Had interviewed Patti Ryan, Mark Martin, and Amber Gay of Inukshuk Pass. There down with Paul Weyandt and David DeGennaro to go. Weyandt was something of a sticking point for a while. At first, he agreed, maybe a year, but hedged. Didn’t want me pulling any unscrupulous journalist tricks to make him look bad. So, that was that. Until I recently remembered: Can’t get Phat Paul in line, go snitch him out to his wife, Patti. In fact, if you want anything done so far as IP goes, go to Patti. Next thing you know, Paul is on the phone and an hour or so later, at the doors, all chipper, happy to sit down and talk shop.
Inukshuk Pass is Ryan on lead vocals, Martin on guitar and vocals, DeGennaro on drums, Gay on backup vocals and bassist Weyandt. Everybody’s got strong chops with Paul Weyandt playing some of the sweetest bass in rock since Harvey Brooks (Bob Dylan, Electric Flag). In addition, as much fun as it is to check out his playing – especially live–it’s truly an experience hanging at my crib, talking shop. World class, friendly a fellow they come. To say he’s interesting understates the case. Paul is barely on the door good before he pleasantly commands, “Before we start, what I want to tell you is we played the Trend Bar [in St. Paul]. It was such a strange thing, man. Because, we played from 8 to 11. We had a good time, they loved us. So, that’s cool. But, at 11 o’clock, like, 40 black people walked in. I’m trying to figure out, where were they? You know, earlier. Then, I found out, [Mary Samuelson-Day, friend of the band] told me black people go out later. Like, [not] until 11. I didn’t know this.” Well, he knows it, now. Whether Inukshuk Pass will be adding a special black set next time they play Trend Bar remains to be seen. Point being candor, generally quite off-the-cuff, is a Paul Weyandt calling card.
Rather than do a formal Q & A, we simply sat down, smoked some of the special blend tobacco he brought with him, pet my cats Butch and Sundance and, waiting, on a Sunday, for the store to sell beer at noon, shot the stuff, alternately pausing to dig Henry Cele as Shaka Zulu on the television. Eventually, Paul Weyandt pulled out my guitar and started riffing. I put the tape recorder on. Got nice sounds down. In between all this, we talked shop.
What made you take up playing bass guitar?
Well, my good friend Mark, we been together a long time.
Since around the time they invented dirt, right?
Oh, 4th or 5th grade. He had a guitar. And was playin’ in it. Then, we were at Don’s Music Shop. He said, “You oughta buy that.” It was, like, a Montgomery Wards bass. Black, nylon strings. I bought it and we started jammin’. In his driveway. To “Hey Joe.”
You already knew how to play when you picked that bass up?
My sister, her first husband was Mark Estes. Now, he’s a concert bassist. He taught me how to play. My mom, she took me up to high school. We went into the bandroom. Which is where I met Mr. James. She said, “Could you please do something to see that this boy makes it through high school?” To this day, there is love in my heart for Felix James. The band teacher. A mentor.
Ain’t easy, at that age, learning bass, jamming with a guitarist. Fun, though, yes?
I don’t like guitar players.
I tolerate Mark, ‘cause I love him.
Okay. How’d you, him and Patti and Dave come about forming Inukshuk Pass?
Patti was a songwriter before then, when she was 14. Mark and I played in the jazz band in high school. Patti was in the jazz band. Felix James influenced us all.
What kind of bass are you playing?
Warwick. Five-string. Every generation has its new bass. Warwick. My kids got it for me. I want to give my protest against Fender basses. They’re like Harley Davidson motorcycles, ya know? There’s a whole bunch of nice motorcycles out there that out perform everything a Harley can do. But, people get this, “I got a 1965 Fender P Bass from Hell.” Ya know? So, I just wanted to get that out there.
Who’re your influences?
Stanley Clarke, Charles Mingus.
When did Dave DeGennaro come along?
I was working at Catholic Charities. Gerry Lauer, a very dear, sweet friend of mine, said, “Hey, I’ve got a brother-in-law who’s comin’ in from New York, lookin’ for a job as a drummer. Is there anything you can do to help him?” Yeah. Tell him to show up. He’s hired for the gig. He showed up that Saturday. We didn’t rehearse or nothin’. We just said, “You’re Dave?” Sit down, count to three. That kind of thing.
You didn’t stand on a whole lot of ceremony.
And now it’s a solid unit.
We love each other. Everybody in the band. We’re family.
The new video “You Lost Me Somewhere.” Talk about that.
[Shooting it was] a masterpiece of chaos. It was done on such a low budget with such vision and inspiration. I love it. I love the production values.
It’s gorgeous. And has that vintage San Francisco sound completely nailed.
Another family affair?
Yeah. Patti came up with the concept. Mary’s daughter Michaela and the grandbaby [Luna]. They’re both in there. We keep it all organic.
What else is new with Inukshuk Pass?
Patti was just on MTN’s show Soapbox. We did that compilation CD for the veterans [Home Again – Songs of the 21st Century Veteran Experience]. Patti wrote “A Survivor Song.” She got contacted by the VA. It might be one of her best ever. And we’re working on the new album. Life sometimes makes things take longer than you expect.