The String Cheese Incident

A Conversation with Kyle Hollingsworth of SCI

Puremusic: As far as I can gather from the promo material on the band, you came into the scene after the mid 90s. It seems like that contributed to the band's musical scope widening from a more bluegrass based outfit to one that started incorporating more styles, more jazz. Is that picture accurate?

Kyle Hollingsworth: Yeah, to some degree -- but they were on that road already when I joined the band. That's one of the things that attracted me to it, was the fact that they were so open minded about mixing styles and exploring different types of music. That's what brought me in, I think. So I was able to contribute something, but at the same time, I believe they'd been on their way there already.

PM: So when you came in, there had been no previous keyboard player, right? You were the first one that they used?

KH: Correct. I was the first keyboard player. They'd had a banjo player, I think, for a while. Tony Furtado played with them a couple times. And I think somebody else played on their album. But I was the first keyboard player on tour.

PM: So how many years of SCI were rather strictly bluegrass?

KH: Probably two and a half, of mostly bluegrass. It's always been kind of bluegrass/calypso, because our drummer brought in his influences, which were very Afro-Cuban sort of things, so there was that inkling from the early period as well.

PM: One is led to conjecture that it's the bluegrass roots that kept Bill Nershi playing acoustic on stage, is that right?

KH: Yeah. I think he and Keith were the ones who were really especially keen on keeping the bluegrass -- which I'm a hack about, really -- elemental in the repertoire. And I think he found that he could do almost anything on the acoustic guitar, from an Afro high life feel to, you know, a more jazz or even classical feeling.

PM: Well, he can, yeah, I agree. And part of that is how well it's picked up. It's real hi-fi, and very solo suitable. How is he picking that up? He's a Sunrise guy, isn't he?

KH: Sunrise, yes, I think so...

PM: That's what I use, too. They're fabulous.

KH: Yeah. He's been happy with that. And of course he has all this stuff in line with it, which I have no idea about, but all sorts of different EQs and processing.

PM: I may try to search him out about the acoustic chain.

KH: [laughs] Yeah.

PM: Because it's hard to get an acoustic sounding good in a rock band.

KH: Yeah. That was actually the first thing I noticed, the very first thing when I went to see them play because my friend Michael Kang was in the band. I'd played with Michael in a different band, and he said, "Come on, check out this group I got together." So I checked it out, and I was like, "Man, who's the eighteen-year-old on the acoustic guitar? He's great." I was playing in a typical rock band where, you know, the sound didn't matter, it was just the jangly part of the acoustic guitar that mattered.

PM: Just strumming, yeah.

KH: Strumming. But he got such a great tone, I thought, "Man, that was great." Of course, back then, Billy looked -- he shaved, and he looked like he was eighteen, but I think he's still the oldest member of the band. [laughs]

PM: Is he?

KH: I think so.

PM: So there's something about SCI, while being very adventurous, it's also really -- I mean, the word -- almost "wholesome" comes to mind, it's so positive.

KH: Too damn positive!

PM: [laughs] Never that, but certainly very positive and, you know, almost to the point of being wholesome. And I mean that in a good sense. What kind of personalities make up the band? -- from your point of view, since that's subjective.

KH: Yeah, from my point of view. I guess we... "Wholesome"? Geez, I would definitely not use that word, because it has so many negative connotations. continue

print (PDF)      listen to clips      archives      puremusic home