Boston's Randy Roos-A Local Legend Sustains Infinitely
RR: Frank Heiss is really good. We would like to work together at some point. He's a very interesting fellow.. nuts, but'. He has a small setup that he really gets some great stuff out of. That's better. It's better to have a few things and really squeeze some great stuff out of them than have too much stuff.
AAJ: You guys should just record here.
RR: There are a lot of things I should do. The other thing is that there are things I really like other than music. The idea of just being in the studio working on music all the time..I don't really just do that. Right now, I've just got to decide on some stuff to do and just do it. The other thing is that I wish I could just get some stuff out.The idea of doing music that doesn't get listened to is distasteful to me. I always felt that the communication thing should somehow happen, and it should somehow get out there and beyond that, do some good.
AAJ: I interviewed Jef Lee Johnson recently, a great multi instrumentalist, singer and guitarist who has put a lot of stuff out all of a sudden. He made a really good point. He said he was sick of recording stuff at home and just making it better. He decided to let go of it. He used the analogy of a painter painting at home and hanging his paintings up on his own walls.
RR: That's a great analogy. But in the other hand, I am wary of just putting it out via the web. If you just throw it up on website, how many billions of things are already out there?
AAJ: It seems to me you need someone to help you with the administrative end of that.
RR: Totally. Trying to get your own thing out there is very frustrating.
AAJ: So, you've had it both ways. You had national distribution with Narada.
RR: Yes, and I must say I lost more sleep with Narada than at any time of my life. I just felt they were dropping the ball and when I tried to get on them to do stuff, they would just get pissed at me.
AAJ: Well, that makes a great segue to this newest project I want to talk about. Where did the impetus for this Van Gogh Shadowtree project come from?
RR: Mo Digliani, the vocalist and lyricist in the band, and I got back in touch in '99. We went to high school together. One of our class mates was in an auto accident and injured his back so took a trip to visit him. In the course of driving to and from the house we talked about the stuff we'd been doing and figured, 'Let's get together and do something.' I wanted to do something that was not instrumental - for years I wanted to do something with words. I had tried writing some things with words and I didn't really like what came out. I thought if I could find someone to collaborate with that was verbal, it would be fun. So I was up for it. Mo came over one day and brought some things with him. The night before I had just worked out some drum grooves that I thought would be fun for us to play with. He listened to my grooves a little bit and looked over what he had and said, 'I want to write something new.' He sat in the chair in my studio and looked out the window and wrote this 'Brain Room' thing. I think he spent about 10 minutes on it.
AAJ: He's doing words and you're all the music right, everything, right?.
RR: Oh yeah. Sometimes Mo will have things that are almost melodic and we'll turn them into melodic things. It's mostly spoken word, but there are some melodic moments in there. When we bring in our third guy, who sings and plays harmonica, B.J. Harpman, he adds a lot to that, but the first tune we worked on was way before B.J. got involved. We worked up that tune in a day. Mo laid down a vocal quick and then we just started adding stuff to it. We were having a rehearsal here for 'Vertigo Z' and I played the cut for Bruce Bartlett . He immediately reacted to it with a guitar part, which he laid down in 5 minutes. The tune's 5 minutes and it took him 5 minutes to record the part.
AAJ: Where'd you get the name from?
RR: That's one of the lines in 'Brainroom.' It's that tree out my studio window. That's the VanGogh Shadowtree. And Brainroom is this room. Mo was kind of looking around and free-associating with everything he saw and watching me work. He looked out the window and grabbed some inspiration from that. We just wound up really liking that line. So we used it for the project name.
Anyway, after we finished that tune we really liked it, but we didn't do anything else for about a year. We hung out from time to time, and we kept agreeing in principle to do more with it.