Let’s start things off looking back at this year’s unforgettable Bowlive run at the Brooklyn Bowl. Everyone was ranting and raving about The Shady Horns this year, particularly how hot they sounded throughout the whole run. How does adding the Shady Horns change the dynamic of Soulive and how you approach performing your songs?
Yeah Ryan and Bloom have been playing a lot together over the past few years and you can really tell. They are both phenomenal musicians. The best thing about having them with us, especially during Bowlive is that we don’t have to worry about if the horns are going to be tight. Ryan and Eric really do their homework, play all the right parts and then add great new parts on the fly. They also are great leaders for any guests who come to fill out the horn section. Bowlive is an incredible amount of work for us so knowing the Shady Horns have our back means a lot.
Of everyone who performed, who do you think deserves the MVP award for Bowlive?
Well my vote would go to the Captain of Bowlive, George Porter Jr. George has been a guest of ours for years now and I love how he can turn a three minute Meters tune that we’ve played with him on many occasions into a fifteen minute funk exploration. He’s always searching for something new and interesting to play and his love of playing live music is infectious.
Bowlive is known for the magical moments of collaborations on stage with both announced and unannounced special guests. What was your favorite moment from Bowlive this year?
Well every night was pretty amazing but I’d have to say rocking with Charles Bradley was one of my favorite moments of Bowlive 6. He is such an amazing person. Just hanging out with him backstage was incredible. The stories he had, his perspective on life. You hear it in every note he sings, every movement on stage. He is a pure soul singer. You can’t learn that no matter how many records you’ve listened to or by watching old videos on YouTube. No amount of studying will get you there. It was an honor to be able to be in the same building as him!!
What’s next for Soulive?
We are gearing up to record a new album. All I can say it’s going to different than anything we’ve ever done before!!
Congrats on the new gig returning to Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. How did that come about and when did you decide to rejoin the band?
I guess it started a few years ago really. Karl called me up and said that my good friend John Staten was leaving the band and he was wondering if I could possibly fill in on some dates. Well I really didn’t have the time but I suggested someone for him. Unfortunately that didn’t work out and I felt awful about it. Anyway, Karl ended up getting Max to play and everything seemed cool. Fast forward to a week before Bowlive, DJ Williams sends me a text saying he was coming to Bowlive for the first time. About two minutes later my phone rings and I see that it’s Karl. He proceeds to say, well I have a situation with my drummer. I then say to him “well man, I don’t know why you’re calling me. You know what happened last time I suggested a drummer for you, hahahaha.” He got a good laugh out of that and said “actually I’m calling to ask you to play with the band.” Well the timing was perfect since Soulive doesn’t tour like we used to and I retired my band with Danny and Kris. Beyond all that, Karl is one of my dearest friends. He is an incredible artist, band leader, and person. The thing I’ve always loved most about hanging out and playing with Karl, you will always be smiling and laughing.
What are you looking forward to most about playing with KDTU again?
It’s crazy that so much time has passed since I left KDTU to start Soulive. I wrote Uncle Jr. And Steppin out here in San Diego before I even called Neal to ask him if he wanted to start a new band with me. I have done so much and played so many amazing places with so many amazing people since 1998. I feel that I can really bring something to Karl’s music and band that I couldn’t and didn’t back then. I also love a challenge. It’s been crazy thinking about all the songs I have had to learn over the past few weeks between Bowlive and Karl. I feel very fortunate to be in a position to learn and play such great music. I may sound like a broken record here but I’m just psyched to hang with these cats. Chris Stillwell is hands down one of my favorite bass players of all time. He always plays everything with soul and to perfection. He’s the kind of bass player I would love to be someday and you know I’m going to be watching him like a hawk. I’m jacking all your your stuff Chris!!!! Hahahaha. Dave has been with Karl since day one and he is a great cat too. He writes great music and talk about color!!! He is a cat that really can vibe out any song you’re playing. I’ve been wanting to really play with DJ for a long time now. Our world’s have been circling this musical universe of ours for a minute but everything has finally aligned. Chris Littlefield is a good friend of mine as well and I always love playing with him. KDTU is a great band and I can’t wait to hit the stage and kill it with them.
Did your time with KDTU influence the way you perform with Soulive? Will your time with Soulive now influence the way you play with KDTU?
For sure. It’s always a give and take thing for me. I learned a lot from Karl back in the day. I observed him as a writer, performer and band leader. I realized back then I didn’t want to be a side man so I started Soulive. Soulive has built an amazing thing. I started another band and had a great time with that. Now I’m older and more comfortable with myself. I don’t feel like I have anything to prove anymore. So I understand and respect the great opportunity that has been given to me once again. No matter who I play with, I feel confident enough to just be me and what I do and always will do is respect the song. My new favorite saying is I’d rather move people than impress them.
What festivals are you looking forward to hitting this summer with both bands?
Hahaha, well I’ve just gotten a bunch on the calendar now. Outsidelands looks great. Lockn, Gathering of the Vibes. Honestly, I’m looking forward to every single one!!!
Thanks Al. We can’t wait to catch you behind the kit this summer!
Thank you, I’m looking forward to all the music ahead!!