Was that an outgrowth of performing your older material for the first time in years, a reaction to the more electronic music you did in the late Eighties and early Nineties, or something else? My personal view is that through the second half of Eighties and all of the Nineties, the dominant music — certainly in Britain and Europe — was electronic. That was happening just prior to the big return to rock that happened around the millennial cusp. And I thought that for Wire to just become a rock band or an indie band would not have been the right response.
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Somehow the best way to respond to it was ultimately rooted in electronic and dance music, but with a rock-like soundscape. There was live playing, but done with the consciousness of how you make a techno record. You have contemporary, which means younger artists, or you have classic, which means older artists. An extreme example is the Rolling Stones. They had a single two months ago. But they played some massive gigs, and charged a fortune for them by playing music from the Sixties that everyone wants to hear.
We want to be a contemporary band, and we fought very, very hard for that status. It means more to us than anything else. Get over it, as we say in Britain. Why did longtime guitarist Bruce Gilbert leave after Send? He had his own reasons, none of which he told us at the time.
But apart from some personal disgruntlement, mainly with me, I think the main reason was that he never was comfortable being onstage and being in a band. When Wire started again in , without Bruce, it was very fragile. All we knew was that we wanted to. It was still material made with assemblage, and the objective of Object 47 was to make a record more lyrical and less claustrophobic than Send.
After Object 47 we toured with Margaret [Fiedler-McGinnis], who was just the right person for a band that was very fragile. The more we toured, we got stronger, and the more we could inhabit that thing that is Wire. When we got to Red Barked Tree , that was when I thought we needed to make a record utilizing the playing skills of the band, not my producer skills of putting stuff together.
That enabled a space to open up in which we could invite somebody else. But by the time we had done Red Barked Tree and we were starting to tour again, we were in good shape and could handle that. Whatever details from your private lives, if there are any, seem cloaked by abstract lyrics. So how have your own changes as a person shaped Wire? In the Eighties, I met the love of my life, Malka Spigel, and we became a couple. We got married, we had a child.
She was a musician and we had from the beginning the means to record in the house — we had an eight-track and an Atari ST and Cubase. My personal development was one in which it suited us to have our own music production, to put out our records together, and that ended up suiting Wire as well. By the time we came back together in , I had already mixed a bunch of albums. We had a studio and a record company set up. Having your own music production is such a fantastic boon for an artist. It used to cost the price of a house to make a record.
What do you feel Wire has yet to do? Achieve real recognition.
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The improbable pair ended up spending three hours together with Colin asking the Wolf all kinds of questions about where he came from, what blues singers he knew, how he started making records and so on. Who knows what the Wolf thought when he was first confronted by this ebullient eleven-year old but he patiently answered every question that Colin could muster and by the end of the afternoon Linden could refer to his hero as a newfound friend. Wolf also turned Linden on to the musicians that had originally inspired him to play such as Charlie Patton.
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Wolf returned to the Colonial the following June and, naturally, Colin spent some more time absorbing pearls of wisdom from the master. During these and subsequent visits the budding musician learned a lot of very fundamental lessons that continue to resonate with him to this very day. Midway through the second visit the Wolf had asked Colin to play with him but, alas, the young musician was too intimidated by the situation. Frustrated with his lack of courage, the now twelve year old resolved that the next chance he got, he was getting up on stage.
A success on both days, Colin never looked back.
Inspired with this latest revelation, Colin spent most of trying to learn how to finger pick, aided and abetted by much appreciated tips from some of the more experienced local players such as Chris Whiteley. It put me on a certain path guitar-wise that I think was really the beginning of my own style—very influenced by chord melody the way Rev.
That was kind of the birth of a lot of the chord melody stuff that I still do. A few months shy of his fifteenth birthday, Colin elected to take the next day off school to immerse himself in his newly-acquired library. Mills was sufficiently impressed with Linden that he booked him to play on the show on a number of occasions. The two had originally met at the Mariposa Folk Festival in Holger Peterson, who would later found Stony Plain Records, actually recorded Colin and Sam playing together at the festival but nothing was to come of the tapes. On the way down they stopped in Detroit and saw Sippie Wallace.
In Mississippi they spent some time with Chatmon before heading back north, stopping off in Rochester to see the legendary Son House. Along the way they played three or four coffee house gigs they had set up through connections that various Toronto friends had.
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In Mississippi, Chatmon had suggested they make a record together. Kaplan was a logical choice as he had actually done a new Mississippi Sheiks album which featured Chatmon in The end result was the excellent but little known Sam Chatmon and his Barbeque Boys. The years between meeting Chatmon and recording the Flying Fish album were busy ones.
I [then] quit school because ultimately in my heart I felt like I had made a wrong decision. I should have joined his band! And, I was playing guitar so much and school was a real stress. With encouragement, a lot of it from [David Wilcox], I quit school and then, a few days later, he hired me! In rock and roll music, the main one was the Band. Those first three albums [by the Band] I listened to constantly.
When I got into electric guitar the two things that hit me closest to home were the Band and Jimi Hendrix. They just really appealed to me. It was amazing! That was the thing that sealed it for me, really wanting to really learn how to play electric guitar deeply. Early was spent attempting to pay the rent by playing solo gigs wherever and whenever possible. In April he did his first western Canadian tour, booked by Holger Peterson.
In Edmonton he met a then year old Colin James, the two Colins embarking on a professional and personal friendship that exists to this day. That summer, Colin got his first ever sideman gig as a lead guitar player with Colleen Peterson.
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His debut performance in this capacity was in front of 40, people on a Barge in the Detroit River. While he was successfully supporting himself as a musician, as summertime came to a close Colin found himself at a bit of a crossroads. Again, David Wilcox came to the rescue. If you want to learn how to play solos, well, play thirty of them a night. The template for the band closely mirrored that of David Wilcox and the Teddy Bears, to the point that the two groups played a number of the same tunes.
Most of the winter of was spent in the Bay Area on the suggestion of another guitar playing roots-oriented Canadian legend, Amos Garrett. In was during this sojourn that Colin hooked up with Leon Redbone and recorded the Sam Chatmon album.