20 Years On, Hot Tuna Keeps It Familiar After two decades out of the studio, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady stick to familiar sounds on their new album as Hot Tuna, Steady As She Goes.

20 Years On, Hot Tuna Keeps It Familiar

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LIANE HANSEN, Host:

It's Easter Sunday. Maybe you're preparing some lamb for the holiday dinner or perhaps a delicious ham. But we're serving up some hot tuna.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HANSEN: The newest from Hot Tuna is called "Steady as She Goes."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANGEL OF DARKNESS")

HOT TUNA: (Singing) What kind of evil baby, I don't wanna know. Who poisoned your waters, just when we begin to flow...

HANSEN: The dynamic duo joins us from the studios of WOUB in Athens, Ohio. First, welcome, Jorma, nice to talk to you.

JORMA KAUKONEN: Well, nice to talk to you too. Thanks for having us on your show.

HANSEN: A real pleasure. And Jack Casady, welcome to your too.

JACK CASADY: Thank you very much.

HANSEN: You guys have been getting down to business for a very, very long time. I mean, both of you grew up in Washington, D.C. Is it any different being now grown-ups in a studio and doing an album like this and when you were kids and you were doing it for the first time?

KAUKONEN: I think when I go into the studio now, I'm not chasing dreams in the sense that I did when I was younger because I kind of know where I want to go, even though I'm not really sure exactly what I'm going to find when I get there. And we all know today that the sum is greater than the whole of the parts, so there's no ego conflict. And it's just really, it's kind of like a family project that really works.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A LITTLE FASTER")

TUNA: (Singing) Stuck in drive, going down this long road...

HANSEN: There's some great people on here. Your mandolin player, Barry Mitterhoff, your drummer, Scoota Warner. Of course, your producer, Larry Campbell, plays some guitars. I have to ask about your vocalist, Teresa Williams. She really sounds like Grace Slick.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A LITTLE FASTER")

TUNA: (Singing) I just want to move a little faster...

CASADY: Hot Tuna hasn't usually had female singers on their albums.

HANSEN: Right.

CASADY: So, there's a lot of association that way. But I was listening to some of the harmony she was using and I think that's where your reference points comes in.

HANSEN: Perhaps...

KAUKONEN: But she's such a professional, she can go a lot of different places, but her soul is very deep and she's always very honest in her presentation.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A LITTLE FASTER")

TUNA: (Singing) I just wanna go a little faster...

HANSEN: Jack, you had a really fun bass solo on this one.

CASADY: Absolutely. I haven't really done bass solos on Hot Tuna records before. Usually, I've incorporated into melody work, melodic work and Larry just told me, take a solo there. You know, so I said, OK. So, it was a one-shot deal on the first take. And so when I listen back to it, it was just a free- flow fun little jam.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A LITTLE FASTER")

TUNA: (Singing) Stuck in drive going down this long road. I gotta move...

HANSEN: You revisit a 1979 song, "Easy Now."

CASADY: Right.

KAUKONEN: You know, what happened was, when we recorded that song - actually, the first version of that, I can't remember, there's some archivist that knows. It was one of the mid-'70s Hot Tuna records and I wrote that song about a motorcycle trip that I never took.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EASY NOW REVISITED")

TUNA: (Singing) I've got the riding pneumonia today, well, the weather's too fine to stay...

KAUKONEN: And it's always been a fun song to play and this time I wrote it about a trip that I did take last year going down the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Cherohala Skyway and the Dragon and all that kind of stuff. So, I feel like I've kind of like, I've solved that feeling of frustration I had for years about that trip I never took. All the riders out there will know what about I'm talking about - the Blue Ridge Parkway, stunning; the Cherohala Skyway, unbelievable. Natchez Straits all the way to New Orleans, you just can't beat it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EASY NOW REVISITED")

TUNA: (Singing) When I was young, I tried to learn the people. The body explodes, but not so chrome and steel. The (unintelligible) you get about the paths you've chose, so just ride on as daylight starts to close...

HANSEN: On May 5, next week, "Steady as She Goes" will be released on vinyl. Now, I have to ask, is this just for the sake of the few of this unrepentant hippies who haven't upgraded our equipment?

KAUKONEN: And when they offered us a chance to do this on vinyl, a double vinyl set, by the way, we went, what a great idea. OK, Jack, you're on.

CASADY: And, of course, the audiophiles out there, they swear by vinyl. What they've done to keep the fidelity as high as possible is the tracks that are on the album, number 12 tracks, and they will be spread over three sides of the album so that they will get maximum fidelity quality and on the fourth side will be an etching of...

KAUKONEN: Picture disc.

CASADY: ...Jorma and Jack. So, you get the whole ball of wax with this deal, you know, and definitely I'm going to have a couple of copies myself.

KAUKONEN: Will you sign mine?

CASADY: Absolutely, if you'll sign mine.

KAUKONEN: OK.

CASADY: All right.

HANSEN: "Steady as She Goes" is the name of the new Hot Tuna CD and vinyl album. Band members Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady joined us from the studios of WOUB in Athens, Ohio. Both of you, thanks so much. Good luck with this.

KAUKONEN: Thank you so much.

CASADY: Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOODBYE TO THE BLUES")

TUNA: (Singing) Good news, good news, I've said goodbye to the blues...

HANSEN: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

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