Just published by
Abstract Logix, Innerviews: Music Without Borders is, like the companion website, a thinking person’s mecca.
By Mary Leary
If the layout of the Innerviews:
Music Without Borders book and website bear some resemblance to a
clergyman’s somber attire, the grey-area choices make sense after spending a
few hours with Anil Prasad. Interested in the mind and spirit; as present as a
journalist can be, he’s single-handedly forged a unique category:
Scribe/witness as high priest.
Page after page of depthy chit-chat with an assortment of relatively
normal (at least re: conduct/rep.) minstrels could seem a dry, rather daunting prospect.
And no more fireworks are promised by Prasad, founder of Innerviews.org, the ‘net’s longest-running music rag. The
journalist’s approach is miles away from the sparkling repartee of
reporter/subject sit-downs in Interview,
Details, or Vanity Fair. Prasad isn’t after sound bites or sensation. Still,
one takes a grateful breath upon realizing that the plod-ish, at times
redundant prose of the three-page introduction isn’t indicative of the tome’s meat
and potatoes. Prasad’s painstaking attention to detail serves him well in
researching and conducting interviews; not so much when the cheese stands alone.
The site’s basically a thinking person’s mecca. If the web
were truly a world, one imagines Robert Fripp and Bill Bruford booking rooms in
this particular niche. Indeed, a site search reveals a 1994 interview with the brilliant
percussionist. In the accompanying photo he sports a tightly closed, brown
jacket–almost a perfect match for the site’s no-nonsense graphics and color
(or lack thereof) scheme (Bruford is also represented, by two more interviews,
in the book).
This assemblage embraces a wide enough gamut – including Bjork,
McCoy Tyner, Tangerine Dream and Leo Kottke — to tempt an array of music
lovers. If those lovers have inquiring minds and spirits; hungry for in-depth analyses
of creativity, Innerviews: Music Without
Borders provides a fortifying, 23-chapter banquet.
Players who are weary of being treated like products by the
industry, or being pushed into static categories by fans, greet Prasad’s
thoughtful questions with some extraordinary admissions. Responding to the
query, “What are some of the most stirring musical moments in your life that
have influenced your journey as an artist?” Jon Anderson provides an especially
“I think the first one was when I heard Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’
from The Enigma Variations at age five.
It’s as if the music went right through my whole body. I remember leaning up
against the speaker and having it take me on this incredibly uplifting journey…”
and “Another key moment was when Yes was halfway through recording Close to the Edge and I realized how
creative and special the music was. We had worked into the wee hours. I was
exhausted, but I decided to walk home from the studio. I saw the sun come up
and at that moment I said to myself, ‘I think I can officially call myself a
musician now. I’m not just the singer in the band.’ By the time I got home, I
was in tears. I opened up my passport and wrote ‘musician’ on the page where
you were supposed to describe your occupation. I had left it blank up until
I don’t know about you, but that’s not the level of intimacy
I glean from most music interviews. And I’m definitely going to check out that
Elgar piece. Maybe I’ll even give Close
to the Edge another shot, with my ears tuned to a new frequency.
Other highlights include Stanley Clarke on turning down invitations
to join The Doors and Miles Davis. John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain’s
discussion on the challenges of the Shakti project provides intriguing
revelations. Ani DiFranco delves into her methods for integrating politics with
music. And Prasad gives Joe Zawinul the opportunity to defend his position as hip-hop’s