Ken Vandermark : Raw and Refined


The Rigors of Touring

AAJ: Looking at Hoxha’s tour, starting in Canada, playing Seattle the next night and then playing Portland the night after that…That’s a huge stretch of miles between shows.

KV: Oh that’s easy! [laughs] Yeah.

AAJ: With the travel time and overnight accommodations, don’t they eat up whatever you’ve got to make the thing go?

KV: Yeah, that’s the reality of the touring.. And sometimes it would seem to me that in some cases, people want to overlook that or ignore it, or not really acknowledge the impact it has on the music and the musicians and the availability for the music to grow.

AAJ-e: Physically and emotionally speaking, how have you managed to keep your busy schedule for such a long period of time? Is there a danger of burnout? And if so, how do you combat fatigue and renew your level of creativity?

KV-e: In all honesty, the work sustains me, it’s what I love to do. Even though it can be a real struggle, and is a painful experience when I fail creatively, my favorite place to be is on stage playing with great musicians. I learned very early that in order to get on stage more often it helped to put together bands, compose music, and organize concerts. Yes, I get tired, but I also get to collaborate and am challenged by very passionate people on a daily basis, we’re given opportunities to present our work to people who want to hear it, and am supported and loved by my wife Ellen. I would say that if I can’t continue under these circumstances I don’t deserve to be doing this job.

AAJ-e: Are the day-to-day realities of maintaining a band shut out from your creative process, or do these realities serve as inspiration?

KV-e: I believe that to be an artist in the United States it’s impossible to ignore the economic reality here—there is hardly any government support for the arts. The challenge, for me, is how to create the work I need to make and then figure out how to get it heard in concert and on record; building a system that is self-sustaining without sacrificing any creative decisions.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18