An Interview with George Callins
( Questions Prepared by Curtis Smith )
1. How did you become aware and then involved with
Carla Olson and the Textones ?
I first met Carla
through Eddie Munoz (later of Plimsouls fame) whom I played with in bands in
San Antonio. When he moved to Austin, he became acquainted with Carla
and that is how I became associated with her. When Kathy Valentine left
The Textones and joined The Go Go's, Carla was looking to replace her.
She wanted someone with my style of playing and asked me if I would consider
moving to Los Angeles to play in her band. I liked the material, I liked
the band members and they liked me, so the move was permanent.
What is it like to play and record with
Working with Carla is a
very gratifying experience. She is always open to other people's
ideas and doesn't hesitate to incorporate those ideas if they are musically
appropriate. She was very adamant about NOT being a solo artist; that
The Textones were a BAND. The chemistry between Carla and me was so
fluid. If I had the music, she had the lyrics. If I had the
lyrics, she had the music.
Before meeting Carla Olson, what would you site
as your musical interests
and back ground as a professional musician?
I guess my influences ran pretty much parallel with Carla's.
The Beatles , Stones, The Who. Not to mention the old school blues cats.
As for my playing, I guess I would have to say I "borrowed" from
Ronnie Wood (Faces era), Pete Townsend and Chuck Berry. I wasn't capable
of pulling off what one might describe as "flash licks", so I stuck
to my limitations.
3. Can you describe how you first became aware Mick
Taylor and his playing?
I first heard the
Mayall stuff, but I never really appreciated Mick until I heard what a huge
difference he made in The Stones' sound. All of a sudden they had a
darker, more sinister sound that was just intoxicating.
4. Was there any particular song or performance of a
song that struck you?
Winter always sticks out in my mind, not to mention his work on Sticky
Fingers. It was like The Rolling Stones became more
"underground" than "pop" oriented.
Before you played with Mick, did you ever see him
do a live show?
Unfortunately, no. I remember the first time I went to
London. It was the day of the Hyde Park show. My hotel was
just across the street from there, but the show had ended by the time I got
checked in and realized where I was!
6. How were you selected to work on the California
shows that eventually
made up the album "Carla Olson and Mick Taylor live:
Too Hot for Snakes?
Well, I had worked with
Carla exclusively since 1981. I wasn't really "chosen".
I was just one of the fixtures.you might say.
7. Four Carla Olson and Mick Taylor shows have been
Beach, California on 3/01/90, Long Beach,
California, Bogart's, Los Angeles,
California, The Roxy 1st and 2nd shows. Where there
any more shows that
weren't documented? If so how many and where?
We played other shows
with Mick. There was at least one in Santa Barbara, one at Slim's in San
Francisco, a couple or three at the Palomino in North Hollywood, and I think
we did a show with Mick at Club Lingerie in Hollywood, but I'm not sure of
that. Also, Mick asked me to join him at McCabe's in Santa Monica along
with Ian McLagen and my friend Carlos Hatem on percussion. We did two
shows a night for two nights and for the last song of the last show, Scot Page
joined in on sax for Can't You Hear Me Knocking.
8. What was the rehearsal process like? How long did
it take to rehearse the
songs? Where there any notable stories that came out
of the rehearsal
The rehearsals were
surprisingly painless. The Textones had always had a Stonesy influence,
so Mick fit right in. The only notable story that I can speak of
is that it was difficult to remain a band member and not become one of the
audience. Mick would just take off and you never knew where he was
taking you. I would start to listen instead of concentrating on MY job.
What was sharing a stage with Mick Taylor like?
10. What was his playing like on the March 1990
It was great being able
to bond with Mick and hear some of his stories about people he worked with.
Also the playing that was done in the hotel rooms where it was just
"immediate family" was really fun. You know, no pressure, just
11. Can you describe how your playing interacted
with Mick's playing?
Well...I was getting
REALLY tired of people comparing my playing to Keith. They would say
"Boy you sure can copy Keith!" It was not taken as a
compliment because I always just played what I felt. So I listened to a
lot of Stones to hear what Keith was playing and it WAS quite similar to
my style. But then Mick told me at one of our first rehearsals together
"Playing with you is LIKE playing with Keith". Not that
I played like Keith, but that it was the same chemistry. THAT I took as
12. On the album you received two song writing
credits, for "Trying to Hold
On" and "Rubies and Diamonds" Co-writing credit.
Can you tell us anymore
about these songs and their origin. What was it like
to hear Mick Taylor
playing on your songs?
Those two song were
written for Carla's first solo project which we recorded in Sweden with
members of the Swedish band Wilmer X. Trying To Hold On was one I wrote
from rock bottom, you know,one of those occasional deep depressions one goes
through. Rubies and Diamonds was a song that I wrote music and lyrics
to, but we both agreed the lyrics sucked. Carla had some lyrics she had
written sometime earlier and luckily they fit to the music I had.
Hearing Mick Taylor playing on a song I wrote was probably the most
flattering thing that ever happened in my life!
13. You co-produced the "Live: Too Hot for Snakes"
album with Saul Davis,
how did that arrangement come about? Can you
describe your thoughts on
sifting through the tracks to compile such an
incredible recording? Where
all of the tracks used on the final version of the
lp from the 2nd show at the Roxy ?
Before I go on, I want
to say some things about Saul Davis. He has the most brilliant
ability to put together the right talent with the right material. Case
in point: the cd True Voices which was the first recording Saul and I
co-produced. It was Saul who selected the material we would perform at
the Roxy. It was Saul who selected the players, engineers and crew.
MUCH of the credit for the "incredible recording" goes to Mr. Davis.
My association with Saul goes back to the Textones days. Saul was our
manager, psychiatrist, protector and babysitter! Now, not all the
tracks were used. The opening song for both shows was one Carla and I
co-wrote. The song starts with EVERYBODY hitting the downbeat HARD.
Well this caused a power surge and the multitrack went haywire for a bit, then
finally stabilized about half way through the song, rendering the recording
useless. There were a couple other songs performed which were determined
to be not up to standards. I would also like to point out at this time
Rick Hemmert (drums) and Jesse Sublett (bass) were really on top of
it, that night especially! They laid down a foundation on which the
Parthenon would feel at home.
14. There are horn arrangements on "Live: Too Hot
for Snakes", how/why was
it decided to add horns to the ensemble?
Well, Ed, there were
horns on the original studio recordings of those songs. We couldn't just
ignore that. Besides Tom Jr. Morgan is too good to exclude!!
15. Do you have any thoughts about Carla's
performances during the 1990
shows with Mick Taylor?
Carla is the most
determined woman I know. She's got ALOT of balls and yet always
maintains her femininity. I have nothing but the utmost respect for her
talents, as a player, a person and a friend.
16. Ian McLagan, formerly of the Faces, played with
Mick Taylor on the 1984
European Bob Dylan tour and joined you on the 1990
shows? Can you describe
what it was like to work with Ian? Are their any
stories from the road
involving Ian McLagan?
Mac is a real
professional in the truest sense of the word. Easy to work with, fun to
be with, and (pardon the pun) never a dull moment.
Barry Goldberg, formerly of Electric Flag, also
joined you on piano on
the 1990 tour, what are your impressions of working
Barry produced The Textones first album and since then he has stayed
with the Carla Olson organization as a true ally. We looked at Barry and
if his head was bobbing up and down to a playback, we knew it was a good take.
Saul Davis would sometimes call Barry our Soul Meter.
18. Since the 1990 tour you have worked with both
Mick Taylor and Carla
Olson on subsequent albums, do you have any thoughts
you would like to share
about the recording of those songs and lps?
Carla and I made
several other albums which Mick was on. Within An Ace being my favorite.
Unfortunately, I was involved in another project at the same time and only had
time to run in, lay down my parts and run back out. I regret not being
around the studio more for that project. There were some very Magical
Mick Moments during those sessions. The problem was: which take do we
use? They were all great Mick solos.
I just would like to add this:
You know, you asking me about that period of my career makes me
remember how much fun it was working with that particular group of people.
All of them were talented and I can't remember one incident when anyone's
ego EVER got in the way. I really miss them all and am looking forward
to being with any or all of them again. Thanks, for asking.