HotPress Interview May 2009
This interview is part of an article Hot Press magazine did on the Eagles. They also interviewed Joe and Glenn. You can order the magazine at Hot Press
Shockingly youthful, Schmit is the only member of the Eagles who's originally Californian (though through his Derry-born wife, he recently became an Irish citizen). He's feeling pretty tired. These days Eagles tend to tour month on/month off. "We've got two more shows to do on this tour and that's it for another month," he says, "We don't normally do more than two shows in a row, either. We usually need a day off after that."
Is that an age thing, or did you always do it like that?
"Part of it is age, I'm not going to fool myself. But, you know, we put on a long, energetic show so we have to refuel and rest up so we can do it again."
Do you have a healthier lifestyle?
"I would say so. I'm not a vegetarian but I really watch what I eat. I do my rituals, I've been doing yoga for years and I take long walks and I try to eat... you know I don't eat a lot of fried foods and I'm non-dairy, stuff like that."
Do you hang out together much when you're not touring?
"Us, together? Not that much, no," he shakes his head. "We're all older and have families. My youngest is eighteen, but the other guys have young kids, you know, as well as teenagers. So we are all very busy. We're not with them when we're out here, so we have to be-and we want to be- with our families when we're not touring. And we see enough of each other out here. W're not young, mean, hungry musicians hanging out smoking cigarettes and drinking together anymore, you know. But that's fine, that's the way it should be. It would be kind of pitiful if we were that way, if you think about it."
Although Schmit looks very much like a rock star, you'd be hard-pressed to tell which band he belonged to. Which is just the way he likes it.
"We're kinda low key," he admits. "Don and Glenn never really did a lot of press even before I was in the band; they didn't do any appearances that weren't important in some ways. I was at a hotel once, for instance, where there was a ton of paparazzi outside. Now, they weren't waiting for me. In fact, I walked right by them, no problem. They were waiting for someone else, and when they spotted them they were like vultures. And I was really happy that I didn't have to live that way."
Did you ever have to live that way?
"When my son was about five years old and we were in the supermarket together, and somebody came up to me and asked me for my autograph, something clicked and he says, "Daddy are you famous?' and I said. 'I'm famous to some people'. So when people ask me is it a hassle, you know, I'm not Paul McCartney or Elton John. I get recognised just enough to feed my ego and not enough to be a big hassle.
Have the egos in the band fizzled out?
"Well, listen - the reason why I guess anyone gets on stage is really 'Look at me!' You know, right? Like a little kid who says 'Daddy, Daddy, look at me. Look what I can do!' That's what it is, ultimately. But it has evolved into something bigger. It's what we do. Sure, it's very lucrative and I'm not going to discount that. But it's also what we do. I mean, what else are we going to do?"
When I mention former member Don Felder's vitriolic memoir of his time with the band, Heaven and Hell, Schmit laughs it off. "I've never read Don Felder's book. Actually, I skimmed some of it and thought it was like, 'Who cares?' You know, okay, fine."
Would it be something you'd want to do yourself?
Em, some people have said, 'You know, you should write your memoirs'. I actually think it's not that interesting. I don't have anything that might turn heads, good or bad. I just have been working as a musician for many, many years - from high school. And that's what I do, and that's what I love to do, and I have a fairly sane personal life."
Indeed, Schmit is the one Eagle who seems to have fully embraced monogamy. "I celebrated my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary two nights ago," he tells me proudly. "And it's good. It's still real tight. I try and read some of those books and they just make me yawn. I suppose there's a small market for it but in general it's like, who cares?"
What's been the most Spinal Tap-ish moment of the Eagles career?
"My wife was actually in Spinal Tap!" he laughs. "She was in the first five minutes. She's the blonde groupie right in the front. That's a Spinal Tap=ish moment! And I got to sing on their second album. That movie was so right-on in so many ways...I don't even know if I should say this or not...at the beginning of this tour, of this leg, I'll say it...Can you see, like a little red stain here? (Points to his mouth) I had a little sore on my mouth and I went like, "God, it's going to look five feet across on the video screen,' and then, when I got on the plane to see everybody, they said. 'How are you doing?' "Oh, I'm good, except I got the Spinal Tap disease!' Remember they all had these things on their mouths!"
Speaking of movies, it's rumoured that Stillwater, the overblown rock band in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous, was modeled on the Eagles.
"Yeah, I was actually Cameron's first interview for Rolling Stone. I told him when I saw him, probably a year later - I'm not real close, I don't keep in constant contact with him but we're friendly - I told him that the movie was a mind-blower that it was really great, but I can't ever watch it again!(laughs)".
Some of the other guys have appeared in TV shows and movies.
"I was in a movie, I think that went direct to video - it was a really bad movie about a rock band. I loved doing it. I discovered I'm not a natural actor. I've always felt I'd wanted to be in the movies, but I would have had to study. But it was fun."
Do you know a lot of actors?
"You live in Los Angeles you see them in the market, you know. Or old rock idols and stuff, you know. I see Frankie Valli! I see him in my market! You know, 'Hey, Frankie.' 'Hey, how are you doing? But yeah, most of my firends are artistic people, but not necessarily musicians and actors."
The Eagles were very much a common man's band in their heyday, writing memorable songs about everyday concerns. Is that more difficult with a credit crunch going on and a lot of people experiencing stuff that you're never going to experience?
"Em, I don't know yet. My wife, who is my best companion and friend, she's a really great inspiration for a lot. And I'm not just talking about love songs, she's an intersting person. I get a lot from her. I think Henley's the guy... he's the Bono of the band, right. Not that he can't write a great love song, he has written some of the best, but he takes the broader view - society, politics, climate, and he puts it together in a form that's something to really think about. Glenn said it in the Rolling Stone magazine that if it weren't for Henley we would be Air Supply. I thought that was a brave comment."