INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL KANG
Member of "String Cheese Incident" Prominent "Jam Band"
Touring Throughout the United States
IS THE MAIN FACTOR/ELEMENT THAT DRIVES YOUR SOUL'S CURIOSITY TO EXPLORE
AND DISCOVER THE MANY DIVERSE MUSICAL PASSIONS THAT EXISTS WITH WONDER? It's
the challenge of growing up in this day of age where one can experience
the great level of creatively and music that is accessible throughout
the world that provides countless directions to pursue. There is a great
deal of incredible music out there to experience. Musicians are just melting
things together and it feels good to do that. It challenges me. Everyone
in String Cheese Incident has a different view of music. It is our thing
to explore as many different kinds of music as possible. Didn't play a
lot of music till high school
ECLECTIC MUSICAL JOURNEY (AND THE BAND) SEEMS TO BE INFLUENCED BY MUSIC
FROM MANY SOURCES. WHO INFLUENCED YOU THE MOST AND WHY? Davis
Grisman influenced me a lot because he opened up the mandolin to a lot
of other music. Brazilian music is based in mandolin.
LIVING IN INDONESIA, KOREA, ENGLAND, GERMANY, NEW YORK, ALASKA AND COLORADO
START YOUR INSATIABLE THIRST AND INTEREST IN THE MANY DIVERSITIES IN THE
MUSIC THAT YOU'VE INCORPORATED WITHIN STRING CHEESE INCIDENT? IF SO, HOW? As
a kid, I never listened to a lot of music. As the result of not being
brought up in the United States, it wasn't part of my environment. Now
I listen to a lot of music such as jazz, Grateful Dead, Santana, etc.
and a great number of other artists.
MENTIONED IN A PREVIOUS INTERVIEW THAT PLAYING STRINGED INSTRUMENTS (AS
OPPOSED TO THE PIANO) ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF YOUTH IN KOREA (YOUR BIRTHPLACE)
AND JAPAN. DID THIS PLAY A STRONG ROLE IN YOUR CHOICE OF INSTRUMENTS?
ARE THERE MANY KOREAN/JAPANESE MANDOLIN PLAYERS? I went
from violin to mandolin/guitar because the "violin" background
made it easier to learn music. I started playing violin in England and
only started playing a lot when I started living in the U.S.
YOU WELL KNOWN IN KOREA AND/OR ASIA? WILL AND/OR HAVE STRING CHEESE INCIDENT
PERFORM IN ASIA? IF NOT, WOULD YOU WANT TO PLAY THERE? Neither String Cheese Incident, nor myself, are presently known
in Asia. SCI (String Cheese Incident)), though, might visit Japan during
the 2002 tour.
MENTIONED THAT MANY CLASSICAL VIOLIN/STRING PLAYERS HAVE A FEAR OF NOT
BEING ABLE TO MOVE INTO OTHER AREAS, SO WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT ARTISTS
SUCH AS YOYO MA, VANESSA MAE, MARK O'CONNER (FIDDLE PLAYER), AHN TRIO,
ETC. VENTURES INTO OTHER MUSICAL GENRES? The mandolin doesn't have the "restrictions" of a classical
instrument. There is an openness to play whatever you want to play. It's
a natural progression. It is also a natural option to explore other music.
IMAGINE A CONCERT
that started on time, played up to the time
curfew, played 3½ hours of pure music from just the headlining group
at a venue filled with adoring fans that follows them from place
to place. Imagine a concert where the fans are standing for the
vast majority of the time, singing their songs, dancing to the music
and rejoicing to all the recognized songs. Imagine that the performing
group not having a major record label support, large promotional
support dollars, airplay on radio, videos on MTV and/or appearances
on MTV's TRL receiving these accolades. Imagine a concert where
entertainment, hype, the latest "rage" or "hit" song and the temporary
adoration to the "personality of the week took a back seat to music.
Imagine a concert where music would reign!
at the Greek Theater on August 1, 2001 continued their fast-growing
of a group filled with legions of devoted fans that destroys
the prevailing stereotypes of how to achieve success.
The joy of
an audience and artist communicating at the same level was very
apparent from the beginning of the concert. Evidence was seen via
the audience giving shouts of exuberating to melodies to the recognized
songs that provided String Cheese Incident impetus to ever greater
musical flights of discovery.
THE GROUP'S COLLECTIVE TALENTS
made the anticipated lulls within their 3½ hour concert preparations
for the various creative surprises from their various improvisational
and impromptu musical interludes that was spearheaded by the playing
of Kyle Hollingsworth on keyboards, Bill Nershi on guitar and Michael
Kang on mandolin/violin/guitar/vocals.
YOU ELABORATE ON YOUR LYRICS ON RACE AND CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE SONG YOU
WROTE ENTITLED "ROUND THE WHEEL'S COME AS YOU ARE?" At that time, as a person of race, it's important that everybody
realize that issues of race and equality issues are around. We're all human
beings and there are many prejudices that exist. It's the challenge that
we all face. It's our national heritage of diversity and people should set
aside their petty differences. SCI (String Cheese Incident), however, doesn't
have any agenda of expressing views or need to preach
SCI REALLY RECORD THE BLUEGRASS VERSION OF "GIN AND JUICE" THAT
KEEPS SHOWING UP ON THE INTERNET? The group hasn't played the song. With SCI (String Cheese Incident)
constantly improvising and not perfectionists, they've might have played
music similar to the song.
DOES IT FEEL TO BE THE YOUNGEST BAND MEMBER AND WHAT DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES
DOES THAT BRING TO THE BAND? Kyle
(keyboard player) is the next youngest at 30. The oldest player is 40
(Billy), Travis is 36 There is a mutual respect within all the members.
Once you've reach 30, there is a sense of maturity that can only be acquired
only time. SCI (String Cheese Incident) mostly just "learns"
the music without charts.
PLAYED AND/OR A FAN OF PEOPLE SUCH AS BRUCE HORNSBY, LITTLE FEAT, BUNNY
WAILER, JEAN LUC-PONTY, PAT METHENY, WES MONTGOMERY, JOHN SCOFIELD, FEMI
KUTI (FROM AFRICA), MERL SAUNDERS, SANTANA (IN TEXAS), STANLEY JORDAN,
DAVID GRISSMAN, PETER ROWAN, ART NEVILLE, PHIL LESH, BELA FLECK, SAM BUSH,
AND WARREN HAYNES AND BOB DYLAN - WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY WITH THAT
YOU HAVEN'T HAD THE OPPORTUNITY AND/OR WOULD PLAY WITH (IN LIGHT THAT
STRING CHEESE INCIDENT DOESN'T PLAY WITH OTHER GROUPS DURING CONCERTS)? SCI
(String Cheese Incident)) likes/prefers to play with other people. We
always play with other groups in "festival" settings.
YOUR CLASSICAL BACKGROUND, THERE HASN'T BEEN MUCH OF A CLASSICAL INFLUENCE
IN STRING CHEESE INCIDENT'S MUSIC? YOU MENTIONED IN A RECENT ARTICLE THAT
THIS IS THE NEXT MUSIC GENRE TO BE INCORPORATED WITHIN STRING CHEESE INCIDENT.
HOW DO YOU ENVISION IT THAT IT WILL BE INCLUDED - MOZART SONATAS? Because some of the classical composers have a different ideas
of going through the changes, the group has interest in this musical direction..
YOUR LAST C.D., IT SEEMS THAT YOU'VE ADDED SOUNDS/SONGS THAT SOUNDED LIKE
PAUL SIMON'S GRACELAND. WILL THERE BE AN INCREASING AMOUNT OF AFRICAN
AND SALSA-TYPE MUSIC (RECORDED AND LIVE) WITHIN STRING CHEESE INCIDENT? They've
done more Trinidad/Island styling and influences that are heard within
the music of String Cheese Incident.
YOUR NEW C.D., THE FLIGHTS OF VARIOUS MUSICAL FANTASIES (I.E. BIRDLAND
IN BLUEGRASS AND ROCK ON 1ST C.D.) WERE NOT HEARD OFTEN, MORE OF A SONG
FORMAT, NOT AS MUCH VARIETY AND LESS OF YOUR MANDOLIN PLAYING - IS THIS
REFLECTIVE OF THE NEW DIRECTION(S) OF WHAT THE BAND WILL BE PLAYING LIVE
OR JUST FOR C.D. TO MAKE A MORE COHESIVE RECORD? It's
similar to how Chicago (another jam band) changed when they started working
with David Foster. Unfortunately, also like most jam bands, they're forced
to sacrifice some of that diversity in the studio if they want to make
a cohesive record. Already started working for the next c.d. We've already
started working the next c.d. which might be an acoustic c.d.
TELL US ABOUT HOW YOUR
SIDE PROJECTS FULFILL YOUR OTHER MUSICAL ADVENTURES AND THE DIFFERENCES
BETWEEN COMOTION AND THEORY OF EVERYTHING? It is
just a chance/opportunity to play with my musical heroes and other players
YOU HAVE ANY ENDORSEMENTS, SINCE YOU'RE USING A PAIR OF K & M ANALOG
DESIGNS' EMERALD 50'S? (EMERALD 50 / 50 WATT HEAD WITH REVERB - VACUUM
TUBE2 CHANNEL AMPS) AND A 5 STRING VIOLIN FROM ZETA? DO YOU WORK IN INSTRUMENT
IDEAS AT ZETA WITH PEOPLE SUCH AS ROB WASSERMAN? I presently don't play Zeta violins and just using an acoustic
WORDS, EMOTIONS AND/OR IMPRESSIONS WOULD YOU WANT TO LEAVE WITH THE PEOPLE
THAT SAW YOU PERFORMED? There
is a lot of joy to be experienced in life. We're all trying to enjoy life,
that's our major purpose and enjoyable for others and make us human. In
addition - "JazzFest" is not just a jazz festival, it's a music
fan festival filled with great musicians.