Today’s Feature, November 27th-28th: Cary Judd

November 28, 2007 at 10:09 pm (Today's Feature)


There’s a lot to like about Cary Judd. He writes meaningful songs and performs them in a must-see one man show – “He starts by playing a riff or progression that finds itself embellished in a swirl of drum and guitar loops that he masterfully creates with a series of electronic pedals at his feet.” With that said, its stories such as this one that will really sell you on the multifaceted performer:

When asked about the CD currently in his CD player, he replied, “My friend got in my car two months ago and put a Cool and the Gang CD in while I wasn’t looking, it got jammed some how. We went back to my house and attempted to pry it out with a fork, but the fork got stuck, so there’s a fork handle sticking out of my CD player right now.”

He’s got other great stories such as when he hitch hiked to Salt Lake City for his first live performance, but his latest shows with artists such as Citizen Cope, Lifehouse, Reel Big Fish and Stars Align have been garnering a little bit more attention. While Judd plays what seems like 100 different instruments (guitar, drums, bass, keyboard, harmonica, mandolin, toy piano, jaw harp, and kazoo), he also calls on an impressive list of guest musicians to sub in, such as Josh Moraeu of Hoobastank, Scot Alexander of Dishwalla, John Stephens and Henry Flury of Stars Align and guitarist Ian Nickus.

Judd’s latest project “Looking Back from Space” is full of songs about the people within Cary’s life, an album in step with his reality. The record is “geared more towards observations of the universe rather than relationship stories.” They are “vulnerable, clever, explosive, and beautiful… they appeal to virtually all listeners because of their raw connection with human fear, hope, and triumph.”

You can expect a lot more from Judd in 2008, including a live album, a new studio album and an acoustic EP. You can also find him on tour early and often in the future – and he will do anything to entertain, even if it calls for “self deprecating humor.” About the distant future, Cary is looking forward to 70 years old, where he’ll “start taking up dangerous hobbies so I can skip the part of life where you sit around and poop your pants and lose your dentures and are forced to eat apple sauce until you can remember what you did with them.” Jump into his XXQ’s.

XXQs: Cary Judd

Pen’s Eye View: How and when did you first get involved in music?

Cary Judd: My dad ran a small, very unsuccessful collections agency when I was 5 years old. More often than not he’d have to just go repo unpaid for items. He had an account with a music store and had to collect on an account, he repoed a cheap $50 guitar that he gave to me.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you told yourself that music was going to be a career rather than a hobby?

CJ: I was playing at a coffee shop a few years ago and someone threw in a $20 bill, I did the math and figured out if I could do that several times a week I could still eat and play music.

PEV: Growing up, what kind of music were you listening to? Do you remember the first album you ever purchased?

CJ: The music I remember the most was from a Czech radio station that I was able to pick up on a beat up AM radio, I never did learn to make sense of eastern European folk music, but it was what I remember most from when I was young. The first album I bought was ‘Disintigration’ by the Cure, it’s still probably my favorite ablum of all time.

PEV: Tell us about the first time you performed live. Did you think, then that you would be where you are now?

CJ: It was on a street corner in Salt Lake City, I had hitch hiked there. I thought it would be the best way to start performing since I didn’t know anyone there. I didn’t want to perform in front of my friends and torture them, I figured this way no one would be forced to listen to me. I had no clue where I was going to be a few years later, but, I did know that playing in freezing cold weather for 5 hours, losing your voice and being mostly ignored was better than having a job.

PEV: What can people expect from a live Cary Judd performance?

CJ: I would say, come with no expectations, you’re bound to be surprised if that’s the case. I also promise it will be entertaining even if I have to resort to self depreciating humor.

PEV: Although you are a “one man show” do you prefer to work in a solo setting or with other bands?

CJ: I like playing with other bands, especially if they’re really good, that way I put more pressure on myself to play as hard as I can. Sometimes I can also borrow band members to play during my set.

PEV: Tell us about “Looking Back From Space.”

CJ: I recorded that album in my friend Dave’s apartment. He had some nice gear so it sounded like I’d hoped. The songs are all about people I know, I mean, I’ve written myself into the songs that really have nothing to do with my real life.

PEV: How is “Looking Back From Space” different than your previous works as well as different from other music out today?

CJ: I think the main difference is the use of opiate based painkillers in writing ‘Space’, I’m not a junkie, but I had a chronic pain in my back for most of the time I was writing songs and for the whole recording, it’s as though I was another person then. The new songs will be geared more towards observations of the universe rather than relationship stories.

PEV: In 2008 you plan to release a live album, a new studio album, and an acoustic EP. What can people expect from them?

CJ: Expect that they’ll all be substantially different and better than anything else I’ve done to this point in my career. The acoustic EP is for the people that got mad at me for using more than just acoustic guitar on ‘Space’, I hope we can all be friends again.

PEV: Having worked behind the scenes producing, most notably with another artist named Ashlee House. Do you find that to be more of a challenge for you to work with other people’s writing and styles? Does that affect your styling?

CJ: It’s easier to boss someone else around. I find that when I’m producing my own music I take it very hard when I give myself orders. Ashlee hardly ever mouths off, especially since the first time she did, I made her do 50 push ups before we could continue working. It affects what I do with my own music in that I stay more disciplined, I don’t want to have to baby-sit someone, least of all myself.

PEV:Who is currently in your CD player?

CJ: Funny you should ask. My friend got in my car two months ago and put a Cool and the Gang CD in while I wasn’t looking, it got jammed some how. We went back to my house and attempted to pry it out with a fork, but the fork got stuck, so there’s a fork handle sticking out of my cd player right now. It’s a shame, I really would like to hear the new Beirut CD I just bought.

PEV: What up and coming artist do you think we should all be listening to now?

CJ: Ashlee of course, but we’ve kept her music a secret, you can’t find it online yet, but artists that I’m not working withÉ I really like Joshua James from Nebraska a lot. I’ve crossed paths with him a few times and am always surprised at how much I’m surprised by how good he is.

PEV: In all your travels, which city do you think offers the best appreciation for music?

CJ: I really like Chicago, it’s one of the big cities where I haven’t had any sort of food items thrown at me. Plus they have that really good popcorn place.

PEV: How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts?

CJ: The best part is the wide array of places to eat. When you drive across the country several times a year you find out where the best food is in every town. The worst part is the skinheads that I encountered in the parking lot of the Super 8 in Mauston, WI, my rib still feels a little bruised, but, the jokes on them since I’m not actually gay.

PEV: Clocking in over 175 shows a year, when you are not traveling or performing, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

CJ: I’m thinking of starting a church in my spare time. I’m not sure yet what it’ll be based on, but I think there’s a lot of money to be made doing that. Plus if I have one of those mega churches it can double as a rehearsal space/venue/recording studio. I think the key will be thinking of something unique that everyone wants to hear and will pay money to hear it, and somehow make it sound like it’s from the Bible, people seem to really like the Bible. Other than that I like to skateboard. Some times I’ll book shows based on their proximity to a good skate park.

PEV: What do you love most about living in Moose, Wyoming?

CJ: I love the wildlife and the mountains. The mountains are obviously beautiful. But the wildlife is really fun. There’s this game my brother and I play called ‘smack the animal’. We don’t actually hurt them, though. You basically just have to touch a wild animal. Different animals yield a different number of points. A chizzler (ground squirrel) is worth 5 points, but a black bear is worth 40, and a grizzly is worth 60. So far the best I’ve done is a Moose Bull. That was 35 points. My brother smacked a black bear this summer, right on the nose. But he got arrested and has a bear claw slash scar across his chest, he’s lucky to be alive. He’s ahead of me in terms of our little game, now if he can just live to exercise his bragging rights. I’m thinking of looking for a grizzly den this winter, since they’ll be in a deep hibernation sleep, it should yield some easy points.

PEV: What’s one thing, people would be surprised to hear about you?

CJ: In a different life I’d really, really like to be a chef, or maybe later in this life.

PEV: When you sit down to write music, what kind of environment do you surround yourself in?

CJ: I light 26 candles, and it has to be after midnight. I’ve never written a decent song that was conceived between the hours of 8AM and midnight. It helps if there’s a full moon. The gravitational pull of the moon tends to pull ideas out of me. I’m not sure if there’s any scientific proof to back that up, or if it’s just a coincidence.

PEV: What one word, best describes Cary Judd?

CJ: “Rainbow” – I’ve been told I’m a colorful character.

PEV: So, what is next for Cary Judd?

CJ: As for the near future, after this interview I’m going to get my woman and go eat sushi. As for the next year I’m going to be super busy touring and recording non-stop, hopefully creating a beautiful story along the way. As for the distant future, well, I guess I’m looking forward to sitting around with my friends as we get old and grey, maybe around 70 years I’ll start taking up dangerous hobbies so I can skip the part of life where you sit around and poop your pants and lose your dentures and are forced to eat apple sauce until you can remember what you did with them. This sounds like a reasonable plan.

For more information on Cary Judd, check out


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