Thursday, September 24, 2009
1968/01/31 - The Copter Club: The Pan Am Building, New York City - The Jimi Hendrix Experience Interviewed by Jay Ruby
From Crosstown Torrents
From Experience Hendrix Magazine Winter 2000
The Copter Club: The Pan Am Building, New York City January 31, 1968
Interview By Jay Ruby
JAY RUBY: What's the musical scene like in England? Is it different from here?
JIMI HENDRIX: Well, yes, it is. It's a little more together as far as the musicians are concerned. They all know each other and they get a small place and everybody congregates around London. It's not that much different really. They have their own scene and we've got our own scene over here.
RUBY: You like it better over here?
HENDRIX: As a musician, not necessarily. I like to jam a lot and they don't do that much over there. I like to play with other cats, but you just can't do that over there sometimes.
RUBY: For what you are trying to do with your music, do you feel that the trio form is best?
HENDRIX: We set out to be a trio; that's the reason we are like this. We tried the organ for about fifteen minutes and it didn't work out. It made us sound like just anybody. But it isn't ideal that it's a trio. It just happened like that.
RUBY: Are you really into the destruct thing?
HENDRIX: Not basically. There are times when we do it; but we play millions and millions of gigs, and when we do this destruction maybe three or four times, it's because we feel like it. It might have been because we had some personal problems.
RUBY: So when you do it, it's because you're mad?
HENDRIX: Yes. Maybe we might be worked up or something, you know.
RUBY: How does it feel?
HENDRIX: Oh, this is the feeling like ... you feel very frustrated and the music gets louder and louder and you start thinking about different things, and all of a sudden, crash, bang. Eventually it goes up in smoke.
RUBY: Do you think about it ahead of time?
HENDRIX: No. You couldn't get that together. We did it once before and somebody said, 'That's great, why don't you plan it out.' Plan what out? It just happens, that's alL
RUBY: Whom do you admire most as a guitarist? Who's doing things that you like now?
HENDRIX: Well, it's very hard to say. But as far as the blues scene goes, some of the things that Albert King and Eric Clapton do are very good. I don't have any favorites. It's vety hard because thete are so many diffetent styles and it's so bad to put everybody in the same bag.
RUBY: Whom do you listen to?
HENDRIX: I like to listen to anybody as long as they don't bore me. I tend towatd the blues as fat as guitar players ate concerned. The music itself... I like things from Roland Kirk and the Mothers.
RUBY: A lot of people compare you to Clapton.
HENDRIX: That's one thing I don't like. First of all they do that, and then they say, 'O.K. now, blues first of all,' and we just say,' We don't want to play blues all the time.' We just don't feel like it all the time. We want to do other things, do nice songs or diffetent things. But, like, the blues is what we're supposed to dig. But, you see, there are other things we can play too. And we just don't think alike... sometimes the notes might sound like it, but it's a completely different scene between those notes.
MITCH MITCHELL: When we first started, Jimi was very much influenced by people like Dylan, and I wasn't into that scene at all. Now Jimi's gotten turned on to people like Mingus and Roland Kirk. We just learn from each other, balance each other. It's a lot better.
RUBY: And enjoy each other, right, and have the whole thing happen.
HENDRIX: Right. You should hear him get together on drums; that's another thing that makes me mad, too. All three of us, we all have our own little scene as far as music goes. Noel likes nice gutsy rock, and he plays guitar. He's been playing bass only since he's been with us. And Mitch plays a whole lot of drums and yet people get stuck on one thing.
RUBY: Some people have difficulty making the transition from concerts to records. You have not. Do you see yourselves as primarily a live or a studio group?
HENDRIX: Either you can dig it as a record or in person. Like some want to hear one thing~when you make a record you put a certain sound in the record or a certain little freaky thing like the sound of raindrops reversed and echoed and phased and all that. It's because you are trying to emphasize a certain point in the recotd. So people already have this in their minds when they go to see you, and they expect to hear that. But the main thing is the words, and they can feel the other thing and not necessarily hear it.
RUBY: The thing that turns me on way everything changes so fast. For instance, what you did on your first album is different from what you did on the second.
HENDRIX: Yes, we noticed that after we listened to it. We were really deep into making our second LP.
RUBY: This is not conscious, you're not aware of the fact?
HENDRIX: No, not at all. We try to make a change. You fix your life and say, 'Well, we're going to do this next time.' We get ideas-groovy ideas, you know. Everything's a very natural progression. I don't know-I might not be here tomorrow, so I'm doing what I'm doing now.
RUBY: This is very different from what music has been before. No music has ever changed as fast as this has.
HENDRIX: Well, I know what you mean, like the Chuck Berry scene. I'd feel guilty if we did something like that-using the same background with every single song and only different words. That shows that you're going in the word scene. It's like anybody who's hungry-that's young and wants to get into music-anybody like that has got to go into so many different bags. They have got so much to be influenced by, so many different things in the world.
RUBY: Is it just being young?
HENDRIX: Not necessarily, no. I mean 'young' being ideas, being hungry ... not necessarily being hungry for food.
RUBY: So maybe it's always going to change?
HENDRIX: Well, maybe. Maybe we'll settle down. There are some things ... but some things are just too personal. They might catch up to us later. Everyone starts talking about that-they have to pick on something, and they say, 'Instead of using guitar, bass, and drums, they're getting tiresome.' Dig Bob Dylan. He's been in this business for ages and he's really out of sight because there's a lot of personal things. You just don't want to put a lot of junk on top of it, like violins for certain numbers, unless it calls for it.
RUBY: When you record, who does the effects?
HENDRIX: All those things are our own mind ... all those things are coming out of us. ... We do a lot of things. Like, on the last track of the last LP (Axis: Bold As Love), it's called phasing. It makes it sound like planes going through your membranes and chromosomes. A cat got that together accidentally and he turned us on to it. That's the sound we wanted, it was a special sound, and we didn't want to use tapes of airplanes, we wanted to have the music itself warped.
RUBY: When you put a song together for a recording session, what do you do? Do you play first and then put the sounds in or do you put them together at the same time?
HENDRIX: Well, it depends. Sometimes we play through Leslie speakers and then sometimes we might put it on afterward as we play. A lot of times we record the three of us as one instrument and then build around that.
RUBY: You don't do an arrangement ahead of time?
HENDRIX: Oh Yes. We have ideas in our minds and then we'll add to them.
RUBY: Lets get back to the blues for a minute. How do you define it?
HENDRIX: You can have your own blues. It doesn't necessarily mean that folk blues is the only type of blues in the world. I heard some Irish folk songs that were so funky-the words were so together and the feel. That was a great scene. We do this blues one on the last track of the LP (Axis: Bold As Love), on the first side. It's called 'If 6 Was 9.' That's what you call a great feeling of blues. We don't even try to give it a name. Everybody has some kind of blues to offer, you know.
RUBY: What about the white/black scene? Is white blues really blues?
HENDRIX: Well I'll tel you. The Bloomfield band is ridiculously out of sight and you can feel what they're doing no matter what color the eyes or armpits might be...Because I can really feel it, I want it. I say, O.K. they've got this white cat down in the Village playing harmonica, really funky. So we all go down to the Village and then, wow, he turned me on to so much, I said, "Look at that." He was really deep into it and nobody could touch him there because he was in his own little scene. He so happy. I don't care like I said before, it all depends on how your ears are together and how your mind is and where your ears are.
RUBY: They say that in England, it's a whole different thing. The don't make a distinction. It's sound and it doesn't matter what color you are, you're playing. We've still got that hang-up here.
HENDRIX: It isn't really a hang-up because that's human - being dumbsighted anyway, you know. That's natural, just like being in a fight, nobody can go out on the street with this little boy. America's little boy. Countries to me are just like little kids, playing with different toys. But all these countries will soon grow up.
RUBY: Let's talk about jazz.
HENDRIX: Charlie Mingus and he (Noel Redding) care of the rest.
RUBY: How about Coltrane?
NOEL REDDING: Oh yes, he's great. There are so many cats, they've got their own little scenes. Mitch digs Elvin Jones a lot, and there's Charlie Williams and the structure of Richard Davis. I like Coltrane as well. But Kirk is nearer to what I actually like. It's very comparable to Jimi. A lot of people call Jimi a joker for using electronic effects. Well, Kirk is a joker when he plays two horns, not that I really mean that. There are only two kinds of music-good and bad-regardless of what you play or what sort of bag you might be in. We haven't even started yet. He hasn't even started yet-Roland Kirk. You can hear so much for the future. You can hear some of the things he's going into-not necessarily about notes, but you can hear the feelings. It's people like Kirk who are cutting down snobbery, because in every kind of music, even in rock "n' roll, it exists. Where people just can't see anything outside. It's like certain jazz musicians I met in London recently who just don't want to know anything else apart from maybe Sun Ra, and it's a bad scene. If you can't sit outside your music-outside one particular scene, man, you need something done to your head.
HENDRIX: There's so much happening, especially if you have an open mind for music, because, as we all know, music is an art.