BWW Interview: From Metamorphosis to a GROUNDLINGS' ROAD TRIP, Larry Treadwell's Ever Making Music to Rock the House
Attending The Groundlings shows on a Friday or Saturday night, you will sure to hear one of the most rocking bands in Los Angeles or anywhere smoking music is appreciated. The Groundlings Band consists of Larry Treadwell on guitar, Greg Kanaga on drums and musical director Matthew Loren Cohen on keyboards. I previously had the opportunity to interview Matt last year. (Click interview to link to my interview with Matt.) This time I managed to lightly twist the arm of Larry to chat with me in between performing the current hysterical GROUNDLINGS ROYAL WEDDING (Click review to link to my ROYAL WEDDING review.) and before rehearsing the next Friday/Saturday show GROUNDLINGS ROAD TRIP PARTY.
Thank you for taking time for this interview, Larry!
When did you start playing for The Groundlings? 1998?
I started playing steadily at The Groundlings in 1998. I had come to the shows in the early 1990's because I was in a New Orleans style band called the Village of Odd Waters with Teddy Zambetti and Willie Etra, who were already playing The Groundlings shows. When Probyn Gregory got too busy with the Eels and soon after, Brian Wilson; I was offered his position as theatre guitarist by Teddy and Willie.
You, Matt and Greg play the Friday/Saturday night shows - the opening, the closing, and all the in-between skits while the stage managers change the sets. A frequent go-to song I hear is Earth, Wind & Fire's "Fantasy." When I interviewed Matt, he told me "Fantasy" is a favorite for its chord changes and disco/funk beat. What's your favorite go-to song for your fantastic scene change songs?
In the early days, it was Frank Zappa's "Peaches en Regalia." Now I am liking our version of "Buenos Aires" from EVITA.
How much rehearsal time do you three get with each new show?
We usually do two three-hour rehearsals at my studio, spread over two weeks.
How much time does the trio get to come up with the accompanying musical interludes for the new shows?
Once we know the theme of the next show, we begin discussing possibilities three or four weeks before the show opens.
Do the three of you just throw out ideas and the best one sticks?
We often hear ideas from the show's director about what the overture should be. Sometimes we create a medley from songs that relate to the show's theme; or we compose new music that would do the same. The director and the actors often have song requests for us. Once we see the skits during rehearsal, we brainstorm song ideas that could relate to them.
You're right in the mix of the crowd's reactions to the incredible craziness on The Groundlings stage. Although you're back is towards the audience, what 's the craziest audience response you've witnessed in your twenty years playing there?
About ten years ago, a fight broke out in the third row. Some drug-crazed people had to be physically removed. One of them was knocked out by a very strong floor manager, and the show eventually resumed.
Can you name an early, then unknown, Groundling that you said to yourself, "He/she's gonna be big!"?
What is the origin of the name of your recording studio "Simple Roger"?
A few decades ago, I wrote a song about a boy coming of age who happens to be mentally challenged. A woman from upper society has sex with him. When it becomes known to her friends, she cries rape, and he is locked away. It's all fiction, but his nickname helped to create my studio's name: Simple Roger Studios.
What made you decide to pick up a guitar, as opposed to any other musical instrument?
In the 60's, I loved the music of the British Invasion, as well as, the Motown Sound. Little did I know that, in my early twenties, I would be signed by the producer of the Rolling Stones to a Motown label deal. But at fifteen, I wanted to play the electric piano or organ. My dad said paying tuitions was making money scarce, so he suggested I try learning to play my brother's old nylon-string classical guitar because those keyboards were expensive. Guitar turned out to be a good fit for me. I shoved a cheap microphone into the sound hole of the guitar and plugged the mic into my mom's tape recorder for an amplifier. That was my first 'electric' guitar.
Who were you early musical idols?
I was a Stones fan. The Hollies, Cream, the Beatles once they evolved, Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young, Jimi Hendricks, the Who, Traffic. What a great time for music!
In your quite impressive and lengthy resume of live and recorded guitaring, can you pick the very first time you had to say to yourself, "I can't believe I'm playing with ...!"?
In my early twenties, I was hired to play on a Rolling Stones album called "Metamorphosis." Although not in the room with anyone famous other than the producer, Andrew Loog Oldham; I was playing a guitar part played by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin on a Rolling Stones recording of their song "Heart of Stone." I had to learn and play the whole guitar part without any stopping or punching in, because they were transferring tracks while I played, and my guitar part would put Jimmy's part in both speakers. It was around 1972.
Can you share a funny, funny incident performing with one of your many renown collaborators?
Back in 1972, while taking a 3am break from recording a song written with bandmate Sukie Honeycutt and Andrew Oldham ("Nowhere" from the self-titled album Repairs), I sneezed on a mirror lying on a nearby table, sending white powder everywhere. Awkward!
What is in the near future for Larry Treadwell, besides making kick-ass music at The Groundlings?
Presently, I am moving into my new studio, which I built in Valley Village. It's a lot bigger than Simple Roger, and has taken about ten years to complete. I contributed music to the soundtrack of a newly released movie about financial scammer Barry Minkow, called Con Man. Some cool things are in the pipeline, but I will not talk about them before they launch, lol!
Thank you again, Larry! I look forward to hearing you and Matt and Greg rock The Groundling house again!
For GROUNDLINGS ROAD TRIP PARTY ticket availability, as well as, all other Groundlings shows, log onto www.groundlings.com