Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead: "The Music Is Working Out Just Fine"
In this week's issue, we chat with with former Grateful Dead and current Furthur guitarist Bob Weir. We ended up with more material than we could fit, so please enjoy another installment of Outtakes, where we sweep up all sorts of good stuff that ended up on the cutting room floor.
Grateful Dead founding member Bob Weir infrequently provides interviews, but when he does, he goes for it, opening up with honest and insightful answers. I spoke with Weir about his upcoming solo tour (featuring a set with guitarist Jackie Greene), life in the Grateful Dead and post-Grateful Dead bands, including Ratdog and Furthur, carrying on Jerry Garcia's legacy by bringing back his songs, and mountain biking near his home in Marin.
Up on the Sun: You've done so many different things, so many different bands besides the Grateful Dead and relations, but also Kingfish, your solo outfits and side projects, is there any one particular thing that just stands out as a great time?
Bob Weir: I think the most outstanding period was for a couple of years in the late-80s, early-90s; the Grateful Dead's last years with Brent (Mydland) were the most rewarding. We were just real tight and had something real good goin'. The band was real together [laughs]. It was just all working, at least from my sensibilities.
Speaking of being real together, Furthur seems to be firing on all cylinders right now. After the Grateful Dead ended there were various attempt to find that groove again with The Other Ones and later The Dead. What did it take to get to this point?
It's a matter of finding the right combination of people and then putting in the time together, which was pretty much the same method we used with the Grateful Dead. We just had a lot of gigs. The time you spend together on stage is the time you spend finding the center of a band and learning to work from there.
After Jerry Garcia died it took a little while before The Other Ones appeared. Was there ever any hesitation trying to get a band back together that could carry forth what the Grateful Dead had started?
I think it was in the back of our minds, but we needed a little time to sort out what we were up to musically and how to approach our heritage anew and do something meaningful with it rather than just go out and play.
When considering that, the Grateful Dead have a massive and dedicated fanbase, was that something you had to consider as well, how they would perceive it?
We were mindful of the fact that there was something of a clamor to get something out there, but it still took us a little while to do it. There are some fans who haven't gone to a show of anybody's since Jerry checked out. That didn't weigh on us all that much. Really, just finding the right time and the right avenue of expression and putting in a little time together was what took as long as it did to get back at it.