Formed in a Colorado Ski Town, Alternative-Rock Band, String Cheese Incident, Divulges How They Got Started And About Their Latest Release, “Song In My Heart”
Posted On 14 Nov 2014
Tag: Bill Nershi, Casey's Bar, Isaac Hayes, Jason Hann, Jerry Harrison, Kang, Keith Moseley, Kyle Hollingsworth, Lauryn Hill, Loud & Proud Records, Michael Kang, Michael Travis, Mt. Crested Butte, New Grass Revival, Paul Simon, Phil Lesh, Red Rocks, SCI Fidelity Records, Song In My Head, Strength in Numbers, String Cheese Incident, Talking Heads, Telluride, The Allman Brothers, The Del McCoury Band, The Depot, The Grateful Dead, Zac Brown
The String Cheese Incident released Song In My Head, the band’s first studio album in nine years, April 29, 2014 on SCI Fidelity Records/Loud & Proud Records. The album was produced by Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads and includes 10 new songs written collaboratively by the group over the past few years.
Song In My Head is perhaps the band’s tightest and most skillful yet. After years of feeling more like live players than studio musicians, the band members finally tapped into the skill that two decades’ worth of performing brings.
The String Cheese Incident formed in the Colorado mountain ski towns of Crested Butte and Telluride in 1993 and has built on those 20 years of experience to become the musicians they are today. The band consists of Bill Nershi (guitars and vocals), Michael Kang (mandolin, violin, guitar and vocals), Keith Moseley (bass & vocals), Michael Travis (drums and percussion), Kyle Hollingsworth (keyboards & vocals) and Jason Hann (percussion).
Learn even more about this talented group of musicians in the following interview:
First things first, where did you guys come up with your very unique band name?
The name question…….top secret of course!
Can you remember the first moment that you guys decided to form a band way back in 1993?
Billy, Kang, and I had been playing après-ski happy hour as a three-piece at Casey’s Bar at the base of Mt. Crested Butte. We added Travis on percussion for a 15-minute slot at the Locals Night talent show and it went over really well. From there we booked our first real gig, New Year’s Eve at The Depot in Telluride.
You’ve released a whopping 7 albums since then. How has the band’s sound changed from album to album?
The band continues to evolve and change and I think this is a reflection of our varied and different musical interests. We started off playing bluegrass and classic rock covers and some of Nershi’s originals. Over the years we all began contributing original songs and the early addition of Kyle on keys, and then later Jason on percussion, greatly expanded our musical possibilities.
This past April, you released your first album in 9 years! What took so long to put Song In My Head out? Were you guys writing songs during that time period?
The guys in the band are always writing new material, with Kyle and Billy being the most prolific. I think that part of the long hiatus from recording was due to the band taking a break from playing for much of 2007 to 2009. When we decided to get back together, we played very little and have been gradually building our momentum with more shows each year since the break. I think some of the guys had a less than positive view of the studio and the idea of recording a new album took a little while to gain favor with everyone.
With so many members in the band, what is the songwriting and really the music-making process like? How do you stay on course?
The band is a slow moving democracy. Sometimes group decisions are hard to come by, but over time we have become much better about supporting each other’s ideas. The exciting part is that every time we take a break and then reconvene, everyone seems to have improved!
I have read that Song In My Head is perhaps the band’s tightest and most skillful yet. On this record, as a band you come together and really play like studio musicians with a renewed sense of passion. Why do you think is this case?
This was the first time in awhile that we all seemed to really enjoy the studio process. I think as we mature as players and as a band, the creative process of recording an album has become much more exciting for all of us. There was a time when we were much more comfortable playing live and relied on the energy of a live situation to get us off. I feel like we have reached a point now where being creative in the studio is just as rewarding.
Living or dead, who would you guys love to work with and why? What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date?
Well working with Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads on our last album was quite a treat. Over the years we have worked with a staggering list of incredible musicians. People like Paul Simon, Lauryn Hill, Zac Brown…..just amazing!
More times than not, influences tend to bleed through. What bands have been inspiring you through the years? Any newcomers that you are currently enjoying?
In the beginning it was New Grass Revival, Strength in Numbers, the Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers. These days our influences are super diverse and every guy in our band has different tastes in music. Travis and Jason bring the EDM vibe. Kyle has a degree in Jazz and fronts his own funk band. Billy continues to gig with Bluegrass greats like the guys from The Del McCoury Band. Jason has studied all kinds of world percussion and even toured with Isaac Hayes! I am a fan of Country and Classic Rock and Kang is just a super ninja at everything he touches.
The String Cheese Incident has played over 1,500 shows! Can you possibly pick a favorite venue and/or crowd?
Well, Red Rocks is always pretty special being a hometown gig and all.
More than any one show I am looking forward to getting on the bus with the guys and banging out at a bunch of shows in a row. Digging deeper into our back catalogue of songs, taking the jams to new places, getting our mojo working!
Thus far, what’s a favorite memory or something quirky that’s taken place with the band (in-studio, onstage, or elsewhere)?
I will never forget the time that we played with Phil Lesh at Red Rocks and I went out into the audience to dance with my wife while the rest of the guys jammed with Phil. It was a very surreal experience to watch!
What do you think is the biggest change that you have noticed in the music industry since you have all been in it? Is it better now?
Well obviously people stream music now instead of buying it. The whole game of selling albums has changed. We have always made our living off of the live shows so we haven’t been crushed by this like some artists have.
For people just now learning about The String Cheese Incident, what would you like them to away from listening to your music?
Joy, love and good vibes!