Q & A with Monty Colvin
Sheila Rene': Hello, kiddo. I've just been brousing through Robert's Galactic Cowboys page. Some good stuff...live from their ranch on Mars. Nothing could more timely and in real time.
Monty Colvin: You're Sheila. Robert's page?
SR: It's one of the pages that has been put up about the band. Did you watch any of the Mars probe stuff over the weekend?
MC: Okay, now I know what you're talking about. Nothing could be more timely. Absolutely not. I didn't watch a bit of it.
SR: I won't go, but I do find exploring other planets to be exciting. I love the idea of a Galactic Cowboy tour on Mars some day.
MC: (laughing) How about that? It could happen.
SR: The band, as I see it, really took control of their career on this album with the producing, artwork, etc?
MC: We are working hard to do the best we can.
SR: Aren't you seeing more money in your pocket these days?
MC: Well, you'd think so, but we're just gradually building.
SR: You recorded this time in Houston at your own studio.
MC: We built the studio. We took the money that we usually spend on rental and just did it ourselves. We have a couple of rehearsal spaces down town. We can record or rehearse any time we want now/
SR: Last time Wally brought in a black light and a lava lamp.
MC: It's still here We have a lava lamp going at all times. It sets a mood for us.
SR: Do we have any left over tunes from Red Sun or are these new?
MC: Let's see. I think pretty much everything is new for this album. I wrote "You've Changed" is a couple of years old.
SR: Did Alan come up with any new recording techniques? Did you do any experimenting?
MC: Well, yeah. We did some crazy things. Wally experimented with ever possible guitar sound. Alan had some suggestions on the bass sound. We experimented a lot on this one.
SR: "Media Slant" is one of my favs.
MC: I don't remember what we did on that song. We used some samples and it has a little punk up-beat twist.
SR: On the last couple of albums the single you've wanted to release first, the label didn't like. Was "Evil Twin" the one you were pulling for?
MC: Actually, this year we mutually agreed on that song. I was really surprised because Brian Slagel heard the finished material and he liked that song the best. Let's go for it. We're hoping to break some more ground with that tune.
SR: Where did you shoot the video for "Evil Twin?"
MC: Right here in Houston at a little film studio we rented for a couple of days. It has computer animation and we're really pleased with the outcome. It shows our funny, comical side.
SR: I've always thought you guys were funny.
MC: We appreciate it. We just try to have fun all the time.
SR: I think you may playing with us a little bit with "The Horse That Bud Bought" especially since Oregon is famous for their bud. Then, of course, you have coughing on "The Buzz." If it's green and you're coughing you're definitely okay.
MC: (laughing) Actually, there is no drug reference there. It was Ben's idea to name the album after I told him about the song.
SR: Is it a true story?
MC: Yeah, Bud is my Dad's name.
SR: Bud and June, Mom and Dad.
MC: That's right. It was a story from my childhood.
SR: Is Alan getting better at producing each album?
MC: Yes, he knows what we want, so it just comes easy. We just go in and have fun.
SR: "I Can't Wait" would be my next choice for a single.
MC: So noted. I'll throw your request into the hat.
SR: If you ever decide to leave the band, I believe you could be a successful artist.
MC: That would be great, you know. I'm really working toward that. I might go that full-time eventually.
SR: I was particularly fascinated with the Machine Fish sculpture that became the album cover on that album.
MC: It's right here in my house. Drop on over and you can see it.
SR: Did your parents have anything to do with either your music or art career goals?
MC: You know it's funny because the biggest thing they did was to not discourage me. They just let me be who I wanted to be. Now, they're really happy about my success.
SR: Did Slagel come up with a promo plan for the release? Perhaps a listening party across town at NASA?
MC: That would have been too good of an idea. (Laughing) We might be doing an in-store. Someone dropped the ball here. We don't have anything lined up.
SR: Have you noticed a lot more fan club activity since the Internet kicked in?
MC: Oh, yeah. That has been a great thing for us. It's wild because we didn't know what was going on. We started hearing from our friends who had found sites dedicated to the band.
SR: You have official and un-official sites.
MC: Our fans are really supportive.
SR: I use the Internet all day for one reason or another?
MC: Were we ever at your home in San Francisco?
SR: Yes sir, you were.
MC: It looks like a museum. I remember you had thousands of rock buttons. It was an amazing place.
SR: I just read that you've changed from a Hamer to a Zon bass. Did you use the Zon a lot on this album?
MC: Yes, I'm really freaked about this bass. I went out looking for something new that I could use at the studio and thought I might get a new Hamer. Guitar Center had this Zon eight-string and I wasn't looking for an eight string, but it was so amazing to play.
SR: You're ahead of me. I had no idea there was an eight-string anything.
MC: Hamer has been making eight and twelve string basses and I've got those. The Zon blows them all away.
SR: You worked with Brian Garcia in the engineer capacity for this album?
MC: He was involved all the way through. We started writing and he worked with us from that point on. He was a big part of it. He was a fresh ear for us. We wanted to go in directions that we hadn't been so far. He pushed us in ways we needed, plus he's just a good friend.
SR: You and Ben seem to have a special writing relationship. You've learned to trust each other.
MC: I write a lot of songs that I won't know how to go lyrically. Sometimes I come up with just the melody or the structure and I'll go to him for lyrics. On the song, "Bound" I had written the song the night before and he had some immediate lyrics. On "Slant" the song was written and he came in as asked if he could work out some lyrics. He changed 80% of the lyrics on that song and it's great. We just want the best song we can get.
SR: No ego problems in this band.
MC: We try to keep that out. We just want the best material on our albums.
SR: When do you start touring?
MC: We're waiting around because we don't want to hit the road before we get what we want. We want to get good promotion and when we show up at the venue so our fans will know we're coming. We love to play.
SR: One of your songs talks about the guy at the University of Texas tower who killed several people and the woman who drove her kids into the water. Two guys drowned in the lake locked in the trunk. Very timely.
MC: That really infuriated me. We need to start looking for answers.
SR: What song was the easiest to write? I'd guess "Evil Twin" because it's just funny. If this interview doesn't come out right I'm going to blame it on my evil twin.
MC: (laughing) Yeah, do it. It's not your fault. You're right but the easiest were "Bound," and "Media Slant." The hard ones we worked on a lot as a band were "My Life" and "Tilt A Whirl."
SR: Does Alan record everything for samples?
MC: We're all that way when we get into the studio. We all have little sounds we want. Actually, Alan has to be convinced on some things, strangely enough. He doesn't want to over produce.
SR: You did the collage on the cover. Is it new artwork?
MC: I was working on the paintings while we were recording. We decided on the album title, I came up with the concept and during the day I'd work on it. I was pretty busy for a while.
SR: Is painting relaxing for you?
MC: Some of it is, yet it can get intense. There are hundreds of little flowers and it was fun to do because I didn't have to think about it at all.
SR: I guess you're anxious to hit the road. Be sure to let me know so we can plan a visit for you to my Austin museum.
MC: I'm just looking forward to good things ahead. I'll keep in touch.