Fred: In the children's book "Fred: The New Orleans Drummer Boy" the bass player is scared to play in front of an audience. The other kids say, "Don't get scared. Get excited." It's the same energy. There's still that turning of energy, but what do you do with it? Do you do use it as something to build a wall between yourself and the experience? Or do you use it like a slide or a ramp to help you go faster and further into the experience. It's just understanding what to do with the energy, what direction to put the energy in, and how to use it in a way that benefits, not only you, but everyone and everything around you if possible.
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"How have you personally changed as a guitar player?"
Matt: I think I'm more show oriented now than I used to be. I used to be feet planted and everything had to be perfect. And that to me was a good show. And being in Cowboy Mouth has shown me that the shows where I play perfectly have actually been the ones where Fred walks off stage and says, "What the hell was that, man? You weren't in it."
I said, "I was. I was right in the pocket."
Fred said, "I don't care how you played. It was boring.
If you are making a mistake, but you are doing it at 200 miles an hour, Fred doesn't mind.
Fred: When I wrote the song "The Avenue" it was a week after Hurricane Katrina. I had pictured New Orleans as a person, as a friend who had been in a really bad bar fight. I pictured myself putting my arm around this friend of mine and saying, "Yeah, this is really bad. But you know, we'll get past it. We'll get through it and we'll get to the other side of this. You just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go kick ass. That's what it takes.
I think this pandemic that we're going through right now is temporary. It's not going to last. Human beings are not made to be kept down.
Matt: When writing a guitar part, I do a lot of experimentation until I stumble on something that I like. I don't plan things out. I play around until I hear something that sounds cool.
Fred: I understood intuitively at an early age that my talent wasn't necessarily playing music, singing, being a front man or a drummer. My talent was understanding on a very basic level how to move great amounts of energy almost effortlessly. We all do it to a certain extent, but I had a very tangible understanding of it at a very early age. I can't tell you why. And I just chose music to be that venue that I used in order to move great amounts of energy.
Fred: For me, the best music is made when you have the human spirit trying to not only express itself, but free itself from the confines of space, time, job, work, school, whatever. Whether it's Elvis Presley playing "That's Alright (Mama)" on accident in a studio, it's just the sound of the human spirit. It's the same thing with EDM. It's the same thing with a band like Led Zeppelin playing live in the 70s. It is just that feeling the human spirit freeing itself from the confines of this life.
Matt: One of nice things about having a little recording studio in your basement is you get to go through all of your horrible ideas privately. Then, if you land on something that seems decent and fits the vibe that you feel like the song is going for, that gets to be the thing that you put out into the universe.
Fred: Here are a couple of pictures I found on an old hard drive featuring a woman who used to pop up at festivals around South Louisiana, jump onstage, and rock with us who called herself "Lady Tambourine." She was ALWAYS a great performer and a lot of fun! And let me tell ya, you don’t think that the tambourine would be an instrument to display any sort of virtuosity on… but she was born to play that thing!
She was a total ham onstage (which, of course, made her and I kindred spirits) and always got me to up my playing game anytime she was around. I believe she told me once that she was from Baton Rouge, and obviously grew up playing gospel tambourine. I have a vague memory of her showing up onstage at the Varsity in BR and playing with us… I’ve forgotten so much more than I can remember…
Unfortunately, we never really got the chance to talk or get to know each other. She’d show up unannounced and disappear like the wind after we finished playing. Over time, she stopped coming to the shows and life moved on. I had totally forgotten about playing with her until these pics popped up. I remember her always being game for a furious, sweaty rock 'n' roll adventure with me and the band. And she NEVER disappointed.
Wherever she is, I hope she’s happy and wish her well. She sure did make me smile.
JTG: With songwriting, usually I start with a title and I try to write around that title. Sometimes I will do stream of consciousness writing, where you close your eyes, visualize a scene, and try to describe it in a way that fits your melody. Or sometimes I will start with a drum beat, because that gives me a feel, a groove. Those are really important. To me, if you don't have a groove or a feel, you are flying blind.
Fred: One of my earliest experiences playing drums was when I was a senior in high school. A guy in my class wanted to put a band together with some other seniors. A teacher named Mike Berricosse had to watch us during his lunch period so we could have access to the school auditorium. We did one rehearsal and it was just terrible. I got so frustrated that I started banging on the drums, just really going at it. I got so much satisfaction out of it.
Mr. Berricosse walked up to the stage and said, "LeBlanc! See me after school!"
I spent the whole day dreading it. I sat down in his office and kind of slumped my shoulders. He said, "LeBlanc, whatever you do in your life, do NOT EVER stop playing the drums. Because you're too good at it."
I thought, "Oh wow. That's not what I expected."
It was a little formative experience, just the world's way of just saying "Keep going."
We played in Memphis, about a year or two ago and he and his wife came to the show. I said, "You know, that really helped me out. And I really do appreciate it." Later I called him out from the stage. I think he really enjoyed it.