Quotes from an interview with Butch Trucks - 7/01

On replacing Dickie Betts:

"The change wasn't an easy thing to do. In fact, there's no doubt about it that we held it together the way it was a lot longer than maybe in hindsight we should have. The was a point three or four years earlier where I was ready to check out. I'd had enough. It just was not fun anymore."

"It was either make the change or split the band up. So we decided that the band was worth going on with, so we made the change."

"We had reached a point where everything had gotten so damn predicable. You knew that was going to happen. There was one guy absolutely dominating... and you just had to follow him, you had no choice."

On the current Allman Brothers lineup:

"Dickie brought Warren from his band. Warren was playing with him with the Dickie Betts Band before we reformed the Allman Brothers, I guess that was '89. Basically Dickie said, 'This is my choice for the guy I'm that gonna play with. He and Allen Woody were with us for eight years or so, and he was there three or four years ago, when there was a major confrontation and blow up... basically Dickie went off and just left one day. Left us with a gig to play that night and just flew home. Didn't tell anybody anything. Then came back out and basically came after me, and Allen Woody got in the way and they went at it for a while. To make a long story short, by the next year Allen was forced out of the band and Warren went with him. And to tell you the truth, I'm really, really glad to have him back. This last tour is the first tour I can remember in years where I hated to see it end. Usually by the time you get to the end of a tour you're ready to go home and recharge, I was having so damn much fun that I didn't want it to end!"

"What I'm loving right now and what is so much fun about what we're doing now, is we've gotten back to playing as a -group-, you know? There's seven guys on stage that are listening to each other. Nobody's trying to dominate the show and telling everybody what to do, when to do, and how to do it. Everybody's paying attention to what's going on and we're able to experiment a lot more and take chances and go places and do things differently night after night, more so than we have in years."

"When the time came to look for a bass player for the Allman Brothers there was no question in my mind who it would be. What is Oteil has done is revisit all the original songs and pick up on all the stuff, tunes like -Stand Back-, which was such a unique bass line that Berry Oakley played, that we've never had a bass player since that played it that way, and Oteil learned the songs the way we had been playing them, then he went back to the original records and listened to that bass line. So he sat down and learned that original bass line and it brought the character back to the song. Now we get up and play -Stand Back- and it's got that funk but it's also go that movement that had been missing. I can't say enough about him."

"Oteil may be one of the best musicians I've ever worked with. I brought Oteil to the auditions and once everybody heard him they all flipped, and said 'God damn, this guy is incredible!'"

"Chuck Leavell showed up for a couple of shows at the Beacon and that was a lot of fun. Chances are very good that he'll be poppin' in here and there. He's now willing to come around. For years there, he wouldn't. And he's not the only one. There's a lot of people that we haven't seen in a long time that are starting to come to the shows again."

On Derek Trucks:

"There's no doubt that Derek uses what Duane did as a beginning point... but then he's taken that point and added himself. You listen to him to play and you'll hear a little bit of Duane, there's no doubt about it, but you're are going to hear a hell of a lot more of Derek. He's taken Duane and used that as a starting point and taken off from there."

"I don't really think about it (being Derek's uncle). Off the stage, yeah, every once in a while, but when we're playin', nah, it doesn't cross my mind. We're up there playing music and my mind is totally absorbed in what we're doing. Derek is the consummate pro. He's got the feel, he's got the touch and when we're playin', I'm just proud to be playing with the kid because he's great, not just because he's my nephew!"

On Frogwings:

"I put together Frogwings to go out and have an excuse to do something with Derek. We had worked together with Jimmy Herring on a project and Derek and Jimmy had played together for years, I mean like they're joined at the hip... it's incredible when you put them together!"

On Allman Brothers bass players over the years:

"Berry brought a third melodic instrument rather than traditional bass which really made it difficult for me because with Berry, he'd start getting way out there doing all these counterpoints with Dickie and Duane, which kind of left me to hold the fort, I had to play pretty straight ahead and simple to hold everything together. Then the next step was Lamar, who was just the opposite, Lamar was very much the R&B, straight ahead type bass player, so once he joined the band I was kind of free to cut loose and I could get out there and get absolutely, totally lost, and look at his left foot and jump right back in and look like I knew what I was doing the whole time... everybody was like, 'Damn man, that's jazz!"

On a new Allman Brothers record:

"We've already written about three or four new songs and have set aside time for Gregg and Warren, they are the main part of our songwriting team right now. The new songs that we have basically came out of a three or four day session with Warren and Gregg at Gregg's house, so they're getting together after we finish this tour and by the end of October, first of November, we're planning on being in the quote -studio-. We'll never go back into a -recording- studio. We found out that last -studio- record, "Back Where It All Begins," that we basically did it live. We set up live at Burt Reynolds ranch where he does a lot of his video production and TV shows, that kind of thing. It was basically just a big room and we set up just like we do live with monitors and everything else, and rehearsed for a week or two, learned all the tunes, and then just pulled a recording truck up outside. That's the way recorded all our tracks. Everything was live, no overdubs. We got that -live- communication, it's an environment where we're comfortable. We're sitting there where we can see each other, hear each other, play off of each other, and communicate with each other, which is what we're all about."

"You get into a recording studio, which is really an alien environment, put the drummer back in the corner somewhere and seal him off from everybody else, everybody puts on headphones and tries to get some idiot with ornaments for ears to get a decent mix so you can hear everybody else and it just don't work! We tried for 30 years to make it work and we finally hit on this way of recording, and this is all we'll ever do."

"Then we take the tracks to the studio for the vocals and the mix. So you wind up with a studio sounding record but with the intensity, and the feel, and the communication, and -all- that stuff that you get playing live, you know, that spontaneity that is part of playing live that you just can't get in the studio."

"To me the difference between recording and playing live is the difference between sculpture and building a house. One's an art and the other's a craft. You go into a studio and you're -building- a song, you're not -creating- it. People go in and put down the drums, then add bass, then go in and add some guitar, that's just constructing something, and you wind up with this slick sounding, pretty sounding thing, but underneath it all, the art, that spark, that communication, whatever that thing is that turns music into art."

On Flying Frog Records and jambands:

"It's kind of a dream of mine that I've had for years after being royally screwed by most all of the major record labels, we've been with all of them at one time or another just about. Atlantic, Warner Brothers, Polygram, and good old Capricorn, way back when. Little by little, I started finding out what's going on. For instance, our back catalog continues to sell in the range of half a million a year, you know, 'Eat A Peach,' and 'Fillmore East,' and all that stuff. All the expenses on those things were paid for years and years and years ago, there's no promotion done on them whatsoever, all that happens is that Polygram, which has become Universal, sends them out to the stores and they go in the Allman Brothers rack, and you can go in any store and there's a very big rack for the Allman Brothers and there's a whole lot to choose from, and a lot of those are that back catalog. That's -all- they do! It costs them about a buck to make the CD, and then it costs them about a buck or so for distribution costs. Now, we make about a dollar off of every CD. You do the math. The record companies are sticking six to seven dollars in their pocket off us. We're getting shafted! And that is the case into perpetuity, it will never change."

"My dream is to set up an artist friendly label that will do something a little different. Basically what we're doing are joint ventures, rather than paying a basic royalty. We share in the cost from the beginning. Major labels start making their money from dollar one. The cost of making the record comes out of the band's advance. With this label all the costs are split with us and the band. Nobody starts making anything until everything is recouped."

"The one thing that I tried to come up with, the one thing that every artist would love to have at some point to own their master recordings. The problem is that can't work because to have a company, that company has to have assets. The only assets a record company has is those masters, so there's really no way feasible for the artist to own their masters at any point. So my next best solution to that is, well, if you can't own the masters, then own a part of the company. So every band that signs with Flying Frog gets stock for every CD they turn in to the label. We don't sign any long term contracts. I'm sick and tired of that. We had these damn seven and eight album deals with every major label we've ever had which basically ties you up for ten years or so, which for most bands is their entire career. What we do is one record at a time. If you don't like the label, you're free to go."

"The one thing that I know from looking at other small, indie labels, is that if you don't have a specific market to target you ain't gonna make it. What we're after is bands like the Allman Brothers that people call 'jambands,' that go out and play hundreds of shows a year and build their audience, so we don't have to spend a hell of a lot of money on promotion, on buying shelf space and ads in Rolling Stone and MTV videos and that kind of stuff."

"They also tend to be bands that have a -loyal- following that tend to stick with them for years, like the Allman Brothers. Here we are thirty years later with a lot of the same fans that were around in '69, and their children, and their children's children. These bands tend to be the same."

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