When did you first become interested in music?
My parents were both musicians, so it was always in my life. Loved it as far back as I can remember
When did Mercyland come together and how was that experience like?
Mercyland got going in 1985. I had been in other bands, but none that I thought were really anything special. I knew the other guys from other local bands and kind of bided my time until they were available. The Mercyland album 'Spillage' has some pretty lengthy liner notes that tell the entire story in some detail.
How did you come to hook up with Bob & Malcolm and what were the initial rehearsals like?
Bob and knew each other through mutual friends. Always loved Husker Du and thought he was a great person. He broached the subject with me gradually, knowing that when I finished with Mercyland that I had said I was done forever (Ha!). Anyway, he kept on me and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it. My wife, Amy, was instrumental in encouraging me to do it. We had small children, so it was a big decision. Initial rehearsals were machine-like. I had learned Bob's songs from his home demos inside and out.
What was 'success' like and how did everyone deal with it?
It was weird for me. After 5 years of sleeping on floors, I don't think I felt like I had earned anything with Sugar. It just happened so fast that it took some time to get used to it. It was fun, though. I mistakenly thought that Bob had been at this level already and was not aware that level of success was new to him, too. Nobody got an ego, nobody acted like a rock star. It was business as usual, just with more people paying attention.
What happened during the FU:EL sessions that resulted in the first batch of recordings being scrapped?
Everything that could go wrong did. The studio we were working in wasn't the right environment for us. Wrong sound, wrong vibe. The concept of Bob producing and me engineering without any outside voice, was also a mistake. We needed the psychic foil. None of that led to good performances. We scrapped it all, took a break and started over in Texas.
I heard that one of the reasons Sugar broke up was you wanting to spend more time with your family, is this true?
Absolutely. I told Bob in November of '94 that my time was over, and that I was ready to be in Athens with my growing family and work in the studios full time, but that I would honor any booked obligations we had, and any beyond that that he felt was important. I encouraged him to find a replacement since we were so successful. He told me that he was ready for a break from it all, too, and that he respected my feelings on the subject and my decision. We did not tell anyone about this for a long time. Publicly, it was said that we were on hiatus and then that we broke up. That was all just a story. The truth is that I quit. It was very amicable. I had no desire to do any press about why I was ready to spend time with my family instead of touring. Didn't care what anyone else thought about it. There were plenty of other bands for Spin and NME to write about anyway.
Do you still keep in touch with Malcolm and how did you hook back up with Bob?
Have not heard from Malcolm in years. Bob and I have always remained friends. We have been in touch more over the last few years, but things between us were always good. Always have been as long as we've known each other.
How do you feel about Sugar's growing legacy and what did you think of Train's cover of 'If I Can't Change Your Mind?'
Didn't know it existed - the growing legacy or the cover.
What are you up to now, is it the same or different?
I am running my studios, producing and engineering lots of records, and still writing and playing. Just finished a solo album that will come out around the end/beginning of the year. My kids are healthy, happy 16, 17 and 19 yr olds. My sons are high school baseball stars and play music in the local clubs, and my daughter is in her jr year of college studying art history at UGA. I am convinced that my decision to be there for them instead of pursuing rock stardom was the correct one. They tease me sometimes that could have been the wealthy children of a rock star. I just smile and think how lucky they are not to be anything of the sort.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHnFIaLp_ys (If I Can’t Change Your Mind)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXFiycUbG3I (Gee Angel)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPT251GNbBI (Believe What You’re Saying)