Fred: I've lived big. I've laughed big. I've hurt big. I've been hurt big. I've loved big. That's just the way I choose to do it, because I remember what it was like to be afraid. I remember what it was like to be worried about, "What about this? What about that?" And it's funny because I was really terrified about things I could lose, be they relationships or situations, etc. I was so afraid about losing things that I lost them. Then it's like, okay, now what? Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going. There really is no option. If you're going to live, then you might as well live to the best of your ability, whatever that is. With a lot of faith and a lot of imagination, you can really work wonders.
Time and Experience Invested
Fred: A band isn't just a group of musicians. It's a group of musicians at a certain moment in their lives. John, Paul, George and Ringo in 1964 would have sounded completely different than John, Paul, George, and Ringo in 1978.
But then again, there is that kind of DNA thing that musicians have. Everybody's place within the note is how they define themselves as musicians. Some drummers rush the beat. I rush the beat. I'm on top of the beat all the time. Some drummers, like Ringo or John Bonham, they lay back.
It's the placement within the spectrum of the actual note that defines who you are as a musician. Certain players, when they get together, it's magic, just because of some intangible element. You have some bands, like Hootie and the Blowfish, REM, the Rolling Stones, or even the Beatles. They have that experience of not only playing together over a long period of time, but they also grew up together. That's how those bands have always all been able to make such great records. They have such time and experience invested in what they're doing. They know subconsciously “this person is going to hit this note this way. So I will play with that person in order to make that work.” It gets to that point where, once again, the music plays you. You're not playing the music.
Recording Song Ideas
JTG: When it comes to recording song ideas, melody ideas, I use the voice memo function on my iPhone a lot. For instance, if I am in an airport, I'll record into my phone with my acoustic guitar. I have thousands of voice memos on my phone right now.
You Feel It Hit
Matt: When I am developing a piece, I'll just play until something falls out that I actually remember. So if I'm playing a solo and it's all in key, but two takes later I don't remember what I just did, that to me is not good. But every now and again, you'll be running through something and you'll kind of feel it hit. Then that sticks with you. It's just like a vocal melody line. Somebody sings something and it gets stuck in your head. It's that kind of ear worm.
Fred: It's always about releasing yourself. Release your burdens so you can move forward to the next day, week, month, or year.
A Vital Sort of Energy
Fred: It’s always been about the feeling in the audience. It’s that simple. This band is a very real conduit for a vital sort of energy that exists in our shows – the sort of energy that people remember they have within when you ask them to give the very best of themselves in a completely secure and freeing situation. Using that as a foundation, there is no limit to where you can go.
Keep It Solid
Brian: I play the bass like, if I was playing a guitar, I would want the bass player to play. I just keep it solid and don't get too fancy. I don't play all of the notes.
Fred: Cowboy Mouth has never been about the people in the band as much as it has been about the energy in the audience. We’re a conduit for that energy and we turn it around and give it back to them.
"What makes for a good guitar solo?"
Matt: To me, something that's memorable is always better than something flashy. I've always been a huge fan of guitar solos that, when the solo comes around, people are singing the solo as much as they're singing the vocal parts. There are Journey songs like that. There are Guns 'N' Roses songs like that. If it makes somebody air guitar and sing it while they're doing it, that to me is a good solo.
Fred: I've done a lot of screwing up in my life, both personally and professionally. But you can't let that be your hindrance. You can't sit there and let yourself be beaten down by mistakes you've made.
You have to learn from them. You have to go forward.