A Few Words With Terry Bozzio
Very few rock musicians have Terry Bozzio’s pedigree. From Frank Zappa to Jeff Beck, U.K. to Missing Persons, Korn to — name just about anybody across the rock, fusion, or jazz spectrum, and you will find Mr. Bozzio has manned the drums with them.
As for 2016, he’s got plenty on his plate. He just returned from Japan and a sold-out Tokyo show called “The History of Terry Bozzio.” It was filmed for TV and an upcoming DVD release. He’s also celebrating the release of his four CD set Terry Bozzio Composer Series with “An Evening With Terry Bozzio” dates across America in August, September and October. And he's been indulging in art.
You could say there isn’t much Terry Bozzio doesn’t do. Of what there is, he does well. I wish I could have asked him about all of it, but for just a few minutes, I did have the occasion to speak to the man about his music, technology, the state of the music business and where he feels his future might lie.
I've been listening to Composer Series, which I really do like a lot. Can you give me an idea when you wrote and put down these songs?
The main part of the collection covers songs that were written from the late 90s until now, but a few tunes go back to 1972. Some were written in the 80s too.
I’m assuming during that expanse of time that these tunes cover you have seen a progression of how you write and play?
Sure, but no matter what I compose, it all comes from emotion really, one note at a time mainly. It’s like a crossword puzzle to me really — you put in a piece, more of the puzzle opens up to you.
With the advent of technology helping immensely, I’d gather.
Yes, in that you can put down a note or phrase, find the sound of that note, maybe get it up a third, put notes on a grid, manipulate things in a bunch of cool ways. But then again, you do run into new programs, things that are constantly changing and seeing your way out from a new layout or learning a new program can become frustrating. I just loaded a new version of a program I have been using and it now takes me now five minutes just to get the computer to open, so you can definitely lose patience with that.
You were saying that you compose emotionally, I was wondering how much you rely on that emotion on stage, or more precisely, how much is improvised in what you perform live and how much is you keeping to your setlist.
It’s pretty split — you have to go with what you are feeling each night. The same I feel is true when you are composing, recording really. I feel you have to do it and not think about the rules, how this person or that person may or may not like what you do, how commercial it might or might not be even.
But the commercial aspect is always part of it, right?
Yes, just trying to keep doing this, take care of myself and my family, it is very hard these days. I spent a lot of time over in Japan where they are more educated about music, so what I do is supported over there better and I have a wonderful Japanese wife, so I am pretty well connected to that culture. I played a series of shows over there, playing all stuff I had done from my catalog, Jeff Beck stuff, Becker Brothers, Missing Persons, I even sang a couple UK tunes. But touring over here is hard, music is a struggle, intellectual property is so devalued. With Congress against BMI and ASCAP rights, it makes everything musicians, artists do very difficult to make a living by.
And for a drummer specifically, you must feel time on your back, the physical nature being affected by aging?
Certainly, but I have the composing and my art that’s there for me as my back up. Right now I am just grateful that at 65 I’m still here and being able to play music, which is a beautiful thing.