The Greyboy Allstars first came together in 1993 for the release of DJ Greyboy's Freestylin'. Greyboy (aka Andreas Stevens) wanted to have a live band play tracks from the album at his release party, so he assembled a group made up of saxophonist Karl Denson, who had played on the record, guitarist Elgin Park, drummer Zak Najor, bassist Chris Stillwell and keyboardist Robert Walter. The players eventually started writing their own material, which was heavily influenced by organ-driven soul jazz from the '60s. In 1997, Denson and Walter took a break from touring and recording to pursue other successful projects. Now, nearly a decade later, the act is back with a new disc, What Happened to TV? We asked Walter about the new record and the changes the band has been through.
Westword: How was it playing with the guys now versus, say, fourteen years ago, when you were just starting out?
Robert Walter: Well, everybody's got fourteen years more experience. And everybody's done a lot of different things. And with the exception of Karl Denson, who was a great player when we met him, the rest of us were kind of learning to play in the meantime. When we first started, we were all very green, especially playing that kind of music. We were just starting to fall in love with it and just starting to figure out how to play that kind of stuff -- we had all been in rock bands before. So I think all of us have kind of immersed ourselves in that style for the last several years. But we've all done all sorts of different things. Our guitar player, Elgin Park, has done all this film work and worked with orchestras.
How do you feel about the new record?
I'm very, very proud of it. It's my favorite album we've made. And it's probably my favorite thing that I've been involved with yet. Just the way it happened -- it was so organic and simple. We wrote all the tunes in the studio and recorded them right after we made them up. There was no preconceived idea of how it was going to be, and the playing is all in the moment and live. We didn't fix anything and go back and overdub a bunch of stuff; it's pretty much the way the band sounds. It was just a really pure creative process.
You recorded it live in the studio?
With this band, it's sort of a crime not to do that. We didn't use Pro Tools at all. We didn't use any digital editing of any kind. There's one edit on the record with actually cutting the tape with a razor blade. And there were very few overdubs.