The Core: Dave Schools (Relix Revisited)
With Widespread Panic set to kick off its 25th Anniversary tour on Thursday in Athens, today we look back to this 2006 interview with Dave Schools.
Photo by Brad Hodge
Free-associating with Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools on Def Leppard, Michael Houser and ‘baking’ Widespread’s latest, Earth to America, in the Bahamas
One of our friends grew up in the Bahamas and was friends with [producer] Terry Manning, who has run a studio down there since the early ‘90s. I went down in 2004 to make the Stockholm Syndrome record with Terry. It’s easy to get out of the preconceived notion of how to play a song. It was a beautiful location; there was the possibility for playing golf, the possibility of going on a fishing trip. Todd [Nance] wound up catching us dinner.
We were in the studio together all day and we were staying at a friend’s house at night. It was really the first time we’ve lived together while we were recording. After we’d get out of the studio, instead of all going back to separate hotel rooms, we went back home, hung out and had a great time together—we’d sort of talk about what went down in the studio.
Most of these songs were half-baked ideas we had started to work on before we returned from the hiatus. Terry didn’t get into the writing process with us, but helped with our ideas and fleshed out some thoughts. An instant producer/band trust developed. We were really able to get down to brass tacks and have fun making this record.
We were all told to work on ideas and present them in any fashion. JoJo presented these rough demos, with drum loops and overdubs. Todd did a little songwriting on the guitar. During the break, Jerry Joseph and I wrote a handful of songs with Widespread Panic in mind, like “Crazy” and “Second Skin.” We discussed motifs that John Bell likes to use. “Crazy” is about angels and traveling, two of J.B.’s favorite things to sing about. With “Second Skin,” you can get literary or bring in all the rebirth of Panic stuff you want, but it’s really about shedding skin. It has always been very important for us to keep the meanings of our songs as wide-ranging as possible. If a song is so obvious that it only has one meaning, I don’t think it holds as much weight.
Terry has a vault of vintage instruments big enough to make any music aficionado drool.
I tried out different basses and played through all these old amps. At one point, I got J.B. to play through the same amp that gave Led Zeppelin such a big sound. But it didn’t work and J.B. sounded like he was playing for Def Leppard [laughs].
Something I learned while playing with Gov’t Mule after Woody died is that it’s really hard to step into someone else’s shoes. I enjoyed that challenge and I’m really proud of the way George has tried not to force any issues. We’ve been slowly bringing back Mikey’s songs, but it’s hard to sift through. I used to see the Dead back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. They allowed their songs to change, subtly. The great thing about [Houser’s] “Holden Oversoul” is that it’s open-ended; you can play around with it night after night. But, it depends on the song. Even though we didn’t change the arrangements of “This Part of Time,” it makes me feel different than the way it did when Mikey played it.
Beth Hart shares the opening track from her latest album, Bang Bang Boom Boom, live at Relix.
Jamie Lidell sets up in the Relix boiler room and delivers a tune from his 2005 album Multiply
Duane Trucks is happy to announce his new project, King Lincoln. Watch them perform “Coffee” live and acoustic at Relix’s Online-Video Coordinator’s loft in Williamsburg.
Here’s another song from Crystal Bowersox’s new record All That For This, live at Relix.
WYATT share a song in the famed Relix boiler room.
Goodnight, Texas share a song from their latest studio album, A Long Life of Living, live at Relix.
Warren Haynes performs a solo, acoustic version of “Railroad Boy” and explains how he adapted the traditional Celtic song for Gov’t Mule, backstage at the Hangout Music Festival.
Australia’s Alpine recently made their NYC debut at the Relix office with this song from their new album A is for Alpine.
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
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