Justin Kreutzmann Interview
Justin Kreutzmann was kind enough to let me interview him. He is a blogger (check out his blog "Rock and Reel") a film maker, and son of Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann. The best bio of him is here.
Interview of Justin Kreutzmann by SLC Library Boy on 12/05/05
Q- What is the first Grateful Dead show that you remember attending, and what do you remember about it?
Justin- The first show I went to was Woodstock. I was 3 months old so I don't recall too much about it and only know that I was there because I'm in the movie. The first shows I have a clear memory of were the October '74 Winterland shows. I remember being very bored one of those nights for some reason and faking a stomachache to get Mom to take me home. You have to understand at 3 or 4 years old my attention span was pretty short and Grateful Dead shows WENT ON FOREVER. You could fall asleep, wake up later and they'd still be doing Dark Star!
Q- Where are you in the Woodstock movie?
Justin- Right after Jerry's "Marijuana exhibit A." To the screen on the right you see Pigpen, Dad, Mom and me coming off a helicopter.
Q- What were/are your favorite Grateful Dead shows and why?
Justin- It's really hard to name just few. They all sort of combine and for the most part they were all fun. The closing of Winterland was pretty great. So much craziness going on. I mean Dad had Bill Murray be my guardian the whole show so I didn't get into trouble. Murray was doing Caddyshack, I think, at the time and looked just like his character in that movie. He kept looking down at me and shouting, "ISN'T THIS GREAT!" How could that not be fun?
Q- What are your favorite Grateful Dead memories and why?
Justin- It's funny but my favorite memories, or at least the ones I always go back to, are just the little family things. Hanging out in hotels and airports with everyone. There was no 'kids room' when I was growing up so Dad would have me sit behind him on the drum riser so he could keep an eye on me. Once Jerry and I took the ferry over to San Francisco. I had on a GD shirt and the guy next to us was saying how much he loved the Grateful Dead. Saw every show. Funny thing was Jerry was standing right there and the guy had no idea who he was. It's just that kind of stuff I recall most fondly.
Q- Can you guestimate how many Deadshows you have attended?
Justin- That's just impossible to say. A LOT! It's a question I've been asked more than once. It's like trying to answer how many hamburgers have you eaten. I know they don't have a Mcdonald'sBase, but you get the idea.
Q- What kind of music do you listen to on a regular basis?
Justin- I like anything good. The Who have been HUGE for me since I first saw them as a kid. Pete Townshend has meant so much to me through his music and getting to know him as a person. Pete is really one of the kindest people I've ever met. He would write back in response to all my newly Who devoted fan letters. Always watches the videos I make and sends me nice notes about what he thinks of them. Even now, when I started Blogging, he posted a comment that was so loving I think I'll be in a good mood for the rest of the year! My friends kid me that Townshend is to me how Garcia is to a lot of folks.
Q- Weren’t you at the 1981 Dead/Who show in Germany? What was that like?
Justin- Rockpalast was great. That's where the Who became the band for me. I'd seen them in '76 with the Dead but I was more frightened then of the power and volume of their sound. I mean you could FEEL the Who. Discovering The Who right before becoming a teenager was perfect timing. Those early Townshend songs I could really relate to, especially back then. They spoke to me; it wasn't that I felt I was having Pete's experiences but I could relate those songs to what was going on in my life.
Q- What do you think of the new generation of Deadheads? Can someone be a deadhead without having attended a show?
Justin- I can't say I have a lot of interaction with Deadheads anymore since the band doesn't tour. In my opinion, anyone can be a Deadhead no matter if you've been going to shows all your life or never got to see any. If you like music you can be a Deadhead. But I'm not a Deadhead, family and band members can't be Deadheads. That's not to say I don't love the music, I do, it's part of my DNA. But I feel it would be an insult to all those wonderful people who had to go through so much to get to shows and follow the band if someone in my position called himself a Deadhead.
Q- What made you become a blogger?
Justin- Pete Townshend and Rachel Fuller. I'd never heard of it before September but I saw Pete was starting one and when I read Rachel's I thought I'd start one for a laugh. Never thought people would actually read the thing! Rachel Fuller's blog is great because she's this really talented musician and it's a great way for people to hear her music and get to know what she's like as a person. It made me a fan of her's.
Q- What made you become a filmmaker and how did you go about learning your craft?
Justin- Watching Francis Coppola work with my Dad and Mickey on the soundtrack for Apocalypse Now got me into films. Seeing him construct the film and hearing him go into detail about every part of the film's meaning and what Francis was trying to achieve was amazing. Right then I said, "that's what I want to do for the rest of my life." And that's how it's worked out. So Dad bought me a little Super-8 camera and I started filming my world. Never had any formal training.
Q- How did you come up with the idea for "The Thrill Is Gone" video?
Justin- My friend Gio Coppola had directed the montage sequences for his Dad's film The Cotton Club. I still think they are brilliant. So I "borrowed" some ideas from that and tried to come up with a video that would be interesting and not require Jerry and David to do much more than stand and perform.
Q- You kind of “grew up” with other GD kids. What was that like and do you still keep in touch?
Justin- I'm sorry, but our lawyers said we can not talk about that! Kidding. It was just our lives. I, for one, didn't have another life to get any perspective on it being unusual. Two of my closest friends, to this day, are David Graham and Annabelle Garcia. We've just been through so many amazing experiences together that no one else will ever understand. Sometimes it's hard for us to understand them!
Q- Was Wavy Gravy really your “babysitter” at shows?
Justin- I have no memory of Wavy being a babysitter in the era I grew up at least. In the 80's when the next wave of GD kids came around Jerry always said it was great because they had us older kids to hang out with. When Annabelle, David and I were kids all we had was the band.
Q- What projects are you working on or have in mind?
Justin- Got a few exciting irons in the fire. Can't really talk about them yet until everything is in place. Don't want to jinx it.
Q- How do you think being a “child of the Dead” shaped who you are?
Justin- I hope it's helped me to always look for the passion in life and not be afraid to try and follow it…even if it makes no sense to the world at large.