LINKS TO INTERVIEWS (CLICK ON NAME):


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

SINGER-GUITARISTS
RAYMOND BALLY
ERIC BLACKWOOD & ANTHONY J. FOTI ..... (Blackwood & Foti, Closenuf, Edison's Children)
REV. DR. BILL GRAM ..... (Killing For Christ)
PHIL JONES ..... (Phil Jones Band)
THEO CEDAR JONES ..... (Swaybone)
SCOTT KELLY ..... (Neurosis)
SETH MAJKA Interview 1
SETH MAJKA Interview 2
SAM PARSONS
UNCLE BOB NYC ..... (3tles)

GUITARISTS
J.D. BRADSHAW ..... (Debbie Caldwell Band)
PAUL CROOK ..... (Anthrax, Meat Loaf, Sebastian Bach)
NICK DOUKAS ..... (Full Circle, Half Angel, student of John Petrucci & Al Pitrelli)
MATTHEW MEADOWS ..... (Rango The Dog, Somewhat Seven)
JAMES NICKERSON & SARAH NICKERSON ..... (Bangtown Timebomb)
DAX PAGE ..... (Kirra)
MARTY PARIS ..... (Paris Keeling, Permanent Reverse, Barbarian Way)
RUINED MACHINES & MICHAL BRODKA ..... (Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 1
RUINED MACHINES (aka KENYON IV) ..... (World Of Rock Records, Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 2
CHRIS SANDERS ..... (Knight Fury, Lizzy Borden, Nadir D'Priest)
TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY & DAMOND JINIYA ..... (Rebel Pride Band, Under The Gun Project)
"METAL" DAN SORBER ..... (Thy Kingdom Done, Ferox Canorus)
ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 1
ERIC STROTHERS & ZACH LORTON ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 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)
BRANDYN BURNETTE
JOE DENIZON ..... (Stratospheerius, Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp, Sweet Plantain)
LESLIE DINICOLA Interview 1
LESLIE DINICOLA Interview 2
DORO ..... (Warlock)
TOMMY FARESE ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Kings Of Christmas, Place Called Rage)
ANTHONY J. FOTI & ERIC BLACKWOOD ..... (Blackwood & Foti, Closenuf, Edison's Children)
ANGIE GOODNIGHT ..... (Fill The Void)
CORNELIUS GOODWIN ..... (12/24 Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute Band)
DAMOND JINIYA & TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY ..... (Savatage, Retribution, Under The Gun Project)
STEFAN KLEIN ..... (Dethcentrik, Dod Beverte, f.k.k.d.) Interview 1
STEFAN KLEIN ..... (Dethcentrik, Dod Beverte, f.k.k.d.) Interview 2
GUY LEMONNIER ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Kings Of Christmas)
ZACH LORTON & ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2
SARAH NICKERSON & JAMES NICKERSON ..... (Bangtown Timebomb)
PARK SIPES ..... (Sunset Strip, Barbarian Way, Tune In To Mind Radio Kelly Keeling Tribute album)
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 1
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 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, Missing Persons, Raiding The Rock Vault Las Vegas Revue)

BASSISTS
DAVE CRIGGER ..... (Foghat, World XXI, Michael Fath)
CHRIS NUNES ..... (Ornament Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute Band)
JOHN WETTON ..... (Asia, King Crimson, Roxy Music)

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

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

MUSIC AUTHORS
RODNEY MILES & ALISON TAYLOR ..... (365 Surprising & Inspirational Rock Star Quotes Book)
SEVEN (aka ALAN SCOTT PLOTKIN) ..... (Exile In Rosedale author, Public Enemy, Busta Rhymes)
ALISON TAYLOR & RODNEY MILES ..... (365 Surprising & Inspirational Rock Star Quotes Book)

MUSIC MARKETING
MATT CHABE ..... (Bangtown Timebomb, Chapter Two Marketing)
JAMES MOORE ..... (Independent Music Promotion, Your Band Is A Virus Book)

MUSIC INTERVIEWER
MIKE "THE BIG CHEESE" CATRICOLA ..... (Heavy Metal Mayhem Podcast, Stillborn)

October 21, 2018

"It Would Have A Slant of Muddy Waters & Motorhead In It" An Interview With GUYS WITH WIVES

Click here to visit official page of the After All These Years country band, with Todd Lesage & Travis Haugen.
Click here to visit official page of Len Milne's Bedside Studios.
Click here to visit official author/music page of Travis Haugen.

Feb 2012 (skype, later broadcast on Roman Midnight Music Podcast Eps #45 & 46)

Guys With Wives, out of Manitoba, Canada, is a hard driving trio that bridges hard rock & blues in a unique mix with great lyrics. While this could be said about many bands, Guys With Wives truly does create a unique musical melting pot that at times rips gutsy electric blues & other times takes  a page from the metal template, but the result is a cohesive whole that doesn't fall into the common faults of sounding piecemeal or cliched or lacking melody. It might be because the Guys are all lifelong veterans of the Canadian music scene & playing an array of genres. In this setting they have a truly collaborative creation process that brings all the influences seamlessly together. They have one full length album & perform periodically in Canada. Two of the members are also part of the outlaw country/southern rock band After All These Years, produced by the third Guy, who have released numerous CDs & can also be seen performing in Canada. Albums by both bands can be found via CD Baby. Guys With Wives features Len Milne on guitars, Travis Haugen on vocals & bass, & Todd Lesage on drums & vocals, with the later 2 Guys in After All These Years.

I discovered Guys With Wives via their bassist, Travis Haugen, who shared the group's music with me on a music site during the time I was blogging & actively seeking out independently released music. I immediately liked what I heard & we struck up a friendship that would include sharing on both music & life over the years. He was likely one of the most faithful listeners of my podcast, chiming in with an e-mail after many episodes, & got to know my conversational manner better than I did. We lost contact for some years as I moved & life for me changed, but as of the posting of this blog had reconnected. In hunting him up, 6 yrs after this interview with all 3 members, I discovered Guys With Wives continues to sporadically perform, while the sister country band also continues. Travis also finally published his interactive musical novel series - which  I had remember him outlining to me years past - & can be found in the link above.  While Bedside Studios, the home of Guys With Wives, continues a prosperous business in an age when home recording has changed the recording game.

* * *

TRAVIS: This should be interesting.

AJ: So, Travis knows my show backwards & forwards. He knows the way I work better than I do. Isn't that true?

TRAVIS: Pretty much.

AJ: He's even pointed out to me my quirks & way of talking. Now he gets to see me [via skype] & be a part of a interview after listening to so many hours of them. I don't do 20 questions. I'm interested in having a conversation with a group of guys whose music I like & who I think other people will like. That's it.

TODD: Cool. Sounds good.

AJ: This is the 2nd time I've ever done an interview where I'm looking at someone. It helps a lot. As I was telling Travis, when I do an interview with a band they're moving the cell phone around to each other & I never know who is about to talk. Now I get to see you guys! I did this once with John Wetton & he was home.

TRAVIS: That was cool. The piano tuner just shows up in the middle of the interview.

AJ: Let's start from the beginning. GUYS WITH WIVES. Where's the wives?

TRAVIS: Good question.

LEN: They're at home right now. This is the man cave we're at.

TRAVIS: This is Bedside Studios. You should see this place. It's a great studio. That's actually how we got together was through Bedside. What happened is my son-in-law's father had this tape of his father playing piano back in 1960 in England. It was on a 2 track & he wanted it converted to something he could listen to & nobody had a machine that could play it over here. So, I got Lenny's number from a local music shop. They said phone him & he'll have something & sure enough he did. It turned out he was just like a 5 min straight line walk from my place. So, I go over there & right away we just kind of hit it off.

LEN: Then he introduced me to a bunch of his songs that he wanted to have recorded & I said I've got a drummer that I know that we can hire. Brought him down. Todd, at this point, I'd just re-met again, because he'd just came back from Vancouver I think about 2 years before we actually got going.

TODD: About that, yeah.

LEN: I knew he was in town & I worked with him in the past. We've tried to start bands in the past, but we could never find a singer. So, I gave Todd a call. We put a session together & we just started smashing out stuff that was like really raw blues rock kind of stuff. After the 1st session we pretty much said we should make this into a band.

TRAVIS: Actually, it was after we did the 1st song we just kinda looked at each other & went 'This is a band." It was just one of those things. Todd has another band called AFTER ALL THESE YEARS. It started out I was gonna play on some of their material & he was gonna play our material. He just asked me to join the band. Both bands came together just like that from that one
chance meeting of me taking this tape over.

LEN: Yeah, Todd was looking for a bass player. They were going through some member changes & I said "You might as well just call Travis, cause he can do back-up vocals for you & play bass at the same time."

TRAVIS: But, Bedside & Len were the catalyst. That's where it all started. Like it was just like .... I mean, it was like I'd just known the guy for 2 minutes. The studio then was in a basement in his house. I just walked in & I was like home & we just hit it off.

AJ: Len, can you tell me a little bit about your studio, the type of bands you work with or the projects?

LEN: Anything you can think of. Country, lots of roots, lots of blues, hardcore, death metal, punk.

TRAVIS: BLACK VIOLIN.

LEN: Yeah, BLACK VIOLIN has been here, if you've heard of them. They're from the States.

TRAVIS: They're from NY, I think.

LEN: We've had the WEBER BROTHERS. They're from around where you're from, Maine.

AJ: Oh, you know about me. You've been briefed.

LEN: People have traveled quite far to work here.

AJ: How long have you had the studio?

LEN: I've been running a studio for 25 yrs. Not necessarily in the same location.

AJ: Now you just mentioned all these different bands. Travis, you have told me about the 3 of you. You guys all come from very different backgrounds & you all like different music. Would you mind commenting on how all that comes together to create GUYS WITH WIVES?

TRAVIS: I have no idea. It just happened. It's just like ... we just click, you know. Todd & I as a rhythm section its like we played together from the 1st note, like we'd played together for years.

LEN: I think the main foundation, from what I can gather, would be blues. We all understand how blues works & then everything kinda just branches off of there.

TODD: We've all been musicians for a long time. I think we've all played different kinds of styles of music, so to do something that's more of a hardcore rock or a blues thing is fairly easy for us to do because we've created so many different styles with other people.

AJ: How's the writing work? Who writes what?

LEN: It's a variation. I write. Travis writes. We all write, actually. I come up with guitar riffs. Hand them off to Travis. He'll come up with lyrics. Travis is mainly the lyrics. Travis will come up with music & give it to me & I'll just make it heavier than he's ever imagined.

TRAVIS: Like, if I bring a song ...

LEN: He brings it to me & it sounds like its the DOOBIE BROTHERS. After I'm done with it, it sounds like it sounds. It sounds really ripping & tearing.

TRAVIS: Like that little thing on the album that says 'Todd is the power, Travis is the melody & Len is the rock'n'roll', well, that pretty much wraps it up. Todd has this tremendous feel & power in his drumming. I'm the melody guy, but if I'm left alone I'll end up sounding like Neil Sedaka. So, these guys got to kick me in the ass & say 'come on, loosen up & scream a little bit, you know.'

TODD: We can't leave him alone too often.

AJ: I'm reading here on the album. Len, you're "all sorts of guitars &all sorts of insanity." Todd is "inspiration & transportation." And, Travis is "hyperactivity."

TODD: Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

AJ: So, we've got Mr. Energy, Mr. Taxi & Mr. Crazy.

TRAVIS: That's us.

LEN: Running a studio you've got to be crazy.

TRAVIS: Let's face it, being in the music industry you've got to be crazy, right?

AJ: Let's talk about that a little bit. Can each of you tell me a little bit about your backgrounds before coming to GUYS WITH WIVES?

TODD: I started out in cover bands I guess about 20 years ago. Moved to Vancouver in 1994. Joined an original band called OPIUM UNDERGROUND. We toured across Canada & the States for awhile. Then I got tired of that whole scene & moved back here. Then I started just doing a bunch of original stuff with a bunch of different people & this is what came out of it.

AJ: What do you mean tired of that whole scene, particularly?

TODD: Just that whole grunge kinda rock scene started to die out there. There wasn't a lot of touring availability anymore that made it feasible for us to do. The money got so shitty that it was like, you know, we just had to look at different venues & ways to get our music out there with the internet & everything. We all kinda shut it down & took a different avenue.

AJ: Maybe Travis has told you that I used to live in Vancouver for about 4 or 5 months. I grew up in Bellingham, Washington just over the border. I understand what you say. I was in high school during the grunge thing. I know that well & it changed a lot. If you didn't fit the mold you got lost & then when it ended everyone was lost.

TODD: The whole scene just got too saturated. At that point everything just sorta died out & it was just time to move on & do something different.

AJ: Travis, what about you? What's your background?

TRAVIS: I'm the oldest guy. I'll be 58 this year. I went on the road when I was 14. I absolutely lived on the road. I finished my schooling through correspondence & stuff. I lived on the road until I was about 30. I played. That's it. It was either like original bands or bands like the ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND where you could take a song & jam on it. I came out of that background more than anything. We did some cover stuff & I've been in a few cover bands, but I've never been big on that. I've always liked the original scene. Music was it. Even after I was 30 & got married & we lived in Calgary I worked during the day, but I played constantly, all the time. Then when I moved out to Winnipeg I didn't play for about 5 yrs. I guess I didn't meet the right people.
Now at Bedside everything started again. It just took took off from there again.

AJ: Travis, you & I had a nice little conversation months ago, I want to mention briefly, that was about your singing. That is the interview I did with former RAINBOW vocalist Graham Bonnet. Remember that?

TRAVIS: I remember that. That just blew me away that interview. I didn't even know that song ["Only One Woman"] by the MARBLES was him from way back that he did with the BEE GEES producing. That was the first song I learned to sing.

AJ: I had told you that I thought your vocals sounded a lot like Graham, not knowing you knew the MARBLES.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I guess, maybe not on purpose. That's just the way my voice is, but I was influenced by his singing a lot. Like I said about that interview, I didn't know all these years that he was the singer of that song. I listened to him a lot when he was with RAINBOW & then his solo projects. I've always really loved his singing.

AJ: I'm playing the song during the show & you wrote me afterwards saying you knew that song but didn't know who you were listening to for an hour. Let's go to Len. Tell me about your background.

LEN: I've done mainly the studio kinda work for the last 20 yrs. I moved back to Winnipeg from a lot of the small towns I used to live in Manitoba. My goal was to either get into a band & tour across Canada or, at that point, it was in my mind to start a studio & become the 5th member or 6th member of every band I could possibly be as a producer. It just kept going as that. I listened to a lot of the recordings that were done in this city at the time. I wasn't really fond of the production. They were too over-produced, kinda reverby, kinda pop-ish. There wasn't anything that sounded raw, bluesy or AC/DC, you know, stuff that is really kind of powerful & raunchy. I didn't hear that in this city. I couldn't imagine myself spending any kind of money in the studios in this city, so I started my own. I learned it & failed miserably on lots of recordings & eventually got to the point where people were paying me decent money & I'm still doing it now. I've got awards to say that somewhere along the line I got good at it. But, as far as the playing aspect, it wasn't anything out there that really interested me until I met these guys. Like I said, me & Todd have tried stuff in the past. I've tried this many yrs, like 10 yrs running, trying to get an original act together, but we can never find a singer. Probably in the last 7 yrs I just gave up on the idea of playing, then all of a sudden Travis came over & things just came into place.

TRAVIS: Getting back to what you said about the writing. We split the writing 3 ways, because it does doesn't matter where the ideas come from for the song, it's what it turns out to be as a result of everybody's input into it.

LEN: We all pick at it. Like it doesn't matter who comes up with the song, it'll all kinda go through the GUYS WITH WIVES mill & come out whatever it is.

AJ: Now you guys gig fairly frequently, right?

TRAVIS: Not so much with GUYS WITH WIVES. We do gig, but we do a lot with AFTER ALL THESE YEARS.

AJ: Okay. I want to talk about that. Todd, tell me about your project AFTER ALL THESE YEARS.

TODD: I started the band with my bro about 10 yrs ago, I guess. It's more outlaw country kinda stuff.

AJ: I've got your latest CD.

TODD: We've put out 4 albums so far. We gig quite a bit around Manitoba mostly. Festivals & stuff like that. We've been doing that for quite awhile now. It seems to work for us. I'd never played any kind of country before, so I wanted to do something different & write some different songs & see where we could go with that, you know?

AJ: It's your brother, another guitar player, plus Travis. I know, Len, you contributed guitar tracks to the album.

TODD: My brother actually plays drums in that band & I play guitar & sing.

LEN: I'm not a part of the band itself, but I've produced a couple albums & some recording. I can give you a better representation or maybe a truer representation of that band. I remember meeting Todd drinking once & coming up with an analogy of why the band exists. He got tired of not making any money with all the hard core & metal bands he was in. He was jokingly saying that 'You know, I want to fucking start my own country band & make more money than all the rest of you fuckers.' That's basically how it came out. So, he started writing country songs & started making money at it, you know, more so than he has in most of the metal bands he's ever been in.

TRAVIS: The funny thing about it is the country songs he writes are like rootsy country songs. They're really good. It's the old style. Southern country. Like the real stuff like Johnny Cash & Merle Haggard.

TODD: Any kind of the new stuff I don't like at all.

LEN: It's got a LYNYRD SKYNYRD slant to it, too.

TODD: I'm kinda drawn more to that kind of stuff when I'm writing.

TRAVIS: None of this drug store cowboy stuff.

AJ: Todd, I have your Kicking Up Dirt album. I've written to you, Travis, that it sounded to me like it was coming right out Nashville. I hate to use this phrase, but I think you'll understand what I mean. It has this very American country down home sound.

TRAVIS: Southern. You bet.

TODD: I've traveled down there a few times to Memphis & places & played down there. I really liked the whole underground scene there, so that's kinda what I'm into doing &trying to get that feel. The stuff that's not getting the massive airplay, you know what I mean?

TRAVIS: We are from southern Manitoba after all!

AJ: You're almost there.

TRAVIS: What's the difference?

TODD: We're only like 26 hrs from Nashville.

AJ: You're like neighbors.

TODD: Exactly.

AJ: I remember listening to the album for the 1st time & my thought was that I was listening to this Canadian band sing about the down home South. It was really like this odd juxtaposition for me. I was expecting something more related to where you are living. Of course, Neil Young & THE BAND are both southern sounding & from your side of the border. But, its got a very rootsy Nashville sound, which surprised me.

TODD: That's what we like to go for & that's what we like to play.

TRAVIS: It's a fun band. It's pretty crazy to see us live, too.

AJ: How is that moving back & forth from a bluesy hard rock band to country rock?

TODD: Pretty easy.

LEN: Basically switching from major to minor.

TODD: Pretty much.

LEN: We all understand ... like I could easily jump into this band & start playing with them also. I would just terrorize the guitar in more of a country style as opposed to a blues style. We are touching on that in some future songs, actually. GUYS WITH WIVES does have a country song that is coming up in the works.

TRAVIS: It's pretty screwed up country.

AJ: Are either you, Travis or Len, in any other bands aside from AFTER ALL THESE YEARS?

LEN: I'm in a band called ANUSPHERE.

AJ: Did you just say what I think you just said?

LEN: That's right. It's more of a grungy BLACK SABBATH kind of sounding thing. Actually, one of the members from the WEBER BROTHERS, the drummer, is playing in that band, because he's now living in Winnipeg. Like SABBATH tuned down to D. Sloppy, grindy metal. Not fast metal, but slow. Some of it gets fast, but most of it is on that SABBATH kind of grind.

AJ: Travis, are you just in the 2 bands?

LEN: Todd & I also play with this other fellow in town. It's called OUT FROM THE SHADOWS, which is kind of a 3 piece power rock kinda thing. It's kind of an ALICE IN CHAINS tribute & then some original stuff that the guitar player in that band writes. It's mostly a cover band.

AJ: Let's go back to what was briefly mentioned: new music with GUYS WITH WIVES. Tell me about the latest stuff the 3 of you are working on.

LEN: We were actually doing some vocals earlier tonight for a secondary song. We'll probably get back to that later this evening or later on this week to finish that up. Just finished the solos for a song called "Make Ya." It's got more of that straight-up blues kind of sound. The other song that we're working on tonight it's a slant of a few different things. It's got a FOO FIGHTERS kind of band sound, but the storytelling is a little bit different than that.

TRAVIS: Weird lyrics. It's actually a story about .... I knew this guy from Thunder Bay who was a pilot, a bush pilot. He had a friend that ... this happened a long time ago. This guy was older than me & is dead now. His friend was coming in to land a single engine plane & sometimes its so calm on the lakes that you can't tell where the water begins & the sky ends. He's coming in for landing. This was way up north. Apparently, he came in with the pontoons too steep & it flipped the plane over on its back. He started slowly sinking. When they found him he'd written a note that he'd left in this waterproof case. He went insane. It was like 17 minutes he was still alive. When they found him. He was 26 yrs & his hair & beard had gone completely white from fear. Nice cheery little song!

AJ: I have to ask, Travis, you've opened the door. So, what inspires you as a songwriter?

TRAVIS: Whatever happens to be on ... I don't know. Mostly the lyrics just start. It's not like I think I'll write a song. With me, anyways, all of a sudden it's just there. I'm even usually playing anything when it comes. I might be riding my bike. The melody & everything just seems to plop into my head. Like the basic outline anyway, like the melody & lyrics & enough of it. Then I'll run home & kinda home & put down a demo & send it to these 2 guys.

LEN: I'll take it apart & then put it back together for him.

TODD: Mostly death & darkness for Travis, I think.

LEN: Yeah.

AJ: You're like, 'oh boy, here's another one.' If someone asks all 3 of you to describe the music of GUYS WITH WIVES what do you say?

LEN: It would run the course of anything from ... it would have a slant of Muddy Waters in it. It would have a slant of MOTORHEAD in it & it would also have a slant of ALICE IN CHAINS & almost anything in between. It's really got a lot of blues roots, but there's a lot of metal in there also. It's grimy. I don't know. It's like grimy blues, basically. We'll break it away from the blues, like there's stuff that we do that's in drop D tuning. I started playing drop D when KING'S X was around, if you remember them.

AJ: I remember them.

LEN: We sadly lost their drummer like last week. I used to listen to them. I've seen them. I got into drop D tuning & playing & writing songs like that when they were around. It's been for me an influence. At the same time, I've dealt with lots of death metal & hardcore & things in the studio that I've seen. I can pick up the guitar & play pretty much the songs that they're playing while I'm recording them. It's a good asset for me to understand what they're doing, so I can tell them that they need to approve this or tell somebody that you're playing this part. A lot of times you're under the microscope in the studio & a lot of people don't really understand that they're playing parts that are wrong. Once they get into the studio & they hear each other then you have to dissect it & put it back together again. So, I have to pick up a guitar or bass & learn their parts & explain to them that somebody is not jiving here. So, you've got to play the parts right. Somebody has either got to do it this way or do it that way. Make your choice.

TRAVIS: But, the thing with GUYS WITH WIVES everything just falls into place. We just bring a song & start playing it & there it is, you know. The thing about it is, I'm older than these guys. I kinda missed the grunge era, but I really liked ALICE IN CHAINS. I always loved that band. I love ZZ TOP. I listen to like the ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND & Paul Rodgers, STEELY DAN, the DOOBIE BROTHERS & that stuff like that. I like to get that type of melody in with the heaviness. Todd, his drumming just floors you. It has a real nice feel, but its got lots of power. Then Len plays the guitar ...

LEN: I grew up on a lot of melody. I listened to in my younger ages ... I started buying BEATLES albums when I was 8. Also listened to the BEACH BOYS & various bands of that nature that had a lots of melody in the singing. But, at the same I'd always be listening to LED ZEPPELIN or NAZARETH, MOTORHEAD, you know, the heaviest thing that would come out at the time. I'd always look for that. At the same time living at home there would always be Johnny Cash or Waylon Jennings or something like that playing in the background by my parents. So, I've been exposed to pretty much everything you can think of other than a lot of classical or jazz.

TRAVIS: I think that's one thing that common about all of us when we grew up. Like Cash, Haggard, George Jones, Tammy Wynette & all that stuff, that's what you heard, because that's what our parents listened to on the radio.

LEN: We all understand the country aspects & then we also all understand the blues, too. As far as blues goes, for me it was Johnny Winter most of the time who I liked to listen to. Lot of influence from him & a lot of influence from Frank Zappa. That's where the craziness comes from. Lots of straight-up weirdness just going on. I know that touches on jazz, but its not real jazz, to me anyway.

TRAVIS: Then B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson II & all that stuff, I used to listen to that when I was a kid, too. I don't know why. It just was there somehow. So, you just take all that, everything we all used to listen to as kids & we're just being kids again. That's what it is. We're having a ball playing this stuff, playing music.

AJ: I like that. Being kids again. That can be your new motto.

TRAVIS: You know, the whole thing about rock'n'roll is it really has always been down to the fun factor. Rock'n'roll was based on fun, right? The business has tried its best to squeeze that out & just jam it down our throats that we have to listen to certain things, but people keep looking for the fun. That's what they look for. That's what everybody still looks for in music - the fun.

AJ: Todd, don't be so quiet.

TODD: I'm just listening to Travis's analogies.

TRAVIS: He's going to slap me any time now.

AJ: I know, you hear this all the time.

TODD: Pretty much.

AJ: You're just the guy in the back, I know, doing your thing.

TODD: That's right.

AJ: Let me just go back to my question. Todd, how do you describe GUYS WITH WIVES?

TODD: I don't really try to describe it, actually, because I think there's so many different kinds of styles of music in there. If someone asks I'd rather just tell them to buy the CD & listen to it & leave me alone.

TRAVIS: Here's what it is. GUYS WITH WIVES is a band.

TODD: But, if you had to describe it as a style, its very hard for me to describe it. It's not blues. It's not rock. It's not heavy metal. It's all kinds of everything mixed in together, you know.

AJ: That's just as good as their answer.

TRAVIS: I guess you can't explain it. How can you explain ... I don't know. How can you explain yourself to people, right?

AJ: You know what I'm asking. Tell me about your band. Sell me what you do. I'm a punk polka band or I'm a black metal orchestra. We put music in a box & we package it up & sell it to people.

LEN: Just an outside slant from people I've worked with ... I know lots of the blues community & I know lots of the metal community in this city. Metal community says I play too bluesy. The blues community says I play too heavy. So, it's like right in the middle. You can really explain it too much more. It's really heavy nasty blues.

TODD: I don't really like to try to pick it apart & pick what kind of a band it is. I'd rather just have someone listen to it & go 'what do you think it is? What's your opinion?'

LEN: It's almost song by song, you know?

TRAVIS: Like the new stuff we're working on isn't like the 1st album. It has the same kind of sound to it, but the songs are different kind of songs. There's just different kind of feels. It's just a melodic rock band. I think we're a melodic power trio rock band.

AJ: Todd, for your sake, just so you know, when I broadcast this talk I'm going to cut it apart & insert some songs. So, people will get to hear & form their opinion well before they hear my question.

TRAVIS: You can probably just cut me out completely & the whole thing will make a little more sense. You can just say there's Todd & Len & this other guy in the band.

TODD: With every band it seems to be the case that its either a rock band or a blues band or some kind of commonality there, but with us it is hard for me to describe it.

AJ: Absolutely. Your answer is good. You keep on hinting about something I have to ask about. Up there in your part of Canada, can you tell me briefly about the music scene that's in your community? What's it like? What's popular? What's going on in Manitoba for those of us who have never been there.

TODD: There's a little bit of everything here, actually.

LEN: We have a club called The Time's Change, which is a roots blues kind of thing. We have lots of traveling acts from all over N. America that go there. We have a place called The Zoo that is basically hardcore & metal. Everything heavy has gone through there. Then we have the Pyramid, which is kind of a mixed bag of traveling acts. You'll get Johnny Winter to Allan Holdsworth.

TODD: I think more so than that, this city has festivals every year with all different kinds of music. That goes for the rest of the Provence & the rest of Canada, really. We have a pretty good music scene up here. Lots of talented musicians. We have blues festivals, rock, country, jazz, heavy metal.

LEN: Its everything that happens here. When you talk to people who are not from here, like from Vancouver or Toronto or any other city that's in Canada, that have traveled through here, they're very amazed by the amount of music that happens in this city. It's probably one of the most musical cities there is. The one thing about it though, is there's no outlet, because we are so far from any major record label attachment. If you want to get into any label orientated stuff you have to be in Toronto or Vancouver. Winnipeg doesn't have that sort of association, so most people either have to go down south or go east or west to try to get somewhere with their music. This is more of a breeding ground for some of the most unique musicians that you've ever seen.

TRAVIS: Here's the reason why. Because when people out, for the most part, go out to see a band, they don't want to hear Top 40. They want to hear what you've got. They encourage you to play what you do. That's a big thing about Winnipeg.

LEN: This is one of the cities that's got the most original acts that you can ever see.

TRAVIS: Because the people want that. You know, I lived in Calgary for 25 yrs. Calgary is a good city, but its a status quo city. They go, 'That's fine, but do you know any FLEETWOOD MAC?' You know what I mean? That's how it is in a lot of places, but here the people really want to hear what you do. They encourage you to play what you do & that's a really really important thing
to musicians, obviously.

AJ: You kinda hit on why I asked, Len, or you read into the reason why I asked that question. When I think of Canadian music scenes I think of Vancouver or Toronto, which has a lot of musicians like Bruce Cockburn who have really put Toronto on the music map, or you get something like ... when I grew up in Maine I remember moving coming over from Nova Scotia, very folksy stuff. But, what's in Winnipeg? For me I regionally I put you guys in the middle of nowhere.

TRAVIS: That's where we are.

TODD: What's funny is, when I moved to Vancouver I'd meet hundreds of musicians that were all from Winnipeg that had moved out there to do the same thing that I was doing. Now they are all back here. It's funny.

LEN: This city has no outside influence. That's the one thing. The long winters here spawn a bunch of weird wacky stupidity as far as writing music goes. It turns out to be like brilliance in a lot of cases. At the same time most of it will never get discovered because there's no real way to get it out to the masses. Like both Toronto & Vancouver, we're talking like 15-1600 miles away from Winnipeg. We're smack dab right in the middle of Canada. Other than the fact that we've got the hugest lakes in Manitoba it's dry as a bone here.

AJ: Even if you cross the border to come down here there's no big cities right there. Vancouver has Seattle, the other side has NYC.

LEN: It's 8-10 hrs away from Minneapolis.

AJ: Which is not known as a music capital.

TODD: Really 10 hrs from Chicago.

TRAVIS: Chicago is close, like Todd said.

AJ: Chicago is the home of the blues.

TRAVIS: There's some excellent music there. Chicago has a great music scene.

LEN: There is no real influence. That's good in that aspect, because then some of the stuff that actually does come out of Winnipeg that makes it is unique to its own, like that you've never heard in your life.

AJ: I hate use this analogy, but people who may be privy to this interview may get it, but when I think Manitoba I think of the Red Green Show.

TODD: That's pretty good.

AJ: That's full of stereotypes, but here's a guy in the middle of nowhere wearing flannel & with a beard.

TRAVIS: I've got some flannel. I've got a beard.

TODD: You could think of it more as the murder capital of Canada, because that's what we are, too.

TRAVIS: For various reasons.

AJ: That's where the death metal comes in.

TODD: That's right.

TRAVIS: Check out a show online called Less Than Kind. It's a tv show from Winnipeg about Winnipeg. If you want to understand Winnipeg, it's good.

AJ: I'll look for that. Let me ask one more question, along the same lines. Many people might not be familiar with the Canadian way the music industry works & the sticker that is found on all the records up there that tell you if there's a Canadian artist or producer or band. There's a big emphasis on home grown music. Is there Canadian music? Is there such a thing?

TRAVIS: Yeah, there is. There's a lot of guys who have made it, or a lot of great bands that have come out of Canada, going back to the 60's R&B band MANDALA.

AJ: I think down here we think of Neil Young, but we think of him more as this American guy. Todd, it's like AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, you sound so American, so Nashville, that its hard to place you in Canada. Or, you think of Bob Dylan's THE BAND. You can't get anymore America & NYC East Village than Dylan, but his back-up band was Canadian. So, is there a Canadian sound even?

TODD: I don't know if there's a specific Canadian sound at all. I mean, you have NICKELBACK which is from Alberta, which is one of the biggest rock bands in the world now. They're Canadian, but do they sound Canadian to me? No.

TRAVIS: No.

TODD: I think if you're talking Canadian, you'd be talking more East Coast kind of sounding stuff, like Stompin' Tom Connors or, you know, stuff like that. They have a specific sound, but I don't know ... I wouldn't be able to ... I mean, TRAGICALLY HIP is a big Canadian band & they're very unique sounding as well.

AJ: I was watching a video last night with guitarist Pat Travers & he was saying in an interview something like 'Just because I'm from Canada it didn't mean anything, because I always thought I was running with the big boys, Clapton or whoever else. But, because I'm from Canada there's something different about me.'

TODD: I think as far as musicianship goes we're the big boys up here. Everybody else can learn from us.

AJ: We're getting near the end of our time together. Is there anything you want to say that we haven't?

TRAVIS: I think we've pretty much covered it.

TODD: Yup.

TRAVIS: It all comes down to we just love playing together & doing it & writing & producing. It's just a really fun thing. If something good comes out of it, great, but if not we haven't lost anything.

LEN: I would just say, keep supporting original music. Doesn't matter what country it comes from. Just come support new music that's out there, so we can actually hear something that's different & unique.

TRAVIS: Sooner or later it's going to swing back. People are going to get tired of what's going on in the music industry & they're going to want to hear the real thing again.

TODD: NICKELBACK will die.

LEN: Even though they're from Canada.

AJ: Guys, I really appreciate you sitting down with me tonight.

TRAVIS: Thank you.

TODD: Thanks a lot, man.

AJ: You know, Travis & I became friends last year & we talk all the time. He's my biggest fan, but also my most honest one.

TRAVIS: The thing is, what you're trying to do, you're whole approach to this, what your show is all about, is the same thing as what we're all about & what everybody is all about who is trying to get the music out there. It's not like we're trying to get famous. We're not trying to get discovered. We're not trying to turn the world upside down. We'll take it if it happens, but that's not the whole goal. The goal is the music, right?

LEN: Look at us. We're all ugly fucks.

TRAVIS: Except for me.

AJ: I'll ask the wives about that.

TODD: We'll get them on next time.

TRAVIS: You'll get a really good view of us from them. That's what you should have done in the 1st place.

AJ: Next time I should sit down with the wives with guys. Anyways, Travis shared your music with me. I have so many albums to listen to & so many promos, so it can take me awhile to get to something, so when I finally listened to your album Life Is A ... I thought it was great & regret not listening months earlier.

TODD: Right on, man.

TRAVIS: Live Is A ... Cock Sandwich.

AJ: Is that what it is? It just has a picture of a chicken in bun.

TRAVIS: Nobody gets it.

LEN: Yeah, nobody gets it. It's sorta like its supposed to be that way.

TRAVIS: That chicken was drawn by the daughter of a friend of mine in Calgary.

LEN: It's not a chicken.

TRAVIS: It's a rooster.

AJ: I think you guys have good music. I asked you to join me tonight because you have good music, not just because I know Travis. It really is. There's folks I know I don't ask on my show.


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