend Rush’s house and he’s being real lenient with me and very patient with me and he’s a great engineer and he’s allowing me a lot of time to explore the possibilities of what I can do with the tunes. I couldn’t do this in a big expensive studio because it would cost too much money.

Since you mentioned Jeff Sipe and Bobby Lee Rodgers, quite a few people asked about the future of Herring/Rogers/Sipe. Do you have any upcoming touring plans with that band?

We haven’t done that in a long time but we had a blast. I had so much fun doing that. That was kind of splitting the difference between Project Z and a song-based band. We had ARU and then Project Z kind of picked up where ARU left off in a way as far as philosophy went. ARU had some songs but then one of our favorite things to do was, we’d be standing in a dressing room five minutes before a show and say, “Okay no tunes for 45 minutes, no tunes.” So we would improvise the first 45 minutes of the show without playing a song. But there was pressure on ARU because people came to hear those songs that Bruce sings. With Project Z we figured, “Well, we don’t have to play any songs if we don’t want to.”

The first [Project Z] album we kind of had a few songs and then the next Project Z album had zero songs on it, it was just all improvisation from start to finish. And with Bobby Lee and Jeff and Neal Fountain, the idea was Bobby had all these great songs, he’s a genius songwriter. So let’s play some of his songs but really crack them open and improvise on them.

The status of it is that everybody’s busy. Bobby’s got his band [The Codetalkers], Jeff’s on the road with Keller Williams, I’m on the road with Panic and it’s real hard to find time to fit all the stuff in.

With Panic it’s been very demanding especially at the beginning because I had to learn so much music in such a short amount of time. I didn’t have time to do anything else and then when I’d get off the road I would have to spend the entire time off continuing to work on their music before we went and did something else. Plus, Panic had a real busy year last year. We would do a tour and the tour would end and two days later we were in the Bahamas doing pre-production for the album that we were going to do in the following months. Then we’d go back out on tour. Then we’d get off the road and we were home for one day after a two month tour and then boom straight to the Bahamas for two weeks. That year was so busy and with me learning their material and making the record and doing pre-production for that record, I didn’t really have time to do any more Herring-Rodgers-Sipe stuff but I really want to do it again. I don’t know when. We talk about it all the time, me and Bobby Lee, me and Jeff talk about it all the time. We all love each other and we want to do it but it’s just a matter of finding the time.

As you can imagine we received quite a few Widespread Panic questions. On the subject of your initial days with the band, a number of people were curious how much time you had to prepare for your first Panic shows.

I was on the road with Bobby Lee and Jeff Sipe and Neal Fountain when I got the call about doing the Panic gig and I didn’t get to work on the music until I got home from that tour because I didn’t feel right about working on Panic music when I was on tour with another group. So when I got home I had two weeks to work on their music and then I had two days of rehearsal with them. It wasn’t real rehearsal, it was just us sitting in a room with Todd playing electronic drums and everybody playing through tiny little amps. Then we went to New York to do the Radio City shows and we had two more days of rehearsal in a real legitimate rehearsal studio. So I had four days of rehearsal if you count those two in Athens. And I was probably playing 10 or 12 hours a day during those two weeks before the rehearsals, and continued that pace even during the rehearsals. I’d be practicing before the rehearsals, after the rehearsals and even when the gigs started.

They were very kind to me. They would give me the list of songs: “Okay these are the ones we’re going to play the first night of Radio City.” So I knew what I had to do for that gig. And then they gave the second night of Radio City and said, “Okay, here’s what were going to be doing the second night,” and then, “Here’s what we’re going to be doing the third night.” They normally wouldn’t be doing that but they did it for me because I didn't want to be up there and not know the freaking songs and screw it all up, although I screwed up some stuff. I think we played six gigs without repeating a song on my first six gigs. That’s 100 songs.

Also along these lines, someone asked, “When Jimmy first started with Panic he had big notebook at his feet, I was wondering what was in the book?” [Tim B.]

I had to make charts. I’m not hung up on them anymore but I still have them out there. I just lay them on the floor. They’re just form charts. I still have to remember all the melodies and Mikey’s signature parts, I didn’t write any of them out. What I wrote out was, “Here’s the verse and here’s the bridge and then it goes back to a verse and then it goes to chorus.” That’s what I did and that’s what the charts are for because I don’t want to go to the bridge at the wrong time or go to the chorus when I’m supposed to be going to a verse.

In your preparations, how did you land on definitive versions of particular songs, some of which have evolved quite a bit over the years. Some people mentioned that they heard your iPod is stocked full of live Panic shows, is this the case and how did those come into play?

I’ll tell you what, I like their records. I’m blown away by the records they have made. I would learn the songs primarily from the records in the beginning. But then they started giving me live stuff and said, “You learned that off the record and we don’t do it that way anymore so check this out.” That’s when I started to see what the fans love so much about the live shows.

I think their records are grossly underrated. If you listen to ’Til The Medicine Takes, Don’t Tell The Band, Bombs & Butterflies, that era of records John Keane was making, man they’re devastatingly good. They sonically sound so good, the performances are excellent and the guitar-playing is just mind-blowing.

So I primarily started out using the records but then they quickly started giving me stuff I put in my iPod. I would spend a lot of time listening to three, four, five versions of one song, after I felt like I had a grip on the big picture or was starting to get a grip on the big picture.

“Jimmy, You've pretty much got the Panic catalog down by now, but are there certain original Panic tunes that you find yourself revisiting to get just right/tweak?” [Nick B.]

Some of Vic Chesnutt’s stuff is that way, like you know that song “Expiration Day”? Great song, great song. That one's hairy. It’s got a lot of chord changes in it. It’s easy to play the changes, it’s easy to play the chords but when I solo through it, I want to spell those chord changes with melodies based off the chords, like jazz players do. The idea in my mind is when I’m soloing that if the band wasn’t even there and somebody heard it they would still know what song it was, that’s my goal. Panic has a few songs in that realm where I’m trying to play the song in the solo and “Expiration Day” is one of those songs. And whenever it shows up on a setlist I’m scrambling to go look at it before gig and make sure I’m not going to screw it up because a lot of their songs don’t happen but twice a tour. A song like “Bowlegged Woman” doesn’t show up in heavy rotation and I still don’t feel like I have a total grip on that song. It’s fun to play, I know that.

Dave is so funny the way he tries to help me get through it. I’m like. “Dave, what is this part right here? What do I do?” And he says, “Just play big bonehead rock.” [Laughs].

“What are your favorite Panic songs and have you been working on any songs in the back catalog that you have yet to play with the band?” [Derrick H and many others]

I have a new favorite just about every other day. Two of my favorite songs are “Gradle” and “Glory.” They both come from the same record [ Bombs & Butterflies] and they’re back to back on the record. Those are great songs and we weren’t doing either of them for a pretty long time and I finally went to JB and went, “Man, can we do ‘Gradle’?” He goes, “Oh you like that one?” I was like, “Man, that’s one of my favorites.” So he said, “Yeah, we can do it, let’s talk it over with the band.” So then I asked, “Man, can we start doing ‘Glory’ again? We never do ‘Glory.’ I love ‘Glory.’”

I love “Pilgrims.” “Pilgrims” is one of my favorite songs in their catalog. A lot of Mikey’s stuff is just great.

What about songs you haven’t played yet?

There’s one they wanted me to learn, “Dream Song.” They said, “We should be doing ‘Dream Song,’ and so what I did was listen to a couple versions of it. I didn't have a whole lot of live versions, so I ended up really just going to the record [Everyday] and I listened to it and I learned JB’s part [laughs]. So when we tried to play it, I was playing JB’s part. That’s when they said, “Oh yeah, you learned the wrong part.”

You see that happened a lot at the beginning. When I first learned “Pigeons” I was playing JB’s part. That’s the thing about a band like this and it’s a credit to them, and that’s what I mean about these records that John Keane made, you can’t tell who’s doing what. The way he mixed it, the way it marinates, these guys are a real band. It’s not like you can go “Oh, this is his part and this is his part.” It’s not that easy and sometimes I end up learning a hybrid. I mean they don’t teach me the songs, I learn the songs on my own and then I come back and play with them and they go, “Yes…no…maybe.”

And quite a few of the songs I had either learned JB’s part thinking it was Mikey or I would learn partly Mikey’s part and partly JB’s part. So it’s a process of learning it and then going back with JB and then him saying, “Yeah, that’s great.” or “Hey man, that’s my part, you’ve got to learn the other part.” So “Dream Song” got put on hold because I learned the wrong part, so I still have to revisit that and learn the right part.

In terms of Widespread Panic’s latest material, do you have a favorite song on Free Somehow? [Question submitted by many].

It’s hard to say, it’s really hard to say. I like each and every one of them for different reasons. “Walk On The Flood” came late in the sessions. We didn’t have that song when we went into studio. JB had a rough idea of what he wanted to do with that song but we didn’t learn it until we were in the studio and basically what you hear, that’s the live track. The solo was live, all the rhythm guitars were live, I think I went back and doubled the rhythm guitar but the live track is the track. So that one is kind of cool for that reason.

I really like “Already Fried.” I think that one is really cool. It’s real quirky and it’s different from any song on the album. The fact that it’s the only one on the album that doesn’t have a whole lot of strings or horns or any outside elements and it’s not a typical Panic song, that’s what I like about it.

But then for a big production number I think “Her Dance” is one of my favorite ones.

“I would like to hear about the evolution of “Lockwood Folley” from your Endangered Species days into what is now known as “Her Dance Needs No Body.” [Alex]

I wrote that a long time ago but it was a completely different song. It was in 5 and we changed it to 6 and that changes a lot right there and then I added a whole bunch of other parts to it. The original version of it was recorded on an album I did with T Lavitz and Kenny Gradney and Richie Hayward from Little Feat [Endangered Species]. We did this album about 7 years ago, maybe 8 years ago and the tune was called “Lockwood Folley” but it was really kind of unfinished at that time, it wasn’t fully developed.

But then I played it for JB and he said, “Oh man, we can do something that.” And I said, “Great because this song never did get finished. It did get recorded on an instrumental album, though. Do you have a problem with it already being on another album as an instrumental?” He said, “No,” so we added a whole bunch of new parts to it, we put it in a new time signature and he put vocals on it and completely changed the arrangement of it. So the way that happened, the parts you hear that were from “Lockwood Folley” I wrote and then a lot of the new parts I wrote too but Panic got their hands on it and we Panic-ized it. And the producer [Terry Manning] also had a hand in that one and it evolved into a completely different deal.

Pretty much the process is everybody’s a writer. Sunny writes tunes. Todd writes tunes, Todd writes complete tunes, with lyrics and music. Dave and Jerry Joseph write tunes together, music and lyrics. JB obviously writes. Jojo obviously writes a ton of songs. And then I have stuff too. So everybody comes in and says, “Here’s what we got.” Then if a song gets picked to be one of the songs that we’re going to develop, everybody plays it just like it is and then things start to happen to it, it starts changing. People go, “Hey man what if we just out an extra two beat tag at the end of this phrase?” And then JB will go, “Hey man I’ve got an idea, what if we went to this change right here and took it in a completely different direction?” And then Dave’ll go, “What if I change the bass note from a G to a C right here, what does that sound like?” And the next thing you know you’ve got a whole different song.

“By and large you are known as a lead guitarist and for good reason – your solos are insane, but to me perhaps the most impressive part of your playing is your rhythm work. Could you expound a little bit on your philosophy for playing rhythm guitar?” [Marc L]

The more I’ve played with these songwriters like Warren Haynes, Bobby Weir, JB and Jojo the more I see how important playing rhythm guitar is. The song is the king and that’s the main thing about playing this music, you’ve got to get out of the way of the song and you’ve got to play what the song needs. If the song needs you to play the simplest little rhythm part in the world then that’s what you’ve got to do.

I think that playing rhythm is grossly underrated with a lot of young players that are just starting out. Me too. When I first started out, I heard Fillmore East and Jimi Hendrix and it was those leads that spoke me and that’s what made me want to play.

So I think that rhythm is overlooked by a lot of young people when they first start playing. I’ll tell you, the best rhythm I know is Bobby Lee Rodgers. Man, that guy is devastating. He’s one of the best rhythm guitar players I’ve ever heard and he can blow solos over everyone’s head. He can cut you and leave you laying bleeding on the stage playing solos but man when it comes to playing rhythm he cuts everybody. He’s the strongest rhythm player. I think that would be a good question for him but I don’t know what I would say other than I think rhythm is incredibly important and when you play in a band where the songs are the most important thing, you better play rhythm and better play it right and you better play what the songs needs. And don’t get your ego involved where you start thinking, “Hey I’m a lead player this is below me.” Some people think like that.

“What is your favorite scale to improvise on and which key is your favorite to really stretch out in and explore?” [Nate D.]

See I don't think like that anymore. I used to think like that and you go through different things that are your favorite but I’m getting older now and at this point in my life it’s just all music. I don’t think about specific keys being my favorite or specific scales being my favorite. I tell you what I do like though, the freest I ever feel is when it’s just one chord and you’re in a position where you can really take liberties with the harmony.

Actually you know I like B-flat a lot because in rock and roll you don’t get to play in B-flat that much but in B-flat what’s cool about it is when you play the B-flat then you hit the low E string that’s the interval of a tritone which is real kind of bizarre interval that shows up in a lot of horror movies. I like that key because you can be playing in B-flat and be playing blues or something and then you hit that big low E and it sounds kind of scary.

As you can imagine, a number of people asked about your work with various bands, including Jazz Is Dead, Phil & Friends, Frogwings and the Allman Brothers Band. I mentioned Herring-Rodgers-Sipe earlier but in terms of future gigs, I think the group that most people asked about was Aquarium Rescue Unit. What is the possibility of an upcoming ARU tour?

Well, you probably know this about me Dean, I may have even talked to you about this before. I’m just not any good at spreading myself thin. Something’s gonna suffer if you try to do too much at one time, you’re gonna hit that syndrome: jack of all trades master of none. I like to do one thing at a time and this is the exception, even me doing this record during Panic’s time off, I normally wouldn’t be doing something like that. But during this last tour I started making these discoveries through various mathematical approaches to finding out what my options were for chord and scale fingerings and stuff like that. I started finding these chord scales that inspired songs to come out. So when the songs started coming out I thought, “Man, I’ve got to record this stuff.”

I had six tunes and there were these two cover songs I really wanted to do and I started talking to Kofi and he threw a couple tunes my way.

There are two tunes that he put on this record, one of them is called “Splash,” which actually got recorded on an old ARU album right after Bruce left the band [in a perfect world]. Then there’s one called “Only When It’s Light” and the first time I played this song was 1987. Let me just tell you about Kofi, Kofi was a prodigy. When Kofi was 12 or 14 years old he left home because he got a scholarship to this place called the School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Kofi was writing songs in the 10th grade that are on a level with Herbie Hancock and people like that. I met Kofi and Oteil and Jeff Sipe in 1987 and they were living together in Sipe’s house and Kofi’s tunes were the hardest ones to play because they have all these intensely difficult chord changes. It’s easy to play the changes and it’s easy to play the melodies but when it’s time to solo, playing over Kofi’s tunes can be a real bitch because those changes make it really difficult. You can’t just play out of one scale, you have to change scales every two beats and these tunes are so intelligently written. This guy’s on a musical level that not many people can appreciate because it goes over their heads. But his delivery is very calm and there doesn’t seem to be any big deal until you try to play one of his tunes and you go, “Holy **** , this is hard.” Kofi’s a genius.

So we had ten songs and I was like, “Screw it, let’s go record this thing.” It was a real quick spur of the moment kind of thing but I’ve working on it for a while. I got off the road in November with Panic and man, I’ve been playing 10 hours a day for the three months that I’ve been off. That’s all I’ve been doing. I haven’t ridden the motorcycle, I haven’t been fishing or anything, the things I would normally do off the road, I’ve just been so inspired to get this done and now I’m almost finished [laughs]

Okay, final one. This was probably the most popular question and it was posed by a few dozen folks: Can you describe your favorite show or favorite musical moment since you started performing with Widespread Panic.

I can’t do that because Todd put it in a good perspective. I was hung up on this one thing we were trying to do in the studio and he goes, “Jimmy, take it easy man, it’s just a snapshot in time.” And that put everything in perspective and that’s the way the gigs are too.

It’s hard to say I have a favorite gig or one standout moment because they were just a snapshot of that time. I’d never played Radio City before I played it with Panic but those three shows were nervous nights, man. My first three gigs with the band were Radio City. No pressure or anything’ [Laughs]

So that was freaky and I was too nervous to even remember if they were good gigs or not. I couldn’t even eat that day, I just had all this music in my head and was like, “Oh god, I’m going to screw this up, oh god I’m going to screw this up.” But those three gigs were pretty important. And then we also played Radio City again the next year. I have to say that’s one of my favorite places that Panic plays because it is a big place but it sounds better than most big places. So I would say that Radio City was a standout moment for me in my musical life because I’d never played there before. So that was cool.

There’s others, too, Dean. On that last trip we did I remember going, “God, that was a good gig,” after several gigs but I couldn’t tell you where we were. We were in the middle of it. It was somewhere in that stretch of a two month tour and I couldn’t tell you any one specific thing, but Radio City was a cool place to play.



Visit User's Homepage

Zen Peach

Posts: 24412
(24587 all sites)
Registered: 3/31/2006
Status: Offline

  posted on 3/25/2008 at 01:17 PM




True Peach

Posts: 10187
(10387 all sites)
Registered: 8/9/2003
Status: Offline

  posted on 3/25/2008 at 01:21 PM
thanks.............I am excited about this upcoming release.........very




Extreme Peach

Posts: 1809
(1812 all sites)
Registered: 12/5/2001
Status: Offline

  posted on 3/25/2008 at 01:21 PM
nice read- thanks for posting
Can't wait to hear the solo album.


“Music is music- it doesn’t require technique or expertise as much as it requires sincerity and emotion.”.- Danny Louis


Zen Peach

Posts: 18593
(18594 all sites)
Registered: 11/20/2006
Status: Offline

  posted on 3/25/2008 at 01:22 PM
Thanks for sharing this, Derek! Great article and this should be a fantastic recording!


"Come on down to the Mermaid Cafe and I will buy you a bottle of wine, and we'll laugh and toast to nothing and smash our empty glasses down..."


Super Moderator

Posts: 3870
(3929 all sites)
Registered: 6/17/2002
Status: Offline

  posted on 3/25/2008 at 03:01 PM

That was great! I got to hang with Jimmy just last Saturday and I wish I had read this interview first!


"Don't Ask Why"

E-Mail User

A Peach Supreme

Posts: 2144
(2213 all sites)
Registered: 12/9/2001
Status: Offline

  posted on 3/25/2008 at 04:50 PM
There are some duos on there that when they work together, magic occurs. Jimmy/Rush, Jimmy/Sipe, Jimmy/Oteil and Jimmy/Derek to name but a few. This should be one heckuva great record. I can't wait to hear it!




A Peach Supreme

Posts: 2449
(2449 all sites)
Registered: 9/19/2007
Status: Offline

  posted on 3/25/2008 at 07:45 PM
Sweet!! This one will be worth picking up! Thanks Derek


The heavens declare the glory of God
the skies proclaim the work of his hands
Day after day they pour forth speech
night after night they display knowledge
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard



Ultimate Peach

Posts: 3507
(3527 all sites)
Registered: 5/7/2007
Status: Offline

  posted on 3/25/2008 at 07:46 PM
My mouth is watering over this one!


That's right never criticize some one till you walk a mile in their shoes, that way when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you've got their shoes!


Powered by XForum 1.81.1 by Trollix Software

Privacy | Terms of Service | Report Infringement | Personal Data Management | Contact Us
site by Hittin' the Web Group with