Interview by Scott Preston
Col. Bruce Hampton has been making music since he formed his first band in 1963. Col. Bruce has been in constant motion ever since leaving a trail of memorable live performances with his bands The Hampton Grease Band, The Late Bronze Age, and The Aquarium Rescue Unit.
Along the way he starred in the cult classic movies “Sling Blade” and “Outside Out.” The Colonel is currently playing with his band The Quark Alliance and plays with the original lineup of The Aquarium Rescue Unit.
Still rolling down the road, Col. Bruce continues his quest for the tonal center at each exit #6.
Cincy Groove: Thanks for speaking with me today Colonel, have you played in Cincinnati often?
Col Bruce Hampton: Its the coldest place on earth in January for some reason. I have frozen to death many a January in Cincinnati. We used to play there in the late 60’s , early 70’s. I remember we played outside at The Cincinnati Zoo and it was supposed to be sunny and it turned out to be 8 degrees. I really do have fond memories of playing in Cincinnati. I played at Ludlows Garage about 40 year ago. It was a great club run by Jim Tarbell. I also remember playing on Dana Ave at Xavier University, I believe 38 years ago. Its really unbelievable how I am remembering all of that (laughing).
Cincy Groove: Don’t you have a new solo record coming out?
Col Bruce Hampton: I sure do, it will be out in about 3 weeks, called Songs of the Solar Ping. Its probably the weirdest record ever made. Its definitely out there. We might sell upwards of 12 or 13 copies.
Cincy Groove: You said your new solo cd is weird, how would you compare it to that very first record you made “Music To Eat” with the Hampton Grease band in 1971?
Col Bruce Hampton: This new one is about 40 times stranger than that first one and that first record is about as strange as it gets.
Cincy Groove: I know you have been in some movies in the past, have you been in any recently?
Col Bruce Hampton: Yeah, I did one with Michael Matson called Outrage. In Outrage I play a shopkeeper. I also have a documentary about my career coming out in about 6 months, a bunch of people are in it Billy Bob Thorton, Phish, The Dead, Allman Bros. I have also done some pretty terrible movies that I won’t tell you the names of because I’m not sure if they are going to come out or if they have even been named yet. I do about 3 year and get my 15-20 seconds of fame in each of them. I get a lot of requests to be in movies, but a lot of times I’m booked 4-6 months out so its difficult to be where they want me. In the next 2-3 years I would really like to be in my own movie. That will be a movies nobody will want to see (laughing). Being in movies is fun but I’d rather play music than act any day of the week.
Cincy Groove: Did you have a good time on that first HORDE tour back in the early 1990’s?
Col Bruce Hampton: That was fantastic, I even think we played in Cincinnati at Riverbend. I can remember being there and wanting to see Bootsy Collins, but I missed him when he came out.
Cincy Groove: Have you been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before?
Col Bruce Hampton: I was just here about a month ago. I was overwhelmed over how good the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was. I just couldn’t believe it was that good.
Cincy Groove: What made you want to play music for a living?
Col Bruce Hampton: Altered destiny and fear. I was 16 and someone brought me on stage, it was 1963 and it was something I hadn’t even thought about doing at the time. After that I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The first night I played I was unbelievably great and the next 40 years I was trying to find the tonal center. Playing is just something I have to do, whether its in a gas station or Radio City Music Hall. I’ll play everything from theaters down to a youth center in Missouri. Music is what really matters to me. What keeps me going is when the spirit of that unknown moment happens.
Upcoming Col Bruce Hampton tour dates:
For complete show details visit http://www.bratoganibe.com
10-31 Statesboro, GA French Quarter Cafe
11-1 Savannah, GA Loco’s
11-7 Canton, GA Downtown Kitchen
11-8 Dahlonega, GA Hemlock Festival
11-14 Mobile, AL Soul Kitchen
11-15 New Orleans, LA Maple Leaf
11-21 Charlotte, NC Double Door Inn
11-22 Asheville, NC The Garage at Biltmore
11-28 Atlanta, GA Variety Playhouse Bruce w/Dennis Palmer
12-5 Little Rock, AR Sticky Fingerz
12-6 Arkansas TBA
12-13 Asheville, NC Warren Haynes XMas Jam – Just Bruce
12-14 Asheville, NC Warren Haynes XMas Jam – Just Bruce
12-27 Charleston, SC Pour House
12-30 Atlanta, GA Smith’s Olde Bar w/Blueground Undergrass
12-31 Atlanta, GA Smith’s Olde Bar w/Blueground Undergrass