Led by former Widespread Panic drummer Todd Nance, Interstellar Boys draws together an impressive roster of musicians who have crossed paths over the years. The six-piece band also features Daniel Hutchens, Jerry Joseph, Sam Holt, John Neff, and Jon Mills. The group will cut their teeth with a short tour that opens tonight in Vail, and following four shows in Colorado, moves to the Southeast.
I’m excited to talk about Interstellar Boys, but I wanted to give you an opportunity to speak, if you wish, about your experiences that led you to this point in your career.
Basically, I had 31 great years touring with the band. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. But, things do change as time goes on. I had to address those issues and put my professional life on the sideline. So now that I’ve gotten that stuff out of the way, I’ve tried to get back to work. That’s pretty much it.
Interstellar Boys is referred to as a collective of friends. Would you agree, and how important is that to you?
I agree with that totally. For somebody like me it’s most important. Trying to be in a band playing music with somebody where it feels like it’s going to [a job] just doesn’t satisfy me. I have known all these guys 25-plus years. We’ve all had great relationships with each other. We’ve all had wonderful moments on-stage. So there is no reason to think that we couldn’t continue to do that.
There’s an adage in music that suggests you record with the best players you can get, but you play in a band with friends. You may have the best of both worlds here.
It’s true. I really do have the best of both worlds. That’s one of the reasons I love being in Athens so much. I’ve acquired these great relationships with these people. I’m very attracted to staying here.
With many of the guys in the group having their own fan bases from previous bands or albums, will it be a challenge to present songs that respect those different pockets of supporters?
That’s one thing- that we kind of want to represent [those fan bases]. But, we want to sort of create something kind of new. When it comes to the songs we could play it’s stupid how many there are; just pages and pages of songs that are possibilities. Plenty to choose from. Also, we’ve talked about trying to write a little bit. For right now we’re just going to go out and see how this goes over. We’ll see how we feel about it afterwards. If it’s something we want to keep going, probably we’ll do it.
Will you be including in the Interstellar repertoire past songs you’ve written?
Yes. I’ve been sticking with a pretty small cache. I haven’t been writing as much lately, but I’ve got tons of other stuff that I’d written for Barbara Cue. There are little things tucked away everywhere. When you go sniffing around, you say, ‘Oh, I forgot about that one.’ I’m looking forward to doing that. And, we played a new song at AthFest I’d worked on.
And, I’m guessing the same is true of the others and their material?
The list gets bigger and bigger.
Will you work off a master list?
A master, but hopefully we’ll have some wiggle room, trying to add to it a little bit.
Is there a story behind the band’s name?
It’s from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
How did the idea for this group of players to get together come about?
It came out of the Todd and Friends shows.
Are you getting a sense that there is some awareness of the group out there or do you think you’ll be sneaking up on some people?
There seems to be some awareness out there, so I’ll take that. We’ll just earn the rest of it, you know.
Would you like to stay a bit of a mystery or are you happy that word about something new can travel so fast?
There are advantages of instant media. I can see negative things coming from it, too. I just want to go out and do my job and if people gravitate towards it, great. And if they don’t, maybe I should try harder.
You alluded to the possibility of writing together.
It’s something we want to do provided the tour goes smoothly and everything works fairly close to the way we want it to. We’ll know pretty quick or not if we want to keep doing it.
On a personal level, how soon before you know if something is going well?
When we do the first song. Pretty much after the first song you know which way you are headed. It’s a good feeling when that first note comes out right.
Are you trying to blend everyone’s styles into one or just do what each of you do and see what happens?
You always want something new to bubble up. We have played together so much anyway, over two decades. I think when we get together and play it really doesn’t sound like any of the groups we come from. That’s intriguing.
So this could be really special?
That’s in the back of my mind, too. This might be special. We’re definitely going to find out.
Which is more important to you: making your music or being part of a collective?
I like the collective. Always have. When you get six minds on the same page, I’ve never seen anything more powerful.