JPG: Speaking of playing, your tweets mentioned how excited you’ve been with the recent tour dates and the band’s playing. The idea of a creative resurgence and enthusiasm among the band members, is that due to time away from the Disco Biscuits  or years of playing or something else?

MB: Years ago, I was talking with Barber about our lack of touring, and he said, I’m paraphrasing here, I don’t really see a point in going out and touring around the whole country with the 130 songs that we’ve been playing for 26 years. Something like that. The insinuation was, and he said this actually outright, “If we had 30 new songs or 40 new songs and can play full new shows with all new music, I would consider that a good reason to go out and tour the country.”

The reality of going from a band that hasn’t really done that kind of writing in 10 to 15 years to one that is doing that kind of writing is tough. So, the spark that set it all off was we were at a drive-in show in New Hampshire and one of our friends, Joey Friedman, who’s come on to be a co-writer with us, came backstage. And he was like, “I got this idea for a rock opera. It’s more of a space opera where the Disco Biscuits save the world. Basically, there’s an alien invasion.” And he’s working through this in the trailer after the show.

There’ll be an alien invasion. The Biscuits will be in the basement at the PlayStation Theater doing their New Year’s show, and the aliens come into Times Square for New Year’s, and they freeze all of Times Square but because we’re underground, we don’t get frozen. Then, we come up and become abducted by these aliens and we go up into their ship, where we have our instruments with us because we just came straight from the show, and Aron Magner’s got a keytar.

We end up on this ship and get the chance to perform for them. The aliens he described to us as derelict aliens. They’re getting high and they love us. So, a series of events goes by and the Biscuits end up saving the world from this alien invasion.

We all liked the idea. We were like, “This is all very meta. We’ll write a rock opera about ourselves saving the world. What’s better than that, right?”

So, Joey, in the middle of the pandemic, started flying into Philadelphia and sitting in a room with Jon, starting the process of writing the lyrics and writing the music. They would sit and work on stuff. Jon would show parts of music that he had. Joey would start with some lyrics. “Another Plan of Attack” was the first song that they were working on, and they started making headway. I was working on Lively at the time, teaching a lot and working on this tech platform. Then, Aron got involved with them, and started to bring these songs to life, and they hired Derek VanScoten—Cloudchord—who’s the producer of the album, and they just got into a groove where it was all Jon was doing was getting together with Aron or Joey or both of them and writing.

Over the process of that, I started to get involved with it towards the end of the rock opera. Now, since that project ended, about eight months ago or a year ago, we’ve moved on to a new set of songs. We have nine new songs. The process has been basically the same but with me in it. So, Joey and me and Aaron and Jon all get together, sit in a room for three or four days. We wrote “Buy the Time” and “Photograph.” lt was just a great day. Two songs that have been carrying sets for the last bunch of months came out.

One day we wrote “Dino Baby.” Then, I left, and later that night they wrote “No Recollection” at midnight. From midnight to 3 a.m., the whole song came out. Some of these songs we’re writing over jams. “Fire Will Exchange” was another one that we wrote in these last couple sessions.

We’ll take really great jams with great chord progressions, bring them in, and start writing melodies and lyrics over them. Then, we record the stuff, and it turns into some of the best material that we’ve had in years.

I don’t know when this is going to go up but Revolution in Motion comes out on March 29th, and we’re doing a show in Webster Hall in New York City to celebrate the release of this album. So, this is the end of a process. But, what ended up happening, to answer your question, is the amount of material that was getting written and the process got dialed in to where we now have a process for pumping great new music out.

Part of it was Joey organizes this stuff. He’s like a project manager for us. He’ll be putting on these three songs, and we’re treating it like a business but a creative business.

When we started out, we knew we had to write songs, but it was on a schedule. It wasn’t on a calendar. We just picked up the guitar when we were home and wrote when we could, and it would be finished. Now it’s like, “Alright. The 16th to the 24th of this month is writing sessions.” Everybody’s going to be in Philadelphia. We get together and every single time we’re getting game-changing material for the band right now for me and for everybody else. This is clearly the best batch of songs that we’ve had since the early 2000s. We had a great batch in 2007, 2008 and 2009; a lot of great music that still is in the rotation. We had a great batch of music in 2019. Jon wrote like 20 songs but they’re not all done.

This batch was seen through from inception all the way through recording and release. The songs are developed onstage. We can play through the whole rock opera and none of the songs need work at this point. We put that work in on the road, and that was the reason to go touring because we had 25 new great songs and the best place to develop them is onstage. So, we went out and worked on them. We’ve gotten it now to the point where the songs are so good and so well-developed with great jams, and everybody knows what they’re supposed to be doing and the vocals are good, and the fans love them.

So now we’re at a place where we’re playing 50 per cent or more new music at the show and sprinkling in old songs here and there, and the fans are saying it’s our best period of playing, maybe ever. Some people think that’s blasphemous but to me it’s obvious that this is the best we’ve ever been because the musicians are the best they’ve ever been individually, the vocals are the best they’ve ever been, and the songwriting has developed into something really mature and special.

It’s about creativity. It’s about consistency. It’s about dedication. All four members of the band for the first time in a long time are all on the same page with the same goals with the same mission. It’s like when I told you earlier about 1993 and seeing a path. We got to a certain point, but we didn’t see the next stage. We didn’t know how we’re gonna get to that next stage but right now we’re where we were when we were growing in the beginning, and we have now a clear vision of where we want to go and how we want to get there again.

JPG: I interviewed Jon in 2022 just before City Bisco. When we discussed the lack of touring at a certain point his enthusiasm for being in a band and doing music was not there as much as it was previously. As he put it, other technologies were interesting to him. At that time the band was starting to release new material—“Lake Shore Drive,” “Evolve” and “M1.” At the time it was announced that there was going to be a new Disco Biscuits album at the end of 2022. That didn’t happen. So, what happened?

MB: There’s a couple of layers to this question. For one, it took us longer than we thought it was going to tell the whole story. It ended up being 14 songs. We thought we were going to write like an eight, nine song record, and put it out but when we got through it and developed the story out, it was 14 songs; some of the songs taking longer than others to complete. They were bigger and more complicated songs.

The second thing was, we started releasing the first six songs. Everything that’s already out—

“Another Plan of Attack, “Shocked!”—the first six from the space opera were coming out, and we didn’t see the plan for how the full release was going to come out. The plan that we have now, where we’re at three videos out of four, releasing the story in four parts. They were just releasing singles, and we didn’t see a plan.

So, we paused. We changed management in the middle of this process last April 1st of 2023 when we were a couple months past where we were expected to release the album. We were on pause for four months. We hadn’t done any releases, and we were looking for new management and we hired our current managers at that point, and they’re the best managers in the game. The first thing that they said was, “We’re going to release this album when it makes sense to release it based off of coming up with a plan to roll it out in a more sensible way than what’s been going on.”

That’s where we came up with the idea of four parts with four dedicated videos that would tell the story [of Revolution in Motion] that all release leading up to an album release show that would be super-hyped and sold out. We had to find the perfect venue and date for that.

Ultimately, it took about a year—April 1st to March 29th—from their first day as our managers to develop the plan, get the songs finished and mixed because they weren’t even all done at that point, figure out how we were going to get everything mixed and then come up with this plan and release it.

In the end it proved to be a more complicated process than we were giving it credit for because back in the day, we would just go in the studio record nine songs, have them get mixed over a three-week period, make some art and put the album out. But, there’s a story here and they wanted that to not get lost in the shuffle of releasing singles.

The single releases went well. Don’t get me wrong. We were on major playlists with hundreds of thousands of monthly viewers. Our last managers, Spotify is what they do well, but the storytelling wasn’t necessarily at the forefront of the process.

The good thing is this album’s coming out next week and we’re already nine to 12 songs, somewhere in that range, into our next album. The songs are all written. The demos are all made. The songs are being worked on in live shows at this point. Those songs are all going to get released next.

“Dino Baby,” it’s the best new song we’ve had in 25 years. It’s unbelievable. It’s so infectious and melodic and hard and in your face. It’s just so fucking great. I love it so much. I can’t wait to get back out on tour because of the new songs.

That’s what I’m looking forward to playing. “Fire Will Exchange,” we’ve only played it six times. We played “I-Man” and “Morph [Dusseldorf]” 250 times each. These new songs have a whole life ahead of them. Dozens to hundreds of versions of these songs can be played over the next decade-and-a-half or two decades or however long this band ends up going. The most recent correspondence that came in from Jon was, “It’s been three months since we’ve added a new song into the repertoire, and we have all these other new songs. When are we going to get together, practice these and get them in?”

The wheel continues to turn. The process continues to roll. Hopefully, there’ll be a time, I know there’s gonna be a time next Friday where we play a full show and not play a song from the old Biscuits. It was written. That’s happened. At a regular show we’re not far from being able to play a full set of music that was all 2019 and beyond and have them be great, and not have people complain that it’s all new music.

I’m so used to the jamband world bands coming out with new music and the fans being like, “We just want the classics.” I mean, how many different cycles does that happen with Phish? The music catches on…some of it ends up being great—Sigma Oasis, the whole album, is so great, their last album. We’ve gone through ourselves a couple of iterations of, “Here’s a batch of new songs,” and the fans just shit on it and never give it a chance to develop.

We’re now past that. We’re at the point where we don’t listen to that. We have our system. We’ve got a new song. We play it every other day for a couple of weeks. It’ll eventually fall into normal rotation. By the time it does, we’ve gotten through the part where we know nobody wants to hear a new song every other day. It’s the only way to make it stick. It’s the only way to make a song good enough to have it grow into a set closer or an encore or second song of the second set position. “The Deal” has been in the second song of the second set position for the last four or five months. We started moving it around recently. That’s the slot. That’s the meat of the show. The beginning of the second set, first two songs, have got to be the best part of the show to me. That’s how I look at building a show. Peak like it’s like a bell curve that peaks in that middle part of the show—the end of the first set into the first half of the second set. And we have our new songs now and our fans are not complaining about them.

JPG: Maybe it’s my personality, I’m always excited by something new whereas I think of the classic rock band mentality where musicians are stuck in that box and only get to perform the hits.They’re still touring behind them but I’m sure creatively they wish they could come up with something else.

MB: Here’s the difference. We don’t have any hits and neither does Phish. Neither did the Dead until “Touch of Grey,” 20-something years into their career.

When you don’t have hits, you have the creative drive to try to get hits. [Laughs.] You never stop wanting to create new music because “Hey, maybe one of these will become the hit!” and with the Grateful Dead, it did. With us, I think it’s going to happen. I really do think one of these songs, with the improved vocals of the band over the next few years, has a chance of breaking into having some mainstream success. “Fire Will Exchange” is extremely poppy sounding but it’s also deep and intelligent and emotional. It connects with our fans, and I think it’s going to connect with people who hear it for the first time that aren’t our fans. It’s probably not that but it could be something, and that keeps you motivated.

JPG: There are a few tracks on Revolution in Motion—“Shocked!, “Freeze” and others—that work in that way as far as mainstream potential.

MB: We call them jamband hits. We have a ton of jamband hits. We got 50 songs that they’re hits in our scene: everybody’s favorite songs. Just because they never broke into commercial success doesn’t mean that they haven’t been commercially successful for us. They certainly have driven the whole economy of the whole entire band.

JPG: Those songs could go beyond the jambands scene.

MB: And I think that they can, too. Sometimes, they take time. Sometimes, the song comes out and three years later, like “Touch of Grey” was around for six years before it became a hit. It was later on, but they were playing it. When you’re a band that had hits 20 years ago and you haven’t had a hit since, you fall into the mentality of, “This is what we do. This is what people want to hear.” But you know what? Paul McCartney never stopped making new songs. He was like, “I’m going to continue to write.” There’s some legacy bands that have stuck to being creative. David Bowie released an album right before he passed away. “Blackstar.” He was committed to putting out new material right until the end. Billy Joel just put out his first song in years. It’s a good song! I can see it being a hit.

JPG: Back to Revolution in Motion, in reference to the videos, how does it feel to have yourself animated?

MB: It’s encouraging me to take 15 to 20 pounds off because they made a slightly more svelte version of me than what exists in real life. I see it and I go, “I’m gonna hit the gym today.” [Laughs.]

It’s really funny. It’s great. I have no idea how it’s been received. I am in a really good place in my life where I don’t go seek out opinions of other people on the stuff that we’re doing. After a great show I can’t avoid people telling me on my personal accounts how great the show was. I hear a lot of that, but I don’t go to Phantasy Tour or any other places where fans are being fans discussing fan stuff. I don’t know how people think about animated Disco Biscuits but I’ll tell you what, I love it! It’s awesome and they’re doing such a great job without a ton of conversation in the videos telling the story, getting through the story. It’s a testament, really, to Joey’s ability to convey to an artistic team what his vision for this story is and it really is about Jon and Joey’s vision for how the story gets told.

JPG: I watched the videos that presented the story and the new songs. When will the fourth video installment be released?

MB: I think it comes out on the day of the [album release] show. There’s three more songs— “Once Chance to Save the World,” “Why We Dance” and “To Be Continued…” Three of my favorite songs from the whole record. The whole album drops with those three songs, and then Part Four video will come out on that day as well.  These all come out on Fridays. The 29th! It’s our Chinese Democracy.

JPG: Well, it has been 13 years in the making since your last studio effort.

MB: We started talking about an album in 2019 because in late 2019 we started doing bundles for the album. There’s people out there who bought this album four years ago, and they’re about to get it this week. So, that’s great. It really was a three-year and four-month process from when we started talking about putting this album out. We thought we were making the album when we were doing “Lake Shore Drive” and “Evolve” and “M1.” We thought, “Here’s the first three songs from the album!”

Then, the rock opera came up to fruition and that became the album. So, those three songs, they may be on the next album. We have two albums to release right now. The question is how and when on that next one. I’ll tell you one thing. It’s not going to take four years.

JPG: Speaking of years. I did the math and since The Disco Biscuits officially started in 1995, next year will be your 30th anniversary. Is there any talk of what you may do to celebrate that?

MB: We don’t do anniversaries. We decided before our 20th anniversary that we’re not a celebrate how long we’ve been a band kind of band. We’ll let the fans celebrate it. I’m happy for the fans to do a 30th…Hopefully, it’ll be Biscoland, which is July 4th this year. Hopefully, it’ll be Biscoland in 2025, the same week and that will be our 30th celebration. Maybe our new managers will make us do it. Who knows what’s gonna happen? But, as a band, the four of us, when we were unmanaged, we’re like, “Let’s not do that.” At this point, it is what it is. We’ve been a band for a really long time. I feel like the band looks pretty fucking good for four guys that have been in a band for 30 years.

We feel pretty fucking young for four guys that have been in a band for 30 years, too. Look at the bands above us. That’s inspiring. Phil [Lesh] is 84, and he’s still flying out and doing multiple shows at the Cap. We have arguably more time ahead of us than we have behind us.

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