Leo Kottke Weighs in On Life, Literature and Guitar (Part Two)

Leo Kottke Weighs in On Life, Literature and Guitar (Part Two)

You just mentioned your first major label record deal. And it sounded like you said that smaller labels were gone.

Oh, no. I was saying that the major labels are gone. And if they aren’t gone, they’re all scrambling for the changes that they need to make. They just don’t exist, not in the way they did in 1970.

Is that good or bad?

It’s just different machinery. I wouldn’t make that kind of judgment, ‘cause that’s just shooting myself in the face – both professionally and...If I think that I’m in a dead industry, that’s stupid. It won’t mean anything for me professionally. And it’s not dead, just changing. The last thing people are comfortable with is change. Changing isn’t always the answer – changing faster and you can’t even comprehend. What we see – we were just talking about selling music or selling an act – is gross, as in macro indexing. It’s moving even faster at the level that you’re at or I’m at. Because it so fast, we can’t see it, we just see the larger stuff and that’s why people are frequently caught with their pants down. Although, you could think that the labels should have anticipated some of what’s going on, they didn’t. They couldn’t track it down.

Since we’re talking about labels, I’d guess that the larger labels that you’ve worked with have tried to steer your career in a way that they think would be more profitable or useful to them. Are you on Private Music?

Yeah, which doesn’t really exist anymore except as a name. It’s really BMG, which is RCA. I don’t even really know anymore and I’m actually in the process of leaving the label. I’ve asked them to let me off. Not so much because of the way technology is changing, but actually because I want to see what happens. I just want to see what I do next. It’s easy for me to do that. In straight show business terms, as an act, I’ve been around forever. Records don’t mean much. What does mean something is touring -personally and professionally. The more you play, the more you want to play.

When I started out, I thought the shit would kill me – it would destroy my interest in playing, because it was so hard - getting there and dealing with all of it. But the opposite end, it really is good for you to play. Conductors, actually, live longer than the rest of the population. It’s not because they’re flapping their arms around, it’s because they’re immersed in the music all the time. (CONT)