When I first met Jakob Dylan last June, he with the engaging grin and startlingly blue eyes, I told him, somewhat nervously, that I had all kinds of questions, and that I hoped I could remember some. His reply put me at ease immediately: "I have all kinds of answers -- I hope I can remember some."
The Wallflowers had their beginning some seven years ago, and Dylan has been making music himself for about ten years. "Initially, I played guitar, but it wasn't enough, so I had to let it filter over into writing as well." And just how does he go about writing those songs? "It's different every time. I haven't really found a pattern that works for me every time. Sometimes the whole lyric to the song is done first; other times it's the music... you've got music sitting around for a year before you can find any melodies to go with it. It's pretty unexpected for me. I just wait for it to happen."
Not surprisingly, then, the band isn't in a big hurry to make records; their last CD was released in 1991, and Dylan was cautious with last year's Bringing Down the Horse: "I was pretty careful which 12 songs we'd use on this record. It'd been so long and after being with this group for seven years and only having two records out... I tried to be careful with the ones that did make it to make it worth the wait. When you've made 20 records, then you can be a little less particular."
So what lies ahead now for the Wallflowers? Dylan chuckles. "Cash. Lots of cash. Swimming pools. Cars for everybody. A catering person." In a more serious vein, he continues: "I just want to be able to keep making records and stay out here on the road. I'd like to be able to do what everybody wants to do, and that's spend all my time doing what I like to do and make a living at it."
In order to stay out there on that road, Dylan endures the joys of traveling: "Having to sit in small towns you've never heard of and you're sitting in a motel by the freeway and you can't walk anywhere... Some people love the road, some people don't. Anything gets tedious after awhile. The shows are always fun, but hanging around for seven days a month, sometimes two months, at a time... it's trying at times." Also trying is coping with show reviews: "It's funny how you're so eager to read the good ones, but the bad ones, you're like, 'That guy didn't get it. It wasn't his style.'"
And then there's that whole process of how to take five different people and meld them into a harmonious and cohesive unit. "The music part is easy," states Dylan, "it's the personality part of living with one another that's trying at times. But what makes good groups is a number of different personalities, because your personality comes through in your playing and that's how you get unique situations."
(Dylan's personality certainly shines through during this interview -- he's a smart ass! Not that that's a bad thing, really. Grinning away, Dylan ordered the photographer to quit taking so many pictures. Why? "You've got way too many smiling pictures there. I'm done. No more smiling for me.")
Dylan's appreciation of those unique situations is evident in his own listening preferences: "There's not a particular style; it's just sincerity in general. It's easier to wear the hat of a style of music and not necessarily be believable, but the voice has got to matter and that could be any kind of music from rap music to rock and roll to country bluegrass... .You have to believe the players. It's not something that you can read on the back of a record. You put something on and you get a feeling that this person or this band is the real deal -- or you just kind of get a vibe that this is a poseur..."
The Wallflowers play the Rage in Vancouver on March 25, 1997.
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