Band “Kansas” Part 2

Today on Around Kansas Deb Bisel finishes her interview with
Richard Williams, David Ragsdale and Billy Greer from the Band Kansas. Find
out what it means to each of them to be included in the Kansas Hall of Fame
this year. Plus hear how they have remained a viable band for forty years
and how technology has changed over those years. See how with music
that expands the generations and wholesome lyrics they say it has always
been easy to get up and perform among all ages and have always been
very proud to do so.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission.
The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Deb) To remain a viable band for forty years is an incredible
accomplishment. The amount of respect that that takes for one another and
all those other things, what does that take? (1st Male) Well it’s sticking
together is again, this is I’ve done real jobs before, not very often, I’ve
been very fortunate and I started playing guitar and it’s pretty much what
I’ve done, brief career in college where I learned to play cards, just
doing this is what I’ve always wanted to do and, so, just following that
nature. Some people, they’re good musicians, but they’re not that easy to
get along with. They’re not that much fun and this is just I’m again,
following my nature. This is what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s what I
love doing, love being with the guys. I love seeing what’s next and we’ve
always been very flexible as far as well here’s the cards you dealt today.
Well okay, somebody’s left or part of the tours canceled, whatever, so now
what? So we reinvented ourselves many times. So we started working with
symphonies to do something different, something, you know, a twist on
creative stuff, a live thing. I think we’ve got Pittsburg, the Fortieth
Anniversary. We’re always trying to change things up a little bit just, you
know, to keep it fresh and keep it going and that’s just the fun of it.
This is I’ve tried real work before. I know these guys have and this isn’t
work. Some of the travel is sometimes. You make peace with that. This is a
great life, is what we do. I would hate to think what if I didn’t do this,
what I would be doing. I wouldn’t like it near as much as this, I know, so
is it an effort to keep it together? I mean there are times when it’s a bit
of a struggle to figure out what to do next, but those are short-lived and,
you know, we just keep, you know, moving on through the centuries. (3rd
Male) I think technology and the internet has been a friend to Kansas in a
roundabout way and a couple of the video games that have come out that have
featured a Kansas song, Carry on Wayward Son in Guitar Hero and Rock Band,
that have turned the Kansas music on to a whole new generation. Kansas
songs being used in Simpson’s and other, you know, shows that young kids
have picked up on. (Deb) Right. Takes it to a new audience. (2nd Male) And
to, a lot of parents have raised their kids listening to Kansas music and a
lot of times, lots of parents and their kids and the audience, even now,
you know, bringing their kids to hear Kansas because, you know, you didn’t
have to cover their ears because there’s lyrics that were offensive or
anything like that. Always been a family friendly band as far as lyrically
and musically, so we have a lot of new fans, a whole new generation of
young Kansas fans. Well not only that, the internet and cell phones and
everything, now even the NSA is Carry on my Wayward Son, so you got
that going on too.
(Deb) Well the technology is incredible and that’s obviously, you know,
we’ve got albums and, you know, to eight-tracks. Anybody remember eight-
tracks? You know anybody out there remember eight-tracks and then, you
know, the cassettes and the CD’s and mp3’s and, so, the format. Who’s the
business person in the band? Who’s the person that’s trying to look forward
to the new technology and keep up? (1st Male) Oh, I mean, you know, new
technology’s always good because that means everybody’s got to buy all that
stuff again in new format, but, you know, I think it’s be awhile before we
see I can’t imagine what is next beyond the download. That’s I think it’s
kind of hit a technologically, it hit a wall. It’s there to stay I think
for quite a while. (2nd Male) Yeah, as far as who in the band is the guy
that Phil is the Manager, so he’s the one that, you know, kind of is out
there searching and keeping on the cutting-edge as closely as possible. So
he’s the guy that does that, but again, like I said, music has completely
changed and we’ll never go back, you know, to the way it was. Well maybe it
will, who knows. You know a lot of people who are buying albums again
because they sound so much better, but digital downloads have become pretty
much the industry standard now, so, but you have to constantly keep on top
of that of ways of social networking, Facebook and things like that and,
you know, what’s next after Facebook? You know we just have to kind of try
and predict what’s gonna be in and stay on top of that to keep the band out
there and the main thing though is that Kansas has always been a
hardworking band and developed a good base of fans around the country who
are gonna be there no matter if the internet died tomorrow. We do a concert
in this city and they’re gonna be there, so that’s basically the bottom-
line, the meat and potatoes of this band. (Deb) Well one of the reasons
that I’ve got to be honest with you guys, that you’re being inducted into
the Kansas Hall of Fame is because you’re a hardworking band. You know you
reflect, you know, the band reflects so much Kansas values, just like you
were talking about, blue collar. This fame, without having done anything to
achieve fame which is so prevalent in today’s society, is just disgusting
to me and you guys reflect, you know, you take your talent. You work very
hard with it and like you said, the tenacity, all these great qualities and
the respect of the band and, you know, of being good people. You can’t be
just a nasty person and have good people to work with. (1st Male)
Everything you see on the instant, you know, news media, what’s popular for
the moment and all that, it’s hard not for people to get caught up in that
and that’s what’s the thing right now, but once you a long time ago, we
realized that there is a whole different world that flies under that radar.
(Deb) Right, the real people. (1st Male) Where most people really exist and
it’s really a much more comfortable, relaxed place where you can go about
and do what you do and that’s just noise up here somewhere. We’ve been so
unaffected by that for years that… (2nd Male) We’re never gonna be a
Gangnam Style, you know, have a Gangnam Style moment like, you know, this
guy from Korea or anything like that, but we have our solid base of fans
that are gonna be there, you know, until the band decides to call it quits
and hang it up, you know?

(Deb) Let’s talk a little bit about dealing with fame and keeping your
sanity because I’m sure there’s got to be some big head moments, you know,
that’s got to happen from time-to-time. (2nd Male) Well I get recognized as
Sammy Hagar a lot, so. (3rd Male) And Robert Plant. (2nd Male) And Robert
Plant, so that keeps me humble. You look just like Sammy Hagar, man, Well
thank you. I play for Kansas, so. (Deb) Just charging rooms to their name
and stuff like that. (2nd Male) That might work. I don’t know. That would
be sweet revenge at least. (Deb) Dave? (1st Male) If you don’t act like a
celebrity, no one ever knows. (Deb) That’s funny. Now, Rich, you’re
unmistakable, I mean, you don’t look like anybody else. (1st Male) Well
I’ve sort of you know serious Kansas fans are pouring over old photos and
stuff. We pull into town and some people might be kind of looking over,
That’s those guys, but for the most part, we’re very much a faceless band
which is very nice. We can come and go as we please. That would horrible to
be such a celebrity that, you know, paparazzi’s taking pictures everywhere
and you’re being followed and asked questions all the time. I never ever
think about being in the band. You know when we’re me and Dave live in the
same complex. We go to Kroger. I don’t walk around going, Yeah, Rich
Williams from Kansas is here. It’s really not in my thought process. You
know we get off stage, we’re done. So in that respect, and it really hasn’t
ever been that big of a problem and once in a while it is. Someone will
come up and they’re just in awe of you and to me, it’s very uncomfortable.
It’s humbling. I really do my best at that point to disappoint them, you
know, knock myself off of this pedestal they have me on and just go, you
know, That’s just not me, you know, I’m just a guy from Topeka, Kansas that
plays guitar and got lucky and, so, don’t make it any more than that. I’m
usually pretty good at, you know, banjos or something too, but to know that
I’m living, breathing, gray, stupid flesh.

(Deb) Anything else you guys want to talk about, that you want to mention
or visit? (2nd Male) I personally would just like to thank everybody
involved in this ceremony tonight. It was just such an honor to be inducted
into the Hall of Fame, all the guys in the band, you know, than you
everybody involved. You know it’s been a great ride for the last twenty-
eight years for me, so thank you guys and thank you all. (3rd Male) Yeah,
most of all we want to thank you guys have been waiting all this time.
(Deb) Anything else you want to say, Rich? (1st Male) Yeah. This is I’m not
really sure how I feel about all this yet. I wish my parents were here
because this is one of those moments that, you know, I know they would be
very proud. They moved to Topeka and stayed and they didn’t really want me
to do this, but once it started to work, they were very proud of me and
this would be the icing on their cake for them and to be, you know,
compared to these people is beyond humbling, just don’t feel at all worthy
of this company and, you know, like I said, the last time I was in this
building was when they brought Eisenhower by on the train when I was here
with some high school friends and, you know, to be compared in any way to
any of that, you know, want to accept it because you appreciate what the
people are doing for you, but as an individual, you feel very humbled by
the experience. It’s like, I’m not worthy of this, so it was very mixed
feelings about it all. (Deb) Well you guys have done so much for the image
of Kansas and like you were saying, Bill, you know, with the lyrics of the
songs, you don’t have to cover your kid’s ears. It’s beautiful, you know,
it’s great music. (2nd Male) And to it, it’s not embarrassing to be singing
these lyrics at our age which, you know, talking about a sixteen year old
or something like that. You know some of these band lyrics that these old
men are having to sing where they’re (3rd Male) Not three times.
(2nd Male) and we don’t have to do it. the lyrics to me have some real
substance and I’m so thankful to Kerry Livgren and to Steven Walsh and
everybody involved in writing those songs that, you know, you can sing the
with pride and you don’t have to feel embarrassed about singing the lyrics.
(Deb) That’s a real good point. That’s a very good point. Well I think, I
honestly think you guys deserve this company because you’ve done so much
for the image of Kansas over the last forty years and it’s all been
positive. You know it’s all been good and my daughter, who lives in Tel
Aviv, you know, she’s walking through as Kansas is playing over the
intercom is everybody is singing along and, you know, in Tel Aviv, you
know, and it’s (3rd Male) It’s history. (Deb) It does. What a wonderful
thing for the state of Kansas to export to the world, this beautiful music.
That’s an awesome thing. (1st Male) There have been moments like that that
they don’t just make sense. We played a few years ago in Sophia, Bulgaria
and we’d never been ever behind what was the old iron curtain before, had
no idea what to expect and it was the Performing Arts Center, I don’t know,
twenty-five, hundred people or bigger, sold out really quick, so we were
excited to go, but still, what’s playing Dust in the Wind, an acoustic song
and to hear the crowd singing it so loud you could hear the Bulgarian
accent so clearly and, you know, just going, I’m just the guy from Topeka,
and people said, We’ve been waiting for you guys to come here for thirty
years. Who knew? It’s all sometimes too much to take in, you know, just
being a guy from here. (Deb) Well that’s an incredible thing. Like I said,
creating an experience and creating connections all around the world, you
know, and maybe that’s more important than anything we’re honoring here is
that sense of being connected, you know, to people all over the world,
people you’ll never know, people, you know, yet to be born, you know,
they’ll all be connected. That’s an awesome thing. Congratulations.
(1st Male) Thank you. It’s really an honor to be here. (Deb) Well we’re
thrilled. We’re just thrilled to have you and welcome to Topeka and it’s
just wonderful to see you guys inducted into the Hall of Fame and it’s very
well deserved.

Closed Captioning brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission.
The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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