Bill’s excitement over the continuation of the BK3 saga was evident as he spoke to dead.net recently from his home in Hawaii: “This band has been progressing at such an amazingly fast rate,” he said, “especially considering that we don’t get to spend that much time together, since I live here, Scott’s in the Northeast, Oteil’s down South. But I’ve been having real good conversations with these guys, and every time we get together, we just pick it up again so naturally. It means a lot to me that they’re so committed to doing this, with all the other stuff they have going on.”
While he looks forward to reexamining and revitalizing the Grateful Dead repertoire with his longtime brothers in music this coming spring, Bill is just as enthusiastic about the prospect of creating some entirely new music with BK3: “I didn’t want to play too much of the Grateful Dead stuff with this band. That’s a tremendous body of music. I still love playing it, and I love that Phil and Bobby are doing such great things with it with their bands, but I’m mostly looking forward to doing more and more new material with the trio. We’ve got a bunch of new songs with lyrics that Bob Hunter sent us, and depending on how much time we have to prepare them, we’d like to start playing them live, and maybe get into the studio to record some of them. Scott’s writing a lot of new stuff, too.” He does acknowledge, though, that when BK3 tackles some of the cornerstones of the Grateful Dead repertoire, it feels like he’s discovering their potential all over: “even with the older material, you’re always creating new music in the moment, because you’re playing it with new people.”
Kreutzmann also looks forward to sharing some of BK3’s music with those who haven’t yet had a chance to catch the band live: “We got real good video of some of our shows last year… enough for a couple of DVD releases, and 2 or 3 CDs worth as well. And we’ll be recording these shows coming up. I’m really excited for people to hear this band.”
The joy Bill is expressing in his music right now is very much of a piece with the rest of his life. He has great optimism for the future — a feeling that was bolstered by his recent experience at the Presidential Inaugural festivities in Washington, where he and his colleagues in The Dead performed (at the Mid-Atlantic States Inaugural Ball) and met the new President and First Lady. “I gave him a big Hawaiian hug,” he says with a laugh, “and complimented him on his surfing style. It was great to meet him and Michelle. They are just the way you see them — good, real people. I wake up now in the morning with a lot more hope for my country.”
He goes on to give another compelling reason for his optimistic attitude: “I’m real happy now in my personal life. More than I’ve ever been. Love really is the best drug, the best medicine. I understand that now in a way I never did before.”
As our conversation with Bill drew to an end, he told us of one of his favorite things to do while at home in Hawaii: “I’ve got this little trio I jam with, a garage band… I mean really a garage band, because that’s where we play, in my garage. Since it’s always warm here, we leave the garage door open. And the neighbors come around, and they become our audience, dancing in the driveway! I’ve actually met a lot of people doing that who I didn’t know before. They come up and introduce themselves, tell me they live a few houses down, and we get to know our neighbors that way.”
You can be sure that Bill Kreutzmann and his musical cohorts will make a lot of new friends and neighbors, and reconnect with old ones, out on the road in the months to come.