Colorado jam favorites The String Cheese Incident are about to embark on a major milestone….their 25th-anniversary celebration! Beginning with a New Year’s run at Broomfield, CO’s 1STBANK Center on December 28th, 29th, and 31st (get tickets here!), SCI will commence what is already looking to be a massive silver anniversary celebration in 2019.
While they will welcome no direct support for the New Year’s run, Cheese has announced a number of special guests set to join them during their own sets. Bluegrass brethren Sam Bush and Darol Anger will be featured guests on the 28th, and Robert Randolph and Dumpstaphunk’s Ivan Neville, Ian Neville, and Tony Hall will help bring out the funkier side of The String Cheese Incident on the 29th. Outside of the 1STBANK Center shows, the band has announced multi-night runs in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, St. Louis, New Orleans during Jazz Fest, and New York…all places that have played a role in the growth and evolution of the band. And there is still more to come, as SCI gears up for a particularly busy year.
Over the years, the group has always been able to stay one step ahead when it comes to creating unique experiences for their fans, from their storied Horning’s Hideout events to their return from hiatus at Rothbury in 2009 (which would go on to become Electric Forest) to the now-annual Suwannee Hulaween celebration down in Florida. All the while, the band has worked with some of the best production teams in the world to create unforgettable spectacles for fans of all genres to enjoy and revel in.
With a sound that has evolved from a more traditional bluegrass sound in the early Rocky Mountain years to incorporate funk, electronic, and world music influences, The String Cheese Incident has, for better or worse, embraced the change and found ways to allow the musical tastes of each band member to shine brightly throughout their history. 25 years is no easy feat for any band, making this celebration that much more special for the potent sextet of Billy Nershi, Michael Kang, Kyle Hollingsworth, Keith Moseley, Michael Travis, and Jason Hann.
We caught up with keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth to discuss the “then” and “now,” the band’s recent creative songwriting technique by way of their Sound Lab studio, and what else is on the horizon for the gentlemen of Cheese.
“Rivertrance” – NYE 2013 [Pro-Shot]
[Video: The String Cheese Incident]
Live For Live Music: The band is still regularly creating new music, and very much still on the road. Are you guys having as much fun now as you did back in the day? What are some differences between then and now?
Kyle Hollingsworth: It’s like any relationship, really. Almost like being married. There is this new kind of love and infatuation those first few years, a wild sort of fun. And then things evolve, people change, but your love changes and you react accordingly to those changes. With a band, you are dealing with multiple personalities, and sometimes just need to practice and jam for an hour or so for everyone to get back on the same page after being away from it for a little bit.
With the Kyle Hollingsworth Band, I get to go out on the road and see younger bands like Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and Twiddle, and it’s exciting to see that younger fan base go wild at shows. Things are certainly different 25 years into it for us, but certainly not different in a bad way. It’s still as much fun as it’s always been.
[Photo: ontheDL Photography]
L4LM: Congrats on dropping the “Manga” official release last Friday, which was inspired by Cameroonian bassist Andre Manga. Who brought that idea to the songwriters’ table?
KH: That was an idea that Jason brought to the table, and we had a lot of fun with it. Especially with the video, all of us just fooling around and keeping things silly. With songwriting over the last six months or so, we are each taking the lead at points on various songs and going from there. We have now released Jason’s “Manga”, a Travis song, a Keith song, and now we’re at the Sound Lab working on Kang’s next song. It’s fun in that we all are taking creative control and letting things flow.
“Manga” – SCI Sound Lab (Single)
[Video: The String Cheese Incident]
L4LM: It seems like the Sound Lab has been the definition of a creative space for the band since being built, and has allowed the band to be constantly releasing new music.
KH: The Sound Lab has been incredible for us. We come together when the time is right, write music, and release a song when it’s ready, instead of releasing a whole album, which seems to be a dying art form, sadly.
L4LM: On the album note, do you think that releasing singles only has been good for the band, as far as songs getting the attention and listens they deserve?
KH: I do think that has been a really good thing, come to think of it. Sometimes songs get lost in the shuffle of a full album. It definitely works for us, for sure.
L4LM: It looks like 2019 is gearing up to be a big one for SCI. Jamaica, Vegas, Jazz Fest, Tahoe, The Cap, The Fox in St. Louis, and more. Already seems like a busier-than-usual year for the band. Are there still announcements in store?
KH: With celebrating 25 years, we really wanted to return to some of the places that have always been special to us and fun to play. Vegas, Jazz Fest, The Fox, and those spots have always provided something a little extra for us as a band. It’s going to be a fun year, without a doubt, with more to be announced as things progress.
L4LM: SCI just announced special guests for the New Year’s run as well, with Sam Bush & Darol Anger (12/28) and Robert Randolph, Ivan & Ian Neville, and Tony Hall (12/29) set to join in. How have these guys played a role in the Cheese sound over the years, and what can we expect from those sit-ins?
KH: I’m really amped to be bringing those guys, who have all influenced us in some way over the years, to join us on stage. The New Year’s run is going to be a lot of fun, as we will be creating a very immersive experience for all three nights, with things happening throughout the entire 1stBANK Center. Jason came up with some ideas based on his experience at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which were super cool. We’ll also have some old videos of the band playing over the years and some new stuff that you’ll just have to wait and see.
L4LM: Do you still have those profound moments with the band after all of these years?
KH: There [are] still profound moments on every tour, but on this last tour, for instance, it was the second-to-last night on one of the runs. And it always seems to work out that way. With the last night of some runs, people have home and family on their minds, but the second-to-last night, everything just comes together and everyone’s energy just connects. We were on the bus after one show, in particular, and we all just clicked on a whole other level. I always recommend coming to see the second-to-last night….things always mesh and go off just a little bit more, for some reason.
L4LM: SCI has done these wonderfully curated and very creatively “Cheese-like” events such as Horning’s, Electric Forest, Hulaween, etc. Are there other events like these on the horizon?
KH: We are always looking at new ideas and ways to create these “magic spaces” for both the fans and band alike. It’s something that has always been important to us as a band. In retrospect, I remember being younger at Grateful Dead shows, or some festival, and camping on concrete and just having a different experience altogether. Great times, but different. As a band, we have always tried to take those experiences and create something that the fans would love and feel comfortable and safe in to enhance their experience. And it has been fun working with the right people to make that happen, and continue to do so. So, in short, yes….we are constantly thinking about those types of events, and there is always something new on the horizon to explore.
L4LM: You also have your annual Hoppy Holidays event with your own Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Lyle Divinsky of The Motet, Exmag, Casual Commander, at Cervantes AND The Other Side next Saturday, Dec. 8th. Sounds like a blast!
KH: It’s crazy to think that is coming up next week already! I was just speaking to Lyle from The Motet about some song ideas for us to collaborate on, and it’s going to be a lot of fun. He has great energy, and guys like him and Dom Lalli (Big Gigantic) have such a way to get the crowd amped up, whereas I’m like, “Hey, thanks for coming, it’s going to be a great time, and we have awesome beer here!” Guys like that are able to command their space and bring something else to the stage.
[Photo: ontheDL Photography]
L4LM: And Hoppy Holidays, as always, will be featuring some collaborative beers you did with various breweries. For this event, you teamed up with both Joyride Brewing Company and New Image Brewing for the Brut IPA and Imperial Stout, respectively.
KH: YES! I am such a beer nerd. I’m really excited for the Brut IPA. It’s taking that crisp dryness of a champagne and merging it with an IPA. I’m really excited about that. And the Imperial Stout makes for a great winter beer, with both lavender and blueberry being infused into that mix.
L4LM: Best of luck with the 25th-anniversary celebration, Kyle! Thanks for your time.
KH: Thanks so much!
The String Cheese Incident’s 25th anniversary will begin during their New Year’s run at Broomfield, CO’s 1STBANK Center on December 28th, 29th, and 31st. Tickets are currently on-sale and can be purchased here. For additional information and event updates, join the Facebook Event page.
For more information on New Year’s run and more String Cheese Incident 25th-anniversary celebrations, head to the band’s website here.