A conversation with Aaron Comess of Spin Doctors about their new album “If the River Was Whiskey”, the band’s 25th anniversary and the ultimate Spin Doctors tune. By Daniel Heinze (The Spin Doctors Archive).
Daniel: First of all, congrats on all the positive reviews of “If The River Was Whiskey”. Seems like everyone loves what you guys have recorded last July: the critics as well as the fans. Did you expect all those positive reactions?
Aaron Comess: You never really go into a project thinking about that. You always hope that people are going to like it. But it has been really amazing to see all these positive reactions from the critics and from people who got the album early. We’re excited to get it out there and it’s definitely a nice feeling that it’s doing so well. These are the best reviews that we’ve ever gotten! When we first came out we were a young band, we were hip and young and all the critics loved us. But once you sell out your record, they don’t like you anymore. Now, I think it’s a great time for us. Everything’s totally real! And a lot of the critics maybe only know the band for the hits so I think some of them are pleasantly surprised (laughs).
D: One critic wrote that the band has gone “full circle” with that new album as it goes back to the band’s blues bar roots. How does it feel to revisit and perform material that you guys wrote in the late 80s?
AC: It’s fun! It really feels totally fresh. Because, you know, it’s rock’n’roll! And good rock’n’roll or blues songs should sound good all the time. That kind of music is just so real – that’s the kind of music that always sounds fresh no matter what year it is. And the songs feel great. It’s been really cool to go back and revisit some of these really old ones and mix them with a handful of new ones – it seems to work. All of our stuff is based in blues, because that’s what rock’n’roll is. We have a lot of elements in our music: a lot of funk, we all dedicate ourselves for writing really good songs, and this is kind of the blue print to all we do! Even though it’s the blues, it’s our way of doing the blues: Chris has such a great way with lyrics, Eric’s an amazing guitar player – not a lot of guitar players could carry a whole record and there’s a lot of weight on the guitar playing on this kind of records, and he really shines …
D: … Yeah, you’re not just repeating the 12-bar blues scheme over and over again. Instead, you are mixing it with other elements and musical styles and so, the tracks get that signature Spin Doctors sound …
AC: You’re right. You can call it a blues record, sure. But I like to look at it more like a rock’n’roll record. Truthfully, we can thank you and David Landsberger! (laughs) When we were out on the Pocketfull of Kryptonite 20th anniversary tour in Europe asking people what they wanted to hear, a lot of these songs like “So Bad” or “The Drop” were all on the top of your lists of requests. When we started to play those deep cuts inside of the Kryptonite songs, and they just fit so well, it kind of opened our eyes: “Wow, this is excactly what we were doing back then, material-wise. And the truth is: we play those kind of songs a lot better now than we did back then. There’s no doubt about it!!
D: The 2013 set lists are a really cool mix of the classic stuff and the blues material …
AC: I’m loving it! It’s really helping us to put on a great live show right now!
D: Do you have a favorite cut off “If The River Was Whiskey”? If so, which track is it and why?