May 24th, 2007 by Russ
[fa:p:a=72157600257285560,id=511734268,j=r,s=s,l=p] AUSTIN DAZE: So how did you get started and when did you know this was what you were going to do with your life?
REDD VOLKAERT: I started when I was ten years old-that’s when I got my first guitar. By the time I was thirteen, I figured this is what I want to do. At that point I had started to learn more stuff all the time and more intricate things and it became more challenging but it was also more fun. I would sit with my guitar and ten hours would go by like nothing. I would just sit in my room and all I did was play the guitar and it was that much fun, as a kid, you know? I thought it was an amazing thing and if I fiddle around with it enough I can get squeaks and sounds out of it that sound like familiar things on the radio and on records. I would try and emulate them and the more I did it the easier it seemed because you’re learning at a fast pace–being thirteen years old you are like a sponge so you remember everything. I wanted to be in a band and wasn’t thinking that it would be a living or nothing, at that time, that’s all I wanted to do.” I don’t even want to ride my bike any more.”
I started playing in bands on weekends-wedding bands. Up in Canada where I’m from there are a lot of legions and elks and moose lodges. We call it, “Going on the antler tour” up there because there are so many moose and anything with antlers. I started playing those on the weekends. Playing with old guys, I started learning all kinds of stuff, stuff I shouldn’t have learned as a young kid. I started that when I was thirteen and by the time I was fifteen it was too late. I had seen too much rotten stuff that was too much fun. So I was hooked. I found out guys actually do this for a living–not knowing how poor a living it was-that that was all they did. They played guitar until the sun came up. They would play in a bar until two or three in the morning and then go to somebody’s home and be jamming until daylight, go home and sleep and then get up, have supper, and do it again. I thought, “Man, this is better than anything–the hell with school.”
I made 25 or 50 bucks a night when I played. For a fifteen year old kid at the time that was better than any paper route. And I got all the free beer I wanted because people think it’s funny to feed a kid free booze.
AD: You seem to have had quite a journey south to Austin. How does Austin compare to other towns you have played music in?
RV: If I didn’t play music, I would still live here just because it is such a great live music town. I lived in LA for a while and in Nashville for eleven years. I’ve been all over the place here in the states and traveled around and seen all different types of situations with the band and the clubs and stuff. A lot of the towns will have one punk club or two punk clubs, one rock club, maybe two or three blues clubs, one or two country clubs-just a little smattering here and there. In this town there are five or six of each, everywhere, all the time; steady. For me, as a musical tourist this is a way better town to go see a lot of stuff. Being in on the game is cool too, but like I said, if I didn’t play I’d be here just because you can go out every night somewhere and here music–mariachi, jazz, punk. You want to see a guy play a fiddle on his head with a safety pin through his eye, you can find it somewhere in town. You might have to go to the east side, but you can find it. You can get away with doing what you want and someone will appreciate it for what it is. Where in other cities they think they are more cultured so you have to fit everything into a slot hence the styles and commercial-ness that there is.
AD: What do you miss most about Austin when you are out on the road?
RV: The food. And of course the live music. And that you get to see a lot of regular folks doing their thing around town. I enjoy going out when I have nights off. There is camaraderie of all the players and stuff.
AD: When can we expect a new recording?
RV: I’ve been working on it. I’ve got three songs in the can. The last album was seven years ago so three songs time two….seriously, I hope to have it finished by the fall. As far as when it will be out, I don’t know, maybe spring.
AD: Will the new recording be all new material?
RV: Hopefully it will be all new stuff.
AD: The last one I bought was a compilation.
RV: Yeah, the record company I was with at the time, Hightone, didn’t want to spend the money to put a new album together so they just picked a couple off of an old CD and a couple off another album I did awhile ago with Bill Kirchen called The Twangbangers which was on the same Hightone label, and made that as a third album in leau of paying for a real one.
AD: What do you think when you hear, “Austin is the “Live Music Capital of the World”?
RV: I think to a point it is but also to a point there’s a lot of people trying to make it not so through a bunch of rules and laws and shit going on in the city that’s screwing it up for the live music situations. Just one little example has been the smoking ban. I think that has hurt a lot of businesses.
AD: Sound ordinances. During SXSW there was a sound ordinance on Sixth Street.
RV: What are they thinking? That’s where the music happens. If you don’t want to hear the music, don’t live there. Those kinds of things are sadly diminishing the live music thing. It’s still better than most by far but I think it’s slowly diminishing because of those stupid people that are causing those kinds of problems.
AD: What wisdom would you pass on to a new musician?
RV: Don’t do it. It’s a trick.