Jeff Sipe Interview
Jeff Sipe, AKA Apt Q 258, is one of the most prolific and creative drummers around. Anyone who has seen him pound away on his kit with fireplace tools or kids? toys will attest to that! Jeff has buoyed the performances of many of today’s leading bands and stars such as the Aquarium Rescue Unit, Jeff Coffin, Susan Tedeschi, Oteil Burbridge, Jazz is Dead and Hellborg/Lane. Jeff says his drumming is all about it is about surrender and submission. Jeff agreed to submit to Abstract Logix questions and then surrendered some answers.
AL: The CD Temporal Analogues of Paradise has set the standards.
JS: Temporal Analogues of Paradise was a defining moment in my music life. It was like a culmination of years of trying to craft my art. I had been laying the roots with Colonel Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit and then after that was that over, jumping in with Jonas and Shawn made me blossom and my individual voice came out in the music. The intent with Jonas when we first met was just to create on the spot instantaneous compositions. No rehearsals and no pre conceived notions at all. We would perform an entire night without any songs and then at the end of the show finish it up with some signature tunes that we had practiced. The idea was very similar when we embarked on ARU but as time passed it became more of a rigid thing.
AL: Had you been playing any music like it?
JS: It was quite similar in the beginning days of Aquarium Rescue Unit. Col Bruce and the rest of us would get together and just start playing However as time evolved, things became structured. We were more into playing the songs than actually improvising. With Jonas and Shawn, I felt that magic was created and magic can rarely be composed or thought before. It just happened. Bruce also allows for absolute freedom, His philosophy it is the intention behind everything, not what gets produced. I know of so many players that found their voice with Col Bruce. With Jonas it is more sacred but with Hampton when it gets deep it is folly. They are in contradictory levels. Bruce would always say that when in doubt, go out….. stop and do something familiar. Jonas’s intent is to involve spirit and his ego in his playing and sometimes the ego is trying to personify itself and soul is guided with spirit. It was like going to church to your creator and giving it back to him. There would be nights that if I did not feel like playing, I did not. I was just at the back burner listening …
AL: Do you have any personal projects you are working on?
JS: I have been thinking of a new record in the fall. Just be a bunch of old friends. However, me and Jimmy Herring got together in studio not too long ago. It was hysterical. The opposite of music. It was a release from everything. It is something like avant garde. undermining consistently. Almost mysterical. Something that we have both learned from Col Bruce. Just keep going down in music. I don’t think it is going to be released. Its not meant for many too many people. (Laughs…). I do have an album out with the Apartment Projects that was recorded live at the Brandy House. It is an open jazz album. There were 3 basic themes that night. Funny thing was that there were moments where me and Count M Butu would be playing the same rhythm, and that was surprising to say the least.
AL: How did you get together with Jonas and Shawn?
JS: Blame it on Colonel Bruce. When ARU traveled through Memphis Shawn Lane would sit in. So, right after ARU thing was over, Shawn asked me whether I would try something with him and Jonas, and I decided to try it. I drove to Memphis , no tunes, no discussions and one of the most exciting gigs I have ever played They had met at the NAMM shows . It’s rare that you get a magical moment documented. I had a great time in Europe. Everywhere we went. Those shows in Berlin and Paris were great. We had barely played for that long and the music was fresh and we were pure. There would be moments of synchronicity. I still remember a part on the CD where we had reached a mysterious level and then for the next 30 seconds were almost scared. After playing a bunch of shows, we were just performing in psychic levels. No rehearsals, no set list, just go and play. I think it is a matter of trance and surrender….
AL: Do you think playing in a trio provided more space?
JS: A trio can get away with more than other configurations. In a duet some of that is revived. Three-way is different than a monologue; you have to surrender to the idea. I really like Keith Jarrett’s conversations. They are always shifting conversations. Dave Holland has got into a lot of that too. He does a lot of metric stuff. He is always into odd musical signatures.
AL: Jeff, thanks for your time. I hope you guys can get together more often. All the best.