lunes, 2 de agosto de 2010
How the band started??
Dave: Bob and I got started playing in a bluegrass trio with Bob on bass and me on flattop guitar. One day after a gig Bob picked up a guitar and started fingerpicking some Simon and Garfunkel. I picked up my guitar to join him and we played a really sweet rendition of Homeward Bound, right off the bat – complete with nice harmonies, smooth chord changes, and lyrical musicality. We also started jamming on some old-school folk-rock like CSNY and other sixties rockers. Both our guitars and our vocals really clicked. Later I invited Bob to join me in some solo acoustic gigs and the Duo was born. For over a year we played without a real name, and everybody started calling us “Dave and Bob.” Finally, we selected the name Silverbird Duo; I always like the name Silverbird, which I took from the old Silverbird Lounge on Telegraph and Six Mile in Detroit, where I used to play rock and roll during my youth, lol. It’s been a good name for us, though sometimes it’s still good to get the names David Leinweber and Bob McMillan out there. The Duo then has been the core of Silverbird, and we’ve been fortunate to add great players for larger gigs or recording sessions, as needed.
Bob: I think both Dave and I agreed that while we love bluegrass music, we also enjoy a wider variety of styles and flavors, so branching out some was the logical choice. So many bluegrass bands sound great on the first song, good on the second song, and OK on the third song – then by the fourth song everything starts to sound the same, lol. I think we’ve Duo’s been more flexible in terms of trying to play from a broader repertoire and have more control over our sound.
What's the message to transmit with your music??
Dave: Well, I can only speak for myself in saying that I try to avoid getting too preachy or political. Now Bob, on the other hand, lol!!! No, seriously, I would say both of us are fairly libertarian in outlook, something we get both from our shared roots in rock and roll music, and also both being reared in fairly conservative, traditional Christian homes back in the day. We really enjoy some of the buzzy music from the sixties folk-era, and I suppose that’s good. In general, I miss the culture of the sixties, where values like love and togetherness were espoused, and it wasn’t just about winning elections or scoring debating points. That’s the great thing about the music of the sixties and early seventies. I think it brought people together.
Bob: I remember in my youth a great slogan was “Question Authority.” I’ve taken that with me over the years. It’s good to question authority. Unfortunately, today voices from all sides of the political spectrum condemn those who question authority. Questioning authority is a very American thing to do!!! I think that Silverbird reflects some of the sixties spirit of freedom in our music by playing some of our freeform jams, especially if you catch us later in a gig when things are loosening-up some.
What's your method at the time of writing a song??
Dave: Oh boy, that’s a biggie. First of all, I try to write all the time. When I watch TV I often sit with a guitar and mindlessly fingerpick. Pretty soon I’ve come up with some motif in search of a song. That “down-time” is actually important to starting songs. Forcing yourself to write a great song is hard, if not impossible. On the other hand, it’s amazing how many times I’ve come up with good ideas while barely trying.
For all the songs/ideas/riffs/chord changes I come up with, I try to keep working on them till I can finish one with decent lyrics, structure, etc. I’ve learned that it’s a bad habit to always start songs and never finish them, so I try to finish them. That way you can build a catalog of original songs that are polished and ready. Of course, sometimes a finished song gets changed further down the road. I’ve totally plagiarized my own songs sometimes – I take elements of something I’d written earlier and incorporate them into a new tune. That can actually work very well, but you have to be willing to leave older material on the proverbial cutting-room floor. It’s probably a lot like writing books, or doing film. Editing and cutting can be a painful part of the process. But things that might not even end up in the final version of a song were actually essential steps in getting you there.
Also I’ve tried to have coherent thoughts for the lyrics. Songs have to be about something. I was an English minor in college, so lyrics have always been really important to me. For a lot of musicians, lyrics end up being kind of an afterthought – you start with a great groove, and just plug in some feel-good lines and voila, instant song. There are some great songs like that, no doubt, but over time songs with meaningful lyrics are the ones people remember. I think that’s especially true with folk music, where the sense of tradition and heritage and storytelling is so important. Heck, for many centuries songs were the primary ways people told stories, so obviously lyrics are an important part of music.
I’ve tried to be fairly intentional in developing song topics that are worth the listener’s time. I’ve gained great inspiration from a variety of things, including old TV shows and movies. One of my most popular songs is Daphne, based on the Kate Jackson character on the old television series Dark Shadows; and I also have other DS-themed songs coming down the line. Sometimes I write about political or social issues. And of course, my own experiences in life are a great source of inspiration for lyrics. The hardest thing to do in writing songs and/or lyrics is to be real without being sappy, or giving TMI. It’s a craft and one you never really master.
Which is your music influences??
Dave: Well, I’m fortunate that I had a family background that exposed me to a broad range of traditional musical styles and genres, from folk, to classical, to sacred hymns. I also learned to love rock and roll in my youth. I would cite the singer-songwriters as having been large influences – James Taylor, John Denver, Cat Stevens, and the more country-rock influences singer-songwriters like Neil Young, Dylan, etc. In terms of guitar, I would have to cite Clapton, The Allman Brothers Band, The Stones, and groups of that ilk, lol. And even though it may not show up much in the more moderate Silverbird music, I love the old Detroit Rock and Roll guitarists – people who could really take the Chuck Berry licks and rock the ballroom – Drew Abbott from Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band, Jim McCarty from Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and also The Rockets. Another great old Detroit band from that era I used to like was Brownsville Station, with the late great Cub Koda. Their song “Smoking in the Boys Room” is a great tribute to juvenile delinquency, lol. Nowadays they probably wouldn’t let you get that song within a thousand miles of top-forty radio airplay, but when I was in junior-high it was a major hit. I guess times have changed, lol. Another Detroit rocker, Alice Cooper, had a number of similar hits. All those Detroit bands featured straight-ahead rock and roll guitar!!!
Country and bluegrass also influenced me heavily, both through country rock bands of the sixties and seventies, and through classic country. Doc Watson is also a large influence.
Bob: Well, Dave and I share some of the same tastes. I also was raised in the Church, so I have the musical heritage that comes from singing hymns and gospel as a child. In fact, I think that’s one of the key places I learned to harmonize – back in Church. Also, my brother used to play folk music a lot on the porch of our house when I was a kid in Roanoke, Virginia. He’s the one who taught me to fingerpick and “lead with my thumb.”
I also loved the rock of the sixties – Steppenwolf, CSNY, and Hendrix. Silverbird actually plays a lot of these old jams, but usually later in the night, when the crowd is more open to free-form music. Dave also mentioned Jim McCarty, the lead guitarist from Mitch Ryder’s band The Detroit Wheels, and the Rockets. McCarty was in another band called Cactus and I saw them back in the late sixties. I made a big impression on me. They were unbelievable.
What plans do you have for the future??
Dave: Who knows??? I don’t think teeny-bopper pop-stardom is in the card, lol. I hope we can get to a place where our original songs are recognized, at least in the circles that appreciate quality folk and folk-rock music. We are getting our music out on some radio stations, and it would be nice to see that trend continue. Playing gigs that are more “concert” oriented is a major goal.
Bob: We need more money!!!!
Which has been the funniest prank you have been or took part while on tour or after a show??
Dave: Numerous examples come to mind, many from youthful escapades. Most of them probably are not fit to print!!!
Bob: Yes, the stories you might hear are all true, but the names have been changed to protect the guilty.
If you were stranded in the middle of nowhere after a show or while on tour. The help is 100 miles away from where you are, ¿Who would you send to look for help? And if while the rest wait, there's no food and the only way to feed yourself is by eating each other, ¿Who would you eat first?
Dave: Of course, we’d eat Bob first. I’m the one who knows all the lyrics to most of our songs.
Bob: We’d have to eat Dave. He’s a big boy and he’d have more meat on his bones in a survival situation!!!
Which country you guys would love to play?
Dave: I’ve played two pretty major gigs in Scotland, and it was great. People over there love authentic music, it seems. You haven’t really met friendlier people. We’ve also done some great shows in Florida. In the future, I’d love to put together a European tour of some kind. I’d also like to do some gigs on the West Coast. New York probably has some cool venues for folk music, though being from the Mid-West and the Deep South, New York always intimidates me some.
Bob: I’d love to do some gigs in the McMillan homeland of Scotland, where there is a McMillan castle.
With which bands you guys would love to share stage??
Dave: Clapton, The Stones, and The Allman Brothers would be great – their music has the qualities I have most appreciated and tried to emulate over the years. I’d also love to sit in with Jim McCarty some day in Detroit, if I ever could swing a hometown gig like that.
Bob: The Beatles, hands down. There was nobody better than The Beatles in terms of songwriting, and in terms of arrangements.
Are you OK, with the direction the band is going actually?
Dave: Well, when I focus on being a songwriter, I tend to relegate my guitar playing to supporting the song – which is what one should do, actually. And when I focus on being a guitarist, the songwriting tends to take a backseat. I’m hoping to synthesize the two aspects of my musicianship – songwriting and guitar-playing – in future projects. That’s a good goal for the future. When I write my own songs, I tend to go into a fairly disciplined, structured mode that feels like it clashes with the free-form jamming or atmospheric soloing where some of the best guitar-work occurs. I’m hoping to bridge that gap in future projects.
It’s kind of ironic that at the end of the day most people will consider you a “singer,” as opposed to either a songwriter or a guitarist. While I enjoy singing and think I do a solid job at it, I’m a “singer” strictly by default, since there’s nobody else I’ve met to sing the songs I write and/or play. I’m a guitarist first, a songwriter second, and “singer” comes in a distant third. I would never feel comfortable presenting myself as a true singer standing there with just a microphone and no guitar in my hands. It’s taken me a while to realize that for most people, when they listen to music they hear the singer, not the song, and not the guitar-work.
Bob: We have a Christmas CD of traditional carols done as guitar instrumentals. It’s probably the best thing we ever did and we should do more acoustic guitar music like that more often – take more of the purist approach.
Check out more from David by going to: http://www.davidleinweber.com