Chuck Prophet finds solace in this Age of Miracles
Chuck Prophet is a perverse kind of guy. He's the type of person who would invite all kinds of people to the same party - in part because he likes them all, but also so that he can see what happens when they all hang out together.
The singer/songwriter, who spent eight years with the psychedelic cosmic cowboys Green on Red - a band that was described as a country-meets-folk-meets too many drugs Americana -is set to release his seventh solo CD and second album for New West Records, Age of Miracles.
True to Prophet's form the album is a mish-mash of styles, collaborators and conspirators, which for some reason fit together like the pieces of a Tetris puzzle.
"When I catch an inspirational virus, I try to inflict it on my closest conspirators and even come up with a batch of songs. Then assemble a group of talented, intense, fierce, difficult, even perverted people, many of whom I've worked with before and a few I'll probably never work with again, lock 'em in a studio and ... you get the idea," Prophet said.
While it sounds like a strong formula for success Prophet admitted that producing Age of Miracles actually threw him for a loop several times. "I had a couple of false starts where I had to discard some material because there was some kind of overlap schematically. In some ways I kind of simplified things a lot to embrace the chaos and resist the temptation to fix it. It was just one of those records with false starts. I went this direction, and then went another one, and about three-quarters of the way through I guess I got in a groove," he said in a recent interview with The Marquee.
Through it all, Prophet has kept two things in the forefront of his mind - one, avoiding singer/songwriter trappings and two, that no matter how hard you try, there's only so much you can do on one record.
"In Green on Red, we did a lot of fun, character-driven songs, and I think that helps me to avoid a lot of the singer/songwriter trappings, You know, `My coffee's getting cold' kind of things that I try not to fall into," he said about the former.
As for the latter, he commented, "My self criticism (once my closest and most reliable friend) gave way to a struggle with my self esteem and mental health. So I took a little break from the record to get some ... ah ... perspective. I found there were some food groups under-represented on the record. So I looked around the couch and pulled out the dusty shoe box of cassettes. At about the same time, I bumped into Eric Feldman (P.J. Harvey, Polyphonic Spree and Captain Beefheart) and I immediately enlisted him to oversee and co-produce. Because even with all the new technology, it's still impossible to be on both sides of the glass at the same time - Jim Dickinson taught me that."