BT: James, thanks for your time today. We're looking forward to having you back in Birmingham. Also, we are really enjoying Live In Europe - you must be pleased with the end result.
JM: It started to just be a DVD project, but then I was told for a little more money I could multi-track the audio and mix it right so we did that. They didn't save the raw footage on the video so I couldn't re-edit anything. There are lot of really stupid shots on it - they shot across the stage at Mac [keyboardist Ian McLagan] through a forest of microphone stands and they would cut from a vocal line to the kick-drum pedal. They were professionals, but they're Dutch and they're not really worried about getting the song across. I figured I couldn't charge money just for that so I made the record and put the DVD in there as a bonus. I used the songs that looked better on the video and the ones that sounded better on the record.
BT: With a large number of sounds in your catalog, how did you choose which songs would be included for the project?
JM: We just did a two-hour show and I took the best 45 minutes or so for the record. There was also a vinyl edition that included all three. Bob Ludwig mastered it so it sounds really good.
BT: Is there a simple way to describe the differences in American and European audiences?
JM: On the continent, they're a few words behind you so they're concentrating real hard and it feels like you're not getting any energy back until the end of the song. Mostly, they're just trying to figure out what you're saying. You get in the U.K. and Ireland, it gets a little rowdier. I think the Irish shows were the most fun of that run.
BT: We're familiar with your Keyboardist, Ian McLagan, from his work with The Rolling Stones and The Faces. How did you Ian first get together?
JM: He moved to Austin some years ago and I would run into him now and again and we had mutual friends. My rhythm section - Ronnie [Johnson] and Daren [Hess] - they were the last rhythm section for [former Faces member] Ronnie Lane. Ronnie lived in Austin for a while and was getting treatment for MS in Houston. His latest touring band had Daren playing drums and Ronnie playing bass, so they new Mac pretty well through Ronnie.
BT: How do you fell about technology's role in music in the age of iTunes, Youtube and satellite radio?
JM: The accessibility has certainly helped me. When we put out the song "We Can't Make It Here," we put it out as a free download six months before we made the rest of the record and it instantly got more attention than anything I'd put on a record in a decade. So it really helped me. As far as the technology of recording, it doesn't hurt me but it does hurt the studio business. Studio owners are really having a hard time right now.
BT: Live In Europe isn't your first live album. How do you know when the time is right to release a new one?
JM: When the old one quits selling [laughs].
Tickets to the 18+ show are $12 - $15 day of the show - and can be purchased at www.zydecobirmingham.com.
Photo credit: Craig Seth