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January 18, 1995

Interview with Kathy McCarty, Part 2

Dead Dog's EyeballKathy McCarty, Dead Dog's Eyeball (Bar None 1994) -- In the second part of this interview, we continue our discussion with Texas musician, Kathy McCarty, about her terrific solo debut, Dead Dog's Eyeball, a collection of songs written by Daniel Johnson.

Metronews -- Did you seek Daniel's input in interpreting any of his songs for Dead Dog's Eyeball?

Kathy -- I've been a friend of Daniel's for a long time. During the last five years, he has been in and out of mental hospitals and my contact with him has been very limited for that reason. About ten years ago when I first met him, I did have some input from him.

Metronews -- How long did you spend recording Dead Dog's Eyeball?

Kathy McCartyKathy -- Overall, I think it took like ten months, but if I had compressed all that time together, it probably would have taken me about three weeks or four weeks. The record was essentially recorded in a man named Craig Ross' bedroom using his DAT machine when it was available...I got together with Brian and Scott, and we recorded the rock tracks live with drums.

For the rest of it, we usually started with one or another instrument, whether it was a guitar or piano, or in the case of "Golly Gee" and "Desperate Man Blues," we started with acoustic bass and guitar, and we just recorded the basic track that way and then we added things to it.

On "Desperate Man Blues," which has a full orchestra on it, John Hagan helped us write and score the orchestral parts and then we went to an art gallery here in town that has a natural reverbing chamber and brought the musicians in and had them put on headphones and they played along with the acoustic bass guitar track. A lot of the tracks that weren't rock so to speak were done in that sort of way, like slowly building upon a basis...I don't know if I'll ever be able to go back to working on a set time limit.

Metronews -- Are you going to take any of this material on the road?

Kathy -- Yes, I am. I'll be going on a two-to-three-month national tour starting in January. I did a ten-day run up to New York, a record release show, and I also played some regional shows in Little Rock and Dallas and Austin. Surprisingly, we've been able to work out arrangements that sound pretty much like the record, even with just four pieces. And that has been really fun...This is a pretty vocally dominant record, so when I'm playing the live shows, it's not a real loud show. A lot of the material is more quieter and more folkier, so you can really have a lot of fun singing the set.

Metronews -- Do you have a way that you describe your music or your meanings musically?

Glass EyeKathy -- Well, let me try to put that in words. My own material tends to be very melodic. I grew up listening to Irish traditional music, so there is definitely a Celtic feel to what I do because that is where my roots are, as opposed to being in blues, for instance.

Metronews -- You didn't grow up in Austin?

Kathy -- I did. But my family is Irish and that's what we play. My mom's records when I was growing up were all folk records and Irish music, Clancey Bros., Chieftains and stuff like that. And so my stuff has a lot of that kind of feel to it, but also having played in Glass Eye and other rock bands, there's a certain amount of what might be termed eclectic or arty rock thing to it...At this point in my development, I don't think I would ever be comfortable doing straight pop or straight rock.

Metronews -- Your album was recorded with a lot of loving care. And I think that shows a great deal.

Kathy -- The home recording method has gotten so inexpensive and so good that the new record sounds just as good or better than the ones that we used to spend a lot of money on in Glass Eye making at studios. Because the stuff that you can have now is DAT machines and the mackey boards and stuff like that, you can get a comparable sound. I think that is going to change the music industry in a lot of ways. It used to be that bands literally had to sell their souls to get an advance so they could go into the studios and make a record. Now you don't have to do that. You just don't have to spend that kind of money. So the bands are not at the mercy of the labels as much as they used to be. However, the bands still are at the mercy of the labels in terms of getting on the radio and really moving a lot of copies.

Metronews -- What do you think about the future of the music business?

Kathy -- Let me tell you a story. I was in the 7-11 the other day and this young gentleman was in line in front of me who had a very, very bizarre haircut, which I can't even describe to you, but I had never seen anything like it, it was way more extreme than a mohawk. And I thought maybe this guy is part of some new trend, some new movement, so I asked him, "What is your favorite band?" and he answered, "I don't know, I don't really care about music, I don't care." And my reaction was, "Wow," because usually people who are that age are very into something.

Kathy McCartySo I asked the next guy in line, who was a Japanese businessman, if he had a favorite band and he said, "No, I turn the radio on and it's playing but I don't really connect with anything I hear." Both of these people listened to the radio all of the time, but it was just background noise, they didn't feel connected to anything that they heard at all. I think that is a very troubling sign, and should be a very strong message in some ways. Even though this is my very random survey of two people, a lot of what is on the radio is not really making an impression on anyone.

I think that it would be very revitalizing for this country if, instead of there being one major or two major media centers, like Los Angeles and New York, where everything comes out of for the rest of the country, if it were more community and city oriented. Say, in Austin, if I could play a show every week and 500 people would come, I wouldn't have to work, and there's a lot more than 500 people in Austin. But it's very difficult.

Metronews -- We have a half a million people in Fresno and we're lucky to get 100 people out to see an act.

Kathy -- Right, and I think it is partly because of the way it is done. Someone is at my door, I have to go.

Metronews -- See you later.

Kathy -- Bye-bye.

-- Randy Krbechek

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