Wanton Marshals brings considerable weight to the contention that Jazz is superior to other popular musical genres, and to a narrow, bespattered view of the jazz tradition. As forcefully opinionated as he usually is, though, Marshals was brought up short a few times during this Joint interview with keyboardist Herb Hancock (b. 1940). For Marshals, free Jazz, electric Instruments, and pop Influences blur that tradition’s boundaries ND dilute Its artistic force.
For Hancock, these are all vital resources for the creative musician. But despite Hammock’s interest in other genres, his credentials as a virtuosic beeper are beyond reproach, making arguments about the musical limitations of pop musicians tricky. Years earlier, handing the young trumpeter one of his first big breaks, Hancock had Invited Marshals to tour with him, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Willamette legendary rhythm section that had backed Males Davis In the sass. So Marshals Is In a bind: while he does not respect what Hancock respects, he cannot help respecting Hancock.
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In this interview for Musician magazine (moderated by journalists Raff Kabob and Vic Garbing), each musician reveals much about his values, goals, and musical training. Their disagreements are instructive, reminding us of the many consequences of how we think about Jazz’s past and future. Both musicians are principled and passionate. For Marshals, “black music Is being broken down”; for Hancock, the more walls come down, the better. MUSICIAN: We don’t want to get you guys Into an argument. HANCOCK: Oh, we won’t, we never argue. MARSHALS: I would never argue with Herb.
MUSICIAN: I’ll tell what we want to start with. Is there a necessity for any young player, no matter how brilliant he is, to work his way through a tradition? MARSHALS: That’s a hard question to answer. When we deal with anything that’s European, the deflations are clear cut. But with our stuff It all comes from blues, so “It’s all the same. ” so that’ll Imply that If I write an arrangement, then my arrangement Is on the same level as Duke Elongating. But to me it’s not the same. So what I’m trying to determine is this terminology. What is rock ‘n’ roll? What does Jazz mean, or R&B? seed to be was Just somebody who was black. In pop music they are white. Now we know the whole development of American music is so steeped in racist tradition that It defines what we’re talking about. MUSICIAN: Well there’s the Berkeley School of Music approach, where you learn technique. And some people would say, “Well, as long as it’s coming from the heart, it doesn’t matter about technique. ” MARSHALS: That is the biggest crock of bullwhip in the history of music, that stuff about coming from the heart. If you are trying to create art, the fit thing is to look around and find out what’s meaningful to you.
Art tries to make life meaningful, so automatically that implies a certain amount of emotion. Anybody can say “l have emotion. ” I mean, a thousand trumpet players had soul and emotion when they picked up trumpets. But MARSHALS: Because Louis Armstrong’s technique was better. MUSICIAN: Is that the only thing, though? MARSHALS: Who’s to say that his soul was greater than anybody else’s? How can you measure soul? Have any women left him, did he eat some chicken on Saturday night? That’s a whole social viewpoint of what paying’ dues is. So Duke Elongating shouldn’t have been great because by definition of dues he didn’t really go through as much as
Louis Armstrong, so naturally his piano playing didn’t have the same level of soul. Or Herb wasn’t soulful, either. Because when he was coming up, black people didn’t have to eat out of frying pans on Friday nights. MUSICIAN: Well, one of the ways of judging soulfulness, as you say, is suffering. But it’s not the only way. MARSHALS: I read a book [by James Lincoln Collier] where a cat said that “in smoothening we notice that Louis Armstrong’s playing took on a deeper depth of emotion. Maybe that’s because his mother died. ” What brings about soulfulness is realization. That’s all.
You can realize it and be the richest man in the world. You can be someone living in the heart of Harlem in the most deprived situation with no soul at all. But the social scientists … Oh, soul. That’s all they can hear, you know. Soul is part of technique. Emotion is part of technique. Music is a craft, man. HANCOCK: External environment brings fortune or misfortune. Both of them are means to grow. And that’s what soul is about: the growth or, as Wanton said, realization. To realize how to take that experience and to find the depth of that experience in your life. If you’re able to do that, then everything becomes fortune.
MARSHALS: The thing that makes me most disgusted is that a lot of guys who write about the music don’t understand the musicians. People have the feeling that Jazz is an expression of depression. What about Louis Armstrong? To me, his thing is an expression of Joy. A celebration of the human condition. HANCOCK: Or the other concept is somebody who, out of his ignorance and stupidity, dances and slaps his sides. No concept of intelligence, focus, . And the study, the concern. Even the sulfurous and conflict that concentration goes into the art of playing Jazz. Look, I didn’t start off playing Jazz.
I hated Jazz when I first heard it. It sounded like noise to me. I was studying classical music, and at the same time, going to an alpaca grammar school. I heard groups like the Ravens. But I really didn’t have many R&B records. I was like a little nerd in school. MARSHALS: Well, I don’t know about that. HANCOCK: Jazz finally made an impression on me when I saw a guy who was my age improvising. I thought that would be impossible for somebody my age, thirteen or fourteen, to be able to create some music out of his head. I was a classical player, so I had to learn Jazz the way any classical player would.
When it came to learning what one feels and hears as soulful nuances in the music, I actually had to learn that technically. MARSHALS: That’s interesting, because I did it the opposite way. When you put out Headhunters and Thrust, Branford and I listened to those albums, but we didn’t think it was Jazz. My daddy would play Jazz, but I was like, Hey, man, I don’t want to hear this sit. I grew up in New Orleans – Keener, Louisiana, actually, a country town. All I ever did was play “When the Saints” and stuff. I couldn’t really play, I had no technique.
So when I came to high school, everybody else could play he trumpet and I was the saddest one. The first record I heard was John Chlorate’s] listen to Jazz, man? HANCOCK: None of your friends were playing it? MARSHALS: None of the people I knew. You couldn’t get no women playing Jazz! Nobody had a philosophy about what life was supposed to be about. We didn’t have a continuum. I never listened to Miles or Herb. I didn’t even know you played with Miles, until I was sixteen. Then when I started listening to Jazz, I would only listen to a certain type. Only bebop. So I can relate to starting from a fantasy approach.
But when you play music, you’re going to play the way you are. MUSICIAN: What about your statement at the Grammas? MARSHALS: It was very obvious what I was saying. HANCOCK: I have to congratulate you on that. You implied that there was good music and music that was in bad taste. Everybody wondered, “What music is he referring to? ” MARSHALS: Listen, the only statement I made was that we’re trying to elevate pop music to the level of art. Not Just in music. Pop culture. Pop anything. I have nothing against pop music. I listen to the radio. I’m not saying people should listen to Jazz or buy Jazz records, or even know the music.
Just understand what the music is about, cause the purpose and the function of pop music is totally different from Jazz. HANCOCK: A few people that have interviewed me have asked me if the statement that he made was directed against what I was doing. That never dawned on me. MARSHALS: I wasn’t even thinking about that. MUSICIAN: A lot of people do think that. MARSHALS: People think I’m trying to say Jazz is greater than pop music. I don’t have to say that, that’s obvious. But I don’t even think about it that way. The two music say totally different things. Jazz is not pop music, that’s all. Not that it’s greater .
I didn’t mean it was obvious. HANCOCK: That’s your opinion, which is fine. Now you’re making a statement of fact. MUSICIAN: So is classical music “greater” than Jazz? MARSHALS: Hell no, classical music is a European idiom. America has a new cultural identity. And the ultimate achievement for any culture is the creation of an art form. Now, the basic element of our art form is the blues, because an art form makes life meaningful. Incidentally, I would like to sandy I hope you will print theosophical music is not white music. When Beethoven was writing music, he wasn’t thinking white or black.
Those terms became necessary in America when they had to take white artists and make them number one because they couldn’t accept black artists. We constantly have historical redefinitions to take the artistic contributions out of the hands of people who were designated black. The root of the colloquial stuff throughout the whole world now comes out of the U. S. Negroes lifestyle. MUSICIAN: Is there something in some of the rotator’s of this music that has a certain inner strength? MARSHALS: People don’t know what I’m doing basically, because they don’t understand music.
All they’re doing is reacting to what they think it remotely sounds like. We don’t have to go back to the sixties. Beethoven didn’t have to go back to Haydn. We never hear that. What they say is, Well, Beethoven is an extension of Haydn. Everybody has to do Tchaikovsky, Bartok, But in European music people have a cultural continuum. And our music is Just, “Well, what is the next new Negro goanna think up out of the blue sky that’s goanna be innovative? ” Ornate Coleman sounds like Bird; he was playing rhythm changes on “The Shape of Jazz to Come. ” don’t know what rhythm changes sound like.
So they’re goanna write a review on what I’m doing and I’m supposed to say, “That’s cool. ” HANCOCK: When you first asked the question, I heard it as sensitively as he heard it. ‘Cause I said to myself, “He’s saying Wanton is going back to play the sterilely of music in 1984. ” MUSICIAN: We all agreed apparently at one point that Jazz was more meaningful, in some sense, than pop music. Since you work in the two idioms, what do you feel is different? HANCOCK: Wait a minute. I don’t agree. Let me address myself to that. When we have life, we have music.
Music can be manifest in many different forms, and as long as they all have purpose, they shouldn’t be pitted against each other as one being more important than the other. That’s stupid. That’s like apples and oranges. MUSICIAN: All right, you’re doing both. What’s the difference in the quality of the experience with each kind of music? HANCOCK: Let me tell you how I started getting my feet wet with pop music. When I got into high school and started getting into Jazz, I didn’t want to hear anything else but classical music and Jazz. No R, nothing, until I heard James Brown’s “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag. Later on, when I heard [Sly and the Family Stone’s] “Thank You Valentine Be Mice Elf Again,” it Just went to my core. I didn’t know what he was doing, I mean, I heard the chorus but, how could he think of that? I was afraid that that was something I couldn’t do. And here I am, I call myself a musician. It bothered me. Then at a certain point I decided to try my hand at funk, when I did Headhunters. I was not trying to make a Jazz record. And it came out sounding different from anything I could think of at the time. But I still wasn’t satisfied because in the back of my head I wanted to make a funk record.
I had gotten to the point where I was so directed toward always playing something different that I was ignoring the validity of playing something that was familiar. Visually I symbolize it as: There’s the space from the earth up to somewhere in the sky, then I was going from the sky up to somewhere further up in the sky. And this other thing from the earth up to the sky I was kind of ignoring. And so one thing about pop music that I’ve discovered is that playing something that’s familiar or playing the same solo you played before has no negative connotations whatsoever.
What’s negative is if it doesn’t sound, each time, like it’s the first time you played it. Now, that’s really difficult for me to do. Take Way Way Watson, for example. He’s not a solo player, he’s a rhythm player. But he used to play a little solo on one tune and it would be the same solo every night. And every night he would get a bigger hand than I would. And every night it was the same notes but it sounded fresh. So my lesson was to try to learn to play something without change, and have it sound fresh and meaningful. MARSHALS: I look at music different from Herb.
I played in a funk band. I played the same horn parts every night all through high school. We played real funk tunes like Parliament Fungicidal, authentic funk. It wasn’t this Junk they’re trying to do now to get their music played on white radio stations. Now, to play the Haydn Trumpet Concerto is a lot different from playing “Give Up the Funk” or “Mothers Connection. ” I dig “Mothers Connection,” but to me what pop music is trying to do is totally different. It’s really geared to a whole base type of sexual thing. I listen to the radio.
I know tunes that they have out now: here’s people squirming on the ground, fingering themselves. It’s lovely realizations of sex. Now, to me, music to elevate that, to elevate the people to a certain level rather than go down. HANCOCK: It’s not like that, Wanton. If it were, it would Just stay the same. Why would the music hanged? MARSHALS: Because they get new computers. You tell me, what’s the newest thing out that you’ve heard? HANCOCK: Okay, Prince, let’s take that. MARSHALS: What is the tune “Purple Rain”? Part of it is like a little blues. I’ve got the record, I listen to it all the time.
The guitar solo is a rehash of some white rock. MUSICIAN: It’s a rehash of Hendrix, too. MARSHALS: Well, I’m not goanna put that on his head because he can do stuff Hendrix never thought of doing, which a lot of people want to overlook Just to cut him down and say he sounds like Hendrix. You can print that if you talk about him. But there’s no way you can get new in that type of music because the message will always be the same. HANCOCK: There are songs that have a lot of musical episodes. I saw Rick Springfield video. I don’t care if he’s got a bad reputation. I heard some harmonic things that were really nice.
MARSHALS: You can get the newest synthesizers, but that musical only go to a certain level. I’m not saying that’s negative. MUSICIAN: In a sense you’re describing what Herb’s doing. MARSHALS: He knows what he’s doing, right? [laughs] HANCOCK: It’s not true because I know. You mention drum machines. There are samples of pop music today using drum machines specifically in a very automated way. Automation doesn’t imply sex to me at all. It’s the opposite of sex. MARSHALS: But that’s not what we’re talking about. HANCOCK: You said the music is about one thing, and it’s about sex.
And I’m saying it’s not Just about that. MARSHALS: We don’t even want to waste our time discussing that because we know that that’s what it’s about. HANCOCK: If you name specific things, I would certainly agree with you. If you say dancing is about sex, I would agree with you, too. But I think you’re using some false ammunition. MUSICIAN: In most of the world’s traditions sex is both connected with the highest creative aspects and then can be taken to the lowest basic MARSHALS: That’s what I’m saying. What direction you want to go with it and which level it’s marketed on.
When I see stuff like videos with women looking like tigers roaming through the Jungle, you know, women playing with themselves, which is cool, man, but to me that’s the high school point of view. The problem I have is when people look at that and start using terms like “new video art with such daring concepts. ” A lot of stuff in our society is racially oriented, o. I read a quote from Herb. He said, “l heard that people from MET were racist oriented and I didn’t want to take any chances, so when I did my video I made sure they didn’t focus on me and that some of the robots’ faces were white. That somebody like him would have to make a statement like that. MUSICIAN: That is a heavy statement. MARSHALS: But what he’s saying is true. Maybe they wouldn’t have played his video. And what pieces me off is the arrogance of people whose whole thing is Just a blatant imitation of the ingrained tradition. Blatant. And even the major exponents of this hype of music have said that themselves. And they’ll have the arrogance and the audacity to say, “Well, we Just goanna play white people’s videos. ” How am I supposed to relate to that? MUSICIAN: On the other hand, “Rocket” won five video awards.
It heartland who have never heard black music are beginning to hear it. It’s probably because of what you did. MARSHALS: They’re still not hearing it. Black music is being broken down. It’s no longer black music. This is not a discussion or argument. You get the Parliament records and the EWE [Earth, Wind & Fire] and the James Brown, the Marvin Gage, and you listen. What I hear now is Just obvious rock ‘n’ roll elements like Led Zeppelin. If people want to do that, fine. If they want to sell more records, great. What I’m saying is, that’s reaffirmation of prejudice to me.
If bending over is what’s happening, I’m going to bend over. MUSICIAN: Is there another side? What do you think, Herb? MARSHALS: Well, Wanton is not an exponent of the idea that blending of musical cultures is a good thing. MARSHALS: Because it’s an imitation of the root. It loses roots because it’s not a blending. It’s like having sex with your daughter. HANCOCK: Okay, let me say this because this is something that I know. Up until recently a black artist, even if he felt rock ‘n’ roll like Mica Jaeger, couldn’t make a rock ‘n’ roll record.
Because the media actually has set up these compartments that the racists fit things into. You can hear elements of rock from black artists. MARSHALS: You don’t Just hear elements. What I hear in them is blatant, to the point of cynicism. HANCOCK: Okay, okay. I’m not disagreeing. I know that there have been black artists that have wanted to do different kinds of music than what the R stations would play. That to me is more important, the fact that we can’t do what we want to. MARSHALS: I’m agreeing with you, everybody should do what they want to do. But what’s happening is, our vibe is being lost.
I see that in movies. I see it on television. What you have now is white guys standing up imitating black guys, and black guys sitting back and looking at an imitate Zion of us saying, “Oh… ” With awe in their faces. You have black children growing up with Jeerer curls trying to wear dresses, thinking about playing music that doesn’t sound like our culture. MUSICIAN: Does Herb “hear” what he’s doing? MARSHALS: Herb hears what Herb plays. But a lot of that music Herb is not rating. And when Herb is playing, he’s goanna make the stuff sound like Herb playing’ it. HANCOCK: Let me explain something about “Rocket. If you’re a black artist doing some forms of pop music, which “Rocket” is, you have to get on black radio and become a hit. And if you get in the top twenty in black radio urban contemporary they call it now [laughter]anyway, if it’s considered crossover material, then at that point the record company will try to get the rock stations to play it. And so I said to myself, “How can I get this record exposed as quickly to the white kids as to the black ids? ” So the video was a means to an end. MUSICIAN: Did it bother you, having to make that decision? HANCOCK: I didn’t care about being in the video.
I don’t care about being on the album cover of my record. It’s not important to me. Why should I have to be in my own video? [Marshals winces] MUSICIAN: But why shouldn’t you? I mean, it’s your video. HANCOCK: That was not an issue with me. I’m not on the cover of most of my records. What I care about is whether the cover looks good or not. I wanted the video to be good. That’s the first thing. The second thing I said: Now, how am I goanna get on his strategy is a way of breaking something in? MARSHALS: If you cheese enough, they’ll make you President. HANCOCK: I wasn’t cheesing. I was trying to get heard.
MUSICIAN: He broke open the medium, partially. MARSHALS: Michael Jackson broke the medium open. Let’s get that straight. What’s amazing to me is that [Herb’s] thing was used by all the cats that were doing break dancing. HANCOCK: There were three things against it. First of all, no vocals. Secondly, that kind of music wasn’t even getting any airplay at that time. Third thing is my name. MARSHALS: Right. But the only thing that I hate, the only thing that Augusts me about that is I’ve seen Herb’s thing on Solid Gold as “New Electronic” type of Jazz or something. I mean, it’s a pop tune, man.
Our whole music is Just going to continue to be misunderstood. You have to understand that people who hear about me, they don’t listen to the music I play. If I have girlfriends, they don’t listen to what I’m playing. They don’t care. They only know Wanton as an image. Or Wanton, he’s on the Grammas, he has a suit on. So their whole thing is media oriented. I’m not around a lot of people who listen to Jazz or classical music, forget that! I did a concert ND people gave me a standing ovation before I walked onto the stage. But in the middle of the first piece they were like [nods off] … O that lets you know right there what’s happening. MUSICIAN: Is this a black audience? MARSHALS: Black people. Yeah, this is a media thing, you understand. I’m talking to people who are in the street. HANCOCK: I understand what you’re talking about, about black artists with Jeerer curls and now with the long hair. And I don’t mean the Restarts, either… MARSHALS: Well, check it out. Even deeper than that, Herb, is when I see brothers and sisters on the TV. I see black athletes, straining to conform too hype of personality that will allow them to get some more endorsements. What disturbs me is it’s the best people.
When somebody is good, they don’t have to do that. I was so happy when Settee’s album came out. I said, Damn, finally we got a groove and not somebody Just trying to cross over into some rock ‘n’ roll. HANCOCK: I understand what you mean about a certain type of groove, like this is the real R, and so forth. But I can’t agree that there’s only one way we’re supposed to be playing. I have faith in the strength of the black contribution to music, and that strength is always going back to the groove, anyway. After a while certain things get weeded out. And the music begins to evolve again.
MARSHALS: Now, check out what I’m saying HANCOCK: No, ’cause you’ve talked a lot MARSHALS: Okay, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, man. HANCOCK: [laughter] Give me a break! I’ve never been on an interview with you, so I didn’t know how it was. Wow. W. ‘! I understand what you’re saying, but I have faith that whatever’s happening now is not a waste of time. It’s a part of growth. It may be a transition, but transition is part of growth, too. And it doesn’t bother me one bit that you hear more rock ‘n’ roll in black players, unless it’s Just not good. The idea of doing rock ‘n’ roll that comes out of Led Zeppelin doesn’t bother me.
I understand it’s thirds information that came from black people to begin with, but if a guy likes it, play it. When Tony Williams and I first left Miles, we did two different things. My orientation was from a funk thing. What Tony responded to was rock ‘n’ roll. That’s negative. MARSHALS: I agree with what Herb has said. If somebody wants to go out with a dress on, a skirt, pantheism’s their business. But what happens is not that one or two people do that. Everybody has to do that. It doesn’t bother me that [black] medians can be in film, I think that’s great. And the films are funny.
What bothers me is that only comedians can be in films. I think since the sixties, with people on TV always cursing white people but not presenting any intellectual viewpoint, that any black person who tries to exhibit any kind of intellect is considered as trying not to be black. We have allowed social scientists to redefine what type of people we are. I play some European [music] to pay respect to a great, great music which had nothing to do with racial situations. Beethoven wasn’t thinking about the social conditions in America when he wrote something, he was thinking about why did he have to get off the street for the princes.
So his music has the same type of freedom and struggle for abolition of the class system, as Louis Armstrong’s music is a celebration of that abolition. See, Beethoven’s music has that struggle in it. Louis Armstrong is the resolution of that. This gigantic cultural achievement is Just going to be redefined unless I take an active part in saying what I think is correct. HANCOCK: Now that you’ve voiced alone all, but many of your objectionable do you do about it? How do we make it better? If all we do is complain… MARSHALS: We’re not complaining. We’re providing people with information.
HANCOCK: Well, there’s two ways to provide people with information. One way is to point your finger at them or intimidate them by pulling at their collars. But many times what that does is it makes the person feel uncomfortable, and then if he starts to get on the defensive, you’ve lost more ground than you’ve gained. So I’ve found from my own life that I can get more accomplished by getting a person inspired to do something. Inspiration, not intimidation. MARSHALS: ‘Kept intimidation is good, too. HANCOCK: This is where you and I differ. I haven’t said much before because I’m not like that.
MUSICIAN: You’ve really defined your point of view in terms of this interview, and Herb hasn’t yet. MARSHALS: I was talking too much. Sorry I was being uncoil. HANCOCK: No, no, no. It was cool. It’s all right. I’ll come back another day when you’re not here …. [general laughter] MARSHALS: The problem is in the educational system. I’ve had conversations with people about you. Musicians have no idea who you are. They have no understanding or respect for being able to play. It’s Just like they think we’re you or something. The first question I hear everywhere is, “How do you get over?
How did you get your break with Herb? ” I said, “When I was with Herb and them, I was Just fortunate to be on the bandstand. Just to be learning from Herb … ” No, seriously, man, I’m not saying it to kiss your ass. You know it’s true. HANCOCK: That’s what I feel about him. He came in with one trumpet, nineteen years old playing with me, Ron, and Tony. MARSHALS: I was scared. HANCOCK: When I heard him play, then I had to call up Ron and Tony and say MARSHALS: Hey, this mother is sad. (laughs] HANCOCK: Look, it’s goanna work. What he did was so phenomenal. You remember that tour. That tour was bad.
MARSHALS: I learned so much on that tour, man. HANCOCK: So did l, man. You taught me a lot. You made me play. Plus you made me get some new clothes. [laughs] MARSHALS: I can get publicity until I’m a hundred. Stuff that you know. Even “Rocket” has elements that I can relate to. But in general you made funk cats musicians. And that has been overlooked. MUSICIAN: In the end, were the compromises involved in doing the video worth it? HANCOCK: I had a choice. And I’m proud of the choice that I made. But as a result, what happened? Between Michael Jackson’s video and my video, the impact opened the thing up.
Now, I’m sure Michael can take more credit for that. Anyway;ay, if it was true that MET was racist MARSHALS: It was true. You don’t have to say “if. ” HANCOCK: I have never claimed that to be true. MARSHALS: I’ll say it. HANCOCK: I’ve only claimed that this is what I observe. But now you see plenty of videos with black artists. It doesn’t even look like there’s any difference anymore. Even though I wasn’t even looking for that as a solution, if this additional thing was accomplished, I feel really good about that. And I feel good about getting five awards n MET. They were trying to copy something before.
Now they realize they have something that’s more powerful than what they were trying to copy. MARSHALS: The sound of Michael Jackson’s music, the sound of Prince’s music, the sound of “Rocket” that sound is not black. People are consciously trying to be crossovers. I’ve read interviews where people say, “We take this type of music and we try to get this type of sound to appeal to this type of market to sell these many records. ” MUSICIAN: Do you think Michael did that? MARSHALS: Of course he did. But the thing that separates Michael Jackson from all there pop artists is the level of sincerity in his music.
MUSICIAN: You’re saying he’s got sincerity, and yet at the same time he contoured his sound? MARSHALS: He’s a special person. He’s not contrived. What I don’t understand is why he did that cut with Mica Jaeger. HANCOCK: I’ll tell yea, I Just did a record with Mica Jaeger and, man, Mica Eager’s bad. MARSHALS: Yeah, well.. HANCOCK: I didn’t know that. And you don’t know that, either. MARSHALS: I’m not doubting that he’s bad… HANCOCK: Wanton, you don’t know that. MARSHALS: I’m not doubting that he’s bad, Herb. Check it out. But a lot of pop music s geared toward children.
It’s not something that I can really have a serious discussion about. HANCOCK: You’re right. It’s geared toward teens and the preteens. So what it’s doing is stimulating my own youth and allowing me to express my own youth. Because it’s not like I’m doing my daughter’s music. This is my music. And we both happen to like it because we both feel that youthful element. People tell me I look younger now than I did five years ago. And I do… Except in the morning. [laughs] I would venture to say that a lot of it has to do with the music I’m playing now. Electric music, you know. I’m finding a door that hasn’t been opened.
That’s exciting me, and I’m given the opportunity to use some elements from the “farthest out” Jazz stuff in this music, and have it be unique. MUSICIAN: How do you get human feeling in automated, computerized music like that? HANCOCK: First we create the music. Afterwards I sit back and listen, and sometimes I discover things that I wasn’t really thinking about when I was doing them. I hear the elements that have warmth. Sometimes it’s a particular synthesizer sound. But it could be how it’s played. Of pop music is to sell records that appeal to people on a level that they want to accept it on.
If you put out a record and it doesn’t sell, then your next response is, Why didn’t the record sell? Let’s try to do this or that to make the record sell. MUSICIAN: That’s terribly condescending toward pop… HANCOCK: Why are we asking him about pop music? What does he know about pop music? MARSHALS: I know a lot about pop music. HANCOCK: NO, you don’t. MARSHALS: I played in pop HANCOCK: Wanton, you don’t. You think you know. MARSHALS: I don’t want to mess with you. HANCOCK: The very statement that you Just made makes it obvious that you don’t know. MARSHALS: That’s cool.
I’m not going to get into it. I’ve had conversations with you, where you told me, “Man we’re trying to get this kind of market. ” It’s not like I don’t know pop musicians. It’s not like I don’t listen to music. HANCOCK: Then there’s some things you misunderstand about it. Because I never use the word sell. MARSHALS: I don’t know. Remember what you told me before? “Yeah, man, my record just went gold, man. I need to get me some more records like that. ” We had long conversations about that. We shouldn’t be arguing about this in the press, man. We have to be cool. We’ve talked about this already.
HANCOCK: Do you think I’d object if my records sold millions? MARSHALS: Don’t say you don’t think about that. HANCOCK: Of course I would. MARSHALS: Because you do. You do think about that. MUSICIAN: To think about it and have it as your aim are two different things. HANCOCK: Thank you. MARSHALS: I’m getting tired now. You said the opposite of what I wanted to hear. HANCOCK: Look, I’d like to have a Rollers, too. But I’m not purposefully trying to set myself up to get a Rollers. MARSHALS: Pop music is something that you don’t really have to know too much to know about. HANCOCK: [long silence] …
Okay, next! MUSICIAN: When you play pop music, do you feel as musically fulfilled as when you’re playing Jazz? MARSHALS: Don’t lie, Herb. HANCOCK: Okay. I only feel musically fulfilled when I can do both. If I don’t play any jazz this year or half of next year, I’m goanna still be doing fine. But at a certain point I’m goanna want to play some. Now, what I wanted to say was when I did “Rocket,” when I did Light Me Up … I’m not sitting down and saying, “What can I put in this music to make it sell? ” That’s what I don’t do. When I’m sitting and actually making the music, I know my frame of mind.