Built To Last: A Conversation with Jerry Garcia
Has the increase in popularity that occurred when In The Dark was released leveled out at all?
Not very much, no. Theyâve continued sloping up. We havenât come to the end of whatever out growth spurt is. It never has been the kind of thing where we enjoy a growth of audience and then it flattens out. Itâs always been a slow, steady curve, so itâs still doing that. Itâs hard to tell where it can go âcause there isnât much left, you know? So as far as the success curve, weâve already topped it out a couple of times. Itâs like, âWhere can we go from here?â I donât know. We could conceivably sell more records but thatâs also one of those things thatâs problematical. Also, as far as records goâI canât let this go byâyou felt that this record is looser? I think that this record is actually tighter than the last record in terms of control.
Itâs just that it feels more naturalâŚ
I think the thing is feeling more natural is what weâre after. I think weâre finally getting to it now. Weâre learning how to make a record that has some of that Grateful Dead quality of loose tightness, but also has all of the detail that you can have on a record.
The appearance of casualness, although itâs kind of calculated casualnessâŚ
Yeah, absolutely. Thatâs an interesting response to it. I mean, thatâs kind of what weâve been hoping to get all along on records, and I think weâre finally getting to the point where we can do it.
Your popularity has caused some problems such as ticket demand exceeding supply and not being asked to return to certain venues. Have you come up with any solutions?
We donât have any solutions. The thing is that by the time they get to us theyâre ultimatums. Theyâre no longer possibilities, theyâre lack of possibilities. By the time we hear about somethingâsay, the town of Hartford says, âAbsolutely not. You canât play here,â and we say, âWhy not?â âBecause of the camping and the vending,â and that kind of stuff. Weâre getting that same rap from nearly everywhere now. Thereâs very few places that welcome the way the shows, the way the audience and so forth, has defined itself previously. It used to be kind of a nice thing, but I guess now it scares people or something. Iâm not sure what the objection is, but the point is that thereâs somebody out there who objects seriously to the way the crowd is. And this is not behavioral. I donât know what it is exactly that they donât like. I donât know what theyâre offended by so badly, but whatever it is itâs very offensive to somebody because theyâre not letting us come back to places. This put dud in a weird situation where we now have to start to try to control the outside world, which is like hey, câmon. Nobody can do that. The police canât do itâwhy do we have to do it? Itâs one of those kinds of situations. I really feel that our audience is getting a bad rap that is doesnât deserve. I think probably the only reason that we have problems is because we play more than one night at a place. I mean sporting events, the audiences are way worse. Any professional football game, the audience is way rowdier. SO it isnât just the behavior of the audience. I guess it must be the thing of being there for two or three days or whatever. We try to communicate with Deadheads: âLook, weâre scaring them. We either have to do this, clean up, behave yourself, park out of town,â I donât know what. We can offer suggestions and open up the subject for discussion and hope for some helpful suggestions, and hope that Deadheads will find some other way to define themselves in some other context, though Iâm not exactly sure how.
One thing thatâs been brought up is the idea of newer Deadheads who might not be as conscientious as to how to carry themselves within the of showsâŚ
Iâve heard that kind of talk, but I donât buy it, really. I mean, we donât have that much trouble at our shows no matter what. We donât have riots and that kind of stuff, so if thereâs a whole lot of new Deadheads and they donât know how to behave, why arenât we having more of those kinds of problems? The âwhyâ part is almost completely moot. The point is that we are having the problems and places wonât let us back. Thatâs it. Thatâs what we have to deal with, and everybody else has to deal with either weâre gonna have it the way we want it or weâre not gonna have it at all. Those are our choices. We donât have a third alternative in there. Itâs not open to negotiation yet.
Next year marks your 25th anniversary. Do you have anything special planned?
We donât have anything specific planned, except that we know weâre going into our 25th yearâwell, actually, our 26th year. As far as are we going to do anything special, hopefully everything we do is special!
Is there any chance you might do some acoustic shows like you did in 1980?
Donât know, donât think so. It doesnât look like itâs going to happen right away. First of all, you canât support an acoustic show really worth a shit in stadiums. Itâs totally the wrong environment for it. Itâs even pushing it to do the theaters, really, as far as the quality of sound is concerned. I donât think weâre going to do something like that. We may do something off-the-wall, but thereâs no telling what it is at this point.
The word is going around that you may cool off in the U.S. for a while and tour Europe in the beginning of 1990âŚ
Yeah, that looks like it pretty much is going to happen. Weâll be playing here, too. We donât be doing one instead of the other, weâll be doing both. Itâs just that theyâll be separated in time a little bit. Mostly the thing is that weâve neglected going back to Europe for a long time. We have people over there waiting for us to come back.
I also heard a great rumor about a show in Russia next year with the Dead, u2, and Paul McCartneyâŚ
I donât know about U2 and Paul McCartney, but weâre talking about going to Russia, yeah. It looks pretty likelyâŚ now that things are kind of loosening up, I think we definitely want to go to Russia. We havenât been looking at it for a long time though, saying âGee, wouldnât it be great to go to Russia?â We know at least that we arenât going to have to worry about the audience being biased. Theyâve never seen us over there, so whatever it is that weâre going to bring to them, itâll be a chance for us to kind of check out something, you know what I mean? What itâs like to take the Grateful Dead to entirely fresh minds and see what their response is, or what their reaction is, or anything. We have no idea.