Grateful Web Interview With Henry Kaiser and Rome Yamilov

Article Contributed by David Atchley | Published on Friday, May 20, 2022

In today’s times, with so much music out there, one can easily retreat into their known area, with their known bands, rather than take on the easily overwhelming journey of searching to find new music to their liking. Yet sometimes an album has the natural ability to float to the top of an ever-flooded market and shine forth. The Lenoir Investigation by Jerry Garcia friend and Dead connoisseur, Henry Kaiser, and up-and-coming guitar sensation, Rome Yamilov, is just such an album. Bounding with talent that hits one right in the face from the first note on, The Lenoir Investigation is one of the most creative, fun, and just down right smokin’ albums I’ve heard in a long time.

Taking on the works of famed, yet obscure bluesman, J.B. Lenoir, Kaiser and Yamilov explode the genre box with full-blown psychedelic, experimental, crazy guitar jams and improvisation that will immediately grab any Deadhead and music aficionado by the mind and not let go until the last note has been played. Not limiting themselves to a conventional blues sound, Henry and Rome take the listener for a spin through sound with the likes of blues, reggae, ska, Malagasy, Saharan, and just plain rock and roll that both delight and challenge. Assembling a full cast of talented Bay Area characters, including Aki Kumar and Kid Anderson, the Little Village Foundation found the perfect mix of long experience and youthful exuberation in Henry and Rome. Having played on over 400 albums, and with the likes of Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, Henry is no stranger to the psychedelic, jam-band scene. And called a prodigy by many, Rome Yamilov is a rising star that player or listener will not want to miss as he is destined to become a household name in the guitar world before all is said and done.

With such a hot album on their hands, Grateful Web couldn’t pass up the opportunity to chat with Henry and Rome, if not solely about their new release, then just to encourage them to take this baby out on the road, because as you’ll hear, this album screams to be played live. And while I could easily go through a song-by-song review explaining all that you’d be missing if you don’t take this ride, I’d rather just say, this record speaks for itself, and only gets better every time you listen. With that being said, if you’d like to learn more, read on, or simply order here.

Henry Kaiser & Rome Yamilov | The Lenoir Investigations

GW: Hello guys. Appreciate you joining us today.

Henry: Thank you for having us here.

GW: I think it’s me who has to thank you. All questions aside for the moment, I just have to say, “What a smoking album!”

Henry: Thank you.

Rome: Thank you.

GW: I couldn’t help but listen to it several times in a row. It’s always a pleasant surprise, especially after going through all the music that’s out there these days, to find something of the caliber of this album. It really blew my mind. Would you mind sharing a little bit about how this record came about.

Rome: Sure. Well, it was a little spur of the moment. Jim Pugh, the owner of Little Village Foundation kind of hit me up during the pandemic and asked me if I wanted to make a record. And then asked if I wanted to make a record with Henry Kaiser, and make a crazy guitar record. And from there it just kind of grew, where we said, “Why don’t we—instead of something super abstract—have a band and jam and do crazy guitar solos over it,” and then suddenly it turned into the J.B. Lenoir thing.

GW: Did you know Henry before this?

Rome: No. I did not. I knew of him.

GW: This album screams talent. I laughed about it as I see Aki listed in there, and Kid and others, that you could actually just end up putting your two names on it and not just put everybody’s name on it. [laughter]

Henry: [chuckles] You know, that’s one thing that makes this record work so well—having a band that is used to working together, who Rome has worked with a lot. Many of them are mentors to Rome and his development as a blues artist and guitarist and musician. But the thing is, everybody in that band knew each other so well they were already telepathic with each other and then I could just sort of surf along with that and be dragged along in their wake. So we didn’t have to talk about stuff a lot or rehearse things. We just played it in the studio. There was no rehearsal.

Rome Yamilov, Aki Kumar, June Core, Vance Ehlers and Jim Pugh | Photo courtesy Rome Yamilov

GW: It’s funny, there’s such a fine line in music where you can have the seriously rehearsed down to every note and every changeup, and then you can also have strangers come around a campfire and just blow your mind. You guys captured that spontaneity, the brilliance of the moment arising of itself within this album, which is really hard to do, while at the same time, coming off as polished and rehearsed.

Henry: Hey, let me ask Rome a question. Rome, when we were doing the recordings were there any memorable moments that surprised you the most?

Rome: Uh, jeez. There must have been. You’re kind of putting me on the spot here. [laughter] I don’t know. There was a lot of things that I went into the studio going, “Jeez. I wonder how we’re going to make this happen.” And then it worked out most amazingly. I think maybe like, "Round & Round", because that was the one, that despite not seeming too complicated, was a little confusing for us to figure out how to play for moments.

Henry: "Round & Round", a song by J.B. Lenoir, is based on a type of Malagasy, meaning music from Madagascar, music called the BAOEJY, a particular dance in Madagascar that’s very obscure, probably ninety percent of the people of Madagascar don’t know what it is, and probably, at most, ten or twenty people in the US know what it is. [chuckles] It’s something I love and the dance described in J.B. Lenoir lyrics fits the description of the BAOEJY dance, and so I said, “We got to do a BAOEJY.” And I was amazed we were able to do it, and how creative everybody was in the take playing a genre that they had no idea how to play.

GW: It came across as a little jazzy, with Lisa doing kind of the jazzy type of singing. It’s one of the ones I wanted to comment about because it’s so fun. Lisa does a great job, and I love how you capture the laughter throughout it. It was very playful.

Henry: That’s what the original song is like too, except it’s J.B. singing it. Yeah, if you search on YouTube you’ll find a video of him singing it with husband and wife friends of his. It’s quite amusing.

GW: Great. I certainly will. It was definitely a fun one. Just to back up before I start going into each song, I did want to mention the variety and style of play. Obviously you guys were flowing through all kinds of different genres, and the music at times just seemed like it was all over the place, yet it was wonderfully collective.

Henry: Well, we all like all those different kinds of music, and so this was an opportunity not to have to make a regular blues record or a regular abstract, weird guitarist record, and to play a lot of music that we enjoy in different ways. And we weren’t restricted to one genre. The idea was to do J.B. Lenoir’s songs in different genres.

GW: You certainly pulled it off in a really creative manner, very playful, light, fun. I personally would not limit it to calling it a blues album. I hear the blues in there, three songs in particular, but I would never narrow it down to such specifics.

Henry: You know what I would classify it as? I would classify it as an experimental, psychedelic album.

GW: [laughter] Yeah, that’s exactly what I heard.

Henry: You know, because it’s psychedelic in the sense that psychedelic music opens your mind to other things and takes you to places you’ve never been that just psychedelic music can do, one. And two, it’s experimental. Every track we’re trying an experiment to see what happens.

Henry Kaiser | Photo courtesy of Henry Kaiser

GW: Well, for an experimental abstraction, you really hit the nail on the head. [laughter] That’s one of the things I liked, and with our Deadhead readers, and being a Deadhead myself, the psychedelic music was the first thing that hit me. The improvisational jams were just great. You’d think you guys had been playing together for years.

Henry: They have. I just haven’t been playing with them for years. But they have. I listen to the same things they listen to.

GW: Rome, would you like to share how you met up with Aki and Kid?

Rome: Yeah. That was also kind of—you know how things kind of happen suddenly in life—and that was about seven years ago I discovered these guys in the whole blues scene here in the south Bay Area in San Francisco. My brother, who had been working as a sound engineer, started working for Kid Anderson in the studio, and Aki Kumar was hosting some blues jams, so I started going to that, and I just kind of got plugged into the whole scene where there was a whole bunch of talented musicians who had a lot of experience touring and playing with people. And somehow they liked me, and I picked up quickly, so they let me hang out and learn and help.

Aki Kumar, Kid Anderson & Rome Yamilov | Photo courtesy Rome Yamilov

Henry: Rome is kind of a prodigy in the sense that, for his generation and younger age, he’s able to understand fifties, sixties Chicago blues, and other regional blues genres in America, and understand the grooves and how to play them because the good mentors and experiences he had. But also, because I think it’s just a special, magic talent that he has that’s rare.

Rome: Well, thank you Henry.

GW: There’s nice, high praise.

Rome: [laughter] Yeah. I accept it.

Henry: Rome didn’t get to see—I got to see Otis Rush, Albert Collins, B.B. King, many, many times, you know, Howlin' Wolf, Hubert Sumlin. I got to see all those great artists when I was in college. I received direct knowledge from them, so to speak, by being in the room. If you stand by Albert Collins’s amp, and he’s playing, you learn something that you could not learn any other way. But without that experience, Rome has somehow sucked that into himself, which I don’t see happening very often.

GW: Rome, do you feel like you’ve been living the life of the blues?

Rome: [laughs] No. That’s the other funny thing. I cannot say that I’ve had too many crazy hardships or anything. For most of my life I’ve lived here in the Bay Area, California. But I’ve always been playing music, so that’s the whole thing that I care about. And it is, like Henry said, it’s kind of crazy for me. At one point I realized that, for my age and generation and location and everything, I got as close to the source as I could ever get, especially because some of the people I was learning from here are guys that were in Chicago in the eighties and nineties learning from some of the remaining older musicians. So that was kind of wild, you know? I could ask them a question and they would be like, “Oh well, if you’re doing the ending to "I Got My Mojo Working", here’s how the guy who played on the Muddy Waters record told me how he does it.”

GW: That was a nice opportunity.

Rome: Yeah. So I’ve been very lucky that I’ve gotten to play with all these people, and learn from them, and they’re all very nice to answer any silly questions I had.

GW: [chuckles] Obviously this album goes beyond blues, and you’re very comfortable with other genres. When I listened to this album, the first thought I had was, “When are you guys going to name your band and go on tour?” The improvisational jams just grabs you and makes you think, “I want to see this live.”

Henry: I would say, if it weren’t for the limitations placed on live music in performing and touring by Covid, we’d be out there right now. Rome’s out there right now playing in various bands and things he plays with but I’m an old guy and I have a immunocompromised partner, so I’m being careful and waiting for things to be a little safer out there.

GW: So if, and once that happens, it’s a possibility?

Henry: Oh yeah. We have a gig on June 2nd here, and I’m hoping things proceed so we get to do many more.

GW: I’d love to see you guys doing the music fest scene in the jam-band world. It’s really some good stuff, you guys.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass | Photo courtesy Rome Yamilov

Henry: The other thing that we can do while playing psychedelic, experimental music—just like the Grateful Dead did throughout their career playing psychedelic experimental music—they were also a dance band. And that’s why they did the long solos to start with, that’s why you get a thirty-minute “Midnight Hour” with Pig Pen in 1965 or ’66, because people could dance. We can play this stuff and be an experimental psychedelic dance band too.

GW: I noticed with the Dead, especially in the beginning of the shows, they liked to open up with the, “Woo hoo! We’re partying,” thing where everybody is dancing and having fun, then they would drop us down into the heavier, spatial stuff, before popping back out to leave us all dancing and partying in the end.     

Henry: When you look back to the Warlocks and the Dead—when I first saw the Dead in ’66 and ’67 they were a dance band. The space stuff would happen, but there was less, there were less ballads, it was all a dance party in the early days.

GW: Definitely. And those are some of my favorite shows because Jerry is so driving during that time.

Henry: They all are. It’s crazy. It’s crazy how creative they were.

GW: It was the first thing I thought about your album. You really let the music carry each song even though the lyrics are so classic. You really let the music have its space, which caught me right away, having those jams in every song. A lot of musicians are afraid to have that long of a song on an album, yet despite the length of these songs, I was surprised at how fast they went by.

Henry: One thing I was saying to Rome the other day that I wish we could do, is I wish we could go play a gig with this band and do a whole set of songs that Pig Pen covered in the early years of the Grateful Dead, except not do them like the Grateful Dead. Do each one in our own way, the way we did the J.B. stuff in our own way. I think the catalog of Pig Pen cover songs makes a great dance party whether it’s Madagascar music, funk music or Saharan desert music, and do those songs in many different ways, and be psychedelic and experimental with them. And a dance band. So I wish we could do that.

GW: I’ll definitely encourage that. [laughter] I would love to see that. I know a lot of people would love to see that, especially after they hear this album. I can’t recall that anything like that’s been done either.

Henry: No, it has not.

Rome: [chuckles] Maybe that’ll be the sequel.

GW: [laughter] Well that would be a damn good show, though you might want to leave “Little School Girl” out with all the drool and stuff. [laughter]

Henry: [laughs] Hey, but you could do “Lovelight” as Saharan Desert band type Tuareg music that could sound amazing.

GW: It sounds like you guys are really inspiring yourselves in wanting to do new projects. You obviously have something here to play with, and you sound excited about playing with each other.

Henry: We are.

GW: Let’s get into some of the songs. With “Whale Belly”, as you guys come off the lyrics, I literally felt like I was being eaten by a whale. Was that the intention of the music?

Rome: [chuckles] Well, I mean, in some ways, yeah. That’s what the words are about and we try to kind of capture it.

Henry: We serve the song. We serve the music.

GW: It certainly comes across. How did you end up choosing the songs that you did?

Rome: I don’t remember if it was any serious process. I think, once we had the idea, “Hey, let’s cover J.B. Lenoir, but do a bunch of different styles,” I believe Henry and I both made our own a list of potential songs, and a list of potential styles, and then we got together and went over them and thought about, “Okay which ones will work? Who can sing what? What kind of style will work?” It kind of fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. And then we had to try to figure out the arrangements for everything.

Henry: It was like a jigsaw puzzle with all these crazy colors and we didn’t know what the picture was going to be until we put it together. We didn’t have the box. [laughter]

GW: No box to look at. That’s funny. Well, with the nice mix, you mentioned “Round & Round”. Lisa does a great job on that! How did you guys choose to use a female voice on that?

Henry: I was kind of the director of that song—It’s my little pet on the album. She’s so great, and she was right there in the recording studio, so we just asked her and she just did it.

GW: The spontaneity is so great on this. You mentioned something about The Meters in reference to “Feels So Good”. They’re kind of more of a funk sound, but you brought it into a bluesy sound. Have The Meters been inspirational to you guys?

Henry: It is for me. I got to see The Meters a bunch in the old days, the original Meters. I love them.

GW: How about you, Rome?

Rome: Yeah, yeah. I like The Meters a lot. Henry was the one that brought it up. He pointed out to me that they have—I think the later, mid-seventies era—which was a little more funk, slightly different from the earlier stuff, a little more of the New Orleans sound. So we tried to go for that.

Henry: A little rockier and funkier. J.B. lived and worked in New Orleans for awhile after he moved from Mississippi before he went to Chicago, so that was a portal that J.B. passed through.

Henry Kaiser & Rome Yamilov | The Lenoir Investigation

GW: When I was listening to, “How Long", Stevie Ray Vaughn popped into my mind a little bit there.

Henry: Probably the ancestors of Stevie Ray Vaughn, and other great Texas black blues master shuffle players.

GW: There were definitely some familiarity with the sounds you have going there.

Henry: It’s a Texas shuffle, whether it’s Ray Sharp’s “Linda Lu”, or there’s Albert Collins or other folks. It’s a Texas shuffle.

GW: And then there’s, I’m going to pronounce this wrong, “Na Er Jeg”. Is that how you pronounce that?

Rome: I’m not sure. [laughter]

GW: [laughter] Good. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

Henry: That’s Norwegian. That’s the one the lyrics are Norwegian. That’s a Peruvian kumba. It’s probably reggae when reggae went through Peruvian cumbia. It ended up like that.

GW: Okay, because it had a kind of Reggae-ish, yet not, sound to it. And then you guys had Kid singing on that one.

R & H: Yes. Yes.

GW: And then dropping from that into, “God’s Word”—you have such an ethereal sound on that. Who created that sound?

Henry: That’s Rome’s idea. Can you guess what you think we’re doing there? It’s Funkadelic “Maggot Brain” on that track.

GW: Oh, yeah. That’s right. Man, it’s been a while since I’ve visited “Maggot Brain”. And the way you guys just pop out of that, right away you hit us with, Beach Boys?—like fifties, sixties with, “What About Your Daughter”. Is that some of your California experience coming out there?

Henry: I think it’s something else that Rome can tell you.

Rome: Yeah. I am a very big Beach Boys fan, so you’re not wrong that that probably did come out. But the idea for that one was to try to do very old school original rock & roll, kind of like, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, but then also make it a little more intense. What I think I told Henry was, “Why don’t we try to do Little Richard, Chuck Berry, meets Motorhead, or the Stooges, with a little more aggression to it?” [laughter] And then again, this was our process while figuring out things to do with the album, like, “Oh, how about we sing it in Russian? Or you know, instead of another cumbia, how about we do it in Norwegian?” So it was kind of think of even weirder stuff we could try and see what happens.

Henry: Yeah. Or funner stuff too. It’s weird and fun. Both at once.

GW: Yes it is. The fun just radiates off the album. And the talent—Um, how do I say this? You guys filled the space really well without it seeming crowded. Would that be a good description?

Rome: That’s great. It’s a lot better than what anyone has said otherwise. Yeah.

GW: It’s very easy to catch your whole sound as a group, yet individually I can easily dive into each one of you. I really enjoyed that aspect. I think what you have on your hands here, is there are those albums that get better each time you listen to it, and I think that you guys have that here, which I think is the best compliment I can give you.

Rome: Yeah. That’s wonderful. Thank you.

GW: There’s so much to listen to and so much to catch that you just can’t do it in a few listens, then as you’re listening, the more you see and hear, the more you’re like, “Holy cow! These guys really are going off.” Was the album as fun to make as it sounds?

Henry: Oh yeah. But you guys are used to having fun in Aki’s band—Rome being in Aki Kumar’s band. You guys have fun, right? Every time you play, Right?

Rome: Oh yeah. It’s always fun when I play with June Core under him. So yeah.

Aki Kumar, Kid Anderson & Rome Yamilov | Photo courtesy of Rome Yamilov

GW: That’s the beauty of music. It’s an emotional amplifier of the player, of the moment, of the connection with the crowd, and that kind of fun comes out genuine. It’s not something you can fake. And that really rings true in this album—I know these aren’t exactly questions, but I had so much fun listening to your album that all I have is comments about it. [chuckles]

Rome: Oh, no. It’s great. Thank you. I appreciate it a lot.

GW: In my own defense, I had never heard of either one of you until this album came up. And now I’m really glad that I have. As for Henry, I do have a question for you.

Henry: Yes.

GW: Antartica.

Henry: Yes. I worked in Antarctica as a scientific diver for the United States Antarctic Program. I’ve had thirteen deployments there. I’ve missed the last couple of years because the program shut down for Covid. I’m hoping to go back again next year and the year after, though there is a slight chance I might get sent this year. So I work under the ice, which is a crazy, psychedelic world full of weird light and shapes and colors and strange animals to interact with. It’s my favorite thing. If you sat next to me on an airplane and asked what I did, I would say, even though I’ve been on 400 record albums, that I’m a diver, because that’s what I am.

Henry Kaiser in Antarctica | Photo courtesy of Henry Kaiser

GW: I remember when Jerry Garcia was in Hawaii, and he did some shows after diving all day, you could feel his experience diving coming out that night.

Henry: You know, I was good friends with Garcia. And I always wanted to go diving with him together but I couldn’t for an interesting reason. I’m an instructor and instructor trainer, and Jerry had contrary indications for diving like smoking and some health issues and things, but he went anyway, and that’s good, that’s what he should do, but if I went diving with him, and Jerry had a medical incident, then I’d get sued no matter what because I’m an instructor. Not by Jerry, but by someone. So we never got to dive together. We got to talk about it a lot, and I’d show him videos and stuff, but we never got to dive together.

GW: Wow. What a great opportunity passed by.

Henry: There’s an album of mine called, Eternity Blue, which has a really nice picture of Garcia under water that I got from one of his diving friends on the inside. It’s kind of a tribute to Garcia album called Eternity Blue if you look that up.

GW: Appreciate you sharing that. Yeah. We certainly will look that up. And the other thing I saw was that you had an Oscar nominated documentary, Encounters At The End Of The World, that you produced.

Henry: That’s right. I wear three hats: Musician, scientific diver, and I’ve been a filmmaker for years. I did a lot science television and I made three—or four—films with Werner Herzog as director, and that’s one they let me produce to manage Werner. I was a cameraman on it and I’m in the film. So I get to do film stuff too.

GW: So being busy is just part of your life?

Henry: [laughter] I’m just busy all the time.

GW: Well, four-hundred albums, I mean, how old are you, a hundred and thirty?

Henry: [laughter] I’ll be seventy in September. I did a video show every month during the pandemic. I did it every week the first year. There’s lots of cool Antarctic stuff, diving stuff, and there’s a nice thing of a band Weir and I had playing in Japan. There’s all kinds of cool stuff. I’ve been lucky. One of my favorite bands ever is the Grateful Dead, and I’ve played with pretty much everybody that’s been in the Dead except Brent, Keith and Donna, and recorded with. And that’s crazy when you get to play with your big heroes. A lot of my big heroes I’ve gotten to play with. It’s crazy.

GW: I’m sure. The closest I’ve come was the great honor of interviewing Mickey Hart, Jay Lane, Jorma Kaukonen—and as you mentioned The Meters—I had the fortune of talking with   George Porter Jr. as well. And Rome, not to leave you out of everything. [laughter]

Henry: Rome has a great specific appreciation for San Francisco psychedelic music and he learned a lot of that stuff himself early on, correct?

Rome: Yeah, for whatever reason, I mean, once I moved here—I was born in Russia but then we moved here to the Bay Area and I started getting into Rock & Roll, I guess just because I would hear about it right away. The local bands kind of spoke to me. So, I got into them.

Henry: I remember I was very surprised, Rome and I were in a music store a couple of months ago, and I picked up a guitar and I just started to play Weir’s rhythm part from the Live Dead “Dark Star”, not something anybody would know, and right away, Rome was, “Oh, Dark Star.” I was like, “You could tell from the rhythm?” [laughs] I was surprised. I was impressed.

GW: So, you saying Rome has a good ear?

Henry: Yeah. That’s what I play in guitar stores. Instead of “Stairway to Heaven”, I play the rhythm guitar part to “Dark Star”.

GW: Well, Live Dead "Dark Star” is a pretty classic version.

Henry: Nobody’s ever noticed that’s what I’m playing when I do that, it’s funny, except Rome.

GW: Well, since we’re talking about psychedelic music, and these days people are a touch more open to admitting their experiences there, is this something you guys have personally experienced?

Henry: I’m like Salvador Dali. As he said, “I don’t need drugs. I am drugs.” In that sense, I’m a psychedelic drug myself in psychedelic music.

GW: You’re speaking to a kindred spirit there.

Henry: I can go to that place. I can go to the world of colored light and abstract stuff inside my head. I’ve been able to do that since I was a little kid. So the wall between the world that psychedelic drugs opens the door to, that door is always open to me.

GW: I supposed the diving helps with that a lot too.

Henry: The diving helps with that a lot. Yes. Being under the ice in water that’s 28 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s very cold, that’s like a shaman psychedelic experience to be cold right down to hypothermia and have the crazy light show going on all around you. Let me tell you, if you can go there anyway—I get the work done—but I am getting the work done in my own psychedelic space.

GW: And how about you, Rome? How are you as a mental astronaut?

Rome: [chuckles] Pretty much the same thing. For whatever reason, I’ve always been interested in this kind of stuff from a young age. I’m appreciative of any kind of abstract or weird things.

GW: Well, it’s amazing what you guys are doing musically, and obviously I can’t say, “without the psychedelic mind,” because obviously you guys both have it or I wouldn’t be hearing what I was hearing. Your music offers a wonderful depth that you can really dive down into it.

Henry: That’s what all our great ancestors did, from Chicago bluesmen to Miles Davis to Cecil Taylor to the Grateful Dead. That’s what our great ancestors did. And we learned that there.

Rome: Yeah, if I could go back to something you said earlier, and it made me very happy that you said you’ve been listening to it and every time you play it you hear more and more, because that’s what a lot of my favorite records are like. And if I make something I always want that, that it’s not just, “Oh, that’s a cool tune,” but it’s more of a journey or experience.

GW: You know, it’s funny you say that, because after yesterday listening to it—I listened to it two times through right away—and then last night I thought this is one of those albums that I’d like to listen to as I go to bed. Because it’s all dark and quiet, I can put the headphones on and give it my full attention and take the note for note ride. And last night the thought kept occurring to me, “Yeah. This is just getting better and better.” I felt like your album hits people on both levels. It’s there for an easy note for note ride, and it’ll take you places definitely. There some great metaphorical pictures that arise, like going down into the whale’s belly. I was totally catching that. But then when I was listening to it the first time, I could see just listening to it driving down the road, and you’ve just got that surface enjoyment of tapping a foot and singing along with a good tune. And to me, I don’t know how you do any better than that.

Henry: Well, we say, thank you, thank you, thank you, because you are definitely the most perceptive listener that’s talked to us about this ever. And that makes us feel like we’re doing are job right.

GW: Oh, you are. I had to write to Dennis McNally, your PR guy, right after the first time I listened to this just to tell him, “Man, you’re not kidding about this thing. This thing is totally smoking.” And the great thing about this record is that it caused me to start looking you guys up more for all your other music in other areas, and it didn’t disappoint. I mean, at this point, I feel like you guys owe it to us to go live and tour after this album. [laughter] You can’t put something out that’s this hot without keeping it going. Obviously, Rome, you’ve got something going with Aki and Kid.

Rome: Yeah. We’ve been playing for awhile. For this record, we’re playing in Kid Anderson’s studio, Greaseland, in San Jose, for the recording.

Henry: Our upcoming gig is at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. This gig is a showcase for bands on the Little Village label. But we’ll play some gigs. You’re encouraging us.

GW: [laughs} Well, with the improvisational jams in these songs—yeah, you definitely say I’d like to see this live. I’d love to see what happens once you guys get feeling the crowd, to see where you guys would go.

Henry: And it would be different every night.

Henry Kaiser | Photo courtesy Henry Kaiser

GW: Exactly.

Henry: Depends on what the audience is like. We’re that aesthetic. I was just saying to Kid for his live streaming show from his studio Greaseland that he does on YouTube, I was saying we ought to do a psychedelic blues show with Rome and me and the other guys and he was very enthusiastic with that. So I’m looking forward to doing that.

GW: The thing that seemed to happen with you guys on this album was that the moment created itself, and since the moment was calling for it, things just seemed to fall together for you guys in such a beautiful manner, and blossomed into such a wondrous musical journey for both you guys that the listener can’t help but feel that.

Henry: It’s not something we would have expected. I certainly didn’t expect to get asked to make a record for Little Village, and I didn’t expect to find a partner for it with Rome—who’s as sympathetic and has so much depth and creativity to his playing—I keep flattering him on this.

Rome: [laughter]

Henry: It’s just crazy we got to do it. Came out of nowhere.

GW: And when that happens, that’s when it’s right. And I felt that with this album.

Rome: It worked out very spontaneously.

GW: So Rome, what kind of other plans do you have?

Rome: Well, I play guitar in Aki Kumar’s band. He does this fusion thing called Bollywood Blues, which is like Chicago blues mixed with old Indian pop music. So we were playing a whole lot before the pandemic but now it’s in the process of gigs slowly coming back. So it’s starting to look like our summer is going to be busy again. I’m just always trying to play guitar, so I gig with him, and then due to this album, and some other random occurrences, it seems I’m being pushed to do more things under my own name, like a solo band. So I’m kind of trying to do that, more of a psychedelic, fusion, crazy rock thing.

GW: Do you write your own music?

Rome: Yeah, I make my own music too.

GW: In listening last night, I tried to pin point it, but couldn’t do it, so I’m going to ask you guys to give me a clue that’ll help all our listeners. How do I tell which guitar player is which?

Henry: If you have your speakers set right, Rome is more on the left most of the time, and I’m sort of on the right most of the time. If it’s in the middle, it could be either of us.

GW: I appreciate that because I’d catch these certain rips, and I’m like, okay, which one of you is doing that? Or you had some little diddy that went by that I thought was just great but I didn’t know which one of you had laid it out.

Henry: You know, it doesn’t matter. It’s about the music. It’s not about us.

GW: Oh, yeah. And you captured that perfectly. And what about the electronic manipulations?

Henry: That’s just us. Just pedals. Rome’s got an Echoplex pedal, and I’ve got Weir’s sampling pedal.

GW: Well, you guys. I really appreciate you sharing your time, and thank you for making the album.

Henry: Thank you.

Rome: Thank you. Thank you for having us.

"Now is the time of returning with thought jewels polished and gleaming."