Phil Ogison: As long as I am able to listen, I will hear. Where did that come from? After a while, years really, you come to a point where people start comparing you to guitar playing masters and it's nice and gracious of them but it's a reference, and that's all. Because I listened to guitarists primarily when I was growing up, I endeavored to play, just play and whatever came out came out. I'm a believer in what Joe Meek said “If it sounds right, it is right”....and that's it really. By the time I realized that I had so many references to other players in my palette that some of those licks and nuances found their way into my repertoire. But not being particularly literate in a theoretical grasp of music, I think my ear plus intuition plus technique = bliss which is where I want to be with my hands on the strings. To someone who can't really sing, the guitar is their voice. If you can tell a story, you can play lead guitar.
Jeff Howard: I grew up with and absorbed my dad's passion for music, being exposed to everything from Les Baxter's Music Out of the Moon for cello, horn, choir and theremin on 78 rpm records to dixieland. My parents, both of whom were musical, taught me to explore and appreciate all music. A still ongoing love affair with global music and "genre bending" sprang from first hearing composer/ethnomusicologist David Fanshawe's African Santus. This lead to a fascination with religious trance music in general, especially the non-western concept of performance as a spiritual exercise - a far more appealing path than the struggle of being a "lefty" but right-footed drummer trying to emulate right-handed drum and percussion heroes. My most influential western artist has to be Erik Satie and the concept of furniture music - music that is "heard but not listened to."
On Amoeba Starfish
Phil: Ever since I've know Jeff he's challenged me to think further, beyond, more. That's why Amoeba Starfish exists, and he's amazing at chopping up time. We've always said as long as it's fun, we'll keep doing it. If it stops being fun, it stops. There will come a time when Amoeba Starfish no longer exists, but I hope there is at least some record of the event, in whatever format, that survives to become a legacy. This duo owes some debts of gratitude to at least three major guitarists and I think to some extent, this would extend to the rhythm sections associated with them. When it comes to me, I think I've at last narrowed down the heavy influences to #1 Peter Green #2 Steve Hillage #3 Bill Frissel.
Jeff: Conceptually, I'm attempting to be more of a Phonometrician (Satie's description of himself) than the rhythm section, underscoring Phil's inspirational guitar with an atmosphere that is played either strictly percussively or by voice (no keyboards), occasionally sampling live on-the-fly into an evolving loop, switching to another instrument sound, adding to a layer or playing on top of it.