Anthony Garone: The CirdecSongs Interview

Anthony Garone is a brave man.

Just about anyone who picks up a musical instrument sets goals for himself. Most aren’t overly ambitious, be it playing with the intent of joining a band, playing solo to small audiences, or playing merely for its own sake.

But others choose to dig deep and take on the greatest musical challenges, be it reaching for superstardom, attempting to become a studio ace, or taking on the most complex pieces of music and attempting to perfect them.

Anthony is an established resident of Category number 3.

Guitarists often take on the challenge of trying to play like their heroes, be it Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, Brad Paisley, or John Scofield. Some might choose to step out even further, taking on Jeff Beck, Adrian Belew, John McLaughlin, or Frank Zappa.

Anthony chose to take on Robert Fripp.

Such ambition will most likely elicit an audible gasp from the guitar playing community. After all, the founder of King Crimson has never been known for the ease of his musical compositions. Some of those pieces (and Fripp’s solos therein) come off as downright impossible!

Yet here is Anthony, with two words on his mind: “challenge accepted.”

“Fracture” — from the album Starless and Bible Black — is probably the most complicated song in the King Crimson repertoire, particularly Fripp’s guitar part. The average guitarist spends some time attempting to learn this piece out of admiration or ambition, but gives up the quest not long after it begins. Anthony has dedicated more than two DECADES of his efforts attempting to learn and perfect this piece. And while his final effort is nothing short of spectacular, it’s difficult to convince him that he got it right (primarily because he didn’t). He decided to document his efforts in a book he calls Failure to Fracture. It should be noted that the book has been endorsed by none other than Fripp himself.

But the book is much more than 200 pages about a single song. Nor is it a lengthy literary infomercial created for the benefit or Robert Fripp. Critics and cynics would be well-served to take a look at the book before condemning it. Failure to Fracture is a story of inspiration, dedication, perspiration, and growth. Garone found that he became a completely different person over the span of learning this song. His approach to his playing was completely altered, along with more than a few aspects of his personality. The attempt to learn the “impossible” song served as a template for Garone’s personal development, and for that he has no regrets. Nor should he.

For a more detailed overview of the book, feel free to look here.

Garone is no one-trick pony. In addition to being a family man with a career, he also writes his own music (he did not spend 22 years working SOLELY on “Fracture”) and is the head of his own website, Make Weird Music, which also has a YouTube Channel. A wide variety of musical oddities can be found within. (Full Disclosure: I recently came onboard as a member of the MWM staff. I will be doing video reviews along with hosting forums and conducting interviews. This particular chat was conducted before I was hired.) Now that he has vowed to never play “Fracture” again, Anthony’s plate continues to runneth over.

In person, Anthony is kind and affable. His love of family and music shines through with no effort whatsoever. One would think someone with “Fracture” under his fingertips would put forth some kind of arrogant air, but he does no such thing. Ease of conversation leads to epic-length interviews, and that is precisely what happened here. No regrets exist on either side.

From his home in Mesa, Arizona, Anthony Garone took the time to participate in a CirdecSongs interview.

CirdecSongs: Tell me about your musical background. 

Anthony Garone: I grew up in a musical household. My father was a musician in a “progressive rock” band in New York. His band, Heresy, still performs today and has been together for several decades. They developed some notoriety performing Jethro Tull, ELP, King Crimson, Yes, and other 70s prog music. My dad is known for his ability to imitate Ian Anderson (guitar, flute, vocals, and stage antics), which is likely what led to Heresy performing at several Jethro Tull conventions in the northeast.

My mother is also into music and loves a lot of 70s prog rock, EXCEPT PETER HAMMILL/VDGG, which she will happily exclaim if you were to ask her in person.

My dad had a great record collection and he used to bring me and my siblings to his late-night rehearsals at Heresy’s keyboard player’s house. I used to sit at the top of the stairs listening to the music instead of sleeping in bed. There’s even footage of me as a toddler playing on a kiddy drum set along with a Heresy song in 7/8. 

One day when I was about 13, I was listening to the radio and heard the most unbelievable guitar playing of my life. I had no idea anyone could play guitar like that. There’s a big, long version of this story in my upcoming book, but the short version is: it was a song called “Juice” by Steve Vai from his album “Alien Love Secrets.” It’s difficult to describe the enthusiasm I experienced. It reminds me of how people say in near death experiences that they felt like they were home. “Juice” was “home” for me and I knew I needed to play guitar.

My dad had taught me a few chords on his acoustic guitar and the first song I learned was “A Reunion” by Gentle Giant from “In a Glass House.” Then he taught me “Get Back” by The Beatles. I didn’t really progress until I heard “Juice” and I knew my life had changed.

After hearing “Juice” on the radio, I scrounged every penny and dollar I could find. My mother took me to Best Buy and I bought Alien Love Secrets on CD. I took it home, played it as loud as my speakers would tolerate, and a couple hours later my dad came into the room saying, “What are you listening to?” I said, “This guy named Steve Vai.”

And his response: “Oh, he played on Heresy’s first album.”

I was like, “WHAT?!” Then he said, “Yeah, John Sergio, the bass player, grew up with Steve. Let’s call John and he can tell you about it.”

We called John, he told me that he grew up down the street from Steve and they both chipped in for $5 lessons from a guy named Joe Satriani. Then John said, “You know, I’m flying out to see you guys in Arizona in a few months. Do you want to drive to Hollywood and meet Steve?” And we did. And I’ve been friends with Steve since then. We are still in touch and I had the privilege of working for him for about a year.

Through all that time, I started writing and recording my own music, learning everything I could by ear and from magazines, and absorbing all the music I possibly could. Most teenagers had social lives, but I had music. I would spend hours and hours downloading midi files to listen to Chopin, Bartok, Beethoven, etc. And hours and hours and hours on dial-up downloading music from mp3 trading servers (before I had any sense this stuff was illegal or immoral).

So, music has been a huge part of my whole life. It’s hard to fit it into a few paragraphs. You might as well have asked for my life’s story.

Who were your early favorite artists and records? 

My parents got the A-Ha single “Take on Me” and I remember listening to that over and over and over. After that, I remember my dad had a copy of Gentle Giant’s “The Power and The Glory” on cassette and another tape with “In a Glass House” on it. I listened to those incessantly. I still remember what those old cassettes looked like with the gold memorex labels and wear marks on which tape. They, of course, were unlabeled, so I had to know them by appearance.

But I also wrote a lot of my own music using an old composition app called Deluxe Music Construction Set. I remember bringing a cassette of my own music to class in 4th grade and I had about 30 minutes of material. My teacher had the whole class listen and I was so embarrassed and proud at the same time. It sounds narcissistic, but I used to listen to my own music a lot. I really loved writing and listening, even though it was cheesy midi sounds from the 1990s.

Gentle Giant has always been at the forefront of my “favorites” list. They were so creative. But I love a lot of music and have gone through phases. I had a Yes phase, a Gong phase, a Pearl Jam phase, a Stone Temple Pilots phase, etc. Like you, I don’t believe in musical boundaries. There’s just music I like and music I probably don’t understand.

What led you to create Make Weird Music?

Honestly: sadness and frustration. I did a presentation on this story at an event called Ignite Phoenix. Basically, I was so frustrated with the lack of traction around my own music and I hated promoting myself, so it was a bad mixture of emotions. Every time I made music and promoted it, it felt like, “Listen to Anthony Garone play music written and performed by Anthony Garone on the Anthony Garone website. Blah blah blah.” I really hated finishing a song because it meant that the next step was putting it out there and it was such an awful feeling to do that.

So, my wife and I talked (several conversations over several years) and she said, “You just need to figure out how to find your audience. It’s out there.” And then I’d read another book on creativity, which said, “Make your heroes your peers.” So, I thought I’d start writing about other musicians. Late one night, I thought, “Well I like making weird music, so I’ll just write about that.” I bought the domain in March 2014 and got to work. I’d been making websites and stuff since the late 1990s, so buying domains and making websites was a very active hobby/profession.

I’d been making video content on the web since the mid-2000s. My initial goal was, “If I can get 250 people to care about what I’m doing, that’d be a resounding success.” The site didn’t really do anything for the first year or 18 months. Eventually in 2015, I saw the trend of video heating up on the web, so I started doing video content.

Then, I asked Steve Vai if he’d do an interview and I think I got my first 1,000 subscribers from that video. And it’s been growing ever since. MWM just crossed the 9,000 subscriber line this week. I’ve probably interviewed about 80 artists to date and have created a few hundred hours of video content.

Tell me about a couple of your favorite episodes.

This is actually going to be the topic of my 4th book (probably due in 2022). I’ve learned so much about creativity by interviewing musicians in their own creative spaces. MWM has also hosted several concerts, including Michael Manring, Mike Keneally, Sara Groves, Francis Dunnery, Neil Morse (solo show and a couple with his full band), Nik Bärtsch (solo and with Ronin)… The list goes on, I guess. So, I’ve gotten to see these artists perform up close and, often, in my own home.

The Steve Vai interview is an amazing interview that several people have told me changed their lives. The Frank Zappa hologram interview video was also incredible for me because it gave me the chance to go to the Zappa Records office, interview Ahmet, Keneally, Vai, and others for this crazy concert idea. I got so much hate for that video, it was amazing.

The Devin Townsend interview was great for personal reasons because I got to go to his apartment in Vancouver and he drove me and my friend around town listening to Empath before it was released. He narrated the whole album, sang, conducted, and told some great stories. I almost cried when he played me Steve Vai’s solo with Morgan Ågren on drums and Mike Keneally on guitar. I grew up watching that Zappa’s Universe concert on VHS, so that band meant so much to me.

But so many lesser-known artists have been wonderful to talk to. Honestly, I’ve learned so much from every interview, whether it’s someone that’s sold 5 copies of their album or someone that’s pretty big-time. I don’t pick favorites, but I can tell you which interviews have taught me a lot, which is why I’ll be writing a book about it in a year or so.

Interviewing Homer Flynn, creative director of The Residents, was such a trip, too. I could go on and on, man.

Another angle on “favorite episodes,” I look back at some of my early videos and they are so laughably bad. As PewDiePie would say, “Cringe, bro!” I mean, I was so stalwart and unentertaining. Maybe there’s a charm to that. I don’t know. Either way, I am getting better, but I’m sure I’ll look back at 2020 videos and think, “What a buffoon!” Like many musicians, my favorite episode is usually the one I just finished.

How did King Crimson enter your life?

My dad had a VHS copy of the 1984 Live in Tokyo concert with Bruford, Levin, Belew, and Fripp. I really enjoyed the music on that so I watched it a lot. My favorite part was where Bruford did his Simmons solo on the back wall of drums. It’s funny, I never listened to KC’s albums until Thrak. Before that, I only watched that video over and over again.

If someone were to look at what I post, they’d probably think I’m obsessed with King Crimson, but that’s not quite the case. I enjoy their music, for sure, but if you take away all the time I’ve spent learning Fracture, you’d see I’m a pretty ordinary fan. I don’t have all their albums and I don’t listen to their non-canonical releases. For example, I’ve never listened to the album, “Islands.” So, there!

They are amazing, don’t get me wrong, but I think the Fracture obsession has typecast me as a King Crimson nut. It’s not the case. I’m a guitar nut through and through. And anyone who takes the guitar Seriously (with a capital “S”) will have my attention.

Like many other music nerds, I’ll go a mile deep with one album. For example, I’ve never written publicly about this, but the band Chon’s album “Grow” has probably been played 100 times or more. Tommy Emmanuel’s albums “Only” and “Endless Road” have also gotten tons of play. Chris Cornell’s “Euphoria Morning.” Buke & Gase’s “Scholars.” And a lot of Bach, particularly Glenn Gould’s recording of BWV 825 piano partita number 1, which I’ve arranged myself for guitar. Allison Krauss, Mark O’Connor, and a lot of Avishai Cohen (the bassist, not the trumpeter).

So, King Crimson entered my life through a concert aired on MTV that we had on VHS. My dad had several KC records, but I didn’t listen to a lot of them. I loved Lizard as a kid, but most of my King Crimson listening time is within the past 10 years, even though I watched that VHS over 30 years ago.

What made you decide to attend Guitar Craft? What did you get out of it?

Honestly, I wanted to play Fracture. I didn’t understand it and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. There’s a great Donald Rumsfeld quote

Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.

Fracture had the most “unknown unknowns” I’d ever experienced on guitar. Every other song I’d encountered had an obviousness to it, or a natural way of approaching it. There are some Tommy Emmanuel songs that still defy me, despite attending his master class and seeing him live several times. But for the most part, there aren’t that many guitar songs that elude me to such an extent. I had to see what it was about and from what I could tell on the internet, the GC classes were the only way to get that understanding.

I had no idea what to expect when I went into it and it was pretty creepy, to tell you the truth. It has all the markings of a self-aware cult. Several members even told me, “We are a cult–but we are a good cult.” When I got there, people were doing chores silently and not making eye contact with me. I thought for sure it was a mistake to have attended.

After a week of GC, I was pretty glad to go home, but my wife was not happy to have me home. I was a changed man. I lost 30 pounds in a month after I got home because my sensitivity to my body was at an all-time high. One or two bites of food and I was full. I was eating tiny meals after I returned home. My posture was transformed. My back pain had gone away. I was in control of my emotions. It was completely and totally transformative.

I wanted to attend again, and I applied and got accepted. However, the week away from my wife was just too much for her to bear, especially knowing that I’d return home being some sort of silent automaton. We had a very intense discussion the night before I was scheduled to leave. I ended up not going and skipping my flight because my marriage meant more to me than the week in GC.

It’s impossible to articulate what I got out of GC because it’s not something to “take” from. It definitely changed me and opened my world to hundreds of new and amazing people I wouldn’t have otherwise encountered.

Most importantly, Robert Fripp and Curt Golden gave me two or three specific pointers that unlocked my ability to play the Fracture motifs at speed. I had to completely relearn how to play and hold the guitar, but it was so worth it. I’m a better musician and player for it now.

What possessed you to learn “Fracture” and “FraKctured?”

Like many things men and teenage boys do: a stupid dare. My father dared me to play it. He said, “Learn to play Fracture and THEN we’ll talk.” I tried and failed. I tried more and failed more. It was about 1998 when that happened. I kept at it for a few years and couldn’t get past certain roadblocks. I gave up for a couple years, then got back at it again. In 2006 or so, I started writing on the internet about my journey with Fracture and somehow it got Robert’s attention. I got some of the notoriety and attention that I’d never had with my work on the guitar, which was nice, but I still couldn’t play Fracture.

I heard FraKctured around 2010 and thought, “Wow, that sounds hard.” I had no desire to play it until about 2013 or so. I think I’d just given up on being able to do any of Robert’s fast guitar work. But after the GC course, I felt empowered and informed. So, I tried working on that in addition to Fracture. I also had no idea Robert was playing it in another tuning, so when I first tried it (before GC) I was like, “This piece has more unknown unknowns than Fracture!” I gave up quickly.

So, basically, a stupid dare from my father got me started and the fact that it humbled me so much as a guitarist made it irresistible. I don’t like to back down from a challenge.

22 years later, I’m able to make my way through both pieces in their entirety with several imperfections. The more educated one is in GC, the more imperfections can be seen. And if anyone has tried actually playing through those pieces, they’ll see, hear, and feel those imperfections, but hopefully offer me grace.

In the end, I just want to play guitar. When I was a teenager, I thought I could be the greatest guitarist on earth. It was part ego, part mission, part folly, part ignorance. I mean, I was 16. I was an idiot. There was no YouTube. As far as I knew, there was barely anyone in the world who’d tried playing Steve Vai’s music, but there I was doing it. It seemed possible, so I went for it.

Obviously, that didn’t happen, but I don’t regret the pursuit.

What was the toughest part of this endeavor?

Humility. Realizing that my poor technique, posture, and attitude were the main reasons I couldn’t play these pieces was tough. I felt like I had to go through Guitar Rehab or something. I had 17 years of bad habits and misinformation telling me how to attempt two songs that had very specific requirements.

I’ve grown much more humble over the years because I’ve realized what a poor player I often am. Fracture exposes those weaknesses. It provides a mirror that very few other pieces offer because they don’t require the precision, speed, agility, and mental clarity that other pieces do. There are people praising me on YouTube for my Fracture performances and I’m like, “Dude, if you only had the ears to hear what I hear.”

It’s not about perfection, either. It’s about identifying weakness, working through that, and unlearning whatever it is that created that weakness. It’s like standing naked in front of a mirror with a personal trainer telling you exactly where you need to tone your body. It’s incredibly frustrating, embarrassing, and difficult.

A lot of people give me a hard time for “wasting” 22 years on a piece of music. If you look through the comments on my Fracture videos, there are plenty of negative people telling me to do something better with my life. It’s funny because I never thought more than 5 or 10 people would ever care. I make the videos because I want to. I enjoy writing, I enjoy making videos, and I enjoy sharing what I learn. I don’t monetize my videos, I don’t beg people to subscribe, I don’t even mention my name in a majority of the videos I’ve made in the past few years. I’m the least important part of the channel. But Fracture has given me a framework for approaching my life, the instrument, my ears, and so much more. It’s a gift that has kept on giving to me for so many years and I am indebted to it.

You worked on the song for years. How much time did you average per day? 

It depends on the day and it depends on how loosely you define “worked on.” Some days I spent 4-8 hours on it. Some days I spent zero time on it. Some days I spent hours thinking about playing it, but intentionally did not pick up a guitar. You can’t really give a good answer for a 22-year journey.

As I mention in one of the videos, Robert said to pick an open string for eight hours a day for a month. I did that for two hours a day for three months. It helped me unlearn bad picking technique. And having something so simple to do prevented me from pursuing other musical interests. I would sit in front of the TV and pick an open string, or lie in bed picking an open string. It taught me so much, including the fact that gravity has a lot to do with moving the guitar pick.

But it would be absurd to actually spend 22 years playing one piece of music. That’s what people don’t understand. It’s been a part of my life since 1998, absolutely. It’s not been the top priority for me, ever. I’m not a professional musician. I am never going to get to play these pieces in front of an audience. What is the point other than for my own love of music, guitar, and challenge?

Conlon Nancarrow wrote dozens of pieces for player piano and no one really heard them for about 30 years. Was that a waste of his time? Absolutely not, if you ask me. Besides, who cares? It’s not my life or time to judge.

Robert made fun of me publicly several times on Facebook today, which led me to pick up the NST guitar and play through some of the FraKctured motifs. I can already feel a degradation in my ability to play those pieces. It requires constant work. It’s like trying to be a professional athlete. And I have a full-time job already. And several side gigs. And three children. And home remodeling projects. And cars and water heaters and all sorts of other stuff to deal with.

So, if I want to play it with intention for someone or in front of a camera, I need a few days to prepare. I don’t want to be in that state anymore. There’s been zero demand to perform it in front of anyone, so I documented it and I’m moving on.

How did this lead to a book on the subject?

Well, it was an accident. I was thinking about Fracture and I just started typing, trying to mine my brain for ideas for new episodes of the Failure to Fracture YouTube series. And then there were 5,000 words. It was late February 2020. By the end of March, I had about 70,000 words. I write books pretty quickly and easily, I guess. I blame it on the fact that I don’t have an internal monologue with my brain, so I need to either talk or type out my ideas. My first book happened the same way. I wrote 5,000 words per day for about 14 days and had 70,000 words.

Like I said, I don’t have an inner monologue, so I need to find a way to express what I’m thinking in order to vet it. Every time I make a MWM video, I write a script, then I have to say it out loud because I’m not really able to process it internally. I need to hear it. So, I read the script aloud several times before it ends up on camera.

The book is similar. I have a lot of thoughts and I just start typing. Then I’m like, “Oh, I didn’t know I thought that,” so I start typing some more. Very stream of conscious with almost no editing. It just plops out.

Furthermore, I mean, I’ve been thinking about this since 1998 and I’ve had to re-learn how to play the instrument. I’ve had to humble myself beyond belief. I’ve had interactions with hundreds of people around the world about this topic. How could there not be enough material for a book there?

The piece is so complex and it led me to GC, which changed my life, which led me to a global network of friends, which changed my life. It led me to become a blip on Robert Fripp’s radar, which changed my life. I mean, doesn’t that demand a book? I don’t even care if it sells! To me, it’s just part of being creative.

Writing is a way of getting into a state of flow, which is part of living an enjoyable life. Writing does that for me. Guitar does that for me. Thinking does that for me. So, yeah, it just led to a book. I literally had no intention of writing a book until about 5 nights after I started writing a book.

How important was Robert’s approval? 

It was only important because I didn’t want to upset him. His work is very important to me and his work has been so unfortunately managed, stolen, misrepresented, and exploited that I didn’t want to be a part of that. I knew there was no way I’d release this book unless I had his approval to proceed. Otherwise, I would have just written it and shelved it.

Besides, he’s alive and well today. If there’s an opportunity to thank a person for their work, why not take it? Why not try to experience that right now? So, it just made sense to get his approval for the book.

His approval in any other aspect is meaningful to me, but not important. It’s especially not a requirement. I would have done this whether Robert cared or not. But he did become a key character in my life and it seemed unreasonable to proceed without his approval. He also doesn’t think like normal people, so I didn’t want to put something out there out of respect and he saw it as something else. I especially don’t want to release sheet music of his work without his approval.

With that in your rear view mirror, are there any other songs you’d like to tackle? 

Honestly, with my attitude, I’ve always tackled every song I’ve ever wanted. Nothing has stopped me from tackling a song. Fracture is just one of the songs that I’ve obsessed over. I’ve done the same for Bach, Tarrega, Holdsworth, Vai, Satriani, Petrucci, Emmanuel, Jethro Tull, Steve Howe, and so many others. If you and I were in a room with an acoustic guitar, the last thing you’d hear is Crimson, but I could probably pull a couple hours of material out of thin air of music I love.

The great thing about MWM is it’s given me an avenue to pursue the music I love. My “rear view mirror” regret is only that I haven’t made the time to pursue EVERYTHING I’ve wanted musically. For example, I’ve started working on a huge arrangement of Holst’s “Jupiter” for several guitars and special guests. I wish it was done already, but it isn’t. I’ve just arranged Nancarrow’s version of Ligeti’s piano etude 10 (Der Zauberlehrling) for three 9-string guitars, which is something I started years ago and never finished. I have so many finished transcriptions that I’ve not done videos on. I’ve written hours of my own music that I haven’t released or finished recording. So, I have a lot of fragments I’ve left behind, but it’s given me years and years of future creative material. I have no regrets about my musical past, other than my own ego, attitude, and misguided beliefs.

I have released two songs with Morgan Ågren and one with Michael Manring, both of whom have told me they’d like to make more music together. And Mike Keneally wants to join. I never would have had that in the rear view mirror. I’m way more focused on the road ahead!

How has COVID-19 affected you from a musical standpoint?

It sucks not being able to host concerts or attend concerts. I had lots of concert plans for 2020, including flying to Chicago to meet you and see Crimson for July 4. Oh well.

Otherwise, it’s been a boon for my creativity. I wrote the Fracture book, proofread the upcoming Crimson transcription book of 80s albums, remodeled my kitchen, recorded the Fracture and FraKctured videos, and have been doing everything I can to not start writing my third book. It’s going to be intense and I have a private conversation booked with Steve Vai on October 1 just to get further into my research.

For me, the music overflows into so many areas of my life. And I have no regrets, so COVID has just changed the context in which I work. It’s given me more time to focus at home, too. That let me finish my Ligeti arrangement and start practicing it. It’s at least as intense as FraKctured, but it’s only two and a half minutes. Trey Gunn said he would not want to play the “Guitar 1” part on that arrangement. I agree. It’s gonna be tough.

What are your thoughts on the state of the music industry?

Man, it sucks. But I’m not a professional and I’m ignorant. To me, it doesn’t make financial sense to pay a technology company $10 a month and expect the artists I love to survive. There’s just no sustainability. It makes no sense. It’s great for marketing and getting music out to people, but it’s terrible for survival.

Like many musicians, I prefer the Bandcamp model and I’ve purchased a lot of music on there. But I still buy CDs on ebay and direct from the artists. I don’t know. I just do what seems right. I still feel guilty when a full album only costs $10 just because that’s what it’s always cost. An album should probably cost more, and not just because it’s on vinyl.

Concerts are too expensive, merchandise is too expensive, and more artists need to allow monthly patrons or tip jars or something. The model is broken and doesn’t favor the listener nor the musician. I think Derek Shulman said years ago, “The biggest stars of the music industry are the computer programmers.” As a computer programmer, I couldn’t agree more.

You’ve been considering monetizing you’re work. What led to that decision? 

It’s one thing to fund MWM entirely out of my own pocket. It’s another thing when people want to help me with it and I can’t offer them money out of my pocket. I mean, what’s $15 per week for a person who’d giving me several hours of their time to help with social media? Or doing interviews? It doesn’t make sense. So, now that I’m looking at crossing the 10,000 subscriber count (totally insane), I’m thinking I need to start monetizing my content with the typical stupid YouTube ad revenue share thing. I really hate ads, but it’s what’s available and doesn’t require a lot of the viewer.

I do have a Patreon and I think I can start emphasizing that more.

Mostly, I want to be able to pay other people (not myself) to do MWM. I’ve already put about $40,000 of my own money into the site (including my backyard studio) and I’m raising a family. It’s not the right prioritization to be giving MWM helpers money when it could go toward retirement or my kids’ college funds or something. However, if someone wants to help with MWM, I’d like to be able to give them something. So, I need to figure that out.

Kathy Starkey and Andre Cholmondeley are two people who are getting involved in MWM and their time is valuable. I can afford to do MWM “for free” because it brings me different value and because I started it. Kathy and Andre might be able to afford it, but it doesn’t seem reasonable to me to have them working for free.

Who’s still out there that you’d like to interview? 

There’s a whole list! But I’m also intimidated. I’d love to interview Robert Fripp because I think we have something to talk about that no other music website could (nitty gritty details of practice, composition of these two songs, etc.). I asked Peter Gabriel if he’d do an interview about the role of music and musicians during Covid. He wrote back a very nice email (he gave me his email many years ago when I had dinner with him) and said he’s done with interviews, but he was intrigued by the subject. I’d love to interview Laurie Anderson, but I feel like I’m just some schmuck with a website when I think about that. Reggie Watts is another guy I’d love to talk to. Trey Anastasio, Ian Anderson, Derek Shulman (he agreed to an interview, but I’m too scared to follow up), Esperanza Spalding, Avishai Cohen, Dave Matthews, Daniel Lanois, Brain Eno… I mean, the list goes on and on and on.

Put yourself in your dream band. Who’s playing with you?

I’m actually doing that right now. Morgan Ågren on drums, Michael Manring on bass, and Mike Keneally on keys (when his schedule frees up). What a band that’d be. Obviously, I’m the weakest musical link, but I can bring a lot of other stuff to the game. And we’re planning on making music together in 2021 anyway. So, yeah!

(All photos provided by Anthony Garone)


You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell

If you’d like to have your record reviewed, please contact me at

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