For the last 20 years, The String Cheese
Incident have been delighting fans far and wide with its all-inclusive style of
music, which incorporates everything from Bluegrass to Afrobeat, that
constantly transcends the label of “jam band” that is often applied to it. Though the band is highly regarded for its extended
improvisations in the live setting, the group has also proved itself to be a group
of master songwriters, able to distil the very essence of its tunes in the
studio, while still leaving it room to be expanded upon on stage. Earlier this
year, the band released its sixth studio album, Song In My Head, which also represented the band’s first new studio
recordings in nine years. The songs on the album are superbly crafted and seem
to perfectly marry the group’s exceptional writing skills with its powerful talent
as individual musicians. CULTURE was
able to catch up with The String Cheese Incident’s drummer, Michael Travis, to
hear all about the making of the new album, the band’s recent fun on the road,
and their excitement about the recent wave of progressive cannabis legislation
across the country.
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String Cheese Incident (SCI) released its sixth studio album, and
first studio recordings in nine years earlier in 2014. Was it at all
intimidating to head back into the studio after so much time away?
The main feeling was, “Wow, we’re a much
better band than we’ve ever been.” It was only four days of recording, and we
got perfect, great takes. We just felt much more professional and accomplished
with the process of studio recording than we ever have. SCI has never been too secretive for your support for cannabis
legalization in this country. How do you and the band feel about all of the
recent momentum for progressive cannabis laws in the U.S.?
It’s all just a wonderful thing! I encourage
anybody who reads this to recognize that we are the front of a new chapter in
world history and that the eyes of the whole world are on us. So, be very
careful how you present this to those who are un-indoctrinated. When egos enter
sharing, for example, concentrates and edibles, it’s going to end badly. Just
try to think of where you’re at, and where they’re at, especially if it’s some
new person, and make sure it’s presented in a very delicate fashion so that we
can be proper stewards of this whole new movement.
You’ve said in the past that you used cannabis to help enhance
your creativity. Is cannabis something you still use to aid in your creative
Yeah, we do! It’s something that I feel that
I’ve learned to wrangle in, and I don’t do it anywhere near show times anymore,
because I need all of my faculties about me. But, if I sit down with an
instrument and take a fresh hit, it really creates more of a space in my brain
that allows me to look at the instrument in different ways, which I wouldn’t
have otherwise. I don’t even necessarily think I’d be a musician without
marijuana; it’s been a constant adjunct to my creative process.
Beyond the new record and assorted festival dates, does String
Cheese Incident have any more plans for 2014?
To keep on getting better musically! I mean,
we feel like we’re on this curve where we haven’t felt this strong about where
the band’s at in a long time; thirteen years maybe. So we’re all really looking
forward to becoming super mega bad-asses and really trying to become a “real”