The Dave Matthews Band at CHS

By Nymeesh Sreedharala and Kumpu Ide

Interview with Jeff Coffin – Saxophonist

Crosscurrents: How long have you been playing music for?

“I’ve been playing music since fifth grade. Fifth grade was the best three years of my life, by the way (no, I’m just kidding about that, I didn’t spend three years in fifth grade). Over 40 years, I’ve been playing for over 40 years.

Crosscurrents: What was the first instrument that you played?

“Alto saxophone was my first instrument. I remember when I got it home, it was a brand new Bundy. I remember it being really and like, kind of a plush velvet and all these different pieces to it, and there were so many pieces. I remember opening it up and going like ‘Wow, I mean that’s a lot of pieces to that,’ and just closing the case and being like ‘OK, I’ll deal with this later.’ But uh, yeah, the alto was my first instrument.”

Crosscurrents: What is your favorite instrument to play right now?

“Probably the tenor saxophone. If i had to go out to a jam session, tenor would be my first choice. In second, I think would be soprano right now. I also play a lot of flute, everything from piccolo to bass flute, and clarinet and bass clarinet too.”

Crosscurrents: In what ways has music impacted your life?

“Its changed everything about my life, it is my life. The people I’m around, the places I’ve gone, my relationships, all are centered around music. I mean I know a lot of other people who aren’t musicians of course but the one constant in my life has been music, and so it’s really changed everything. It’s taught me a lot about myself. Taught me a lot about life and a lot about the world. Different cultures of music and how people react to it. How people celebrate, how music is such a deep part of the cultural experience, of other culture, of our culture, around the world. Its fascinating, it’s never-ending.”

Crosscurrents: What advice would you give to someone picking up a new instrument for the first time?

“I’d say try to have fun with it, at first. Play it. Listen to people who play that instrument and try to emulate and imitate them. Consider lessons, for sure, but find a teacher that teaches in a way so that you learn well. But, be curious about it. If you get a toy as a kid, you don’t have to read the directions in order to use it. It’s the same idea [with an instrument]. It’s the same spirit behind it, of curiosity and imagination.

Crosscurrents: What is your favorite part about playing in schools?

My favorite part about playing in schools is hanging out with you guys (the students). Getting some one on one time with people. The interaction that we have with students, also, I really love. Getting to hear your (the students) perspectives on things. A lot of times, we’ll play with the students and that’s really inspiring to hear some really great, young players. But, there’s a real magic of giving back and sort of helping people maybe take that next step in their journey, whether it’s in music or something else. It’s all the same at the end of the day, we’re talking about life where we’re using music as a metaphor.”       

Felix Pastorius – Bassist

Crosscurrents: How long have you been playing music for?

“I started playing music at the age of five, I took violin lessons. I did not choose that, my mother chose it for me and I didn’t do it for long. Then when I was seven, I took piano lessons , somewhat short lived as well. And then when I was about eleven, I picked up the electric bass. I’ve pretty much primarily been playing the electric bass ever since, but i grew up in a house with many different instruments. So I didn’t just play those three instruments. I played a lot of other things that we had in the house; guitar, drums, trumpet, and whatever else we had in the house. Since I’m 36, and I picked up the bass when I was 11, I have now been playing bass for 25 years.”

Crosscurrents: What made you choose the bass over the other instruments?

“I knew my father played bass, I enjoyed that a lot, the idea that I was playing the same instrument as my father. But, it was also, more importantly, a lot of fun playing it. I enjoyed playing it and that’s what drew me more than anything, how much entertainment I got out of playing the bass. My brother would play the drums and we’d play together and it was always a lot of fun. We would go nuts on the weekends.”

Crosscurrents: Do you regret choosing music to be your profession?

“It’s hard to regret things when music is an ever evolving industry and it’s hard to regret things if you enjoy what you do. I’ve always enjoyed playing music. I’ve always loved music, even regardless of playing it or not. So I can’t really say I regret anything. It’s one of those life-paths where you kind of just have to go with whatever’s available and whatever happens. One day you might be playing in a small jazz combo and the next day you might be recording on a multi-platinum album, you never really know how it works. As long as you enjoy what you’re doing and your heart’s in it, you should be okay.”

Crosscurrents: What advice would you give to someone picking up a new instrument for the first time?

“Just continuously have fun. Having fun is ultimately the most important aspect to learning most things. I know it’s not as simple as forcing yourself to love centrain things such as math and science, but musically, I think it can always be fun. Especially depending on the genre of music or if it’s something that you already love besides playing it.”