In Conversation with The Highway, Part I

All You Do is Who You Are

“Take your time.
Make things right.
All you do is who you are.”

– from the song “All You Do” by The Highway

Daniel Tortoledo (bass), Ted MacInnes (drums), Adam Douglass (guitar), and Griffin McMahon (keys) make up The Highway, a New York rock quartet that dives deep into the best of rock’s roots to inspire its own original psychedelic rock. They’ve recently released the single “All You Do” as a foretaste of their upcoming second album, Enter to Exit. “All You Do” is a long, strange ride, containing the dark tale of an evil deed compelled by love. Recently, all four band members took the time to answer Wanda Waterman’s questions about inspiration, influences, and the attraction of the “psychedelic.”

Which elements in your childhoods and early years pointed you toward music?
Daniel: I can’t really tell what led me into music but violin was my first instrument. I guess the sound or the shape of it drove me into discovering music.

Ted: When I was about four years old my older brother was taking guitar lessons, and I thought it would be a good idea to do the same. He pretty much shut that idea down and suggested I play drums instead. I got a drum set for Christmas, and the rest is history.

Griffin: I grew up in a house full of music ? my mom raised us on Cat Stevens, the Beatles, and James Taylor records while my dad would play heavier seventies rock, like Rory Gallagher, Thin Lizzy, and Focus records.

My three siblings all had a big influence on me as well; my brother Conor’s taste has been a massive influence?The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, Talking Heads, Pink Floyd, Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth?the list goes on. I started cello and piano lessons when I was ten years old, and I knew immediately that I wanted to spend my life doing this. I studied classical organ and piano, and really love playing Bach, Chopin, and more avant-garde stuff like Messiaen just as much as I enjoy playing with The Highway and other rock projects

Adam: Music always fascinated me. I always had a song stuck in my head, and I played with toy instruments, made “guitars” from stringing rubber bands across a shoebox. It was just something I had to do.

Which elements pointed you toward psychedelic music? And how did you develop your own unique mix of genres?
Adam: Aurally, one gravitates towards different styles of music the same way some people gravitate towards different types of food. I love hamburgers and I hate coleslaw. Some people love coleslaw. I don’t know how you could hate hamburgers.

Daniel: Pretty much the idea to experiment a little more. Once you hear the word “psychedelic” You’re inclined to look for what’s behind that word, and of course the possibilities are endless. I guess the mix of genres comes about by doing this for a long time, the constant desire of solidifying what was sounding right. Also the number of musicians that have gone through this band is pretty amazing and each one of them helped in one way or another to shape things up through the years.

Ted: Psychedelic experiences themselves played a roll. I think taking an interest in psychedelic states, spirituality, the nature of reality and consciousness, things like that, is a natural thing that happens in one’s life, maybe when entering one’s twenties. Music and musical experiences are related to that, of course. The experience of watching a performance, of dancing, and especially of performing itself, is about as close to a spiritual experience as one can get without risking one’s life.

In The Doors of Perception Aldous Huxley talks about another world, an inner world or a higher consciousness sort of thing, and he suggests that we humans have always been attracted to things that point us in the direction of this world. That’s why we’re fascinated by shiny things, flashy things, shooting stars, and sunsets. And a lot of our music, whether It’s overtly psychedelic or not, tries to create that sense of wonder of the unknown which could be said to draw from that same place.

Griffin: The sixties music scene had been pretty much engrained into my body and soul by my upbringing. It only seemed natural to join forces with Daniel, Ted, and Adam. They have such a natural feel for this music.

I feel like we can read each other’s minds when we play. I really connect with them. Also, Ted is an old family friend of my cousins from Connecticut? so he’s my cousin!

(to be continued)

%d bloggers like this: