Mad Tea Party Jam – June 15th 2017
By: Margaret Cooper
With a packed upcoming schedule including multiple festival announcements, a Phish’s Baker’s Dozen late-night show, and the inaugural Canyon Jam, Spafford has consistently been delivering fans with the unique improvisation and onstage chemistry vital to the jam scene. Fresh off the announcement of their 34-show fall tour, we got a chance to sit down with the band before their double-header set at The Mad Tea Party Jam.
[The State Theatre]: Okay, down to business boys, I’ve got a hard one to start – I heard you guys really like gummies, what’s the story?
[Spafford]: Well we like gummy vitamins… Pre-flight gummies to relieve anxiety of flying.
[TST]: Is that a placebo effect? Or is there research on that?
[S]: I don’t know, we’ll just a eat a whole bag while we’re in the air… I think we’re about halfway through the research at this point. But 90% of it is the ear-popping, you chew on some gummies. We’re testing the effects of different types of gummies, swedish fish, gummy bears, etc.
[TST]: So what’s your favorite flavor of gummies? I would have to say white gummy bears are the best, but I know that this is a point of contention among many.
[S]: It depends on the brand of gummy bears because not all of them are the same. We just found out that with Swedish fish, there is red – an unknown flavor – just red, the yellow is lemon / lime, the orange is…
[S]: Yes, thank you. And the green is – everybody?
[TST]: Alright, gummies down! Check it off the list! Next question, what do you guys like to listen to in your spare time? Rather, what do you argue about putting on the radio? Do you listen to jam in your spare time? … I’ve talked to a few people who jam and they don’t usually listen to it.
[S]: What is jam nowadays?
[TST]: Okay fair enough, let’s say long-term noodling for over 15 minutes.
[S]: I mean if it’s us…
[TST]: You listen to yourself in the car? That’s pretty cool! Like football players watch their games…
[S]: Yeah, exactly! We review the game tapes. After you play a show, you listen back to that show that you just played an hour ago on the way back. Other than that, I think we can always agree when the Dead comes on that we’ll just let it ride. You can’t ever complain about that. Also Jam On – we spend a lot of time in minivan rentals so whatever good music we can get. But silence is also golden as well. We enjoy having good conversations with each other. We get a lot more laughs in.
[TST]: So what do you guys think of the process of recording live compared to recording in studio?
[S]: Well, one is forgiving and one is unforgiving.
[TST]: I’d imagine there is a little bit more leniency in the studio.
[S]: A bit more put together, more time to think [in the sudio]. But it’s way more fun on stage. On stage you make the decision, and you record it, and you have to listen to it. Then you go, “oh, that sucked,” or “that was awesome!” Either way, you’re learning to grow. In the studio, we can decide not to release it – even to each other.
[TST]: Do you find yourselves taking many chances on stage or do you prefer to play it safe?
[S]: Every time is a chance. It’s all music. It depends on the atmosphere, it depends on what we ate before, how much caffeine we have, how much sleep did we have the night before… It’s excitement too, when you play the same song over and over again, practicing and practicing, you get onstage and you get excited because you have all the people there.
[TST]: Yeah! Then you have the energy of the crowd to feed off of.
[S]: You’re going to have to put parentheses at this point…
(And the rain started to pour down.)
[TST]: So I know you guys have a lot of big shows coming up, is there anything you’re specifically excited for? Holidaze, Canyon Jam, Fall Tour…
[S]: We get excited for the show we’re about to play the day of. One day at a time – you still have to take care of yourself before the next show. There’s not much room to really think about it. Nothing’s different, we’re just going up and playing some music. It’s just different scenery, different people… different experiences. They’re all exciting.
It is worth mentioning that at this point in the conversation my recorder died.. Due to the torrential downpour happening around us, we found ourselves more or less trapped. To pass the time, we debated the nutritional composition of microgreens and then decided to play Would You Rather? (Let the record show, when forced to choose between having one hand made of cabbage or trading both legs for a single pogostick, the pogostick was the clear choice among the band.)
Catch Spafford at The State Theatre on October 11th at 8 PM. Tickets are $15.