JOB Interview

The following is a transcript of a phone interview with Matt Lebofsky. It was conducted by Susan Underwood for Buzz Bazaar magazine, issue #4, January 1996.

Susan: Hello. Is this Matt?

Matt: Yes, it is. You must be Sally from...

Susan: Susan.

Matt: Oh! I'm sorry. Susan. That's my mother's middle name. What's up?

Susan: Great show at the Chameleon a while ago.

Matt: Hey, thanks. Uh, which one did you see?

Susan: I think it was November...

Matt: Yeah, that show was probably our best of the whole lot until then. Lucky you caught that one. We were really switched on that day. I don't know why, but sometimes we attain some pretty high levels, and sometimes we play endless sets inundated with worthless crap. It's pretty unpredicatable.

Susan: I guess that's the nature of what you guys do.

Matt: Yeah, "improv" and all.

Susan: So before a show are you always worried that you will flop?

Matt: I don't know. I think the three of us all get pretty psyched before a show. It's hard not to. Anyway, we've been getting pretty successful at not flopping.

Susan: How so?

Matt: Well, the more me and Mark and Jai Young play together and listen to each other and what each other is prone to do, the more it gets easier to predict when lame shit is about to happen, and then to avoid it.

Susan: Do you think you'll ever attain a level of never playing "lame shit"?

Matt: Hmm. I don't think it's possible. And even if it is, I don't know if I would ever want to be a "lame shit"-less band. The key is not wanting to play perfect improv all the time as much as playing improv that reflects reality, or at least the reality you are feeling at the moment. [Pause.] Maybe not. My opinions on this are in constant flux. I guess my point is you gotta break some eggs. It would seem so unnatural if you didn't.

Susan: How did JOB begin?

Matt: Well, me and Jai Young played together in a fusion-y art rock trio for a while that went nowhere, and Mark and I jammed on the side, also trying to form a trio of sorts, which also went nowhere. All of us had art rock and jazz backgrounds of different shapes and sizes, but with a lot of strange overlapping interests. It almost made perfect sense to at least try and see where a trio containing the three of us would go. So I introduced Mark and Jai Young and it was immediately thrilling.

Susan: I love the textures you produce on stage. I've seen you go from eerie and quiet to defeaningly loud, from completely incomprehsible, to laid back and groovy. Sometimes it sounds like there's only one person on stage, and sometimes over ten.

Matt: One of the things that excites me about this band is how much stuff we have to play with, yet we all have enough tact to only use the stuff as needed. So far at these shows we usually have a drum kit, a guitar, a bass, three keyboards (including a wonderful sampler), a DAT machine playing recordings of previous performances, a microcassette recorder, and mikes to capture voices and other noises as well. We can have a lot going on at once, and sometimes we do. It's quite empowering. And we're continually collecting more stuff.

Susan: How does this all fit on stage?

Matt: Very carefully at this point. Needless to say we've gotten pretty good at maximizing efficiency of space.

Susan: You play music that is, for the most part, very hard to penetrate. Are you worried about limiting the size of your audience because of this?

Matt: On the contrary! Our audiences so far have been most non-improv listeners. Our hope is to fill the gap between the improv purists and those ignorant of improv in general, mostly by promoting our shows like regular rock shows and such.

Susan: My God, you're a hideous, pretentious fucker, aren't you?

Matt: [Pause.] Excuse me?

Susan: Oh, nothing. So, what's the next step for JOB? Will you be recording soon?

Matt: [Pause.] No, no. You said something. What did you say?

Susan: Will you be recording anything soon?

Matt: No, before that.

Susan: We were talking about limiting the size of your audience.

Matt: [Pause.] No, after that! You called me a pretentious fucker or something.

Susan: Huh. That's funny. Uh, would you like to do this interview at another time?

Matt: [Silence]

Susan: Would you like to do this later?

Matt: [Pause.] Maybe that's a good idea.

Susan: Fine. I'll speak to you later, dickhead.

Matt: What?

Susan: [Hangs up.]

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    Last modified in September, 1998.