The String Cheese Incident : Retying The Knot
Photo by Jay Blakesberg
Now that the reunion shows are over, the members of String Cheese are decompressing and returning to their daily lives. “We’re taking a break because we’ve been together for the past three months straight, and [after] the new year, there’s talk of doing something, easy and simple,” Hollingsworth says.
“We’re taking some baby steps getting back into it,” Nershi says, stressing how pleased he is with the way that the Rothbury show and this past summer’s two weekend gigs turned out. “We wanted to make sure that we didn’t go out there and just sound flat,” Moseley adds. “Even though the public’s seeing less of this, make no mistake about it, there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes. We want to make sure we can set the bar high and keep it there.”
Moseley reflects that String Cheese wants to continue to have creative input with what’s going on around them and keep things special: “Our goals were two-fold. We wanted to sound really tight, and we wanted to bring some new things out. We want to make sure that we really hit it hard when we do play.”
The band has always been an amalgamation of different people’s tastes, Kang notes. “We’ve never really been one of those bands that wanted to define the direction that we were going [in], but it was always open to whoever wanted to bring whatever they wanted to bring to the table. And in a lot of ways it’s almost like that now more than ever.” According to Hann, String Cheese has even added a new style—Mbalx from Senegal—to the band’s repertoire.
Nershi mentions a conversation that he had with Travis about how different their respective solo projects are. “We were talking about how cool it is that I don’t have to go, ‘We’re not playing enough bluegrass,’ ‘cause I can play that in Emmitt-Nershi Band,” he says. “And Travis doesn’t have to get mad ‘cause we’re not playing enough electronica. We’re also trying to figure out how to incorporate the sounds together—the electronic and the bluegrass.”
Moseley says that the band has been revisiting old material in rehearsals and is excited about playing some of the new songs too, though he has been “enjoying the moments when there was less structure like when we could jam more [and] get in some creative spaces. We also practiced some cool, tight transitions and stuff and that went over pretty well, but I was more interested in the space between.”
Yet Travis—who almost completely stopped playing drums during the break—notes, “We are all so engaged in our other lives that when we get together we are like, ‘How do we play that song again?’”
“I think we did the majority of re-learning,” Moseley says, “and actually spent days just on certain songs, remembering all of them—people had to do homework and now that that’s behind us. We’re going to spend at least a month on the upcoming shows in October [for the planned “Hulaween” shows at Virginia’s Hampton Coliseum on Oct. 29 and 30], but a lot of the major work has been done.”
After playing between 100 and 200 shows per year for more than a decade, the members of The String Cheese Incident have figured out how to balance the band and their other projects along with their families and personal lives. In the immediate future, the group plans to focus on a few, large-scale performances each year.
“We could just go out and play club shows and theater shows, and there will probably be some of that, but more than anything we’re excited to try and throw special events and bring together the various performers that we know outside of the music scene—and make it an exciting, outside the box concert experience,” Moseley says. “We’ve all been real happy with getting back together—one step at a time—and feeling [like] the band has still got some vitality to it.”
The group also hopes to record a new studio album. “The place we’re in is really good, everybody’s really positive—Kyle brought a bunch of tunes to the table, Billy’s as prolific as ever,” says Kang, who is also in the final stages of building an eco-friendly house in Santa Cruz out of materials he bought off of Craigslist as part of his ongoing focus on greening. “I have been so busy with all this other stuff that I haven’t been writing that much. When the house is built, I’m gonna be able to just chill out and get back into the creative mind space.”
“I’m not interested in going out and being a novelty act,” Hollingsworth adds. “I’m not just going to go out there and play [the song] ‘Texas’ ten times, over and over again.” I’ve been writing a lot for String Cheese specifically. I have these songs that I don’t want to play with Kyle Hollingsworth Band because I think they’d be so much better with the flushed out sound, percussion and two guitars.
“I would love to go to Billy’s house [and] just record ten songs and do it like The Beatles style where you go and record for four days—the basics. You do vocals and then you do some solos, and it’s less about all the over production.”
Nershi is careful to note that String Cheese’s various other bands currently feel more like “main projects” than “side projects,” but concedes that he definitely wants to make another String Cheese album. “I think that if we’re gonna continue to play music, we need to keep it fresh,” he offers. “A new album is the ultimate way to have a lot of fresh material.”
“If you’re playing in this band, you always have to learn a bunch of styles of music and be OK with it, and at times, that would be stressful,” Kang concludes. “The break has been really refreshing because everyone got to do exactly whatever it is that they wanted to do. And now, coming back, everybody just enjoys being able to delve into the mélange that String Cheese is musically—without the tension.”
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