Mickey Hart is no stranger to electronic music. A participant in the 2014 Bonnaroo Superjam hosted by Skrillex, (Watch behind-the-scenes footage here), Hart has a particular fondness for sonic exploration, especially in the electronic sector. A recent PBS special focused on Hart’s collaborations with neuroscientists and astrophysicists, searching for music that stimulates the brain and simulates the origin of the universe. It’s fascinating stuff.
In a recent interview with Billboard, Hart sat down to discuss just what he and fellow Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann were up to during the “Drums > Space” segments of the recent “Fare Thee Well” reunion shows. As the two drummers will reunite for the upcoming Dead & Company show on Halloween, Hart spent time talking about how their jams were in the realm of EDM, but something entirely unique.
“This is not EDM; this is deadtronica… Most music in the world is electronically driven, and you know that’s popular with the young. In that respect, sure, I knew that it was going to appeal to, you know, a much larger crowd.”
He continued, “We had 50 subwoofers… and tried to discover a new depth… We were actually trying to find the limits of perception and cognition, and in the present levels — besides just playing and grooving, having a good time, playing good rhythm — there was also a scientific side to it, which was probing the depth, the real deep rhythms that live way down below anything that we produced normally.”
Hart also spoke about John Mayer, saying “He can handle it. We played with him… he’s a real pro. He’s a really well-schooled musician.” He continued, mentioning Trey Anastasio by way of comparison. “Trey was so cool. Trey wasn’t Jerry, but he played some of the lists that had to be played and he played it with a lot of compassion and respect, which John comes from that same zone; very respectful, he understands what he’s playing with.”
He even mentioned bassist Oteil Burbridge, who will be performing in lieu of Phil Lesh for Dead & Company. “I think he’ll bring a lot to the band that wasn’t there before.” He quickly clarified, “I love Phil’s playing, no doubt, but he has other plans and so do we and so all is good and there’s peace in the valley.”
Hart concluded the interview with a reflective statement, saying “You know how live music goes on because of things very much like this. If people stop playing our music, especially us, eventually, I fear we will die… This is something I think is worth going after and giving it away in this respect for ears that want to hear it. That’s all — it’s not to please all the people, but I think a whole bunch of them are gonna love it.”
The Dead & Company are scheduled to play MSG on Halloween, with a possibility for additional tour dates to be announced.