Interviewed For The Continental Magazine, Issue #2
Sean: Tell me a bit about the recording of your first album.
Lance: It was recorded in 3 days at Dionysus' studio in Los Angeles. There was
already a Gulbransen organ there but I couldn't play the footpedals so, after
recording one song on which I literally got down on my hands & knees to play
the pedals (I knew I was going to have some real trouble on the faster
songs!), I used a portable organ to record the organ bass track & then
overrdubbed the other organ parts. The percussion was great fun & I think
everyone (including me) was amazed that it came out so well because I am NOT
a percussionist. The engineer was a good friend of mine who I've known for
years. He came out with me from Arizona (where I presently am living) & the
two of us just knocked the whole thing off. It was really pretty basic.
Sean: Besides the obvious, what musicians have influenced your work?
Lance: I'd have to say Les Baxter & Richard Hayman. In fact, Les Baxter's "Sacred
Idol" is probably responsible for my "ancient city" concept with all the
pieces related. Likewise, Richard Hayman's "Voodoo" album. I also listen to a
lot of North African, Middle Eastern & Indian music & I suppose there's that
influence as well. And, I guess, Martin Denny & Arthur Lyman. And, of course,
Korla. Not even so much in copying what he has done but more intaking someone
you really like & respect & using that image to do your own music based on
their general influence & image. As Lance, I also have done other music that
ranges in influence from Eugene Chadbourne to Cecil Taylor to Flipper to
who-knows-what-else. As a jazz player, I'm probably influenced by Monk, early
Herbie Hancock & McCoy Tyner, as well as early Les McCann & an obscure fellow
named Horace Parlan. I like people who are communicating something rather
than "showing off".
Sean: What was the first song you came up with?
Lance: Well, I came up with the idea of the suite ("Journey to the Ancient
City")as a whole & then just started imagining subjects for songs about this
"city" that would be fun & interesting. So, I had all the names to the pieces
before I wrote any of them. Once I started writing, I think they went pretty
much in the order of the album unless I suddenly got a brainstorm & went with
it out of order.
Sean: Describe the equipment you use.
Lance: For the "Karla' project, I' used the studio organ but, out of the studio,
I'm using a chopped Hammond B-3 (heavy parts removed to make carrying it at
least a slight possibility) with a leslie speaker and a Korg CX-3 for my
"snake noises" on "Hall of Snakes".
Sean: You performed all of the music on your first album. Would you like to work
with a group in the future? If so, who would you like to work with?
Lance: Yes, I've already been rehearsing & have worked with a group. I couldn't
possibly duplicate what I did on the album by myself & I like the idea of a
"band" & one that isn't necessarily background music. My friend, Jack Dorsey,
who lives in the San Francisco area, is a great precussionist who has a good
feel for a lot of different styles - both playing regular drum set and
assorted percussion instruments. Because of the nature of this music, I
prefer to go without standard Western drums.
Sean: You are currently living in Cleveland. What are some of your favorite haunts
Lance: Well, I actually am originally from Cleveland but haven't been back there
for years. That's part of the "joke" part of the record. I'm actually from
San Francisco but am presently living in Flagstaff, Arizona (NOT at the Happy
Saguaro, I might add). In San Francisco, places I enjoyed playing at were
Cafe Du Nord (before it got trendy & stupid) & Club Deluxe on Haight Street).
I've been doing some playing & recording with Oscar Brown, Jr., the jazz
singer who was quite popular in the 60's & is making a comeback recently &
we've enjoyed playing the Elbo Room there several times. He's 70 years old &
still a great performer & should be on the Downbeat Jazz Polls & stuff like
that. I just don't get it.
Sean: What is your favorite cocktail?
Lance: Favorite cocktail? Probably anything with rum. I like rum gimlets or
Pimm's cups with Indian food (there is a bit of the "Karla" in me) & there's
a great Malaysian restaurant in San Francisco called the Straits Cafe that
serves wondeful exotic drinks of which my favorite is the Funky Monkey - a
gooey, chocolatey concoction. Actually, you can't go wrong for me with
anything that's got a little umbrella or plastic umbrella or plastic souvenir
figure on it.
Sean: Do you perform live shows? If so, what are your favorite songs to perform
Lance: Yes, I am trying to get started doing live shows. As a 6 piece band, we
played at "Pyscho Exotica" in Los Angeles on Nov.24th & have another date at
the Rhythm Room in Phoenix on Feb.4th- I believe opening for the Friends of
Dean Martinez. Thus far, I've been a bit hampered by not having the people I
can count on consistently to be available but things seem to be taking shape
& I hope to do alot more live shows. I really enjoy being "Karla"! The live
performance begins with "March of the Pundites", which I wrote basically to
introduce the group. Then I yammer a bit & we do "Journey to the Ancient
City" without stopping. I'm planning to add a few pieces from my "other"
albums that are, let's say "out-of-print" but, for now, it's just the
Sean: What is your favorite Frank Sinatra song?
Lance: Oh, probably something like "They Can't Take That Away From Me" or
"Night & Day". I tend to like the "swinging" stuff best but he did one album that I
believe is on Reprise called "The Concert Sinatra" that's mostly slow stuff
but it's all arranged by Nelson Riddle & it's beautiful!
Sean: What are your plans for 1997?
Lance: Plans. Well, as Karla, I want do play out more, probably do another
album, tour. Karla is just one part of my musical life; I'm also working on a
group project called "Harmless" that did an album several years ago & seems
to be getting some renewed interest. It's jazz-influenced weirdness & I hope
to make some progress with that. I'm also working on a classical work - a
chamber opera about Janusz Korzchak, a Polish doctor and champion of
childrens' rights in pre-World War II Warsaw. And, I may do some more playing
with Oscar Brown, Jr. And, and, and...so many things to do. Oh yeah, a spoken
word project with someone from Dionysus records. I hate to be pigeon-holed
musically. Keep em guessing, I say. People never know what I'll do next & I
kind of like that.
Sean: Do you have any final words for the readers of The Continental?
Lance: Yes. For Korla (not Karla) fans out there, as well as those unfamiliar
with this sort of music, the name & some of the trappings of my record are
goofy but it is meant to make me appear goofy- not Korla. If anything, the
music is a serious tribute (not a joke) to Korla, whom I've listened to for
years & whose picture graces my studio wall. I had fun doing this music & I
sincerely tried to write good music rather that resort to low comedy. I hope
no one misunderstands my motives. And...all you out there, keep an open mind
& ear to music. There's a lot of great stuff out there - past & present, even
though I feel our sensibilities are being seriously challenged by musical
laziness & blandness I associate with the general modern yuppie mentality.
To send fan mail, you can write to:
2039 N. Navajo Drive
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
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