David Lemieux Interview
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In Conversation With David Lemieux

August 22, 2001  

Grateful Dead archivist.


Interview Categories

View II  Golden Road  Vault   

David Lemieux 2011 interview posted on the Grateful Dead website from Glide magazine

So how does it feel to have the greatest job in the world? 

David Lemieux - Well, you know, it feels terrific. It feels great. It’s still pretty thrilling coming to work here every day—no doubt about that. It’s funny, the perception of the job is sitting around listening to Grateful Dead music ten or twelve hours a day, which a lot people do anyway, but they don’t get paid for it. But then there’s all the unglamorous stuff which people don’t think about. Luckily it’s easy to balance that out with the good parts of the job, which is pretty much 99% of it. So I can’t imagine being in a better place as a job. It’s a lot of fun. 

It’s an enviable position as I’m sure you know. 

David Lemieux - I can imagine. But hopefully we’re getting enough music out there that it doesn’t seem like we’re hording it. We’re trying to get as much out as we can. 

The release rate has really accelerated since you came on board. 

David Lemieux - Well, we’re trying. I come here as a Deadhead. It’s tough sometimes to get things through—as Dick well knew—about ideas for releases, specific shows, or even ideas for the content of a specific release. But when one does get accepted and it proceeds, it’s pretty exciting. Today from about 8:00 this morning till about 4:30, I’ve been working on proofing the masters for an upcoming album called Nightfall of Diamonds. We just FedExed those about 20 minutes ago, so as far as my part of the job goes, that album is done which is pretty thrilling.

 You and I both started seeing the Grateful Dead in the 1980s. Do you have a favorite era? 

David Lemieux - I have a few. I’ll give you some examples. Working on this recent box set, there were some live ’66 recordings. I’d always been kind of a casual fan of ’66, but then when you really listen to it during the mastering you realize how good it is. When we did this recent Dick’s Picks Volume Twenty-Two from ’68, I really became enamored of ’68. And then of course ’69-’70 kind of goes with out saying, as does ’72-’74. ’71 I was never particularly enamored with until a year and a half ago working on Ladies and Gentlemen… The Grateful Dead. I knew the material really well, but it never really jumped out at me until we combined twenty hours of it into the five hours on Ladies and Gentlemen… And then ’72-’74 for the obvious reasons: I love Playing in the Band from ’72, ’73, and ’74, but particularly ’72 for that song. I love where they were taking Dark Star in ’73, I love Eyes of the World in ’73 and ’74. I could put out every Eyes of the World. ’76, I like the laid back feel. ’77 kind of goes without saying—I love the funkiness of Dancin’ in the Streets, I love the tightness of ’77 Dead. ’78 when it’s good it’s unbelievable—Dick’s Picks Eighteen for example is really awesome. Early Brent I really enjoy, I thought he was really funky, I thought the band had good energy. Mid-’80s is tougher, but when I do find something like Dick’s Picks Twenty-One or Dick’s Picks Thirteen it just blows me away. By ’87 to Summer ’90 there was some pretty great consistent playing in that chunk. ’91 I like a heck of a lot. ’92-’95 is really hit and miss. Now when it’s really good, it can be transcendent but otherwise I have the same opinion as a lot of people about the ’92-’95 period, which is that it’s a little less consistent, but there are some pretty terrific shows. ’93 had some amazing shows, late ’94 had some astounding performances, and then Spring ’95 had some incredible shows too. So this isn’t me sitting on the fence, it’s me realizing that there is some really amazing playing from every era. You know these people who refuse to listen to the ’80s or refuse to listen to ’72-’74—I can’t box myself in that way. I couldn’t do my job doing that, but having gone to school for a long time you get as objective as possible. When you sit back objectively and take your own emotions out of it you can really find that there’s some pretty good stuff, and you can definitely say there’s some pretty bad stuff in a lot of places too. 

I totally agree with you 100%. I love every era and I have every vault release. We’ve had some raging arguments on the DeadBase Dick’s Picks Forum (http://www.deadbase.com/dbbb/dickspicks/index.pl) about this, and some people say, “I don’t know why they bother releasing anything but ’70s.” So it’s really gratifying to hear that the person who is in charge of all this feels the way you do. 

David Lemieux - Well if you look what’s been released in the last year we’ve had a couple ’91 shows, a ’90, an ’89 vault release coming up, some ’68, some ’73, some ’78, some ’76, and some ’85. We’re trying to hit as much as we can and we know that as far as consistency’s sake goes, there are a lot of really good shows from ’72-’74. We could continue just doing that, but the Dead’s history and the legacy of what they left behind is too important to just focus on four years or ten years or whatever without revealing the fact that this band was unbelievably dynamic and diverse.

I’m really grateful to hear that. Dick had a justifiably famous ear, but I always felt that he wore his biases on his sleeve. 

David Lemieux - He did. I definitely have some things that I love more than others, and if the Dick’s Picks series was just for myself I don’t know if the same choices would be made. I love every single album I’ve worked on. I absolutely love everything. I find myself listening to certain eras a lot more than others, but it isn’t about me, it’s about the good of the band and the good of the historical legacy. 

People have been clamoring for another 1972 release. Hundred Year Hall and Dick’s Picks Volume Eleven are the only vault releases from that year. Can we look forward to something in the near future? 

David Lemieux - Unfortunately, some of the best shows from ’72 we just don’t have. A bunch of the real famous ones that we all know of—some of the November shows, we just don’t have or we don’t have in soundboards—there was a technical glitch going on with the recording process in October ’72 so we’re missing some of that, but we do have some really good ones too. There’s the 8-27-72 Veneta show of course, we have got multi-tracks of that, so that’s a possibility sometime. You know with the big vault releases we can’t do more than one per year so this year’s is obviously Nightfall of Diamonds. And that was a conscious choice. We did 1971 last year with Ladies and Gentlemen… and to have done ’72 this year wouldn’t really be representing the band all that well so we wanted to do something that hadn’t been done in four or five years, which was Dozin’ at the Knick, so we figured let’s look around that 1989 period, and went with Nightfall of Diamonds

Why did you choose that over the October 8th and 9th “Formerly the Warlocks” shows? 

David Lemieux - “Formerly the Warlocks” I will say—and you can put this on the record—I’m sure will be released some day. Why we didn’t do it is we wanted to do a complete show. With the two Hampton shows, it would have been impossible to do a six-CD set right now as a vault release. We did five CDs with So Many Roads and we did four CDs with Ladies and Gentlemen… we’ve got 12 CDs coming out with The Golden Road. We said, “Okay let’s do a nice tight two-CD set” and to do Hampton, I guess we could have done either the 8th or the 9th—probably the 9th obviously—but then it would have left off all that great music from the 8th. I think as far as the full show goes, 10-16-89 really stands up as the better all-around show of those three. If you listen to Nightfall of Diamonds start to finish—and it’s a short show, it’s only two and a half hours—it really does stand up as a good solid show representing an awesome era. 

And even though it isn’t the return performances of some of those songs it does feature the newly revived Dark Star and Attics of My Life. 

David Lemieux - True, but we didn’t pick it based on set list. I guess we seldom do. It was picked because a lot of people wanted this particular concert and it’s a heck of a strong show. I know people are going to say, “Well it should have been Hampton because of the historical significance.” Which is not to say Hampton weren’t great shows, they really were, but the solidity of 10-16-89 is why we went with it. 

I’m surprised that you don’t choose things based on song selection. 

David Lemieux - No. Never. I don’t think we’ve ever said, “Hey, maybe it’s time we put out a song with this,” and then search for a show with that song in it. It’s never happened that way. 

I want to read you some statistics. 

David Lemieux - I know the statistics. Trust me we do not go and look for Tennessee Jed or Me and My Uncle. It just happens that way. 

But certainly something like Dick’s Picks Twenty-One—it couldn’t have been an accident that Spoonful, Gimme Some Lovin’, She Belongs to Me, and Gloria, none of which had been officially released before… 

David Lemieux - That was a happy accident. That was great show. And again ’85 is a year that there are a lot of tape problems. The master tapes we have on cassette. And then we’ve got the PCMs, the Beta tapes, starting with the New Year’s run of ’82 up until about New Year’s ’87 we’ve got these digital tapes, that are Betamax videotapes with no video on them, just an audio-only track. It’s the earliest digital audio we have from ’85. Early digital had real bass issues. It’s really bass shy. We looked at quite a bit of the from that era. For instance the bonus material on Dick’s Picks Twenty-One from Rochester 9-2-80 with the tremendous Iko Iko—we thought about putting on the Space>Werewolves of London>The Music Never Stopped medley that opened the night before, and a lot of people said, “Why didn’t they do that, they had forty minutes?” The reason is the tape really lacked bass. It literally had no bass in the mix. It’s those sorts of issues that rendered that specific tape unusable. So with ’85 there were a few shows that I won’t say we rated higher than Richmond 11-1-85, but that we equally valued, and they just didn’t hold up as far as the sound quality goes. And the performance at that Richmond show is pretty amazing energy, and I think the energy that the band brought that night is what caused such an incredible set list. I don’t think it was the set list that caused the energy. I think it was the band playing so incredibly tightly on that whole tour—that whole year really—that something magic happened that night and they probably walked on stage and said, “Let’s mess it up a bit tonight.” Hence we got two Jerry ballads before Drums, and then the post-Space is stellar. So to get back to your question, no we didn’t say, “This is a cool set list.” We don’t go through DeadBase looking for unusual set lists. I know the set lists as well as anyone does. I know what shows are the sought after ones. We’ve done polls. I’m a tape trader myself so I know what’s going on and there are quite a few people involved in the process who put their input in. Dick’s Picks Twenty-One specifically was both a really good show, highly sought after, it happened to be a really good sounding tape, and it was very popular. With so much circulating now there’s not really much left in the way of surprises. You know the criteria used to be: performance, then sound quality, then sound mix, and then the song selection. The fact is at number Twenty-Two in the Dick’s Picks series we’re not going to really find much in the way of songs that haven’t been put out. 

I would disagree there. 

David Lemieux - There’s My Brother Esau and Might as Well. There are some, but there aren’t forty or fifty songs that we have in great shows where it’s going to be worth putting out the whole show for that song. 

One that’s really conspicuous in its absence right now is The Women Are Smarter. 

David Lemieux - Yeah, and Brother Esau. I’d like to see those. We’ve almost had a couple versions of The Women Are Smarter. We had a ’91 show in mind when we did Dick’s Picks Seventeen, that had a great Women Are Smarter, but there was a weird kick drum problem in the mix. I’m sure you’ve heard tapes that have really loud kick drums, and it gets to the point where you can’t digitally remove them. So we’ll get around to it. We’ll get around to all those songs, but I don’t think we’ll ever pick a show for that reason. 

Well, I believe you, but I’ve got to admit this is kind of shocking. I was going to go through how there was a brand new—meaning previously unreleased officially—song on virtually every release since the So Many Roads box set. For instance, Foolish Heart hadn’t come out until View From the Vault II. 

David Lemieux - With the CD release on that one, we said let’s put the Dark Star on as a bonus on the CD. And then Jeffrey Norman, who’s got the stop watch, says we could also fit Victim or the Crime and Foolish Heart, so we get the entire Victim>Foolish>Dark Star, plus Box of Rain on the DVD. 

By the time people read this, we’ll probably have Nightfall of Diamonds and Dick’s Picks Volume Twenty-Three out, but at the time you and I are talking the current vault releases are Dick’s Picks Twenty-Two and View From the Vault II. So I want to talk about those two a little. Apart from a handful of tracks on So Many Roads and Fallout From the Phil Zone, Dick’s Picks Volume Twenty-Two is the earliest music to escape from the vault. More from the ’60s is always welcome. How did this release come about? 

David Lemieux - We got lucky as far as it not being a circulated show. There was a little area of the vault that had somehow been overlooked. I don’t think Dick ever listened to it. Usually when he’d listen, he’d label the song list right on the box, and this one didn’t have a label. I think what happened was, because it was part of the Anthem of the Sun sessions it might have been put aside for that reason. Jeffrey and I found it. Jeffrey was mastering Dick’s Picks Volume Twenty-One, and I pulled up the machine. I wanted to do it in the studio because I wanted use the good HDCD converter because the first time you play a reel could be the last time if there are problems with it, and you want to make a really good copy. So I set up the HDCD system, 24-bit backup, and a DAT. So I sat there with headphones and Jeffrey thought, “Okay, David’s going to go off in the corner and listen to some 1968, while I work on the task at hand.” And all I wanted was a reference copy, I wasn’t looking for a Dick’s Picks. We had something lined up for Dick’s Picks Twenty-Two anyway. So I start listening, and the first tune I put on is that Viola Lee Blues and the sound quality is terrific considering how old the tape is, it even had left and right drum separation, it had pretty decent vocals—a little low at times. So anyhow, Viola Lee Blues starts and I look back at Jeffrey, “Jeffrey you’re not going to believe this.” And he just moans. Ten minutes later into Viola we’re still going hard. I turned around and said “Jeffrey I got to turn this up.” So I take the headphones off and turn it up and Jeff says, “Oh man, this is really good.” And this was with no EQ, this was straight transfer, so I kept listening, and I spent three or four hours transferring it. Unfortunately on the 22nd—people might want to know—there were no vocals recorded to tape. There was a tape labeled “Tape One” and it had some of the same songs as tape three and four so we’re kind of assuming that it’s the 22nd. It definitely was three nights, February 22-24, and there were no vocals at all recorded to tape on the first night. It was a really useless tape. But I listened to it anyway to get the song list. There was a Morning Dew, a Beat It on Down the Line, things like that. So I kept listening and I got further, then I get to another reel and start listening, and I thought, “Oh terrific there’s an Alligator on here. Great! I’ve been looking for an Alligator for ages.” Then Alligator just—BOOM—cuts and goes right into China Cat Sunflower, and I’d already listened to the reel that had the Dark Star>China Cat Sunflower>The Eleven. And I was thinking, “I wonder what they’ll do. Maybe they did it twice in a row…”—BOOM—The Eleven. “This is great. What are they going to do next?” And then they go back into Alligator! And then all the little songs, the Morning Dew and the Hurts Me Too, and then there was The Other One which Billy’s not even playing on. I talked to Billy about it, Billy was skiing all day, and he was so tired he sat out for a couple minutes, so on The Other One there’s no Billy. 

He remembered that?! 

David Lemieux - He remembers being so tired from skiing all day, getting to the show and just saying, “Oh man I’m exhausted, I don’t know if I can play.” When I explained, he said that must have been what happened. I saw him the day it came out and he was telling me about how much fun it was. Mickey raved about how much fun these shows were—a bowling alley with ten-foot ceilings packed with all these Tahoe hippies. So I put it on a tape and there were probably about three and a half hours total. Some of it was unusable due to cuts. There were a couple repeated songs, and I don’t mean the China Cat>Eleven which are within jams, so they don’t count as repeated songs. I mean another Morning Dew. So what we did is we put it together the very best we could going primarily by reel number and even that was kind of dicey where it said Reel One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, maybe Seven. It was ten-inch reels at fifteen inches per second—which is pretty much as good as you can get from that era—two-track quarter-inch tape. We looked at it and we did it chronologically. Reel One and Two were pretty useless—that was the first show I guess—and then the second and third shows were what Dick’s Picks Twenty-Two comes from—the 23rd and 24th. We’re pretty sure that CD One is the first night and CD Two is the second night. And people say, “Well the poster says 8:30-2:00.” But when you really think about it, the opening band probably didn’t come on until 9:00 or 9:30. They play until 10:30 or 11:00. The Dead come on at midnight and play for two hours, so it does make sense. We’re not holding a whole bunch of jams, needless to say. This would have been a three CD set if it warranted it, but the fact is I don’t think we even had three CDs worth of material, and what we did have was a couple repeats, another Morning Dew and another Hurts Me Too and a Beat It on Down the Line—all without vocals. So we did the best we could. What you get might be a compilation, it might not be, we don’t know. It could be CD One is the entire show from the second night and CD Two could be the entire show from the third night. Maybe. That’s the best we could do. 

I kind of like that it was a two-CD release. 

David Lemieux - So do I! It felt good, and that’s why Nightfall of Diamonds is feeling so good too. 

Is that two CDs also? 

David Lemieux - It’s two perfect, 68-minute CD One and 77-minute CD Two. 

And just a straight whole show, nothing more, nothing less? 

David Lemieux - Nothing more, nothing less. 

My dream release! 

David Lemieux - And all the space between songs is there, even between Memphis Blues Again and Let It Grow when the crowd sings Happy Birthday to Bobby and Jerry plays it for two minutes, it’s there. For you Eric, you’ll like it. 

Well thank you! One thing that really impressed me on Dick’s Picks Twenty-Two was Bobby’s playing. He was much more than simply a rhythm guitarist. 

David Lemieux - Oh yeah! You hear those little notes underneath Viola Lee Blues and on Good Morning Little Schoolgirl and The Other One and Caution that really stand out to me. That’s what Jeffrey said too, “Man, he could play!” This is just two-and-a-half years into the band and he’s playing that well. It was pretty incredible. 

The vocals seem a little low here and there on the first disc like the beginning of Turn on Your Lovelight, Jerry’s vocals on The Eleven and on Born Cross-Eyed. Was that due to the equipment they were using at the time?

David Lemieux - Yeah. I don’t think this was a PA tape, I think this was a mix tape, straight to two-track. And I guess they just mixed it low, which is exactly why on the first night the vocals and drums are missing. I think it’s Billy’s drums that are missing, and all the vocals, and obviously that didn’t come through in the PA or people would have strangled the soundman. It’s a function of the taping going down that way. Maybe it was on purpose, maybe they didn’t need the vocals because it was specifically for Anthem of the Sun and they had the studio vocals they wanted. I have no idea, this is just speculation. So the vocals are a little low. We would have preferred them a little higher, and if we’d had multi-tracks obviously we would have brought them up a bit. 

It doesn’t take away from it. 

David Lemieux - No it doesn’t, and that was an issue. Jeffrey and I sat down with our checklist. Performance: I don’t think there’s any doubt that it’s worthy. Sound quality: Jeffrey’s been here since the beginning of the Dick’s Picks series—he was here for the first one, and he said this was to him what Dick’s Picks was always supposed to be, the occasional raw rare gem that’s just really stunning. 

“Warts and all.” 

David Lemieux - Exactly. So I think we nailed it with this one—the two CD set is really slick. I’ve got one in my car right now. It’s nice to have that kind of Dick’s Picks Three feeling, you know, two-and-a-half hours of perfect music. Not to say we’re veering away from the whole-show releases, even if there is a weak version of a certain song or a blown lyric. 

I’m glad to hear that! 

David Lemieux - Oh no. I think the next Dick’s Picks will be a full show, I think you can count on that. Nightfall of Diamonds is a full show, and that was intentional. We really enjoy full shows—Don’t Let Go was a full show. That was a pretty strong era for the Jerry Garcia Band. We could have done a mix and match and just put out a bunch of songs that had never been released, but the Don’t Let Go show itself just stood up too well, even if there were a couple songs that had already been released, it was too important to put it out as a full show to mess with that. 

And then you have that incredible Mighty High bonus track that had never been released. 

David Lemieux - Right. You know Mighty High was only played for those six months, July through November of ’76. With the Jerry material coming out so preciously—we’ve had so little of it—that with Don’t Let Go coming out followed up by Shining Star, who knows when the next one will be? I can pretty much guarantee it wouldn’t be in that six months of ’76. We’d probably aim for something else, maybe a different line-up. It was too good a song not to put out. I’d been archiving the collection, and I’ve heard every Mighty High. I’ve always loved that song, but when I heard this version in particular, especially Donna’s singing, it’s just so powerful, it’s so emotional, she’s so into it, I said, “We’ve got to do it.” I pitched it, and sure enough anybody who heard the song said, “Yeah, why not.” It doesn’t detract from Don’t Let Go being a great show, if anything it adds to the release. 

Back to Dick’s Picks Twenty-Two: I love the Bid You Goodnight Jam during Alligator. 

David Lemieux - That was another thing. I said, “Jeffrey, hear this!” and I hit the button. And this was about a week and a half before they first played We Bid You Goodnight. 

And two years before Jerry put the jam in Goin’ Down the Road! 

David Lemieux - Exactly. It was very cool to find that. And I think it was sometime in early March, two weeks later, when he actually started singing the song, so that was very cool to find. That whole 35-minute chunk is just outstanding. Dick’s Picks Twenty-Two is one of my favorite Picks so far. 

Mine too. Two From the Vault has always been one of my favorites, so to hear more from ’68 is such a thrill. 

David Lemieux - When we were listening to this, we kept putting on Two From the Vault, which sounds significantly better, but aside from the astounding New Potato Caboose, I find that Dick’s Picks Twenty-Two really holds up to Two From the Vault performance-wise. That Viola Lee Blues, although it doesn’t hit some of the crescendos later versions have, is astounding. There are these licks in it that you never hear anywhere else and then there’s that little drum break. Some people think it was a cut on our part, that we actually fucked with it, put a cut in. Some people think it’s a power outage, but you know, the band was tight and they just did a little drum break. I’ve heard people say, “I’ve heard every Viola Lee Blues ever performed and I’ve never heard one with a drum break, so therefore there’s no drum break on this. It’s false.” If that’s what people want to believe then that’s fine, but it’s not true, and it’s a great Viola Lee Blues

Another added bonus to this particular release is you get to play the did-it-end-up-on-Anthem-of-the-Sun game. 

David Lemieux - The big one in particular is the weird siren sound during Feedback

At 3:17? 

David Lemieux - Yeah. 

So I’m not the only one hearing that. 

David Lemieux - The minute I heard that—Jeffrey was in the room, I first listened off the master reel directly, and I know Anthem like the back of my hand, and I said, “Hey Anthem of the Sun!” And there’s a couple bits during The Other One that I’m sure were used, but I took a look at the master reels of Anthem before the mix and it actually says, “Use King’s Beach Feedback, 13 seconds worth,” so they planned it. They knew what they were doing. 

It’s such fun putting the pieces of Anthem together.

David Lemieux -  Totally. 

Speaking of which, was 2-14-68 considered?

 David Lemieux - No. It’s a multi-track. We’ve got an eight-track of that in the vault. 

A possible release someday? 

David Lemieux - Yeah, I’m totally sure. That’s a great show, and that’s something we’ve all had forever because of the FM tape that was done originally. It’s a very similar show to Dick’s Picks Twenty-Two. In places the energy is a lot better. I like the set list for Dick’s Picks Twenty-Two better, but I agree 2-14-68 is just incredible. Another nice thing about the King’s Beach show, I’ve got to say, it will probably be one of the last Dick’s Picks to consist of something that doesn’t circulate. It’s sad to say, but it’s true, so I hope people recognize that. We’re not going to find another cache of tapes. This was a rare situation, but I’m glad it happened. I love the album. The material that’s been released from the vault over the years is of course the best stuff. The people who had access to the vault wouldn’t give their friends any weak shows. It’s all good. So everything that’s really good by nature of it’s being good gets released in unofficial ways. It’s out there for the traders, so the best we can do is to try and look for the best shows and provide really terrific upgrades. I hope there are some more surprises, but I know every square inch of this room right now. 

I think what you’re talking about is really important. Like about the upcoming Nightfall of Diamonds, some people are saying, “Why release that? Everyone has the tape.” And Dick himself even said that in the earlier years.

David Lemieux -  Well, in the early years of course. I’ve heard Dick’s interviews about Cornell where he says, “Why would we release that, everyone’s got it.” 

And Veneta! 

David Lemieux - But look at Dick’s Picks Four and Dick’s Picks Eight.

 Not to mention One From the Vault. 

David Lemieux - Exactly, everyone had that. The fact is, we could have intentionally gone for something else from that ’89 to early ’90 multi-track period, but I don’t think it would have been as strong a show. I think that the good concerts are out there because they’re good. 

And there have to be a lot of people out there buying these things that are not tape traders. 

David Lemieux - This is true. Ladies and Gentlemen… is a good example of that too. These are shows that are not only in circulation, but they’ve been in circulation since 1972 in pretty good quality. So the fact is, with the multi-tracks, Nightfall sounds incredible and is an upgrade for those who had the tapes, but I think a lot of people just aren’t tape traders, and with the amount that we’re releasing now, this is their tape collection. With Twenty-Two Dick’s Picks, and seven or eight vault releases and a box set, and these videos, you could amass two hundred terrific-quality hours without having to be a tape trader. I think for a lot of people, the official releases are their source of music. So we do what we can. We try to get the best shows out there despite the fact that they might already circulate. It was kind of the philosophy from the beginning of the Dick’s Picks series, as much as it’s good to put out the rare stuff, if it happens that something like Dick’s Picks Four or Dick’s Picks Eight or Dick’s Picks Fifteen happens to be the best it gets released.

Well, on to View From the Vault II. I love that you put a complete live Rubin and Cherise over the main menu. That was an inspired touch. 

David Lemieux - Thank you. I rented a movie on DVD and the menu had music over it and I started thinking. My idea was to take the version from the Buckeye show from June 9 the week before the actual View From the Vault II show and use that Rubin and Cherise as video bonus footage. We have that on video, but unfortunately the mix isn’t that great, and it’s not as good a version as I would have liked, so there were three other audio-only versions to choose from, Cap Center, Orlando, and Nassau. Nassau didn’t have Bruce on it, so that was out. So I called up the video distributor and suggested putting the entire song over the menu, and they said, “People don’t want to hear a song over the menu, they just want to go straight to the movie.” I said, “Come on, you don’t know Deadheads, they want this, trust me.” So they said, “How long is it?” And I said “Six minutes.” They said “Six minutes! How about thirty seconds at the most?” And I said, “No, it’s six minutes or nothing, and I’m not taking nothing for an answer.” I dug my heels in, and Jeffrey was all for it. So we got in this good-natured discussion with the distributor about it and the song prevailed. So we got Rubin and Cherise on there. I would have rather had an actual video performance of it from Buckeye, but it wasn’t as good, so we went with this one and now the world has a really good quality Rubin and Cherise from the Orlando show on 4-7-91. 

Justin Kreutzmann’s Liberty video is a nice bonus.

David Lemieux - Yeah, that was interesting. What happened with that is when So Many Roads came about—and that’s around the time I started working here—Justin was hired to do the Liberty video, and he did a great job. When I saw it I thought, “Wow this is a really great video, it’s a nice touching piece.” He really put his heart into it, and he used a lot of stuff from Eileen Law’s photo archives and a couple bits and pieces from our archives here in the vault. The extent of the video’s distribution was online, where you could watch it on a three-inch by three-inch little box on your computer screen all jerky with bad sound, and I said, well that’s no good. So when it came to doing View From the Vault II we wanted to make it a great DVD, and we wanted to put on some little bonuses, aside from our hour from RFK ’90. So I called Justin and he was all for it, he said, “Yeah that’d be great.” And it’s turned into a real hit, people really like it, people are talking about it, and that’s exactly what I wanted. It deserves to be seen, and barring putting out some other kind of music video compilation, this was the place for it. I think future View From the Vaults will also include little videos, or if we have a twenty-minute chunk from a certain show we’ll use it. 

Do you know what show that Liberty is from?

David Lemieux - The audio is the same as on the So Many Roads box set, 3-30-94, but the video is from three different shows—you can tell because they’re all wearing different shirts. 

But it looked like the vocals were synched up.

David Lemieux -  That’s Justin. He did a great job. He does a lot of that. It’s a perfect synch. In fact Mickey came in and looked at it when Justin finished, and he said, “Oh man, he nailed it.” So I figured this was the place for it. I’m glad we did it. With Rubin and Cherise and Liberty and then an hour from RFK ’90, I think this is a pretty successful DVD. It’s something we’re all really proud of and I hope other Deadheads dig it. The first View From the Vault did really well. Critically it did well. People seemed to like it. I think commercially it did okay. I kind of hope this one equals that—I like it better. This video would have been View From the Vault I had we not done Boston, 9-25-91 as a Dick’s Picks last year. We didn’t want two ’91s coming out three months apart, that’s why we went with Pittsburgh ’90. 

Also watching the DVD you really get the sense that Bruce was pretty excited to be playing with his heroes.

David Lemieux -  Man was he ever. With a Dick’s Picks it doesn’t matter what the band looked like that night, but with video you really have to take that into account. It becomes not only performance, but how did the band look. And we do have other video—I won’t say they’re better, I really think this RFK show is tremendous—but there are some equally strong shows where the band just doesn’t have… Okay, you know how this RFK video looks like seven guys just having fun as one unit? There are other videos from the same era where it looks like seven guys in bubbles doing it for themselves. And they’re playing tremendously—don’t get me wrong—the playing is just as good. But with View From the Vault II, all those shots of Mickey looking over at Vince and Bruce and Jerry and just laughing—this band was having so much fun that night, and that’s a huge part of why this one was chosen, as well as being a tremendous show and sounding great and all that. And it did have a pretty darn cool set list. Which isn’t to say that was why it was chosen, but again a cool set list will often indicate a really great show. 

This is the first official Maggie’s Farm to be released.

David Lemieux -  Yep, the first Maggie’s Farm and it’s a really good one—you get to hear all five of them sing. There’s some good stuff—two different versions of Dark Star on video! Stepping back three or four years, I couldn’t imagine getting a DVD official release that’s this kind of quality with more than one Dark Star on it.

 I love how on View From the Vault II Bruce plays the piano with his foot, Jerry Lee Lewis-style at the end of Lovelight.

David Lemieux -  You know when we were considering releasing this video, we were watching incredibly critically, then there are these little moments that indicate, “Oh this is cool.” Bruce leans over and starts playing piano with his foot and you can hear those high keys “Ding ding ding.” Jeffrey and I looked at each other and knew, “This is the stuff. This is what the other show we were looking at doesn’t have.” It’s all those little moments, like during Dark Star when Bruce is standing up and playing his little Casio and getting those electronic sounds, those are the indications that put certain shows over the top. During Estimated Prophet on View From the Vault I, Jerry does this little knee-bend as Weir is doing his front of the stage theatrics. Jerry cracks a little smile as he’s strumming the jam during Estimated, and he’s so into it he starts bending his knees and strumming harder. It’s those little visual indications that tell us, “Hey this is pretty interesting.”

 A funny thing about the bonus footage on View From the Vault II, Phil’s wearing the same shirt.

David Lemieux -  I know, pretty wild eh? It must have been his RFK shirt. Actually I watched RFK ’92 and he’s not wearing that shirt.

 Could you say more about how the criteria for choosing a View From the Vault differ from an audio-only release. Obviously you have a lot less to choose from.

David Lemieux - We do have less to choose from. It’s performance first of all, and second of all it really is how they look. How are they interacting? When they screw up do they yell at each other? We’ve got to look out for that. Sound quality is a big issue—some of the videos don’t sound great. Fortunately the last couple sound pretty good. It’s pretty much the same criteria, but remember we’re not dealing with the 1972-1978 era. We’re dealing with ’87 and ’88 a little bit, and then really ’89 to ’95. 

What format was the video portion preserved on?

David Lemieux -  From ’87 to ’95 about five different master formats. There’s a lot of three-quarter-inch video, but I don’t know if we’d ever use it as a master format. Downhill From Here from Alpine Valley ’89 is one-inch analog video, and there’s some Beta SP from ’89 and ’90. ’90 to ’91 is D2 which is digital. The last two videos have been digital masters, so that’s part of the reason they look so good. 

I’m always very impressed with Len Dell’Amico’s direction. How did the direction take place during a concert? Did Len tell each camera operator what to do?

David Lemieux -  Yeah. They had headphones on and there would be five or six cameras. 

So would he say, “Cut to Vince now” for instance?

David Lemieux - Oh no, he would be doing the cutting. Len would be in a truck with six TV monitors in front of him—one for each camera. So he’s watching what each of those six cameramen are doing, and if none of them are doing what he wants—and generally they would be covering their guy, the “Bobby guy,” or the “Jerry guy”—Len would say, “Okay, I need a tight shot of Vince, I want to cut to him in a minute.” So the guy who was in that area would zoom in on Vince. So Len would be watching the six TV angles at once, and he would have a switcher—one through six—and he’d say, “Okay this is what we’re going to do.” So the video feed that he would be switching manually—in real time obviously—would go to the screens and would also be split and go to the video machine and recorded. Each of the six camera angles were not recorded which is why if the camera starts shaking for example, we can’t cut away and go to something else. We don’t have that extra footage.

 So we’re seeing exactly what was on the screens at the show.

David Lemieux -  One hundred percent—graphics and all. There’s nothing we can change. Well, we can change the graphics a little, but we can’t get rid of them. In fact we have put different graphics in at times. Not always, but there have been a couple times, particularly with View From the Vault II where the graphics were not so interesting, so we put in something else, just a couple instances. This is another issue. I get a lot of flack: “How can you cover Jerry’s solo with graphics?” And it’s not my choice. I didn’t put that in. But we can’t get rid of it, we don’t have alternate, or isolation footage as it’s called. We don’t have that to insert unfortunately.

 I love the roller coaster imagery during Franklin’s Tower.

David Lemieux - That was my choice. We had something else over that, it was a really, um, quaint animated graphic, that really made a lot of people cringe, and it was very dated, it didn’t hold up. We had another tape with a couple graphic elements, and I argued it out with Jeff, and he says, “Oh no not the roller coaster.” But we tried it in the video-editing suite and it worked! Jeffrey said, “This is great.” So whenever I watch it now I get a big kick out of it.

 On the final tour, Summer ’95, two sets of screens were used, one showing the band playing, the other with the usual trippy graphics. Are both in that vault, and if you release any of those could you edit from one screen to the other? 

David Lemieux - If we had both, but I don’t think we do. I think we just have the band part of it, but we do also have other tapes called graphical element tapes. Those are the raw footage that was used during the concert. So there may not be specific footage of a particular show’s graphics, but we do have four or five hours of graphics from that tour and we could do that, but if we had a clean feed of the band like we did at Alpine Valley I very much doubt that we’d put any graphics over the band.

 Was it the same camera operators at each venue on a tour?

David Lemieux -  I think they’d bring four on the road and if it was a six-camera shoot they’d hire two locals. Because when we did the credit lists I remember looking through the old tour files to see who was on the road at the time. We saw that they’d bring three or four of their own guys then hire a couple of locals.

 Are concerts that were shown on pay-per-view eligible for the View From the Vault series?

David Lemieux -  Yeah, I think so. This goes back to putting out shows that people don’t already have. The pay-per-view of the Shoreline Summer Solstice show on 6-21-89 circulates in such terrific quality. With audio it’s one thing, because there’s so much audio out there, but with video there’s relatively little available in good quality that isn’t official. So to put out an official release of a show that’s already circulating in tremendous quality is something we’d shy away from. There’s hardly any video out there, so I think we could definitely pick some other really good concert from that era. 

Is all the old film and video footage of the band, like old television appearances in the vault?

David Lemieux - Unfortunately not. We’ve got very little of any of it. Like the Playboy After Dark we’ve got a reference copy someone sent us, but as far as Calibration and all that, we’ve got none of it.

 Is releasing all of the previously available videos on DVD part of the long-term plan?

David Lemieux -  Absolutely. I’m sure Backstage Pass and So Far are going to come out, and there’s a ton of bonus footage for So Far

Would Len be interested in doing audio commentary?

David Lemieux -  Well, we haven’t gotten that far into it, but I’m sure he would be. What Justin would like to do with Backstage Pass is… Remember the video’s only 34 minutes. He’s got a whole bunch of stuff that he shot backstage himself—that actually is backstage footage of Jerry rehearsing and other little bits that are really incredible. So maybe an hour of that, then maybe an hour of little songs that we’d never use as a complete-show video release because it might be a terrific version of a song that falls within a weak show. So I think that’s what you’ll end up seeing. He’s coming by tomorrow and we’re working on that.

 Dead Ahead combined with the Showtime special would make a fabulous DVD, especially since the Showtime Special has never been released.

 David Lemieux - Yeah. Plus all the footage from 10-29-80 that no one’s ever seen.

 Somewhere down the road maybe?

David Lemieux -  I definitely think so. I don’t know about the Showtime special because then you get into dealing with two different companies, whereas if it was just one or the other it would be a lot easier to do. I think if it had to be either one, it would be Dead Ahead

It’s great that the recent videotapes are being released in the European PAL format, are the DVDs multi-region?

David Lemieux -  Yes. That’s something I insisted on, that they be printed as Region 0—no regional encoding. I think that the first couple DVDs, Ticket to New Years and Downhill From Here, have regional encoding, only because a lot of DVD authoring houses default to Region 1. After that we had to make specific instructions saying no regional encoding, because it is an actual active process to encode DVDs, so we demanded that, and now you can play those anywhere.

 Like I mentioned, I loved Justin’s Liberty video. Any chance of collecting all of the Dead’s MTV-style music videos for official release?

David Lemieux -  I think so. I’ll probably talk to Justin about that tomorrow for Backstage Pass. I think there are about seven of them.

 A perfect place for those would be on The Making of Touch of Grey Video.

David Lemieux -  True. I’d love to see that come out. And again, that’s short, it’s only thirty minutes so there’s definitely some room in there for extension.

 What about The Grateful Dead Movie? You want to get that really perfect.

David Lemieux -  Yeah. It will be done right. And there’s so much bonus material to sift through and to mix it and make it perfect and make it surround sound 5.1 that it will really be a big task.

 In an old interview with Donna, she said there was actually interview footage with her and Keith that got edited out at the end.

David Lemieux -  That’s what we’d look at. We’d definitely focus on music. I went through the entire collection of outtakes and there is quite a bit of interview footage with roadies and deadheads, but I think the focus of any bonus material would be music and if an interview was particularly interesting or insightful we’d include it. I think everyone would like to hear Keith talk, so I think for that reason we’d definitely try to find some little bits and pieces like that. I remember watching a Big River from one of the shows. Do you remember that guy in front of the stage who mouths the words “Back to back/Chicken shack”? During Big River there’s one camera angle only on him, it’s really quite funny.

 One quick point that always confused me. The laser disc of The Grateful Dead Movie looked really good. The entire film was letterboxed except for the animated opening. Was that shot in a different aspect ratio?

David Lemieux -  I don’t know about that. I’ve seen it theatrically and the whole film is definitely 1.66:1 including the animation. And to answer the question of why it looks so much better, the video has been out almost fifteen years and the transfer that was done for the VHS copy is a different transfer than the laser disc, which was transferred in ’93 and looks significantly better, not only because it’s a laser disc but primarily because it’s a new transfer. When we get around to doing the DVD, we’ll take the original negative and transfer it from that with 21st Century technology and it will look spectacular. And of course we’ll do it in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio as opposed to the more square 1.33:1. We also have a thirty-second animated television commercial for Mars Hotel that we’ll definitely put in there too. When the Dead had their own record company they said, “Hey this will sell records.” So they made this really nice little animated film shot on 35mm. So we’ll put that in, some extra songs—big plans. I’d ideally like to see two discs: one of the movie and one of bonus material.

 Alright, can we talk about the new box set?

 David Lemieux - Absolutely.

 The Golden Road (1965-1973). Very exciting.

David Lemieux -  It’s really good. And I’ve got to say that going into this originally I didn’t know what our involvement was going to be, and it turns out Rhino has been a great company to work with. They leave things up to people that they can trust to do the right thing, and I think with this project they really trusted us and we trusted them, so it turned into an excellent collaboration.

 They’re a fabulous company.

David Lemieux -  They are, and they do certain things incredibly well, and I think Grateful Dead Productions does certain things incredibly well too, so collaborating has been awesome. It’s been just incredible. And it’s a really good box set. It is expensive, I think it’s going to be around $150, but if anybody spends thirty seconds thinking about it, you get twelve discs, you get seven and a half hours of previously unreleased music, you get all the albums remastered on high definition, and if anyone has HDCD at home they know what it does to music—it really enhances the sound. And you get this terrific Rhino-produced booklet in a beautiful box, so overall it’s a heck of a deal. I’m not trying to market the thing, I’m not making money off it—I really am excited by it. The albums themselves are so incredible, and such a peak for the Dead that all the albums are equally exciting to listen to. It’s an awesome box set.

 So it’s going to be all the Warner Bros. albums each with bonus tracks, plus a two-disc set of pre-first album unreleased songs.

David Lemieux -  Right. That’s called Birth of the Dead. Dennis McNally and Lou Tambakos compiled that.

 There were a few tracks from that era on the So Many Roads box, are some songs going to be repeated?

David Lemieux - A couple: Can’t Come Down and Caution from the Autumn Records sessions.

 So will the complete Warlocks sessions be on there?

David Lemieux -  Yes. It’s actually called the Emergency Crew. It was six songs. We thought about it for maybe two seconds I think that two of the songs had already been released, but the Autumn  sessions were too important as a session.

 They sure were! I can’t believe that they’re finally getting released.

 David Lemieux - Yeah, it’s all six songs.

 How about the Don’t Ease Me In/Stealin’ single?

David Lemieux -  Even better, we’ve got the entire Scorpio Records sessions. The first six songs on Birth of the Dead are the complete Autumn Records sessions and then the next bunch of tracks is: Stealin’, Don’t Ease Me In, You Don’t Have to Ask, Tastebud, I Know You Rider, Cold Rain and Snow.

 All studio versions?

David Lemieux -  All studio. That’s all from the Scorpio Records sessions. And it’s both the instrumental take and then the take with vocals. It’s really cool. Then as an extra track we’ve got Fire in the City. It’s a terrific first CD, and CD Two is outstanding, it’s live tracks from July ’66.

Are we finally going to get Alice D. Millionaire?

David Lemieux -  Even better, the studio version of Alice D. Millionaire is a bonus track on the first album. For that first album, all the songs that were recorded and mixed but didn’t make the album are now included. Some people have asked, are they demos? No, it’s a real mixed song. It was supposed to be on the album, but with a 37-minute limit they wouldn’t fit. So Alice D. Millionaire is now on the first album, the full vocal version and it’s awesome. The studio Lindy is on it, another studio Tastebud, a studio instrumental Death Don’t Have No Mercy, the three-minute single version of Viola Lee Blues, plus a live 23-minute Viola Lee Blues. And five of the songs on the first album are extended versions. Cream Puff War is a whole minute longer. They just went off on this crazy jam on Cream Puff War and on the original album they faded out at 2:18. And five of the songs are longer. I’m telling you, this box set is awesome man. I think you can tell by my enthusiasm.

 So are the longer versions where they fell in the regular order, or are they bonus tracks?

David Lemieux -  Where they fell, so we’ve changed it a little, and that was something we struggled with a bit, but I think we’ve done the right thing. Listening to the album over and over the last few weeks, I can tell you we did the right thing.

 I’ve always felt the Dead’s first album was totally underrated and basically misunderstood, even by the band members.

David Lemieux -  Wait till you hear it now! There’s some pretty incredible stuff going on in the remastering that is going to blow your mind, it’s a better album. Then to get back to CD Two of Birth of the Dead, I won’t go through the entire track list, but it opens with a really terrific Viola Lee Blues, then Don’t Ease Me In, He Was a Friend of Mine, Standing on the Corner, Nobody’s Fault but Mine, One Kind Favor, In the Pines

 Finally! That’s from 7-16-66, right? That’s the only known performance of In the Pines.

David Lemieux -  We used a couple songs from 7-16 and a couple from 7-17 and then we had a reel that was labeled “location unknown”. We’re pretty sure it’s from July. There’s also a Pigpen tune called Keep Rolling By that’s really nice. There’s a King Bee on there. You’re going to love Birth of the Dead, it’s outstanding. 

Does anybody know the origin of Tastebud? It seems to be one of these elusive songs.

 David Lemieux - It’s a Pig tune, we think.

 He wrote it?

David Lemieux -  Yeah. And as you’re going to hear, it’s him playing piano on it. I brought Weir in the vault and I said, “Bobby, who’s playing this?” He said, “That’s Pig. He could play piano, but he didn’t like to.” 

Well let’s jump into 1968 and ’69. Which mixes of Anthem of the Sun and Aoxomoxoa are included?

David Lemieux -  Well, we used the original mix of Anthem of the Sun, but we never could find the original mix of Aoxomoxoa. We looked so hard. I can’t tell you what we went through to try and find the original mix of Aoxomoxoa.

 So you would have included the original mix if you’d found it.

David Lemieux -  Absolutely. We’ve got tapes of it, and we have it on vinyl, but with this whole remastering project, the quality had to be good.

 You don’t want to master from an LP.

David Lemieux -  No. And the quality of the master tape of the remixed Aoxomoxoa is outstanding. You’re going to be blown away at how good it is. 

Can you drop any hints about bonus tracks on those two? Let me make some guesses before you tell me. I think I have an Anthem of the Sun outtakes tape with a studio Lovelight on it.

David Lemieux -  Wrong. Not happening. We almost put it on there, but there wasn’t room because we ended up putting something even cooler. The 34-minute Alligator>Caution>Feedback from 8-23-68—basically the third disc from Two From the Vault. At the time, they decided to do Two From the Vault as a two-CD set, so Healy got nixed on the third disc and that third disc would have been this Alligator>Caution, and it’s one of the best versions of Alligator>Caution, it’s outstanding. So that’s the Anthem bonus track. And on Aoxomoxoa, man I don’t even know if words can describe what’s on there, but suffice to say, it’s 35 minutes of studio jamming that will dispel any notion that the Dead couldn’t play in the studio. It’s a ten-minute Clementine Jam, a ten-minute blues jam, and a fifteen-minute Eleven Jam—unbelievable. Better than a lot of live stuff from the era, and that says a lot.

 There’s a studio version of St. Stephen/The Eleven that circulates with that phone ringing during the St. Stephen bridge.

David Lemieux -  Yeah, we thought about including that, but we couldn’t find a good master of it. We looked for it and it’s got novelty value, but it’s kind of annoying at times. We might have included it if we’d found the master, but we didn’t, and then when you hear this 35 minutes if studio jamming, it’s going to blow your mind. Then we’ve got the fourth-ever live version of Cosmic Charlie from January ’69.

 Skipping ahead to 1970…

David Lemieux -  Workingman’s Dead has an alternate mix of New Speedway Boogie that was mixed at the time. We didn’t go back and remix anything then put it on as a bonus track. 

It’s funny you mention New Speedway, I always found it so curious that the background vocals are so low in the mix. Is that one of the things that’s different?

David Lemieux -  That’s entirely changed. Bobby does this falsetto that’s on the alternate mix, which is one of the bonus tracks. It’s the identical take, but with all these changes in the background.

 Mickey is currently working on the DVD-audio versions of Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty. He said in interviews that not only are the songs newly remixed, but in a few cases there are actually longer versions like we were just discussing about the first album. Are those longer versions going to be on the box set American Beauty?

David Lemieux -  No. We didn’t take anything from Mickey’s DVDA project. And that wasn’t a conscious decision, there was just so much other good material, there was no point in repeating, like the Mason’s Children on the So Many Roads box set. We almost put that on Workingman’s, but that meant it would be five more minutes here that’s already available.

 Same deal with the studio To Lay Me Down?

David Lemieux -  Right. We thought about it and then at the last minute there was too much strong stuff to choose from, so we got rid of that too. It was definitely going to be on there, but that was early in the process when we really didn’t know what we were going to do. At the time I thought it was a Rhino project and I kind of left it up to them, but then they said, “You know we really prefer for there to be no repeats.” And there are songs included that have technically been released before like the Truckin’ single, but not widely like Mason’s and To Lay Me Down.

 Is Pigpen’s Two Souls in Communion a bonus track on Europe ’72?

David Lemieux -  Absolutely! How could it not be? I think there are eight versions from Europe and we listened to them all over and over, and we chose what we thought was the best, but it also turns out to be—for you completists out there—the version from Hundred Year Hall.

 Well that leads right into my next question. The album I’m actually most curious about on the box set is Bear’s Choice. Are the bonus tracks from the same shows and are they going to be songs that are not on Dick’s Picks Volume Four?

David Lemieux -  They are songs that are not on Dick’s Picks Four, and one of the songs is from the same shows and the other three are from shows the week before at the Fillmore West. They did a four-night run at the Fillmore West, February 5-8, 1970, and they flew east and did the famous three-night run at the Fillmore East.

 Are we going to get Little Sadie or an acoustic Uncle John’s Band?

David Lemieux -  No. We didn’t add any more acoustic songs, it’s all electric, and it’s all really good.

 What’s the one song from the Fillmore East?

David Lemieux -  Good Lovin’ from the early show on the 13th, and this Good Lovin’ is tight. It’s eight minutes, and it’s not a Pigpen rap version like 4-14-72. It’s definitely a rock and roll Good Lovin’. There’s also an additional Smokestack Lightnin’ from 2-8-70 at the Fillmore West. We included that because it’s just an incredible version. So the album has two versions of Smokestack now and they’re both quite different, but very powerful. Then there’s a really nice Big Boss Man from 2-5-70, and then to end the last of the Warner albums is Sittin’ on Top of the World, which gives us a nice little Jerry Rocker but also brings everything back to the first album. So that’s Bear’s Choice.

 We haven’t talked about Skull and Roses. Anything exciting to reveal about that one?

David Lemieux -  Yeah! Are you kidding? Oh, Boy! and I’m a Hog for You from 4-6-71. It’s the only time those songs were played in ’71.

 I never would have guessed that.

David Lemieux - Well, remember we only had seven or eight minutes to deal with—the album is already 70 minutes long. So putting on another seven-minute song would have meant a Loser or a Casey Jones or a Sugar Magnolia, and there were a few longer songs that we considered, there was an Easy Wind we looked at, but nothing that really stood out for its unique value that was also really good. Both Oh, Boy! and I’m a Hog for You are really strong versions. Jeffrey mixed those from the 16-track tapes and they sound as good as Ladies and Gentlemen…

 Are we getting mostly live tracks as bonus material on Workingman’s and American Beauty?

David Lemieux -  Yeah. Workingman’s has the New Speedway alternate version, plus six live songs. American Beauty has the Truckin’ single plus five live songs.

 If the box is a success, can we look forward to similar upgrades with bonus tracks for the post-Warner Bros. albums? 

David Lemieux - I would definitely think so. The Grateful Dead Records and Arista material—I would love to see that happen. I was somewhat skeptical going into this project because I liked the albums as they were: 40 minutes, they end, and then it’s over. So we put these together, and obviously I’ve been listening to them a lot lately, and I find that you finish listening to this forty-minute perfect album, then you get a ten-second fade-to-black and then up comes this bonus track and it doesn’t hinder it at all, it completely enhances the experience of each album. Each album has its own personality, you know. And if you look at each album that way, they really do, all of those Warner albums have these incredible personalities that are really distinct from each other, and the bonus material enhances that personality as opposed to detracting from it, or more importantly, changing it. The bonus tracks really don’t change the essence of the albums.

 That’s great to hear. It’s a double-edged sword with bonus tracks. CDs are so expensive now. If you get an old album that’s only 35 minutes and full price, you kind of feel ripped off. On the other hand you wouldn’t really want bonus tracks on Sgt. Peppers.

David Lemieux -  Exactly. And we had the same feelings with one of these albums. We had five or six minutes to spare for Live/Dead, and we considered putting on a live Doin’ That Rag and it just didn’t work. You finish Feedback, you go into that short We Bid You Goodnight, fade to black, and it’s perfect. And to be honest if bonus tracks didn’t work on any of the other albums we wouldn’t have added them, but I think they do work.

How did you divide Europe ’72? Are there bonus tracks on both discs?

David Lemieux -   We changed it. It used to be Sides One, Two, and Three were Disc One, and Sides Four, Five, and Six were Disc Two. Now it’s Sides One through Four as Disc One plus Two Souls in Communion. Incidentally, that is not the title of the song, it’s called The Stranger, then in brackets it says Two Souls in Communion—written by Pigpen, words and music, if you were wondering.

 Really? Where was that title change discovered?

David Lemieux -  On the original tape boxes and all the notes that surrounded it. That song was actually slated for inclusion on Europe ’72. The reason we know that is because everything that was originally going to be included on the album was put onto these sub-reels. That didn’t make, and Beat It on Down the Line, of all things. Those two songs were going to be included but didn’t make it. On some of the tape boxes it’s called Pig’s Tune and on the rest of them it’s called The Stranger, so for the Deadheads who know it as Two Souls in Communion, the official title now is The Stranger [Two Souls in Communion]. Disc Two of Europe ’72 is now Truckin’, Epilogue, Prelude, Morning Dew, and the bonus material is the Good Lovin’>Caution>Who Do You Love>Caution>Good Lovin’ from 4-14-72, and a really beautiful Looks Like Rain with Jerry on pedal steel from London 4-8-72.

 Wow! As if I wasn’t already excited about this box set.

David Lemieux -   I’m telling you man, I get excited about things that I like, and I really like this. Tonight I’m going to bring one of the discs home, and I don’t care which one. Sometimes you get to the point where you like a certain disc more than the others, it’s not going to happen with this, I’m just really psyched by it. I will say this about Workingman’s Dead, we had originally put as a bonus track the studio Mason’s Children that’s on So Many Roads and then a live Mason’s, but then we took off the studio Mason’s and it raised the question, where does a live Mason’s fit on a studio album that doesn’t even include it? So that debate came up and it was just too good to leave off. It’s the most astounding Mason’s Children I’ve ever heard. The jam it goes into is just outrageous, as is Easy Wind. I think both of those will blow your mind. And we’ve got Dire Wolf with Weir on lead vocals, which allowed Jerry to play pedal steel. It’s only two-and-a-half minutes.

  For those of us who have DVD players, but not surround sound, how will the new DVDAs sound in straight stereo?

David Lemieux - Ideally, to get the full benefit of these you need surround sound and a DVD audio player. Barring that, if you have a DVD video player and surround sound, you’ll get surround sound, but you won’t get it in DVD audio 24-bit format, but you will get Dolby digital. Now if you only have DVD video and just stereo Mickey also remixed the albums in stereo, so you will get to listen to it in a stereo format that’s still remixed. So it sounds significantly different than the original mixes and you will be able to hear it for sure.

But for the full flavor it’s worth the surround sound investment.

David Lemieux -   Yeah, and DVD audio is even more so, which means purchasing a whole new player, but it’s really incredible sound. I can’t say enough about how good it sounds. It’s astounding.

 I want to move into some general questions. I think that Ladies and Gentlemen… The Grateful Dead is a particularly strong release. As a Deadhead who’s also a Beach Boys fanatic, I was hoping their set was going to be on it.

David Lemieux -  I think there’s some strange legal wrangling around the Beach Boys music right now and when we were considering it everybody involved, inside and outside the Grateful Dead said, “Don’t even bother, you’ll never get it.” So we didn’t bother.

 In general is it difficult to release shows with guests for those reasons? There are a couple already, but they’ve been rare.

David Lemieux -  It is difficult. It’s not as simple as just putting it out, there are special permissions and payments that have to be arranged. There are a few we’d like to release, like Duane Allman on Ladies and Gentlemen… We almost had that, we even had a song mixed for inclusion on there, and unfortunately we had to use a version of the same song that was not with him. People have said, “Why didn’t you list the dates for the songs, are you stupid?” Well, the reason there are not dates on there is we finished the artwork before the final decisions were made on which versions of songs we were going to use. Specifically in this case it was Beat It on Down the Line, and if we had put down the date with a notation that said, “Featuring Duane Allman”, we would have looked hugely stupid. It was after we had done the artwork and mastered the album with the Duane version that it got pulled.

 In cases like that are you comfortable putting that information online?

David Lemieux -  Well, it ends up on there really quickly, so there’s no point. With Ladies and Gentlemen… I was really curious how long it would take for people to figure out which songs were from which shows, and I think within a day of it coming out someone had it down perfectly—all 42 songs were correct, every single one of them. So what am I going to do? I confirmed it obviously, if someone posts a guess and asks, “Is this it?” “Yep.” So it’s as good as me doing it without having to type in that information. And I’m totally comfortable with that. We’re not trying to hide information.

I’m glad to hear that, because that is not exactly the sense I got in the early days of the vault release project.

David Lemieux -  If there’s a song that isn’t there, it’s generally for a reason, or it’s our way of having… I won’t even say it’s our way of having fun, because we haven’t done anything that’s really been screwing with anyone—it’s just the way it is. We do what we can to keep people informed and if something needs to be known and people want to know it we tell them, but if we don’t include the date it’s for no other reason than we don’t have it, like in the case of Dick’s Picks Twenty-Two. Some people have said, “Why don’t you just label Disc One the 23rd and Disc Two the 24th?” Well, we’re not 100% sure, so it would be historically inaccurate to do that. 

You said in your interview with Blair that the famous May 7th, 8th, and 9th, 1977 shows are not in the vault.

 David Lemieux - Nor is the 5th.

 Does anyone know where they are?

David Lemieux -  I’m sure they do. I don’t. Well, I kind of know, but they’re not here unfortunately, and nobody’s ever made an attempt to get them back to us.

 My intention was to avoid the why-haven’t-you-released-this-show-yet? type of question… 

David Lemieux - No, you can ask. Tell me what show it is and I can probably give you the reason why.

 One I’m curious about is 3-17-70, with the Dead jamming with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

David Lemieux - We don’t have that. That doesn’t exist here.

What about either of the shows with Janis Joplin?

David Lemieux -  We don’t have 6-7-69 at the Fillmore West in good quality, and the other from San Rafael on 7-16-70 we do. I’ve got a feeling that someday there will be a Grateful Dead with special guests compilation—maybe a three CD collection. If we had a terrific show that had a guest artist on a song we’d put it out, but I think those songs would typically be best for that compilation when it comes.

 Dick’s Picks Volume Eight is about as close to perfect as you can get, and I won’t complain about the Cold Rain and Snow being left off, but the one thing that would have made Dick’s Picks Volume Eight completely perfect would have been a disc with the New Riders’ set on it.

David Lemieux -  I don’t know if we have that. We do have some New Riders, but I don’t know if we have that one specifically. We have some of their sets right up until when Jerry stopped playing with them in November ’71.

 When the Dick’s Picks series began, the idea was that the Dick’s Picks would be drawn from two-track source tapes, and what was then called the From the Vault series would be drawn from multi-tracks. Is this practice still followed?

 David Lemieux - 100%.

 So Nightfall of Diamonds was recorded on multi-track. Is that because they were recording shows for what would become Without a Net?

David Lemieux -  Absolutely. That’s what happened with that one. Certain times and tours and runs of shows were recorded multi-track with the intention of producing an album from them, and fortunately in the case of Without a Net, the Dead happened to be playing really well those three tours. So we’ve got multi-tracks for Without a Net, Downhill From Here, Dozin’ at the Knick, Terrapin Limited, and Nightfall of Diamonds. So that pattern is pretty much what we’re still following, and that goes for a few reasons. One, we don’t have very much multi-track, and what we do have is worth mixing to make proper albums out of, and at the same time, it takes so long to mix a multi-track down to two-track it wouldn’t really be feasible. A two-track release generally takes about four weeks to do and a multi-track takes about eight weeks.

 Phil had a bass solo cut from Dick’s Picks Volume One, and nixed what Dan Healy had planned to release as Three From the Vault. Phil seems to have mellowed quite a bit about that since then. Do you get any resistance from band members?

David Lemieux - No. No resistance.

 Do they have any input at all?

David Lemieux -  No input, but they do like to be informed of what’s happening. With the Dick’s Picks they pretty much trust us, they don’t want to hear it. But with the vault releases in particular, Nightfall of Diamonds for example, they do want to hear that, so we make them reference copies before we finalize the decision and let them listen, and then they give us the call with the approval of it—or not. The Golden Road box set especially was really hands-on by the band members, a lot of them did a lot of listening. 

And they were comfortable releasing all that ’65 and ’66 material?

 David Lemieux - Yep.

 Even Phil?

David Lemieux -  I don’t see Phil that much anymore. Phil’s happy with his own scene and he’s doing incredibly well. He’s having such personal and emotional success, he’s really happy doing what he’s doing. And I think he’s happy doing what he’s doing because he’s not doing this. He’s not involved with the day-to-day operations here, which makes him happy.

 Well, you know, I love Phil. The music he’s doing now is absolutely incredible, but it sure bugged me when he would be so uptight about these vault releases, so if him not being involved with those is getting more released, I’m not complaining.

David Lemieux - Do you know what Three From the Vault was supposed to be?

 2-19-71, right? I love the show.

David Lemieux -  Yeah, it’s really good, but that got nixed. And he nixed a lot of Dick’s Picks too. He nixed Philadelphia, 9-21-72—that was supposed to be Dick’s Picks Volume Two. So yeah, he vetoes things, or used to. Now I think they trust us. They see that Deadheads are pretty happy so they’re pretty happy.

 I’ve been curious how royalties work with the archival releases. Like does Donna get paid if you release a show that she was a band member for?

 David Lemieux - Yeah she does. And I think she does okay.

 So it’s whoever was a band member at the time.

 David Lemieux - Yeah, absolutely, and then of course there’s songwriter royalties too.

 Have there been any songs that you haven’t been able to get permission to release?

David Lemieux -  You don’t need permission to release cover songs. There’s a thing called the statutory rate for audio, so if you’re just covering somebody’s song you just have to give them credit. There’s a band called the Verve from England. They have a song called Bittersweet Symphony. They stole the riff from the Rolling Stones and everybody knew it, they weren’t trying to hide it, it was very obvious, but they didn’t give the Rolling Stones credit. If they had given them credit and it had said “Written by Richard Ashcroft/Mick Jagger/Keith Richards” they might have had to pay maybe five cents per album sold, but instead they had to give the Stones all the profits from that album, which was millions. Now it’s the same with us. We have to give the songwriting royalties, and we give them whatever the statutory rate is. On video you need permission, but so far we’ve run into no problems with the View From the Vault series. Our print run is small enough—it’s not hundreds of thousands of copies, so they know we’re not getting rich off these. And as far as audio-only releases go, we don’t need to ask permission.

 And for public domain songs is it even an issue?

 David Lemieux - You mean “Traditional, arranged by Jerry” or whoever? 


David Lemieux -  For that, I think Jerry becomes the songwriter on it. Samson and Delilah is listed as “Traditional, arranged by Bob Weir” so it becomes a Bob Weir song.

 Are the live Jerry Garcia/David Grisman recordings in the Dead’s vault? 

David Lemieux - No. Grisman controls that. They’ve got a new album coming out, the soundtrack to the documentary Grateful Dawg. I just heard it the other day and it’s really amazing.

 Are the other band members solo performances kept in the vault?

David Lemieux -  No. Weir didn’t record much in the way of Kingfish or Bobby and the Midnites. RatDog has been recording the last four years, so that’s good. Mickey records like a maniac, so we’ve got a lot of Mickey material. We have all the Other Ones concerts on multi-track from both tours. We’ve got some Hunter recordings, some Bob Bralove stuff from when he worked on the Infrared Roses album, we’ve got Wasserman. 

What about the unreleased solo albums by Mickey and Hunter?

David Lemieux -  Yeah, those are cool. Mickey was in here one day and he said, “Hey do you know what these are?” And I said, “No.” And he said, “Let’s listen to them.” So we put some of it on. It’s old but it’s good. An early Fire on the Mountain is one of the songs.

 I’ve heard that both Pigpen and Brent were working on solo albums when they died. 

David Lemieux - I don’t know how finished Brent’s was. He was working on his in the early ’80s. I don’t know how far they got into finishing off recording, so it may just be basic tracks—drums, bass, and keyboards. Pigpen’s album—I don’t know what ever got done with it, it was just little bits and pieces that are out in trading circles. If there’s ever a Pigpen box set, that’s where some of that might end up. One tune I’d love to see on there would be the Princeton 4-17-71 Good Lovin’. It’s just so classic and famous. I don’t know how much better it is than the one that’s on Ladies and Gentlemen…

 There was a postcard included in Dick’s Picks Volume Three asking fans to submit their requests for future releases.

David Lemieux -  I’m looking at them right now, they’re sitting right beside me. If you were to look at them right now… I think we can all guess what number one is.


David Lemieux - Yep. And number two? 


David Lemieux - Yep. And number three?


 No that’s actually number five or six. Three was 12-31-78, the closing of Winterland. We look at the results quite frequently. We don’t use it as our guide, but we definitely do look at it to confirm that we’re on the right track by, as they say, giving the people what they want. We actually tend to look at it after we’ve made a choice, just to see where it falls, and generally it falls pretty close to the list. 

You said closing of Winterland might be a simultaneous audio/video release.

David Lemieux -  I hope so. I think that would be a really nice one. Unfortunately, and I know I’ve said this elsewhere, the audio and video are not synched, so it’s not an easy project. But I’ve just started looking into the elements we have, getting lists together to see if we can do it. It would be another good one. There are a few big ones that are the obvious ones, The Grateful Dead Movie with bonus footage, Veneta, the closing of Winterland, there are a couple more Europe ’72 shows that I’m sure are going to come out some day, 3-1-69 is another.

 So 3-1-69 is in the works for someday?

 David Lemieux - It’s not in the works but it’s there, and it’s so good I can pretty much say it will come out some day. Like I said, we’ve got a limited amount of multi-track and what we do have tends to be quite good. 

Parts of this show have already appeared on Without a Net, Infrared Roses, and So Many Roads—you can probably guess which one I’m talking about. Is 3-29-90 in its entirety a consideration?

David Lemieux -  I think so. With Dozin’ at the Knick and Terrapin Limited we’ve already done two from that tour, plus a whole bunch of Without a Net from that tour, and I’m not saying that’s not a great show, that show’s phenomenal, but there are some other really great concerts from that same tour. So I think if we ever released something from that tour again, it would definitely be up there with the top two or three under consideration.

 Are the June 22-July 3, 1970 Trans-Continental Pop Festival shows in the vault?

David Lemieux -  No they’re not. I don’t know where they are. I’ve seen about 45 minutes of the footage from those shows and it’s outstanding. I’ve heard the same rumors you have, that somebody in England is working on a film of the whole tour and that’s all we know. 

So no one taped those famous train jams.

David Lemieux -  They might have. I don’t know. They were filmed I think, so who knows? I don’t know what’s going to be in that film. I’m as oblivious as anyone.

 You told Blair that most of the tapes from the 1980 acoustic/electric shows are unusable.

David Lemieux -  A lot of them were erased for various reasons.

Are any of them salvageable? I love Reckoning and Dead Set but a complete show from then would be fantastic.

David Lemieux -  I agree, but I don’t think we have a single complete show. And I don’t think it was anything methodical, I think it was just, “Hey we need some tape, go grab one off the shelf.” They just grabbed tapes, so it’s a bummer.

 Other than 8-27-72 Are there any pre-retirement shows that could be considered for video release?

 David Lemieux - Not one.

 What’s happening with digitizing the vault? If that happens, what impact would it have on the Dick’s Picks series?

David Lemieux -  None as far as I can tell. I cannot see a day that will come when everybody who wants music gets it from their computer. I don’t get music from my computer. Most of my friends don’t. I don’t think I know anyone where the computer is the only source for their music. People for the most part really like their CDs, so I can’t see it impacting the releases, and if it does, I don’t know how comfortable we’d be doing that. That would scare the heck out of me.

By Eric Levy @ 2001  

Tracks -  The Grateful Dead

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