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Q&A: An interview with Blues Traveler bassist Tad Kinchla
by Scott King
The Breeze, Harrisonburg, VA
Oct 8th, 2001

How did you come to join Blues Traveler and how has it changed your perspective since you joined?

About two years ago. It was great. It's pretty amazing to be playing at a level where you have all this stuff taken care of so you can just play. I think the best thing about playing with these guys is that you can do it as a living full time. So you can dedicate all your time to playing music as opposed to when you are just making it, and you have to make ends meet... When joining a new band, you bring your own bag of tricks to the new band. It's new people and learning to work with them as a team... Your day revolves around these people so you learn to work with them. And that changes your perspective about how you thought about things.

What kind of music were you playing before joining Blues Traveler?

I was in a band before called Dowdy Smack. We were on the East Coast - New York. We all went to Brown (University) together and met up there. We were playing for four or five years, and I was playing with a couple other bands, you know studio stuff, and we were a three-piece funk kind of rhythm thing, kind of like the "little chili peppers". But it was certainly different from the music we are playing now.

How was your recent tour with G. Love and Special Sauce and the Pat McGee Band?

Great. Those guys were great... It's really fun to play with a band that you really like.

Why do you like playing at small venues?

I think because of the intimacy you have with the audience. You know, a lot of time it sounds really good and you can get closer to people.

How does the band balance performing old and new songs?

It's a mix. We play a lot off the album, and we kind of revisited some songs that haven't been played that much. And we do a lot of the old classic ones. Some of the ones we tried doing just didn't work out with the new arrangement. And when we revisited some that they didn't use to play a whole lot, (they) really worked out with the new arrangement, so it is kind of cool. Kind of bringing some older ones back.

Is there pressure from fans to play the band's older tunes?

No, the fans have been great. The feedback has been great. One cool thing about Blues Traveler is that they play a lot. We have a huge repertoire and we play through it. A lot of bands have one set that they play through the whole tour. Granted it's a new audience and it doesn't make it any worse, but they don't mix it up as much. Traveleršs fans come out for five or six gigs and they know exactly what you are playing.

Off Bridge, what are your favorite tracks and why?

My favorite track on Bridge is "Reach Me"... because of the rhythm section - it just keeps going and I like how it works. I like how it ended up from where it started on it. And "Lost me There" just has a really good groove - a kind of jam-out part.

In what direction is the band traveling?

Keep playing, obviously. See how this album does. And we will definitely be recording for another record in the next year. Right now we are just out touring trying to get the album promoted and to keep playing. I think maybe we will take a break in the winter and go back at it in the spring... We are starting again (touring) Nov. 15 and that will bring us through December and close to Christmas.

What was the most challenging aspect of recording Bridge?

Primarily, I think the biggest challenge was in having two new members. And the two members, us, having a new band... Our very first experience was in writing an album. And, you know, we are learning this whole new repertoire of playing styles and languages of communication and all of that. While we are trying to actually create things and act as a team. And I think it worked really well and we sparked it very quickly. But it is something I think we are still working on. And we were kind of thrown into the pot and had to deal with it. I think trying to learn each other and learn what we could do musically together was the biggest challenge for me.