Editor’s Note: Chad B., aka Live Animal, hosts Musicians 4 Freedom’s open mic and activism potluck each Wednesday, from 7 PM ’til around 11 PM at Conari Arts, 942 Kalamath Street, Denver, CO 80204. Check it out – hope to see y’all soon!
My Conversation With Live Animal by Rick Von Schmitt
“Live Free, and love. . .Fearlessly.” That’s what I was told when I sat across the table from Live Animal, and make no mistakes; he specified I print the punctuation exactly as it appears. I tried to interview him, but he insisted on asking the questions. Either which way, what follows are the bits and pieces I was able to get out of this incredibly elusive character.
LA: Alright, I’ll make this short and sweet. My name is Live Animal. I’m a songwriter from Indianapolis. I moved to Denver last summer. I like being interviewed.
RVS: Well I’ve got to say, I’ve only heard you play a few times, and you’ve got an interesting stage presence.
LA: What does that mean?
RVS: The crowd gets real quiet and listens.
RVS: Why do you think that is?
LA: I’m not sure but I like it. What songs did you like?
RVS: The last one you did, Mind’s Eye. What’s that song about?
LA: People sometimes try and right topical songs, or songs about a particular thing. That song I just tried to write about everything I could; a big song so to speak. I guess it’s just an observation.
RVS: Ordinary Observations is the name of your CD.
LA: Yes it is. I wanted a way to insert my crass political commentary into a more palatable format. Ordinary Observations of Live Animal doesn’t sound threatening.
RVS: Crass political commentary?
LA: I don’t really want to talk about politics. I usually don’t. I write songs because if I were to just start talking about politics I would get all cynical or preachy or some combination of that. That’s probably why I write the things I do. I have a hard time expressing certain observations I have about relationships or society, or politics, and I’ve got to get it out somehow. That’s one of the reasons I write.
RVS: What would be another reason you write?
LA: To me, it’s a selfish act. It’s about taking a state-of-mind and bottling it. You bottle it up and kind of put it on the shelf and take it down when you want to. That way, I can look at a particular song and reflect on exactly how I felt about a specific thing at a specific time.
RVS: I can understand that. Most of your songs you played tonight weren’t political at all, with the exception of one.
LA: The City of X?
RVS: That song was so trite and in your face, what would cause you to write something like that?
LA: As factual as it may be, I must confess that I wrote City of X during a pretty dark period in my life. The glass was perpetually half empty so-to-speak. It’s basically a finger pointing song, but I still stand by every line in it.
RVS: Last question, what’s next for Live Animal?
LA: It’s hard to say. I’ve written about half an album worth of new material, but my pace has really slowed and I’ve been doing other things, visual arts, acting, writing different things. At this time I don’t really want to write more socially-conscious songs. I’m too burnt out on my own idealisms. I don’t like to watch the news or listen to NPR. I don’t want to research the “war forever” conspiracy. Social awareness is like eating a poisoned apple. A good chunk of the material on my last album was written in the summer and fall of 2008. There was electricity in the air, and this false sense of hope. Once Obama got elected, we all had to face the grim realization that it doesn’t matter whether the puppet is a short-winded Texan or a well-spoken black man; he’s a puppet, nonetheless. Either which way, I’m just going to continue to do what I do and try not to analyze it too much. As a songwriter my biggest fear is becoming a slave to my own sense of who I am. Imagine an artist tossing a song in the trashcan because they don’t think it sounds like something that they would write. I just want to do whatever I feel like. Live free and love . . . fearlessly.
Rick Von Schmitt is a columnist for Nuvo Magazine 1-20-11