The jam community has long been a haven for those artists looking to explore the boundaries of traditional music genres. When you think of jam bands, there's often the image of prolonged solos, spontaneous improvisations, and a merging of diverse influences. But today, there's a broader range of artists being embraced by this community, artists who while not strictly adhering to the traditional 'jam’ format, are still contributing to its expansive evolution. Enter Gideon King & City Blog (GKCB).
Gideon King & City Blog carry the spirit of improvisation and spontaneous musical dialogues. And on the heels of the release of their new single "Skunks Misery Road,” we had the chance to chat with Gideon King about the band's direction, their influences, and what fans can expect.
GW: How do you think this expanded view of what a "jam band" is could shape the future of jam music?
GKCB: I hope that it will, in a sense, create a more inclusive future. A future where the word “jam” doesn’t always refer to long solos, but includes focused bursts of improvisation like we have seen with Steely or GKCB.
GW: Can fans expect some improvisational jamming elements or Steely Dan influences in "Skunks Misery Road"?
GKCB: No. But our tune "Sterling" has these elements. And our live act is filled with long solos.
GW: How do you ensure that the essence of free improvisation marries well with structure in your music, especially in a studio setting like your upcoming 'Splinters' EP?
GKCB: That is the magic, I suppose. The juxtaposition of heavy structure and improvisation can be so beautiful, surprising, and refreshing. To have a moment of freedom that dances inside the rules of engagement, so to speak, is really cool and free and disciplined at the same time. It’s almost like you have to find a specific space within a tune for freedom to reign.
GW: How does sharing a stage with figures like Jennifer Hartswick influence your live performances? Are there any collaborative moments planned for the show?
GKCB: She is great, one of the best singers around. Truthfully, we just try to bring a certain kind of free-spirited energy. This is why we have extended drum solos with our two percussionists/drummers. We just want the audience to feel our joy in making music and get lost in improvisational moments with us.
GW: How do these spontaneous "micro-moments" during live performances contribute to the overall concert experience for your fans?
GKCB: It’s everything. One of my problems with modern pop music is that it is so scripted and “tracked” that spontaneous combustion no longer exists. In a sense, artists might be taking fewer risks. The only way to have these micro-moments is to take risks, and taking risks means deviating from the script a bit. When the audience sees you taking risks, they invest their souls into the sound, and everyone has fun.
GW: Can you share a memorable jam session or anecdote from your collaborations?
GKCB: James Genus shows up, sits down with his bass, and nails it. He slithers around the bass in a way that should be illegal; it is so slick. Don’t know what to say. He is special. And Sco? Well, he is one of my idols, so when he laid out a solo on a few of my tunes, it was just plain amazing. Sorry to engage in public idol worship, but I can’t help it. Great players.
GW: How will the jam band community and its ethos shape GKCB's future performances?
GKCB: We are being asked to play jazz festivals and the like. Hopefully, jam band junkies will continue to embrace our particular jam band signature. So far, so good. Shows have been fun, and we are being asked back. We are going to try like hell to please their palette. They pay money for tickets.
GW: How does the unique lyrical style of jam bands influence GKCB's songwriting process?
GKCB: Jam band lyrics are profound in their own way. They are imbued with a sense of humor. Not everything is about some solipsistic spasm of feeling after a breakup. It’s nice to write about other things, things outside the self. Simply, we are encouraged that people take interest in lyrics that smack of otherness. Accordingly, we will continue to tell stories with our lyrics that aren’t always about… US. Remember when artists took interest in things other than their last breakup.