[Cover photo credit to Patrick Carew]
Singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and Producer Scott Fisher’s album 93 Million Miles arrived in late October, led by first single, “The Right Way”. Today we’re delighted to reveal Fisher’s video for “The Right Way” as it opens up more possible interpretations inherent in the song and takes us along with Fisher’s recent life as a travelogue of some of his latest life and work adventures.
93 Million Miles follows on from Fisher’s 2019 collection, Songs of Jerry Garcia and others, and the new album itself features Garcia’s “Mission in the Rain” and The Grateful Dead’s “Sugaree”. You’ll hear improvisational approaches worked into the six original songs and three covers on the new record, which also features the work of Enrique Gonzalez (Los Lobos) on drums. Vintage organs, consoles, and guitars round out the sound that takes inspiration from the past in new directions.
I spoke with Scott Fisher about the ideas behind “The Right Way” as well as the very personal elements of the video that we’re premiering on Wildfire Music + News today.
Hannah Means-Shannon: Do you often work with older analog machines or materials to make music?
Scott Fisher: For sure. I do a lot of Production and anytime we can I like to track drums and other things in the bigger studios in the old method on beautiful 60s and 70s boards like the Tridents and the Neves. That’s what I did on this whole record. We went out to The Sonic Ranch, which is a beautiful, residential studio in Texas.
An amazingly interesting man, Tony Rancich, has built the biggest residential studio in the world down there. He has all this wonderful old school gear and there are always amazing artists down there. There are communal dinners so everyone can get to know each other. He’s basically created a very cool community for artists and producers. That’s where I tracked most of this record with my good friend Enrique Gonzales. Then I brought it home to LA where I mixed it in the new method, digitally with a bunch of hybrid stuff in my studio. My whole aesthetic is a little bit more old school in this weird, modern, digital world.
HMS: The Sonic Ranch has come up in conversations at least a couple of times when I’ve been talking with musicians about analog recording methods. It sounds amazing. I could see that your interests leaned toward older music, based on your previous collection with Jerry Garcia songs and some of the covers on 93 Million Miles.
SF: Absolutely, that’s where my heart is. I like that stuff that’s a little more interactive between the musicians, where we let the groove unfold, and where there are some improvisational moments. It’s not all cut up, and digitized, and put on the grid, which is a little more rigid and less patient in approach. This is a very patient, slow record. The Producers in LA say, “Every seven seconds you need a new hook!” It’s called “The Seven Second Rule”. I can totally understand that, and there’s a time and a place for it, but, personally, I’d rather breathe and let music meditate and unfold.
HMS: You’re not alone in that. There definitely are people who are inclined to look back at older ways of doing things and take inspiration from that. There is a nostalgia market, but that’s not really what I’m referring to. I mean there are people who find value in older approaches and see how they can adapt them.
SF: Absolutely! They bring those things into the digital world by keeping some of those aesthetics. There are new analog-oriented young artists, which is nice to see. It’s funny to hear the cool young bands talking about Jerry Garcia, who used to be so culturally uncool in the early aughts. Now, they are all wearing 60s Dead shirts and think Jerry is the coolest ever. Culturally, it all cycles around and they are discovering him now.
HMS: I think I saw an ad for Levi’s doing a team up with The Grateful Dead brand recently to do a line of clothes.
SF: I grew up playing basketball, and I see a lot of players with stuff now. Even LeBron James had a dancing bear. It is coming back into the cultural “cool” collective consciousness.
HMS: There’s a lot of tie-dye right now! I’m not complaining because at least I can find it in shops.
SF: People don’t have to understand the whole psychedelic culture to like it, but it’s funny to see it.
HMS: I have to mention the very recent announcement of the Jerry Garcia bio-pic.
SF: Yes, Jonah Hill is going to play Jerry and Scorsese is directing it. The whole Dead organization is on board to be part of it, which is important. Scorsese is a music fanatic and he did another Grateful Dead documentary, Long Strange Trip.
HMS: Regarding “The Right Way”, this was the lead single for the album. What made it the right track to introduce audiences to the album?
SF: It’s kind of a groovy mid-tempo track. Some people have said that it reminded them of Tom Petty a little bit, which I hadn’t really thought of. Thematically, it’s probably just about being true to what you believe and trying to have integrity in a world where, I think, maybe we don’t have as much integrity anymore. There’s so much I love about American culture, but I do feel like, right now, our highest value seems to be money. It’s like money or wealth equals good. It’s a bit offensive to me if we equate good with making money. People have their own beliefs and values, so maybe they’ll interpret, “The right way never goes wrong” as staying true to what they believe in.
HMS: Maybe this is a time where people are asking themselves, “What are my core values?” I hope that’s been true over the past year and a half. Something that disturbs me about what you are talking about regarding money is that it seems like we instinctually equate someone having money with them having some kind of superior personal qualities.
SF: I think you’re 100% right, but I think this is more of an American psychological phenomenon. I’m half French, and in Europe, especially in France, they are generally skeptical of money to a fault. If you have money, that equates to you having screwed over people to get there. Generally, if you are rich, they think, “That person’s an asshole.” It’s not always true, but often it’s not un-true. But on the American side of my experience, I think we do equate higher intelligence and being more savvy with wealth. So we think good equals wealth. Like with our ex-President, there are millions of people who think Trump is a good man with values and integrity. We all know that is clearly not the case.
HMS: How far back does this song go for you? Do you think the world climate we’re talking about makes its way into the song?
SF: Some of my angsty pandemic energy and wanting to put a positive spin on it is there. I started demoing the whole album out I the heart of the pandemic.
HMS: There’s a hint in the lyrics about being a little more isolated and then making a decision to come out and look around, I think. The reference to being up in a tree?
SF: For sure. That’s my tendency because I’m so happy mixing things in my studio for ten hours straight, then having a couple of glasses of wine, then realizing that I’m not connecting enough with my friends. And realizing that I haven’t been playing live and I haven’t been going to shows because of the pandemic. So there’s reintroducing yourself to the world. That’s probably more of a pep talk to myself in that way.
HMS: This idea of finding “the right way” is a very personal thing, right? Because in the song, it also talks about finding your own sound, which is a very personal thing.
SF: Yes, that’s probably my personal journey. I work a little bit more in the Production world and behind the scenes, and I’ve done a lot of stuff with licensing for TV. I’m a bit schizophrenic in the sense that I put out a classical piano solo record in 2014. Then I did a bossa nova album for a film that ended up getting used in tons of TV shows. For me, it’s not necessarily rewarded now to have such a vast set of interests. People would always tell me to pick one direction and say that I was not “branding” myself enough. There are all these terms. I totally get it, but ultimately, it’s not about that for me. It’s about trying to make things that I’m inspired by.
More recently, it’s been about how much I love those old 70s records. I love taking a nice guitar solo and improvising with a band, but that’s kind of discouraged on the radio and social media side. Ultimately, with my last few records, people have found them and there are definitely people who appreciate the longer form. It’s like longer form podcasts have found an audience.
HMS: When did you start thinking toward a video for “The Right Way”?
SF: This video was basically my summer. I was out tracking in Texas, so there’s some footage from there. Then I went to see my family in France, so there’s some footage from Paris and the southwest, where we have a little family home we always go to in August. Then, the last scene in the video is New York, where I was working on a record a month ago. So I had all this footage, and I thought it would be a nice thing. That’s my authentic heart, with my friends and my family, playing music. We put together my summer footage.
HMS: It makes for an interesting story because there’s not a huge, driving narrative to it, like a scripted video. Because of that, the video fits not only the sound of the song, which is more gentle and wandering, but some of the ideas of the song we’ve been talking about.
SF: I think, intellectually, I can fit all the ideas we’ve been talking about into the videos. Also, hopefully, it’s visually interesting. I wondered if it was even interesting at first to show me driving around and hanging out with friends and family, but it’s my life, and there are some beautiful places as well.
HMS: What I got from joining the song with those images was that these are the things that are valuable to you in your life.
SF: Absolutely. For me, those are my highest values, to be creating art and hanging out with the people that I love and care about.
HMS: These are all fairly warm and inviting environments, too, so it feels like images of gracious living, in a way. I mean that it seems to be about finding gracious moments in life that you can appreciate.
SF: I totally agree. We’re in a rustic little country house, and it’s not luxury, and some of the locations are just places I’m visiting and exploring the world.
HMS: Did you feel that it was at all vulnerable to release footage of your personal life?
SF: Ultimately, it is me and authentic to me. That’s part of what the song’s about too, being true to yourself in that way.