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Interview with Todd McBride, January 9, 2019

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:13 - Early interest in music

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Partial Transcript: So Todd, talk a little bit about where you grew up and how you got interested in music?

Segment Synopsis: McBride describes growing up in Griffin, Georgia. He talks about always loving music, mentioning Hank Williams, KISS, and Led Zeppelin. He describes beginning guitar lessons at age 14, quitting the lessons, and then teaching himself guitar a few years later. He says that he was more interested in becoming a singer than a guitar player and focused on trying to sing and play at the same time.

Keywords: Carter Family; FM broadcasting; Jimmy Rodgers; Mel Bay; brother; childhood; family; music education; music teacher; practice; radio

00:07:21 - Friendship with Vic Chesnutt

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Partial Transcript: Wasn't even thinking about writing too much at that point until I met Vic.

Segment Synopsis: McBride describes meeting Vic Chesnutt in the summer of 1982 while he was a student at Gordon State College. He talks about working at Turtle's records where he saw Chesnutt for the first time. McBride discusses trying to start a band with his friend Mark Williams and Chesnutt, talking about how he would write the lyrics and Chesnutt would turn them into songs. McBride describes how Chesnutt joined a local new wave band called Random Factor, and he talks about how Chesnutt was fired for not fitting the band's image of a guitarist.

Keywords: Bobby Burns; Michael Jackson; The Bistro (Atlanta); Thriller; Trumpet; clothing; composition; performance

00:14:56 - Playing with Random Factor and moving to Athens

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Partial Transcript: So they asked me to join.

Segment Synopsis: McBride describes replacing Chesnutt as the guitarist for Random Factor and moving to Atlanta with the band. He talks splitting his time between the punk rock scene in Atlanta and his job at Turtle's Records in Griffin. He talks about visiting Athens for a weekend and deciding to move there to explore the music scene and finish college at the University of Georgia. He describes sending letters to Vic Chesnutt as he recovered from the car accident that left him paralyzed. He discusses how Chesnutt began to focus on lyrics as he recovered. McBride talks about how Chesnutt moved to Athens and wanted to start a band with McBride.

Keywords: Isadora Duncan; Little; Marcus Hall; Murfreesboro, TN; Pail Lombard; Pershing Point, Atlanta; R.E.M.; Rabbit Box; The Nasty Castle; The Night Porters; new wave music; punk rock

00:20:37 - La-Di-Da's

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Partial Transcript: So we didn't really get together musically again until--It's 85. And that's when La-Di-Da's kind of started playing.

Segment Synopsis: McBride describes forming a Band called the La-Di-Da's with Vic Chesnutt and other musicians. He talks about how people were learning how to play their instruments, stating that they were writing good songs, but they did not have the technical skills to play them. McBride describes how the band was together, off and on, from 1985 to 1987 before getting back together in 1994 for a few shows including the Human Rights Festival. He talks about how they collaborated on multiple cassette tapes. He discusses how the La-Di-Da's went with Pete Buck to Robby Collin's studio to record an album in 1987; however, he says that Chesnutt decided to break up the band before they were done with the album.

Keywords: 40 Watt; Andrew Donaldson; Billy James; Club Gaga; Gunny Brecksteal; Jean Willson; Mark Williams; Mercyland; Rob Veal; Terry Jinks; music production; records

00:30:06 - The Dashboard Saviors

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Partial Transcript: Pete, after that he kind of took me aside and said, well whatever you get going on next. Let me know when you get ready to do something, and I'll come take a look at you.

Segment Synopsis: McBride describes starting a band called Boom Chasers with Rob Veal and Alex Marquez which did not work out. Then he talks about starting the Dashboard Saviors with Rob Veal, Terri Jinks, and Jack Logan. He describes living with other musicians in a house called The Nasty Castle. McBride talks about how the band got a single deal with a singles only record company before getting a full album deal with Medium Cool Records. He describes how everyone quit their other jobs and moved into the same house after signing the record deal.

Keywords: Brian Krane; Greg Baldwin; Jeb Baldwin; John Crist; Lava Treatment; Michel Gipson; Mile Nine Studios; Morning Glory; Peter Jesperson; The Coolies; Twin/Tone Records; k-mart

00:39:28 - Composition process and touring

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Partial Transcript: And so you're getting your legs. You have been writing for three or fours years at this point.

Segment Synopsis: McBride describes the influence of Vic Chesnutt who taught him about singing and music composition. He then talks about how the Dashboard Saviors recorded their first album and started touring across the country. McBride discusses how touring helped give the band purpose. He describes recording three albums with Peter Buck and continuing to tour.

Keywords: Chicago; Chris Robinson; Midwest; Minneapolis; concerts; harmony; lyrics; suicide

00:45:30 - European tours and solo career

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Partial Transcript: You guys got over to Europe, didn't you?

Segment Synopsis: McBride describes how the Dashboard Saviors were going to break up before a German record company called Blue Rose Records offered them a European Tour. He talks about how the band finally decided to break up after the 60 day tour which motivated him to sign a solo deal with Blue Rose Records for a six week European tour. He describes being the opening act for Granfaloon Bus. McBride compares the two tours and talks about cultural differences in Europe. He states that European audiences were more respectful because they did not talk during songs. He also compares performing solo and performing with a band.

Keywords: Amsterdam; Austria; Belgium; Blue Rose Records; Germany; Go to Blazes; Scandinavia; South by Southwest; Vic Chesnutt

00:57:45 - Jack Logan and Liquor Cabinet

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Partial Transcript: Were you involved with any Jack Logan?

Segment Synopsis: McBride describes how Jack Logan moved into the house he shared with other musicians called The Nasty Castle. He talks about how Logan constantly played and recorded music with people at the house. He discusses being part of Logan's band Liquor Cabinet before quitting to focus on The Dashboard Saviors. He states that Logan's band was very successful after he left.

Keywords: 4-track; Bulk; Dave Philips; Keith Richards; Lava Treatment; Let's Active; Neil Young; Ragged Glory; Rob Veal; Talk Is Cheap; public address system (PA)

01:02:58 - Current work and the Band Energy Ranch

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Partial Transcript: What do you got coming up?

Segment Synopsis: McBride describes how he does not have a career in music anymore, but he states that he might collaborate with the Georgia Dish Boys on an upcoming project. He also talks about visiting Vic Chesnutt at his house called the Bad Energy Ranch.

Keywords: College Square, Athens; Miracle Legion; Pink Floyd; Spyder; tour