May 28, 2015


Bad Brains Guitarist Dr. Know Discusses Upcoming Woodstock Sessions

Anthony Pidgeon/Redferns
Anthony Pidgeon/Redferns

Throughout their near 40 years together, the Bad Brains have always taken chances with their musical approach. Starting out as Mind Control, a jazz fusion group in the exploratory spirit of Mahavishnu Orchestra, the Bad Brains' deep discography finds the D.C.-reared combo having their way with everything from hardcore punk to heavy metal to roots reggae to funk.

On Saturday, May 30, Bad Brains guitarist Dr. Know, bassist Darryl Jenifer and drummer Earl Hudson will be the latest musicians to take part in the Woodstock Sessions, a special live recording music series held at Applehead Recording in Woodstock, N.Y. Other artists who have appeared in the series include Chino Moreno's Team Sleep and Mediski Martin & Wood. For the Bad Brains session, Jamaican reggae singer Jesse Royal will join the jam session.

Fuse recently had a brief chat with Bad Brains guitarist Dr. Know to get the skinny on the group's involvement with the Woodstock Sessions, and whether the band plans on working with their singer, H.R., any time in the near future.

First off, tell me about the band’s connection to the Woodstock area.

Well, my son Gabe is 27, he was the first of my children to be born here, and Darryl moved here the year before that. We moved up here from the Lower East Side and, you know, to start to have kids and move outta the jungle! [Laughs]

When did you first learn about the Woodstock Sessions? They’ve had quite an eclectic array of musicians take part in the series so far.

I heard about it from the very first one they did, the Alan Evans Trio, in 2013. So, yeah, I’m known about it from the very beginning. [Woodstock Sessions founder] Mike Birnbaum and I are boys!

How do you think the audience will inform what you guys do during the session?

It’s gonna be like a gig, but a recording gig. It’s great to have participation with the audience, to get a little feedback. “Did you like that solo guys?” [Laughs]

The groove-based nature of reggae seems like it would lend itself nicely to this kind of setting.

Any kind of music, you know? Whatever the situation is, what we will be doing is something unique and beautiful. We gonna do some little rock ’n’ roll jams in there as well, like we always do!

How did Jesse Royal become part of the event?

We met Jesse originally from working with him at Afropunk, the music festival. He is a good, conscious youth.

What’s next for you guys after this session? Do you plan on working with H.R. in the near future?

Do you have any plans with him? Only Jah know.

The Bad Brains Woodstock Sessions goes down on Saturday, May 30. Head here for more info.