Steve Wynn: Srećan sam kad mogu da napišem dobru pesmu

Foto: Stanislav Milojković

Ne postoji drugi izraz nego ‘sreća’. Sreća što po treći put u životu, u proteklih deset godina, gledam Stiva Vina kako svira i peva u Beogradu. Za generaciju mojih poznanika i prijatelja, Stivi je nešto kao ‘stariji brat’. Uz njegove pesme i ‘Tajanstveni voz’ smo odrasli, uz koncert u KST-u neki od nas dobili su snagu da izdrže i ostanu u Beogradu, opet, kada se ukazala prilika, neki su ušli u promoterski posao sa željom da ga opet vide u Beogradu. Svaki trud se nagrađuje. Možda je samo za neke ‘slučajeve’ potrebno da prođe više vremena. Nekim prijateljima sve možeš da kažeš čak i kada ih viđaš tri puta u deset godina…

Ovaj intervju nastao je iz tri puta i više sati razgovora i pokušaja. Don’t ask why. Više je neobavezan razgovor na ‘slobodne teme’, nego što je ‘ozbiljan’ razgovor sa ‘ozbiljnim’ umetnikom. Drago mi je što je tako. Retko vam se ukaže prilika da sa svojim idolom pričate do 3 ujutro u prijateljskom kafiću u centru grada i da čekate fajront… Sa Stivom Vinom razgovarala je Svetlana Đolović.

PD>Krenimo od novog albuma – ’Tick Tick Tick’ je nedavno objavljen i na njemu se nalazi jedna neobična saradnja – romanopisac Džordž Pelekanos (George Pelecanos) je napisao tekst za pesmu ’Cindy, It Was Always You’. Reci mi nešto o poznanstvu sa Džordžom, kako je došlo do toga da sarađujete i uopšte o tvojoj ljubavi prema kriminalističkoj prozi?
SW>Oduvek sam voleo tu vrstu književnosti, od Agate Kristi (Agatha Christie) koju sam čitao kao dečak preko Rejmonda Čendlera (Raymond Chandler) i Rosa Mekdonalda (Ross MacDonald) kasnije. Kriminalistička proza je verovatno nešto što je ’posebnost’ Los Anđelesa i njegove okoline – pisci poput Džemsa Ilroja (James Ellroy) i Rejmonda Čendlera ’proslavili’ su Los Anđeles, tako da sam ja, živeći tamo, logično postao ’fan’. Stvaralaštvo Džordža Pelekanosa upoznao sam tek pre 7 ili 8 godina, kad mi je neko pomenuo da ima ‘taj neki’ pisac koji u svojim romanima pominje Dream Syndicate i neke razne bendove… Meni je to bilo neverovatno. Ubrzo sam počeo da čitam njegove romane i postao obožavalac. Kada smo pre četiri godine snimali album ‘Here Come the Miracles’, neko od naših zajedničkih poznanika predložio je da Džordž napiše tekst za buklet. Složili smo se, ispalo je sjajno i od tada smo počeli da se družimo kod njega u Merilendu i Vašingtonu, dolazio je na naše koncerte i ispostavilo se da je on stvarno jedan izuzetan lik, jednostavan i pristupačan. Ostali smo u kontaktu preko e-maila sa puno tema za priču – obojica volimo sport i slušamo sličnu muziku, posebno delimo ljubav prema soulu.

Pre nekoliko godina on je sa još nekim piscima – Hanterom Es Tompsononom (Hunter S. Thompson) i Karlom Hajesenom (Carl Hiaasen) – učestvovao na albumu Vorena Zivona (Warren Zevon). To mi se učinilo kao zanimljiva ideja da neko ko zapravo nije muzičar učestvuje u pravljenju pesama. Pozvao sam ga i predložio da napiše tekst za neku pesmu. On se zahvalio na poverenju uz napomenu da nikad nije pisao tako nešto. Posle malo ubeđivanja, poslao mi je dva teksta i oba su bila odlična, napisana na potpuno drugačiji način od onoga kako muzičari obično pišu tekstove. Ja sam ubrzo ’ozvučio’ njegove reči i jedna od tih pesama je završila na ovom albumu.

PD>Tusonska trilogija se završila ovim albumom. Kako je uopšte došlo do toga da snimate u Arizoni i koliko je prijateljstvo sa Hau Gelbom (Howe Gelb -Giant Sand) uticalo na to?
SW>Pre pet ili šest godina došao sam do one tačke u karijeri gde je trebalo promeniti nešto, a da nisam tačno znao šta. Iznutra sam proživljavao nešto što bi se moglo nazvati ’muzička kriza srednjeg doba’. Bilo je neohodno da se dogodi nešto novo. Razgovarao sam sa prijateljima o tome u nadi da će mi oni dati neki nagoveštaj promene. Među njima je bio Hau, pričali smo posle jednog koncerta u Londonu. On je tada pomenuo da u Tusonu ima jedan sjajan studio ’Wavelab’, prilično jeftin i sa odličnim uslovima za rad. Pozvao me da dođem tamo i da probam nešto novo. I na putu za Arizonu, Lindi sam rekao da verovatno nisam normalan da idem iz Njujorka, gde ima milion najrazličitijih sudija, i prelazim pola Amerike da snimim album… Ona je rekla da treba da odemo i vidimo šta će biti. I to se ispostavilo kao fantastično iskustvo – tamo je nastala najomiljenija ploča cele moje karijere (Here Come The Miracles). Bilo sam jako srećan i samim tim sam se vratio na isto mesto dve godine kasnije i takođe sam bio zadovoljan rezultatom (Static Transmission). Pre snimanja ovog albuma pomislio sam da je možda ponovo vreme za promenu, ali gotovo da sam se navikao na udobnost rada tamo – volim to mesto, jednostavno je i opušteno, volim snimatelja Krega Šumahera (Craig Schumacher), i to je dovoljno razloga da se vratimo tamo još jednom. Sve u svemu, mene veoma inspiriše promena, sve što je novo, drugačije – situacije, ljudi, mesta, muzika i mislim da je uskoro vreme za nešto novo. Još uvek ne znam šta, ali desiće se.

PD>Da li je boravak u Arizoni uticao na tvoj način pisanja pesama?
Ne, pošto ja sve pesme pišem u Njujorku. Najbolje pišem kada sam kod kuće i kada se ništa ne dešava. Boravak u Tusonu je verovatno uticao na pristup snimanju albuma, na naše međusobne odnose, neke stvari smo radili drugačije nego ranije. Meni, koji sam odrastao u Los Anđelesu i sada živim u Njujorku, život u velikom gradu ima svoje zakonitosti – uvek moraš da planiraš stvari unapred, da budeš brz, da ne gubiš korak sa dešavanjima. U tom smislu, Njujork je sumanut – da bi bio u toku svaki deo dana mora da bude osmišljen, pa tako i cela godina, a onda i život sam. Sa druge strane, u Tusonu vreme kao da stoji ili kao da ne postoji. Planovi se svode na to da li ćeš uveče izaći sa nekim na pivo ili ne. Taj opušteni, lenji ritam koji smo zatekli tamo, prilično je uticao na snimanje sva tri albuma. Umesto da smo se iznuravali u studiju dok svi ne budu zadovoljni, jednostavno smo se zabavljali. Kad ne ide, ostavimo sve, odemo da pojedemo neku meksičku hranu i vratimo se da probamo ponovo. Za mene je to bio nov način rada, s obzirom na to da sam ’workaholic’ i da imam snažnu radnu etiku. Nastojim da tokom dana uradim što više stvari. U stanju sam da i po 16 sati provedem radeći i da napravim pauzu tek za večeru. Dok smo bili tamo, satima smo sedeli razgovarajući o bilo čemu. I ta opuštenost se čuje na albumu.

PD>U jednoj fazi svoje karijere radio si u prodavnici ploča Rhino Records u Los Anđelesu. Kako je to iskustvo uticalo na tvoje stavove, o muzičkoj industriji i kako je uticalo na tebe kao nezavisnog muzičara?
SW>U to vreme moj posao je bio da naručujem nezavisna izdanja za tu prodavnicu. To je bilo drugo vreme, nije bilo tako puno bendova koji su sami izdavali svoje albume, nije postojala mreža za distribuciju te muzike. Tek si na turnejama po lokalnim klubovima mogao da upoznaš publiku sa svojim pesmama, i to na nekakvim ’večerima indie muzike’. Dakle, u to vreme uopše nije postojalo tržište za ovakvu muziku, ali je to stanje bilo uzbudljivo sa jedne druge strane. U isto vreme ja sam svirao sa Dream Syndicate, R.E.M. su počinjali u Džordžiji, Sonic Youth u Njujorku, a the Replacements u Miniapolisu. Svi ti bendovi, širom zemlje, nezavisno jedan od drugog pokušavali su da urade istu stvar – da stvaraju muziku koju vole u svetu muzičke industrije koja neće da čuje za njih. I uspeli smo da uradimo svoju stvar. Rad u prodavnici Rhino Records je bilo fantastično iskustvo, neka vrsta fakultetskog obrazovanja. Proveo sam dve godine u jednoj od najboljih i najraznovrsnijih prodavnica, ne samo u L.A.-ju, nego bilo gde. Po ceo dan sam slušao najopskurniji bluz, kantri, rege ili pank rok, i istovremeno ’visio’ sa raznim muzičkim fanaticima. Tu sam naučio da proširim svoje vidike i steknem nove ideje o muzici i onome šta ću raditi ubuduće. I pre toga sam bio posvećeni slušalac muzike, a od tada sam još veći. Bilo je to sjajno iskustvo i moj poslednji regularni posao. 

PD>Sada kada si puno radno vreme rok muzičar, kultna ličnost, indie zvezda ili … (…šta god da sam …op. SW) …kako ti prija takav život, sa tvojim navikama i tvojom disciplinom?
SW>Sada mi je lako i lepo, kako se to već kaže. Mnogo više sam bio uznemiren i zabrinut u svojim dvadesetim kada mi se sviđalo to što radim, ali sam se u isto vreme plašio da će sutra sve nestati. Sa svakom pločom Dream Syndicate kao i sa prvim solo pločama, mislio sam: ’Šta ako se nikom ne dopadne novi album? Šta ako niko ne dođe na koncert? Nikada više neću moći da napišem pesmu…’ Danas više nemam takve brige, zato što znam da ono što volim mogu da radim dok god sam u stanju – imam odanu publiku svuda u svetu, koja svake godine dolazi na moje koncerte. Nema razloga za brigu, sasvim sam zadovoljan svojim životom. Najveći pritisak koji namećem sebi ne dolazi od muzičkog biznisa, već od same muzike. Srećan sam kad mogu da napišem dobru pesmu, nesrećan sam kad ne mogu. Isto je i sa koncertima. Ne brinem toliko o poslovnoj strani svega toga. Život u Njujorku je super. On je stalna inspiracija sa svim što se tamo dešava. Nemoguće je da ti ponestane ideja u Njujorku. A lako možeš da ih nađeš toliko, da potraju ceo život. 

PD>Wall Street Journal je, povodom izlaska tvog tribjut albuma i 25 godina karijere, prošle godine objavio veliki članak, što izgleda kao dug starih fanova, onih koji su nekoć kao koledž studenti slušali tvoju muziku, a danas su ‘odrasli’ i bave se ‘japi’ poslovima. Kako ti se danas čini tvoja publika, viđas ih uživo trećinu godine i imate uzajamno veliko poštovanje i posvećenost…
SW>Da, odnos između muzičara i publike mora da bude dvosmeran. U mom slučaju, stvari su se donekle promenile u poslednje vreme. Do pre nekoliko godina moja publika su bili moji vršnjaci, ljudi kao sto sam ja. Ali u poslednjih 5 godina, od izlaska albuma ‘Here Come the Miracles’, stekao sam sasvim novu, mlađu publiku i to je veoma uzbudljivo za mene i obavezujuće u neku ruku. Neke ljude viđam na koncertima iz godine u godinu i tako 10, 15 godina, posle svirke se ispričamo, kažu mi sta ima novo – takav je slučaj recimo i sa Draganom Ambrozićem ovde, koga znam deset godina – to je kao da dođete u posetu starom prijatelju. U isto vreme, danas na svojim koncertima srećem ljude koji imaju po dvadeset godina i trenutno pomislim – ‘Čoveče, ti si se rodio kad sam ja snimio prvi album!’ I onda shvatim da oni na isti način saznaju o mojoj muzici, kao što sam i ja otkrivao muziku iz šezdesetih kad sam bio klinac. Prva reakcija kad vidim nekog tako mladog na mom koncertu je: ‘Otkud vi znate ove pesme?’ I onda shvatim da sam i ja sa dvadeset godina slušao Bo Didlija i razne opskurne garažne bendove i to je isto kao i danas. Ljudi koji dolaze na moje koncerte vole muziku, gladni su muzike, to su ljudi sa dobrim kolekcijama ploča ili diskova, jednostavno, to su oni koji muziku shvataju na ozbiljniji način. To su ljudi sa kojima mogu da razgovaram posle koncerata i siguran sa da imamo nešto zajedničko. I ponekad me i samog iznenađuje koliki sam ‘mjuzik-džanki’. Čak i među mojim prijateljima ima mnogo onih koji su prestali da slušaju muziku, dok mene ona neprestano uzbuđuje. Ako imam vremena, u novom gradu, prodavnica ploča je prvo mesto gde svratim.

PD>Imaš li vremena da istražuješ novu muziku, nove trendove?
SW>O da,naravno. I s obzirom na zagriženost u stanju sam da preslušam 100 ploča dok ne nađem jednu koja mi se dopada i kada je nađem – odlepim od sreće. Ljudima često nije jasno odakle mi želja da se bavim traženjem nove muzike, ja kažem ne samo da me loži pisanje i sviranje pred publikom, već je i samo to što sam posvećeni slušalac muzike dovoljno uzbudljiva stvar u mom životu. Ove godine, recimo, jedan od omiljenih albuma mi je LCD Soundsystem – album koji sam otkrio sasvim slučajno i ispostavilo se da je u toj muzici sve ono što najviše volim upakovano u jedno – od grupe the Fall preko plesne muzike do svega ostalog… Takva otkrića podmlađuju i čine život uzbudljivijim.

PD>Čime bi se bavio da nisi postao muzičar?
SW>Pored toga što sviram gitaru i pevam, ja sam u suštini najviše autor, pisac. Uživam u pisanju. Sve mislim da ću jednom možda napisati i roman. Pesmu možeš da napišeš za dva minuta, to je zabeležen trenutak u vremenu, za roman je ipak potrebna određena disciplina.

PD>Imajući u vidu tvoj današnji status u svetu alternativne muzike, kada bi mogao da biraš grupu muzičara sa kojima bi najviše voleo da sviraš, ko bi oni bili?
SW>Ja sada nastupam sa njima. Danas imam najbolji bend koji sam mogao da poželim. Ima razloga što sviram sa Lindom (Linda Pitmon) i Džejsonom (Jason Victor) tako dugo. Uz Erika (Eric Van Loon) na turneji i Dejva (Dave DeCastro) u studiju, ovo je daleko najbolji bend sa kojim sam ikad svirao. I mi se očigledno nismo slučajno našli tu gde jesmo. Moj drugi izbor pao bi na bend Majlsa Dejvisa (Miles Davis) koji je nastupao ovde (u Beogradu) 1973. Kad bih se vratio u prošlost, i mogao da biram, izabrao bih njih.

PD>U tekstovima tvojih pesama često se može čuti reč ‘freak’. Reci mi nešto o toj svojoj fascinaciji ljudima koji su drugačiji na jedan dobar, pozitivan način?
SW>Za mene frikovi nisu ljudi kojih se treba kloniti, koji me plaše ili koji mi se ne sviđaju. ‘Frik’ je za mene kompliment. Volim autsajdere, ljude koji se usude ne samo da budu drugačiji, već i da pogreše ili da povremeno budu loši, čudni ili izopšteni iz društva. To su ljudi koje nalazim među svojim herojima, među svojim prijateljima, u svom bendu. Zahvaljujući njima svet je mnogo zanimljiviji. Danas se većina trudi da se prilagodi, bilo time što nose odela sa kravatom ili tako što slušaju određenu muziku ili gledaju određene programe na televiziji. Ja volim one koji se ne uklapaju – neprilagođene. 

PD>Ima puno muzičara koji su ‘ostavili’ karijeru u osamdesetim, i praktično žive od stare slave. Sa druge strane, ti si savršen primer pravog savremenog umetnika – ideš u korak s vremenom i istovremeno ostaješ veran svom stilu. Kako danas gledaš na vreme sa grupom Dream Syndicate i kako je to profilisalo tvoju sadašnju publiku, s obzirom na to da i danas ima puno onih koji dolaze na tvoje svirke zbog tog dela karijere?
SW>Mislim da sam napravio dobar balans između prvog i drugog dela karijere. Veoma sam ponosan na ono što sam radio sa Dream Syndicate, volim te albume i uživam da sviram uživo pesme sa njih, oni za mene imaju posebno značenje, ali ne želim da se “šlepam” uz njih. Mislim da su moja najbolja tri albuma – poslednja tri. Danas mnogo više uživam u onome što radim – zabavnije je, jednostavnije i bolje. Kada ljudi govore o Dream Syndicate uvek kažem: ‘To je bilo super, ali ovo što sada radim je bolje!’ Ne znači da mi se ono pre nije sviđalo ili da ga se odričem, već zaista tako mislim. I mnogi mi to govore, a ja to osećam u sebi. To je dobra kombinacija – kad sam na bini mogu da sviram nove pesme i da mi ne bude neprijatno zbog njih dok sviram stare pesme na koje sam ponosan i koje mnoge ljude u publici učine srećnim. Dream Syndicate je bio dobar bend i to je bilo veoma uzbudljivo vreme za mene, ne samo zbog muzike već je tada sve bilo ‘prvi put’ – prvo snimanje, prvi koncert, prva turneja- to je neponovljivo ushićenje i od tada ništa nije isto. Ali danas sam srećniji dok pišem pesme i one mi se više dopadaju.

PD>Jednom si izjavio da si uopšteno zadovoljan onim što si uradio za ovih 25 godina. Da li je bilo nekih kompromisa koje danas ne bi napravio i da li bi nešto ipak uradio drugačije?
SW>Mislim da sam jednom nosio košulju koja mi se baš nije dopadala i jednu celu nedelju sam proveo sa stvarno lošom frizurom…(smeh) Ali u stvari i nema. Možda bih promenio neke sitnice – remiksovao bih neke stare albume – sredinom osamdesetih produkcija je bila specifična, danas bih, recimo, ukinuo reverb… Imao sam sreće da budem dovoljno popularan da pravim muziku kakvu želim i da idem na turneje, ali opet i ne toliko popularan da bi iko mogao da me pritiska u vezi s tim. To je savršena ravnoteža. Ako se novi album Robija Vilijamsa (Robbie Williams) ne proda dobro, hiljadu ljudi će izgubiti posao, neki će ostati bez novogodišnjih poklona, puno ljudi zavisi od toga koliko će on biti uspešan. Za mene to ne važi. Jedino je važno da budem srećan. I da nema pritiska. Ako se meni dopada ono što sam uradio, i ako sebi mogu da priznam, bez zavaravanja, da je nešto što napravim dobro ili loše (a u dubini duše uvek znaš), onda će i publika prepoznati to što ja smatram da je dobro. Čak i kad ti je potrebno da drugi ljudi vrednuju tvoj rad kao dobar, ti iznutra uvek znaš da li je to vredno ili nije. Čak i kada dozvoljavaš da te drugi obmanu da je dobro ono što nije, ti u sebi uvek znaš kakva je prava istina. I to je za mene razlika u odnosu na početak karijere – danas tačno znam kada je nešto dobro, a kada nije i kako to mogu da promenim. Pre dvadeset godina, snimao bih ploču i nadao bih se da će ispasti dobro. Danas snimam albume sa ‘očekivanim ishodom’ – znam kako da napravim pesmu i ako još bude dobra tim bolje. Zato je danas sve mnogo zabavnije.

PD>Reci mi nešto o tvom posebnom statusu u Evropi i po čemu je on drugačiji od američkog?
SW>Ne volim kada moram da delim publiku, posebno što je svako mesto priča za sebe. Kao što je svako veče drugo iskustvo, tako je i svaka godina na istom mestu drugo iskustvo. To što sam redovnije i više nastupao po Evropi tokom svih ovih godina, uticalo je da moj status ovde bude poseban – imam veliku i veoma odanu publiku. U poslednje vreme mnogo češće sviram u Americi, tako da se sada i tamo menjaju stvari.

PD>Misliš li da je u poslednjih pet, šest godina došlo do ‘revalorizacije’ tvoje karijere u Americi?
SW>Da, sigurno. Sa albumom ‘Here Come The Miracles’ nastala je prekretnica u sagledavanju moje solo karijere. Tokom devedesetih potpuno sam zapostavio koncerte u Americi. To je bilo glupo i nesmotreno s obzirom da sam u to vreme suviše uživao i zabavljao se u Evropi. Ali evo sada stvari ponovo dolaze na svoje. Sada mnogo više sviramo po Americi. Mada je vrlo čudno da i dok uopšte nismo svirali u Americi – tamo smo prodavali daleko najviše albuma nego bilo gde drugde. Jednostavno zato što tamo živi mnogo više ljudi. U Americi je totalno druga perspektiva jer je ogromna zemlja. I ima jako puno ljudi koji vole moju muziku, samo je trik pronaći ih.

PD>Iz perspektive stalnih putovanja i praćenja muzičke scene, da li u ovom trenutku Amerika više utiče na Evropu ili obrnuto?
SW>Svako utiče na svakoga, i to nije fraza. Mi smo malopre pričali o malom, ali čuvenom i vrlo uticajnom radiju iz Santa Monike u Kaliforniji KCRW i ja sam se zapanjio da vi ovde uopšte znate za njih. Ja sam odrastao slušajući ih u Los Anđelesu a evo i vi ovde u Beogradu danas to možete. I to je dokaz da svako danas utiče na svakoga. Kada smo ranije bili na turneji po Evropi, uvek smo nastojali da otkrijemo neki novi ‘kul’ lokalni bend za koji niko drugi ne zna. Danas, zahvaljujući internetu, svako može da otkrije muziku sa bilo koje strane sveta. Danas je sve dostupno i svi traže to uzbuđenje u novoj muzici koju drugi još nisu otkrili. A taj način pretraživanja je istančao ukus i želje ljudi i olakšao im da pronađu ono što im se najviše dopada. I to ne samo u muzici – ranije su ljudi jednostavno hteli najobičniji čizburger, a danas hoće zemičku od “takvog” brašna, meso “te” vrste, iz “te” zemlje, sir “te” debljine i “te” masnoće. Tako je i sa filmovima – svako sada ima svog omiljenog opskurnog reditelja za kog niko drugi ne zna. Svako može da pronađe ono što ga zanima. A to pomaže i meni, tako da oni koji vole to što ja radim , gde god da se nalaze, mogu da pronađu moju muziku.

PD>Za kraj neizbežno pitanje o Denu Stjuartu (Dan Stuart – Green On Red) i slučaju ‘Danny and Dusty’. Hoćete li ponovo raditi zajedno?
SW>Deni ja smo bili najbolji prijatelji pre dvadeset godina. Onda smo se nekako razišli. On se pre tri godine preselio u Njujork i od tada se ponovo družimo. On je u jednom trenutku prestao da svira i snima i ja sam ga pitao da li se povukao, na šta je on odgovorio da se samo umorio. Pre tri meseca odsvirao je koncert sa Green On Red u Tusonu i to je bilo prvi put da je nastupao uživo posle 10 godina. To je prošlo jako dobro, tako da je ohrabren. Odlučili smo da uskoro snimamo novi album, do kraja godine ćemo napisati sve pesme i početkom sledeće godine ulazimo u studio.

(c) 2005. Svetlana Đolović, POP Depresija, NIJE DOZVOLJENO KORIŠĆENJE TEKSTA BEZ DOZVOLE

Foto: Stanislav Milojković

Belgrade, November 9th and 10th 2005. Interview by Svetlana Đolović. English transcript by Vladimir Pavić.

PD: Let’s talk about the new album. Tick Tick Tick is out now and it contains a very interesting collaboration for you and for us as listeners. You invited George Pelecanos, the novelist, to write lyrics for one of your tracks – Cindy, It Was Always You, and can you tell us something about your relationship with George and your love for crime novels, from Agatha Christie back in the day…
SW: That’s funny, you’ve done your homework! I’ve always been a fan of that kind of writing, Agatha Christie all the way back then and through getting older reading Raymond Chandler and Ross Mcdonald that’s just the kind of writing I like. I think that crime fiction is really a very particular thing to Los Angeles where I grew up, all these writers like Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy who write about Los Angeles. I hadn’t read George Pelecanos until about 7 or 8 years ago and somebody told me, hey there’s this guy writing great crime fiction novels and he writes about The Dream Syndicate and I thought, that’s impossible… I forgot which book I read first and sure enough there it was. I started reading more and more and became a big fan of his and we knew people in common and when I put out Here Come the Miracles 4 years ago I needed someone to write the bio for and why not see if George wants to do it. George wrote a graeat bio and we became friends. I started hanging out with him, in Maryland and in Washington DC, he would come to shows and he’s a great guy. He’s a really easy guy to hang out with, as you know, and we stayed in touch through e-mail. We have a lot in common, we’re both sports fans, we both like the same music, we’re soul music fans…A couple of years ago there was a Warren Zevon record where he collaborated with Hunter S. Thompson and Carl Hiaasen and I think a few other writers like that and I thought that’s very interesting to write with a non musician. I wrote to George and said what do you think…George said, I’m really flattered but I’ve never written a song and I said you’re a great writer, you like music, just write something. So George sent me a couple of lyrics and they were great and really written in different way that a musician would write. He had a different way of writing and it really feels like his writing. I loved them so I wrote music to both songs and then recorded one of them.

PD: It’s one of the best songs on the record I guess. 
SW: I like it a lot, yeah.

PD: Tell me something about the ending of Tucson Trilogy, how did it come up to be? Your friendship with Howe Gelb and why Arizona of all places, why not Chicago, for example, or some other place?
SW: About 5 or 6 years ago I reached the point where I knew I wanted to do something different but I didn’t know what. You have that feeling in your life all the time, a musical midlife crisis. I needed something else to happen and I was talking to friends trying to look for any kind of clue what to do next and I talked to Howe in London after a show and he said – there’s a studio in Tucson called Wavelab, where we record and it was really great, really different you had to give it a try, and it was really cheap as well. He wanted me to come out there, he made it very easy to do it, he made a price that was crazy low, he just wanted me to try it out. I remember I was on a plane out to Tucson with Linda and I was talking to her and I said, what am I doing I’m leaving New York where there’s a million studios, where I live, to go across the country to make a record – am I crazy. She said – well, we’ll see what happens. Anyway the experience was great and that was my favourite record I ever made, by far. I was so happy with it I went back again the second time and with Static Transmission I was very happy. This record I feel like, ok it’s time to change, but the more I thought about it I like going there, it was easy to work there I like the engineer Craig Schumacher, so why not one more time… I’m very inspired by change. New things, new situatuions, new people, new music, new anything that’s what is catalyst for me to do what I do best, so I think it’s time for something different now, but I don’t know what yet.

PD: Do you think that being in Arizona and recording there influenced your songwriting in a way?
SW: Well, not the writing because I write everything in New York, almost all my songs I write at home. I write best when I’m home when nothing is happening. It’s funny, even though I think ideas and music and recording comes from change I write well when I’m home… But being in Arizona influenced the rocording and the way we work together. Being a person who grew up in Los Angeles and lives in NYC, two big cities, where you’re always planning things, you have to be fast paced to keep up the life. New York City is crazy, you’re always mapping out your day, your year, your life. In Tucson, the clock stops in Tucson, time doesn’t exist in Tuscon. Your big plan for the day could be to have a beer tonight with somebody, that’s your plan for the week and I think that kind of pace, that easy lazy pace really had an impact on the records because rather than going into the studio and say, ok we could do this perfectly and just keep playing till we get it right, we just had fun, you know. If this didn’t work, we’d go out and have some mexican food and try something else an hour from now, and this was a new way of working for me. I’m a workaholic I have a strong work ethic. I like to do as much as I can. I’ll work 16 hours and not take a break for dinner, so going out there wher we just sit around and talk for an hour about whatever -this is very different and I can hear that in a record, I can hear that pace in the record.

PD: At one point in your career you worked as a clerk in Rhino Records store and how did that influence your look at the industry? How did it influence you as an independent artist, one of the strongest independent artists around these days…
SW: When I was working there I was the independent buyer for the stores. I was buying indie records back then and it was a very different scene. There weren’t that many bands making their own records, there wasn’t a real network for, going on tour was, you know, maybe you’d find one club here and one club there, you played the local ‘new wave night’, crazy things. It was very different then, there was no real circuit for this kind of thing, but it was exciting. At the same time I was doing with The Dream Syndicate, REM was starting in Georgia, Sonic Youth were starting in New York and The Replacements were starting in Minneapolis. All around the country all these bands, independent of each other, were trying to learn the same thing. How do we play this music we love in the music business that doesn’t want to hear this? And it worked, we all made it happen. Working at Rhino was a great thing, that was like my college education in a way. For two years I worked in a store, one of the best stores anywhere, and all day long I’d hear the most obscure blues, the most obscure country, the most obscure reggae, the most obscure punk rock. I hung out with people who were music fanatics and it taught me just to broaden my ideas and horizons and everything. I was already a music fan but I became even of one after working there, it was a great experience and my last day job (laughs).

PD: Now that you’re a full time rock musician, a star, a cult person…
SW: Whatever I am (laughs)!

PD: How does it suit you? You have a discipline of your own, I see, you’re very devoted in one way but not in that reckless, rock’n’roll kind of way. How do you keep up those things in your everyday life?
SW: It’s very easy; it’s very comfortable for me. I think there was more anxiety in my twenties where I would think, I love doing this but I’m afraid it would end tomorrow. With each record and my first solo records there’s a kind of feeling of – what happens if nobody likes my music, nobody comes to my shows, I’ll never be able to make music again. I don’t have that worry anymore ‘cause I feel like as long as I wanna do it I can do it and it’s a great feeling. I have loyal fans, like last night was very special for me. Still I go all around the world, people know my music and they come out every year to all the shows and I don’t worry about that anymore, my life is great. My biggest pressure on myself isn’t music business but the music, and I’m happy when I write a good song and I’m unhappy when I can’t, I’m happy when I play a good show and unhappy when it’s not a good show. I don’t worry so much about the business side of it. Life in New York is great, New York is a constant inspiration, there is so much happening there you really should never run out of ideas in New York, because you have enough ideas to last you ten lifetimes. It’s a good life.

PD: Last Year Wall Street Journal did an atricle about you, celebrating 25 years of your career and your tribute album. You are kind of icon to this generation that was in college, listening to your music, and it seems that it was kind of their payback now when they are all grown up, with ‘serious’ yuppie jobs. What do you feel your audience is like? For one third of the year you’re in contact with them? Who are these people, you’re very devoted to them as well as they are to you.
SW: It goes both ways. It’s funny, it’s changing. I think until about 5 years ago my audience was me, it was people my age with my experience, but in the last 5 years it’s been a lot more young people. I think starting with Here Come the Miracles I got a whole new audience and it’s been very exciting to see that. I see people at shows I’ve been seeing for 10 or 15 years and we have great convesations, we catch about things, like Dragan (Ambozic), who I’ve known now for ten years. I can come to towns and it’s an old friend which is wonderful, but at the same time now I come to shows I’m seeing people who are 20 years old, and I’m like- man you were born after my first record, this is incredible- and I think they’re learning about my music the same way I learned about music in the 60’s when I was young. My first reaction, when I see someone so young at my show, is to think how do you know this music and I say, wait a second when I was 20 I was listening to Bo Diddley, garage bands things like that, so it’s the same thing. I think that people who come to the shows are people who are really hungry for music, who love music, who have good record collections, people who are more serious about music. When these are people that I can talk to after a show and have already something in common with, it amazes me that I’m still a music junkie after all these years. I have a lot of friends who are my age who say- well I don’t play records anymore, I don’t like music so much- but I still love it. If there’s a record store next door that’s the first place I go into.

PD: Do you explore new music even now, new trends and new bands? Do you have time?
SW: Oh sure, I listen to things. I filter through a hundred things to find the one thing I like and I get excited when I find it, it’s still a thrill. People say how do you, after all these years, still get the excitement to do it and I still get that thrill, not just from playing and writing but even from being a music fan. You hear all these records and it’s ok and then you hear one thing, like this year one of my favourite things is LCD Soundsystem and that’s a record that came out of nowhere for me. When I heard that one I thought- this is great this sounds like every kind of music I like rolled into one. It’s like The Fall mixed with dance music mixed with everything and that becomes a thrill and you feel revitalized again.

PD: What is the other thing that you would do in life, if you weren’t a musician? Can you imagine yourself now?
SW: I think that most of all, more than a guitarist more than a singer, I’m a writer. I write, I enjoy writing. I wish I had more time to write a novel, but you know you can write a song in two minutes, a song is just a snapshot of a moment I can do that well, and a novel you gotta have some discipline (laughs).

PD: Having a status that you have in music generally, for the past 20 years, if you can pick an all star group of musicians that you really admire and would like to work with, who would they be?
SW: I’m playing with them. I have the best band that I’ve ever had. There’s a reason I play with Linda and Jason for so long and Eric now, but the band I’ve had with Linda and Jason and Dave on the record is the best band I’ve ever had, it’s not by accident I play with these people. My second choice would be the Miles Davis band that played here in Belgrade in 1973, that’s my second choice. If I go back in time and play with that band, that would be the one (laughs).

PD: Talking about the audience leads me to the question about the one idea in your poetry, your lyrics – the freak. Could you define this, what does it feel like for you, as we agreed that it definitely has a good connotation…
SW: When I say freak I don’t mean someone I don’t like, or someone who scares me, or somebody I wish would go away, this is a compliment for me. I like the outsiders, I like people who dare to not just be different but to be raw, or bad, or awkward, or shunned from society. I find people like that in my heroes, in my friends, in my band mates, I like the freaks. I think it’s more interesting. Everybody tries so hard and I guess you have to conform the society and be like other people, not just wearing a suit and tie but even the things they listen to, the things they watch on TV. I like people who just don’t fit, the misfits. I like this kind of thing and the freaks, it’s a good thing.

PD: There are a lot of musicians who left their carrers in the 80’s they’re living on the old glory, travelling with old songs and stuff, and you’re like this pefect example of a musician who is really a contemporary artist, keeping up with time and with what’s happening and having his own style the whole time. How do you feel about the time with The Dream Syndicate and when you travel around with the band and seeing people who want more of those songs and they’re not so familiar with your solo work?
SW: I think I have a nice blend of the two. I’m really proud of what I did with The Dream Syndicate, I like those records and I like playing those songs live, it still means something to me but I don’t rely on them. As I’ve said before I think the best records I’ve made are the last three. Right now I like what I’m doing, I think it’s more fun, it’s easier I think it’s better. When people talk about The Dream Syndicate they say that was great, but really what I’m doing now is better. It doesn’t mean I don’t like that, it doesn’t mean I’m not proud of it. And everybody says that, but I really feel that and so it’s a good combination for me to go on stage and play new songs and not feel embarassed by them, but also to be proud of what I did and play those songs and make people happy as well. The Dream Syndicate was a great band and a really exciting time for me and exciting not just for the music but because it was the fitrst time for everything for me, the first time I went into the studio, the first time I was on the stage, the fist time I went on tour, that’s a thrill and you can never get that again. Nothing will be the same as that again, but I’m happier making music now and I like it more.

PD: You said somewhere that you don’t have any skeletons in your closet…
SW: Oh, I do (laughs)! But musically, no!

PD: But you are generally satisfied with everything you did for the past 25 years. Could you remember now if you made any compromises during these 25 years, that you may regret now?
SW: I think I wore a shirt once I didn’t like! And a hairstyle I didn’t like for a week once, but no not so much, the little things. There are records in my past where I wish I could remix it, the small things… In mid 80’s, you know, the production was strange, there are a couple of things which I would change, like take the reverb off, but these are little things. I’ve been lucky to be popular enough to have the chance to make records and have the money to make records and go on tour, but not so popular so that anybody could bother me with what I did. It’s the perfect balance. If Robbie Williams’ new record doesn’t sell well a thousand people are gonna lose their jobs, people would get fired, somebody’s not going to get money for a Chistmas present. A lot of people depend on how much he sells. For me it doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is if I’m happy so it’s a great balnace of things. I don’t feel the pressure.

PD: This peace, you know this thing that you sorted out in your mind… It’s really attractive to see a man being in peace with himself .Musicians are always struggling with what they’re gonna do next, am I good enough, are they going to like me, stuff like that. On a general level you have to be in peace with yourself, like – I’m making a new album and I really want it to be good for me, not for someone else….SW: I’ve always felt like if I honestly can say that something I do is, without fooling yourself, if I honestly like it, if I’m really proud of it other people will be too. I don’t wanna think what other people are like. That’s funny, sometimes you do things and you like it but you want other people to like it so you can convince yourself, but you know deep down. I’m sure when you write an article or do a radio show, anything you do, you know deep down if it’s good. You can say it’s great and people will tell you it’s terrible, but you can say it’s not so great and people will tell you it’s great. You let yourself be fooled but basically you know and that’s the difference between now and years ago for me – I have a better feeling now of when something is good and not good and also how to change it. If I’m in the studio 20 years ago, I would make a record and hope it’d work out, now when I make records I know if it’s not going right, I know how to make it go right that’s why it’s more fun now. 

PD: You seem not to push it too far, if it doesn’t go it doesn’t go. You leave it and then you try again, not like I have to write this song now even if it’s life or death, when it’s there it’s there.
SW: You can’t force it, yeah definetely.

PD: What about Europe? You have such a huge following in Europe and tell me how do you seee this difference between your status in United States and Europe?
SW: Well I would hate to divide things like that because really, everything’s different from place to place. Ljubljana is very different from Belgrade, is very different from Vienna. Every night’s a different experience, every year is a different experience. The one thing I will say is I did more touring in Europe for a long time, and so I have more of an audience and more loyalty, but now I’m playing America a lot more and it’s going great over there too, so it’s different wherever you go.

PD: Do you feel that America is maybe re-evaluating your career in the past few years?
SW: Yeah, yeah. Here Come The Miracles got things going for me over there, it’s been really good. I didn’t tour America for much of the 90’s, so it was stupid. I didn’t do it because I was enjoying Europe so much, having so much fun over here and I just stopped playing America and now I’m kind of getting things back again and it’s eally going great over there, so it’s nice. The funny thing about America is even when I wasn’t touring there, even when I wasn’t paying attention to it, I still sold more records in America than anywhere else because there are more people. It’s a very weird perspective because it’s just a gigantic country and there are a lot of people that really like my music, but the trick is finding them.

PD: Travelling both ways, in Europe and the States, can you tell who is more influencing who at this moment, musically?
SW: Everyone’s influencing each other. Last night you blew my mind when we were talking about KCRW. That’s the radio station I grew up listening to in Los Angeles, and that you’re here in Belgrade and you can listen to it as easily as I can listen to it in my car over there. I think everybody’s influencing everybody else. When I started touring Europe I would always look for bands, if somebody knew about some cool bands I’d wanna hear that and dicscover good music all the time. Now I think everybody’s finding music from everywhere, it’s not unusual for someone in New York to say this is a great band in Belgrade I’m listening to them. You have access to everything, everyone’s looking for that thrill. With internet people are able to find things better and find the things they like in everything. It used to be people say I want to buy a cheesburger and now they want this kind of meet in this country and that cheese from that country, and the same thing with movies, everybody has their favourite obscure director. You can find the things you want and this helps me too, the people who like what I do wherever they are, whether it’s Belgrade or Moscow or Tokyo or Cleveland they find my music…And I’m the same way I’ll look for that thing I like all the time.

PD: And it’s beautiful because everyone get to be special, in that way. When you have these kinds of choices, that makes you really special in a way.
SW: It becomes your identity, right, right. And everybody wants to stand out from the crowd and it’s the way to do it.

PD: Can you tell me something about your collaboration with Dan Stuart (Green On Red) and would you make another Lost Weekend?
SW: It’s funny you ask that because Dan and I, we were best friends 20 years ago and then we kind of drifted apart but he moved to New York three years ago and we’ve been seeing each other again, hanging out. He stopped making records and I would say – Dan are you retired? and he said No I’m just tired- but he played a show with Green On Red three months ago in Tucson and it was the first time he played music in 10 years and it went really well, so we’re gonna do another record. We’re actually writing songs now and we’re going to record something the next year, sometime.

(c) 2005. Svetlana Đolović/POP Depression, UNAUTHORIZED USE OF TEXT IS PROHIBITED

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