Lily: Good day Mindi, thank you very much for taking some extra time to speak with us again and picking up where we left off from our previous interview last month, I really appreciate it, and welcome Randy to our interview, it is great to have you a part of this interview. How has June been treating you both?
Mindi Abair: June has been a great month for us, as we’ve been on the road. I look forward to every night with this band… I love every second!
Randy Jacobs: June 2018 has seen us pushing our audiences to greater frenzy as the telepathy between us as a band grows more intense with every show “incredible fun”.
Lily: We’re really excited to have Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers performing at City Winery here in Chicago, it is going to be a blast! Mindi, in our previous interview, you stated that you felt you needed more mojo and joined forces with the Boneshakers. Please tell me the details (Mindi and Randy) of how this union came about.
Mindi Abair: I came off the road with Aerosmith in 2012 and really wanted to make a solo record that expanded my world. I had all my rocker friends that I would moonlight with when I wasn’t on the road with my band, and I had my band. How could I have two such distinct lives going and they never met in the middle? I asked for help and I made a record with a bunch of friends guesting on it… Trombone Shorty, Gregg Allman, Booker T. Jones, Keb’ Mo’, Max Weinberg, Joe Perry, Waddy Wachtel. They helped me find a place musically that I could just let it all out and be true to all sides of myself. When I took this recording to the live stage, I needed a little more oomph and more rock ’n’ roll and blues. My first call was to Randy Jacobs.
Randy Jacobs: Mindi reached out to me in 2014 and was wanting to change up her band. While she had great success in Smooth Jazz, she wanted to get back to where her roots and heart lay which is rock and blues rock. She felt my sensibilities were more in line with where she wanted to take the music.
Lily: Did each of you have any expectations before starting to work together?
Mindi Abair: I met Randy when I first moved to LA in Oliver Leiber’s band. Randy was doing backflips off the stage and he was a musical force of nature. He started his band The Boneshakers and I was an immediate fan. Over the years we played on each other’s records, toured on and off together and remained friends. Cut to many years later we ended up on the same festival together in Los Angeles. Half my band was playing in The Boneshakers and he was playing in my band. I sat in with The Boneshakers and it was sheer magic… sheer abandon in every note. I wanted that every night. We decided to join forces and become Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers.
Randy Jacobs: I knew from years ago when we first met and jammed at the Mint in Hollywood that there was a chemistry without working at it, so when the idea was floated about my band becoming a partnership with her it seemed an easy choice.
Lily: What is the songwriting process for the band, is it a collaborative process and in this case with your Christmas CD that is in the works, how do you all manage to find the time in between your live shows while on the road?
Mindi Abair: Time is a tough thing to find together. When we’re touring, we’re busy making the shows happen… there’s no time to write. Our first record was a live record. We decided to join forces, rehearsed for 3 days to find our groove, and I had our first show recorded, just because I thought this band was so special. I knew I’d want to hear it when I was old and grey. It came out so great, though, that we decided to put it out as a live record. We hit the road and a year or so later decided to make a studio record. For the studio record, The EastWest Sessions, I wrote with a lot of different people to create what I thought was the right feel for this band. Randy and I wrote a few songs together and really defined the sound of what this band would be in a studio setting. We brought about 26 songs to the band to play through and vibe with. We chose 11 to record and spent a few days together making it ours as a band. For our upcoming Christmas record, Randy and I met up a few times to brainstorm on song choices and arrangements. He and I came up with the shape of it. We’re set to get together as a band and really find our groove with all of the songs… make them ours as a band. And we’ll go in and record it all together. That’ll be out in November this year!
Randy Jacobs: I am always giving her music grooves and ideas. The Christmas CD is mostly Xmas covers but a couple were written with her old partner Matthew Hager and one with myself and our old buddy Oliver Leiber. We’re hoping for more band input on the next CD.
Lily: What is life like on the road for each of you? Do you all manage to keep (reasonably) normal eating habits?
Mindi Abair: Ha! I love being on the road. Definitely normal eating habits go out the window, though. This past week we’ve eaten BBQ in upstate NYC, garbage plates in Rochester, and “bandwiches” backstage before our show in Ontario, Canada. Our one staple is Starbucks. We could live as a band eating at Starbucks. I get my iced green tea, Randy gets his oatmeal, and when we’re being very bad, we get the lemon cake!
Randy Jacobs: We are so weak!!! Crap everyday, Chips, Cookies, Cake etc!! The infamous band deli tray (bandwich) and we ought to have a Starbucks endorsement. (laughs)
Lily: (laughs) …And how are your family lives fairing while on the road, it has to be hard, right?
Mindi Abair: Anyone who buys into the idea of dating a musician understands what comes with it. There is very little balance… you’re either home writing music to record for the next cd or on the road rockin’ it. Our families know we love them and when we’re home, we’re all very involved with them. FaceTime and email make it a whole lot easier to stay connected!!
Randy Jacobs: My son just graduated collage so I’m always traveling. It was different when he was younger as I had to pick and choose to make myself available for him (various school, volleyball teams and son and dad things) but we communicate almost everyday. My girlfriend is the most patient person in the world, but she knew what she was getting into when we became a couple and being a newscaster, so she gets it.
Lily: How often do you improvise tunes and how often do random/spontaneous jam sessions turn into songs?
Mindi Abair: We’re not usually that band. We write songs and really plan out how they’ll sound on a record. We have a few “jams” we play at soundchecks, but so far none of those have made it to a record… but maybe this time!
Randy Jacobs: Mindi is good about flipping on her iPhone to record when she hear’s something brewing during soundcheck. I had her send some clips to me recently so I’m shifting through some and we shall see.
Lily: When approaching new music, how do each of you manage to keep coming up with original music when each of you have such a vast catalog already?
Mindi Abair: Thank god music keeps playing in my head. I love that “Radio Mindi” is never silent, and I enjoy creating new songs… it’s exciting and energizing. As Randy said, I always keep my iPhone handy for ideas that come to me… I have a bunch of ideas that I’ve sung into it that I’ll go over to bring to the band when the time is right!
Randy Jacobs: Mindi’s more about sitting in a room and coming up with a song, I’m about inspiration to write, I’ll go for weeks of nothing then all of a sudden I’ll have 6 or 7 song ideas some with lyrics, some with just music.
Lily: Are there ever any concentrated efforts to pay homage to any of your individual inspirations when writing new tunes?
Mindi Abair: We all bring in ideas and everyone gets heard. This band is all about putting individual stamps on songs that really showcase each of us.
Randy Jacobs: Now that we have done a couple CD’s and are playing together all the time I definitely feel the band influence. Our keyboard master and sage Rodney Lee, Bassist Derek Frank and drummer Third Richardson are incredibly musical people and I’m looking forward to expanding the band experience on this next project.
Lily: How long did it take for the band to find its groove (as it were), and what would you say, Randy is the strongest quality that Mindi brings to the Boneshakers?
Mindi Abair: Randy is a rock for this band. He didn’t get here by accident. This guy is an insane guitarist as well as one of the best showmen I’ve ever seen. He truly has it all. He inspires all of us every night by his sheer energy and power. He’s so much fun to share the stage with. He means everything he does … he’s a very heartfelt true person and musician.
Randy Jacobs: Not long, the band has such amazing chemistry and personality. Mindi gets it by birthright as her father Lance was a great musician and she grew up with that and it shows every night as singer, sax player and front person Third is bigger than life from behind the drums and with his singing, Rodney is the quiet Boneshaker but his vibe from the keys is the “sexy goo” that makes us even better and both our bass players, Derek and Ben are solid and versatile.
Lily: Aside from the great talent each of you possess, what specific qualities does each musician bring to the Boneshakers that make the Boneshakers’ sound so unique?
Mindi Abair: That’s a big question… to put it simply, Rodney Lee is the wise sage on the hill. He’s solid and thoughtful. He plays when he needs to and doesn’t play when he doesn’t need to. He’s incredibly musical. Third Richardson is the class clown. He’s always “on,” and he gets everyone going. He’s a killer drummer and really drives this band from where he sits. He’s the real thing. Ben White and Derek Frank have been our bass players. Derek recorded the first two records with us, but hit the road this year with Gwen Stefani, so Ben has taken his place seamlessly. Both are incredible musicians and incredible guys. They both have a similar look, so we call Ben the “evil twin.” Randy is of course the Grand Poobah of the Boneshakers. He’s the Dad on tour. He doesn’t accept people being late or not playing 1000% every night. He’s an amazing force on stage every night… he leads by example. Me… I chose these guys to play with. I respect them. I want them to shine and give all of who they are to this band. I encourage that every day. This band is not just about me being out front… it’s the coming together of forces of a bunch of talented individuals.
Randy Jacobs: Personality first and foremost, a big light shines from each one of us and that’s rare. Each person has different backgrounds to draw from.
Lily: How has working with each other changed your individual sound, if at all?
Mindi Abair: It’s my belief that you should surround yourself with greatness, always. I have grown immensely as a player playing next to every guy in my band. They push me. They inspire me. I rise to the occasion playing with them.
Randy Jacobs: I’m freer and not holding back. I love riding the wave generated by the band and it inspires me every show. I feel blessed to work with such a great band. Ben White and Derek Frank (our bassists by committee), Rodney and Third and of course the fire power known as Mindi Abair, just fantastic.
Lily: Will working together be a long term venture?
Mindi Abair: Absolutely.
Randy Jacobs: Count on it!!
Lily: Will there be a ‘Put Some Booty On It, Vol 3” with Mindi perhaps one day?
Mindi Abair: Ha ha… I’ll let Randy answer that one!
Randy Jacobs: That’s funny! In a way “Live In Seattle” could be that already but that being said we have grown so much since that first recorded show. I listen back and its like a different band cause where we are now is incredible.
Lily: Has there been any noticeable difference in either the band dynamics or fan responses since Mindi joined on with the Boneshakers?
Randy Jacobs: I would say yes. Her playing sax and singing definitely has affected the dynamics along with the female perspective. So far, no one has had a negative view, only positive.
Lily: Everyone learns a little bit from working with each other in the music industry, what skills have each of you picked up from working with each other as well as other artist with whom you’ve worked previously?
Mindi Abair: I’ve learned a lot from everyone I’ve worked with. Aerosmith made me realize I wasn’t giving 100% of myself every night. I thought I was, but after touring with them I realized I could give more and should give more. I toured with Adam Sandler a little after college and he made me realize that I didn’t have to think about everything in school terms.. that I should just have fun with the music and let it go… what a great thing to learn early on. Stop thinking and just play. Max Weinberg schooled me further on the intent of rock ’n’ roll. He lived every note and cared and was just a machine of music. Randy inspires me to always strive to be better. When everyone else is goofing off, that guy is practicing or going over something he has to play later.
Randy Jacobs: I’ve been playing for so long (48 years) and with so many artists and characters lol. I’ve always tried to extract the things that make me better from my experiences while staying away from the habits and problems that get in way of my love for playing. Whether it was working with Brook Benton, BB King, Bonnie Raitt, Seal, Dave Sanborn, The Dramatics, Billy Preston or Was (Not Was) etc.. the main thing I’ve gleaned is to never let anyone or anything stop your forward motion.
Lily: Randy, were there any challenges to overcome in the earlier days of the Boneshakers? If so, how did you and the band make your way beyond them?
Randy Jacobs: It was like any band, no matter what you’ve done in the past its like starting at the bottom. You also as leader become doctor, mediator, referee etc. People in bands aren’t always perfect and as the “ Head” you have to be patient and understanding. We are lucky cause we came together easily and we all believe in it.
Lily: For young artists out there, what would you say would be the most important music industry advice you could offer, that could help them in their careers?
Mindi Abair: Always be yourself. There are plenty of people out there trying to copy someone else’s sound. I think your only path to true happiness and success is to find what makes you special and run with it. That doesn’t guarantee success, but you can wake up to yourself in the morning and love what you’re doing. That is priceless.
Randy Jacobs: Do not let drugs or excesses separate you from your dreams and be nice, there’s no reason not be friendly and polite to all those around you. Artists don’t want someone who’s a constant challenge even if they are great.
Lily: Randy, what were some personal challenges you faced early on in your music career?
Randy Jacobs: Detroit in the 60’s and 70’s was tough and at the same time a beautiful place to grow up in because the scene was fertile and exciting, lots of rock, R&B clubs, writers and producers. Once I had a promoter pull a gun on our band cause he didn’t want to pay us (I was 15). First time I produced a project (I was 19) the lawyer for the artist took out a gun and laid it on the table lol. But, all in all I’ve had a blessed career as I’ve never had a straight job. I’ve always played music to support myself.
Lily: That is so shocking to hear about the gun Randy, thank God nothing worse happened. On the other hand, it is great to hear that music has always paid the bills, not many artists can say that. Do you both think that things are easier for young artists these days growing up (musically) in a digital world? Or perhaps more difficult to find an audience in an online sea of millions of artists all trying to do the same?
Mindi Abair: The internet has opened up millions of ways to get your music in front of more people. Everyone has the chance to be heard. With that brings the chance to just get lost in the masses, though. Music used to be curated by record labels and record stores. If you saw a record in a record store, you knew it was going to be something special. There were only a few hundred records available and you had one place to go to find those. Now there are millions of records and songs available and there are millions of ways to find something you might like. It all comes down to making good music now… I truly believe if you’re doing something spectacular, someone will find you amongst the others and listen!
Randy Jacobs: I personally miss the record companies in the way they were. Music people running the music business, not a person with a marketing degree or someone put in charge as part of a stock option deal.The Boneshakers were signed to PointBlank/Virgin by John Wooler and I had the best experience ever because he and the people there believed in us and we would work together to achieve success. I also miss the personal relationship I had with music and artists via Record Stores. People using computers to play and sing on stage is just sad to me.
Lily: In a world of EDM, Rap and all sorts of Pop music out there, where does Mindi and the Boneshakers consider themselves in the world of music and would you say your sound has more of a classic, longer term appreciation for fans of all ages now and in the future to connect with?
Mindi Abair: I see us as a classic rock/blues band. There are elements of soul and jazz in there, but rock and blues is where we’re living.
Randy Jacobs: Roots rock and blues sprinkled with some other genres. Definitely a classic sound but with the sax there’s a freshness.
Lily: So, we had already touched upon what we can expect from your live show in our previous interview and you stated that you love the food here in Chicago, so, where do you expect the Boneshakers will be eating their first meal here in Chicago? Do you have a favorite restaurant?
Mindi Abair: Chicago has the best food in the US. I love Chicago!!! I always go straight for the pizza… Giordano’s or Lou Mahlnati’s.
Randy Jacobs: Being from Detroit and driving distance, I played my first gig in Chicago in 1976 at Ivanhoes with Miles Davis bassist Micheal Henderson, Park West, Chicago Theater, Erie Crown. If I have the time I will get myself over to Jeri’s Grill on Western lol!
Lily: How long with the set be on July 5th?
Mindi Abair: We’ll play about 90 minutes.
Randy Jacobs: 90 mims
Lily: On a completely random note, what would each of you say the world needs most at this time to make it a better place for all?
Mindi Abair: Peace and love, peace and love … and some good ‘ol blues and rock ’n’ roll to to keep us moving!
Randy Jacobs: Peace, Love and Understanding!!
Lily: Aside from more tour dates and working on the Christmas CD, what else can we expect from each of you this year and in the future?
Mindi Abair: We’ll be coming out with a new Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers cd the first quarter of 2019. We’ll be hard at work coming up with the songs and feel for that one this year in addition to our Christmas record and a lot of cool tour dates.
Randy Jacobs: A new Mindi and the Boneshakers CD for sure.
Lily: Thank you both very much for taking the time again and we really look forward to ‘shaking it up’ with Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers on July 5th at City Winery, it will be epic!
Mindi Abair: Thank you. It’s always great to be in Chicago. Chicago is a great music town and of course a great blues and rock town. We love playing here. And City Winery is a great venue… great food, great wine and a very very cool spot to hang.
Randy Jacobs: You are most welcome and we will be hitting it rock hard at City Winery. See you there!