1. Growing Up
My family was musical in generations past; they were hillbillies who lived in southwestern Virginia, not too far away from where the Carter Family were from. They all played in string bands. My parents were the generation that moved out of the hills and they didn’t play music. When I discovered music and wanted to play guitar my parents said, “Oh no, that’s why we moved out of the hills.” Later, growing up in Missouri in a college town, I was very lucky to see all kinds of music that came through town, from Bill Monroe to The Ramones to John Lee Hooker. It was a great musical education.
I’ve always been inspired by the greats from the past. When I saw Chuck Berry on TV as a child, doing the duckwalk and playing guitar, I said, “That’s what I want to do.” I’ve always loved those 1950s badasses, from Jerry Lee Lewis to Howlin’ Wolf to Link Wray to Bo Diddley. To me, even though I love music from the 1920s until the present, those people will always be my chief inspiration.
What else inspires me? Freedom. Creativity. Flying by the seat of my pants. You know, the best music was made by guys who wanted to get out of working in the fields, so they didn’t have to have that damn day job anymore. That’s what inspires me.
3. Your Band
I’ve been very lucky to play with very, very good musicians my entire life. Part of that is by choice, and part is just luck. The roots music scene is pretty small, and I’ve gotten to know pretty much all the guys who are great musicians playing the music around the world. Australia has some great musicians! I’m happy to be playing with some of my friends from Down Under on this tour.
4. The Music You Make
I love so much music! My iPod on random shuffle is a schizophrenic’s nightmare. I guess my own albums have all been like that – a hodge-podge of rockabilly, vintage country, rhythm and blues, surf, ’60s garage, a little bit of punk thrown in for good measure.
5. Music, Right Here, Right Now
The music scene is surprisingly strong considering what a low priority live music is for most people compared to the pre-internet days. Bands that start out now have a hard road to hoe – there are so many bands trying to do something, and so few opportunities. I’m quite cynical, living in Los Angeles, because you see so much plastic crap all the time. Every now and then, though, a new band comes along that makes you have faith in the young generation.