Ken Schalk November Interview Continued From SDM Issue 9

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SDM: What was it like making two records with the Ghosts of the Canal project?
Ken: That was awesome.  That actually started back when Candiria started, early to mid ’90s.  I was playing bass in a band called Orange Elevation.  Tom was on drums, who played drums on Ghosts of the Canal.  We would go to the studio once or twice a week, and we’d just start creating.  Our first half hour of practice would just be writing a tune out of the air.  Then we’d practice whatever tunes we’d have already written and jam a little more.  Musically, it was a creative environment.  We all had good chemistry, and we were inspired, so we’d just make it happen.  We loved it and we kept it going for quite a few years; we went through a few guitarists we had come in and jam with us, and the final incarnation of it was myself, Tom, and my friend Reggie, and we brought in John on guitar.  Then Mike joined Candiria and joined on bass.  There’s tons of material that has never been released from Ghosts of the Canal.  I was over at a friend’s house and he was in the process of putting together his own labels to put out his own albums, so I’m hanging out and talking, and I said, "let me put this on in the background".  He goes, "I like it, can I put it out?".  So he needed me to commit to two albums to make his label so he could release his own.  So he asked if we would put it out, and I was like, "yeah, let’s do it!  What do we call it?".  And he came up with the name!
SDM: Let’s talk about the project you’re doing with Sonny Mayo of Snot and Tommy Vext on vocals.  What’s the status of that project?

Ken: I’ve heard a couple of tunes.  I went down there in Venice with Sonny and they played two or three tunes for me, definitely cool tunes.  Tommy was telling me the situation with the band and stuff, and through the process they came up with this concept album and they asked if I would play drums, and I said, "sure, why not?".  He’s got to do whatever he has to do, so he has to put it on the side burner a little bit, I think pretty much the whole album is written, though.
SDM: How do you go from a band like Candiria to Elementary Watson and all these different bands?  How do you stay so diverse in your playing?

Ken: It’s what I grew up on.  I didn’t grow up on metal, I grew up on big band, pop, R&B, soul, disco, rock.  When I was growing up, music wasn’t about genres, with the exception of rock’n’roll, most music in the pop realm was created with a lot of diversity.  You could get a lot more musical training by listening to pop music then.  There wasn’t as much image consciousness back then as there is now, where people can scoot into the industry just based on that alone.  There’s some stuff that you can overproduce it and put it out there, but then they play live and the skill set isn’t there.  There’s no reason to do that; it isn’t right, it’s disrespectful.  Especially if you are a popular band, it’s your responsibility to play well for those who are spending sometimes fifty dollars or more.  That’s why I love professional athletes; they work hard to be good at their sport.  All the off-season means is that it isn’t on TV.  Year round they are working their asses off to be in shape to put on a great show.  It’s no different than with musicians, we should be strong, healthy, and fit.
SDM: I actually wanted to talk about that.  You are very inspired by guys like Bruce Lee; how much does being fit factor into your playing, and how much has Bruce Lee influenced you?
Ken: I always loved martial arts.  I feel like if you want to indulge in martial arts, you can’t just indulge in it.  You have to immerse yourself in it, it has to become your lifestyle.  Without the actual get up and go to take martial arts classes, the state of mind of it, the philosophy of it, the overall approach to training in it is an amazing thing.  I got turned on to Bruce Lee through more of his philosophies and because he’s a really good martial artist.  What I love about Bruce Lee is that in all of his emotional and technical ability as a martial artist, he was a completely humble man.  Very strong in his ideas and opinion, which is good, because number one philosophically, he was very much in touch with good truth.
SDM: How do you warm up for a show, not only physically and mentally?
Ken: It’s a calming process.  Once I’m done with the all the work, the drums get set up, eat food, soundcheck, all that stuff, hopefully I’ve got myself two hours or three hours before the show where I can put it down on cruise control and just be chill.  No heart rate, just try to avoid getting too physically active.  A bit of stretching.  Neck twirls.  Getting my spine loosened up.  I know when I get on stage I know every part of my body is going to be in motion.