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Alex Machacek / Jeff Sipe / Matt Garrison: The Improvision Round Table

By Published: October 29, 2007
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Improvision: The Business

AM: I'd like to say something. This is just what Souvik from Abstact Logix envisioned. He came up with the idea and he is the guy who made it happen so my deepest gratitude goes to him. Sometimes you have ideas—inspirations to play or record with different people and it never happens. Souvik is the guy who puts it together and makes it happen and that's what makes him so different than most indie labels and now, major ones as well. He comes out of the blue and makes stuff happen and that's quite extraordinary in my opinion.

JS: If you try to imagine the planet now without Abstract Logix it's not quite as bright a place.

MG: Completely agreed.

AAJ: So what's it going to take to get Sipe off the road with Phil Lesh and Alex out of his tenured professorship at GIT [Guitar Institute of Technology]? It's too much money for you guys right? [laughs]

AM: Oh yeah, man, that's where I chime in.[Laughs]

Alex AAJ: Are you relying on Souvik to put something together or what's the business line on the gigging end?

JS: Man, it's hard to find a booking agent in America that will touch this creative stuff, at least in my experience. It's hard to find any established agent that will take a chance on us because this is art music and not music for the masses. We'd do better in Europe and Japan than we would in our own backyards.

AAJ: Do you agree with that, Europe guy?

AM: No, I think you can play in America and I have a guy soliciting people. I think what's more important is that it comes down to a matter of schedules and we have to decide on a time frame and—we will have to!

JS: Yeah man!

AM: As far as Japan goes, I have a connection there too—so who knows?

JS: I've been trying to introduce this group to the hippie scene, you know, the jamband scene, because I really think people would love it and really dig it—but it's hard to find the machinery.

AAJ: If anyone has those connections in that world you do.

JS: I'm starting to think I 'd be better off calling the clubs myself, because the agent route is not working out. It's a little depressing because after like, fifteen years on the scene you get really excited about something and you want to break something in that you just know would be real exciting and just great—but I'm having a little trouble with it. [Laughs by all]

MG: I hear you, man.

AAJ: Did you ever crack the Hellborg, Lane, Sipe thing in America a little bit?

JS: We did five tours in Europe. Jonas had some help with that, although he booked some of the gigs himself. He had various promoters over there helping him out. Over here we just picked up the phone and called a bunch of clubs and I booked the thing myself. But we'll do it.

MG: I tell you what. Something that could help is maybe—if we could roll it around—because it seems like Souvik was already mentioning that he wanted to do a follow-up already—so quickly. But what I was thinking is that maybe we could properly try to video-capture this stuff. Even if we can't get this thing booked we can still propagate this information as much as we want with whatever modern media is available to us.

AAJ: It prompts me to ask, Matt, I know you are gearing up to present some video lessons and perhaps, sessions, via the web and I was wondering if you'd be interested in doing that with this band.

MG: Of course, man! I have some video equipment and I have just begun shooting sessions. Literally I shot my very first one a few weeks ago. For me it's the marking of a new thing I want to do which is really getting as much of that information, that music, from various types of group situations that I've been trying to put together. I mean if you look at all the issues around getting tours for this type of music these days—if we can't get it into clubs we're going to get it out anyway.

AAJ: Would you guys work this way again or what would be more ideal for you?

AM: For me it would just be ideal to go in and have a great headphone mix right away. Just two full days, with no time lost like we had at the beginning of the session. Another thing that would be interesting would certainly be not to do all the editing by myself, but to have everyone participate.

MG: Right.

AM: At least to have everyone in the same room so that everyone gives his comments on the part, so there is more of a collaboration in the editing process—that would be really interesting.

Helborg JS: That would be great. it would probably take a lot longer though [laughs].

AM: Because then we have to argue and beat each other up.

MG: Then the band has to split up and rejoin. Reunions.

AM: A reunion always sounds better than the original, right? ([aughs]

AAJ: What about the composer credits?

AM: The two songs I referred to earlier are given to me and everything else is just shared equally because everyone did stuff to create the composition.

JS: That's really generous of you man. You put a thousand hours into this thing.

MG: It's true. Thank you Alex.

AAJ: Oh yeah, I mean the publishing on this should be huge [Laughs from all].

MG: I'd really like to do another session and do, like a full video capture. Whatever we want to do with it, capturing all the angles. If we could maybe find a way to combine what Alex is doing sometimes in his studio with what we're doing in a live setting—who knows?

AAJ: Jump cutting from, say, the session to Alex's edits to you guys playing down the rearrangement would be pretty cool indeed.

JS: That sounds like it'd be interesting. You could be like a virtual club just like an online thing so people don't have to leave.

MG: That sounds terrible but if you can't get it booked what else can you do?

AAJ: Pardon me, but do you guys actually think that's a bad idea? It's a great idea! What about the porn business model? Virtual always outsells live! [Laughs from all]

AM: I want to say that I don't see that obstacle can't be overcome. I think it just takes a little bit of time. Over time we'll play some clubs and over time, some festivals. All it takes is some patience and sometimes some shitty gigs, maybe—but they just have to be made aware that there is a group and we make this kind of music, because people always want a box for everything. It will be, "Ah! Now we know what you guys are doing!" And then they'll book it. Matt is well known and Jeff has an audience and it just takes time. People just want a name, and names become what are important. And sometimes that really bugs me because I'm in it for the music—oh wait a minute, I forgot I'm in it for the money. [Laughs from all].

No, you know I'm in it for the music, actually and this whole name thing drives me nuts and this whole reunion thing. There is so much money in it. Come on.

It just takes time and then people know who we are and what we do and know we need and deserve a break and then they'll book it.

MG: Then we can break up and have a reunion and rake it in.[Laughs from all]

MA: Ok, that's it. We're breaking up right now. We'll reunite tomorrow.

AAJ: It's funny you mentioned the DVD thing because I just read an interview with McLaughlin that said he wants to stop making records and just make DVDs.

Jeff Sipe MG: I think he's right, man. Look what is happening. My own DVD has been surprisingly successful. People keep buying it and it just keeps going. It's selling more than the actual CDs with the new music I'm doing. And it's great because even if there are clips on YouTube they see that and they seem to want to get the higher quality video and sound of the DVD. There is definitely a visual component to what we're doing.

AAJ: And to pick up on what we were saying earlier, I think the part about people just wanting a venue to see this sort of music performed, even if it is a piece of media and not a physical place, is more important than actually seeing the details of the performance. And of course fans want to see how you guys physically execute the music.

AM: People want to feel like they are part of it. They want to be in the room. So maybe—yeah, a DVD for the next project. I'll get a good haircut and then—I'm in. [Laughs from all]

AAJ: Hey Alex, just one more thing. Can I send you this interview before it's published so you can rearrange it to make it—y'know—good? [Laughs from all]

JS: Yeah, Alex, I'll contribute by sending you a list of words to use.

MG: I would actually be curious to see that happen

AAJ: I know what would happen. War and Peace. [Laughs from all]

MG: No man, I don't want to read it! Send him that tape—that's what I want to hear.

AAJ: Actually, I have heard a couple of great jazz pieces recently where the music is composed to go along with the arc and cadence of a conversation.

AM: No, I wouldn't go for that, because then we're talking about art again, and nobody books art! [Laughs from all]

Selected Discography

Alex Machacek/Jeff Sipe/Matt Garrison, Improvision (Abstract Logix, 2007)
Alex Machacek, [sic] (Abstract Logix, 2006)
Matthew Garrison, Shapeshifter (Self Published, 2004)
Jonas Hellborg/Shawn Lane/Jeff Sipe, Time is the Enemy (Bardo, reissued 2004)
Jonas Hellborg/Shawn Lane/Jeff Sipe, Temporal Analogues of Paradise (Bardo, reissued 2003)
Jonas Hellborg/Shawn Lane/Jeff Sipe, Personae (Bardo, reissued 2002)
Alex Machacek/BPM, Delete and Roll (Austro Mechana, 2001)
Paul Urbanek/Alex Machacek, The Next Generation of Sound (Extraplatte, 2000)

Matthew Garrison, Matthew Garrison (Self Published, 2000)

Photo Credits
Alex Machacek Photo: Courtesy of Alex Machacek
Matt Garrison Photo: Courtesy of Matt Garrison
Jeff Sipe Photo: Courtesy of Michael Weintrob

Visit Alex Machacek, Matt Garrison and Jeff Sipe on the web.

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