David Crosby :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview (2018)

Nearly five-and-a-half decades into his career, David Crosby might finally be hitting fourth gear. A new record, Here If You Listen, his second in collaboration with vocalists Michelle Willis and Becca Stevens, along with Mike League of Snarky Puppy, is sweeping and gorgeous. To hear Crosby tell it, and to hear the record, is to know that the pairing of musicians has been exhilarating to him. Catching up from his home in California, Crosby spoke about the formation of his latest venture and the freeing feeling it's given him.

Aquarium Drunkard: To start, can you tell us a bit about the band, how this project came to be. It seems like a unique grouping.

David Crosby: I can tell you how it happened. A friend of mine turned me onto Mike League’s group, Snarky Puppy, and I loved it. I thought that the writing, in particular, was really impressive. I got a hold of him, told him how much I really liked his music. He ended up being an all-around, incredible guy. He had produced with Becca Stevens and Michelle Willis, who are two of the most talented people I’ve ever met. I asked him to produce a record for me, and he said we should invite them to sing on it. And we did! And we had an unbelievably good chemistry. You learn to spot these things over the years, working as a musician, you look for it — but you don’t often find it. And when I worked with these people, it was just a natural, really good chemistry. So for this record, the next time around, I said I don’t want to do another David Crosby record, I want to do a group record — write it together, sing it together. And they asked, “Are you sure?” And I was absolutely sure. So we did it! We went into Michael’s studio, in Brooklyn, and we two songs: “Janet,” a song that Michelle had written, and we had “Your Own Ride” which I wrote with Bill Laurence, who is Snarky Puppy’s classically trained pianist, really, really good musician. We had those two songs and that’s it. We went into his studio and wrote the entire record in 8 days! We recorded it and mixed it in the rest of the month; in one month, we created, from scratch, a brand new record.

That’s a chemistry I’ve never seen the like of anywhere. I’ve never been able to write with four people, are you kidding? You’re lucky if you can write with one other person. Writing with four others is impossible! We did it — we wrote a whole record together and it’s really good. The most lasting impression I have is that I’m the luckiest guy you know. That’s the only thing I can figure: I’m just the luckiest son-of-a-bitch on the planet, cause this stuff just keeps happening to me.

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