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Interview with Creston Spiers, September 17, 2016

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:14 - Early life

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Partial Transcript: So, where'd you grow up?

Segment Synopsis: Spiers talks about growing up beside a levy in West Monroe, Louisiana, where his father was involved with dirt track racing and his mother worked in real estate and secretarial positions. He recalls practicing piano at school, learning guitar from his aunt, and listening to country music, Elvis, and Kiss.

Keywords: Alive II; House of the Rising Sun; LA; chords; family; parents; racecars

00:06:38 - Introduction to school band and rock music

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Partial Transcript: Were you figuring out songs off records on your own at this point?

Segment Synopsis: Spiers discusses moving to Florida and becoming a "band geek." He mentions artists such as Eric Clapton, Rush and Al Di Meola, who influenced his music during junior high and high school.

Keywords: Alex Lifeson; FL; Guitar Player Magazine; blues; drums; fake books; family; lyricism; percussion technique; writing

00:18:40 - College years

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Partial Transcript: Nope, when I was in Florida, I was a really good percussionist.

Segment Synopsis: Spiers talks about studying orchestra and performance percussion at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University before ultimately becoming more interested in writing rock music and playing guitar. He mentions that after leaving Maryland, he earned an English degree at Trenton State College and moved to Philadelphia.

Keywords: MD; NJ; New Jersey; Peabody Conservatory of Music; auditions; conducting; ensemble

00:27:27 - Weasel Stick / Philadelphia music scene

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Partial Transcript: So you started playing a couple shows when you lived in Philly?

Segment Synopsis: Spiers discusses his first Philadelphia band, Weasel Stick, which he claims fell apart due to poor music quality. He also mentions other prominent bands that were becoming popular in the early 1980s.

Keywords: Clean Water Action; Harvey Milk; Khyber Pass Pub; Steve Swan; The Jesus Lizard; Weasel Stick; hardcore punk; heavy metal

00:35:25 - Making music in Athens

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Partial Transcript: So you decided to move to Athens to be- your parents were down here.

Segment Synopsis: Spiers discusses moving to the Athens area after losing his job in Philadelphia. He reminisces about meeting Stephen Tanner at a record store, admiring the Melvins' sound, and realizing he could incorporate his orchestral training by writing rock music in longform.

Keywords: Commerce, Georgia; GA; Steve Swan; adaptation; moving; the South

00:44:36 - Perspectives on music theory

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Partial Transcript: And other bands have done that, but they played, like, you know, instead of just the regular triad they might play like a first and a fourth or something like that.

Segment Synopsis: Spiers offers his insights into dissonance and the stability of intervals, as well as discussing the cultural and emotional subjectivity of music theory, which he believes is taught too scientifically.

Keywords: Stravinsky; chord progressions; dissonance; inversion; resolution; twelve-tone

00:56:50 - Harvey Milk's style

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Partial Transcript: Uh, tell me about the first time you played with Stephen, and was Paul there?

Segment Synopsis: Spiers discusses the development of the band Harvey Milk's musical style, which began with finger busting and later came to include guitar riffs and a slowed, stretched out sound. He also describes the limitations that venues' acoustic infrastructure created in being able to translate the intended sound to the audience.

Keywords: amps; longform; riffs; technology

01:05:32 - Evolution of Harvey Milk / Record labels

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Partial Transcript: You guys didn't do any touring for a while though did you- for maybe a couple of years?

Segment Synopsis: Spiers outlines some of Harvey Milk's small gigs, describes the band's changing membership and musical influences, and chronicles the band's time off. He talks about working as a teacher and being involved in bands like Mother and Capital A during Harvey Milk's hiatus, and he describes what the band was like when it restarted. Spiers also ponders the value of post-production and the declining importance of record labels.

Keywords: Courtesy and Good Will Toward Men; Kyle Spence; Paul Trudeau; Special Wishes; The Pleaser; break; comeback; mastering; teaching; touring

01:18:34 - Ted Hafer / Homemade music equipment

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Partial Transcript: I'm trying to think of the year, but you played with Ted Hafer and his thing right after Porn Orchard broke up- in Six String Fever.

Segment Synopsis: Spiers admires Athens artist Ted Hafer's musical talents, including his songwriting skills, drumming and guitar abilities, high range, and vocal emotional intensity. Spiers and the interviewer also discuss getting creative with small equipment to enhance their music's volume, feedback, and resonance.

Keywords: Buckshot; Porn Orchard; SPIN Magazine; Six String Fever; classic rock