LINKS TO INTERVIEWS:

BANDS
AUGUST INFINITY (aka SHE SAID FIRE)
BLACK SHAPE OF NEXUS
KALLING
MILITANTS
THERAPHOSA

SINGER-GUITARISTS
RAYMOND BALLY ..... (The Renegades)
REV. DR. BILL GRAM ..... (Killing For Christ)
PHIL JONES ..... (Phil Jones Band)
THEO CEDAR JONES ..... (Swaybone)
SCOTT KELLY ..... (Neurosis)
SETH MAJKA Interview 1 of 2
SETH MAJKA Interview 2 of 2
SAM PARSONS
UNCLE BOB NYC ..... (3tles, Volunteers Grateful Dead tribute band)

GUITARISTS
J.D. BRADSHAW ..... (Debbie Caldwell Band)
MATT CHABE ..... (Bangtown Timebomb, Your Gig Bag, Chapter Two Marketing)
PAUL CROOK ..... (Anthrax, Meat Loaf, Sebastian Bach, Queen's 'We Will Rock You')
MATTHEW MEADOWS ..... (Rango The Dog)
JAMES NICKERSON & SARAH NICKERSON ..... (Bangtown Timebomb)
DAX PAGE ..... (Kirra)
MARTY PARIS ..... (Paris Keeling, Permanent Reverse, Barbarian Way, Skulls Project)
RUINED MACHINES & MICHAL BRODKA ..... (Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 1 of 2
RUINED MACHINES (aka KENYON IV) ..... (World Of Rock Records, Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 2 of 2
CHRIS SANDERS ..... (Knight Fury, Lizzy Borden, Nadir D'Priest, Northern Lights Orchestra)
TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY & DAMOND JINIYA ..... (Rebel Pride Band, Under The Gun Project)
ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 1 of 2
ERIC STROTHERS & ZACH LORTON ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2 of 2
CHRIS MICHAEL TAYLOR ..... (Carmine & Vinny Appice's Drum Wars, Sunset Strip, Hair Nation)

VOCALISTS
A.L.X. ..... (Love Crushed Velvet)
GRAHAM BONNET ..... (Rainbow, Alcatrazz, MSG, Graham Bonnet Band)
BRANDYN BURNETTE
JOE DENIZON ..... (Stratospheerius, Mark Work Rock Orchestra Camp, Sweet Plantain)
LESLIE DINICOLA
TOMMY FARESE ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, The Kings Of Christmas)
ANGIE GOODNIGHT ..... (Fill The Void)
CORNELIUS GOODWIN ..... (12/24, The Kings Of Christmas)
DAMOND JINIYA & TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY ..... (Savatage, Diet Of Worms, Retribution, Herman/Nebula, Under The Gun Project)
STEFAN KLEIN ..... (Dethcentrik, Dod Beverte, Dod Incarnate Records)
GUY LEMONNIER ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, The Kings Of Christmas)
ZACH LORTON & ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2 of 2
SARAH NICKERSON & JAMES NICKERSON ..... (Bangtown Timebomb)
PARK SIPES ..... (Sunset Strip, Barbarian Way, Standout, Tune In To Mind Radio Kelly Keeling Tribute album)
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle, Machines Of Grace, Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 1 of 2
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle, Machines Of Grace, Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2 of 2

KEYBOARDISTS
SHAYFER JAMES
SCOTT KELLY ..... (Wizards Of Winter)
ERIK NORLANDER ..... (Asia Featuring John Payne, Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane)
DOUG RAUSCH
MICHAEL T. ROSS ..... (Lita Ford, Lizzy Borden, Missing Persons, Raiding The Rock Vault)

BASSISTS
CHRIS NUNES ..... (Ornament Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute Orchestra)
JOHN WETTON ..... (Asia, King Crimson, UK, Roxy Music)

DRUMMER
RAFA MARTINEZ ..... (Black Cobra)

SONGWRITER
TROY MONTGOMERY & DAMOND JINIYA & TOM SPITTLE ..... (Under The Gun Project)

MUSIC BUSINESS
MATT CHABE ..... (Bangtown Timebomb, Your Gig Bag, Chapter Two Marketing)
JAMES MOORE ..... (Independent Music Promotion, Your Band Is A Virus Book)
ALISON TAYLOR & RODNEY MILES ..... (365 Surprising & Inspirational Rock Star Quotes Book)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"Art Is So Powerful So Bold So Strong So Confronting" An Interview With THEO CEDAR JONES

Click here to visit official website.

May 2011 (live broadcast via phone, Roman Midnight Music Podcast Episode #18)

Theo Cedar Jones is the guitarist-vocalist-songwriter of the California based hard rock band Swaybone. Swaybone is a unique musical entity as its the only band directly advocating the teachings of American Hindu/Buddhist guru Adi Da Samraj, or as the website reads "rock from the heart".

I'd previously done a Christian rock themed episode on my podcast that hadn't proven too popular & was taking a bit of risk by having another religious themed episode, particularly one of a small fringe group of a few thousand formal followers surrounding a deceased controversial guru. I'd had dealings with the group for many years, both formally & not. It was at an art gallery opening of the guru, his first solo show in NYC, that I met Theo & he handed me a Swaybone promo. The uniqueness & passion behind his music was exactly the energy I wanted for my show. Much to my surprise this ended up being one of my more popular shows & I think Theo really shined. I've never heard from the religious group, but its a rare moment when they get mentioned in this type of media context & without any controversy so I hope they appreciated the positive press.

* * * *

AJ: Most musicians will probably tell you that one of the more difficult things to do when making music, outside of just making good music, is trying to be original & creative & maybe even unique. My guest I will proudly say is one of the most unique people that I have introduced through this show. He has an alternative rock band called SWAYBONE. But, they are more than just another alternative rock band singing silly little love songs. They do sing love songs though, but of a far bigger or wider reaching sort. SWAYBONE is what you might call a devotional rock band. But don't think Christian rock, because they, to use his own words, are more akin to "guru rock" or "prior unity rock" or just "Da rock". I'll let him explain later on exactly what that means. SWAYBONE is inspired by the teachings of the spiritual teacher Adi Da Samraj. As far as I know it's the only alternative rock band that takes Adi Da's teachings & is spreading it out to the world. So, it's a pretty big challenge because my guest is working on making good music, taking the teachings of his guru & yet transforming them into something that goes beyond just fellow devotees or fellow students of this teacher. But, turning it into something that potentially can have a humongous change on all of his listeners, whether they know who the guru is or whether they understand everything my guest is singing about or not. But, the end result is basically something incredibly unique & it is with a great pleasure that I introduce a man bursting with passionate creativity. On the phone with me is Mr. Theo Cedar Jones, the frontman, guitarist & lyricist of SWAYBONE.

THEO: Thank you so much for having me, Aaron & thank you for your introduction, yeah, that was great.

AJ: So, I'm describing your band here, SWAYBONE, in the opening, can you, maybe, help me out here & fill in the gaps a little bit, or correct the errors if I have described you incorrectly. Have I gotten the target here in describing what SWAYBONE is all about?

THEO: Yeah, that was a very good description. I don't think anybody has ever tried to describe it on the radio before & I have been doing this music thing for about 24 years. We played our first show back in 1987 & that was before I knew, well, that was before I was a devotee of Adi Da. I had been studying his teaching for many years, but wasn't, I didn't consider myself a devotee. But, I was pursuing what you just described, trying to make some kind of original music that would be entertaining & potentially write some hit songs.

AJ: Of course.

THEO: Actually, before I became a devotee in 2001 I was pretty frustrated trying to accomplish that goal, because my main goal was basically to try to be a good singer, try to be a good songwriter & maybe at least write one hit song in my lifetime.

AJ: I actually wanted, before we go any farther in the talking about the background of SWAYBONE & the music & what you're doing & the bigger picture, do you think you could share where one can go online to find out more about you?

THEO: We are at myspace.com/swaybone & we are also at reverbnation.com/swaybone & sonicbids.com/swaybone.

AJ: Excellent. Excellent. & I know you have a new album coming out which we're going to share some tunes from & some things out there already. Also for those who aren't familiar with who we are talking about here, can you in a, let's see, a bite-size nugget explain who this Adi Da is? Or, maybe the jist of what his teaching is that people could relate to?

THEO: Yeah, Adi Da is a contemporary spiritual teacher who brings together, culminates all of the spiritual teachings that have ever existed & has brought forth a comprehensive, massive, awesome teaching that is unique amidst all the religions & all the religious teachers. He was born in 1939 in New York & became enlightened as it were or reawakened in 1970. I discovered his teachings in 1981 & I was really struck immediately, the first time I saw a picture of him, that this is the divine person. Many of the world's religions have predicted that there would be a great avatar, a great second coming of God. & my feeling is that he is that great avatar & he self-proclaims that he is the promised god-man. So, all the world's religions have been waiting for a final, ultimate teacher/god-person to be born & it just so happens he's been born in our lifetime, in our time, in the modern era & he said that he came in order to prevent us from getting involved in World War III. & so, we're in the middle of this incredible, historic moment where God, the divine person, has incarnated & is creating divine intervention to help the human race save itself.

AJ: That's a good summary. Very good summary, without getting into too many of the details. If one wants to find out more they can go to his main website at adidam.org & they can discover some of his teachings there. He's passed physically from this world a couple years ago though, but his community, as yourself & others & myself, continue though. Theo, when you started SWAYBONE did you plan ... was this intended to be a band focused on the teachings of Adi Da or was that just sort of a natural outpouring of something, or was going to be something completely different & morphed into this?

THEO: It was decidedly not supposed to be about Adi Da, even though I was studying his teachings. When we started out, I started with a friend of mine. We started the band back in the late 80's & the goal at the time was to recreate the psychedelic experience through rock music. & so, we had discovered our spirituality, in a sense, through taking mushrooms, LSD & wanted to somehow translate that experience into rock'n'roll. Psychedelic music was sort of in decline, you know, after the 60's, after PINK FLOYD & the only guiding lights we had at the time was Robin Hitchcock & the SOFT BOYS. There was a new psychedelic underground of music in California in the 80's, comprised of various bands like the DREAM SYNDICATE, the 3 O'CLOCK, the RAIN PARADE. It never gelled into like a cohesive psychedelic movement in the 80's when Reagan was President & the most viable form of music for me at the time was all those bands that came out of the FSG label, such as MINUTE MEN, MEAT PUPPETS, SOUNDGARDEN, SONIC YOUTH. So, you know, I was kinda trying to create a new psychedelic revolution through rock. It turned out to be extremely difficult.

AJ: Now, sadly through this medium we can't share with folks what a SWAYBONE concert is like, but they can go on youtube & find videos of you, but when you perform on stage with your band, with the three guys that join you, well how should we put this, would you share with my audience what's going on often behind you on the wall or the visuals you include with your show.

THEO: Yeah. We have been privileged to have access to the art of Adi Da. In the last nine years of his life Adi Da created somewhere between a 100 & 200,000 images of art & these images directly express or convey his state of consciousness. & they happen to be some of the most extraordinary bright, colorful, intense art. & I have been serving Adi Da's mission since 2001 & in 2007 we did an event in San Francisco where we got to project Adi Da's art while live musicians were performing & this sparked an idea for me that, well, most of the music that was in play with Adi Da's art was what you might consider more conventionally devotional like either Indian music or softer type of music. Stuff that was more contemplative, shall we say. But this art is so powerful, so bold, so strong & so confronting even & I thought "Gee, this art rocks. This art might go with rock music." I had a kind of a problem to solve which was that how do you do something about a guru, something about the sacred in rock music which is supposed to be about rebellion, about freedom, about sex, about drugs & all those good things. How do you make that jump from rock's classic themes to something which some people might think 'are you trying to be religious rock?' A lot of people do think it's like Christian rock & actually Christian rock is kind of an inspiration in many ways. So, I had this issue, how do you convey the idea that this is a rock concert that's happening in sacred space? When we did our first experiment with this last year we projected Adi Da's art with a projector onto a screen, backdrop, that was over & behind the band & the effect, for me at least, was like so liberating. I felt like the color that was being projected onto the band was literally made by the divine person & instantly that art work for me invokes a sense of the sacred. So I didn't have to say to the audience 'Okay, this is a sacred rock concert, you're supposed to feel sacred now.' How do you do that, you know?

AJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

THEO: I don't have to literally say it. All we have to do is project this art & then the feeling of the lyrics & the music & the band just naturally convey that expression of ecstasy, of happiness, of liberation even.

AJ: I'll say, to back up what you're saying, Theo, that I discovered Adi Da Samraj in 2005 & at first I was like "Okay, just another guru, I'm not so interested." But, I immediately saw his art & I went "Wow, this guy's a great artist." I was overwhelmed by the art initially. & in the early days, to fill people in, he did a lot of photography work & then he later combined photographs into bigger images & just kept combining, combining & then was getting into actually drawing. So, it's very intensive, multi-layered, lots of stuff on top of stuff & it's pretty much unlike anything else out there. I don't know about you, but I've never seen anyone who compares to him. So it's definitely, when you were flashing it on the screen behind you, it's definetly like bang, you're in this space now! There's no sign that says applause or anything. It comes across so very much so what you're looking at.

THEO: Exactly & it's an interesting story about how Adi Da's art kinda got me to become a devotee. Up to 2000 I'd been reading his books. I had instant recognition of who he was the first time I saw a picture of him & it kind of terrified me a little bit, because I felt like "Okay, this is it. This is the ultimate guru, teacher, god-man, that's ever going to exist, he's given the ultimate teaching for all now but now he's got all these demands, you know you've got to be a devotee & do all these vows & actually fulfill all these practices & I wasn't ready. So for many years I studied but kept my distance, in a way.

AJ: Very common actually.

THEO: Yeah. I had been pursuing a lot of other spiritual practices that whole time, including yoga, meditation, writing as a spiritual practice & a number of other things. Right around 2000 I felt like it wasn't working for me. I wasn't being able to overcome my fear, my worry & my guilt. I was actually feeling really stuck or depressed that I couldn't grow further or grow beyond this suffering of the self-contraction, the ego. So I kinda, in a way, reached the end of my alternatives & just around that time I get a phone call from a friend of mine. I can say his name. His name is Mark Cumming & he happens to be one of the most amazing visionary authors & public speakers. & he said "Hey, Theo, did you know that Adi Da is a major artist & he is looking for people in the art world who will come to see his art & respond to it, maybe help be an advocate, you know, to help get his art out there to the art world. & you get a chance to see Adi Da in person."

AJ: Bonus!

THEO: I was like, "Okay, yes!" & 2 weeks before I got to see him for the first time on July 7th, 2001 I had a devotional response & it just came spontaneously. Instead of just studying him I felt like I had initiated or he had initiated a personal relationship with me that was now the biggest thing in my life. I felt an attraction to him & it suddenly became clear to me that I wanted to be his devotee. For some reason something had changed in my disposition. So, I got to travel up to his sanctuary in northern California called the Mountain of Attention Sanctuary & they had built a big giant tent where Adi Da had set up 3 projection screens & a big sound system. We went in there & started to look at these suites of artwork that would last 2 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours. I mean epic, monumental, marathon art showing. Accompanied by loud blasting music. & I was like "This is the God for me! If God is an artist & can make this ... This is perfect, this is just right for me." I was overwhelmed. Like you said, the art is overwhelming. Then we got to go visit him at a house that was near the sanctuary called Love Point. So they take us up there in a bus &, you know, I'm nervous, I'm expectant, I'm ecstatic, I'm terrified, I'm every extreme of emotion because, from my perspective, I'm going to see God in the flesh. The thing that millions, billions of people have been yearning for generations & centuries. They want to see their God. They want to & hopefully not have to die first to go see God, you know. & I go up there. I'm ushered into the room. We're sitting down. Men on the left, women on the right in this like living room & there's his chair up in the front. & then he walked in. He's dressed all in black. He sits down. & I just start balling & crying & I feel like all my emotions of my life, maybe other lifetimes, are just being wrenched out of me, pulled out of me, pulling me out of myself towards him. & that was it. I was converted. I was ready to sign the vow. I'm Adi Da's devotee forever.

AJ: Thanks, Theo, for that personal testimony. Before we go any farther. Before we talk, get more into details about some of the philosophy behind SWAYBONE, I think I want to ask you about a particular song of yours.

THEO: Right on.

AJ: From your forthcoming album Life On Earth tell me about "Da Light", which is a favorite of mine.

THEO: Yeah, this is the first song on the album. This song was the result of a jam session that I had with my band & it seemed like a gift. This song just came not out of me deliberately trying to write a song but out of the genuine chemistry of playing in the band. When we finished writing it I realized that this was my official fanfare for Adi Da. This is me just saying "Hey, y'all, the great one is here. Adi Da is here."

AJ: Well, I guess it came through. That message came through because when I listened to the album this is one of the ones I went "Ah, that's a good one to recommend to people who want to know about SWAYBONE." Theo, before we go any further or I forget, I have to ask, & I'm going to plead my ignorance here, what does SWAYBONE mean? Does it have a meaning at all?

THEO: You know that name came about in 1995 when we were recording our first CD. We had to come up with a name, a new name, because our previous name was the NEWMANUS FOOLS & nobody knew was Newmanus meant.

AJ: Yeah, that's pretty difficult too.

THEO: So, we needed something catchy, we needed something fat & happy. So, my long term collaborator in the first incarnation of the band is named Tom Opell & he came up with that name, after a long period of struggling to find a good name. & it didn't mean anything ... except, when you start to look at it, you're like 'Okay, sway, that's sort of feminine. Bone, that's kinda masculine.' So, it kinda sounds like a playful combination, to me, of the masculine & the feminine. & that kinda works for me because, you know, I'm trying to be a hard rock band & that's so macho & tough & all that but the emotions behind the music are not really about trying to be tough or trying to be angry. It was especially helpful because in the 90's we were experiencing the grunge revolution. I have to make an adaptation & go from being a psychedelic band to be a kind of commercial hard rock or grunge band. SWAYBONE just sounded like a good grunge name, like PEARL JAM, you know.

AJ: I hear ya. I actually wanted to talk a little bit about lyrics now. You & I in the past have bantered about lyrics & hard rock music. & as I introduced you I said you were trying to ... you were taking the teachings of Adi Da but yet you were putting them into your own words. &, you know, not reinterpreting them, but, you know, sending them back out there for an audience that may not know his stuff.

THEO: Right.

AJ: I want to bring up now briefly Adi Da's idea of the ego, which he talks about a lot in his teachings. But, particularly here in the case of ego based lyrics or subject matter versus what you're trying to do which is ego transcending subject matter. I know this is something you've asked that you want to talk about. So, if you wanted to share a little bit about what you're doing versus what, I don't know, SOUNDGARDEN, for example, is doing.

THEO: Or really what every single other rock band has ever done.

AJ: Or what anyone is doing, yeah.

THEO: So, thank you for bringing this up. This is the maybe the core message of the band, for me, is how do you make a transition from an ego culture that we're in right now to an ego transcending culture that humanity is being called to go towards, or is being drawn towards & ... maybe just to give a brief definition of what we mean by ego as described by Adi Da. Ego is the feeling or the idea that you are separate or irreducibly separate from other people, other egos, from nature, from the universe & from God & that feeling of separateness is characterized by a fundamental sense of being afraid, being afraid of death, being afraid of threats, being afraid of intimacy, being afraid of vulnerability. Another term for the ego that Adi Da used is the self-contraction. When I got deeper into Adi Da I felt him causing me to be more sensitive to my own activity & what that activity is is a constant feeling of self-contraction. So Adi Da says "The ego is not a thing, it's an act. It's something that you do, second by second, minute by minute, day by day. If you didn't do it you, or I, would be in our natural state & our natural state is happiness, is love-bliss, is consciousness itself." So, I started to get more & more sensitive to my own activity of ego & self-contraction & it just compelled me to write lyrics that addressed by experience. The more I did this the more I realized I couldn't find lyrics in other bands that would satisfy me because most of it is self-referential or talking about basically complaint. So much music is a complaint about 'My baby left me, my baby done me no good' & boy girl stuff, you know. & God bless all that stuff. I love that stuff, too. I love all rock'n'roll & music, but I started to feel like it was confining & claustrophobic to always be talking about yourself or self-referentiality or narcissism.

AJ: 'Me me' all the time.

THEO: Yeah, you me, everybody. You know, once you get sensitive to what you're up to, that you are doing the ego, you are doing the self-contraction, even though life is terrifying & you're gonna die, it would seem like 'Okay, I should be afraid.' & it kinda makes sense. Yeah, you should be afraid, you should be depressed, you should be terrorized by existence. But, no, it's not necessary. & the only reason I can say that is because I've looked at Adi Da, I've been in his physical company, I've read & studied & been intimate with him for years & years & he never failed to be present, available, open, happy, ecstatic & absolutely truthful about everything & never failing. He just never failed to be truthful, never failed to be compassionate. How? How can he do that? So I just kept going closer into his teaching & then it just started to influence my lyrics. I wasn't necessarily trying to interpret Adi Da & his teaching but, it just happened naturally that lyrics started to pop into my head & write them down on the page that are a response to his presence & his teaching & his example. & then I started to like it, 'I like these lyrics. These lyrics give me what I'm looking for, which is some liberation & not just being stuck in my complaint or your complaint or boy/girl this or that, or boy-boy girl-girl or whatever it is.' So, here's the thing, people of the world, SWAYBONE's message is here to help everybody get a taste of a kind of music or a kind of message that's not totally about the ego. Of course it's always ... I'm an ego, so I'm still doing it & I'm still wrong, but at least because of my response to my teacher I can give you, the people, a message, that I hope, will be more liberating for you, that will give you spiritual nourishment, that will give you a capacity to want to be realized, to want to be free of your suffering, of your self-contraction.

AJ: I have to ask, you know don't take this the wrong way or anything, it's just a curiosity, with all the people you've shared SWAYBONE with or have come to your concerts, whatever, seen you perform, etc., I'm sure many of them don't really know Adi Da like you know him, or maybe they do or maybe they don't. In regards to what you've just said about sharing his message & this feeling that you're getting has there ever been any negative reaction? Or have you ever had anyone say to you 'Gosh, Theo, if you'd only do the boy/girl songs again.' Has that ever happened?

THEO: Yes. Absolutely.

AJ: Yes! Okay!

THEO: For example, back in 2007 I had a different band line-up & my drummer at the time was saying "Theo, would you please just back off on this Adi Da stuff, it's just not cool. It's, you know, gonna alienate people. You know this is too religious. This is a guru, what are you doing?" You know a lot of people are anti-guru.

AJ: Yeah, yeah.

THEO: Then in another instance I actually got a job as a songwriter & a guitarist/singer in a Christian rock band for a period of time. 3 of the songs that I wrote for Adi Da got included in the set list for this Christian band. The leader of the band really liked my voice, really liked my ... the vibe, you know. & there's so many parts of the message about Adi Da that kind of sound like you might be talking about Jesus Christ.

AJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

THEO: Or you might be talking about God in some general sense. & he loved that. It's like he got it. He responded to it, but then, somewhere down the line, something changed & he suddenly became intolerant & it was like 'Okay, Theo, you can't be in this band anymore.'

AJ: You've got the wrong god there, Theo, you're not on the same page that we are.

THEO: Exactly!

AJ: Well, let me ask, though, as you've brought this up, has it been ... well, let me first ask, are your fellow musicians in SWAYBONE are they devotees?

THEO: In our current line-up we've got one other devotee, our keyboard player Cory. & we've got our drummer is Christian & our bass player is, I guess, multi-denominational. It's a nice balance.

AJ: It's a nice even flow across the spectrum. Has it been difficult finding musicians, though, when they find out what you're about? Do they go 'Oh, you know, I don't really want to play that music.' Have you had that happen other than the drummer you just mentioned?

THEO: Yeah, it also happened with the guitar player at that same time & it's happened maybe another time or two after that, so ...

AJ: How do you deal with that, Theo? Cause on some level it's almost like a personal attack, but yet it's not. How do you ... cause you're just playing music. Music, you know, soothes the savage beast. It unites all of us. How do you respond to that?

THEO: I usually cry when my bandmates leave me. A bandmate is like an attachment or a marriage & there's no way to avoid that for me. I get emotionally attached & whenever a bandmate rejects me or rejects the band or rejects Adi Da it's pretty heart-breaking.

AJ: Obviously, you can understand the point of view of where they're coming from. Like you said earlier a lot of people are afraid of this idea of a guru even if they don't know even who the guru is. It's just a bad response there. It's not your fault or even Adi Da's fault. It comes from something that's beyond this, so you can understand it, but I'm sure it is distraught.

THEO: Yeah. It's just that I made a decision that I felt that taking this path, being open about Adi Da in rock music was something nobody else had done except, you might find this interesting, have you heard of the band LIVE?

AJ: I have & probably some of my listeners have.

THEO: They were one of those bands that had a fairly large amount of success in the grunge movement & their lead singer Ed Kowalczyk, as it turns, is or was a devotee of Adi Da. & when they were making their album The Distance To Here Adi Da was personally involved with Ed on the lyric direction & the art & everything about that album. & it was very successful. But, when I looked at the lyrics on that album I felt like I could barely discern anything about Adi Da in those lyrics & it just seems so vague.

AJ: I will agree with you.

THEO: I love the album & I think it's great, but it wasn't satisfying to me at the level of 'Come on, if you love Adi Da, if you recognize who he is, just say it straight.' & he wasn't willing or able to do that for whatever reason, but maybe he sort of paved the way for SWAYBONE to kind of go to that next step. Of all the devotees in the world that make music that I'm familiar with I couldn't find a single one, except for Jacqueline Clemons, who wrote an original song with original lyrics that were a response to Adi Da in an explicit way. So, I felt a little bit lonely, like "Why? Why aren't more artists & musicians explicitly referencing Adi Da in their art." Because I will tell you, Aaron, since becoming a devotee my music has unfolded & bloomed beyond my wildest expectations & two happened & changed primarily. One is that, as you see, the lyrics changed & suddenly I started writing better songs. Now, I don't know if there's a connection there, but I had a big problem writing a good song. I'd been writing for years & it was almost a little bit like "I'm not really in love with almost any of my songs & it's really hard to write one good catchy song!"

AJ: & it's important to be in love with the song as you've got to like what you're doing.

THEO: You've got to like what you're doing so you can sell it, you know. & I would make song after song, demo after demo. We made two albums before I was a devotee & they're pretty good, but I'm not playing those songs today. I noticed that my songwriting flourished after becoming a devotee. But, here's another thing. I had a problem as a singer. I had to strain in my voice in my upper range. I didn't feel like I'd caught my niche as a singer. After becoming a devotee Adi Da was describing something about the devotional process when you're turning to the guru & you do this moment to moment, you're always turning to the guru every moment, the top of your head it's supposed to be like an open flower or an open cup because the guru descends from above spiritually & comes down through the top of the head, down the front of your body & it goes down to the genital base, turns around & comes back up, goes up to the infinity above. That aspect of the practice became more & more real to me & then I noticed it started to affect my singing. Because, if my head is open to the all above my throat, sinuses, my head, my whole resonant, you know, head space was starting to change, starting to transform. I got, I was given, I guess, this ability to sing in a whole new way where instead of trying to strain to reach the notes I was open to receiving the notes & instead of trying to push the message out of me like self-expression I was opening my head & singing from above. & it changed fundamentally what I do & it sounds so much better. & I could relax while I was singing & be even more powerful than I ever was before. & so, suddenly, I feel like "Oh, I can sing better. I can write songs better. Thank you, Adi Da. Thank you, guru." I felt it was his direct grace that enabled me to do that & to have such inspirational content. People, artists, listen! Come up here! Get with Adi Da, consider his teaching because it could make your art better!

AJ: Are you saying, Theo, Adi Da was your music teacher?

THEO: Yes. Yes. He said something very interesting. He said, somebody said "Bhagavan, you know you don't really play an instrument". He did actually play a didgeridoo, a ukelele & a tamboura. But he said, "I'm letting other people be my vehicle for playing music." So, I felt like, "I'm signing up for that. Bhagavan, go ahead, use me as your instrument. I want to do that." I want to be an instrument for him to be able to come through me & it just feels better then me trying like do it through creature efforts, you know, to sing & be powerful, be a big rock epic performer, you know.

AJ: You were just talking about some of the challenges you faced before becoming a devotee, like the first couple albums SWAYBONE did. Has there been any big musical challenges that you've had to face & work through since or after becoming a devotee?

THEO: The big challenge is that I've got so much good material I don't know what to do with it all.

AJ: Well, that's a really tough challenge, Theo! Boy, that's a tough one! Which is a great segue way ... what is on the agenda for the band? What are you working on or what are you going to be doing?

THEO: Okay, what's on the agenda for the band is to finish Life On Earth the 11 song album & hopefully get it done by the end of May. You know this is my greatest masterpiece that I've ever done. This is the first album where I feel like all the song from beginning to end are A list songs that I feel completely convicted by, that I can sing for the rest of my life with complete, you know, conviction, & I can sell these songs & be an advocate for this record for the rest of my life. & then make another record after it, because we've got a whole bunch of songs in the queue so that we can make the next one, you know, as good as this one. & then we've got a couple shows coming up on the west coast in June. One of which, on June 11th, is at the University of California at Berkeley in a ballroom that has a capacity of a 1000 people & that's the biggest show I've ever been a part of.

AJ: Excellent.

THEO: Basically, what's on the agenda is to promote this album, get some recognition, build our fan base, go on tour, open for bigger bands & get successful enough that we can accomplish 2 fundamental goals. One is to support the band financially through the band's success. & B to get at least 10 million people exposed to our music, so that they would at least get a chance to hear Adi Da's name, see a picture of Adi Da, see some of his art & hear about the book Not-Two Is Peace.

AJ: Excellent. Would you mind, what is Not-Two Is Peace? What's that about?

THEO: Not-Two Is Peace is a book where Adi Da describes his plan for world peace, that you might say is his most overtly political book. It's the book where he described a new way for the whole human race to govern itself based on cooperation, tolerance & peace. & it's also about making a fundamental transition in human civilation from an ego based civilization to a prior unity based civilization & I am so down with that.

AJ: Excellent, excellent. I'm curious, Theo, I mentioned a similar question earlier but as you were talking this one came to my head. A lot of the music that has been presented to Adi Da & a lot of music that shares his teaching is traditional music, Indian or classical or improvisational or something, & you're doing something with a hard rock edge. Have you had anyone in the community go 'God, I don't know about that. Or, I'm sure this isn't, I don't know, this is too heavy.' Have you had any inside response where you've had to go 'No, wait a minute, it's just music after all.' You know what I'm asking?

THEO: Absolutely & the answer is yes. Sadly, there's been backlash within the community on the part of some individuals who said "You know you can't perform a SWAYBONE song at a devotee event."

AJ: Even though music is music?

THEO: Yeah, but again, for whatever reason that was the response at one time. On the other hand, there's a devotee friend of mine named Daniel whose an actor & who also has a band named GOD'S END. & he is an actor in one of Adi Da's theater plays called The Mummery.

AJ: An excellent show, by the way.

THEO: & his band GOD'S END is also a rock band that has lyrical response to Adi Da, maybe in not as overt way as I'm doing. But, that individual Daniel has a been a big support actually in encouraging me to keep doing this.

AJ: Well, Theo, I personally wish you a lot of luck across the board, both in terms of just your own musical success with the band with the same with what any other band aims for, but also your, I guess for lack of a better term, your missionary work in sharing Adi Da's message. So you have my support & best wishes for both of those things.

THEO: Thank you so much, Aaron, that's very positive. I appreciate that.

AJ: Positive vibes here. We're getting near ...

THEO: Can I give one plug?

AJ: Yeah, go ahead, I actually wanted to say we're getting near the end of the show so, please, if there's anything you want to go for, Theo, now's the time.

THEO: Okay. I didn't want to give the mistaken impression that there's no other artists who are doing an explicit Adi Da message right now. There is one other artist who has a rap song called "Ego Death". She has written some of the finest lyrics about Adi Da, in response to his wisdom. & it just so happens that she's my wife, Bunnybunns. & she's a rap artist & she's pursuing a music career in L.A. right now & I'm living part time in L.A. to do the same thing. But, if you are interested go to bunnybunns dot net & check out her song "Ego Death".

AJ: Excellent, excellent, excellent. Always nice to mention the wife, too.

THEO: Ah, yes!

AJ: Theo, like I said, we're getting down to the last few minutes. Like I said, as before, I wish you the best & I have to say I really appreciate you spending this hour with me tonight.

THEO: & I appreciate it very much too, Aaron, & it went too quickly & you're definitely on the vanguard for bringing me out to the world & bringing SWAYBONE. Thank you so much.

AJ: I actually appreciate your honesty, too, & you're talking to hundreds of people & sharing something that is, on one hand, it's very personal, but yet it can speak to a big audience & it's not personal at all & everyone can relate to it. So, I appreciate your candid nature. That's what I want when I have a guest. Someone who wants to share & really is passionate about what they're talking about too.

THEO: Right on. Thank you, Aaron.


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