Once again I return with another surprise treat for all the heads out there. In light of the release of The Cenobites "Demented Thoughts" EP, I got a chance to speak with Godfather Don about a number of interesting things.
Pre-orders are still being taken for the limited 200 press EP, which will be shipped on June 4th. Copies are limited, so if you haven't purchased yet, please don't let the opportunity to own one of these pieces pass you by.
For more info on ordering a copy, please CLICK HERE.
GODFATHER DON INTERVIEW
Conducted May 23rd, 2008 by 4XL and One Leg Up Records
4XL: First off, being that you're from Flatbush which has a history of incredible MC's, who were some of your main influences and were there any guys from around your way locally that had an impact on your sound in those early stages?
Well if we talk about commercial, meaning guys who were out then, I guess it would have to be that my main influences at that time was KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane and maybe a little Chuck D, just for the force or the power. So I felt at being the scientist I was, I would be putting it all together. If I could get the Kane flavor, that's all the cool stuff or the 'hot statements' as I would tell Menelik, 'the hot statements!' You know and then KRS-One had the nice strong delivery and I was really interested in that. And then of course Chuck had the power to carry the message where it needed to go. So in other words when I was starting out, I was like enamored with these guys as I am like when I play saxophone now. I'm thinking of Coltrane and thinking of stuff and be like "Damn, you're adding to this history." So I wanted to contribute the same amount to show how much I love this thing. So you would have to add things together and make something new with it to make it valid to the people in my generation. People would be like "Look man, these syllable things that Kane was doing, man this is gonna be something!" And that's basically how it was. Now locally, there was guys around. I mean when I say locally, I mean nobody that maybe broke thru on a level of a Kane or KRS, but there was really funny guys doing real nice things. If you mention one you gotta mention 'em all! Guys was doin' it before me. I was playing rock guitar before I got into emceeing and stuff. But that was the thing... Basketball, emceeing or sellin drugs.. Sometimes all three! And locally also I guess at that time I could say we had the Cella Dwellas. I used to hear about them a lot and.. Oh! Izzy Ice, man! I don't know if you remember...
4XL: You mean from Da King & I?
Yeah, from Da King & I! And also you know you gotta pick Special Ed. I guess that's my idea of local, meaning I could run into them at the McDonalds on Church and Flatbush or something and be like "Oh, yo!" But you know i never really came out and talked to them but I always knew who they were because I was always interested in their art.
4XL: Tell us about Select Records and how did you come about getting signed?
Okay, well speaking of local cats, there was another guy named Chubb Rock. To me he was local because I wasn't really into rap like that, I was playing rock guitar and stuff like that. It was just that a lot of people around me were rapping and I had access to making music. I was interested in it. So guys would say "Hey man put this on tape.. Loop this for me or pound this beat out on this little machine." Things like that. So once I started hearing the guys around me in the neighborhood do it, I was like "Wait a minute! I wonder..." Then came a great friend of mine named Sheek. At that time he was MC Sheek. I guess everyone was MC something back in the mid-80s. He really actually said "Hey man, Don you can do this, trust me!" He was really good, I mean he still is good. He writes still. He was like the Treacherous Three kind of thing you know, where people can dazzle you within a story... you know, that kind of emceeing, but with all the vocal tricks inside of the story rhymes. One guy that was around us said "I know so-and-so" and I guess that so-and-so turned out to be Chubb Rock. And I was like "Okay, I never heard of him, but aight!" and my man was like "Come on man trust me man!" So then the next year he tried to link me up with Chubb, cause when I went with him maybe the first few times he wasn't home. It was really local, like "Hey is Chubb home?... Oh, no? He's not here? Okay, tell him I came by." So it was like real casual. And at that time I guess he was really busy because Special Ed lived in the neighborhood and they was with Howie Tee. But you know, it was a lot goin' on at that time and Select really had something at that time. So that was something you would really look for, like Profile or Select. So my man was like "Hey man trust me.. you know Select.. Kid N Play, Real Roxanne.." So he kept pursuing and dragging me along. This was not Sheek, this was a guy named Money. Money knew everybody, he was that kind of fella. He would always be in the place. So when we finally did meet Chubb, he introduced us and I always had tapes on me. I always carried a pocket full of things I could let people hear. So he heard it and he said "Wow this is cool" and I said "Well, you know I'm just tryin' it." So he told me to just keep it up. Then one thing lead to another and I kept coming through there and Chubb said "Why don't you let me take one of these tapes up to my label and see if they like it?" By that time I think me and my friends in my neighborhood wanted me to be on Profile and had me shopping stuff there. I wish I had the stuff I left with Profile, man. I wish I had it! But remember at every label they would have a box at the door with all the cassettes and demos in it? I mean major dudes was throwin' tapes in there! He took the tape up there and then he called me and asked me to come up there. It was cool. It was the first time I was really doing something major in my eyes with music.. Not a UPS thing, or factory job you know? It was like "Oh this is a real oppportunity." So I packed up some more of my tapes I had at home and took the train up there to 23rd and 6th Ave and walked over to 22nd. I went up there and Chubb was there, Fred Munao the owner of Select was there and we just talked for a long time about what I was doing and what kind of equipment I was using. So then from those talks I did a lot of demos with Chubb supervising. There was a couple things I actually did at Howie Tee's house believe it or not. When he was working with Special Ed and he was letting me hear Ed and I was like "Wow this stuff is good, this guy is real good!" Everybody kept telling me "Ed, man.. You don't know Ed from Rogers?" But I didn't know him cause people assumed I was always into rap but I never really was. It was my friend Sheek and my neighborhood fellas that got me into it. But anyhow, so the thing with Select.. We did a period of demos at Howie's and with Questar Welch, who did a lot of stuff on Select too. That was in Brooklyn also. Then I guess came the first draft that we had of what would be the "Hazardous" album. The first draft really didn't make it, I don't really remember why it didn't go but all I do remember is that I ended up doing all the music and everything on what would become "Hazardous." And so I guess that first draft of material, I guess somebody still has that cause it was quite a few tunes. I mean, Chubb did intros on a few of 'em, I played guitar on some of 'em.. A lot of werid stuff. But that's how the Select thing happened through Chubb, through my man Money.
4XL: So once you got signed, what was it like being labelmates with artists as diverse as Kid N Play, Chubb Rock and The Real Roxanne?
I mean I guess at that time, the music that I was doing or was in my mind trying to do.. I wouldn't say was advanced, it was just a little different you know? I met Kid.. Kid was really cool with me, but Kid seems to be cool with everybody and I ended up doing some projects with Kid later on. I remember him sitting in and listening to my tapes every once in awhile and being like "Hey man, you did this music?" and stuff like that. I always wanted to meet Roxanne, but I think only one time I ran into her.
4XL: Did she look that good in person?
That's what I wanted to find out! The first thing I said to Fred Munao was "Hey man, do you get to see The Real Roxanne?" He said "Man, I can't keep her out of here man." I said "So hey, let's do this!" and it was funny cause I never got a chance to work with her. I really wanted to work with her but it just never happened. I ended up hanging out a lot more with Kid. And then Chubb at that time, he really started blowing up and at the same time I was starting to do a lot of things myself as far as production and stuff.
4XL: What type of equipment did you use to produce most of your beats and who or what got you into production and learning equipment?
Well actually being a guitar player, I had access to sampling devices. Not sampling sequencers like an MPC or an SP-12. I couldn't afford none of that stuff. I didn't have anything to program beats until after my first album. My first album, all the stuff I was fooling around with at home was just by ear.. Like listening to the records and saying "This would be nice here.." I used to write a note.. Hear another one, like "This would be nice too!".. Then write another note down. You know I had like a little tape 4 track thing that I would use with my guitar sampler which had an 8 second loop on it to just lay down the things and the different tracks that I would want to happen. And then I would take all the records to the studio once Fred gave the green light to start doing some things and just play the records.. Take the parts i wanted off of 'em. We didn't have a 1200 or anything in there! It was weird cause as I've said in the past, Fred hooked me up with a rock engineer. I wasn't crazy about my first album as far as the sound because I was trying to understand why it didn't sound like Kid N Play's record or whatever and I had a complex about it a long time because I thought my music wasn't good and that's why it didn't sound as loud as theirs. But now that I did more resaerch, a lot of the songs were long and you know the thing with wax, if it's a certain length of time the sound quality goes down and all that, so I realized that later.
4XL: Did you have any involvement with any records prior to the "Hazardous" album?
I would have to say no, because before then I was doing demos mainly just for all the guys in the neighborhood. I wasn't really rappin' all that much. I started fooling around with the music with a few of the guys around my way, one of them being my sister's fiancee, who was an excellent MC, man. You know the rest of the guys were like "Hey man I do it too, and oh yeah, I do it too!".. and you know, you have a little Juice Crew of your own and you don't even know it!
4XL: "Hazardous" was very different from your later material. What was your creative train of thought while you were making that album?
Well in my mind, I always thought that the voice is an instrument, so I knew that much. When you put your voice on the microphone and it's going with the music, something's supposed to be happening. Surprisingly, the story aspects of emceeing didn't really develop with me until later. I was really attracted to like i said, Kane, KRS and I put Chuck in the back and he was the most message oriented with a powerful voice. But what I was into was the swashbuckling, you know, just the cool syllables and all of that. I just felt that "Hey, what would happen if you just take syllables and words as far as you can take them?" You know, on beat and like pick a subject rather than a story and expand upon it, and that's how I came up with "Hazardous".. cause either I was like cool with it or this is like poison! Who's gonna touch this or who's gonna want it? It was like a joke to myself. So the train of thought was that I wanted to push the boundaries of the wordplay as far as you could.
4XL: We just put out the Herb McGruff record with the demo joints you produced for him. He had good things to say about the experience he had working with you. What was it like working on that demo with McGruff?
That was excellent, man. A lot of fun. Because I got a chance to get up close with Harlem MC's. See, I was in a Brooklyn world, so at that time everyone locally coming with stuff like Cella Dwellas and all of that stuff was in its early stages. So it was like "Ok, yeah, so people are experimenting." But these Harlem guys, they had the thing that I liked which was the interesting wordplay and all of that swashbuckling!
4XL: And they had great compounds too..
Right! They had excellent compounds, they had excellent matching syllables and extended phrasing over the one and all kind of weird things. So I said "This is attractive." And then on top of that, they had real funny stuff to say as far as street things and little stories about they man on the corner and they delivered it clear. I always appreciated those guys for that. So when it came time to work somebody from up there, my friend Wayne who lived in Brooklyn wanted to be my manager at the time. So he was like "Hey man, I'm gonna get some artists." He had a guy called Funky Monkey, I think he was from Washington. He was another good guy man, this was before Busta and he was on that kind of thing. And this guy Herb McGruff.. and he had a girl singer and I didn't really work with her too much. But when he said "Hey man, this cat Herb McGruff".. I was like "Where's he from?" He told me he's from Uptown where Wayne used to live and that he knows Big L. I said "Wait a minute!"... cause before we got to work together, I was listening to Bob's show and gettin' into that at the time, you know 89.9. He had Children of the Corn up there one time, all of those guys, and that was the greatest thing I ever heard, man. I wish I could get that from somebody! He had all of those guys up there and then when I found out Herb was one of those guys in that crew, I was like "Let me hear him." So he brought him down and he was such a cool mellow guy, like me. I expected something different cause the way I rhyme it's kinda like the way I am. So when you hear these dudes saying this stuff, you expect to see or feel a particular thing. But when I met him, man he was cool, he was mellow, he was more like an artist, it was great. So we just started buggin' out with the records and I said "Hey man, what do you think about this stuff?".. and he was like "Man, it's like whatever!" I don't know if he had anybody doing music for him at that point but I didn't really hear too many things cause I usually like to start fresh.
4XL: To a lot of people, it almost seemed as if this Herb McGruff and Godfather Don demo thing appeared out of nowhere. Nobody had really ever heard of something like this existing and especially from your stature up at Stretch & Bob's show, everyone would have assumed this material would've gotten lots of run on that show. Why didn't any of these joints get played on 89tec9 back in the day?
That's a great question! I guess Wayne was to blame for that. Since Wayne wanted to manage Herb McGruff, this girl singer I told you about and the other cat, Funky Monkey... He really didn't want the material being played.
4XL: Oh, so I guess he really had a plan for those joints...
Right. He pressed up the promo cassettes and everything. I was like "Wow, this is cool, this is great." So I felt I didn't really have the right to take it and go "Hey Bob, check this other thing I'm workin' on." And by that time, the Cenobites stuff was really taking the station up by storm. You know, everybody calling and freestyling, you know it just started a whole 'nother thing. So I didn't feel the need to keep flooding him at that point cause he would play certain things like every week. But it was mainly Wayne who was really trying to get McGruff like a real record deal.
4XL: Was there any other artists that you worked with to help produce their demos?
It was funny because I remember times where.. Well, see I don't want to name drop either.. But when I wasn't very serious about the emceeing aspect of it, as far as really trying to be an artist, a rapper, an individual force.. I really wasn't on that tip. So I didn't mind MC's coming thru and saying "Hey let me rhyme 2 verses on here".. I'd be like "Nah just take all 3 man!" You know I just used to have the tapes like that. Sometimes they would take it out the crib and people would hear it cause I'd give them a copy to rock with at their house or whatever. Then every once in awhile you'd get visitors to come by the crib and do things. It was really a loose situation. Maybe somebody that had a record out in the 90's that we all might know came thru but we probably did something and were like "You know, ahh let's not do anything with that." Things like that. I mean there were people around, but I really wasn't reaching out too much like that cause I was really focused on trying to perfect my craft cause I was also more into the production aspect of it too at that point. So I was very happy to have days on end or weeks on end where I could just be alone with the music and formulate things and try to put things together.
4XL: I know you're one of the artists that people most identify with the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito show in its heyday. One of the things I always liked was when producers went up there and played beats and had crazy freestyle sessions. What was that like at the time?
It was very creative. There were times where you would get artists maybe almost from 3 different aspects of the music at one time, in one night and they would all collaborate and improvise on some verses together.. and it might be over a beat of someone that's not even related to their genre who's up there and it would always have a creative energy throughout the place. Everybody was into beats and would be in the jazz department of the station sneaking around looking at records, it really was creative, man. When you went in there you wanted to be a producer or MC.. that's how it felt, you know? I mean, the staff used to start rhyming and everyone just wanted to be involved with what was going on over the air. A very strong creative energy. And the beat thing, when that happened.. I guess maybe Bobbito or somebody can clarify it, but I remember bringing records up there. I haven't heard of anybody doing it before. I remember bringing up records with Kool Keith one night and said "Hey man, you know what? I think a great idea would be to start playing these records and just give away some samples." And Keith said "Are you sure you wanna do that?" I said "Man, this is cool man, let me start giving away these samples." And Keith was like "Don't play that!".. and we was looping things.. It was real ill and Bob was just letting it go. And imagine me playing rare stuff you gotta pay a hundred dollars for.. just playing it clean and then Keith would start rapping over it cause he'd be mad cause he wanted to use it for his record or something, just talking nonsense! It was great, man. Then the next week, people were telling me "Yo, you know what happened on Bobbito? Large Professor came up there with his SP-12!" Everybody was talking about it, man.. I was like "Wow." I remember it really good not so much because me and Keith did it the week before, but because he did it the week after.. with a machine! So he had disks and everything and I was like "Oh boy!" I mean, but it was still cool because I appreciated that being a producer myself.
4XL: I was a big fan of the Groove Merchantz and the tracks that you guys did. How did that whole thing start and how did you connect with VIC?
VIC was more or less after I had met Jerry Famolari from Sneak Tip at the time before it was Hydra... or maybe it was the other way around, I don't remember. But Jerry had told me that he knew VIC from the Beatnuts and at that point I loved the Beatnuts. Cause I was like "Man this is it! A producing group that raps also! This is it!" So immediately they were my creative brothers that I had never met. For some reason VIC happened to be up there with Juju so he introduced us. I went nuts, I was like "Wow this is great." And then me and VIC just kinda clicked. We was on a bunch of creative levels, like types of music or certain artists.. But actually we all clicked, it was all cool. But me and Les, we never really got to really talk too much, but he was really cool everytime I been around him. But me and Juju had lots of fun talking about music and me and VIC ended up working together alot. I invited VIC down to where I do my music and he listened and he said one day let's just do some things, we should collaborate. So I went up there to his house in Queens on the 7 train. I went after work one day and just hung out with him and was amazed at how he was able to flip the equipment and I said "Wow, you know particular techniques".. cause that was one of the one things that helped us all click, cause you know we recoginzed each other's passion for this thing. Like "Hey, I invented a way to do this!" And we started talking like that so I was as curious as VIC was as to how we would work together. So we did a couple things and I guess the first thing we actually did.. Well you know, I think we had the idea of Groove Merchantz before we ever did anything because at that time I had storehouse of material obviously and VIC obviously did too, so you know we was just kinda putting things together to see how a demo tape of presentable beats would sound. It was kinda cool. So we said "Hey let's try to get a name or something".. and it was a label I liked called Groove Merchant, where I used alot of music from and you know, he said "Hey man, we should use that Groove Merchant name!" So we put the Z at the end so it wouldn't mess with the real label. Then VIC had most of the connections as far as shopping goes, cause as a producer, he was much more well known being with Beatnuts and all that. But he had better access to people, like Fat Joe.. you know, they had access to the scene that was coming. You know, the Large Pro, Pete Rock kinda crew that was really coming. So I really hung close to those guys with VIC and we did alot of stuff. Then we got that Nas record, the "One Love Remix".. or I don't know which one was first, the Kurious Jorge joint we did or the Nas. I remember one of them being our first.. it had to be Nas cause we really had fun celebrating that cause that was our first major thing I would imagine. So yeah, we did that for awhile and then when I really started doing other things, you know VIC started doing other things. By the way, I just talked to him a couple of days ago and you know we was talking about music and stuff and I don't know I might check him out man!
4XL: We know VIC had an association with Kid from Kid N Play, who had a label deal thru RCA in '94 or so. I know you guys were involved in the Bas Blasta album over there, doing a lot of production. Tell us a little about that album and how far you guys got into it and what happened to that situation?
I remember one time VIC saying that there was a particular song I did. It was a beat I guess. I used the 'Weather Report' record or something, and he said it was real good and he had an idea about it. I said "Alright, whatever." So a couple of days later he told me the whole story, like "You know Kid is doing management now?" and I was like "Oh word? Kid?" So I came by the house in Queens again and Bas Blasta was there, I met him and Kid was there and I was like "What's up?" and that was cool. He told me the whole story and I said alright VIC, whatever you wanna do, cause by that time we had our music together. We was actually making stuff together at that point. So it was just either we are both with it or not, so I was cool with it. Kid was somebody I liked and I still respect, so that was cool and there was another guy we always had fun with.. this guy named Steve Stoute and I think they were working together. Kid and Steve Stoute. At that time I didn't know who Steve Stoute was, but then again I didn't know anything! VIC knew everybody, I was still like just weening out with the rock music at that point, really investigating the artistry of hip hop at that point. So I had to listen to what everyone was saying around me and take their word for it. That's the Bas Blasta story. We did a couple things for him. He used a lot of the stuff we did for him. We went to the studio with him maybe once or twice for that session and at least for that single they put out, I remember that. There was a couple other tunes but at the time I wasn't really working with VIC too much at that point by the time it really started coming out. I was working on other things and the Stretch and Bob scene was really jumping off, I was going up to their radio show a lot. So everybody that was involved with the Bas Blasta thing was like almost in the same neighborhood over there. So I was like "Okay, if VIC can take care of this, then I'm taken care of."
4XL: Do you know exactly where Bas Blasta was from? A lot of people don't have much history on him. I believe he is from somewhere in Connecticut?
I don't even know. Like I said, I was like "Okay, he sounds alright. I like what y'all doin'." I met him a couple of times. I think I might've rhymed on one of his B-sides or something.
4XL: Yeah! "The Rhythm"...
Yeah! That was a fun night, I remember that session very well.
4XL: That's a crazy posse cut. You, Finesse, Juju, Fat Joe.. crazy.
Right, and I think that's when I started realizing something about Steve Stoute and Kid. I mean I just started seeing it was possible to get artists together for posse cuts like this. I remember that well. That was a great place we recorded it at too.. Sound Trax.. That was on 23rd and Broadway.
4XL: Now, onto a Hydra question. Is there a particular reason why the "Status/Stuck Off the Realness/Burn" 12" was not released to the masses? That's like one of my favorite 12"s never to be!
Well, I guess the short form answer would be that there was so much more material! And you know, when you hold something for a long time with a guy like me who's constantly happening creatively, things lose their flare. So if I'm looking at one thing for like 4 months and I got another 100 things I did in that time, it's hard for me to go "Okay, let's go with the original thing and keep this right here, and the next 100 things can wait in the wing in the future to come out." I didn't really dig that kinda thing. You know, being an improvisor at heart, I always wanted what I did last night to be the thing to come out. So I mean not to say they weren't bad records cause now that I listen back on it, you know, last time I heard "Burn" man, I really liked it. I thought it was cool. I mean at least I captured what I was feeling and what I was going for with that record. I really had fun making that song. The worst time I had was making "Stuck Off the Realness" and I guess that's cause I really wasn't happy with that, just from a production standpoint. Not to say that anybody shouldn't like it.. this is just coming from the guy who made it, you know? Who is ever happy with their creation 100%, you know? So that answer is that there was so much more material coming down the pipeline that it was like "What about those songs? We got 200 more songs over here! What songs are you talking about?"
4XL: Now onto the Cenobites material we're releasing on One Leg Up. Why didn't these Cenobites joints make the first Fondle Em EP, especially since this material is on par with the stuff that came out previously?
Like I said, I used to do so much material that at the rate of creation of material you couldn't keep up with it. So what used to happen during the times the Cenobites material was being created, I used to just do tapes all the time. And by that time, me and Keith was hanging tough. He was always hangin' out in the city, shopping and stuff and I used to work right where everybody used to hang out like around 34th Street. So when I used to come out of work, he would already be out there and we would just hang out you know, go have drinks and bug out and go to the crib and do music and write stuff.
4XL: So really, the joints that came out originally were just handpicked by Bobbito?
Like, he used to play something a lot and if he didn't play things one after the other as I wanted him to all the time, I would say "Hey man, try this one." But he would be like "People like this one, we gotta play this one again." So you know, it would be maybe 2 or 3 weeks with one song and that's a long time. So when you finally put them all together, you're not really thinking of adding these next 100 on there or whatever when everybody's familiar with these 5 cool tunes. So Bob's like "Hey man, I'm thinking of putting these tunes together, you know, the ones we played all the time." So I was like "Cool." Cause things was being made at that time. Tapes were still being made at that time. So it wasn't like "Can you put these 5 more?" I would feel like if you gonna put that 5 more, give me another week, I guarantee we'll have something better!
4XL: Let's talk about the "Demented Thoughts" EP we're putting out. What's the story behind these songs and how did most of them come about? Tell us where most of the recording was done.
A lot of the tunes, they were done at my house in Flatbush, you know, the same place where Chubb would come thru and hang out.. just that same place. A lot of them were made there. Couple of them were made other places like maybe Stretch's house and, yeah Bob's house.. a couple of them was made there and I think that's about it. They wasn't big deals, just had something planned and opened up some mics and whoever was there got on. We would run into somebody in the city when me and Keith was hanging out about to come home and would be like "Hey man, we goin' here.. Yeah, we goin' to Don's house" Cats would be like "Oh yeah? Word? Can I come?".. and sometimes that's how it happened.
4XL: Now that the "Hawaii" joint with Bobbito is being released on this EP, people are finding out just exactly where the sample of Bob for the hook on The Beatnuts' "Fried Chicken" comes from. What's the story behind this being used back then, since it never was officially released until now?
What I know about that situation is, one time I think me and VIC were riding in his truck somewhere to do something and he was like "Hey man, check this out!".. and I'm like "Oh wow, that sounds familiar!".. he's like "Yeah man, it's from one of those demos, those tapes." I guess he got it from Bob or he might've even taped it off the radio. Because I remember all of them people always saying "Hey man, I listened to Bob last night. What was that? When did you hook that up?"
4XL: I know you've stepped away from the hip hop scene as of recently and you've been focusing on some different musical ventures. Let the world know what you've been up to and what to check for.
As some people probably know, I've been playing jazz music for the last couple of years and studying music really hard. I can't afford to go to school right now, but everybody in my band has degrees so they're all kind of giving me a pity case! They're like teachers giving me schooling while I'm playing with them and they're playing with me. So I started playing guitar instrumentally and not rock oriented while I was doing the last stages of my rap stuff. Then you know, I just started hanging out with more people that were just playing music. That then led to me going to the piano and studying music harder, the clarinet.. things like that. Then I just touched the sax, man.. and that was it! Once I played live music, man I realized the other thing is a job now. This is pleasure, this is the love supreme! The other rap thing was like a job. Like "Can you program this thing for me?" Okay. "Can you arrange something for me?" Okay. But now it's like "Hey, can you guys play a tune?" Sure!.. You know, you don't know what you're gonna get. But it's great, just the concept of live improvisation. To me it's very powerful and very now in the moment. The guys I play with are a quartet.. piano, bass, drums and me on saxophone or guitar, whatever I can get my hands on. I mean you know, I fooled around and the guys have made me do lyrics on certain shows you know, not anything major. More like a joke between us. Because they know about what I did now looking on the internet and stuff, cause I never told 'em. I never wanted to tell 'em. But one of the dudes is a smart alec and Google'd and did all that stuff and found me out!
4XL: So what's the name of the quartet?
It's called The Open Mind. I like to label it as improvisatory experiments in sounds.
4XL: Do you guys tour or play live? Are there any plans to release this music in some form?
Yeah we play live. We play in Harlem, we play in the Village.. The last place we played was Cornelia Street Cafe down in the Village. We played Little Branch, that's in the Village on 7th Avenue. Yeah, you know, playin' around Queens and doing things. We actually recorded the band in City College, up there and with that tape you know, I'm trying to figure out what I can make from using that tape to shop around or just get some more gigs or something for us. So yeah, that's quartet.. The Open Mind!
4XL: Word up! That brings our interview to a close and I can't tell you how much myself and all the fans appreciate you taking the time out to break a lot of this stuff down for us. I tried my best to bring you a lot of questions you still haven't been asked before because I know the stereotypical type interviews can be a drag.
I hear that! Nah, these questions were on the money, man!
4XL: Thanks, Don.