Today we're talking with Cabot Barden, author of It’s the Bass Player!
FQ: What made you decide to write about your experiences in a band? Did your friends keep telling you “you should write a book” because nobody would believe all the things you experienced?
Actually. I started thinking about writing after I picked up a couple of Clive Cussler books and reading them back in the eighties. But I thought, I didn't have the knowledge or experiences he had to write mystery and adventure novels, so I thought I'd write about what I knew, which is the music business.
FQ: How much of the band’s story was taken directly from your band’s real-life adventures?
About 80% of it is true. The concert at the end never happened, although we were offered a chance to do the concert. The band broke up before we had that opportunity. Several other opportunities were given to us back then, but we did not follow up like we should have. I chalk that up to inexperience.
FQ: Toby and Nancy are a pair in the book. Do you think they live “happily ever after”?
In my second book they end up eventually getting married and having kids. The second book picks up where the first one left off. My second book, Mixed Blessings just came out on April 9, 2012.
FQ: The night at the American Legion Post, where the African American couple are accosted was hard to read. Did it really happen like that?
Yes it did. When we saw what they did to that poor man, we feared for our own lives, because in those old codgers' eyes, we were rock musicians, which was almost as bad as being black in a small southern town back then. They tolerated our music because we mixed in enough of the old country to get by in that place. After the gunshots splintered through the door from outside, we just wanted to get out of there alive and not ever come back. Fights were pretty typical in most, what we called, "Redneck Bars" in those days. There was one bar in my hometown where the saying was,"If you didn't have a gun or knife when you came in the door, they would issue you one.
FQ: The band goes through a lot of changes, with members leaving and new personalities coming on board. How do such changes affect the music a group produces?
We were always learning new songs, because there were always new tunes on the radio every week, so our music repertoire was constantly changing. So the personnel changes didn't effect us as long as there were four of us holding it together.
FQ: The band came so close to making it big, even cutting a record. But like real life, a “speed bump” got in the way. When writing, did you think of perhaps having the record released and following the rise to fame of the young band?
I seriously entertained the idea, but I thought I'd leave that aspect for the next book. In the second book, the guys actually get that break. When I worked in Nashville in the music business, I found that the average "overnight success" usually took about 15 years to get to that point, unless you were a corporately owned band like the Monkees.
FQ: Telling young groupies to become pen pals was a unique way to get rid of them. Did you really do that, and if so, did any of them actually write?
I had several girl penpals who wrote for a while, then stopped usually because I didn't have the means to go see them regularly. And I would usually stop writing if I started dating one girl. One girl showed up on my doorstep once. She had run away from home to come see me. My mom called the police and they worked things out with her parents getting her home. Most of the so called groupies were usually under 15, which we considered off limits dating wise.
FQ: Toby and his friends met some great rock stars at the last concert in the book. Were those people all stars who you met, and if so, who were your favorites? What surprised you the most about them?
Well, we didn't get to meet our heroes, Three Dog Night, like we wanted, but we did get to meet Steve Winwood and Traffic at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals. Seemed everytime Three Dog was playiing anywhere close by, we were booked somewhere in the same town that night. In the 80s I played with a country band that opened for Emmylou Harris and Mickey Gilley. One of the unlabeled pics in the book is of me and Mickey. In the 90s me and the other 2 muskyteers did get to open for the Georgia Satelites, Jan and Dean, and Grayson Hughe. Then when I moved to Nashville in 1995 I really did meet John Kay and had a wonderful conversation with him. It is very possible to "bump into" music stars in Nashville. Of course, working at Opryland helped a lot too. John was living in Nashville at that time. I asked him why he would live there instead of L.A. He said it was safer in Nashville for his family. I found that there are quite a few old rockers living there too, including Peter Frampton.