Mustang Daily reporter Brooke Robertson caught up with trumpet player and backup vocalist Keith Douglas of the Mad Caddies before the band’s Tuesday night show at Downtown Brew in San Luis Obispo. Douglas opened up about recording the new, reggae-infused album, touring, alcoholism, San Luis Obispo and the meaning of life.
Mustang Daily: So you guys just released your fifth full-length album, “Keep It Going.” That’s exciting. How has the tour been so far?
Keith Douglas: This has only been the fourth show. … We had already done some shows with Pepper down here right around the time the record was coming out. I guess it wasn’t released yet, so this is our first show in SLO with the album out. It has gone great so far; I can’t complain.
MD: When you finish an album,
are you relieved, or is it kind of hectic knowing that you’re just going to have to start touring again?
KD: It’s a relief to have it done, and it’s a relief to be back on the road and to be able to make a little coin and pay some rent, you know? And it’ll probably be a relief when we get tired of playing these songs to get back in the studio and know that we are charged up enough to maybe get another one going here soon. And this time hopefully without a four-year hiatus.
MD: What makes this album different from other albums you’ve put out?
KD: It’s definitely a little more reggae -schooled, a little more mid-tempo, kind of groovy, less distorted guitars. I don’t know precisely how that came about. I mean, with “Just One More,” our last full-length record, there were three or four more kind of reggae songs, which was already a new thing at that time compared to the previous release. So I think those songs kind of stuck out a little. And now, this record is almost predominately that sound, and there are a couple of heavier songs. If you haven’t heard us before, those are the ones that almost stand out as being something a little different, which is weird to go back, you know, ten years ago or whatever and listen to our first record or even after that. It’s kind of progressed into something we’re pretty proud of.
MD: What do you think brought about that change in your music?
KD: You know, you’d want to say “maturity” or something like that, but I don’t know. We have gotten a little older and just a break-neck tempo, kind of more “punk” stuff has just kind of run its course a little for us. I mean it’s still there, it’s an influence on us. But I think we’ve brought a lot of the things that we listen to as a band and the things that influence us, the bands that are major influences now (into our music). And just having toured a lot in Europe and abroad and listening to a lot of bands that are doing other things with kind of a similar medium of music.
MD: What are some of your biggest influences right now?
KD: Bands like Manu Chao, or there’s a great reggae band from Germany, Seed, that we’re way into lately. But, you know, we still draw from Bad Religion and Tom Waits and all the sort of things that have been long-time influences. But yeah, having done some shows with Manu Chao … seeing acts like that, live, it was pretty inspiring for us. We’re trying to bring some different sounds, Latin kinds of flavors and things in there, nothing too drastic. I think our record still sounds like Mad Caddies; it’s not like it’s some major departure or anything. We’re just trying to add other elements to it.
MD: I’ve heard a lot of people say that your live shows are must-sees; you have great onstage energy. How do you prepare yourself to do that and to go out there and.
Douglas laughs and taps his full pint glass
MD: Lots of alcohol?
KD: That’s part of the equation, I’m sure, for most of us. Not lots, we don’t want to get sloppy, but I had to drive the van the other night and that was the first sober show I’ve played in a few weeks, and that was kind of hard. I felt extremely white that night; I could not move or do anything.
So yeah, I guess I’m an alcoholic.
But um . we don’t have any real sort of routine or anything that we follow. I think we’ve just been doing this for over a decade now, and we’re really good friends, and you know we’ll put down a couple of beers to get loose. The crowd is 50 percent of it, too. If the crowd’s boring and just chilling and not that receptive, then it’s hard to fake it, you know? But if the crowd is hyping us up, then it’s just. Every musician says it ’cause it’s true; you feed off of that, and it becomes like you’re one with the crowd, really.
MD: So you guys grew up in Solvang right?
KD: The majority of the band, yeah.
MD: Did you play a lot of shows here when you were starting out?
KD: Yeah, we used to do the Grange Hall, I think it was called, and I think there’s like a (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Hall in Morro Bay, and we played Boo Boo Records in Grover Beach. Yeah, a lot of the first shows
I remember doing were up in this area, always with Eddie Numbskull.
It’s been a spot that we’ve hit and shown a lot of love, and they’ve shown a lot of love back. So we’ll always come to SLO, and it’s always a good time.
MD: All right, I think that’s it unless there’s anything you want to add.
KD: Man, it’s been a while since anyone’s thrown that out there. That’s always good when you leave it up to the person. I should have some sort of epiphany.
MD: So, what is the meaning of life?
KD: I’ve fallen back to quoting “Spinal Tap” and saying, “Have a good time, all the time.”