The Dawn of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead
photo credit: Michael DiDonna
On Saturday, May 14, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead kicks off Westville Music Bowl’s Summer 2022 Season. To mark the occasion, we are sharing our September 2017 JRAD cover story, which has yet to appear online in its entirety.
Relix publisher Peter Shapiro first met Joe Russo in the late-‘90s when the drummer performed at the nightclub Shapiro had recently purchased, Tribeca’s now-fabled Wetlands Preserve. At the time, Russo was in the jazz-fusion collective Fat Mama. They’ve remained close, and Russo has performed with a variety of projects at Shapiro’s venues and events during the past two decades. In the following conversation, which took place at Russo’s Brooklyn home, Shapiro and Dean Budnick speak with the drummer about a wide range of topics, with a particular focus on the origins and development of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. JRAD, as Russo’s fans call the project, actually played their first gig at Shapiro’s Brooklyn Bowl and have returned nearly every season during the past few years. Russo affirms, “That room birthed the band.”
The quintet’s Westville show will be streaming on FANS.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead debuted on Jan. 26, 2013. Russo drew together four of his longtime friends and bandmates— guitarists Tom Hamilton and Scott Metzger, keyboardist Marco Benevento and bassist Dave Dreiwitz—from various projects on something of a whim for an evening of Dead covers. At the time, Russo had been performing alongside Phil Lesh and Bob Weir as part of Furthur since 2009.
As Russo remembers, JRAD’s debut was fortuitous: “There’s an amazing group of music fans known as the NYC Freaks who, for as long as I’ve been a working guy in New York City, have been supportive of musicians. They have this party every year called the Freaks Ball, and we always try to do something for it. That year , it was going to be a two-nighter. The first night was going to be Bustle in Your Hedgerow, our goofy instrumental Zeppelin band that I’ve been doing with Marco and Scott and Dreiwitz.”
For the second night of the Freaks Ball, Russo was supposed to play with The Dean Ween Group, alongside Metzger, Dreiwitz and Mickey Melchiondo. But, shortly before the show, Melchiondo pulled the plug on that and put Russo in, what he calls, “scramble mode.”
“[Peter] Costello, who was working at the Bowl at the time and was deeply ingrained in the Freaks List, called and was like, ‘Would you ever do a Dead thing?’ I said, ‘Absolutely not. I’m in Furthur—I think that’s weird.’ I also didn’t know if that would be cool, if I would get in trouble at work. We threw around a couple more ideas and nothing was really sticking and then, he said, ‘What if you guys did “Bustle Plays The Dead?’’’ because we had done a thing called ‘Bustle Plays Other Shit’ one time and we did all of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid and an Allman Brothers’ tune and all this other stuff. It was really fun. He was like, ‘Why don’t you do something like that?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know, is that the Dead? The words are so important to this thing.’ With Led Zeppelin, a lot of it’s about Gollum, so we could just get away with playing the sweet melodies.
“Then he said, ‘We could get Tommy. I know Tommy loves the Dead.’ I was like, ‘Let’s do it.’ He asked me what I wanted to call it and I always thought it would be funny to call a band Almost Dead. It’s stupid, it’s a joke because it’s not going to sound like the Dead. He wanted to put my name on it so maybe we’d get a couple people who maybe knew me. Maybe. I was the drummer in that band, where I had a role to play but I wasn’t a household name. When we realized that [the acronym] was JRAD, I thought that was kind of cool.
I called the guys and everybody was into it. So we rehearsed twice and it was super loose and pretty wastey and we decided we were going to do it. I thought, ‘It’s for a party—nobody is going to know about it.’ One of my big fears was somebody from Furthur telling me that it wasn’t cool—I didn’t want to ruffle those feathers, but Costello convinced me nobody was going to give a shit, in the best way possible.”
Since that low-key party, JRAD has grown into one of Russo’s primary focuses. They’ve expanded their repertoire to include a range of covers—from musicals to indie-rock—and even debuted an original song at their 100th show, “Keeping It Simple,” which Russo had intended for Furthur. And after years on the club circuit playing original material, the drummer has learned that sometimes he’s stumbled into his most successful projects.
“Marco and I were going to play some Zeppelin tunes for [former Wetlands talent buyer and Rocks Off founder] Jake Szufnarowski’s 30th birthday on the boat [Rocks Off Concert Cruise] and we said, ‘Hey, let’s have Boom Boom Metzger come play with us,’” he recalls of Bustle’s unexpected birth.
“Then Scott introduced us to Dave from Ween. And Dave’s like, ‘I hear you’re in that Zeppelin thing—that’s the coolest.’ So we brought him in. All of these things were certainly not preconceived.”
photo credit: Dino Perrucci
Was there a live show that you attended when you were younger where it all came together for you? For me, it was Madonna with the Beastie Boys at Madison Square Garden.
Strangely, I have more of a “where it all begins” with this Dead-world thing that always jumps out—the first gig at the Fox Theater [in Oakland, Calif.] with Furthur [on 9/18/09]. I had no idea what the hell was going on and I was totally freaking out because I didn’t know any of the music. There’s the line “once in a while, you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right,” [from “Scarlet Begonias”] and the lights went on across the whole place. I kept thinking, “What the hell is going on? Where am I? Why am I on stage with these guys playing this music? This is the last thing in the world I ever expected.” That line just punched me in the face so hard. The hairs on my arm are sticking up right now because it was such a huge moment.
How afraid were you to go into this complicated world of the Dead? I still get a small knot in my stomach when I’m walking to the Bowl. Although, once I’m there, I feel more relaxed. What was it like on your opening night?
I was petrified. I think I went to pee maybe 15 times before we got onstage. The thought in my mind that kept haunting me was, “Every single person in this room knows this music better than I do, and I am totally faking it right now.” There was just so much information running through my head—I had no idea what was what.
Thank god, Jay [Lane] was there [on percussion] because I could look to him and be like, “Is this what we’re doing now?” He was an amazing help and shepherd through that time because I was just neck-deep in this stuff. I had no idea what was happening. I had all of these notes everywhere and was jumping into this catalog that was so beloved by so many people. I felt like a complete outsider that night.
I walked off after that first set, and I was really low on myself. I was like, “I’m sucking. I’m not really feeling confident.” I go to Bob, who I really didn’t know very well at the time, and I was like, “I’m sorry. I’m feeling really tense out there. Any tips?” Then he pauses and says, “Eat some mushrooms?”
That’s when the pressure just fell out of my body. I was like, “Everything’s fine. My boss just told me to eat some mushrooms, so I guess everything’s going to be cool. This is a different thing.”
From that moment forward, I was slowly trying to make as much sense out of this world as I could, as an outsider, essentially. And discovering this songbook became this amazing journey that I absolutely love—that I couldn’t live without at this point. All of this is hilarious because, if somebody told me this when I was 18, I would have thought it was insane. I did not listen to the Grateful Dead.
How were you first approached about the Furthur gig?
I got this random call from Matt Busch, Bob Weir’s manager, in the summer of 2009, with the offer to come play a couple of shows with Bob and Phil. I had no connection to the Dead world. I thought it was supposed to be some kind of benefit show. That eventually turned into what became this audition process for Furthur. At one point, they sent me like 10 songs and I was like, “Oh, my God, I have learned 10 songs— that’s crazy.” [Laughs.]
Then, as time went on, more songs kept coming to me. When there were maybe 60 songs, I was like, “What the hell is going on?” My now-wife said, “I think it’s an audition.” And I’m like, “For what?” I had no idea what they had in mind.
So I was studying my ass off as much as you can for that amount of stuff in that time frame. Then, we were told that this is going to be a band, and we’re going to do X amount of shows a year, and the first shows are going to be in September. So over the next couple of weeks, we did these 10 rehearsal shows at the Throckmorton Theatre— a really small place. Then, every morning, I woke up with 10 more songs in my inbox to be played that night. This happened for 10 days straight so, by the end of this, I had 160 songs in my brain.
Did you know Phil from the 2006 summer tour? [Russo toured in a project with Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon and Marco Benevento— which came to be known as G.R.A.B.—while they shared a bill with Phil & Friends.]
The first time I played with Phil was at the Jammy Awards, where we did the Duo with Gordon, Les [Claypool] and Phil. And then the next time I played with Phil—until I was in a band with Phil—was at Bonnaroo, where we did G.R.A.B. for the first time during a late-night, secret SuperJam. Phil came out and we played “Casey Jones” and “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad.” Again, truth be told, I kind of knew those songs, but I remember I was like, “How does this end?” I had no idea. When we did that tour, we would say hello throughout the thing, but Phil and I never sat down or hung or played or anything. So three years later, out of the blue, I got this call from Matt Busch, but it was due to Phil saying, “I want to try Joey out.”
At first, you had Jay as a wingman, which is key, but he went back to Primus [in March 2010]. What do you remember about your first gig without him?
I’ve always played on my own. I haven’t been in a lot of double-drummer situations, and I love having the freedom of being able to act on an impulse at any moment, musically. It was very freeing to get that moment back. I felt like, “I can be me now.” So over the next few months, I started taking a couple of liberties and seeing what yielded positive or negative looks from Bob or Phil. I started finding my own place within the music and becoming more comfortable with the music as well. The first show was at the Furthur Festival in California [on May 28, 2010]. We ended up doing a bunch of albums. That was the first time we did the whole “Terrapin Station” suite. It felt a little bit like my coming-out party.
Did you ever directly express to Bob or Phil, “Hey, I’m thinking about doing this…” Or was it just something that happened on-the-fly?
When it comes to music, I prepare a lot in every sense, but onstage, it’s absolutely in the moment. So there were definitely times where I would follow my instincts and I was not necessarily met with a positive facial reaction from one or both of my bandmates. But that’s the beauty of trying stuff—sometimes, you don’t stick the landing. I feel like that’s the cornerstone of this band [JRAD], especially. I learned so much in those years with Furthur about that because I was also playing with people I didn’t know.
I had the luxury of growing up and playing at Wetlands and the Knitting Factory and improvising in a way that had nothing to do with this holy grail of music. It had nothing to do with these musicians that I most likely would never have played with, if not for being in Furthur. So it was interesting to try to adapt to a style of improvisation that wasn’t super familiar to me. I was more accustomed to the Knitting Factory style of “Let’s go crazy at any time,” John Zorn freak-outs.
With Furthur, at first, we were mostly improvising within a blues or country aesthetic, but then I did start seeing things where I was like, “These guys are crazy like this too.” There was a level of complete chaos within it. That started to become more apparent and more exciting.
Let’s talk about communication and the language of leading a band, especially as it relates to this music. The tempo is really important. Jerry used to be the leader that Bobby and Phil would look to, even though he didn’t want to lead. They followed him for the tempo, but then after he was gone, it wasn’t always so easy.
There were many times where, at the same moment, Bob would be telling me to slow down and Phil would be telling me to speed up. It was a little stressful. There was a learning curve, and it was learning how to interact with these two amazing, larger-than-life people. I didn’t want to let down either of these guys, but they were asking me for different things at the same time.
So what did you do?
I would play at the same tempo, but I would make an “I’m psyched face” at Phil, and a sleepy face at Bob, so I acknowledged what they both wanted. I had to have this discussion with both of them, and they were both so cool. They both knew I was in a bit of a hard scenario, but it helped for me to acknowledge, “I hear both of you guys,” and then decide when to really go full bore in one direction or another. There were times when Bob was singing a song and he wanted to play it slow, so I was going to play it slow. Then if we were in some crazy jam and Phil wanted me to go fucking nuts, I’d go fucking nuts. It’s just like getting to know anybody. You learn when and where to really put your efforts into making someone happier.
Now that it’s your band, you’re kind of like Bobby and Phil. You’re driving what you want it to be tempowise, speed-wise, all of those things. I’ve watched a bunch of the shows next to you and seen the nonverbal communication that’s going on. There’s a lot of communication in the eyes.
There’s tons. When we did that party at Brooklyn Bowl—for what I thought was this onetime thing—I just wanted to play these songs how I’d always wanted to play them in Furthur and not worry about someone telling me maybe, yes or no. The thing about playing with guys that you’ve been playing with forever is that it becomes really easy. The stuff that we can do with this unspoken language onstage is much like the Dead playing together for a long time. I’m finally back playing with these guys I grew up playing with, so I can shoot Marco a smile and he knows what we’re about to do, or he could do something. Tommy, honestly, reads my mind better than anybody onstage. I’ll just look at him and it’s amazing the stuff that can happen in that realm. I would say 98 percent of it is just because we’ve all played together for so long. These are my buddies. These are the guys I spent time with in the van and in the Subaru station wagon, for years.
When it comes to questions of tempo, does everyone sort of defer to you because it’s your band?
My name’s on this thing just because we had to put the name on the thing the first day, but we’re really a band of bandleaders. It’s weird because we all have such a deep history. I’ve been in Tommy’s band [American Babies], where he’s the bandleader. I’ve played with Wolf!, where Scott’s the “bandleader.” Marco and I had our thing. I’ve played in Dave’s Crescent Moon. Each of us has fulfilled a bandleader role with other members in the band. This one just happened to come out of Furthur in a sense, where I was already doing this stuff. I put it together and had maybe a slight head start on the knowledge of this world at that time. At this point, we’re a band. I do handle the mechanics of everything, but when we’re playing onstage, once it goes, it goes. Everybody throws it around and we follow each other. But I’ll make my ideas known. I feel like there should be someone to do that in some sense, even if it’s a small, helpful direction because sometimes people are just too respectful of each other.
Oteil Burbridge has performed with you [subbing for Dreiwitz, who was on tour with Ween], and he was coming out of the Dead & Company world where they play the catalog a certain way. What did you say to him about approaching the music?
Our band is a very specific thing and, due to scheduling or whatever, we’ve now had to use some subs sometimes, which was something we weren’t sure was going to work out. But something that I’ve always liked about our band is that it has this Jersey punk-rock attitude. Dave plays a sweet, old, vintage, four-string bass, so I asked Oteil to play an old bass. He’s the most incredible, virtuosic animal on the planet. But I had seen him play with Derek and Susan and he was playing this old Fender bass, and I lost my fucking mind. I was blown away because he’s like a fucking magician, who took this instrument and transcended into his own world. So when we had gotten back together out of nowhere and it turned out Dave had stuff on the books, I decided to ask Oteil, who I had just met when he had started playing with Dead & Company. Looking back, maybe I shouldn’t have asked him to play a four-string, but he was really, really cool about it.
How much will you rehearse songs before a show? For instance at the Capitol Theatre “Cumberland Blues” turned into a blues thing [on 7/22/17]. Is that something you worked out at soundcheck?
No, it’s all organic. It’s just part of a quest of trying to do it differently. Sometimes you just end up in something that feels a certain way and that opens a door toward something. At the Cap, we went into a full shuffle because that’s the way we would play any song where we had the full ability to go wherever we wanted. The songs just happened to be Grateful Dead songs.
There will be some stuff that we would work out in soundcheck, like when we first played “Help”> “Slip”> “Throwing Stones.” You want to practice that. But I’d say most things that have that feeling are in the moment, just reacting and listening. That’s the thing about this band—it’s comprised of really great listeners. You don’t have to be great players, but you have to be great listeners. We’re all always listening. That’s why we laugh so much at each other because people will sneak in little things, almost like inside jokes, musically. Tommy will be playing something and he’ll play a little line from the end of “Rubin and Cherise,” and we all hit the hits. We’re not playing “Rubin and Cherise,” but if you’re all listening, you’re available to hear every bit of information. It’s a game. You’re waiting there to hit the ball back, or to take the assist. That’s another thing that we do well as a band—we set the other guy up for the kill shot. It really just comes down to listening and being open to going truly anywhere.
I’ve been in improvising situations where the intent is to go anywhere, but maybe if it goes somewhere, you might get a little tug on the neck to come back. [For us], nobody is worried about where it ends up, as long as it ends up somewhere cool. If you have complete reckless abandon, then there is a purity, and that’s something I like about us. There is an honesty to what we do when we do it, that might not be for everybody. I know some people hate the way we play. And I get it. It can be really jagged or loud or fast. It can also be very pretty and very quiet. The beauty of it is that we’re happy in all those places, but we’re also relaxed and confident in going to any of those places, and I think that connects to the audience, where it’s a true feeling of “We’re all in this together and we’re just all cool to see where this goes.” That gives us a little something in our corner of feeling comfortable with each other and feeling confident and fearless, because regardless of what happens, nobody dies. Even if it goes really bad, it’s still not the worst thing that’s ever happened. I think we developed that confidence early playing together.
We don’t rehearse the songs. We will learn the songs if we’re going to do something new. But once we’ve learned a song, we won’t go back and practice it. We’ll work on vocals and harmonies, but most of the songs that are playable now for us, we don’t need to run. We know the bones of them, and we don’t even want to know them that well because, honestly, there have been mistakes onstage that have led to the coolest shit.
If Dave missed going to the bridge, and we had to go somewhere else, now we’re somewhere else and we need to figure out how to get to the next thing. Our main thing is the spots in between the songs. The songs are so amazing, and we try to do them as much justice as we can, but I still don’t think our strong suit is playing Grateful Dead songs. Our strong suit is playing as a five person collective and trying to get from A to B, in a different way than we have before—all while having that mindset of hoping that it’s going to be something different. It does drive me a little bonkers if I start hearing us go to a place where we’ve been. It’s going to happen. You’re going to revisit themes. You’re going to revisit feelings. But I’m not so psyched if we’re playing a song and just because something cool happened another time we played it, there’s a contrived idea to do it again. If somebody starts doing it again, I definitely will be like, “What the hell are you doing? No, we already did that. What do you want to talk about now?”
The way you set up onstage— five guys next to one another, really close together—gives the audience a sense of what you have in mind.
The idea is that we’re all on the front line. That’s how I want to present it. I want to present it as five people onstage, whereas maybe, traditionally, the drums aren’t that far up, but it’s not because I’m the leader as much as it’s like, “Here are these five guys making music.” I want to hear onstage like I hear in rehearsals. In rehearsal, you don’t have all this other shit. You have amps and you have dudes playing instruments. That’s our goal onstage. We’re there to play music. We’re not there to be on risers. I’m there to connect with my bandmates and my bandmates are there to connect with each other. That’s why we don’t have crazy lights. They can look amazing but what I want to show is, “Here are five guys making music and if that doesn’t hold your attention then that’s cool, but this is what we’re going to do.” We’re not trying to do anything other than play music. That’s the biggest goal for us.
How do you create the setlists?
A lot of the time, it’s picturing what endings could get cool beginnings, or trying to do stuff that hasn’t been done before. It sucks because now it’s getting harder picking different parts of the song that wouldn’t traditionally be explored in an effort to get to the next thing. My goal is: If we’re going to do something that’s been done a million times, let’s find a way to do something different with it.
I think we’ve only done “Help”> “Slip”> “Franklin’s Tower” a couple of times because I don’t want people to know where it’s going to go. There’s something so exciting about not keeping it traditional because what those guys did was so amazing. That may be part of why people are enjoying our treatment of this—“Hey, I’ve heard ‘Help’> ‘Slip’ a billion times, and every time I’ve heard it, they’re going to play ‘Franklin’s Tower.”’ But if we go “Help”> “Slip”> “Althea,” then that’s going to surprise somebody. And that’s fun. It’s fun for us and it’s fun to watch the crowd.
It’s easy to come up with ideas because people have done it the same way for so long with this exact songbook. It’s like, “Why hasn’t anybody done this? Everybody’s allowed to do this.” We’re not doing anything that crazy. We’re just doing it a little bit different. We’re taking liberties in an effort to try to make it new, but I’m not trying to paint a picture like we’re redefining this thing.
The only reason I’m going to go out and play this music is if it’s interesting to me. I want it to interest me, I want it to interest my friends. My musician buddies who gave me shit for playing Grateful Dead music—I want them to come to the show and be like, “Holy, fuck.” And that’s happened quite a bit. It makes me really proud when somebody says, “You guys are really playing some stuff that’s out there, and listening and truly improvising.” It’s a source of pride for me to take what’s seen in different circles as maybe a less-than-super-cool thing, and hear those people be like, “I really like it.” That makes me feel happy— I feel like we’re treating it the way that we want to.
On Marco’s birthday, you performed a Duo song [“Play Pause Stop”]. How did that come about?
We’d never officially done a song by any of our bands— although, we’ve done so accidentally—except for “So Long Jerry,” a Ween song that we did once and Dave sang. Does somebody want to come to a JRAD show and hear a Duo song? Probably not, but it was his birthday so I thought it would be cool to celebrate a little extra with that. I always liked the idea of taking something written for two people and playing it with five people. Again, if we’re going to interpret somebody else’s songs, let’s reinterpret our own songs too.
To be honest, I’m still trying to figure out what this is. It’s taken on a life of its own, but I definitely try to throw in some random stuff here and there. We did some Stephen Malkmus; we did a Father John Misty tune. The covers that we bring in, I’d like to think represent a shared aesthetic, but not anything that the Dead has ever played, which is fun to do. If we’re going to do a Dylan tune, let’s do one that they didn’t do, as well as the ones they did do.
My wife played me that Father John Misty tune, “I’m Writing a Novel.” It’s such a great song and I was getting really into it. Then, one day, I was writing a setlist at the piano, which is what I’ll do because I’m like, “What key is this? Would it be cool to go into this here?” Then I was playing “I’m Writing a Novel” and thought, “This could be a cool ‘Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad’ thing—let’s do it.” That’s been exciting. It’s been fun to see people’s mixed reactions to that too. We did “Cinnamon and Lesbians” by Stephen Malkmus one of the nights Oteil joined us. My wife hips me to all this stuff. She was like, “Have you heard this Malkmus tune? It sounds like a Dead tune; it sounds like ‘St. Stephen.’” So I’d always thought, “One day we’re going to do ‘St. Stephen’ into ‘Cinnamon and Lesbians.’” It gives me an opportunity to sing some stuff too. If I butcher somebody else’s song, I don’t feel as bad as butchering a Dead tune in this setting.
One night at the Bowl, [saxophonist] Stuart Bogie was there [and] Tommy started calling him Clarence. Tommy’s a huge Springsteen fan and we had joked about doing “Born to Run.” Oteil was like, “Huh?” Of course, being the monster that he is, he just made a real quick sketch of it and we threw that one out there.
That’s also the fun thing about this band: Everybody’s game for whatever. Again, we are paying respect to the source material, but not to the point where we can’t play a Springsteen tune and just have fun. We’re a Grateful Dead cover band, but we’re also these five guys who feel like playing “Born to Run” sometimes. Maybe it’s that thing where we take it seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously. I think it’s fun to see a band do that. When I’m in the crowd, it’s cool to see a serious band, but it’s also fun to see a band who’s having fun while playing well. We have a unique opportunity here where, if we were to take it too seriously, it would be weird. It would be ignoring the fun that we’re having. If we’re up there laughing our asses off, or I mess up because I’m laughing at Tommy doing something, I’m all for that.
Have you been taken aback by the response from that very first show and all that’s ensued?
It’s been insane. We did that first gig, and again, we were doing one show. We learned enough music for one show, and we went out and played, and then we said, “That was really fun, right?” We didn’t know what the hell just happened. We just went out and played and were loud. We were the loudest and fastest version of our band now, which is loud and fast at times. And as we turned the corner from the stairs to go up to the backstage, we were like, “Did people like that?” We didn’t know.
And then, maybe a day or two later, somebody had posted a recording and people were talking about it, and we were like, “Wow, people really liked it.” And then a week later, we’re like, “Wow, people really liked it.” It kept going like that, and it was already in the past for us. We had done the gig and that was it, but it just wouldn’t go away.
So eventually, we decided we were going to do another gig, almost a year later, and then the call came: “You should do it at the Cap!” Of course, a band’s second gig should be at the Capitol Theatre. [Laughs.]
All we’re trying to do is play music with friends that we enjoy, and that people enjoy. The idea that keeps coming back to me—the biggest litmus test for this thing—is if we’re having fun and the people out front are having fun. We check in once a year with the band and ask “Still fun?” If there’s a year where everyone’s not feeling it, then we’d be done and it would be fine.
That’s the beauty of this thing: We didn’t take years to build it; we didn’t put in a lot of effort for it to become this thing and we have the very amazing ability to just appreciate it, which is rare. When the Duo was slugging it out trying to make it, we had fun; but, for me, personally, there was a lot of real life and desperation. I was like, “We have to make it; this band has to be successful. These songs that we wrote have to become something.” Bustle was equally a nointention thing.
There’s this real beauty that we’re given with this gig. We can play music we love while being able to appreciate how much fun we’re having and still have those things to worry about in our other bands—those desperations are still there, with wanting to have your songcraft appreciated. But this isn’t that. This is five guys having a blast in a room of other people hopefully having a good time. It’s as simple as that.