Pop Quiz: Mickey Hart

Aidin Vaziri | Mickey Hart, the former drummer for the Grateful Dead, is feeling ambitious. On his new album, an as-yet-untitled collaboration with lyricist Robert Hunter, he’s setting the sounds of the entire history of the universe to music. And this isn’t just some cosmic concept album – Hart, 67, who sits on the board of the Smithsonian, is collaborating with high-ranking NASA scientists, engineers at Meyer Sound and telescope operators around the globe to transfer light waves to sound waves to jams Deadheads can groove on. This week, the Mickey Hart Band takes a break from recording in Sebastopol to try out some of the new material (along with old favorites) on a brief tour of festivals and small clubs.

Mickey Hart

Q: It’s about the whole universe?

A: I’ve been involved in sampling the epic events of the universe from the Big Bang to now – everything that makes up our lives. It’s all about the vibrations of life. In this case they began as light waves, and these light waves are still washing over us. The scientists and Lawrence Livermore and Meyer Sound made them into sound waves. I want to bring these light waves into the human range and use that as a musical catalyst and play with it.

Q: You’re going to put all that into one album?

A: You don’t put it into one album. We don’t make albums anymore, remember? I’ve been building a stellar library which contains thousands of these songs from the cosmos. Some of them I’ll be using on the CD and some of them live. This project can go on and on and on and on. It’s never ending, but you have to start somewhere.

Q: So what does the Big Bang sound like?

A: The cosmic low end of the universe is a B-flat. That’s one of my key sounds. I couldn’t do this work without the beginning of the story. It’s just beginning. The universe is infinite. Now I just need another 20 years.

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