Percussionist Mickey Hart, formerly one of the dual drummers in psychedelic rock stalwarts The Grateful Dead, announced Friday that he is forming a new group, The Mickey Hart Band.
Given the flurry of recent activity from his former Dead bandmates—guitarist Bob Weir and bassist Phil Lesh are busy leading Furthur, while Hart’s other half Bill Kreutzmann has formed 7 Walkers—Hart’s decision to form a band isn’t surprising.
Hart said to Rolling Stone that he has no intention of making the new band a Grateful Dead-centric project. Although the Mickey Hart Band doesn’t plan to avoid all Dead songs, the emphasis will be on all-new compositions and jams, with Hart adding, “There’s enough people out there playing Grateful Dead material.”
Hart, who has long studied and collected percussion and even helped invent a couple of percussive instruments with the Dead in the ‘80s, has hinted at the cosmic nature of the new group. And no, it has nothing to do with “Cosmic Charlie”: Instead, it concerns actual waves of light and vibration from the universe, some spanning billions of years back in time.
The drummer has reportedly been working alongside NASA for the past few years to sample signals of light waves from transmitters around the world and wring from them the sounds that correspond to the aural spectrum.
It probably sounds like mystical mumbo-jumbo to skeptics, but Hart insists it’s a bona fide scientific process. “If something has a vibration, it has a sound,” he said. With the Mickey Hart Band, his aim is to transmit these vibrations into sound, and more specifically into the spectrum of music.
Hart and his new group, which includes relative unknowns Gawain Matthews (guitar), Tim Hockenberry (vocals) and Crystal Monee (vocals), recently wrapped up a brief tour that begin in early August and showcased the band in smaller-size clubs, where they debuted the new percussion-heavy, sound-vibration-inspired songs. Though not yet confirmed, rumors abound that a new album containing these tunes is due in early 2012, and that Hart will soon begin taking fan-submitted suggestions for an “official” band name.