Rock n Roll Wasteland
Rock n Roll Wasteland by Pike Band
©2002 Kevin Pike Music
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Interview with Kevin Pike, who wrote and recorded the album Rock n Roll Wasteland

Q: How did Rock n Roll Wasteland come about?
A: In the summer of 2001 I bought an electric guitar. I had never really played guitar before, so I started messing around with it to see if I could record with it. I ran it through an Ibanez ClassicMetal distortion pedal, and pretty soon the first track of the album, Sideburns was born. I had so much fun creating this song that I decided to try and make a whole album that was a tribute to classic rock, garage rock and indie rock.

Q: Did you play all the parts on the album?
A: Yes. The drums were the biggest challenge, along with some of the harmony parts. I recorded everything in bits and pieces and edited it together.

Q: You're known primarily as a jazz musician. Why a rock album?
A: I love many different genres of music. I have a real fondness for music of the seventies, and a lot of that happens to be classic rock. It felt right to make a guitar rock album.

Q: How long did it take to complete the album?
A: About a year. I started in the summer of 2001. I was working a job at the time that was 4 days a week. So I worked on the album every Friday and some on weekends for about a year. In September of 2001 I found out our first child would be born in late April of 2002. So my goal then became to finish the album before she was born. I made it in time.

Q: What's your favorite song on the album?
A: Probably Rock n Roll Wasteland, part 2. I remember composing the lyrics for this on the Blue Line train in Chicago on my way home from work. The song is about nostalgia, and how the songs you grew up with stay with you as you get older, even though they may be slightly out of tune with who you've become. It was the last song I recorded for the album, and has become my favorite. That and Vibraslap Man.

Q: What was your process for coming up with the songs on the album?
A: I worked on them one at a time in the exact order that they appear on the album. I had an idea for what the arc of the album would be, so I forced myself to compose the next song that fit that form after completing each track. I had a specific song in mind as the inspiration for each song on the album, although it really wound up just being a starting point. If I told you what the songs were, you would say my songs don't sound anything like those.

Q: Give us an example.
A: OK. I've always loved the groove on Eric Clapton's Lay Down Sally. Didn't Want to Be Your Lover was supposed to be like that song. I did use brushes on the snare, but that's about where the similarity ends. The chorus was inspired by Liz Phair, but again, you'd be hard pressed to say my music sounds anything like hers.

Q: You're known for some rather unusual recording techniques in your DIY music. What were some of the things you did on this album?
A: Ah, let me think. I wanted to get a really percussive sound on the acoustic guitar at one point so I used a screwdriver instead of a pick and double-tracked it. I recorded the bass drum and snare drum separately from the hi-hat on most tracks. On Hymn for the New America I recorded the lowest notes on my electric guitar and bari sax at a different sampling rate so that the pitch and timbre was different when played back at regular speed.