We’re excited to celebrate our Slow Hands annual tradition with a exclusive special love jams podcast by Worst Friends cohort Tom Croose and an interview of each other in preparation for Friday’s Valentine’s Day love affair at Beatbox.
Last year we brought the duo to Beatbox for a steamy slow-mo disco dance party and the recording has been one of our most popular to date. Today’s mix by John Paul Jones AKA Tom Croose marks the first artist to return to our podcast series.
Slow Hands will follow his San Francisco debut of his LIVE performance with a back-to-back DJ set with Tom Croose as Worst Friends.
Check out Slow Hands recording from two years ago.
For a taste of what’s to come from Slow Hands’ LIVE set listen here.
Slow Hands interviews Tom Croose
As Tom Croose, and one half of The Dukes Of Chutney, your music is pretty un-embedded in traditional “electronic” dance styles, and more deeply rooted in dub reggae, bossa and samba styles. Where does this come from?
I guess from listening to a lot of the styles you mentioned. I collected a ton of Brazilian music and just jazz in general while interning for verve records. Spent a lot of hours exploring and enjoying that stuff. Something about delay and reverb that I just really love too. I love space in music, I think that’s why I’m so into producers like Holden and Koze and Dan Snaith, guys who sound insane on headphones. That one Holden dub of Depeche Mode is so wild, its like standing in the middle of an amazing storm. Wish I could get stuff to sound like that.
We’re playing on Valentine’s Day, what are you feelings on Valentine’s Day?
I’ve worked most valentine’s days, so it’s kind of whatever. I love to take my wife out to a nice dinner, but it’s much more enjoyable and easier to get reservations on any other night. We make our own valentine’s days and they’re not limited to once a year ;) actually, these days getting in some couch time with an uninterrupted hour of the sopranos or whatever show we can catch up on is like eating at the French laundry.
Who is your favorite DJ, and why? Who is your favorite musician, and why? What’s the biggest difference between being a DJ & a musician to you?
I’m not sure I have a favorite DJ, there have been many where I’ve gotten totally lost in their music for at least some period of a night, but honestly I don’t go out enough to have a really informed opinion. I can tell you my favorite times being out to see a DJ have been seeing Joakim at apt way back, Pilooski at the same spot, and Osborne there too. Apt was a great spot for a while. Also, 205 club, Todd Terje crushed it there, Eric Duncan, Justin Vandervlogen as well. Always enjoy seeing Slow Hands DJ, he can really work a pioneer!
Also, I’ve downloaded mixes that really stuck with me too over the years, Koze, Holden, Superpitcher, Tensnake, Floating Points, Flying Lotus have all put out mixes that pretty much blew my mind. The list could go on. I don’t know if you’d call it djing, but actually seeing flying lotus at love in new york a while back was so sick. That guy has amazing energy.
My favorite musician? Probably John Fahey or jack rose, always had a spot in my heart for solo acoustic guitar. Chris Corsano drumming blew my mind years back. Paul Lai on guitar from Upsilon Acrux. Actually my favorite musician is definitely my cousin Braden miller. He played drums and guitar at different points for upsilon, which is crazy. Right now he’s the drummer for best coast, which doesn’t exactly show off his skill, but trust me when I say he can shred any instrument you put in front of him, and he’s the funniest guy ever, he’s uncle silly.
To answer your question about differences between musicians and djs, being a musician is more cut and dry. I mean its kind of a silly question, but there are people who do both in some capacity, which is maybe why that question exists. But I mean in terms of being a musician, you can play and instrument or you can’t. Although there is skill and experience involved with djing, pretty much anyone can call themselves a dj and fake it to some degree. I dj’d after that guy from the hobbit once at a club in Hollywood. He had 2 iPods. People loved it. Does that make sense? I’m a terrible musician by the way.
You have been a father now for about 2 years. Has this experience effected the way you listen to, and or hear music?
I don’t think so. I try to play music with less offensive language around our daughter, because she retains everything and even though you think she’s not listening to chance the rapper curse, she’ll blurt out a line a week later when you least expect it. But other than that not really. It has made me start stashing records for her to listen to though, rather than buying and selling on discogs so randomly.
As a parent, musician, and DJ, you will obviously pass along your musical taste’s to your daughter at some point. How did your parents effect your musical taste?
I don’t know if they really affected my taste that much. I guess you’re just exposed to more and more stuff and over time, for whatever reason you like what you like out of what you’ve heard and that’s where your taste comes from. My dad had some records that I used to listen to on headphones like Hendrix, Zeppelin, Neil Young, Moby Grape and stuff like that. I suppose that discovering those was influential to me. It’s funny though cause there was certain stuff I didn’t like to hear when I was younger, like I got sick of dire straights in the car growing up and now I really like some of those albums. Funny too, when Terje put out that edit of Andreas Vollenweider, I remembered listening to that record on cassette cause my dad was into it. Never thought I’d hear a disco edit of that stuff, it was a pleasant surprise.
What is you’re favorite thing about San Francisco? Sub Question: Your favorite San Francisco musician?
The food and the beauty of the surrounding areas. Sly Stone is the first one that comes to mind, but I could probably make a list if I had more time.
If you had a spray painted matte black mid 90s Toyota Previa, what would it’s name and theme song be?
I don’t know, that car sounds unfit for a child to be riding in. Check out this photo of my friend mike though…
Tom Croose Interviews Slow Hands:
If you were given a black AMEX to buy whatever instrument you wanted on earth, what would it be? Part 1 - if you could keep all the gear you have, and part 2 - if it was the only piece of gear you could keep.
1) A Tacoma 2003 AJF28C. It’s not the greatest archtop ever made, and there are far superior archtop luthiers to Tacoma, but this one has a sentimental value to me that could never be surpassed. The offset hole was really obscure in the early 2000’s, mainly just to archtop purists who thought the F-hole was end all be all (*). This also most likely resulted in it’s low sales, and it ultimately being discontinued. These days the offset hole is pretty common among contemporary luthiers, so I like to think it was ahead of it’s time.
My parents got me one of the AJF22CE5's when i graduated from high school and was going to University for music. I dropped out a year later, and sold it to pay rent. The parental's found out a few years later, and were devastated, as Tacoma had stopped making the instrument, and I was just being a disappointing (most likely drunken) 20 something. Seeing the look of utter disappointment on my mom's face killed me, and I vowed i would buy one when i was making enough money off of music to support myself and be able to afford it.
This past spring i started browsing the web for one, and found a guy in Long Island that was selling one, but was reluctant to let it go (the “for sale” post was on an archtop blog, and had been dated 2009). I contacted him, and he asked that i come out and play it, and check it out. As it turns, his best friend was a fairly famous luthier from Long Island, and this dude was himself quite the collector. I sat in his office and played for about an hour on this insane acoustic amp he had, and I told him the story of why i wanted this guitar so bad. He said he had been up and down about selling it for years, and had people come look at it, but only for parts. Through hanging and playing, he knew i wanted to keep it as it was, and he sold it to me… for double what my parents had bought my original for in 2000.
* Instrument collectors/purists make vinyl collectors/purists laughable, both in budget and intimidation. The wealthier collectors actually influence the trend of how instruments are made. Like this guy, Chinery.
2) My Tacoma 2003 AJF28C. But! I did buy wood from a supplier to Stratovarius that is located in Vermont about five years ago with the intentions of making my own archtop. I am not that handy, so i gave the wood to my dear friend Will Mosheim of Seeders Instruments and Gold Town and I hope that he one day fashions me the arch-top of my dreams! (I want it to have a violin finish, i think that would look amazing!). Side note: Gold Town will actually be performing the lead single off my album with me and my good bud Cameo Culture, coming soon!
If you could work with 1 director to score their next movie that would it be (living or dead or both)? - Bonus: what are a few of your all time favorite scores/soundtracks?
Wowza, hmmm. I just watched that movie Nebraska last night, and loved the score. It’s by a guy named Mark Orton, of a group called Tin Hat out of SF actually! Folky and quirky, really carried a lot of the film actually.
I love Wes Anderson, and Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo does most, if not all of his music (he also did Pee Wee’s Playhouse, sick!). The Life Aquatic is probably where his sound is most prominent … the score to where they land on the pirate’s island is just next level.
Paul Thomas Anderson is obviously amazing, and uses Jonny Greenwood to score his films now. There Will Be Blood, the music also drove the film. When you have a film like this, or Nebraska, where there are long moments of silence, i love the idea of using singular instruments. Minimalism in composition for film is something many of the famous film composers could take note of. I love composers like Thomas Newman and John Williams (probably the two most easily sound identified composers to me), but sometimes when the music is so constant and epic, it get’s lost. In TWBB, Greenwood took the sound of a single pizzicato string and made it sound like the looming shadow of death. So insane.
All that said, Williams did do the score to Jaws, which forever sealed the fate of the minor second interval to never be used in music again ;)
But my absolute favorite score of all time is Gustavo Santaolalla’s score to The Motorcycle Diaries. The director is Walter Salles, who recently did On The Road. While beautifully shot, that book should NEVER be mad into a movie. I don’t even think i have to explain what is so great about MD’s score, just watch it if you don’t know.
A couple runners up are actually a bit strange, but the score to Meet Joe Black, and Finding Nemo are incredible, and both done by Thomas Newman. You can really identify his sound in both of them through his use of certain intervals and harmony. But the score at the end of Meet Joe Black where they are walking over the bridge to death is absolutely amazing, makes me cry every time (i know, i’m a pussy).
So, a long winded answer to no one director i suppose. There are so many great one’s, and an equal amount of great film composers. That said, Hanz Zimmer needs to up his game, Gladiator was awesome, and it’s been a slippery slope to cheese ever since.
I go through phases of wanting to get rid of everything I own, frequently that involves records. There are a lot of records that I refuse to get rid of though as I’m saving certain ones for my kids to eventually listen to. Name 10 records or tracks that you would like to give to your kids to discover.
Peter Gabriel - So
Eric Clapton - Slowhand
The Allman Brothers - Eat A Peach
Steely Dan - The Royal Scam
Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue
John Coltrane - Blue Train
Bill Evans - Sunday At The Village Vanguard
Kanye West - Yeezus
Pachelbel - Canon in D Major
Grateful Dead - Shakedown Street (for Shakedown Street), American Beauty (for Ripple), Workingman’s Dead (for Dire Wolf), In The Dark (for Touch of Grey), Dead Set (for Franklin’s Tower) … . Perhaps a “Best Of”? ;)
Keith Jarrett - Personal Mountains (for Innocence)
What has moved you the most, listening to music on a stereo, listening to a dj play somewhere, or seeing a band/live act? Who/where was it?
Seeing Jonny Lang play with BB King when i was 14 at Saratoga Performance Art Center, a week before my 15th birthday. I told my friend that i was with, and my mom that was chaperoning us that i could do what that kid was doing. A week later it was my birthday, my mom got me a guitar and said, “prove it”.
What touring artist would you like to open for in 2014?
Jamie Lidell and Father John Misty are my two favorite touring artists. Their live shows are nearly incomparable. I aspire to be the performer’s that they are one day.
Which us state is the greatest? Why?
Well, i have Vermont and New York City tattooed on my arms, as those are my homes. I know, I know, NYC isn’t a state, it’s a city, but it might as well be a state. I don’t think NYC needs any justification, sorry, i probably just don’t like you as a human if you don’t like NYC. Vermont is incredibly creative and beautiful, not to mention we have the highest concentration of Winter Olympians of any state, so you’re welcome America.
Have you ever drunkenly ended up at a porno actresses place? Tell me about it.
No, I have not. I did once befriend an erotic model however, her apartment was lovely, though things went a bit sour as the evening progressed. You would have to get me far more drunk than i am at present (4:45 pm) in order for me to divulge the rest of that story.
Your 3 drunkest memories?
Being dragged half a block down Avenue C on my elbows after flicking a cigarette butt down the exposed ass crack of a dear friend.
Breaking my front teeth out on the sidewalk at Houston & Broadway when someone twice my size decided to jump on my back.
Jumping in a freezing cold ass river in Big Sur in the middle of the fall for $20. I was half a legend the next day.