After a relatively light year of touring, Widespread Panic is “glad to be doing our own thing,” according to bassist Dave Schools.
“Really, this is the first time this year that we’ve been doing what we feel is real tour,” says Schools, 44, who’s been with the band since its 1986 inception in Athens, Ga. Most of the year, he explains, has been spent doing multinight stands in the South as well as summer festivals and a co-headlining jaunt with the Allman Brothers Band. “Those are great,” Schools says, but there’s been some pent-up desire to let loose with full-scale WSP performances.
“We’re just picking songs out that we haven’t played in awhile,” he notes. “We’re digging deep into the available songs and having a great time bringing them out. And we’ve got new material that’s starting to find its way into the set lists.”
The group is already working on the latter, having convened at its home studio in Athens earlier this year and returning to producer John Keane for the first time since 2003’s “Ball” album. Schools says WSP has “committed about six or seven ideas to tape, as the whole band ... and I know there are a lot more in the hopper. They’re not songs yet. Some have shown up as worked-out instrumentals and melodies. Words haven’t found their way in yet. The stage we’re at now is developing those things.”
Widespread Panic plans to return to the studio in January to continue working the ideas into songs, and Schools predicts that an album could be out “some time before summertime, maybe late spring or something.” Meanwhile, he expects the group to refine those ideas a bit while it’s on the road this fall.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those ideas work their way into jams,” the bassist says, “maybe make an appearance as actual songs if we get ’em together. That’s kind of the way we do things.”
Widespread Panic performs at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 24) at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Tickets are $39.75. Call (248) 399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.
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