By Barry Barnes
The following interview with Grateful Dead Sound Engineer, Dan Healy, was conducted by Barry Barnes of Lenexa, Kansas. It took place on June 25, 1991, prior to the second nightís Bonner Springs show. It was arranged by Ted Carleton for use in conjunction with the premiere of David Gansí Grateful Dead Hour on KKFI-FM, Kansas City Community Radio.
BB: The most recent question that comes to mind is Videotaping versus Audio taping. Videotaping is not allowed -I mean thatís the rules and thatís fine with me, but Iím just curious as to why.
DH: I think that the main point is that people videotape with the intent to only get close-ups. You see the tapers and the rest of the audience usually clash because of all of the obvious reasons. So, I think thatís the main reason. I donít really feel that anybody feels thatís thereís a basic philosophical difference between audio taping and videotaping.
BB: So itís the same as in the old days when the tapers were always huddled down there in front?
DH: Well now theyíre huddled in the taperís section.
BB: I know, but at least theyíve been segregated.
DH: The thing is, too many times too many people became upset and disgruntled that theyíve been thrown out or physically molested by tapers who felt that theyíve deserved that space and stuff. It got to be real disgusting – you know the typical example would be a 14-year-old kid and his girlfriend would come to the booth in tears saying ëMe and my girlfriend stood in line for three hours in the snow to get tickets and when we got to our seats these guys just threw us out saying that they needed that seat to tape.í Itís rude and inconsiderate. Itís really too bad because the rules really resulted from, on the whole, the very things that are moat Anti-Grateful Dead, which is violating other peopleís space, general rudeness and lack of consideration for fellow humans.
BB: This is an issue that a lot of us deal with every time weíre at a show, For example, how do I ask this person not to yell, even though I want them to have a good time? I donít want them to yell in my ear or hit me as heís dancing wildly and crazily, which I like to do too.
DH: The main thing is that, and this probably sounds dumb, but you want to do unto as youíd have others do unto you. The general basic rules of consideration are where itís at. Coming to a Grateful Dead show doesnít mean youíre free from either the law of the state the law of humanity. In fact, this is a good place to come and demonstrate consideration and stuff. Itís a good place to practice and itís one of the few strong holds that tries as hard as it can to not mandate rules and form and protocol. As long as everybody can be cool, you can do anything you want.
BB: Whatís your feeling this summer tour, howís it shaping up in those terms?
DH: The message is finally beginning to get across. There werenít any large scenes or incidents anywhere on this tour. I think that the word is finally starting to get around… ëHey if youíre a Deadhead, are you causing the world to not like Deadheads or are you doing your part to cause the world to like o Deadheads?í And thatís really what it comes down to, Each and every individual in the audience is solely responsible for the collective of all of us and whether or not we are welcome in communities. We all know who we are down inside, but we have to portray that picture outside as well as inside, so that others can see it too. And itís not that hard! Get in a good mood and be a nice person. Thatís all you gotta do!
BB: Whatís the trophy on the sound board that I saw last night?
DH: I donít know to be honest with you. People frequently bring us various trophies like that, I heard a rumor that it was just for 26 years of being great and being there. People bring me shirts, they bring me trophies, they bring me photographs. Personally I collect old radios and people bring me old radios. The point is, people really are considerate of us. Itís a statement of thanks, you know, and itís wonderful, I love it. Last night here in Kansas, I looked around and everywhere I looked in the audience last night there were smiling faces and people were having a good time for the most part I thought it was really mellow. I was really impressed by everyoneís desire to have a good time and enjoy themselves. I didnít see anybody particularly out of line, I didnít see anything weird going on. I just saw a lot of people being together, enjoying the music and having a good time. It was really a pleasure to see that.
BB: It felt really good in the crowd last night.
DH: Yeah, thatís where I live. Iím sort of the audienceís representative to the band and the bandís representative to the audience in a strange way. I love it, I wouldnít trade it for anything in the world. Itís a dream come true for me, for anybody for that matter. Iíve also had an opportunity over the years to cultivate and develop the worldís finest sound system. I have extreme undivided, unsplintered support from the band, in terms of budgets and stuff like that. I obviously havenít always been successful, there have been times when weíve spent large amounts of money to try an idea and Iíve fallen right on my face. All they did was pick me up and ësay go for it again.í
BB: Give me an example of one of the things youíve tried and didnít work, just the idea.
DH: Urn, Oh gosh (laughs). In the very early seventies when we did the wall of sound -That was, by the way, an experiment in slot of different kinds of technology that had yet been untried. What happened was by the end of the sixties we had absorbed and used up all of the research that had been done. Most of the sound reinforcement research came from the twenties and thirties and was done by Bell Labs, which for many years was considered the authority on audio. And there were a lot of texts written, a lot of guys developed a lot of things and we basically functioned on them, and by the end of the 60ís we had tried all of those theories, we had applied them all and it wasnít good enough. Technology had to change, it was just time to take another step. Only we were out of places to look, so it came a matter of us developing the technology ourselves. So we were off in Cartoonland for a bit. And so this wall of sound system was the example that came about for the purpose of testing theories and ideas. The wall of sound contained many, many innovations.
BB: No monitors?
DH: No monitors, they werenít necessary. There were a lot of technical innovations, things that you didnít see out front. Approaches, crossovers and time alignment, amplification, routing and electrical, distribution. Gee, many layers of stuff. One time we were playing at Stanford in California. No, it was indoors. Someplace in Stanford, the court I think, the place where they play basketball. I canít think of the name of it. And I had just tried these high-frequency drivers. They were these special things which we had specially modified for our amplification stuff. They coat oh, probably $l0,000-$l2,000 dollars and somehow, something went wrong and I turned it on and it just fried all these things in about two seconds. It was like $15,000, Whoops, out the window. So thereís an example of that. When youíre in the process of cultivating new information and youíre charting territories yet uncharted, thereís no guarantee that itís going to be safe. Itís probably just as well, because you have to be really serious to get there. As things began to develop we uncovered answers, having the audience, the band, and the ability to go try it. And right now, of course, digital is the idea and we have the ability to be completely digital. Probably by the end of the year there will actually be the first model of it on a full time basis. A few weeks ago we played in Los Angeles at the Coliseum, we tried the very first closed loop complete digital from the microphone to the loudspeaker system, and itís going to work. Itís definitely going to work. Most of it we could have already, but my thinking is that until I get the last piece, thereís no sense in doing any of it until I can do it all. I want to close the loop and also I want to take advantage of some quantizing that can take place if the entire system is digital. But the last part of the missing link that has been the most complicated one, we actually tried a working version of it. We know itís going to work now, and another generation of it is being built right as we speak. This is the one that will probably work, I mean the original prototype worked but it needed modifications. The part of it that we were most skeptical about was the part that actually shined. So now weíre going to go and build the periphery stuff around it, write some slightly different software programs for it, more specifically designed for our applications. Thatís the next thing thatís going to happen, but all along Iím able to try ideas. A lot of guys who build equipment bring it to the show and weíll hook it up. I audition new pieces of equipment all at the rate of sometimes five, six things a show.
BB. Thatís terrific.
DH: Itís great and Iím of course game to do it. We work in a situation that the audience knows that. The audience understands that this is all an attempt to get them better sound. Iíll tell you what. If you bought a ticket and you were out in that audience last night, you heard one killer sounding show. No doubt about it. And so, that makes it worth it. And the audience has always rooted me on.
BB: How does the sound system differ from Giants Stadium and here?
DH: Just more of it.
BB: So, youíre pushing more wattage, so how do you deal with it?
DH: It sort of scales down somewhat parallel to the numbers of the audience-this place is 17,000 or something like that. Weíll say its 20%, well New York is 60,000, so itís about 1/3 of what we had there and thatís about right. Because it requires X amount of equipment to get X amount of sound and over X amount of area, so it actually does scale up and down more or less. It correlates with the number of people which correlates with the number of space, because thereís so much space to so many people. Actually if you think about it, itís not real mysterious.
BB: Stories circulate among tapers and Deadheads that you have software or a computer driven board to tailor the sound to each venue, especially the indoor ones. Putting blueprints or God only knows what into the system.
DH: When we plan a tour the first thing that happens is we get architectural drawings of the venue. Then we have a computer program called AutoCAD, which is an architectural design program. And in that program we scan the prints of the venue into it. Thereís also a model of the stage and a model of the sound system down to the individual speakers. We configure a sound system and then the program measures the response or the predicted response throughout the room. We can adjust it until itís even and every seat is a good sounding seat. At that point we make a scale blueprint drawing of it and that goes to the crew and when we get to the venue they simply pull out the drawing and create the sound system to match the drawing. This all happens months before the show and once youíre to the show and you set it all up, then it comes down to tuning the system. In most cases theyíre venues where weíve played before, where weíve stored in the computer what we did the time before. We also have a discussion situation whereby at the end of the tour we have like a post-mortem, if you will, and we talk about what we did and heard. During that time we have prints and examples of what we did from the computer, an analysis of the show. Then we can talk about what we might want to do next time, did we feel that it was it good, etc. This particular show has improved over the last time we played here. Weíve changed a few things, but thereís going to be a few things weíll change next time. Everyone likes this place and itís a good sounding venue, itís a comfortable and nice place to be and thereís very little pressure. That accounts for why there are good successful shows here, and I want to commend the local authorities and the people who run this place. Next time weíre going to modify it a little bit but weíve pretty much got it now. Last night was a pretty damn good example of whatís happening. The steel structuring around the stage where we hang our speakers is a little bit inadequate, but I think next time weíre gonna bring some special apparatus to get around that and I think that next time weíre also going to add a third delay speaker Out in the field so thereíll be I, 2, 3 rather than two. We actually were going to do that this time, but something happened and two of our four forklifts inadvertently got diverted straight to Denver where our next show is. Itís no big deal; it was just a touch that makes it nicer. Anyway, by the time youíve played a place three times youíve pretty much got it down, sometimes you nail it right on the first time. Itís never really bad anymore, its just a question of even better, tastier… itís a lot of fin and a great challenge to see if you can get it better. I myself am never satisfied but thatís probably what keeps me going.
BB: Do you have to fine tune it with the people in there or not?
DH: I do tune the sound system in the venue that weíre in and Iíve spent a number of years measuring the difference between what happens when the place is empty as opposed o full and so I know to add and subtract and I can compensate, so by adding in an algorithm that Iíve derived over the years, itís tantamount to estimating what it would be when the place is full. And Itís remarkably close. Thatís the first level – the crew sets it all up and then I come it, and tune it all. But then also, during the show we track the atmospheric condition. We have a weather station out there; thereís an anemometer, which is wind speed, barometric pressure, humidity, temperature. Wind direction, so on and so forth. Thatís also attached to the computer and every 30 minutes it logs it. If thereís any significant changes (meaning, in our case, the kind of changes that will create a noticeable sound change), itíll send up a flag. In other words, we have written a program that considers the information and if any of the parameters go beyond any pre-set parameters, then itíll say, ëhey you guysí, and at that point we can retune and recompensate for it. It has to do more with atmospheric conditions more than the audience presence.
BB: Last night the humidity was bad.
DH: Actually last night was very stable once the show started. The temperature changed like maybe a degree and the humidity changed maybe 4%. It got more humid as it got later.
BB: Yeah I could feel it.
DH: It started out 76% and at the end of the show it was 80%. When you really hear sound changing is when the temperature changes over 10 degrees, then thereís real noticeable difference in audio acoustics. As far as I can tell, the most ideal temperature for sound is between 70∞ and 85∞. The
most ideal humidity is between 40% and 80%.
BB: Thatís pretty high.
DH: Well, it means that you can pretty much have fun anywhere!
BB: Do you coordinate intentionally between Candice or Bralove or Mickey and all the phasing and effects?
DH: Yes and no. Itís not the kind of thing thatís really talked about. Itís more subtle and itís more impromptu than that. Like, an example of that would be, during Space Jam if Bobby throws something out at me and I hear something strange, Iíll catch it, do something to it and turn around and throw it back at him. Itís like an audio frisbee game.
BB: So, youíre a band member at that point, as if youíre not anyway?
DH: Yeah, and so is Bralove and all the people besides the actual band onstage, itís like there are two or three of the other ones of us that are quite there. Candice, myself and Bralove, might as well be on the stage because we are aware of, note for note, whatís going on – just like anybody on stage is. We all sort of recognize that as each other. So yea, we work together, but we donít really sit down and make plans and we donít go on. Itís not like the coach who goes into the locker room and discusses plays and such, but we all know that each other is there and if and when vacation is appropriate. We definitely have intercourse, as they say.
BB: When Mickeyís doing the beans and all that, how much of that is Mickey and how much of that is you? Can you differentiate that verbally?
DH: Well, first of all, let me just say that when it comes to those parts of the show, I have for years done stuff, but I try never to do the same thing twice, I try never to fall into a groove. If I donít have any particular thing to say or if Iím not particularly inspired on any given evening, I wonít do anything. And I donít know why, I canít just get out there and do something for the sake of doing something. If youíre up on stage you donít have that luxury. I try to keep it purely based on inspiration. On any given night you may be listening to just Mickey, you may be listening to Mickey as heard through my ears, if you will, and Bralove also participates a lot. Thatís one of those areas of the show that he rocks out on too, so he may or may not be doing something. You have to just sort of listen and see what you think. 75% of the time Iím doing stuff and then maybe another 10 or 15% of the time Iím doing a little bit and then another 10 or 15% of the time I sit there and I do nothing. Again, it depends on what strikes me.
BB: When youíre not touring how much time do you spend with the sound system or working on it?
DH: Well, but Iíve been doing all of the ëVaultí releases lately, so Iíve been spending a lot of time in the studio. Don Pearson, who was just in here and actually should be in on this rap, is really in charge of the sound system. Heís the guy thatís there every day so heís definitely the boss over all of that stuff. Itís really a gift to have him because I donít have the time to spend continuously on that. I do a lot of producing and engineering in the studio. I do some playing and stuff myself. I also like to hang out with my son.
BB: His name is?
DH: His name is Clement. Clemmy. ClemmyÖjust turned three. I like to try to spend time with him.
Thereís Don, then thereís the rest of my PA crew. They build everything back at the shop then thereís some woodshop guys and electronic shop guys and stuff. So thereís another whole half dozen people that donít travel on the road. And thereís a half dozen that do. So thereís like a dozen people that keep the sound system up and running. And at the end of every tour everything goes back and gets completely dismantled, cleaned out, ëcause it all gets full of dirt, things vibrate loose – itís a continuous maintenance situation. The system will get torn right down to the ground and put right back together again, all the snakes and all that stuff get all cleaned out and inspected and tested. Itíll take a month to shake the system down, so what weíll do is shake it down and get it ready and actually thereís a September tour, so weíll in a sense, get home, rest a few days. and begin structuring it for the indoor fall tour, including all the testing and all that. Typically, Iíll go in maybe two to three days a week and we discuss ways and means of implementing new ideas. Right now the digital thing is sort of in the front of our scene. Weíll meet about it and make the decision about the succession of unfolding the next set of ideas. That will probably take the next couple of months. In the meantime, the rest of the crew will be actually cleaning the dirt out of the system from the summer tour and going through and testing all the equipment and all the cables. Youíve got to remember thereís thousands and thousands of knobs and connections. To have a system that always is on and that never fails and that really sounds good, that takes a formidable amount of effort. At our shows you donít ever hear buzzing or humming between songs. You go to other shows and it just isnít that way. My gig is not finished until everything is up and running as it should be. Part of the energy goes into making this, part of the energy goes into preparation for the next tour, part of the energy goes into the preparation of this. Part of your time goes into catching up, part of your time goes to new ideas, and you spend part of your time maintaining.
BB: It was probably about two years ago that you did a lot of FM broadcasting. Is that gone but not forgotten?
DH: Yeah, I, actually occasionally do it. I actually have the equipment with me right now and Iíve done a show on this tour. I tell you what happens. The FCC will get on my case because in order to do it with any kind of decent quality it technically violates their rules. Because of the nature of that bureaucracy they are less interested in whether or not youíre actually hurting somebody than whether or not they can come out and fuck with you. The federal government and all the facets and bodies of the government are designed to help us but in fact it doesnít work that way. It turns us into the enemy in our own country kind of. You have to understand I own radio stations and, so Iíve had my share of dealing with the FCC, which is one of the more backwards bureaucracies in our government now. To do a decent quality signal it goes over their limit of permissible non-license power. One of the things Iíve been thinking about and that I might want to do is that the concept of a temporary broadcasting license to be used on a mobile basis. In other words, I would like a limited power life. This would be on the broadcast band, and it would enable you to go into any given community and have the FCC recognize say 10 Watts or 15-20 Watts (when I broadcast I use about 15 Watts). My object isnít to step on or bomb other stations or anything, Iím trying to do something that is harmonious with the community. If the FCC would make a ruling that recognizes something like that, it could really be great. Thereís a lot of traveling things, and this goes for circuses, ice shows, stuff for kids or anything like that. First thing, if I had a license to do that, leading up to show there would be traffic and health information, all in between the sets there would be more of the same. It would be truly a service not only to the audience but to the community as well. It could also work in conjunction with local stations. It would be a good thing to consider and 1 might yet propose it to them.
BB: How do you and everybody else maintain your energy level on the tour? It wears me out.
DH: Make sure and rest. Donít party ever. I never party after the show. Well I wouldnít say never. The point is that youíve got to be conservative. You gotta mind your rest, mind your food, mind your eating, mind all that stuff. Work out, 1 try to swim and work out. All the hotels we stay in, usually have some kind of facility for that.
BB: What happens after the show? Does everybody go home or to the hotel room?
DH: Well yeah, I just go back to my hotel room, Go to sleep-get up the next morning. I get up in the morning and go out. Today I went out all over Kansas City. Thereís a form of energy there for me, it wakes me up it gives me a feeling an affinity to the community and so thatís my own personal way.
BB: How do sound board tapes get into the circulation?
DH: Dear God, a thousand different ways. Generally one of us leaks them out. We never officially give away a tape, but since theyíre out there obviously someone does. I make tapes for everybody every night and so you can con one of us into loaning you a tape. I do it too, There are people that I know around the country that I loan my tape to and they take it home, copy it and mail the tape back to me. Thatís one way they get out. Itís not a real big thing. If I let somebody borrow a tape, I usually donít put any restrictions on it, I sort of leave it up to their discretion. They might want to let one of their friends borrow it, Iím sure it works sometimes like chain letters.
BB: Iím sure it does. Yes, I admit I do it too.
DH: Thatís okay. Thereís an adage in the record industry that if you let anybody record your concerts youíll never sell a record, but Iíve never believed that from day one. My rebuttal to that had always been that the first record company exec to cough up one shred of evidence that letting people record your concerts has in any way related to your records sales then Iíll stop doing it. But no one ever has… itís one of those things. The unique thing is that I believe it works the other way around. I think it creates enthusiasm and it creates fraternity and that in the end sells more records.
BB: I believe youíre absolutely right that it does facilitate the whole community spirit and family.
DH: I think so. Itís just one of those things thatís pure bullshit. Itís ok to let the audience have tapes; I flashed that right from day one! And it turns out that itís true. I mean now Iíve had 2 years to think about it and for other people to shoot it down, and no one has. Now I know itís never gonna change. Thereís a whole lot of stuff like that – the entertainment business is so strange about that – like another one that gets me is that you finish an album, and they have this time of year that they want to release it, like, right around Christmas, or back to school. When schoolís out they donít want to release stuff because they feel that people arenít in their normal paths and so they tend to not buy stuff. Iím sure that statistically, thatís all borne out. But itís also true when someone releases a killer album, everyone gets it no matter when it comes out. Thereís another example of record company mythology, if you will. Thereís a lot of stuff like that. Years ago, when I was first starting out in the record business, an old guy used to say, ëDan, after all is said and done, itís in the grooves, Itís either good stuff or it isnít, and after all is said and done, you Canít force anybody to love something they donít, and yet anything that is really truly happening, people pickup on, and you donít have to push it.í And itís really true. The thing that makes it hard to realize that is that the other thing the record company does is, they have.. well thereís this famous old adage, ëIn a town that only has a Ford Dealer, people all drive Fords.í Well, if you apply that to the record company, if you con every radio station into playing the crap out of some song, you make it everywhere. They are forcing it down our throats, and unfortunately there are so many people in our country who are uneducated, that donít really think, so that these things at least wash partially. The sad thing is that it creates a cloud over the real truth and so it takes young people much longer to figure out what the real truth is because of so much subterfuge. Thatís a sad thing. People buy what theyíre sold, and if you jam it down their throat, theyíll buy it. Itís too bad, because, as 1 say, it really is in the grooves, and you donít have to do that, but if you donít know that, and people are using that other tactic. Anyway, letís move on. Iím a very opinionated person I want to warn you.
BB: Are you around for the sound checks?
DH: Everyone usually does individual sound checks, because it really isnít important that we all structure it together. Individually, itís nice because it gives me an opportunity to verify that Bobbyís channels are working and that thereís no hums and buzzes and nothing unexpected along the way. Then Jerry steps out there for a couple of minutes and Iíll get the drummers to step out and go around their drums a little bit, and Vince, and Bruce and Phil, but itís a device to verify the signal pass and stuff like that. Itís really an academic and a mechanical sort of thing and we rarely ever all do it simultaneously. The only time we ever do it simultaneously is if thereís a new song that weíre dredging up and we want to go over it really quickly prior to the show.. .thatís really more like a rehearsal. Sound checks are really important for the academic and mechanical end of it. It isnít like a team pow wow.
BB: Some of the rumors of old songs that theyíve ëdredged upí as you put it, that have been sound checked recently are St. Stephen, unbroken chain and Day Job…Any comments on any of those?
DH: Day Job I donít think is ever going to get played again, it was a misnomer for a song for one thing. And as far as the rest of them goes. Well the next juncture for us, weíre going to have to do some work in the studio because itís time for us to start considering new tunes for our next studio album, but we also want to work up some stuff to play live. The best way weíve found to work up new material is to learn it and then take it out on the road. Itís not something you can casually bridge out at the gig, you gotta work it out, plus Vince and Bruce are new, and they donít have any idea what some the songs are, while the rest of us may remember mostly what itís like. It means youíve got sit down and write out the words, and go over the changes. Itís a normal process.. Itís the process of making music, but usually at this stage it best happens in the practice hall. Iíd say new tunes and old tunes is the short answer to that, and probably by the September tour.
BB: Do YOU consider that the September tour starts with Cal Expo and Shoreline?
DH: Starting at the East Coast. Boston, Philly & New York. Itís an attempt to see if we can play more shows in fewer places and let the audience come to us. For one thing itís going to help us keep ticket prices down. They are areas that are used to large amounts of people. So itís an attempt on a lot of levels to try to do it a better way. Weíll see if it works or not and if it does, then the next thing we might try would be to play a number of nights in a smaller place in Chicago because Chicago is really one of our favorite places. Yeah, because youíve tried so many venues around there, and… Well thereís no real decent venues in Chicago, thatís the problem. There needs to be a nice 12-15,000 seater that sounds good there. I donít really like the Horizon. Itís not awful but I donít really like it that much. And that new World Music (Tinley Park) place is just disgusting. That was appalling. There hasnít been a good show for Chicago since the Uptown Theatre and thatís why we chose Soldier Field this year, because that was potentially a good place.
BB: How did it work for you?
DH: Oh, I felt great. The only thing was that the weather was somewhat inclement, but otherwise I thought that was a great show and I thought that we did what we set out to do and that was to deliver a decent show.
BB: What was the head count there?
DH: Oh about 60,000 I think. We should have played there two nights. Again, the promoters were skeptical about whether would sell out – it would have easily. I think now the writing is on the wall but at the time they werenít willing to take the chance.
BB: When you attempt to sell a show of that size, who gets hurt on that? Is it the promoter that takes the risk?
DH: Basically it boils down to how much it costs to put on a show vs. how much youíre gonna make there. The people that put up the money both in terms of pure cash money and in terms of effort and energy are the promoter and us. Thereís risking the rent on the venue, youíre risking the ticket situation, youíre risking the advertising. Those are all the investments. Thereís a breakeven point, and every venue has one. In that particular place it breaks even around 20,000 tickets sold. So there will be little money made on it, but it wonít be as good if we had sold 60,000. That was the mistake in Chicago. If the local promoters in Chicago had gone for it that second day would have been gravy day because the first day paid for everything. They were doubly foolish, in away. Again, if they did it and it didnít sell, then they stood to lose a couple 100,000 bucks. I donít know why the Denver show isnít selling well but I feel itís the wrong time of year. Because we do better than that in a sense when we play indoor there. It suggest that the winter crowd is really whatís happening there. But itís ok too. On the other hand, when we used to play Red Rocks, it was surprisingly small-about 7,000 or something? We could have played there for a month! But then other things happen there. They fall off rocks and hurt them selves. And by definition, it implies camping, because if your coming to two days of shows, and there was no camping. It may happen again in the future, I donít know. I like and donít like red rocks. I donít feel safe from an audience point of view. Itís our responsibility of course to take our audience to places they are safe. We are certainly not in business of taking people to places where they would get hurt. There are a lot of situations where prudence has said, ìwell maybe we better notî and weíve seen that happen a number of times.
BB: You may not be aware of it, but security at Red Rocks was the worst of any venue Iíve ever been to, although Iíve seen a shift in security attitude because of diligence from the dead organization in terms of preparing them.
DH: We put tremendous energy into that show there. We parted peaceful but I think we also parted with a ìmaybe we wonít do that for awhileî attitude.
BB: If you could pick a venue, what is your favorite?
DH: Oh shit, everybody asks me that one. If I could pick a venue, well this oneís right here (Bonner springs) is as good as any of the venues. For me you have to understand the place has to sound good. I donít care how much I get schmuzzed, I care about what it sounds like. When were out there getting down to business how well does it work? Any place that sounds good, basically any place thatís open and unobstructed. We played buckeye, and that was a phenomenally enjoyable show. It had a lot of tree around the perimeter of the place, an all grass lawn, and that kind of terrain and that kind of foliage. Trees do something really nice to sound.
BB: Yea. Like at the Frost?
DH: Frost is a perfect example of that. I like the Greeks. I like outdoor gigs. If I had my way I would never go indoors ever again for the rest of my life.
BB: Howís the sound difference?
DH: Well, when youíre outside you only have to hear it once and then itís gone. When youíre inside sometimes you have to hear it twenty times. I can make an indoor place sound better than anybody else can but that doesnít mean I can make it sound like Iíd like it to sound. There are some places that donít sound bad. Brendan Byrne arena is not bad. Oakland Coliseum is okay but not great. Madison Square Garden is okay but not great. But I can get kicking but in those places. Iíve had Boston Garden humpin before. A lot of those places are derived from the best overall. They are not my favorite places acoustically, but they are the best combination of acceptable acoustics, transportation to and from, because theyíre built right over the subway system (for the audience), the most broad understanding of the surrounding authorities about members of people and not being freaked out by them. Those places are chosen for us and our audience. Thatís a god reason for picking places.
BB: You talked about humidity and temperature. What about astrology, how do you feel about that?
DH: No, I havenít dealt with astrology or attitude! But maybe someday, who knows? Ha! I think the real honest answer to that is that there are so many absolutely provable, definable, documentable, technical scientific aspects, if you can conquer all of those and cover all of those grounds and you have space for more ethereal stuff, then fine and dandy, go for it! itís a matter of priorities. I mean, I know that people are different on a full moon than say on a waxing moon or a waning moon, and that kind of stuff. Different times of the year I notice big change, like people are different in the fall then they are in the winter, the summer and the spring. I call it grooves. I can listen to our music and tell you what time of year it was, that kind of thing. My superstitions run more along lines of if you eat well, exercise and sleep well and try to conduct yourself as a decent human youíll have a better show. Iím more of a practical kind of person.
BB: I meant it more in a way of, well you hit on it. You notice a difference in a full moon and a waxing moon, the seasonsÖ
DH: Yeah, definitely, I donít know that thereís anything I do differently during those occasions but I notice that itís different. Like, weíre coming up on a full moon, and this is going to be a mellow full moon as opposed to one of those schizophrenic full moons. I wish it was tonight. I love to play on full moon nights, even the weird ones!
BB: Great, I will not take any more of your time. Thank you very, much!