Chris Kuroda Still Shines (Part Two)
I’ve thought about what I would do if I wasn’t a lighting designer and I’ve often worried that I wouldn’t get that same creative stimulation. You could work in a local club somewhere but wouldn’t get that same connection from lighting the same band every night the way you have for your entire career and having that creative control.
No, absolutely not. It’s funny. When I speak about this subject, my joke is always, “What am I supposed to do, put on a blue Walmart vest? Hello, may I help you?” I’d be coming home every night, everybody would be happy in many different ways, but I would be incomplete in many different ways. I’m not saying that I can predict that I’d be unhappy—because a lot of happiness comes from being a husband, being a father and being a partner. There’s tons of happiness that goes along with that, so I couldn’t try to compare the two and guess how I would be feeling. I can definitely predict that feeling of incompleteness because in order to feel complete in my adult life I have become an artist—so art is what completes me.
Maybe you’ll pursue a different type of art someday. I hope that you don’t step down anytime soon, but perhaps in the future there’d be some way to get that same artistic outlet without traveling.
It would be wonderful if something like that presented itself in the future and it would certainly merit attention. Who knows? I can’t predict what that would be, but my wife and I very seriously talk about starting a lighting company, a lighting business that would have nothing to do with performance and rock and roll. It would be more like home installations and finding really cool fixtures and having a unique way that we shop for fixtures. We could fill our business up with really cool, wonderful, unique, groovy lights and we both believe that could be really successful.
But again, that seems like a good path for me if I were to ever decide that I need to stay home. I would probably try to do something like that, however you’re still not being artistic. You’d still miss being out there—you’d still miss those feelings that you get when you do just the right thing at just the right moment for an unpredictable jamband; you hit right where you needed to hit without really knowing where it was going to go. There’re no words that can describe that feeling—at least for me. And that’s my whole world with this band. It’s just trying to pick and choose and find the right thing to plug in at the right time to make the whole moment perfect.
When we last spoke in 2009, you talked about Trey’s philosophy of “no mind” and trying to get to a point where you block out all of your thoughts; that you try to create a very Zen-like experience.
We’re still there.
When you’re having these thoughts about your family and being away, how do you block those out? Do you find lighting to be a cathartic experience once the music actually starts?
I’ve found that the burdens and stresses of life have played a major role in me not having a good night at the light board many, many times. I don’t know how to block that stuff out—[and] you really have to. You try your best, but—sometimes unintentionally—that stuff gets blocked out because I’m really enjoying what’s going on onstage and again, being present with where I am right now. But no, I cannot say I’m strong enough to block that stuff out. The burdens of life have definitely affected my night more times than they haven’t.
Sometimes you’re having this horrible day and then suddenly five minutes will go by and you realize you haven’t thought about anything and I think that it takes that special moment musically—that synergy between the lights and the music—to get you to that special place where you’re not worried about anything except for that moment.
You can’t make that happen. Either it’s going to happen or it’s not. It’s a trickle down theory. If I’m having a bad day because of stuff that’s going on in my personal life—and then the gig starts and it’s not distracting me enough from it—then I’m not having a good time out there at the light board. Those are the times I’m going to see all the teeny-weeny little things that are wrong in my lighting rig that normally I would just let roll off my shoulder. And those are the times that I’m going to take my headset off and start yelling at people in my crew for those things being wrong. Because regardless of what kind of mood I’m in, they’re supposed to be right and they’re not. But really my mood is very based on, “Oh I can live with that.” They know that it’s supposed to be right. They didn’t mean to intentionally make that wrong, whatever it may be.
It’s interesting because when I sit by myself in a dark room and think about who I am, those are the things that I don’t like about myself—the fact that I let those things get to me and I find myself taking my issues out on other people. The door opens a crack and I’ll explode through it if I feel like it. I don’t like the fact that I can be that person. I don’t want to take my shit out on the people that are around me, working for me and realistically trying their hardest to do the very best job they can for me. It’s not fair. But human nature dictates that sometimes we react that way. And then being out here, in a touring capacity, where it’s even more stressful, those things get to you after a while
I think it all comes out of the passion that we have as artists, whether as a lighting designer or a musician. We want it to be perfect every night.
That’s exactly it. We want it to be perfect and then you wonder if everyone around you knows you want it to be perfect.
Are we just setting ourselves up for failure? Because you’re never going to walk away from a show and say, “That was 100% exactly how I wanted it to go.”
I don’t think we’re setting ourselves up for failure as long as you know how to roll with the punches. I had a Phish show recently that was an incredible lesson on this for me.
I did a first set where everything was wrong: lights were hung in the wrong place, they were backward, they were addressed wrong, they had broken colors and it was a disaster. I was furious and angry. I walked away and went backstage. I sat in the crew room and got my head on straight and forgot about it all. I went back out to the light board and with the same broken rig, the same bad addresses, all the same problems that were there in the first set, wound up having probably one of the best second sets I’ve ever had because I changed my mindset.
I decided not to focus on everything that was broken and decided to try to focus on making it good the way it is. It’s amazing how we, being those people who are in control of turning those knobs and pushing those buttons, how our feelings really affect what goes on out there. All I did was change my mindset and I turned a horrible night into a great night, just by doing something personal inside myself as a human being.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
Ron Sexsmith visits the Relix office to perform a tune from his latest record Forever Endeavor.
- John Fogerty: Wrote A Song For Everyone
- The Facebook Photo Contest Top 10
- Welcome to moe.town (Relix Revisited)
- Visions of the Hangout Music Festival 2013 (A Gallery)
- Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros Share "Better Days"
- Jim Weider’s Project Percolator at the Inn On The Blues
- Electric Daisy Carnival New York (A Gallery)
- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers "Friend of The Devil" at the Beacon
- Interlocken Festival to Feature Neil Young, Furthur, String Cheese Incident, Black Crowes, Zac Brown and More
- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers "Friend of The Devil" at the Beacon
- The Salvation of Page McConnell (Relix Revisited)
- Interlocken Adds Widespread Panic and John Fogerty, Furthur to Play Workingman’s Dead
- Warren Haynes and Joe Bonamassa "If Heartaches Were Nickels"
- The Final Ingredient in Dogfish Head’s Grateful Dead Tribute Ale Is…
- Stone Gossard Readies His Moonlander
- Trey Anastasio Band at The Hangout (Video Stream)
- Doctor’s Orders: So what should we call the Super Ball IX Newspaper?
- John Kadlecik Posts Statement on Bob Weir’s Collapse
- "I Wanne Be In moe.": The Latest Volunteers
- Bob Weir Escorted Off Stage During Furthur Show
- Furthur Cancels BottleRock Show as Bob Weir Is Out Of Commision
- Vote for Your Favorite "I Wanne Be In moe." Contestant
- Doctor’s Orders: What’s Your Favorite Furthur Song? (Win Copy of Relix Signed by Phil and Bobby)
- On The Verge Poll