An Interview with George Callins

( Questions Prepared by Curtis Smith )

Carla , Mick & George Callins at the Roxy,  Ian McLagen in Background 

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
 Carla Olson?


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.

 

2. 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?


Well, sure.  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.

 

5. 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
 documented; Huntington
 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
 process?


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.

 

9. What was sharing a stage with Mick Taylor like? 
Deafening!

 

10. What was his playing like on the March 1990
 tour?


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 pleasure.

 

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 a compliment.

 

 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 ?
 Carla & George Callins


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.

 

17. Barry Goldberg, formerly of Electric Flag, also
 joined you on piano on
 the 1990 tour, what are your impressions of working
 with him?


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.

GC