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Progressive Rock Interviews

Julie Slick

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Julie Slick from 2010

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music?

Well I started playing bass when I was 11 years old, and enrolled in the Paul Green School of Rock, an after school performance based music program, when I was 12.  I continued to take lessons there until I was 18, and saw it grow from a one-teacher institution into a full fledged business.  A documentary was made, and schools sprouted up all of over the country.  I went on to Drexel University, where I was admitted into their brand new Music Industry program, and I studied sound engineering and scoring there until I graduated in 2008 (while on tour with Adrian - I got the gig with him in 2006).
MSJ: How did you land the gig in Adrian Belew's band?
Back at the end of 2005, Adrian did a little tour with the School of Rock All-Stars, a troop of the school's best and brightest, who have the wonderful opportunity of traveling around and learning how to put on shows in the real world - not in a comfortable, controlled environment.  Adrian enjoyed it so much that he asked Paul in the spring if he had any former students that were a little older, and ready to tour around as a part of his latest project - The Adrian Belew Power Trio. My brother Eric and I were the lucky recommendations, and have enjoyed playing with Adrian immensely over the past 4 years - he's really a hero of ours.
MSJ: What have been some of the best moments touring with Belew?
Oh, they're definitely during the international touring that we've done. In 2008 we played to 150,000 people at a festival in Kazan, Russia - it was just awesome.  And back in 2007, we had a residency at the Blue Note in Tokyo, so we got to stay and play in the same place for a week. That's rare in touring - people often forget that we're in these areas on business - it's fun business, yes, but it's still work and we're usually on a strict schedule.
MSJ: How did you connect with the guests on your new disc?
All through Adrian pretty much - a few members of King Crimson and their side projects appear on the disc (Robert Fripp, Pat Mastelotto, Michael Bernier).  And I met Marco Minnemann when we did some shows with UKZ in Russia.  André Cholmondeley has been our tour manager/tech/all-around-everything awesome guy on the Power Trio tours - he also heads Project/Object, a great Zappa cover band.  The others are all good friends, who happen to be awesome musicians.
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?

Hmmm... I'd probably be in culinary school or better yet, in Europe studying under some fancy chef - I love to cook!

MSJ: How would you describe the sound of your music?
I think it's very diverse - electronic-yet-organic maybe?
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
King Crimson (obviously), Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Aphex Twin, Cornelius, Tortoise, Primus, The Flaming Lips, Zappa.
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
Well I'm playing a few solo sets, opening for Adrian. If those go well, perhaps I'll book some more... Also, I have a project with my brother Eric and our good friend Robbie "Seahag" Mangano called “PAPER CAT,” and we hope to do more shows soon.  It's an instrumental power trio, and Robbie plays a baritone guitar with a whammy pedal, and he gets some really interesting sounds.

Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?

Hmmm... I never really thought about it - Adrian was pretty high on my list, and through him I've gotten to play with some pretty awesome people... I guess  for the future, Mike Keneally, Bjork.

Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It's been said by the major labels that it's essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales - would you agree?

Ya know, I think it's hurting the labels, yes, but it's been actually pretty good for savvy artists who know how to work the system. The playing field is totally level, and it's quite chaotic, with so much flooding the internet - anyone can go viral, and the labels are losing control of the business.  It's been really pretty great for me, as an unsigned artist... yes, I may not have the exposure that I would if I were signed, but I'm really lucky to have great fans who support me, and I don't have to worry about repaying loans to a label.
MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?
I think it's great - it helps generate exposure without a label - as I said, anyone can go viral, but it helps to have a good amount of multimedia out there.
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
Oh geez - I don't like to have enemies!
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band, who would be in it  and why?
Honestly, the power trio and PAPER CAT already contain some of my favorite musicians.  It would be interesting to work with Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood though...
MSJ: f you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
See all of my musical influences...
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
I've been listening to a lot of Badly Drawn Boy lately, specifically "The Hour of the Bewilderbeast" and "Have You Fed the Fish."  It's just really good, well composed alt rock.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Stickmen! Tony, Michael and Pat are all great friends, too.
MSJ: Do you have a musical "guilty pleasure?"
Hmmm, I have a soft spot for most things 90s - it's when I grew up!
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Ah, I'd say it was in Jacksonville, Florida - one of my first shows with the trio, too.  I popped the a string on the third song in the set, which would normally only cause a slight delay in the show - my problem was that I foolishly only brought one bass to the gig, and no spare strings. I can't tell you how I pulled off the rest of that show - I was so stressed out by having to transpose on the spot that I blacked it out of my memory.
MSJ: If you could sit down for dinner and conversation with any three people from history (living or dead), with whom would you be dining?
John Lennon, Da Vinci, and Gandhi.
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Have fun!
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at
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