We had the pleasure of interviewing Gabe Dixon and Jano Rix when they were in Atlanta a few weekends ago. We talked with them about the band’s history, their future, and their favorite TV shows. Here’s what they had to say:
Tell me a little bit about how you guys got started.
J. Rix: I can answer this one. Winston and I, me and the bass player, were living in a house together and we needed a roommate. Someone told me that Gabe was a cool, trustworthy guy and that’s all I knew. Little did I know [Laughs]. I walked up to him one day and was like ‘You don’t know me but do you want to live in this house with us?’ And he said ‘Sure.’ And that’s how it started.
And the following semester, we were at school and I did an on-campus coffee house performance. We got those guys to perform with me eventually. The response was really great from people that were there, and we decided that we needed to keep it up.
Cool. And that was nine years ago?
G. Dixon: Approximately, yes.
How would you describe your musical involvement since your first album?
G. Dixon: Well, I think the first album was a lot less song-oriented, more geared toward playing, and we had a lot more jazz influence at that time. We were a little more experimental. Between that time and now, I think all three of us have gained an appreciation for song-craft and really great arrangements, the kind of arrangements that really support the song and the vocals. We kind of try to tap into, I guess, some of our early influences, you know? Like early 70’s, rock and pop. Basically we’ve gone from a jam-oriented band to a song-oriented band.
Cool. Who would you say some of your influences were?
G. Dixon: My biggest influences are from the 70’s, I mean, when I was 12 years old I got obsessed with early Elton John, ’71-’73, energetic, creative stuff. Also we all love Joni Mitchell a lot, and her album Blue just blows our mind still today. Jackson Brown, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder… that’s just kinda some of the ones from that era. Of course we have lots of influences now, every day. Every time we hear something new and it’s great, somehow it ends up coming out in our sound.
And what’s your favorite song that you guys do, for this album or your last?
G. Dixon: I don’t have a favorite. You know, different ones suit different times in your life, I guess. Sometimes I just want to have fun and kinda not be too serious, so “Till You’re Gone” is my favorite at that time. Other times I’m very reflective and I need some kind of hope, so that’s when “All Will Be Well” is my favorite but… they’re all different. If I’m feeling kind of romantic or whatever, “Babydoll” is the one. But it’s nice cause we just put out our album out so it’s still fresh to us, so we’re still kind of exploring what we’ve done.
How does the song writing process go for you guys? Chords first, lyrics first?
G. Dixon: Well, I do the song writing. I’ve done a lot of song writing with co-writers in Nashville, which is where we all live. With this last album, usually it started with a little melody idea, a melody and a lyric, and I don’t know what it means, sometimes I have no idea. But it kinda comes out and we’re like ‘Wow, that’s enough to where I want to make a song out of it.’ It could be just one word and a melody, like “Disappear” just started with a hook and a chorus, and I just built the whole song around that. So when I finish the song I usually bring it to the band and we kinda toss ideas around and come up with an arrangement that serves the song the best.
Cool. What would you say your most memorable moment has been since you started the band?
G. Dixon: Hm, most memorable?
J. Rix: Pink Palace?
G. Dixon: Oh, yeah, maybe. Well that was probably one of the best gigs. One of the best playing experiences still. Sometimes we get asked what was our favorite gig and they expect us to say some huge place with like a sea of people, going crazy of course. But there was this party that we played at, when we first started, and it was the second gig of the night. We had played a gig at a club and were all dead tired and wanted to go home. But we showed up at this party at like midnight at the Pink Palace at the College of Miami. And it just so happened that everyone there was a die-hard fan of us so they knew all the words [Laughs].
We set up in the middle of the living room and they were all around us, behind us, like there was someone right behind my head, and like stepping on our pedals and breaking our gear [Laughs].
We didn’t have a PA. We had to throw something together… a couple of amps. It was like the best playing experience we’ve ever had that comes to mind…
How long ago was that?
G. Dixon: Probably a long time ago.
J. Rix: Probably 2000, yeah, it was right when we started.
Do you guys do any covers?
G. Dixon: Sometimes, yeah. We have done a lot of covers but we don’t usually throw in more than one or two in a night. Right now we do a cover of “Hey Joe,” which is a Jimi Hendrix song. We’ve done lots of covers, Police covers, Bob Marley, The Wailers… We did “Day in the Life” by our friend, who is a great singer/songwriter.
J. Rix: We like to do the covers as well or better than the original and different. If we can’t do that then it’s disappointing to even do it. So yeah, that’s like our rule. We usually succeed. Sometimes we fail, and it only gets played once [Laughs].
Very cool. What do you guys do to kill time when you’re on the road?
G. Dixon: We don’t have much time to kill.
J. Rix: Heh, no not really.
G. Dixon: Every once in a while. The other day we played on the taping for The Craig Ferguson Show and we had the whole morning. So I think all three of us at one point or another ended up doing yoga. We do like yoga. We don’t really do yoga together but… we do enjoy that [Laughs]. We’re pretty good about getting exercise, but Winston’s fine restaurants… eating is our favorite hobby. We’re kinda snobs, I guess, when it comes to eating. It’s hard to find good restaurants on the road and we’ve done a lot of touring and eaten at a lot of Waffle Houses and a lot of Burger Kings and Taco Bells. You know, the list goes on. And so if we could find a really good Thai place or… oh, what’s the place here? The Flying Biscuit, really good breakfast place, that’s like our favorite thing to do.
So how was that experience on The Craig Ferguson Show?
G. Dixon: It was great. It was really cold in the studio; they like to keep it down at like 50 degrees or something. Just to get the energy flowing, I guess. And the lights are really hot, but when we first walked in it was freezing.
It was good though, it was fun. We had a lot of fun playing.
J. Rix: Yeah, we had a great time. You can watch it on our Myspace. We just put up a new website, too, finally. The website is gabedixonband.com.
Hah, a little plug-in there
J. Rix: And then myspace.com/gabedixonband.
Very cool. So what about when you’re not touring, do you have any television shows that you guys have to see?
G. Dixon: I guess I got into Heroes for a little while and I watched the entire Six Feet Under Series, that was really great, and Rome, I like that one. uh…
J. Rix: Family Guy.
G. Dixon: Family Guy! I guess that’s probably the only one really. We’re all three big Family Guy fans. And you know, we’ll definitely watch the Simpsons, especially if it’s one we haven’t seen.
Which is probably rare.
G. Dixon: Hah, yeah. Very rare.
So what’s next for you guys. I hear you’re touring now. Tell me something about this tour.
J. Rix: After this tour we have more touring. We’re gonna be going around the country and promoting this record for many months to come.
G. Dixon: Yeah, we’re going out next week for a month and a half with this guy named Justin Nozuka, from Canada, and then after that, we haven’t figured it out yet, we have a few options we’re weighing. So, you know, we’ll be out there for a while.
Interview By: Emma Loggins