Live Chat with Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart


[note from Geoff: This interview took place at 7 PM Pacific, 10 PM ET. AOL only gave us 30 minutes this time, and there were almost 600 unanswered questions at the end of the event. If you felt bad that Mickey didn't answer your question, now you know why!]

Copyright 1998 America Online, Inc. and the GD Forum

Geoff Gould: Welcome to tonight's special AOL Live event. My name is Geoff Gould, and I am the AOL GD Forum coordinator. Tonight we are pleased to be talking with Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart.

Mickey’s latest Planet Drum release "Supralingua" on RykoDisc, which of course is available here at AOL keyword: gdstore [and 800/513-0000 of course!]

Welcome Mickey

Mickey Hart: Nice to be here, Geoff.

GG: Congratulations on the successful Other Ones Tour, I guess I'd like to start by asking: What's "Supralingua?"

MH: Supralingua literally means "beyond language." It's from the Latin "Supralinguam." On this CD, many of the words do not have literal translations per se. So we refer to this phonetic language as the "Supralingua."

GG: why chanting?

MH: In poetry and normal lyrics, the images are painted quite specifically. Or with a touch of mystery. Like, with the music of the Ituri Rainforest, when one listens to a foreign language, you personalize meanings. Perhaps they're deeper, at least they're from another place in the subconscious. It was something I'd always wanted to do, just to step outside a little bit. When I was listening to the Ituri Rainforest Music as a kid, I think it always stuck with me.

GG: first audience question from CSNunn417:

Question: Hi Mickey! How have you evolved musically after the Dead?

MH: That's an extremely hard question to answer. I'm always changing, of course, I don't think there's any more or less change. I change as I grow older, and my music changes along with that. I don't attribute any of the change to the stopping of the Grateful Dead.

GG: what's it like w/o Garcia?

MH: I find it less and less interesting to play with other guitarists, to be honest.

GG: Xbxofrain asks:

Question: Mickey, did you feel Jerry's presence on stage this summer? We all did!!! WOOOHOOOHOOOOO!!

MH: Sure, I feel his presence from time to time, especially when I play the music that we've shared over the years. Also, on my walls, I have all his artwork. So as I pass by them, I touch them and think of him from time to time. And his guitar still rings in my head, quite loudly.

GG: How about your upcoming gigs? We just posted the updates in the announcements area.

MH: This is a very special tour and a very special band for me. It's a new band.

GG: how so?

MH: On traps is John Molo, my partner in crime this summer. On talking drums is Glenys Rogers. Giovanni Hidalgo on congas, you all remember him. Nengue, from Cuba, on all instruments Afro-Cuban. Bobi Cepedas on vocals anbd percussion. Rebecca Mauleon on vocals and percussion. Rashan is on bass. And of course, my friend RAMU.

GG: Are all the Mint Juleps-involved Mystery Box songs to be sung no more?

MH: I don't want to go back. This new material is more exciting to me, more open space. There's a really stunning vocal component to Planet Drum, but it's more from the Yoruban/Afro Cuban zone, rather than the r & b zone.

GG: I'm getting many questions about The Other Ones? Any plans?

MH: No plans at all. None as of this date. We haven't sat down and talked about it yet. However, I've just finished mixing part of the Other One's Live, which will be out by the end of the year, the beginning of next. It's 48 track digital state-of-the-art recording, and it sounds pretty incredible, if you ask me. And we're thinking about taking part of it into 5.1 surround sound as an added attraction. So stand by, because once you've heard 5.1, you'll never go back to stereo,.

GG: Can you tell us newbies about this mystical 5.1?

MH: It's a six speaker system, surrounding you, left, center, right (front)

MH: and then left rear, right rear, and subwoofer in front. It allows a listener an experience very similar to the one that the musician gets while he's playing. Without having to be in the band -- not bad.

GG: 5.1 is like in the movies?

MH: But in the movies, it's geared to the visuals, and the sound is sort of an afterthought. Here the sound is the whole point. No dialogue, no reverb. Not an echo in the back, but...It's a religious experience. Consider the real estate you're dealing with.

GG: I guess many people's home stereos are already outfitted for this then?

MH: Yeah, you can buy it in stores now -- Dolby discrete, DVD, etc. Get it!!

GG: MNM93 sez:

Question: Mickey, are you still archiving music for the Smithsonian?

MH: Yes, but the Folkways Collection is being digitized rapidly. My main work now is at the Library of Congress, where I'm working on Yoruban and Diaspora (Afro-American-Cuban) music.

GG: Mwoli007 sez:

Question: Hi Mickey. I am looking forward to seeing Planet Drum on tour... what can we expect to see on this tour that may be different than last year when Planet Drum was on Furthur Fest?

GG: besides personnel?

MH: Musically, it'll be completely different. You'll figure it out from listening to Supralingua, which points the way.

GG: Dick832 sez:

Question: Which percussionists would you like to perform with which you haven't done so yet?

GG: dream jam?

MH: I'd like to play with Evelyn Glenny, a deaf English woman. She plays symphonic music. We missed each other one time, but I'd sure like to play with her.

GG: Planetkra asks:

Question: Mickey, love your new album, can we expect to see you in Florida at all in support of it?

MH: No, sorry, not this time. Maybe next time.

GG: Coiltap asks:

Question: Mickey, I saw Furthur this summer and it was outstanding. It occured to me that you guys had more energy and fun then any Dead show I saw in the last 10 years. Do you think there was more energy invovled with the Other Ones than latter day Dead?

MH: Absolutely. This band was inspired and hungry, and desperate to make the music again. Hunger and passion -- Grateful Dead was in a rut. The conversation had gotten old. The band was hungry and so was the audience -- a tremendous outpouring of raw energy, and boy did we have fun.

GG: DJstultz asks:

Question: Mickey - thanks for all the music!!! What I love about you is the creative innovations you bring to percussion and rhythm. Any new innovations on your new cd? Looking forward to seeing you in Seattle!!

MH: Almost all of it is new -- I started from scratch, new samples, new zones, a fresh start. I hit the ground running, and it's the start of a new frontier. Me, RAMU, the band. Live, this band is just going to explode off the stage -- DO NOT MISS IT!

GG: first CD w/RAMU?

MH: He's on others, but he's a much bigger beast now, much deeper. He's been well, well fed.

GG: tell us more about the tour? Set length? Opening acts?

MH: Haven't sorted out too much detail on that yet. The music will take us there. But I promise that the musicians and the audience will be well fed. There will be opening acts, but we're still sorting that out.

GG: Thank you Mickey for being here tonight.

MH: See you on the road!

GG: We bid you good night