In Conversation Tommy Emmanuel with help from his friends

In Conversation Tommy Emmanuel with help from his friendsAustralian born Grammy award-winning Tommy Emmanuel has been wowing audiences and guitar players across the globe for some time now. His unique playing style, pure musicality and to quote Chet Atkins, his “fearless fingerpicking”…surely Tommy needs very little introduction. His new album “Accomplice One” is a veritable delight of 16 tracks of duets with a wide range of musician friends of Tommy’s who were all keen to lend a pair of hands or a voice…

 

“Accomplice One” is brimming with talent, what was the idea behind getting all of these great players together?

It’s really come about from living and working in Nashville over the last 15 years which has grown a group of artists and friends who I get to work with from time to time on various things. I got the idea that I wanted to collaborate with some really good artists, good singers, good songwriters to see what we could come up with. It was over 2 years of trying to find time between my touring and everyone else’s touring and projects for it to all come together. It was great in the way that everyone had suggestions of songs and it really came together quite beautifully. With all the schedules involved it was my recording and mixing engineer that really glued everything together what with me being in and out-of-town all the time, we’d book the studio ahead of time and he’d be ready to go as soon as I and the other artists were in and we wasted no time at all as time is precious for everyone. The tracks were cut with just the acoustic guitars and vocals and we would add bass, drums afterwards. It gives a warm and live sound for sure. Each of the artists recorded more that what’s on the album, like Amanda Shires who I duet with on Madonna’s “Borderline” did a swing track that’s not on the album, I have other tracks as well and we chose the best tracks for the first album. That’s why it’s called “Accomplice One” as there’ll be another one.

JD Simo, Amanda Shires, Ricky Skaggs are some of the artists you duet with – why did you pick these artists?

The fact that these are young people coming up in the business and really talented artists who are all really soulful. I thought that rather than trying to get Keith Urban or another well-established artist in that younger people, new and fresh could bring something else to the album and be a great opportunity in their stage of their career for us to be seen working together. Then again, Mark Knopfler, who I’ve know since 1984, certainly doesn’t need any help from me but that fact that he wrote back to me and said: “Sure, I’d love to play on your record, but can we do one of my songs?” – you know, I just couldn’t deny him that as I love everything he writes. Mark invited me over to his studio in Chiswick London, we sat down and went forth and back with who was going to sing which line and play what part. From the moment I arrived in his studio, it took an hour and a half to arrange, record and Mark’s keyboard player/assistant mixed and mastered the song and I was out of there with it that quick.

Having produced the album yourself, what were you looking for sound wise?

First of all, I didn’t want it to have anything on it that was unnecessary, more stripped back, lush, warm and earthy. The only track that has keyboards on it is “The Duke’s Message” the very last track which I cut with Suzy Bogguss and one of my original songs. I had Grammy award-winning piano player Will Barrow come in, listen to the song and just play along with what was going on already instead of embellishing parts. The rest of the album is really just guitar, bass and drums, sometimes no drums. Where there are bass parts they’re well thought out and I played some of those, I even played the drums on it – no programmed nonsense here mate! On “Saturday Night Shuffle” I purposely mic’d the drums at a distance and made them sound almost like they were in a garage. All the acoustic guitars are mic’d up just how you would playing live so I really took an approach to producing the album in the most organic way as possible.

Alongside your original tracks, there are a few covers, what’s behind the choice of those?

Trying to find the right song for a person, you know that’s the key. Mark and I could have done anything but doing an original that’s something different is always great. With Mark’s song we really approached it like Tom Waits meets Randy Newman! JD Simo is such a great guy and we have a shared love for Elvis Presley but cut Otis Redding’s “(Sitting On) The Dock of The Bay” where you can really hear the fun we had playing it. There’s a contrast in going from “Keep It Real” with it’s Celtic feel into “Rachel’s Lullaby”. Clive Carroll and I have been friends for a long time (he’s one of my favourite musicians on the planet) and we worked up that medley of “Keep It Real” together. There’s a lot to it already but it could of easily have gone on for another 10 minutes as you know how it is when you get a good thing going playing! You mentioned the “Purple Haze” cover, I hate to tell you and most people will not believe it, that was one take. Jerry Douglas, the dobro playing wizard, came in to play on another track and we got that finished so I said to him “Do you want to have a shot at Purple Haze?”. Jerry’s response could not have been more emphatic; “What a great idea! That’ll really piss off all the bluegrass purists! Let’s do it!”. I brought my guitar into the control room, showed him how I played it, Jerry’s like “Just nod at me when you want me to play…” and away we went with it in the purest moment of inspiration and improvisation.

On the note of improvisation and for the guitarists out there, what advice/approach can you pass on?

Well there’s a certain amount of not being afraid to step out and try stuff. You know, everybody worries too much about what people will think of them if they fly their kite to high, you know what I mean? I really try to get rid of that as it will only hold you back and to just play what I feel like playing in the moment and this is what my instincts are telling me to play. You’ve gotta have fun with it but at the same time have something to say musically that works, makes sense to you and let it fly. There’s a time to really jump in and a time to hold it back, listen and find the right spot to come in – you know Jerry is just like that, no boundaries, no filters and just runs at things dead ahead. Jerry and I have some shows coming up together in 2018 in addition to the shows JD Simo and I are doing together and you can bet on us improvising in the moment on those. At the base of it, it’s about being in the moment and really listening as that’s the first thing a real/good musician does.

In the Spring you’re running a guitar camp in Scotland, planning to give away your guitar secrets?

Oh definitely as that’s what teaching is all about, you have to give the student everything. That’s happening in May 2018 and it’s 4 days of lessons, masterclasses, evening concerts and there’s also time for one-on-ones with students at the camp with myself and the other instructors. It’s one of those where we want people to come along, be challenged in their playing and change the way they experience playing and learning music. It’s a whole different ball game and I really think that the people who are going to be on that camp with me are going to have the best time. It’s really about immersing yourself and seeing things in a different way.

More information and booking for Tommy’s Guitar Camp in Scotland can be found HERE

If you could go travel back in time, what would you tell the Tommy Emmanuel in his early 20’s?

Don’t be so worried about what people think, have a great time and just try to learn as much as you can.

Accomplice One is due for release January 19 on the new label Players Club via Mascot Label Group and can be ordered here  MASCOT LABEL GROUP

 

In Conversation Tommy Emmanuel with help from his friends

Laurence Jones speaks the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

Laurence Jones speaks the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truthLaurence Jones speaks the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

4 albums in, what do you do next? You look for something new and fresh, dig deep into your heart and see what comes out, to see what other sides there are to you. This is what Laurence Jones has done with his new album “The Truth”. Laurence continues to make a name for himself on the blues-rock circuit in the UK and Europe and his new album with its commercial feel but rocky edge will no doubt win him new fans further afield. Laurence took a few moments out from rehearsals and over a drink at an after-show party to chat as we were seeking honest answers…

 

“The Truth” is a few steps down a different path than your previous albums in its sound and arrangements…

Well, and between us, I want to be the next Justin Bieber, he’s my hero! Hahaha! But seriously, it is a crossover album for me in terms of the writing and production for sure. You know, all of my real heroes like John Mayer and Eric Clapton have stepped into different territory before and not just relied upon the guitar playing so I guess it’s my turn to do that. I don’t want to churn out the same album time after time as nobody wants to hear that and I’d get bored. I like challenges and I like to challenge myself which is what I’ve done with “The Truth”. Before we go any further, assure your readers that this album was all made with real instruments and real players!

You had me worried for a moment there thinking this isn’t the Laurence Jones I know…

There’s different sides to all of us and I wanted to show a different side of me with this album. I really focused on the songwriting, lyrics and melodic content. I’ve really been building up to making a record like this is taking the guitar side of things and mixing it with something that’s modern but true to itself. We talked about guitar playing when we were at the Black Country Communion after show party at Hammersmith (man what a gig eh!) and I’ve really pushed myself in the guitar solos to make them memorable, like a song in a song. Take the solo in “Hotel California”, that’s crazy long but you can sing it and it tells a story in itself. I hope that mine on this album do that for anyone who listens to it.

We’re talking about putting yourself out there and opening up here…

Absolutely. I can only write about things I know, not what’s up in the sky that I don’t know about. The songs really do the talking on this album and they’ve been finely picked from a whole bunch of demos. It was a dream to have a few weeks of pre-production in Curacao which is a Dutch island in the Caribbean, before heading to Miami to record at the old Sony Studios. Such a cool place man. The legendary Gregory Elias has produced this album and he brought so much to the table but still allowed me the freedom to go my own way. You know, Gregory is the man who brought The Rolling Stones to Cuba and put on a free gig for everyone, how cool is that! That just shows what a nice guy he is and inspirational. If you take songs such as “Hold Me Close”, “The Truth” and “Take Me” my heart’s on my sleeve right there, for better or for worse and I want the listener to feel that. Sure, there’s some rockier moments in “Give Me Your Time” and “Gone Away” but the emotional content is there in all of the songs. It was all about writing catchy songs with guitar solos and I keep up to date with all music out there, it’d be great to hear more guitar in the charts and these songs are more of a commercial feel than my rockier stuff so you never know!

 

What can we expect from your live shows this time around with this fresh take on your writing?

20-minute guitar solos! Hahaha!, not really. There will be some moments where we’ll be jamming out on a few songs, extending the solo’s a bit, in fact, I’m at rehearsals now and we’ve been working the set-out. I’ve got a really cool new band in Bennet Holland on keys, Phil Wilson on drums and Greg Smith on bass. We were playing in Holland before and everything just went super well. The crowds were great, singing along and getting right into it. It’s sounding really slick, the new songs are transferring well to a live setup and we’re psyched to be taking them out on the road. I love playing live and it’s great to connect with the audience and bring something to their day – you never know what’s going on with people and them coming out to your gig may be something they really need in that moment so we’ll be giving everything, every night of the tour. We’ve got a show January 23 at The Borderline in London, love that venue, and the UK tour really begins on May 3 in Manchester at Band On The Wall.

 

What do you think of the current scene in the UK and any advice for those younger than yourself as you had some great success at an early age?

When I first started all this, there was really only myself, Joanne Shaw Taylor and Simon McBride out doing what we do. That was cool, but it’s a lot cooler that there’s more and more bands and artists on the blues-rock scene in the UK now. I never view it as competition and it’s great to see people out playing, the new festivals that have come about as that shows there’s a demand for the music we play and love. As for those starting out, just don’t be afraid to try things. Don’t copy, take influences and mix them up and try and put your own stamp on things.

 

If you could pick any album to have written and made yourself, what would it be?

Oh, that’s tricky. C’mon man, can I have two? Yes? Ah great…it’d have to be “Riding With The Kings” of Eric Clapton and BB King, such a great record and has that crossover feel to it like my new album and Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced”, just because I’d love to know what was going on in his mind when he was writing it!

 

New Album New style The Truth still Laurence Jones

 

Laurence Jones new album “The Truth” is due for release Friday, March 9th 2018. Tour dates and ticket links can be found below and pre-order “The Truth” 

Just a Click away

Line-up touring The Truth Tour 2018:-

Laurence Jones (Vocals, Guitar)
Bennett Holland (Keyboards, Backing Vocals)
Phil Wilson (Drums, Percussion)
Greg Smith (Bass Guitar)

Planet Rock presents
LAURENCE JONES –  “THE TRUTH 2018 UK TOUR”
All Tickets: £15.00

London, Borderline – Tuesday 23 January

Book Online: Gig Cartel; See Tickets
24 HR Box Office: 0844 478 0898
Ticket Hotline: 0844 847 1678

Manchester, Band on the Wall – Thursday 3 May

Book Online:  GigCartel; Ticketline
24 HR Box Office: 0844 478 0898
Venue Tel: 0161 834 1786

Leamington Spa, Zephyr Lounge – Friday 4 May

24 HR Box Office: 0844 478 0898 – Venue Tel: 01926 311 311
Book Online: Gig Cartel or Eventbrite


Southampton Talking Heads – Saturday 5 May

Book Online: Gig Cartel  – Venue Tel: 02380 361 970


Birmingham, Hare & Hounds – Thursday 10 May

Book Online: Gig Cartel 24 HR Box Office: 0844 478 0898
Venue Tel: 0121 444 2081

Nottingham, The Bodega – Friday 11 May

Book Online: Gig Cartel or Alttickets

24 HR Box Office: 0844 478 0898 – Venue Box Office: 0115 896 4456

York, Fulford Arms – Saturday 12 May

Book Online: Gig Cartel 24 HR Box Office: 0844 478 0898
Venue Tel: 01904 620 410

Newcastle, The Cluny – Sunday 13 May

Book Online: Gig Cartel or See Tickets

24 HR Box Office: 0844 478 0898 – Venue Tel: 0191 230 4474

 

Laurence Jones has built his reputation in the studio and playing live check out his discography 

Albums in BOLD checkout Bluesdoodles review.

Discography

The Truth (2018)
Take Me High(2016)
What’s It Gonna Be (2015)
Temptation (2014)
Blues Caravan (2014)
Thunder In The Sky (2012)

Laurence Jones speaks the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

 

In Conversation Raging Fire Blues with Alastair Greene

In Conversation Raging Fire Blues with Alastair GreeneIn Conversation Raging Fire Blues with Alastair Greene

By Wes O’Neill

Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Alastair Greene has been a mainstay of the Southern California USA music scene for over 2 decades. Alastair has recently embarked upon a safe bet, even though he doesn’t play slot machines…but we’ll get into gambling later. A new chapter in his career with the release of his solo record “Dream Train” after many years playing with the highly revered Alan Parsons. Alastair has opened shows for many Bluesdoodles favourites in The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Robin Trower, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Lonnie Brooks, Jonny Lang, Joe Bonamassa…anyone who is any good is busy right?

Alastair certainly is both but took the time out for me to call amidst the recent raging California fires to chat about his latest release “Dream Train”…

 

“Dream Train” was released in October and has been really well received – what’s the thinking behind the album and why are you doing this solo now?

I’ve had my band for a long time now and have previously put out a handful of records. I played with Alan Parsons for like 7 years but knew that would come to an end at some point as either Alan would retire or I’d finally figure out it was time for me to leave and launch my own solo career. The album is really me swinging for the fences, trying to make the best album that I could, not that you don’t try for that on every record, but it’s a really important record for me. Writing wise I love the blues and I’m a huge fan of all its tangents. I wanna make everyone happy, I guess we all do deep down, and I have a lot of friends in the traditional blues world that I’ve played with and I can get kinda close to that way of playing/singing/writing but my strengths lie in where things start to rock. It really goes back to a lot of my favourite stuff in Cream, early Jeff Beck Group, early ZZ Top and I love to combine what I dig about the blues in its perceived simplicity as far as the chordal structure goes and then mix in other influences. I grew up listening to Mom’s record collection like Stevie Wonder and The Beatles which is a totally different kind of way of songwriting so that’s had an influence in my combination of the pure blues along with stylised hooks, riffs and melodies. It’s not that I think that the traditional blues is limiting by any means, it’s just that there are guys who are doing it so well so on this record I really wanted to embrace what my strengths are as a writer, a player and a singer.

 

On the note of writing, did you dig deep into your own life or are you writing about other people, places and times?

Yeah, you know somebody asked me that the other day and the two most personal songs are the two instrumentals. The acoustic one “A Song for Rufus” is about one of our cats that ran off and that was wrote at the last minute. The other one in “Iowa” is dedicated to my Grandmother who lived there and where my Dad spent a lot of his youth. Writing lyrics for me is always a thing in that I kinda want them to be something that people can relate to and not be too personal as you might lose people where they can’t connect with it as it’s hidden away, you know like an in joke no one gets. Sure, you want to write about things that are close to you but you also want to entertain people so it’s a fine line to walk when writing.

I find that I’m an observer of things; I’ll watch people, watch the news and I’ve spent the majority of my adult life in bars and clubs around the country playing so I’ve seen a bunch of stuff. “Down to Memphis” was written in a cab going from the hotel to the airport where the cab driver started talking, telling me his life story so I just got out my phone and started writing it down, maybe he needs a royalty payment for it! Another one is “Big Bad Wolf” about a girl who makes poor decisions in her life but who eventually finds a friend who helps her is more of a story than an observation but there are people out there like it for sure.

The title track is the quickest song I’ve ever written and it’s a proclamation, a mantra in a way, of me re-committing to my solo career. The opening lyric “I never was a gamblin’ man, unless you count what’s in my hands” is me saying this is who I am and I’m gambling with my life.

 

The renowned producer David Z, what did he bring to the party?

The guys who engineered my last records I always thought of as my co-producers but this was the first time I’ve had an out-and-out producer. I demoed most of the album at home and had a bunch of them where I would send them to David and we would tear them apart and narrow it down to the 12 that would be on the record, not record 16 and then pick which ones but just focus on the ones that really count. What’s cool about Davis is that he’s really easy-going in the studio and he’d have all these subtle ideas about singing, guitar tones and he was the one who brought in the Billy Gibbons cover “Nome Zayne”. He had a load of demos from Billy, we went through them, picked it and David emailed Billy’s people and got permission for us to record it, it’s such a cool song man and people are digging it. An attraction to David was definitely knowing not how many people he had worked with, but who he had worked with which was very validating to me to work with someone like that. There were a few things that we would disagree on a little bit here and there but there was never any friction so I was really able to trust him and my instincts with how the songs were arranged and performed. Ultimately it was cool to have someone else in the room to ask “Good or bad?” and nine times out of ten it was “Yeah, that’s good, let’s keep going!”

That good eh, must have been a breeze tracking the album?

This record was really varied in its recording styles. My last album “Trouble at Your Door” was mostly tracked live then vocals added afterwards and the album before that “Through the Rain” was really put together piece by piece – get the drums down, then add the bass, then the guitar so not as live at all. This record was a combination of styles, for the most part, it’s tracked live but like I said I had demoed most of the album at home here on Logic and there were a few things from the demos that we flew in ‘cos I knew I wasn’t gonna get them any better in the studio like the guitar solo on “Big Bad Wolf” – that’s a plugin right there man and you wouldn’t be able to tell there’s no amp. As you said, there’ll be some purists who won’t like that but you know, they’re welcome to feel that way if they guessed it was a plugin in the first place that it was a solo recorded in my bedroom barefoot and wearing jeans and tee-shirt! I do think there’s something to be said for being in a room with everyone, all the gear and recording live but when the moment gets you, you have to take it. My wife and I recently watched the Tom Petty documentary which is really cool, and there’s a moment where he’s talking about the recording process and what matters is the end result and how you get it. You’re not on stage you’re not in front of people, come to the show for that but in the studio, you are really making this piece of art that’s going to listened to time and time again so it has to be as good as you can get it. With the special guests (Walter Trout, Mike Zito) on this record, technology affords us the ability to fly things in where it’s not possible due to people’s busy schedules to hook up.

 

There’s a pallet of tones on the record, so for the guitar geeks out there – what was your rig, guitars and effects used?

I’ve had a really good relationship with Hughes and Kettner amplifiers for a few years now, I guess you could say I’m an endorsee of them, so I always had two amps going as well as a direct into the desk in case the event arose where we would want to use a plug-in of some kind. For the heavier stuff, the primary amps were a H&K Tubemeister 36 through a 4 x 12 cabinet with me plugged into a splitter box with one in the vboard and one to the amp bypassing all my effects pedals. The other would go into my pedal board and into an H&K Puretone which is more a real clean amp, a lot of clean headroom and that works really well with pedals. The primary gain/distortion for that was an Xotic AC Booster and a friend of mine makes pedals so I used one of his which I think he calls “Badness” which is a clean boost and a Crybaby Wah Wah. For some of the cleaner tones, we used a ‘72 Super Reverb which has been kinda modded and a Fender Deluxe Reverb. We’d really just mix and match depending on what felt and sounded right for the song. As far as guitars wise, I’m pretty much a Gibson guy but I also have this Musicman Steve Morse guitar. I used a Gibson 335 on the songs that, I wouldn’t say traditional blues, but the ones that lean a bit more that way. A Les Paul is my main guitar, particularly coming out of Alan’s band and that’s pretty much it. There were a couple of random overdubs where I used some guitars that were in the studio – I think I used a Telecaster on some part somewhere, quite simple really but I guess when you see pictures of it all, it’s a lot of gear!

 

You’ve played with a lot of great bands and artists (Joe Bonamassa, Jonny Lang, The Fabulous Thunderbirds to name a few) over the years – what have you learnt from those experiences?

I think that when you see people that are successful and doing it at a high level (I consider playing with Alan Parsons a high level), that it’s easy to kind of forget the big picture sometimes if you’re playing what you guys refer to as pub gigs – that it’s really regardless of where you’re playing to be professional. Have your songs rehearsed well, have a set list thought out…which I don’t always do mind as if it’s a long gig I’ll read the audience and see what’s going to dictate tempo and dynamic of the show. Any time you’re up in front of people on a big stage where they’ve paid their hard-earned dollars to come and see you, you have to be on it 100%. It is tough with the amount of work you have to do as a working musician and there’ll be some as you say that treat smaller gigs on a local scene as a throwaway thing, an excuse to practice, but it is easy to get burnt out and lose focus so you have to be mindful of that as people will be able to tell. I saw Joe Bonamassa play a couple of months ago…he invited me to come down and hang out, take a look at his amps and all and it was nice that he knew who I was and what I’m doing…he was running late but he took the time to call me to let me know. That sounds like a small thing, but that’s professional. Joe gets a bad rap from some of the more traditional blues guys but everybody has a different path and some will resent popularity and commercial success. There’s a lot of guys out there working their asses off that aren’t getting the same kind of success, not getting the break, tours or whatever and there becomes a kind of psychological game with the headspace that you’re in and the expectations that you have. You think 1+1+1=3 in the music business, then you’re wrong! Going back to your question, you gotta have good songs, good players and you gotta get up there and kick ass. Sure there are other factors like how much money, who you know and so on but that’s where it’s gotta start from…kicking ass.

 

So, there’ll be Alastair Greene ass kickings for all in 2018?

In the nicest possible way, for sure! Hahaa! Everything that I’m doing right now is around promoting “Dream Train”, to raise awareness of the band, the album and playing shows. We’re looking at recording a live record and maybe put that out later next year. I’m always writing and so I’m already thinking about the next album for in a couple of years’ time! I toured a lot in Germany when I was playing in Alan Parsons band but it’s really England where a lot of my musical roots come from. I’d love to come over to England and kick some ass in your backyard…

 

In Conversation Raging Fire Blues with Alastair Greene, Bluesdoodles was delighted to have had the opportunity. Copyright and our thanks for fabulous photographs to photographer Amanda Peacock.  Bluesdoodles review of Dream Train coming soon…

 

 

In Conversation Raging Fire Blues with Alastair Greene

 

 

Advent Day 18 What Bluesdoodles Talked about in 2017

Advent Day 18 What Bluesdoodles Talked about in 2017

Throughout 2017 Bluesdoodles has had the opportunity to talk to some wonderful musicians. Adding to the excitement We now have Wes O’Neill who will continue throughout out 2018 bringing you insightful interviews; Liz will be adding some as well. Bluesdoodles giving you an inside view of the artists we love to hear play live and recorded. Everyone at Bluesdoodles thanks, to the PR and Record Companies and most of all our gratitude to all the artists for their valuable time and willingness to answer the questions.
Bluesdoodles discussed, new albums, debut Albums, first Headliner Tour and what makes a great song.  Explore the thirty conversations, listen and buy the music and see artist live where and whenever possible

Now to explore our conversations 2017!

Alastair Greene

Chantel McGregor

Jack J. Hutchinson

Dan Reed – Dan Reed Network

Fabrizio Grossie – Supersonic Blues Machine

Brian Downey – Alive and Dangerous

Stevie Westwood – Bad Touch

JW Jones

Mollie Marriott

Rebecca Downes

SIMO

Erja Lytinnen

Five Bands talking about UK Blues Challenge (LaVendore Rogue – Elles BaileyRobert J HunterZoe Schwarz Blue CommotionRainbreakers)

Alan Nimmo – King King

A Thousand Horses

Ray Dorsett – Aka Mungo Jerry

Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Feargal Sharkey

Sonny Landreth

Jared James Nichols

Wilko Johnson

Dan Patlansky

Sari Schorr

Ash Wilson

Husky Tones

Ronnie Baker Brooks

Danny Core – The Broken Witt Rebels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dark and Light Sides of Chantel McGregor

The Dark and Light Sides of Chantel McGregor

By Wes O’Neill

There simply is not enough women guitarists that get the same acclaim that their male counterparts do and even when it’s deserved. It’s a male-dominated world and something needs to change – doors need to be kicked in by ladies with amps cranked up and playing that can go from a scream to a whisper with just as much force and subtlety.

Fortunately, there are players that can hold their own with the “big boys” in Samantha Fish, Nita Strauss, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Orianthi and others…along with Chantel McGregor. There’s no top of the guitar magazine polls here, ladies doing their thing and damn well at that.

One of my guitar students, a young lady in fact, when I first asked her a couple of years ago what she wanted to get out of learning excitedly proclaimed “I wanna learn to shred and not just play to typecast in acoustic songs or on a fucking ukulele.”. That brought warm feelings to my heart and a sense of hope…

Chantel McGregor is such a lady to inspire such aspirations that are not beyond reach with self-belief and dedication. Ahead of playing a blistering show at The Tunnels Bristol, we sat down with Chantel for what’s been happening, her advice on being a woman in what some archaically view as a man’s world and what’s coming next. It’s about to get dark but with a light side also…

 

It’s been a couple of years since your last album “Lose Control” What have you been up to?

We’ve been on tour for 2 years since the release of “Lose Control”. It’s been constant, we’ve played in a whole load of countries in Europe, we’ve just got back from 3 weeks in Germany in fact, so it’s been tricky to get time to do another album. But…that’s now sort of in the process of coming to a head with writing nearly done and us heading into the studio in the next few months to get that down and releasing it hopefully next summer.

 

“Lose Control” was quite gothic, taking inspiration from a variety of sources you were in to at the time. What kind of musical direction are you taking this time?

It’s dark. Darker than before, in the way that it’s more personal than the last one. The last one was southern USA gothic themed, dark but not personal in any way that I wrote about dark things from my life – I’ve now been doing that. It’s a bit of a personal trip and a gamble as I’m really trying to dig deep with the emotions I have and stories to tell, it’s quite hard, to be honest with you.

 

Are you finding that’s helping you come to terms, and not to pry, with whatever has gone in your life?

No! Hahaha! No, it’s horrible! It’s like everything that I’ve put into a box, you know every bad relationship, every self-doubt, every moment that hasn’t been right all coming at me at once. Opening that box opens old wounds and it’s like ‘Oh my God, why I am trying to sing, play and write about this kind of stuff, why didn’t I just leave it be, why did I think of doing this?’.

 

In that case, what’s the idea behind putting yourself through that instead of writing in a third person or about other things?

As in taking the easy option? I don’t know, ‘cos I’m stupid or something! Seriously though, I think I’m at that point where I should really write about something that is really my own with my own feelings and emotions rather than relying upon other peoples. It’s easier to write songs about other things and other people than it is about yourself. When you’ve locked emotions away, revisiting them is hard but I did feel that I needed to do that as you know, we all have to do it at some point really. Either that or I’m just a bit sadistic, masochistic…or just weird!

 

How is this going to come through on the new album, in the guitar or in the lyrics?

Probably more towards in the lyrics as the music bit with the riffs, changes, grooves and all that isn’t really difficult for me to play. If I’m writing about a telly show, then it’s easy as you’re not digging deep, but when it comes to writing about how a relationship ended and how it’s made you feel then it’s really tricky.

 

As you mentioned, you’re looking at a summer release (it’ll be a dark summer by the sounds of it!), any specifics on production you have in mind that you can share with us?

Well, assuming everything runs to plan, but in my world, you never know, but yes, summer is slated for it. Production wise we’ll be down to London probably, the same producer that I use as it always seems to work out with him and he’s great…probably just that. We’ll have to see what we come out with when tracking, and that’s all you’re going to get on that for now!

 

Moving on from the new album, how important do you think music education is or are there other routes that you can take learning and playing?

I started playing when I was 3 and started having lessons when I was 7 until I was 16 and then I went on to do a degree in music a bit after that. To be honest with you, most of the things I have learnt, the really valuable and meaningful things have been from improvisation and jamming around with people more than the strict educational side of it. Lessons are good though, as long as you’re getting something out of it and always. It’s important to have the educational side of it in some ways but I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone.

 

Being a woman in the guitar world, what would be your advice be to other women playing guitar or thinking of doing so and to those in bands already?

For me, I think, and it’s taken me all this time to get to this point where I realise I’ve probably spent years wasting time being fragile and worrying about what people think…You know, all the stupid stuff like what do people think, how am I perceived, do they really care, do they like my playing, how I look, my singing, are they just here ‘cos I’m a girl, what are they saying in the bar after…all that rubbish. I’m now at a point where I can stop worrying about what other people think and for women that’s essential. Not that blokes don’t have feelings and all, but for women we can be a bit more sensitive than men and we do bother about what people think of us whether that’s image or musicianship, and we spend so much time thinking about it, tearing your life and thoughts up that you end up not concentrating on what you love doing. You need to get strong, really quickly and just sort of say “Stuff everyone else, I’m gonna do what I want to do and I’m going to enjoy it”. That’s the hardest bit – it’s not learning the scales, chords and how to play, it’s having strength in who you are and what you do being a female in the music industry.

 

Wes, thanks to Victoria Tyrer for helping put this together for Bluesdoodles

 

Bluesdoodles Review of Lose Control – HERE