Showing posts with label album review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label album review. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

INTERVIEW: Billy Sherwood discusses the Progressive Rock of CIRCA… ‘And So On’

 By Ray Shasho

Remarkably this article fits the criteria for both Classic Rock and Classic TV.

CIRCA’s latest release is a powerful musical deliberation constructed by four gifted artists. CIRCA’s YES affiliations have not restricted their creativity and willingness to develop their own sound. And So On is the band’s third release and greatest innovative achievement to date.

The band was formed by Tony Kaye and Billy Sherwood in 2007. Kaye was the original Yes keyboardist from (1968-1971) and Sherwood was asked to replace lead vocalist Jon Anderson when he and Trevor Rabin left the band but was uncomfortable with the idea. After Engineering/Producing the Keys to Ascension albums, Sherwood was asked to be an official YES member and played on three albums. The multi-instrumentalist Sherwood played guitar and keyboards on stage with YES on tour.

CIRCA features the alluring lead vocals and Squire-like bass playing of Billy Sherwood, Tony Kaye’s masterful execution on organ and keyboards, Johnny Bruhns licks of complexity on guitar and Scott Connor’s barrage of reason on drums. CIRCA’s debut album originally featured Alan White of YES on drums.
Their latest collaboration is how I describe, “The more you listen to it -The more you want to listen to it.” There are delightful YES similarities on the title track “And So On” and "'Til We Get There” with astonishing parallel to Chris Squire and Steve Howe.
But for most of the tracks it’s pure CIRCA magic. “Cast Away” is a bewitching masterpiece capturing lyrics of life’s mysteries and the bands artistry performing in progressive conformity.

“Halfway Home” is a tune that should definitely find its way on the playlists of contemporary radio.
The haunting “In My Sky” is a beautiful heartfelt composition. Sherwood’s voice is breathtaking with delightful connotations to Peter Gabriel and Steve Winwood’s John Barleycorn.

“True Progress” is an incredible compilation showcasing the ingenuity of what defines CIRCA and their track “Each To His Own” will soothe the psyche with inspirational messages dealing with the puzzle of life.
And So On by CIRCA is a breath of fresh PROG. An incredible composition performed by gifted instrumentalists.

Billy Sherwood was born in Las Vegas Nevada and into a showbiz family of talented musicians. His father was big band leader/musician/actor Bobby Sherwood -his mother Phyllis was a singer and a drummer and his brother Michael a singer and keyboardist. Now if that hadn’t convinced anyone that they were indeed a showbiz family how about the fact that his Godfather was legendary comedian Milton Berle.

I had the opportunity to chat with Billy last week.
Here’s my interview with record producer/engineer/songwriter/vocalist/muti-instrumentalist/musician Billy Sherwood.

Billy, thank you so much for being on the call today.

“Right on Bro and I appreciate the time.”

It’s ironic and I really didn’t plan it this way but I just published an article regarding the collaboration of Tony Levin, David Torn and your ex YES and CIRCA bandmate Alan White. And several weeks ago I interviewed Jon Anderson, so it’s been EVERYTHING YES. 

“You’re on the YES Roundabout.”
(All laughing)

I’ve noticed a lot more collaborations like that between seasoned musicians as of late. Are they trying to mesh and see if they’ll produce a hit album or just doing it for fun?   

“Musicians all want to play and the kind of musicians that we’re talking about here are always looking to push the envelope and to do something different and unique and not get into a rut and play the same stuff every night so I think that always sparks the interest to do something different and explore other areas and obviously when you get guys that who we’re talking about something unique and great is going to happen.
I think it’s just the act of being a musician wanting to push forward in your music you’re always trying to look for the next thing and keep going. That’s how I feel about it and I’m sure others do as well because it’s happening as you said.”

What bands influenced you into becoming a musician?

“Well my first real memory of getting into bands or following music was kind of R&B rooted stuff like Earth Wind & Fire, The Ohio Players and kind of what was grooving on the radio in Vegas at that point when I was a kid and I fell in love with the rhythms and the styles and got way into it. Earth Wind and Fire was the first concert that I saw and then my musical horizons expanded and I started exploring YES music and fell in love with that and obviously out of all the music I loved growing up that was the most influential and the most closest to my heart as a fan long before I joined the band.

Then through friends and the like minded musical friends discovered Genesis and Peter Gabriel, UK, Return to Forever and Mahavishnu and you know the list is ginormous. And that’s what my roots are founded in that kind of stuff and for me now and at present I draw on those emotions and those musical memories to pull things now and use right now and present and I’m glad that I have that Well to draw from because music today is not designed nearly at all like the music was designed in the past some of that stuff is just remarkably musical and great.

And it’s funny playing this kind of music Prog as we do -we just got back from Mexico where we did some shows had some fun playing our new album and in the crowd were some kids from the university there. They had no idea really who we were and what this was about and they were way too young to even know. But by the time it was over they were just devout and into it and we’re with you we’re telling all of our friends and it just illustrates the point that music is timeless and ageless and you know if you can get the music in front of a generation that normally you would be told they’ll never like that well they actually ended up liking it and it changes their whole world. It’s cool to know that it still can happen that way and it can happen that way and it is happening that way.”

Musicians nowadays have to basically promote themselves over the internet and become entrepreneurs to have any chance of being noticed, any words of wisdom for musicians trying to make it?

“I get asked all the time by younger musicians and this guy in Mexico asked me after the show turned on to CIRCA and you know was really freaking out over it he said “What would be your best advice to me growing up and trying to be a musician?” I said don’t listen to what anyone tells you about the kind of music you make. Just make it! Be yourself, make your own music and be totally true to your art because it’s kind of a selfish thing to be an artist I mean you lock yourself in a room you want to make your music and you don’t want to be bothered and it’s a selfish act and then you release it to the world which is the most unselfish act but when you do that you have to be prepared for the good the bad and the ugly and you have to let your music be true and then people who want to adopt it as that they take it on and they love it and it changes their world and then of course you get people who aren’t buying in but at the end of the day if your true to yourself you can move forward you can succeed you can start gaining your own ground and the internet has totally allowed people to do that.”

I know you’re a multi-instrumentalist but what was the first instrument you first learned to play when you were a kid?

“I started playing drums at a pretty early age because my parents were musicians. My dad was an amazing multi-instrumentalist and I can play a lot of instruments but my dad actually played all the instruments I could play and then added another twenty five or thirty five different categories on there he was incredible. He got an act actually in Vegas my parents Bobby and Phyllis Sherwood.”

Yea, your dad was a famous guy didn’t he work on the film Pal Joey with Frank Sinatra?

“He was bandleader on Pal Joey and he’s had many-many albums out and you know I’ve got this amazing set of 78 wax records battle of the bands with my dad’s band and Dizzy Gillespie and Artie Shaw so it’s very cool to see all that stuff and that’s a whole other thing and a whole other kind of music that is amazing. My mother by proxy of working with my dad she was an entertainer, she was a singer, dancer and an amazing drummer and she played drums with my dad’s act and by virtue of watching her as a little kid I started sitting behind the kit and she sat behind me and explained that the foot goes on one and three and the snare on two and four and off we went. So I learned to play from her and drums have been my first instrument and are a passion of mine and have been ever since.
But it was an interesting way to grow up seeing that lifestyle and it kind of became my lifestyle by virtue of continuing on the same path.”

I read somewhere that your Godfather was the legendary Milton Berle?

“Yea my Godfather was Milton and he was a really good friend of my dad’s and my dad actually has a star on Hollywood and Vine here in Hollywood from whatever year it was when television was first born and the Milton Berle show was one of the first shows on TV and my dad was one of the costars on the show and they became friends and Milton became my Godfather by virtue of that relationship.”

Did you get to see Uncle Miltie very much?

“That’s Godfather Miltie to you.”
  (All laughing)

“At the time of my growing up a lot of my youth growing up was in Vegas because my parents were working there during that heyday I don’t know if you ever saw the movie Casino but that was the era that my dad and mom were kind of there it was a crazy time. Anyway I would see Milton when he came into town and of course my parents would see him and I’d be coming along but I hadn’t seen him in a long-long time and so I think it was 1984 or something like that I was rehearsing at a studio working on trying to get a record deal and we were working on some demos at a studio called The Complex here in LA so we had amazing recording facilities and then had a huge video film shoot production sound stage.

Someone came in and said, “Dude your Godfather is down the hall he’s making a TV Special.” So me and my brother went down the hallway and we see his dressing room and we knock on the door and he says, “Come on in!” and we open the door he turns around and goes, “Guys how are you?” and he’s in full drag with red lipstick, the hair, the eyeliner, the shoes and he was just such a wonderful dude and just gave us a big hug and just extremely warm obviously he and my father were extremely close. But I’ll never forget that image and that was the last time that I saw him.”

I’ve followed Progressive Rock bands since I was 13 years old, I’m 52 now. CIRCA’s latest rendition And So On has all the components of a classic Prog Rock album. You knew there would be YES connotations but CIRCA definitely reinvented itself on And So On.  I thoroughly enjoyed the CD and to be perfectly honest can’t stop listening to it. 

“When we started this thing CIRCA many years ago now the obvious comparisons were going to come no matter what we did because we had me Tony(Tony Kaye) and Alan(Alan White) in the same band. At the time we may have outnumbered the real YES members in their band. (Laughing)

So the obvious comparisons are really common and I understood that and it’s cool it is what it is and I explained then the idea is not hey here we are let’s write YES music –no, the idea is let’s write music that flows. And the result of being who we are and doing what we do it kind of comes out in that vibe.
The second album with Jay Schellen adding a different twist and everything like that it sort of evolved into a different level of CIRCA and now with this new third record it kind of found its own and I kind of feel the same way about it that others do including yourself and other people I’ve spoken to where its really clicked into its own sound as a CIRCA sound now and I’m quite happy about that and very proud of the record.
I’ve been trying to make records you know I describe it almost like a movie for your ears where it’s a little unconventional in its shape and form but there’s something that’s intriguing in keeping you wanting to wait and see the next frame of film except in here what’s coming around the corner for your ears.”

Talk about the origins of the song “Castaway.”

“I lost a very-very close dear friend of mine who I’ve known for 30 years and it hit me quite hard. Usually I’m not getting into that in my music I kind of keep it in a different place but it started seeping into some of these lyrics and concepts and I just started thinking about life and we all do as we get older but when something like that happens it really makes you stop and take the count. And the song is just a reflection it’s a metaphor for life is like a rollercoaster you know and at the start it’s a fun adventure and it looks like it’s going to be really exciting you get to the top where you’re peaking and you’re doing your thing and then there’s the back half of life that comes at you. And so I started thinking about all those things in a way where it really seeped into all of the lyrical content. At the end of the day that whole experience I just described for me personally it’s a beautiful thing because that’s what life is about it’s the whole thing.

So the song reflects the idea that eventually we come in alone we take the journey and we go out alone and it’s kind of its own serene sort of beautiful thing and along the way the other metaphor the castaway is always someone who is alone on an island somewhere and that is the metaphor for the song that even though we are all interrelated closely we actually come and go alone and that’s the idea.”

And positivity is definitely the only way we can make it through the journey.

“That’s the whole theme of the album really the title itself basically means just keep going as I said don’t pay attention to what anyone is telling you about your personal journey just keep going because that’s what it’s all about. It is a positive message in that regard.

I’ve got to say the song “In My Sky” from the new album was my personal favorite, it really blew me away.

“It’s funny you mention that because “In My Sky” was the precursor to writing “Castaway” I mean when I spoke to this friend of mine he knew he was going and he kept telling me, “I’m going” and I kept being in the denial thing you’re not and finally as it got near its end I started realizing no he is and it freaked me out. It’s hard to even talk about now. That song is a result of that easing stone call and it’s very heavy.”

It’s a very special song and I definitely felt the vibes. I can’t help but hear a hint of Steve Winwood and John Barleycorn in the song.
I definitely hear Chris Squire when you’re playing the bass on other songs on the album.

“Well that’s going to be in there, I had the luxury of looking over his left shoulder if memory serves for several years and picking up a few tricks.”

I understand you and Chris Squire had a great relationship?

“Yea, we were friends and very tight for a long-long time. We had a lot of great laughs and great times and serious times and taking care of business times and all those things that go with a relationship that I never imagined that I’d have quite frankly because Chris was one of my heroes growing up. And then life is life and you know you go through things and your business ties into what you’re trying to do and things happen. He found himself moving back to England and reforming a different band and I found myself staying here and reforming CIRCA and one thing leads to another but we definitely had some great times that I’ll never forget.”

You mentioned CIRCA played some dates in Mexico is CIRCA officially on tour?

“We’re on tour as gigs are coming out; we are in a live mode. We just did two shows one in Mexicali September 3rd and the next night in Ensenada on September 4th and we now have a little string of shows here for the Southern California area on October 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th. There’s some other gigs coming in November Tony Kaye and I have this two man show that we’ve kind of created that’s accidentally you know been asked to come back for a second round in Japan we went there not too long ago and the promoter called us and asked do you want to come back in November. So we’re going to take that back to Japan in November and when we come back I think CIRCA’s got some stuff brewing on the east coast in December. So I can’t say it’s the world tour but it’s more like yea we’re getting gigs which are a good thing. I’m cautiously optimistic that it looks like we’re gaining the momentum that I’ve been trying to get going here for awhile. So with the support of the fans it will start building more momentum.”

Don’t forget about Florida when you guys are touring.

“One of the interesting things that came about this year was working with John Wetton who is amazing and making the Raised in Captivity record here with him and you know he’s getting ready I believe to do some shows with his band playing that stuff. And so I’m hoping in a perfect world perhaps we could join forces and maybe have CIRCA and his band play some shows back east. It’s nothing official but I’m definitely putting it in people’s ears as an idea.

About John Wetton’s record (Raised in Captivity) there’s a lot of cool lyrics on there that are very deep that are written by him and very personal and everything and there are also a lot of amazing guest artists Eddie Jobson, Steve Morse, Tony Kaye is on there, Geoff Downes, bunch of cool guys.”

You and Tony Kaye seem to also have a great relationship.

“Tony is my Bro we’ve been buddies for a long time I mean literally since I met him and we’ve never had a cross word or a conversation that hasn’t been like I hear you I know what you mean. So very much kindred souls I guess. And I’ve always respected his playing immensely and when we toured with YES I got to tour with them the first time on the Talk tour I gained an even deeper respect for him and we just became friends. And I dragged him as he will tell you out of retirement to play on a few tribute records and he said, “I don’t know man” and I said I’m coming over I don’t really care. And he did it and smoked it. And then one thing led to another and I said are you inspired to do anything and he said, “I’d love to.” So the inspiration took over and we started CIRCA.

Tony Kaye was so important to the foundation of YES.

“We do this medley man in the CIRCA set as a homage to his early YES moment where we play this chronological instrumental thing that starts with 1968 and goes all the way to 1972 and it’s got some great T. Kaye Hammond moments in it and people dig it, it’s really cool so when we do get back to Florida you’ll see that and it’s a very cool piece of the show.

Billy you’ve got a new solo album coming out as well?

“My new solo album will be out really soon it’s called What Was The Question? and that will be my fifth solo album. It’s basically a totally surreal musical kind of adventure and it plays around with the themes of constantly asking the question of things. All the songs relate to that theme in a matter of speaking. There’s a song called, “Counting The Cables” and it’s about the WikiLeaks situation and it kind of plays with the question of is it a good thing that we actually do know everything or is it maybe a better thing in order for something to become stable and peaceful we leave that closed door and negotiation to happen that don’t intrudes but it can happen where are the balances between the two and what is the right course it plays with that concept.

I know you’re a workaholic so what else is going on beside’s new CIRCA (And So On) and your new solo album (What Was The Question?). 

“There’s so much going on, I’m working with the Sonic Reality/Sonic Elements Company and doing all sorts of recordings over famous drummers stuff. I just recently played bass over Neil Peart’s drums from RUSH and doing demonstration stuff with them which is really fun to do.

 I’m working on a new band called Breed right now not the Breed of old but a new band called Breed. And that record is really Progressive and really adventurous it reminds me somewhere between a modern take of an old Genesis Wind & Wuthering or something it’s very cool I like it a lot.

And I’m always open to working with other people I recently sort of opened my studio if you will –I’m on Facebook with thousands of friends and I’ve said to all of them look if you’re out there and you need assistance with overdubs, mixing, production, don’t be shy in other words everyone I work with doesn’t have to be a rock star. If you need a guitar overdub I’m a work for hire musician call me. And I’ve actually ended up on six or seven records this year by virtue of doing that and they’ve all been fun projects to work with.

And I would say the same thing if everyone out there in the audience needs anything from bass, drums, guitar to mixing you can find me on Facebook because I really do enjoy working with people and I find interesting relationships from there that go to unique places.”

Billy the new CIRCA album And So On is awesome and I’m looking forward to listening to your solo effort as well. Thank you so much for being with me today it was a lot of fun.

“Thank you and take care Ray.”

Special thanks to Billy James of Glass Onyon PR for this interview.

CIRCA official website
Billy Sherwood official website
Billy Sherwood on Facebook

Order Ray Shasho’s new book called Check the GsThe True Story of an Eclectic American Family and Their Wacky Family Business at,, or
“Normalcy is a myth and anyone who tells you differently isn't very normal."Check the Gs" is a memoir from Ray Shasho who tells of his own offbeat upbringing working in the family business art gallery, from a young age. Of Cuban and Syrian descent, he tells a very American story of coming from everything, seeing everything, walking the line of the law and much more. A fun and fast paced memoir, "Check the Gs" is a worthwhile addition to many a memoir collection." ~~ MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW

Contact author/classic rock music reporter Ray Shasho at


Monday, September 19, 2011

Tony Levin interview: Levin Torn White new release and review

By Ray Shasho
Great new Prog-Rock collaboration

September 13th will be the official release date for an exciting Progressive Rock collaboration by Tony LEVIN (Bass and Chapman Stick), David TORN (Guitar and Textural Events) and Alan WHITE (from Yes) on drums and percussions.

Three brilliant avant-garde musicians band together on this astounding CD. If you’re a fan of Progressive Rock, Jazz Rock Fusion,Psychedelia or Space Rock you will certainly savor this creation. The CD was produced by Scott Schorr and Tony Levin for Lazy Bones Recordings. LEVIN TORN WHITE will be available to purchase at where the first 1000 will be personally signed by the artists. You’ll also be able to order the CD at and iTunes- digitally on the 13th.

In an age of American Idol and Glee lunacy it’s refreshing to satisfy the psyche with imaginative and elaborate euphony. Spacey tracks like “Ultra Mullett,” “Convergence” and “Sleeping Horse” (shades of Pink Floyd) will certainly rekindle the senses. Imagine relinquishing your consciousness to a mind-blowing experience of eclectic sounds reminiscent of King Crimson/Pink Floyd/Frank Zappa/Jeff Beck/Tangerine Dream/Gentle Giant and The Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Prog Rock is back with surrealistic vengeance thanks to Tony LEVIN David TORN and Alan WHITE. And the production work by Scott Schorr is extraordinary. So detach your mind from a needed reality break and buy this mind-altering CD.

Tony Levin has been a member of King Crimson and Peter Gabriel. Since the early 70’s Levin played on over 500 albums including working with John Lennon, Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, Lou Reed and even legendary drummer Buddy Rich. Levin fostered the Chapman Stick a wide version of a fretboard on an electric guitar but with 8, 10 or 12 strings and usually played by tapping or fretting the strings. He also plays an NS electric upright bass and invented Funk Fingers, transmuted drumsticks attached to fingers used to hit the bass guitar strings for funkier sonority.

Here’s my recent interview with musician, songwriter, vocalist and trailblazer Tony Levin.

Tony, thank you for joining me today to talk about an exciting new alliance of progressive rock veterans. What inspired Dave, Alan and you into recording the album together? 

“Well, I've known Alan and admired him for some time, but never got to do a project with him. (Not counting the "YES" album where we both played with different incarnations of the group, but not together!)
David is an old friend and co-conspirator … since he had me and Bill Bruford lend a Progressive Rock flavor to his "Cloud About Mercury" album. And we did a few recordings and tours together with "Bruford Levin Upper Extremities.
When I realized from Alan's ideas, and my reactions, how radical the direction was for this music, David seemed not only the best choice, but pretty much the ONLY choice for guitar!”

I watched the You Tube Video of Levin Torn White. You guys were adjusting and maneuvering synthesizers, echoplexes and just a massive amount of electronics in the studio and it reminded me of the making of the Dark Side of the Moon album. Can we expect that same kind of improvisational genius on the new CD?

“It's a category I don't know quite how to describe. Improvisational, to be sure, but with each player improvising separately to what the others had done, and then re-assembling and then re-improvising. I think there needs to be a name for this method of writing, but for now I'll just call it … ‘wild’!”

Who produced the album? Are the days of inviting an Alan Parsons or Todd Rundgren to the studio over?

“Scott Schorr was the very capable producer, and not just in name - he oversaw it all (albeit with the biased eyes of a fan) and his efforts are very apparent on the tracks.”

I see that the magical Chapman stick will be featured on the new CD, talk a little bit about playing that incredible instrument.

“It's a very versatile instrument to be sure, and also I find the Stick very helpful in taking the music to a different place than the trusty old bass would take it to.  Maybe because there are various ways to play the Stick (like bowing it, or cello-type volume swells, or very percussive hammer-on attacks that make the low notes speak very clearly … also overtone hammering, double hand note bending… and more)
I've played the Stick a lot in the bass function, but lately (since touring with Stick Men) I'm also comfortable using the guitar side of the instrument.
To describe it quickly… 12 strings, 6 bass and 6 guitar, with stereo output, so the guitar strings output go to a guitar amp, and the others to separate pedals and a bass amp --virtually two instruments.”

Speaking of Pink Floyd, what was it like working on the A Momentary Lapse of Reason album? That was a great album! Was there ever a thought for you to join Floyd as their permanent bassist after Roger Waters? You would have been perfect!

“It was an honor to be asked to play on it, of course. (And I did get some Stick on the record!)  There was talk of me touring with the band, and of course I was keen to… but that tour conflicted a bit with the end of the Peter Gabriel tour I was committed to, and I'm not one to disappear from the end of a tour, even to be with Pink Floyd!”

Any plans for a Levin -Torn- White- tour?

“We're indeed talking about that… too early to know if it can come together. Alan busy touring with Yes -- I have Fall and Winter commitments with Stick Men sharing a bill with Adrian Belew. So … we'll see.”

I see you resume touring with the amazing Adrian Belew and King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto.  No Florida dates yet?

“Yes indeed. Talk of Florida dates, but looking like they may not come through. (I'm always reluctant to predict future plans in a print interview… by the time it comes out you're proven wrong and sound like an idiot. Well, we kind of are idiots in regard to our future plans… but this time I won't predict whether that tour will come to Florida.)”

You’ve worked with so many great artists over the years. It’s really hard to keep up with you Tony because you’re always so busy and working on so many different projects. It makes my job as a writer tough exploring research about you. What was the defining moment in your music career and who gave you your first big break?

“Like many musicians, I don't look back much… only concentrate on what music I'm doing, and occasionally look ahead. So, little perspective on my career … but I'd say it was a big 'break' when producer Bob Ezrin had me play on a Peter Gabriel album. That same day I met Robert Fripp on the session, and would spent the next … well, many many years, playing with both. Before that I'd done albums with Bob (Alice Cooper, Lou Reed's "Berlin") but not that led to me joining the band to go on the road. I was to find that live shows are what make me most fulfilled as a musician.”

Buddy Rich was mentioned as someone that you worked with in the past. I was always a Buddy Rich fan growing up. What was he like?

“I only played a week with Buddy (a stand in NYC for his big band, and a few shows with quintet in a club) didn’t really get to know him, but what a player -- his energy and techniques were extraordinary.”

And did you get a chance to spend some quality time with John Lennon?

“Only the two weeks in studio. But long enough to have fun jamming, to respect both his musical talent and his ability as a producer. And it was easy to be comfortable with John's very New York in your face honesty - his first words to me were "They tell me you're good, just don't play too many notes." … I said that I wouldn't, and indeed, I knew from the start that musically we'd be fine together since I never do play too many notes.”

Where is the line drawn between Progressive Rock and Jazz Fusion?

“Hah... definitions are never easy. From my time in King Crimson, I'd describe a Progressive band as one that keeps trying to break musical barriers, and keeps trying to do new music. That was (and is) our ambition in King Crimson, whether we succeeded or failed with each album still the ambition is the driving force - we try to always challenge ourselves as individual players and as a band, to not settle for what we've done before.
Jazz fusion, while sharing some of the technical aspects, seems quite different in that the sound of the genre remains the same.”

Did you really play at the White House for President Kennedy? What was that like?

“Yes I did, with a youth orchestra. What was it like … well, a big trip for a high school kid. Playing on the White House lawn, with a stand up lunch in the White House afterward… not something you get to do every day. I dug it, but probably not more than the Carnegie Hall concert on the trip down to Washington from Boston!”

Session work has got to be great because I imagine you’re usually working all the time. Do you prefer working in a studio atmosphere as opposed to being on the road touring?

“I prefer live playing. But I am lucky to get to play music when I'm not touring, and even more so nowadays with file sharing and home studios. For me, if the music is good, whether the artist is famous or unknown, I love being part of the music and contributing what I can to the bass end.”

What do you think of the more simplistic approach of recording on the internet nowadays?

“Not as much fun as being with the guys, of course. But budget-wise, it allows people to do albums who could never have afforded that before -- so it's a good thing.”

So is it true, are you the pioneer of blogging?

“I started my site in '94 --- and after a bit of trying to sell my cd's, I realized people were more interested in my road diaries. So I kept up with that, and came to really appreciate the way the web allowed us to lower the barrier between musicians and fans -- let them inside the road life… I especially latched on to taking photos of audiences every night, and sharing that with web visitors, so they can see how much they inspire US.”

So many artists that I’ve spoken with who had the opportunity to work with Frank Zappa say that he was a pure genius. I know you’ve worked with Mothers of Invention ex keyboardist Don Preston in Aha. Not to be confused with A-ha. What are your thoughts on Frank Zappa?

“He was great, of course, but I never met him. The band I first joined in New York was all Mothers alumni -- Don Preston, Ray Collins and Billy Mundi.  Wild, indeed!”

Any final thoughts on Levin Torn White?

“Only that I appreciate how the listening audience sticks with us thru our musical adventures. The Levin/Torn/White CD is an ambitious and challenging one, and it's great to know that people are giving it a chance and opening up their ears to maybe some brand new things.”

Thank you Tony and good luck with all of your many endeavors.

“Thanks Ray.”

I want to thank Scott Schorr from Lazy Bones Recordings for arranging this interview.

The Tony LEVIN David TORN Alan WHITE CD will be available to purchase on September 13th at where the first 1000 will be signed by Tony, David and Alan. You’ll also be able to order the CD at and iTunes- digitally on the 13th.

Levin Torn White Website-
Tony Levin Website-
David Torn Website-
Alan White Website-
Lazy Bones Recordings Website-

Order author Ray Shasho’s new book Check the Gs -The True Story of an Eclectic American Family and Their Wacky Family Business at, or You’ll live it!
Ray’s website-   
Ray Shasho on Goodreads-

Normalcy is a myth and anyone who tells you differently isn't very normal."Check the Gs" is a memoir from Ray Shasho who tells of his own offbeat upbringing working in the family business art gallery, from a young age. Of Cuban and Syrian descent, he tells a very American story of coming from everything, seeing everything, walking the line of the law and much more. A fun and fast paced memoir, "Check the Gs" is a worthwhile addition to many a memoir collection.”  ~~ MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW

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