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Progressive Rock Interviews

Jeremy Shaw

Interviewed by Vivian Lee
Interview With Ozone Quartet`s Jeremy Shaw From 2000
MSJ: What can you tell me about your musical education?
I attended the Berklee College of Music where I majored in Composition and Performance. As a child, I started piano lessons when I was five and continued until age ten. After stopping lessons I still continued to play and still do today. I also studied French horn from age eight until age eleven. I wish I had stuck with it. However, I never picked it up again. I started playing guitar at age twelve.
MSJ: What does a project like Neptune Ensemble do for a musician?
Musicians typically learn something from every musical project they have been involved with on some level. Neptune Ensemble was always on the edge in many ways. The band members were all very busy with numerous other projects. It was difficult for us to rehearse. There was lots of winging it on stage. So I would say a project like Neptune Ensemble teaches a musician to be resourceful in the moment; a kind of sink or swim thing. It also teaches a musician to be a lot more patient in terms of how much time people are able to commit. The music we played was an unusual mix of different styles which also would teach a musician to wear many different musical hats.
MSJ: What do you bring back to Ozone Quartet from something like Neptune Ensemble?
All the things I mentioned in the previous question would certainly apply. I suppose all my accumulated experiences throughout my musical journey play a role at times. Specifically, the composition and performance skills I developed with Neptune Ensemble would be things I bring to Ozone Quartet.

MSJ: Any similar projects in the pipeline?
I’m currently assembling a new band to perform Neptune Ensemble compositions and new tunes appropriate to that style.
MSJ: You work with Ozone Quartet and you've played live with local band Mama Sutra. What other musicians would you like to work with?
I play with a local saxophonist named Cecil Johnson sometimes. I'd love to get a project together with him in the future. There's also a drummer named Wayne Viar whom I've been trying to get something going with. I'm frequently meeting and hearing musicians that it would be fun to jam with. Of course there's only so much time in everyone's schedules. I do play every Tuesday night at the West End Wine Bar on Franklin street in Chapel Hill with the Sideways Alley Jazz Band.  

MSJ: Who do you consider to be your major influences as a guitarist?
My early influences were Southern rockers like the guitarists from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, and ZZ Top. Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen were also bigtime early influences. Of course I've always loved Jimi Hendrix. I went through a heavy Jerry Garcia phase where I copped a lot of his songs and riffs. I actually consider this to be one of the biggest learning phases of my guitar development. It bridged me into improvisation and jazz. At the same time I was also listening to John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, Allan Holdsworth, and Steve Morse. After my formative development I was better able to grasp where these more advanced players were coming from.
MSJ: What do you consider to be your influences in general?
My tastes in music are extremely eclectic. I believe that quality transcends style. Therefore, anything I've ever heard that seemed to have integrity and honesty in its creation and execution could be cited as an influence. However, I would have to say that I've always been most intrigued by improvisational music.
MSJ: What is the biggest Spinal Tap moment that you have ever had?
I remember years ago as a teenager doing a gig at this party in the country outside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We were playing on the rickety deck of this little shack with ancient wiring. Right at the high point of an extended and self indulgent guitar solo my amp, the bass players amp, the PA and the entire fuse box blew up. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but there were lots of sparks and blueish/grey smoke to add to the effect.
MSJ: What would you see as the differences and similarities between working with Ozone Quartet and working solo, or with other artists?
Ozone Quartet takes a democratic approach where everyone tries to be involved in the creation of the music. This makes the group's sound a fairly even blend of our individual styles. There isn't a lot of room for ego and we all have to compromise sometimes to allow the music to be created. When you’re a sideman you attempt to play appropriately depending on the context. Musicians with a good reputation as studio players or sidemen adapt very well to many different musical situations. When you’re leading a band and writing and arranging most of the music you spend a lot of time making sure the material is being performed the way you want it to be. Playing solo gives you a lot of freedom. You only have to answer to yourself and the audience. Of course there are common threads that run through all music making. You always have to put a little work into any project if you want it to sound good.
MSJ: What can you tell me about the new Ozone Quartet project, and how are you integrating into the band?
We're currently performing all the material from the first two CDs. I initially had to spend a good deal of time learning the tunes. Now that I know all the material, we're spending lots of time writing together as a band. We hope to have the material for a new CD by this fall. The new material may redefine the band's sound somewhat, but there was a well established sound long before I joined the band.
MSJ: What sort of direction does it seem like the album is going to go?
I'm sure there will be some continuity from last album It's really still kind of early to say what kind of changes in direction may happen. Just the fact that I'm adding my musical personality to the composition mix should have some bearing on it.  

MSJ: I understand you will be touring in support of the Nocturne album. How long will that last?
Probably through the late fall.
MSJ: How do you prepare for a tour?
Practice, practice, practice then hope for good luck and good turn out!
MSJ: What can you tell me about your custom guitar?
It's made by Steve Klein from Sonoma, CA. It has a Steinberger Trans-Trem, Joe Barden pickups, a solid rosewood neck, and an Engleman spruce body. It's definitely the most ergonomic guitar I've ever played.  

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought?
Yin Yang by Victor Wooten.
MSJ: What was the last concert you attended?
I was at a private festival in North Carolina where a variety of lesser known bands performed. Before that I saw Leo Keottke in Hickory, North Carolina.
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 5 at
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