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Josh Pollock: More Than Just The Notes

Anthony Shaw By

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I guess Daevid saw that inclination in me and encouraged it, to an extreme degree. It probably made some of those early gigs a bit abrasive and hard to take (I don't remember us being particularly good back in 98/99, frankly...) but I think we eventually figured out how to channel that passion without it being quite so unpleasant, as is documented on what I consider to be our best release, the Live In Amsterdam dvd.

Daevid's general distaste for rock music made me examine the form really closely, and question whether or not I, in fact, actually did like it, and if so, why. I realized that there's a lot not to like about it—it's usually too much or not enough for most situations. But I also realized that what I did love about rock, what made it a form of music I couldn't just dismiss outright, was its massive potential for ecstatic transcendence—that despite how easy it is to do it badly, and the overwhelming preponderance of boring and/or unbearable rock bands there are in the world as a result, an ensemble that can harness that firepower effectively can be the most beautiful, uplifting, life-saving and soul-nourishing thing in the whole world. I feel like we managed to achieve that once in a while. In the UofE I could really cut loose and channel the cosmos in the most unabashedly visceral way on a regular basis, which allowed me to get a lot better at it.

(This, by the way, is the single most important observation I made when "studying" Rock Music: if you are going to be a rock band, then ROCK. Or you'll be pointless and annoying. If you don't rock, that's totally OK, but then don't be a rock band. Be a folk band, or a soul band, or better yet, make up an entirely new kind of band, but if you're a rock band, for Christ's sake, ROCK. This may seem obvious, but there is an overwhelming glut of non-rocking rock bands in the world right now. It ain't good.

AAJ: Has yr playing changed as a result of the time with UofE?

JP: Immeasurably. Allow me to digress for a moment: Iggy Pop, as a young man, was in love with the blues, and was making a good living playing in a blues band, but he knew deep down that he was playing someone else's music, the music of another culture, and so he dreamed of a blues that was organic and indigenous to him, and that's how The Stooges came to be. John Zorn explains the genesis of his Masada compositions similarly—borne of an overwhelming need to have a jazz organic to someone of Jewish ancestry rather than African. The merely capable musician learns how to play the blues—the visionary musician invents his own.

To say that Daevid has done this is is, of course, a colossal understatement. Daevid has always played the indigenous music of Daevid, and the more purely he did it, the more beautiful and powerful and confounding and fascinating and nourishing it was. To have such direct and prolonged exposure to a musician like that hugely affected my playing. The extent to which I've managed to become an interesting musician at all is by following his example in this regard as best I could.

AAJ: Do you currently have clearly different roles in different bands Auricle, 3 Leafs, Six eye Columbia?

JP: Very much so. If I had the same role in every band, it wouldn't be worth the aggravation of having so many. It'd be sooooo much easier to have only one band, but there's lots of different kinds of music I feel compelled to make, and they just don't all fit in one band. (Believe me, I've tried). Not just different instruments and styles, but: different situations: music that is composed/utterly improvised/and all points in between, viscerally physical/gently beautiful, original material/covers, collaborating/working alone, etc. etc. For some reason, they all seem to be necessary in order for me to feel satisfied artistically. Limiting myself to only one of these approaches would be like only eating steak—I LOVE steak, but if it's all I ate I'd get sick of it pretty quickly (and probably not be very healthy).

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