Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Jul 03rd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Flight of the Jayhawks

ae_mark1Mark Olson and Gary Louris live in harmony once again

When great bands dissolve, there is always a feverish anticipation for a great resurrection. And while the Jayhawks, grand pioneers of the alt-country sound that is oozing out of the pores of rock these days, aren’t hitting the pavement in full form, the original singing and songwriting duo at the core of the band is. We can give thanks for Mark Olson and Gary Louris’ latest blessed reunion that’s coming to town this Friday at The Crepe Place, to Ready for the Flood—the pair’s first studio recording in 13 years. Whereas the Jayhawks rattled and swung across stages since the band’s inception in 1985, Olson and Louris have gone back to the basics: soul-stirring acoustic folk. Two old friends, two unplugged guitars, and two vocals so familiar with the other that they flow together in lucid streams of perfect harmonies. Still living in the Joshua Tree desert, where the roots for the new album were born when he and Louris first sat down together to write the material they’ll perform this week, Mark Olson talks with GT about new beginnings.

GOOD TIMES: What is it like to look back at when the Jayhawks formed and see how much the alt-country scene has grown since?
MARK OLSON: When we started out playing, our idea of why we didn’t want to do punk was because we wanted to do something we could do over a long period of time. A lot of the music we were listening to was The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Byrds, and even The Kinks, and it was pleasant and they were talking about real life issues with their minds while being humorous and poetic. It was just a sound that seemed lasting to us and we tried to do that. As far as the alt-country scene, I think it’s the kind of music that you can sit down and start playing yourself, and the more you play the better you get. And I think that’s what attracts people to it.

Ready for the Flood sounds like it could be straight from the ‘60s or ‘70s.
MO: Yeah, 1969-1972 range. Without trying to be too retro, I think that’s where we get a lot of the inspiration as far as a cultural thing. And though the drug abuse with the hippy thing didn’t work out, at the same time, I don’t think the great Reagan years were in everyone’s best interest.

The album’s sound is organic, and so was your process of recording it live in the studio rather than overdubbing each part.
MO: Most people that casually listen to music now have been trained to accept the perfection that has arrived with the ProTools thing in which everything is perfected. If they hear something that isn’t perfect they think something’s wrong. So it’s a little bit of a struggle to go ahead and just do it, because if you sit and play live you’re going to have imperfections. People aren’t perfect like a machine but that’s sort of what the ear training has become now. The main thing with modern music that I don’t quite understand is the over emphasis on super loud drum kits. We didn’t wear headphones [in the studio], we just sat right next to each other with two microphones, played the guitars and sang the songs. It’s kind of like climbing a hill; you start off on a couple takes getting warmed up and usually around the fourth or fifth take you find one you keep.

You’re known for your harmonies with Gary Louris. What is it like to sing together again?
MO: It’s a strange thing, we don’t have to think about it because we’ve done it for awhile. For us, what’s interesting is when we find new things. Our voices are different, so when we sing in unison it tends to be this whole other thing, and then we break off from unison sometimes and now I go above him and he goes below me, which isn’t normal, and it just seems to have a spark that we’re both glad is there. And in this format, it’s there even more. With the band it was hard for us to hear each other singing, so we sang blind for a number of years. We were in a loud rock band and that’s not the most conducive thing to tight harmony singing. So when there isn’t all that sound happening we can really hear it and it’s a whole other thing. I think that’s why we wanted to do this.

You left the Jayhawks in 1995, got married, and have since been through a divorce and gone solo—personally and professionally. Now you’re reuniting with Louris. It almost seems like you’re “ready for the next flood” of experiences, the next cycle.
MO: Yeah, I think so … I think my general take on it is that there’s a certain point in people’s life when everything changes again. For me, and I notice this in other people, you build something up and then it’s like, oh boy, you’ve got to start over again. That’s just the way it is and it happens to pretty much everybody. Some people build from the time they’re 18 and they never have to rebuild again, and I salute them, but for most people it’s an up and down thing throughout life when you run into things and you have to start over. Definitely builds character, as they say.

Lastly, is there anything about the two of you that would surprise people to know?
MO: Gary likes to collect butterflies and I like to collect rocks. [Laughs] I’m way into it and my rock collection is part of the reason I still live in the desert. Easy access to rocks.


Mark Olson and Gary Louris perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 10 at The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $16 in advance and $20 at the door. For more information, call 429-6994.
Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Boards Are Back in Town

More than a century after a famed trio of Hawaiian princes first surfed in Santa Cruz, their redwood olo surfboards are returning to the Museum of Art & History

 

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

Saturday, July 4, is the 239th birthday of the United States, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence (the U.S. astrology chart has Aquarius moon—freedom for its people, by its people). Cancer, a liberating and initiating sign, is the “gate” where Spirit enters matter. Cancer receives and distributes Ray 3 (Divine Intelligence) and Ray 7 (new rules, new rhythms, new free nation under God). Cancer represents an intelligent freethinking humanity that can and must create right economics for the world. This means a policy of sharing, an opportunity for the U.S. when Venus (money, resources, possessions, etc.) retrogrades July and August in Leo (the heart of the matter). The United States has a unique spiritual task for the world: to lead humanity within and toward the light, accomplished by its people who must first awaken to this task, learn discrimination and be directed by the soul to assume the Herculean task of spiritual world leadership. Let us review the first words of our Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” Let us form that union together. The following is a review of the spiritual tasks for each sign. Read all the signs. They all apply to everyone.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 3

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Lunch is Packed

Picnic basket lunches from Your Place, plus smoked chili peppers, and new owners at Camellia Tea House

 

What would you like the Supreme Court to rule on next?

Raising the minimum wage so that those that are in poverty now can have a higher standard of life. Greanna Smith, Soquel, Nanny

 

Bruzzone Family Vineyards

Bruzzone Family Vineyards is a small operation run by Berna and John Bruzzone. Starting out a few years ago making only Chardonnay, they eventually planted Pinot Noir on their extensive property and now make this varietal as well.

 

Ty’s Eatery

Pop-up hooks up with Santa Cruz Food Lounge for healthy comfort food