MOUTHY MAGAZINE ISSUE THREE
JIMMY CARL BLACK
interview by Michael Bill
How did the recent tour with The Muffin Men go?
The tour went very well as always with The Muffins. We did 38 shows in 42 days and traveled England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The last gig of the tour was at The Cavern in Liverpool where they have a Wall of Fame and I was inducted into the Wall. It was a great honor to be right below Ringo Star and next to Chuck Berry. Iím just happy somebody appreciates the 46 years I have put into the music business.
How did you meet Eugene Chadbourne and whatís it like playing with him?
I met him in 1991 when he ask me to play The Moers New Music Jazz Festival in Germany. It was a twelve person group he put together called The Daffy Duck Dozen. He is one of the best musicians I have had the pleasure of playing with. In 1993 we formed the dynamic duo called The Jack and Jim Show and have put out 14 CDs to date. We are going on the road again at the end of June and July and I always look forward to that. Jackís my Pal.
What music do you listen to these days?
I like The Coral and The Eels and also my three sonsí band called Geronimo Black Two.
Who were your early influences?
Most of the blues and R&B bands in the 1950s and, of course, Elvis Presley and the rockabilly era.
What made you decide to be in a band?
Elvis Presley. I saw him at a big venue in El Paso, Texas in 1956 and loved the way he had all the girls in the place eating out of the palm of his hand. I thought ďif itís good enough for him then itís good enough for me.Ē
Any wild road stories from the early Mothers days come to mind?
I have a book coming out at the end of the year called For Mothers Sake that has a ton of stories about the early days of the Mothers of Invention.
What's the strangest recording session you've been part of?
Iíd have to say the sessions when The Jack and Jim Show did the CD Pachuco Cadaver in Eugeneís studio in his home in North Carolina.
Do you recall your impression of Frank Zappa the first time you met him?
I really didnít think he was a very good lead guitarist but he wrote some good music and played great rhythm guitar. Since those days he became, in my opinion, one of the best lead players in the world.
How about the first time you met Captain Beefheart?
I first met him in 1964 through Frank and I thought he sounded almost as good as The Howliní Wolf. That was before Trout Mask and his other CDs since then. I still think that heís The Real Deal.
I understand you played with Beefheart in 1975. How did that come to happen and what was it like working with him musically?
On the Bongo Fury tour they played in El Paso, where I was living then, and Frank ask me to sit in with them. After the show, Beefheart asked me if I would play drums on a tour that he was doing that summer and I said "I would love to be in the Magic Band". He was great to play with except he couldnít remember the lyrics to his songs. Amazing!!!!
Do you have any drawings or paintings that Beefheart did?
No, but he owes me one. At least that is what he said he would do if I played with him. I sure would love to have one since he is my favorite painter.
Do you still have contact with any of the members of the Magic Band?
Yeah, I still have contact mainly with John French who is one of the best drummers in the world. I have always had contact with Denny Walley from the old Geronimo Black days.
Give me a short list of artists who youíve played with over the years and who did you like working with the most?
Well, I jammed with Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Cream, and most of the bands from the sixties. I really enjoy playing with The Muffin Men and, of course, Chadbourne. I play with a guy named Mick Pini over here in Germany that is one of the best blues guitar players Iíve ever played with and is a great mate of mine. I canít forget Arthur Brown, who I both played with and also painted houses with in Austin, Texas in the 1980s and early 1990s before I moved to Europe. Arthur sat in with The Muffins last month in Brighton, England and tore it up like he is so capable of doing. Is there anyone youíd like to work with but havenít yet had the opportunity? Anyone who wants me and has the money to pay me.
Tell me how your songs come to be. What instruments do you use during the writing process?
I mainly write lyrics and get different guys to write the music. Dwayne Bailey, who was the guitar player with Chicago in the 1980s and 90s, write a lot of songs with me. Iím getting ready to do a new solo CD and the boys from The Muffins are helping me put the music together as we speak.
Do you use any music software?
Yeah, I use Cool Edit Pro, Wave Lab, Sound Forge, and Logic.
What do you think about the current state of music?
I think most of the music in Europe that I hear on the radio SUCKS BIG TIME. I do hear sometimes some really creative music and that I appreciate MUCHO.
I understand that you are doing sculptures. Are you selling any and if so, how would someone get their hands on one?
Yeah, I still do a bit of sculpting and I do sell them from time to time. If someone is interested all they have to do is contact me on my website and weíll discuss the deal. I havenít been doing much work with the stones since I got into the computer. It seems to take most of my time nowadays.
How did the infamous "Iím the Indian of the group" saying start?
When we were recording the Weíre Only In It For The Money album in 1967, Frank told me to say what ever came to my mind and the only thing I could think of was "Hi boys and girls, my name is Jimmy Carl Black and Iím the Indian of the group". I didnít even realize that he would ever use it. Iím very glad that he did. He did me a big favor.
Whatís next for you, musically speaking?
Well, like I said, I am getting the material ready to do my masterpiece solo CD together and hope I can get a good record deal together. I have my little company, Inkanish Records, but itís pretty small and I donít have much funds to promote it properly, so I am looking for someone that can do it justice. Iím also touring as much as I can stand at my age of 65 years. The Muffins said they want 10 more years out of me and I hope I can do it as I have a weak case of Leukemia now. I am doing OK with that and donít have to take medication at the present, but who knows?
Mouthy Magazine home