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"the highway from here to wherever you are"
Annie Gallup Interview (cont.)        previous page       print (PDF)

PM: After that first tour, Prime CD in NYC went on to release your next four records in five or six years. How did you hook up with them?

AG: I met David Seitz at the Kerrville Folk Festival. He'd heard my first record, and was actually doing A&R for his new label. He hadn't been inundated with submissions yet, and was looking for artists.

PM: A remarkable state to find someone in.

AG: It was pretty serendipitous, yeah. Things have changed a lot over the last five years.

PM: So, what was the circumstance of the meeting? Was he in a circle of people singing songs kind of thing?

AG: Yeah, he sat in on a song circle that I was part of. We went out for lunch in our sweat soaked cutoffs, talked a little business, and struck a deal.

PM: A multiple record deal?

AG: No, and it still isn't. It's a record by record deal.

PM: So, the fact that he's released no less than four records speaks to a certain commitment to you as an artist. In fact, let's talk about the latest album, Swerve. That's a mighty fine band Seitz assembled for those sessions.

AG: Incredible. Yes, he was basically responsible for putting it together, though we'd discussed it. I'd worked with [bassist] Michael Visceglia and [drummer] Denny McDermott before, on Courage My Love. Michael's been Suzanne Vega's bassist since the beginning, and Denny's toured and recorded with lots of acts, including Steely Dan and Jewel.

PM: Let's cover the other players, mostly New Yorkers as well.

AG: Mostly. Rob Curto plays organ and accordion. He plays in a Brazilian band in NYC, and does a lot of session work. He's pretty amazing. And Rob Paporosi played harmonica, he was recommended by Michael Visceglia. Michael also suggested Billy Masters on guitar, and we were extremely pleased with their many contributions. And Gideon Freudmann played some excellent electric cello, as well. He's really great, and is from the Northampton [MA] area.

PM: Ah yes, I met Gideon on the phone recently and heard a bit of a great record he sent, must get back to that. What is the attitude and the mood of Swerve?

AG: I wanted it to be sparse enough so we could mix it very up front, so it would have a punchy quality.

PM: It wasn't a folk record that you had in mind.

AG: It wasn't a folk record, and I only play acoustic guitar on two songs, the rest is electric guitar. It was more of a combo record. We wanted it to be more "low endy," not a lot of cymbals or high end jangle of any sort. We wanted the space left that those things might have occupied.

PM: On top of being a devilishly unique lyricist, we consider you a hot guitar player. Share with us a little of how your style developed.

AG: It's really a Mississippi John Hurt thing, that's where it all started. Because I tune my guitar funny, it's got a more modern sound, but it's really John Hurt type licks. I tune it DADEAD.

PM: It's a variation of the popular DADGAD tuning.

AG: I call it drop dead tuning, because the top strings are DEAD. I used to call it EGAD tuning, but now I think drop dead is more appropriate.

PM: Do you still play any John Hurt tunes?

AG: Not in this tuning. I haven't left this tuning in 8 years.

PM: What? Man, you're really loyal.

AG: I just love it. It's so full of possibilities. I keep exploring it, and finding new things.

PM: Is it the kind of thing where you know a lot of chords in that tuning, or you don't use a lot of chords, more melodies and runs of notes or...?

AG: Well, I have a number of basic chords in the first position, and some alternate positions up the neck for color. But the tuning is interesting because there is no 3rd.

PM: No happy note.

AG: Well, you can put it in, but it's not built in.

PM: While we're on the subject of things guitaristic, let's talk a little about gear, I know you enjoy talking about gear. What's happening on the acoustic side?

AG: I've got an incredible new acoustic guitar. I say new, but I've been playing it for a year. It's a Froggy Bottom K-12. They're built by Michael Millard in Newfane, VT. It's serial #500. We call it Ol' 500. [You can check them out at froggybottomguitars.com]

PM: And on the electric side of things?

AG: I used to play a great old Epiphone Windsor from 1959 with a New Yorker pickup, but it hummed so bad in certain situations that I traded it in for a new Gibson Blues Hawk, with a P-90 pickup with a dummy coil, so it sounds like the vintage P-90 without the hum.

PM: And it looks good on you.

AG: It's little.

PM: And your amplifier?

AG: It's an old Fender Deluxe. Feb. '68, the seller said, the first year they made silver face amps. So it's a silver face with black face components, so the story goes. It sounds great.

PM: And you're a tremolo person.

AG: Yeah, it's pretty addictive. And then there's the Pod, from Line 6.

PM: The new favorite toy in electric guitardom.

AG: It's an amp modeler, able to sound like vintage clean or over driven amps, quite a number of things. It's tiny, and is the way an electric player can leave their amp at home, and still have a rig at the gig.

PM: And there's new gear around the house lately, right?

AG: Well, I've been working on this piece for the theater, it's a one-person performance piece called Stay Me With Flagons. So I wanted to use different effects for the guitar, and I've been building my foot percussion stage, which has been a great experiment. It hasn't been proven yet.

PM: Before we started taping the interview, you mentioned that you'd been up all night working on it.

AG: I was soldering the connectors on to the sensors.

PM: Of course you were.

AG: [laughs] And gluing on the little pads. It's been a real science project. I think it's gonna work, I had it all laid out last night and was making some drum sounds. I'm running it through an Alesis D-4 drum module, so I will actually have a little drum kit underfoot.

PM: What is it you're after with the foot percussion stage?

AG: Just trying to make a bigger sound, you know? Trying to make more noise as a solo performer. It won't be the one man band circus type approach, it will be more low key than that.

PM: Will you need both feet to work it?

AG: I have six pads built into this board, six sounds I'll work with both feet. Two bass drums, two snares, two toms.

PM: Snare under one foot, bass drum under the other?

AG: Both bass drums under my heels, and I have to reach for the snare drums and the toms with my toes.

PM: So you'll be rocking back and forth for drum sounds while you're playing the guitar, and singing.

AG: This is where my dance background comes in.

PM: Apparently. That's gonna take a lot of work, isn't it?

AG: You know, I do that with my feet anyway.   continue

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