Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently conducted an interview with Dave Kushner about the VELVET REVOLVER guitarist’s latest music endeavor, PUSHERJONES. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Icon Vs. Icon: PUSHERJONES combines visual and musical elements. What can you tell us about the project and how it came about?
Dave Kushner: It all started a few years ago. There is a guy named Don Bernstein, who buys all of the memorabilia for the Hard Rock Cafe. Any of the guitars, instruments or outfits you see hanging in there, he is behind it. He had all of these really great stories and we became really good friends because he would buy stuff from VELVET REVOLVER. We became great friends and when he would come to L.A., he would stay at my house. At one point, he said, “Oh, you have to meet these two friends of mine. They work on ‘The Simpsons’.” We went out to see Chad Smith‘s [RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, CHICKENFOOT] band at this place called The Baked Potato. I met Ralph Sosa and Dave Warren, who is now my partner on this project. Again, we got along really great. We were swapping stories and hanging out. At some point I said something like, “Oh yeah, I would really like to do something like the Gorillaz because you could pick and choose your band.” I was in VR at the time. Obviously, growing up in Hollywood, I had a lot of favorite musicians. As a musician, you always look for an opportunity to work with different people and not have a big commitment. People shy away sometimes by saying, “Well, I can’t really tour now or I can’t do this or that… ” because everyone is busy and has so many things going on. We just started developing and from that experience with “The Simpsons”, I really got into developing story ideas and the story behind each character. We just kinda kept going with it and it became this idea for a TV show. We were always kinda working on one phase of it as we went along, whether it was drawing the characters, writing songs for it, recording music for it, getting different guys to play on it or writing different stories for the character backgrounds. It was a great experience because there were all of these moving parts and you could always jump to different things if you got stuck on one. We just kept going with it and going with it and then one of the old managers from VR sent me an e-mail a month ago asking if we had any songs for “The Avengers” soundtrack. I sent him our song, “Count Me Out”, and they apparently liked it enough to use it on the soundtrack. That kinda kick-started everything! We were kinda at the point where were we going to start trying to debut this thing anyway as a show or whatever. There are just so many heads to it, we can kinda go in a lot of different directions.
Icon Vs. Icon: What can you tell us about the characters who make up the band, both the animated form and the players themselves? How does it all tie together?
Dave Kushner: Well, that is a really good question because I don’t really have a good answer. Like I said, there are a lot of moving parts. The characters in the story — the story is very similar to my story. It is basically about a band that has been established for a while and they lose their guitar player. The singer has an old friend that he played little league with. There is a guy he knows that is a solid guitar player. This is the kinda guy who has been in obscurity for a while and they basically call him up from the minors to the big leagues, ya know? It kinda goes from there. There are different elements to it. It is basically a comedy but it is based on my experiences in VELVET REVOLVER, whether they are stories that I have heard or stories that I have experienced by being in a band at that level and for lack of a better term, being in bands with people with substance abuse challenges, drinking problems or whatever else. There are many trappings in being in a band at that level but it is kind of a funny way of putting it out there!
Icon Vs. Icon: You are working on an EP. What can fans expect sonically?
Dave Kushner: Sonically, it is going to be like “Count Me Out” as far as the sound goes. We basically recorded the whole thing all at once with myself, Joey Castillo from QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE and Scott Shriner from WEEZER. We recorded all of the basic tracks for five songs at Josh Abraham‘s studio, the guy who did the VR record. We did it a couple months ago and now it is at the point where I did vocals with Franky Perez of SCARS ON BROADWAY last night for a song. I think I have got just a few more things to fine tune as far as overdubs and vocals. It should be ready in the next couple of weeks.
Icon Vs. Icon: It sounds like things are moving pretty quickly at this point. How long do you think it might be until this project is in full swing and might end up on TV or wherever it may take you?
Dave Kushner: I really don’t know. I am hoping it is very soon. Anything is possible. Fortunately, because of the “Avengers” attachment, it has happened so quickly that there are two or three directions we can go with this thing and now it is just a matter of picking which one is the best. At this point, it is like, do you go focus on the TV show aspect? Do you focus on the music because that is what is purely getting the attention right now? Do you just focus on finishing the EP and getting that out there? Like I said, it is like a two- or three-headed beast! [laughs] We also have to figure out how to do this thing live and we have a few ideas on how to do that. How do we present these characters to the world? There are just so many moving parts!
Icon Vs. Icon: Have you given any thought to potentially playing the EP live, even if it isn’t the full blown version of the band you are working towards?
Dave Kushner: I’d like to but it is a matter of not what is the best way but what is the coolest way. For example, I saw DETHKLOK on tour, you know, the “Metalocalypse” band?
Icon Vs. Icon: Oh yeah, sure.
Dave Kushner: I actually went with Scott, our bass player. It was like a year ago at The Palladium. They had an interesting way of how they did it between having video on a big screen and having the band play in front but the band was kinda in the dark but you could still see them. Nowadays with technology there is so much you can do. In Japan, they are doing a lot of cool things with holograms live. Obviously, everyone has been talking about the Tupac thing but before that we had seen this more animated looking style in Japan. People are going to these sold out shows of this animated character, a girl singer. So we are just trying to figure out the coolest way to do it because that is where I come from. All of us are guys who have played in bands and there are certain things you enjoy about that but, then again, can you pull everyone together at the same time? If you can’t, then you figure out a way to present this thing live so that it is really cool and it gives people maybe a lot of what they are not expecting.
Icon Vs. Icon: Sounds like you definitely have a full plate at the moment. Do you have any other irons in the fire musically?
Dave Kushner: Right now, I am still kinda talking with guys in VELVET REVOLVER to see what is going on there. Still trying to figure out that stuff. I talked with Duff [McKagan] today about it and anything is possible. As far as other projects, I have been doing a lot of composing for television. I am actually doing music for Vince Vaughn‘s production company for a show called “Sullivan and Sons”, which is on TBS. It is kinda like “Cheers”. So I am doing all of that and just trying to keep everything going!
Read the entire interview from Icon Vs. Icon.