Editor’s Note: CIRCUS knows that long interviews broken up into many parts can be a drag, but we cant think of any other way to present Tony Glover’s two-hour rap with Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, John Densmore, and their road manager, Bill Siddons. Space just wont permit us to run it all at once. Please bear with us. This is Part Three of a five-part interview.
Writing introductions to continuing stories can be just as much of a drag as reading Editor’s Notes on why they must continue. But dig: the Doors came to Minneapolis to a do a concert, and I played harmonica with them (see the March and April issues of CIRCUS for that story). Then, they played tape recorder and microphone for me. Catch?
As the man said, this is Part Three.
Q: Do you carry your own sound system with you?
Bill: Yeah. We get a pretty good sound in all of the halls we play. In fact, the voice is usually louder than instruments.
Robby: That’s because we have a thousand watts for the voice and six hundred for the instruments.
Jim: It also the audience. If they’re very quiet, you can hear a pin drop.
Robby: At the Hollywood Bowl, we had five thousand watts on the vocal PA.
Bill: We just did a big scene at the Hollywood Bowl. We had fifty-four amps on stage- there was a whole wall of amps. And we were only running it at about two-and-a-half when it went up to ten. We could have made everybody in the place deaf. The thing is, there aren’t many halls in the country that have decent sound systems for groups that out the kind of power that the Doors do- or Hendrix or the Airplane. We have four big speakers on each side; two of them have two fifteens and a horn, and the other tow have two twelves and a horn.
Q: Do you mix them out front while the show is going on?
Bill: Vince mixes them from behind the amps right on stage
Robby: Usually he just cranks the voice up full.
Bill: There are times when I have to tell him to cut it some because you can hardly hear the instruments.
Q: What’s the biggest single problem on tour?
Robby: Boredom, I’d say.
Bill: Yeah- boredom
Q: You travel about twelve hours a day to get to a place where you play for only an hour.
Bill: On this tour, we’re traveling from about noon to five every day. It occupies the afternoon, but it’s still pretty boring. I mean, what is there to do in Milwaukee or Madison or Minneapolis, right? You sit around and read magazine a lot. It’s always the little problems that plague you.
Q: Do you have much equipment hassle?
Robby: Our contract usually covers the fact that there has to be a big truck waiting at the airport to haul our equipment and so forth. It’s usually the airplanes breaking the stuff up that’s the worst.
Bill: Did you ever watch the guys who work on the baggage belts? They hold everything two inches off the belt then slam it down. They just break the shit out of everything we have.
Robby: Luckily, our equipment manager is good. He can fix just about anything.
Bill: Yeah, Vince Trenor is the genius of the industry. At every gig we’ve ever played, promoters come up and say, “Where’d you get that guy?” He fixed Robby’s amp a few fays ago. I didn’t know what was wrong with it, but all of those little things in the back that are wired together were all over the florr. Vince wsa working in darkness with just his hands when, all of sudden, buzzt! It’s on. He’s one of those people who just knows everything.
Q: When you write a song, Jim, do you just write a bunch of words at length and then sort them out later, or do you sit down and write a specific song?
Jim: It happens both ways-and a lot of other ways, too. Once a song is there, it’s always hard to remember how it got there. The ideas come from everywhere. Actually, once an idea comes, it becomes a song pretty fast. It just takes a few times.
Q: Do you have an idea for the melody when you write the words?
Jim: Sometimes. Actually, I did most of my writing in a short burst a few years ago. I haven’t written too many songs since then. Robby is starting to do a lot of the writing now.
Q (to Robby): Do you write both the words and melody?
Robby: I usually start with a melody and then get the words. Or I take some of Jim’s words and make up a melody for them.
Q: On paper, “Not to Touch the Earth” looks almost formless. But when you hear it, the structure is nice, and everything flows together.
Jim: Usually, songs like “The End”, and “When the Music’s Over,” “Not to Touch the Earth,” and “Five to One” are built like a building. All of the lyrics aren’t there at the beginning, and there’s no song. Instead, there’s just a kind of start, and then it builds.
Q: When do you find time to put new material together? Do you rehearse much when you’re not touring?
Jim: We don’t rehearse that much.
John: But we did for the new album.
Bill: They’ve prepared for this album a lot better than they did for previous ones. We’ve got a duplex office and the downstairs area can be used for practice. There’s been a lot more work toward getting it together before going into the studio this time.
John: Right. Before, instead of wasting all that time in there.
Jim: You see, when we were playing clubs, we could write songs while we were playing, but now we can’t do that as well, now we have to rehearse.
Q: When I was playing regularly with Dave Ray, We’d start a song, and he’d say, “Okay-E.” We’d start playing some worse would come out, and I’d remember the best ones and tell him later. The next night, he’d use those words and the melody in a different way. Eventually, It would evolve into a song.
John: That’s just what we used to do. That’s how our whole first album evolved.
Robby: The second album, too.
Q: How much of “The End” was complete when you went into the studio?
Jim: “The End” is one of those songs which has a basic framework. A skeleton is there. But we do it differently every time. When we recorded it, that was just our version of it at that time.
Robby: It’s still changing, really. I think it’s a lot better now than it was then.
John: When we play it, we good around a lot. We improvise with the music and the lyrics.
Article By – Tony Glover, Circus Magazine
“Actually, I did most of my writing in a short burst a few years ago. I haven’t written too many songs since then. Bobby is starting to do a lot of the writing now.” – Jim Morrison