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

 

Jack J Hutchinson Talking To Wes About Paint No Fiction

Jack J Hutchinson Talking To Wes About Paint No Fiction

Jack J Hutchinson Talking To Wes About Paint No Fiction

 

BD: Very excited to be posting the first, of many planned interviews from Wes O’Neill who is working with Liz to get behind the music, albums and artists that Bluesdoodles loves to share. Wes based in Bristol will bring new angles and approaches and his enthusiasm and love for music that bends the Blues.

In his first interview talking to Jack J Hutchinson, he gets behind the songs shaping his new album Paint No Fiction.

 

 

As Wes says: “Paint No Fiction” is the cracking new release from Jack J Hutchinson, an album full of quality songwriting, sludgy bluesy guitar and you can read our review here (insert link). We caught up with Jack for a talk through the album, breaking it down track by track ahead of his album launch party at Ain’t Nothin But Soho, London on December 8th, 2018…

Read on and find out Jack’s intriguing thoughts as Jack J Hutchinson Talking To Wes About Paint No Fiction

Deal with the Devil
This was actually the last song recorded. I had 12 songs ready to go but none of them felt like the opener in that you want a kick-ass rock tune to get the record in the right groove and then build from there. I wrote this riff at 2 AM in the morning in Moscow, Russia after I had played this great sold out show and been drinking whisky with the guys I was playing with. The lyrics are kind of political which is different for me as I usually write about falling in and out love! It was kind of strange being in Russia around the time of the US presidential election what with all the Trump and Putin nonsense going on so it felt right to address that in a kind of Black Crowes/Blackberry Smoke meets Rival Sons type jam. Actually, this is my favourite song on the record and I love playing it live.

Written In Stone
Written In Stone is supposed to sound like Crazy Horse as I was listening to a lot of Neil Young, I’m a massive fan of all his work solo and with various bands and have probably listened to his records more than any other band or artist. There’s a lot of tracks on his latest album which has all these slow and sludgy riffs so I took that idea with fuzz guitars but mixed it with the vocals with a bunch of harmonies and a really punchy chorus. Somebody told me that the melody in the chorus reminded them of Tina Turner, which I’m totally cool with, I’ll take that! It’s a personal song, there’s a lot of personal stuff on this record and that comes through. The guitar solo on this one is a bit of change for me in that I really focused on the melody instead of just fucking hammering at the guitar, which is fun but wasn’t the right approach for this album and really tried to write memorable solo’s like my hero’s Neil Young, George Harrison – his work was definitely a reference point for me along with Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti. Again, it’s a cool song to play live.

Hip Slickin’
I think this tune is really great in terms of the riffs, you say it has a swagger to it which is right as it’s about someone who is drinking too much and hasn’t got a handle on their life. The riffs really kind of represent the lyrics of someone who’s a bit too pissed in a bar, acting like a complete cock – we all know someone like that eh?

Hold Me Close
The thought with ‘Hold Me Close’, in terms of the track listing, is that I wanted 3 really in your face openers and then to change the vibe a little bit and take people to a different place. I thought a lot about the song sequencing on this album, I wanted to take the listener on a journey, really tell a story and let them pick out their moments in their lives with it. When I wrote this track it sounded a bit like Ryan Adams to me, like his records Heartbreaker and Gold, and that really inspired me as I make a lot of really loud blues rock records, but this just dials it back and is heartfelt. It has real melody, I had to actually sing the thing instead of banging the lyrics out. It was a tough one to record in that it had to be absolutely right as it’s very personal to me, it took a bunch of takes for the vocals, unlike some others.

Cut The Noose
Recorded late at night this was, with me drinking whisky tracking the vocals, as I wanted to capture that real smoky late night blues joint feel. I’m really into the Chicago blues thing and there’s a lot of references in this track to blues artists that I love – a bit of Peter Green feel in the solo, the keys were inspired by BB King Live at The Regal and it’s the closest to traditional blues you’ll get on the album. Like all of the tracks, I didn’t force anything out, it was all just what I was writing at the time as when creativity hits you, you keep at it. Yes, I’ve already got a bunch of songs for the next album!

Set Your Heart For The Sun
That’s a bit of a bizarre tune if I’m honest with you. I wrote that for another record with The Boom Boom Brotherhood which has the same title but it didn’t fit on that record, it just felt a bit too poppy for it so held it back and re-recorded it for this album. There was a point where I was a bit unsure about it like it sounded like The Magic Numbers or something, but the other guys in the band really dug it. It’s good having this at the midpoint as it really breaks the record up, telling the story of one half and setting up the next. It’s really a cool 2-minute track, light-hearted and has got a really cool psychedelic middle section…if I could change one thing about this album it would be that middle section in that it could have gone on for 15 minutes in a totally cool Pink Floyd kinda way.

Rattlesnake Woman
I released this as the first single and people are really digging it. It’s a heavy fucker of a tune and to play it live is really cool where I can really let loose on the vocal. This one will definitely be in the set at my album launch party on Friday, December 5th at one of my favourite venues Ain’t Nothin’ But in Soho, London. It’s an early start at 6:30 PM so make sure you’re down for that. I wanted to have an early gig, with lots of my friends playing in a last waltz style so then I could hang out with my mates and celebrate drinking whisky – there was a lot of whisky drunk making this album! My mate Mike Ross came in and played on this song and there’s this dual guitar solo on it which is wicked. I love playing with Mike so being able to play off of each other and get it on a record is really special.

Skin And Bone
Do you know what? I didn’t even realise there’s a Foo Fighters song called that let alone a whole acoustic album! I’d like to say it’s an intentional tip of the hat to the Foo’s but it’s not and it certainly doesn’t sound like them! It’s a nice little acoustic blues ditty. There’s some that you write that are so personal, you’re thinking about stuff that has happened to you and you try to encapsulate that, but with Skin And Bone, I’m happy to admit that the lyrics are a bit throw-away. They sound cool though and their fun to sing – not every song has to be an In My Life by The Beatles, you just gotta have fun with songs sometimes, like you can also have your I Am The Walrus.

I Got Your Number
I recorded this for an album before and I hate the way it sounded, it didn’t come out right, not what I was looking for at all so I saw this as a good chance to put it right. One of my good pals Big Boy Bloater who I’ve played with, and drunk a lot with, over the years means a great deal to me and if I could describe this song as a tribute to anyone, it would be to him. It’s a re-recording of one of my songs in an acoustic style of Big Boy Bloater. He’s a great dude and been a massive influence on my career – I tell you what, my voice was fucked after trying to sing like him!

Send Me A Signal
Send Me A Signal is the EXACT opposite to my throwaway lyrics from Skin And Bone. This was written about a year ago when there was a lot of shit going on in my personal life that was very upsetting for me and those close to me, Send Me A Signal really addresses that and deals with it. Writing this over breakfast at 7:30 in the morning, just playing around on an acoustic where I found the melody line and the lyrics got really personal. It’s weird as I find this one quite hard to play live with the emotions it stirs up. Part of the idea for this record was bring a lot of my friends to guest on songs with a chap called Stuart Moore who played the violin on this. That really brought it to life and brought an extra emotional feel to it.

Hard Right In My Dreams
I referenced George Harrison earlier and this was very Beatles like in my head when I wrote it, particularly the guitar parts with a bit of a Bowie vibe mixed in. A bit like Set Your Heart For The Sun in that I was quite unsure about it, but everyone who’s heard the album keeps asking me why I didn’t track this at 2 or 3 as they’re really digging it. I love records that close on a really strong tune and this has a feel to it here it makes you want to hear more I think, a good bookend but leaves a bit of a question mark. It’ll be tricky to play live as there are 4 or 5 guitar harmonies in it… I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll put the CD on, press play and fuck off for 5 minutes to the bar for a drink as Neil Young doesn’t use a loop pedal, so why the fuck should I?!

Jack J Hutchinson Talking To Wes About Paint No Fiction

Fabrizio Grossi Talking Music Friends and Californisoul

Fabrizio Grossi Talking Music Friends and CalifornisoulIn Conversation with Bluesdoodles

Fabrizio Grossi Talking About Music Friends and Californisoul

 

 

 

BD: I was delighted when Mascot Label Group sent me a review copy of your new album Californisoul and the opportunity to find out you the band, influences and lots more. Before we talk about Californisoul and the band lets rewind to your early days

BD: What were your first musical influences growing up in Italy?
FG:
My Family was not a musical family. Not much excitement musically in Italy in the late 60’s/early 70’s. Italy was traumatized due to the lost years due to terrorism. The bands I liked did not come to Italy so had to travel to France or Switzerland to see rock music live. My Mum did like music on the radio. The first 45 rpm record I was given two music records Beatles Ob La Di and Rolling Stones the kind of music being played on the radio. I have always been attracted to black music, I couldn’t understand the words as I had no English but felt it I was exposed to the music and did not realise that until recently. My Biological Mum died when I was ten and went to live with an Aunt. My Mum did love music and that was where I was first exposed to guitar driven music.  I was into the Beatles they are still my favourite band. There are a bunch of other bands that I love especially English Bands like Pink Floyd, T. Rex; and Procol Harum. When I first heard AC/DC and Queen it was like WOW! It was a shock I remember. I also loved old style black music and Motown like Marvin Gaye. I came to the UK in 1993, it was common for children to stay with family, the older cousins took me to Castle Donington it was my first encounter with a large festival seeing Whitesnake with Bernie Marsden. It was amazing I was moved as the whole park was muddy and loud then the change in atmosphere with Ain’t No Love in the Heart of The City as we all became chilled. It was a supreme moment. The first seed was planted that I wanted to be a musician. It was the impact of how one song changed the mood of thousands of people a few months later I saw the last concert of Queen played in Madrid. I walked out I knew what I wanted to be.

BD: What made you decide on the playing the Bass guitar?
FG: I started off playing the guitar when in junior high in Milan. My Uncle wanted me to play the piano. The guys on T.V were playing the guitars all the kids wanted to play the guitar. I moved back to Milan in high school I played in a couple of bands with friends. Most of us wanted to play the guitar. I had a cheap electric guitar to keep up with my friends. I was the worst guitar player so they said you should play bass. I was told it was like a guitar but with only 4 strings. I gave up the guitar, I was getting ahead playing the bass.

BD: How would you define the Blues yourself and the Supersonic Blues Machine?
FG: Wow! That is a question! Firstly, blues is a style of music, an attitude with a legacy. Artists playing the blues have to be present in the music putting in a sense of the history, blues man is not because you play the guitar. Blues is real music from the heart express music as a documentary of a story; it is a state of mind. Blues is American and is the Yin to Country music Yang. Both out of the same place in the USA country for white folk and blues for black folk. Blues allows for great interaction on an artistic level. Blues are the cultural lament of black people up to the fifties and sixties. With the rise of the civil rights, movement times changed. I feel that at the end of the day we are all human feeling the same things, want better relationships, whatever our birth, race or heritage. Blues has spread to a wider audience with the British explosion, Brian Jones, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Greg Allman and others a hundred years since the inception the blues is being played, Blues is music being played from the heart.

BD: At the heart of Supersonic Blues Machine is a trio yourself, Lance Lopez and Kenny Aronoff. How did you get together? On this and your debut album, you had guests what is the deciding factor in choosing them?
FG: We are part of a music community full of musicians who are friends. We did not want to be restricted by the  ‘boss’ to be more open. We have played at festivals including Hells Fest and Ramblin’ Man. Many people buy tickets a year in advance they go for a day or more to be surrounded by good people, friends and good music the festivals have established their credentials as the place to go and hear some bad-ass music. The principle behind the band is we will be touring playing like a jam band from ‘70’s playing the music we liked.  Played through 1996/97 and then 2001 birth of my daughter, I wanted to be around so she remembered she had a Dad. Being on the road was not for me and started to do lots of studio work.  Kenny and I became good friends in the studio playing together continuing the jamming experience. I was really busy with the band Starbreakers, and working with Toto one of the best bands around, Steve Vai and more which is why in music we are one big family of friends. Then Billy Gibbons called me one night asked me what I was doing as he was in town. He had an idea for a song which we are trying to put together for a whiskey commercial I have a great idea for a song and would like to co-write it with me so I said Yes! End of the day working together we had the song Running Whiskey from our first record. Then Billy’s manager called some good and bad news. Good news can clear the song but bad news can’t use for the advert. So we needed to find a home for this song – write more songs and start a band and that is what I did and Supersonic talked with Warren Haynes after the show. So said Gibbons was involved and Warren said yea what is going on.  So explained looking to play very loose as the end ‘60’s troubadour. Sounds fantastic count me in and here was the second recruit… So the musicians involved kept evolving so it was a group of friends that wanted to get involved. The core of the band is the three of us with the guests’ involvement very casual, the aim to create exciting music.  The first album West Of Flushing South Of Frisco, I was surprised how well it was received, we were delighted with the album created interest and a buzz. The project involves lots of friends, so we cannot do as many live shows when we do they are fun.  The idea is to have a Grateful Dead approach adding our friends to play some of their songs as well. What we want is people to experience a fun vibe a fresh approach free and not so structured.

BD: The title of your latest album Californisoul is interesting how did it come about? And is there any particular meaning to the word you have created?
FG: California is not just a State of USA. California is an attitude state of mind, a way of life, a sound and feel. A philosophy living California Style. The album is capturing the music we grew up on in the ‘60’s & ‘70’s. Mama & Papa’s, Janis Joplin, Santana. Jimi Hendrix, BB King etc… played on the radio. The big blues, soul sound of the past all that music surrounding the summer of love is tangible throughout the Cali spirit/soul. Radio had a big impact as always driving around the state everyone embraces that feel. We are like a family both Robben Ford and Steve Lukather are from California   Lots of the songs came out of my vault some that didn’t make West Of Flushing they were all looking for a common thread a Californisoul was the place they belonged.  The songs, lyrics and sound of the late sixties & seventies are still applicable for today. Standards have not moved forward despite lots of technology humanity has not moved forward, we still have the same issues wars, not Vietnam but around the world, problems with racism, poverty, social problems and ecological disasters. So the name is capturing the sound and philosophy we are addressing.

BD: I have always been interested in the lyrics of a song. Californisoul Where do you get your inspiration for your songwriting?
FG:  Songs are important it is why we like these songs. It is essential to produce real art, real music, real lyrics found in all the best art/culture and movies the times dictate the issues that art is addressing.

When I write I don’t have an inner alarm clock the songs come to me from other lyrics, experiences and improvising with friends. Many of the tracks have been sitting waiting for this album.  The album embraces message from back in the day those being delivered by Bob Marley/John Lennon. Pretty much wanted to record an album that was the ideal soundtrack for a road trip.  The lyrics and the melodies as very natural and organic and pull out what we want to capture on Californisoul.

BD: I am sure you have many plans for 2018 and beyond for the band do you plan to tour UK and Europe?
FG: We are planning to do shows in 2018. Whenever we have the opportunity to take Supersonic Blues Machine out we will. Playing live is fun and we love to jam and create the vibe that is fun for audiences.

 

Fabrizio Grossi Talking Music Friends and Californisoul

 

Album Review of Claifornisoul HERE

Stevie Westwood Talking About Bad Touch Headline Tour

Stevie Westwood Talking About Bad Touch Headline Tour

Stevie Westwood Talking About Bad Touch Headline Tour

 

 

BD: Thank you for taking time to talk to Bluesdoodles again before you head out on a headline tour with Mollie Marriott, Celebrating the tour you have just released a video with the download available from Monday 23rd October.  The number Baby Get It On sounds fab love the inclusion of Mollie’s vocals.  Let’s start off with how did you decide on this Tina Turner Classic?
SW: We wanted a new number to promote the tour for our first headline tour. Delighted to have the amazing Mollie Marriott as our special guest real privilege she has such an amazing voice. Seeks our guitarist said let’s try this one and he had a cracking arrangement. We demoed it and recorded the number and sent it to Mollie. Mollie liked it as so she came up to the studio and we recorded the video. The whole this was a quick turnaround from Seeks first suggesting Baby Get It On and then half day in the studio recording the number.

 


 

BD: Bad Touch has been touring with some great acts including King King and recently Kentucky Headhunters how does it feel to be Headliners?

SW:  Headlining, yes feel bizarre weird place excited nervous, a good nervous will give chance for fans a chance to come out and support us. We are planning to get everyone who has seen us play live out the nights will be good value for money. Good times to be had. The support from Mollie will be immense. So we are asking everyone who has heard a radio play or seen us supporting some amazing acts, come out and support live music.  We have as everyone keeps saying come a long way in a relatively short time we just now have to keep moving forward.
BD: How do you keep the music contemporary when the influences are clearly out of the 1970’s, that bluesy Southern Rock sound. How do you manage not to be a retro band, but one with a relevance for audiences here and now despite being compared to Black Crowes and others?

SW: Ha! Yes, we do keep getting compared to bands of the ‘70’s. We didn’t go out to do that. Yes, we are all fans of many bands from Lynyrd Skynyrd through to Led Zeppelin. The music we write is what we want to write the music we want to play to audiences. We are also influenced by contemporary bands, including Temperance Movement, The Answer, Rival Sons and Blackberry Smoke. Listening and absorbing music from a variety of bands keeps our finger on the pulse. The truth is Bad Touch sound is the one we have shaped by all the members of the band.  You have to keep going nowadays, writing the music you want to write, Bad Touch are creating a sound that is getting us heard.
BD: Your album Truth Be Told was out last year and has gained you lots of fans with radio airplay. Will we be hearing some new music in the Headline set list?

SW:  Yes thanks to stations like Planet Rock for the support. We have four new songs that will probably be on the new album which we are planning to release in the first half of 2018. It is good to play them live, can see what people think. How audience reacts to them and keeps the set list fresh.  So yes there will be some new music on the set list every night we play.

Check out Tour Venues, Dates and a click away from buying your Ticket  HERE

BD: For people who have missed out on seeing Bad Touch Live how would you describe your sound and live performance. What makes Bad Touch the band to see in 2017.
SW:  Mmmm… honestly that is hard to answer.  None of us has seen ourselves play live or reviewed our shows! What I can say is we play to make people feel good about themselves. We are a feel good Rock N’ Roll Band. We aim to break down the space between band and audiences we want to create that one good party feel. You have reviewed us what do you say?

BD: Ha! That is cheating turning the tables. Yes, feel good music that makes you smile. You certainly are a high energy performers that raise the temperature of any venue.
SW: Glad you have enjoyed the show.

BD: Stevie, you are the vocalist and frontman of Bad Touch share with our readers how you interact with the band.  From your performance on stage, it always appears that you are having fun.
SW:  Truthfully why would we be doing this, playing in a band, if we were not having fun? Without being too pessimistic it is certainly not for the money! As a band, we look at it as we are all brothers together. We all communicate on stage I find a raised eyebrow works well along with a quick word in ears. We do talk to each other between numbers. The fun is doing the numbers different to the studio version, keeping it fresh reacting to the audience building a conversation between the band and the audiences.

BD: Having seen you play live a few times, you always include a couple of covers how do you choose them. Also, will the new single Baby Get It On make an appearance in the forthcoming tour?
SW: Mmm…. playing number live, the stage could be cramped come to a show and find out. Would be fun Mollie is such a great singer full of talent. So may make an appearance. We always have a couple covers up our sleeves, audiences know these songs which is great if it is the first time they are seeing us live, Secondly used to feel up the time of the set if we have run ahead of ourselves, in fact, that is generally the reason why we add them into the set.

BD: The world of music is tough. Bad Touch seems to have an upward trajectory getting your music heard is a challenge and you have had lots of Radio Plays from the album. What impact both positive and negative is of downloads and streaming services such as YouTube, Sound Cloud, Spotify for Bad Touch’s music and getting the sound heard to a wide audience?
SW:
Music business is tough. Thank you, we like to think we are moving upwards long may that continue. I am old fashioned I like to buy the CD. I like building my collection and being able to browse and choose what I am going to play. I cherish what I have bought.  That said I am definitely not poo pooing anyone who listens to their music using streaming services. That said though I do feel that there has been a huge devaluation in the value of music now have the ability to have what you want without paying(or only paying minimal amount) for it. It is very hard, don’t know really we use YouTube and Sound Cloud for our music and it is a way to find music. I do though believe that streaming stops people from having to pay for music if you pay you put more value on the music you are listening to. BD: Read recently that people only listen to few seconds of intro before trying another track. SW: Yes, attention spans are now so short need to catch people attention in first few seconds or they move on. Technology is both amazing and scary everything is available in the instant which definitely has positives and negatives. I still like having my CD’s on a shelf they are always available even when Wi-Fi is down.

 BD: What other plans and excitements have you got planned for 2018 following a very busy 2017?

SW: Taking it as it comes. First priority is the new album follow-up to Truth Be Told. Bookings for 2018 are coming in so we will be keeping getting out there performing in front of audiences.
BD: What was the first album you bought and what is the most recent?

SW: Big Willie Style – Will Smith Like an Arrow by Blackberry Smoke
BD: We asked you your fantasy band when we talked last year so what are you listening to at the moment; whether on the tour bus or relaxing?

SW: Everything and anything. When out on tour we all bring the music we are listening to. We talk about it what we like about it.  All that we listen to sculpt the Bad Touch sound as we get down and write new stuff together. Currently, we have been listening to lots of Country having been on Tour with Kentucky Headhunters. Some great music out there to be discovered.

Bad Touch are:

Stevie Westwood
Rob Glendinning
Daniel ‘Seeks’ Seeking
George Dewry
Michael Bailey

BD: Once again thanks for your time and looking forward to seeing you with Bad Touch and Mollie Marriott at The Tunnels, Bristol

 

High Temperature Conversation With JW Jones

High Temperature Conversation With JW Jones

High Temperature Conversation With JW Jones

BD: I was delighted when I was sent your latest album High Temperature out Friday 20th October 2017 the follow-up to Belmont Boulevard to review.  But first – let’s go back to the early days

 

BD: What were your first musical influences growing up in Ottawa, Ontario?
JWJ:
JWJ: I started out playing drums at 13 years old.  I was into classic rock: Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix etc. As I explored their influences, I discovered blues greats like BB King, Howlin’ Wolf, and Muddy Waters. Then, when I was 15 I saw BB King live in Ottawa. I went to the show as a drummer and left wanting to pick up a guitar.

Growing up in Ottawa, there were a couple of great blues clubs. The Rainbow Bistro is still open, and when I’m in town I play there. Another club, Tucson’s, is closed. I saw tons of great blues bands there when I was younger and became friends with so many of my musical heroes. Most touring blues bands don’t come through Ottawa anymore, other than to perform at the Blues Festival.
When the festival started, it was truly a blues festival. Now it’s more of a general music festival with everyone from Kiss to Lady Gaga. But they still bring in great blues artists like Buddy Guy, Dr John, Luther Allison, The Fabulous Thunderbirds etc.

BD: High Temperature is certainly getting noticed for all the right reasons.  Awards seem to follow your releases including for High Temperature produced by Nashville-based Colin Linden, which recently won “Best Self-Released CD” at the 2017 ‘International Blues Challenge’ (via Blues Foundation in Memphis).

JWJ: It was a huge surprise to be nominated since I had not heard of the category. I thought the International Blues Challenge(IBC) was about performances. I have been a judge at the IBC, which was a great experience. The Ottawa Blues Society approached me saying they wanted to submit High Temperature. Out of 93 entries, I heard I was in the top 5 or 6, which was exciting enough. When they announced that it had won, it was a nice surprise.

BD: Tell us about the making of the album number NINE. BD: The album is full of blues, with the genre being mixed in with other influences including Country, was this due to Nashville-based Colin Linden’s influence?

JWJ: Colin Linden is well-versed in roots music. He was mentored by Howlin’ Wolf, so he has a long history with the blues. He also works on the TV show “Nashville” as the musical director, so he brought a combination of influences to the album.

One song that comes to mind is “Where Do You Think I Was”, which I wrote in drop “D” tuning on guitar at home. I had no idea which way it would go in the studio. When I went in there, the studio musicians played their parts, then vocal harmonies were added. All of a sudden, it sounded like it had a bit of a country tinge to it.
My last two albums were recorded in Nashville with producers. This one with Colin Linden, and my previous album, Belmont Boulevard, with Tom Hambridge. Both producers assumed that the albums would be made using studio musicians. I had to fight to get my own band on a few songs. I believe it is important to have my own touring band on the album because they bring a different approach to the songs. They know blues music well since it is what we play every day on the road.

BD: Does the Title of the album High Temperature have any particular significance?

JWJ: “High Temperature” is a song by Little Walter, which we recorded for the album. I thought it would be a good title for the record because it ties into our live show, which is high energy.

BD: The album is inspirational with the track Who I Am being deeply personal as you share life experiences. Do you find it easy to open up using the power of your lyrics, vocals and guitar?

JWJ: That changed on the last record. Before that, I had not written anything really personal. For Belmont Boulevard, I mentioned to Tom Hambridge that I wanted to write a song about my childhood. He said to do it. Once I did this and got a positive reaction, I felt liberated. So on High Temperature I dug deeper with the song “Who I Am”. It is so moving to get emails from people saying they went through similar experiences. It is a beautiful thing to have your songs appreciated and understood.

BD: I have always been interested in the lyrics of a song. How do you set about writing your music is it words first or sometimes a guitar lick or riff that inspires you?

JWJ: Songs are all individual. Some come all together at once, but that is rare. My brain works in two ways. One side gives me the chord changes, riffs that develop the melody and the other side the words that become the lyric. I then play match-up with the tune to the lyrics to the melodies. It takes a lot of trial and error just have to keep going until it clicks.

 BD: Where do you get your inspiration for your songwriting?

JWJ: Every song is different. Some come together all at once, but that is rare. In my brain, there are two sides to writing a song. One side is the chord changes and riffs. The other side is the words and lyrics. I then have to match the chords with the lyrics and melody. Sometimes I try a few different ideas with the same lyrics. It takes a lot of trial and error, so I just keep at it until it clicks.

BD: Having toured the U.K. for the first time in 2016, long overdue having heard you and the band play in Swansea. You are back in the U.K. in November. With 17 dates will you be touring with the same band?

JWJ: The band is Laura Greenberg on bass, who was on the first U.K. tour and has been in the band for over five years, and we’ve got a great new drummer, Will Laurin. The UK tour last year was my favourite tour to date. I was nervous about stepping into the unknown, but the response was incredible with people travelling miles to see us on multiple shows. We really started to develop a fan base.

Now we are coming back to new towns and venues. We are taking a risk by renting venues, when we normally get paid to play, so we have to sell tickets in advance. On the positive side, there is a huge potential for growth. I would love to make this a regular tour, so we need to get everybody talking about us on social media and building a buzz for the tour. I loved the British experience and I am looking forward to going back.

BD: With new album and touring do you have any exciting plans for 2018 and beyond?

JWJ: My goal is to keep playing festivals, clubs, and theatres. I am also planning a live record for 2018. The last nine albums have been studio recordings, so it will be a first. People have been asking about a live record for years, so I think it’s about time.

BD: If you were putting together the perfect band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing
JWJ:

Drums: Richard Innes
Bass: Larry Taylor / James Jamerson
Guitar: Jimmie Vaughan
Harmonica: Little Walter
Organ: Jimmy Smith
Piano: Chuck Leavell
Vocals: Aretha Franklin / BB King

 

Find out more about JW Jones at – www.jw-jones.com

Read Bluesdoodles Reviews for JW Jones:-

High Temperature –  Review HERE

Beaumont Boulevard –  Review HERE

JW Jones Live in the U.K. HERE

JW Jones 2017 UK Tour Information HERE

 

High Temperature Conversation With JW Jones

 

 

In Conversation Believe What Rebecca Downes Says

In Conversation Believe What Rebecca Downes Says

In Conversation Believe What Rebecca Downes Says

 

 

BD: Hi Rebecca it is great to speak to you. So much has happened since the UKBlues Challenge last year. Live album and so much more.

RD: No problem life is busy and good.

BD: Lots of touring, the band has been busy off the road. Supporting King King and Magnum as well as headline shows and Festivals. So tell us about your experiences on the road.

RD: I love supporting King King. Being around the King King crowds we knew where we are with fans of their blues-infused rock music. I was much more worried about opening for Magnum.  Would the fans like us and go for our music. They loved our music it was the best gig of last year.  The reaction blew me away. I am always nervous when playing as the support band. Magnum must have approved as we are supporting their 2018 show.  Headlining is different. I still worry, always worrying about getting people to them, how to manage the PR. There is a big difference between Europe and UK. In Europe, people go out and see live music all the time whether in the week or weekends and is on later. Life on the road is a bit of a whirlwind really.  For me, I am anxious and nervous. That said I love what I am doing such a privilege to play music. It does have its ups and downs. Music is not the kindest industry in the world. I have to remember that I chose this and get it all into perspective, at the end of the day I am lucky to be doing it. I got great reviews in the early days; that was fab, it is my baby. Then I got one arsey review, it was quite bitchy, no need for that, reviewers can say they don’t like it, not my cup of tea that is fine. I had to learn to leave the negatives behind and move on.

BD: What were your first musical influences growing up in Wolverhampton?
RD:
Through my Mum & Dad, they were older parents and loved swing and jazz. The likes of Ella Fitzgerald; Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Julie Covington, Sammy Davis Jnr, etc. Both of my parents had been to see Ella Fitzgerald before they met so had this is common. Especially female singers of this era were the best of the best. The Carpenters were the most pop Mum listened to. She said to me if you are going to be a singer be like them.  It is the notes, choice of melody, tone, and timing that sets them apart. I know how tricky they are. As a vocal coach people ask me all the time how can I sing like Ella. The key is to have your pitch right. What unbelievable changes she achieves with her voice. Her voice can mimic even the brass section.

BD: There has been lots of Rebecca news. Your exciting trip to the States; will you be touring over there next year.

RD: Firstly, didn’t say I was going being careful as previously had a similar opportunity and it fell through. We were over in the States pitching what we do to a record company, how we can work with them. Before we went out had all new songs demoed and properly recorded with video. Been speaking with them this week so it will be interesting how this pans out – definitely watch this space.  I do lots of the PR & Admin work myself working until 11 pm. Life for a musician isn’t all the fun stuff but have to keep on top of it. Facebook, people put on a comment and they like you to react to it and say something. That takes time. I now try to only open the messages when I have time to answer them.

BD: I have always been interested in the lyrics of a song. Where do you get your inspiration for your songwriting?

RD:  Steve Birkett and I work together we both crossover between lyrics and melodies. Sometimes lyrics come first other times basic riffs sometimes both together. I almost always have a hand in the finished song.  I owe my Ex’s most of my PRS statements much of my inspiration comes from past relationships. Think the new album will see a change. It is true – a happy song cannot be written when sad, you just want to wallow in your misery. Uplifting songs will be on the new album along with those inspired by life experiences.

Some songs write themselves Believe is one I just wrote. It was almost as if I was downloading and I was just the vessel that spat it out it was a bizarre experience.

BD:  You are also in the studio at the moment making a new album. Will Chris Kimsey be involved in the whole album or just the re-mix of Sailing In A Pool Of Tears?

RD: Chris Kimsey is mixing and helping record the new album along with Mark T Stuart who records all our stuff. He is the nicest person he gets what we do. It is not strictly blues he gets where we are going slightly darker, slightly rockier. He is an absolute joy to work with. The new album is going to be released early 2018, the tracks include those we took to the States. It is ready to go now working out the release time, PR loads of things that are all in the pipeline.

BD: What plans have you in the pipeline for rest of 2017 and into 2018??

RD: Rest 2017 we have a headline tour of Germany throughout November and a T.V. show over there. Then back in the U.K. Tenby Blues Festival and King King’s Christmas party which will be fun. Then for 2018 making a video, our own tour of Europe and UK; opening for Magnum and more. It is gigging that keeps me alive. Music is my drug.

BD: What are the Blues or how do you define the Blues the perennial debate?

RD: What does blues mean to me? It is music with an emotional depth. Real blues goes back to the acoustic guitar through to the clean sound of the electric guitar. Today it is more rock than blues. With blues-tinged vocals and guitar with its roots firmly in the blues with other influences layered on top.  Blues is 12-bars why do we want to do it still when the past masters have done it better, the likes of John Lee Hooker and the other greats. Now we take the elements and shaped differently. Norman Beaker once said blues is anything that has got emotional depth. A melody link and a bluesy hook. Sound and guitar doing them as well, like the Blues Band who do the originals so well.

BD: If you were putting together your perfect fantasy band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing
RD:

Vocals: Aretha Franklin
Guitar: Bonnie Raitt
Drums: Dave Grohl
Bass: Kevin McCormick

BD: Thanks for your time Rebecca and in the meantime catch Rebecca Live check out her tour dates HERE and keep listening to her albums they are infectious and will pass the time until her new album in 2018

Bluesdoodles Reviews:-

Be Live – The Leopard says Be Live With Rebecca Downes Rebecca is not defined by the blues but shaped by them with a soulful voice and a stage presence that shines out as wide as her dazzling smile. Rebecca is a singer who loves the stage and the audience loves her back as the music flows and Be Live captures the essence of a Downes live show. Read MORE HERE

Believe  – Believe has Rebecca Downes Singing the Blues …… The album does that crossing genre and with tempos and beats that will appeal far beyond the confines of blues clubs and blues aficionados. Read MORE HERE………

In Conversation Believe What Rebecca Downes Says

 

Q&A Session as we Rise and Shine with SIMO

Q&A Session as we Rise and Shine with SIMO

Q&A Session as we Rise and Shine with SIMO

 

 

BD: Hi JD delighted to have the opportunity to chat with you once again for Bluesdoodles. A year has passed and we have a new album to explore and enjoy Rise and Shine. The follow-up to the acclaimed Let Love Show You The Way. You have certainly gone off on a different journey as we Rise and Shine with SIMO.

JD Simo:  It is always a pleasure to talk with you. On our way to Nashville to Rise & Shine Record release show.

BD: Tell us about the making of Rise and Shine and how the eleven tracks were weaved together as a tour de force?

JD Simo:  Started the concept last year during that ridiculous touring schedule. There was a hint of the direction at the live shows on our last tour especially in the UK. We had so much material and not had time to work on so many songs. The concept came out as we got bored creatively with what we were putting out material wise. We wanted to push the sound by how we view this and push that so we could find a place that felt unfamiliar. That coupled with the determination to be the best we could be through writing and the music. We could have easily gone in and made an album that was familiar. We wanted to craft and make music with a purpose and with a refinement. Using a methodical approach to be the best possible. This takes time and effort and is a bit scary. It is easy to be lazy being tricked by praise and believing what you are telling yourself. That stops creativity.

The nucleus was when we finally got home in January. No shows and a month studio time already blocked off. So we bared down onto the album. It was a lot of hard work. Lots of time spent it was serious and fun definitely not stressful. It was like a good work out working through and feeling good at the end. Every day was a stretch, it took a long time to arrange and work out the songs. How we were going to do it, what the concept was how the track would sound and fit into the album.

Studio time we were there every day with long hours of crafting our music it was good not to have to rush. We had the time to capture a good performance. Sometimes a track took a long time others a lot shorter. It then took two months to mix. Making the album was a marathon rather than a sprint.

Rise and Shine is a piece of work that represents the best of what we are capable of. It feels like our first record.  If it reminds you of other works that is not intentional. In the past it was intentional. Here we said lets deconstruct I am really proud of the result.

 

BD: You have described the sound as Psychedelic Blues, many have fused soul and funk onto the blues base but you have gone one step further for me this is progressive blues, experimental. Why do you describe your music as Psychedelic ?

JD Simo:  What my music ends up being called is terms is meaning less and less to me. It has to be done in the world we live in. It is fun to hear everyone’s take on the music. Everyone has a different take, it is good that they are finding something that resonant.

Psychedelic is another way to say experimental not taking the norm. A lot of elements makes this experimental with different textures and sounds. The record is still Rock n Roll. Trying to push finding inspiring sounds is cool.

 

BD: How did you come up with the jaunty title Rise & Shine almost a pop feel?

JD Simo:  There is a pun in that behind the name is a concept of growth and your inner light/beauty and the ability to convey that. There are miracle themes, spiritual elements. Rising out of whatever you are dealing with. Shine the message is don’t hold it in, it is okay to let your inner self be seen. There were other names considered. In the end we all liked the title it is kind of funny and suited the album..

 

BD: You made the decision to take a month out and producing the album yourself. Did this give you more control combine the feeling of a live show, energy of a jam and the experimental sonic tones all into the same album that makes sense and is never disjointed?

JD Simo:  We had complete control it was incredible. I was astounded that I was given the opportunity, they had faith in me. So I was given the opportunity to see the vision through. We wanted the live energy on each song. They were treated singularly. There were lots of songs that didn’t make it and others were torn apart during pre-production. The aim was that on each song we nailed it, sonically what suited the track. Some link Meditate were laid back, with intense parts felt the track was laid back, not always easy to capture. It was great to have complete control. We took it really seriously there was no messing around.

 

BD: The opening track Return is a sonic assault as you tune in you realise that Return is not return to the same you have gone in a different direction as the band moulds influences from Beck to Prince with deep bass lines, vocals that are beguiling an opening track opening the doors on the new shape of SIMO?

JD Simo:   Once we got to the mixing stage we were fairly methodical as we considered how the album would flow. The choice of opening with Return was to knock you of your balance, a track you would not expect us to do. In the end it felt the best, felt right to start that way.

A lot of thought went into how to sequence the record. We really loved the opening of the record and the rest made sense. Return, was lyrically a good place to start. The songs get more and more persona. They are what JD personally gone through.  Light The Candle starts to gets heavier subject more about the world outside of me and more intense. It was just the way it worked out in the end.

BD: SIMO have been describe your sound as retro but that is for me too easy. Your sound is modern cutting edge how do you manage that?

JD Simo:  Retro is a fair assessment of what we were creating before Rise & Shine. Not indicative of where we are now. We have turned away from retro it is a natural evolution. Where we are getting more genuine and comfortable. It is like not putting on someone else’s cloths. This is what we were doing with the best of intentions before. It is like growing up, at High School you dress like everyone else. You think man I don’t like this shirt I am not going to wear that anymore. Musically it is like that. Retro was a way of exploring a range of influence. Yet we have as many influences that are contemporary, including Alabama Shakes and Wilco we needed to re-group.

BD: Following on from moving on from being Retro, did you use different equipment on Rise and Shine?

JD Simo: Great question. Yes we did use different equipment. Didn’t use anything used on previous albums. It was all stuff I had found myself it was my own equipment. In the past I had used equipment used by people I admire and love used trying to be authentic.

Now I have collected equipment that suits me in fact none of the equipment was used before it was fresh start on Rise & Shine.

BD: The lyrics are often deep, very personal how much have you been influenced by your extensive travels in 2016 and the election of President Trump last November?

JD Simo:  Majority a lot is about me. This is obvious the emotions I have been through and very observational. I was trying to work through stuff I had to deal with myself. I had to face myself.  It is more honest not alluding but very stark, uncomfortable at times to listen to. This was a conscious choice on my part. I know I am a decent musician as a writer I have never forced myself to write as good as I can. It is important to work on writing. It is absolutely the most important thing is the writing. I love writing it helped me to have the confidence to work to be better and better. Focusing as much on writing as being a good musician that is not being neglected though. Just working harder to be as good a writer as I am a good musician. It feels really good.

We had a listening party. A bunch of people came round I felt really uncomfortable, sick to the stomach. It was hard for me to do, listening to the songs. Bringing stuff up not expressed before in front of a group of people. Once I recovered it felt fine through this journey I have become a decent writer I have revealed everything I needed to. Writers like Jeff Buckley, Bob Dylan and Neil Young they do that all the time. I am not comparing myself to them but is sets the bar high to aim for that a better job than I have ever done before.

 BD: Will you be touring Europe with this new exciting album?

JD Simo:  Yes, have a three-week tour of Europe mainly Germany, one night Holland, Belgium and London. Just doing shorter tours, can’t do the 5-6 weeks just too draining for us. Early 2018 will be back in Europe more dates UK and some of the other countries missed including France, Italy, Switzerland and Spain. 2-3 week tours are so much more enjoyable and we are really looking forward to doing them. In fact some of the best gigs we have played have been in London so looking forward to 26th September at the Borderline.

 

BD:   Last time we finished with what your dream band would be this time – what are you listening to and what SIMO track would you liked covered and by whom?

JD Simo:  Without hesitation JD said – D’Angelo to cover I Want Love. That would be pretty sick, pretty incredible and a huge honour. Mind you it would make me never want to do the song every again.

I am a Spotify junkie, I have playlists of all types of stuff. I really am really love Jeff Tweedy solo record with its Meters influence. Also really digging Lily Mae from Nashville, who is on Jack Whites label Third Man. It is folk/country like Gordon Lightfoot. Classic country she is an incredible musician playing fiddle and guitar. Her vocals are unique at times frail sounding like she is crying.

BD: Thank you for your time and looking forward to hearing the new numbers live very soon.

 

Rise and Shine out on Mascot Label Group – out 15th September 2017 

 

Q&A Session as we Rise and Shine with SIMO

Alan Nimmo from King King Talking about Album & Tours

Alan Nimmo from King King Talking about Album & Tours

Alan Nimmo from King King Talking about Album & Tours

BD: Hi Alan, thanks for taking the time to chat about Exile & Grace King King’s new album and tour dates brightening 2018.

Exile and Grace the much-anticipated album is released by Manhaton Records on 6th October 2017.

Their UK tour kicks off at London Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Wednesday 17th January 2018.

Tickets: www.kingking.co.uk/tour

 

Alan Nimmo from King King Talking about Album & ToursBD: Let’s start with Exile and Grace out 6th October on Manhaton Records. The album title feels different from previous titles. What inspired the title Exile & Grace?

AN:  The inspiration behind the album title came from a number of things really but all rolled into one! There is a huge concern that the future of our world and our species is very uncertain! There is so much conflict in the world and the way we treat the planet is a real worry for future generations. So it’s almost like “Exile” and “Grace” are like a yin and yang. We seem to exile the willingness and power to be graceful and live in harmony with one and other.

BD: Having listened to the album a number of times it is definitely rockier and has a cohesive sound. Is this the trajectory that you and King King plan to take the group in the future.

 AN:  It’s never a plan to take the musical style in any direction… it’s simply just how the songs turn out when we write them. I feel as the main songwriter that the more experience I gain from writing, the more relaxed I become and with that relaxation comes the early influences that I was listening to as a young kid.

BD: No title track as such – do you see any particular track as the number that defines the album.

AN: If I had to pick a tune that defined this album I’d probably say it was “Broken” It talks about the things I mentioned earlier about my concerns for our future as a human race.

 BD: Do the tracks have personal meaning and have you a favourite Track?

 AN: Everything I write has personal meaning as I tend to write about things and events that have gone on in my life or they can be subjects that matter to me too. They’re all my favourites!

BD: The first single of the album, (She Don’t) Gimme No Lovin’ has had plenty of radio play and excited the fans. Keeping King King’s profile high while you are off the road. How did you decide on this track to launch the album with its Thunder overtones.

 AN:  It’s great to add depth and real meaning to certain songs throughout an album but just sometimes it’s simply ok to write a quirky tune that still tells a story but doesn’t need to tax the brain too much! We just wanted to have a first single that had an immediate impact on the ears and made you tap your feet! Simple as that!

BD: Before we talk about the 2018 tour dates and beyond.  You must have been heartened by the support and loyalty of your fans who have joined at various points on the King King Musical journey. The fans want to know how your vocal chords are progressing and are you doing what has been ordered staying quiet and resting your voice.

AN: First of all I would just like to thank all of our fabulous fans for the staggering amount of support and love they have shown not only me but to everyone in the band! As you can imagine…this is a very difficult time for me and indeed the boys and I’m glad that we decided to take this time out to get a full recovery and I want everyone to know that I’m working my backside off to get into good health vocally and in every other way!

BD: Let’s talk 2018. UK tour dates kick off at London Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Wednesday 17th January 2018; then four further dates around the U.K. This will certainly start the gigging year on a high for your growing phalanx of loyal King King fans.  This will be the start of Exile & Grace Tour and hearing the tracks we will have time to have learned. Which tracks work particularly well on a live King King set?

AN:  Yes, we’re really looking forward to getting back on the road and playing our UK tour! We’ll be rehearsing for the tour pretty soon and we’ll find out which songs work best live but you can never tell which ones will go down well on a live show until you try them! We will try to choose wisely!

BD: What plans do you and King King have for 2018 and beyond whether playing Rock or blues?

AN: There is a very busy 2018 already shaping up so we just want to keep doing what we do and hope that our fans stay by our side and enjoy the journey with us. There is plenty more for King King to achieve so don’t worry… you’ll be seeing lots of us!

BD: Finally, while you are off the road relaxing! What music are you listening to and giving you inspiration? 

AN: When I’m in the gym or walking in the hills or even out on the motorbike then I tend to listen to everything in my music library… it’s basically on random shuffle all the time so it’s anything from Thunder to Prince to Chris Stapleton to Black Crows to Eric Clapton, Free, Whitesnake, Steve Vai… I could go on all day! I even listen to King King and I also love the “Sky Won’t Fall” album from my big bro!

Alan Nimmo from King King Talking about Album & Tours

 

 

 

A Thousand Horses In Conversation with Bluesdoodles

A Thousand Horses In Conversation with Bluesdoodles

 

A Thousand Horses In Conversation with Bluesdoodles

 

 

BD: I was delighted when Wilful PR sent me a review copy of your new album Bridges and the opportunity to find out yourselves, influence and lots more. When I saw you play live at Rockstock last December for me you were the band of the Saturday night.

A Thousand Horses, have answered the questions as a team hence four bands of fantasy and delight. Read more for an insight into Michael Hobby Lead Vocals; Bill Satcher Lead Guitar,  Zach Brown Guitar and Vocal & Graham Deloach Bass and Vocal

BD: What were your first musical influences growing up?
Thousand Horses:

Graham: I loved all of the classic rock n roll growing up, and still do! Led Zeppelin       is my favorite band of all time
Zach: My parents listened to oldies in the car when I was growing up. The first concert I can remember going to was The Beach Boys out at the lake near our house. I didn’t learn that there was music made after 1970 until a friend played the song Breakfast at Tiffany’s for me when I was 10 years old.
Bill:  The Beatles
Hobby: The Black Crowes

 BD: A Thousand Horses are making an impact, how did you get together and form the band and what is the significance of the name?

Thousand Horses:
Hobby: We formed the band in Nashville in 2010. Bill and I grew up together in Newberry, SC and met when we were 12 and 13 years old in a local music store. Graham is bills cousin so we would all 3 hang out every summer and play music. We formed ATH when we met Zach through a mutual friend in 2010. We named the band after a song we wrote when we formed the title A Thousand Horses.

We all write in the band together, separately, and with other writers here in town. Everyone in the band brings a great deal of creativity to song writing and our sound whether it be lyric, melody, or music, it’s a group thing. You never know where a song can come from or inspiration can spark!

BD: Bridges, is your follow-up album to your success with your debut Southernality last year. Produced by the Band, Corey Crowder & Dann Huff. With many involved in producing the sound who gets the final production say?

Thousand Horses:
Bill: Well, Corey Crowder and Dann Huff both really wanted to make the best A Thousand Horses record that we could, so at the end of the day we were the ones with final approval on the album and they wanted it to be that way. But they’re so badass that there wasn’t much to be debated about in the end.

BD:  How did you choose the tracks and then decide that Preachin’ To The Choir should be the single to proclaim the album?

Thousand Horses:
Graham: We love every song that is on the new album. We are always writing and creating new music and these are some of our favorites that we wanted our fans to hear. We chose ‘Preachin’ to the Choir’ as our first single because we thought it was a great song for our fans and a great first impression and representation of the new musical project (Bridges) as a whole.
 Bill: I think that every new song we write, record, lyric we jot down or melody we try and refine, we are always pushing it and ourselves to be better than what we have done before. So, in a way, yes it’s more challenging because we are pushing harder to be better. So most the pressure or challenge comes from within ourselves. As far as the album title “Bridges” goes, we decided to name the project that because we feel that song’s meaning encapsulates everything we have been through in the process of creating this new music. It’s a song about light heartily looking back and being able to laugh at the mistakes you made along the road of life. It kind of defines our point of view at this time in our lives.

BD: Bridges has seven of the thirteen tracks recorded live. Six of them at Metropolis Studio in London what do you feel this approach adds to the music and what made Metropolis the place to be for Bridges?

Thousand Horses
Zach: I think we wanted to show something real and raw with the Metropolis sessions. So much music coming out these days is so computer heavy that sometimes people don’t even know what artists actually sound like. We wanted to do something stripped down, one take, just us and our instruments. Metropolis has one of the only direct to vinyl machines left, so it was the perfect place to capture the live half of the record.

BD: I have always been interested in the lyrics of a song. Where do you get your inspiration for your songwriting?

Thousand Horses:
Hobby: Song writing has always been a passion of mine since I got my first guitar and learned to play it. Instead of learning other people’s songs I would make my own up. Lyrically I always wanted to have truth in my stories. A lot of what I write about is real life things that I have lived or been a part of.

BD: The music Industry is constantly evolving with changes often not for the better, how have the changes impacted on Thousand Horses Country Rock style of music?

Thousand Horses:
Graham: I think that the music has become more accessible as the industry and the genre of country music grows. This allows us to reach more people with our music.

 BD: I am sure you have many plans for 2017 and beyond for the band do you plan to tour UK and Europe?

Thousand Horses:
Zach: We love playing in the UK and are really looking forward to getting over to the rest of Europe. We have a few things in the works so stay tuned!

BD: Is there anything you want to say to your fans reading this interview?

Thousand Horses:
Hobby: Thank you for your continued support and believing in our music. We love ya and can’t wait to rock with you soon.

BD: If you were putting together the perfect fantasy band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing

Thousand Horses:
Graham: Steve Gorman of The Black Crowes on drums, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd on bass/vocals, Billy Powell of Lynyrd Skynyrd on keys, Mike Campbell of The Heartbreakers on guitar, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin on lead vocal.
Zach: Gotta start with the rhythm section cause it’s the backbone of the band. I always wanted to play drums like Keith Moon growing up so I’d have him on drums and Ashton Barrett, who played with Bob Marley, on bass. Then I’d add my favorite guitar duo, Keith Richards and Ron Wood, because they sound cool playing anything! I’d round it out with Freddie Mercury as the front man.
Bill: Rich Robinson – Guitar, vocal. Joe Walsh – Guitar, vocal. Liam Gallagher – vocal. Steve Gorman – Drums. Benmont Tench – Keys. Paul McCartney – Bass, vocal. Produced by Jeff Lynne.
Hobby: Tom Petty, Dwight Yokam, Max Martin, Jon Paul Jones, Steven Tyler and Prince on drums.

 

Thank you for taking the time to chat with Bluesdoodles.  read the review for the latest album Bridges – HERE

A Thousand Horses In Conversation with Bluesdoodles

Bluesdoodles In Conversation with Sonny Landreth

Bluesdoodles In Conversation with Sonny Landreth

Bluesdoodles In Conversation with Sonny Landreth

 

 

BD: Firstly, thank you for taking the time out to chat with Bluesdoodles today; July 4th.  I was delighted to have had the opportunity via Mascot to review your latest album Live at LaFayette; it is ninety-three minutes of music heaven, smooth, warm and spiced up with clever licks and breaks to keep the listening ear totally engaged.

SL: Great, I love hearing that we try to plan some of these things out, but other things we have no control over and just hope it all pans out when playing live.

BD: What were your first musical influences growing up in Louisiana?
SL: In Louisiana I was already into music, my elder brother Steve was always bringing music in to the house. Elvis Presley was a big thing in Mississippi when I was still living there. Then I discovered Scotty Moore. By the time we got here, there was always music in the area as it is such a big part of the culture here with the Cajun and Creole influences. There were shows on the weekend, on TV and live bands playing, bands would play at the openings for a store you name it a flatbed truck would have a band playing on there, that was in the area and it was great to have that. Walking down town on my first Mardi Gras locally and I sneaked into a bar because I was mesmerized by the sound on the jukebox it was Ray Charles. It was great my family would go back to New Orleans that was the first time I heard Jazz, Rn’B and second line rhythms and so forth. So between all the influences of the music I liked I became a big fan of Chet Atkins, The Jazz Cats and Wes Montgomery. I started out on the trumpet so I had all those jazz heroes like Miles Davies, Ornette Coleman and so forth. So by time I got into the blues which is more of a guitar thing I was thirteen and the list goes on and on… (laughing)

 BD: So what Made you change from the Trumpet to the guitar?

SL:  Well I actually kept up the trumpet at school from 10 years old, fifth grade up until my two years in college and twenty. By the time I started to play guitar the Beatles came along and everybody wanted to have a band. If Scotty Moore fired me up to learn how to play a guitar it was The Beatles that fired me up to play in a band, as did my best friend Tommy, he wanted to play drums and that was our first band he and I, guitar and drums, lot simpler back then! You know with the guitar learning Beatles songs, really for us it was the instrumental thing that worked up some of those songs, played our first gig, we were hooked. A little later I was working in a family operated music store Prof Erny – that was a great experience. He supplied the music, sheet music, instruments for all the band directors in the area.  They sold records, they had a guitar room, so I was lost in there most of the time. There was an older kid there who said man you have to listen to Chet Atkins. Well I heard of him so he sat down and started playing Chet songs it just blew my mind. He started to teach me finger style, so I had to practice that to get the right hand finger picking style of Chet. That was my entry in to the world of solo guitar meaning playing the melody, rhythm and bass lines all at the same time and think of the guitar as a solo instrument. By the time I started listening to the Delta Blues and getting into the blues that’s how I related to the finger picking of all the old blues cats. Started tackling the Slide, I had Chet’s Right Hand technique and slide on little finger of my left hand that started me on my path really.

BD: That all sounds really clever to me!

SL: Well sure shows how clever I was. I was young so into it, so enthusiastic, didn’t have any hang-ups, preconceptions or perceived notions. My worlds view is about figuring out the next chord.  Not a bad place to be, you don’t have prejudiced perception. So your view of reality has not been so imposed on, that you are not open to any and all ideas. I think that was one of the great things about being raised here in South Louisiana because music is such a part of the culture I was open to everything and all those influences.

BD: Yes lots people get closed into a style or approach very early one.

SL Yes they do, I think having played a wind instrument to start off with I came to the guitar with a different perspective, more like a horn player. Where you have to take a breath that affected my phrasing. I guess what I was trying to accomplish on the guitar was different from my contemporaries. They were coming more rock n’ Roll cranking it up to 10 and fire away nothing wrong with that I love it. It helped me in addition to that to think of it in a different way more dynamically. Also that is where the slide comes in because of its vocal quality. I didn’t realise it at the time, but many years later I recognise that my jazz and blues heroes were all striving to emulate the human voice so slide really leads itself to that because of its lyrical quality.

Bluesdoodles In Conversation with Sonny LandrethBD: Live at LaFayette is a long awaited live album. How did you decide which tracks to include from the three nights and the decision to have a mix of Acoustic & Electric and as a double album.

SL: That was one of the advantages of doing it here at home. Everything came together my engineer’s studio just few blocks away as a resource for equipment, had him there and musicians in the main are all close by. There is a real nice theatre that has been built since my last live album I did eleven years ago. It was perfect setting for this kind of thing for a multi-night stance. We went in on the Monday set up, sound checked rehearsed with my trio Steve Conn and Sam Broussard. We recorded three nights in a row, that way you can relax more, you have more than one go at it. The hardest thing about recording live is not to think about it, not worry about it, get into the moment just like you do at any other gig that is what you have to capture. So in order to decide which songs that was a little bit of a trip.  Some songs were real obvious, some of the instrumentals I wanted to get those down just like we play night after night with my trio. Then I knew I wanted Steve and Sam to expand some of the other songs that we had been playing like for example Back To Bayou Teche and Walkin Blues I knew they would wail on those, have more colour more texture creating a big sound. Acoustic is where it got really interesting I started to think well, some of these songs that had been electric all along and had bigger production in the studio like probably any songwriter would tell you. Some of those songs  started out with me just on an acoustic guitar coming up with ideas, melodic line, set of changes that led to an idea for a lick, then led to a line lyric line of song becomes a chorus. Takes a while! That is what the whole process revolves around just you on an acoustic guitar. Went back to that just to embrace the essence build on it somewhat with an ensemble it was fun cos then you are re-interpreting songs that had a bigger production on the albums. I have always felt a good song can be interpreted in a number of ways like Creole Angel and Bound By The Blues actually speak better as an acoustic setting.  Because there are so many lyrics they go by so quickly and I think the audience gets engaged more. There are some element of dynamics as well, we figured out the best first come out and do an acoustic set, take a break and then come back out and ramp it up. That is how we approached the recording as well, then I realised we had enough material to do a whole disc acoustic and another electric. We kept adding a song each night that is how it came about. I wish I could say I masterminded the whole thing from day one, had it all planned out. I always wanted to leave something to chance anyway cos that is where some of the more interesting stuff happens, but in terms developing into the concept of a double album it was kinda cool how that came about.

BD: If planned too much it can become too produced too sterile?

SL: Yes, it does nothing wrong with that if that is your thing.  That is what I love about the studio a lot of that is like a painting where you have a canvas and you are adding colours then you get up one morning and you go that looks really good here or embellish it here and that is great. The thing about a live performance the energy with audience and the performers it becomes actually something else more personal connection that way. It certainly propels us to play better there is no doubt about it I can’t really do that in the studio up to a point. To be honest our last album Bound By The Blues was pretty much live in the studio with my trio and so we had lot of that feel about it. But when I have an audience it just takes it to another level and that is what you want to capture with a live album. And the other thing was in that setting and have it be somewhat of a retrospective of different songs over my career which I felt took it to the next level as well more of a personal statement. Something I felt the long-time fans would appreciate the different interpretations you know and then  for newcomers be a good introduction. BD: And they will then go and explore your other albums! SD: I mean it was kinda like your life flashing before your eyes. To be honest it was a nice affirmation to have too many songs to chose from. I would far rather have that than like only have three albums for forty-six years on the road that would be little disappointing. That was fun for me I enjoyed that aspect of it.

BD: Tell our readers about your infectious sound delta blues and zydeco influences? And for people especially in UK what is it about zydeco, creole sound that you create, separating your sound from pure Delta?

SL: Two different things in that regard, there is common thread and that is the Blues.Zydeco music Creole much influence of their African roots, original tribes, sound, rhythms and syncopations in particular and that is the biggest difference between that and Cajun music. Cajun music is the descendants of Nova Scotia and the Great North up there who were deported and settled in this area and a lot of them grew up side-by-side with Creoles so there was a give and take, that is really beautiful there which is why the music is so rich and diverse. Delta Blues across the Mississippi River there is a thread if you listen to say Mississippi John Hurt, playing his acoustic guitar and singing basically telling a story, call them story songs. Then if you were to hear Clifton Chenier playing Blues always in his repertoire, he mixed up blues with everything else and he formulated the sound, the great pinnacle to Zydeco sound there was that element to it. Zydeco per se is real upbeat, syncopated and really the best of it Clifton on his accordion, his drummer Big Robert and his brother Cleveland on the rub board. The three of them would just get of the stage a played old style Zyedeco, I just loved it, you just can’t not move when you hear that music, it is good for the soul.

BD: What are the Blues or how do you define the Blues the perennial debate?

SL: For me main thing about the blues if you take an overview it is such a profound experience again speaking culturally again. It is Grace in the face of adversity. Lot of the kids coming up they learn the licks try and get across to them they need to study the history of the players and the time they lived and what they were going through. It is the back story that is so important and all of them that as a common denominator overcoming challenges. That is why Blues is a universal language, it is something people all over the world relate to. It is these challenges really the things that unite us, I think that is why it resonates with people everywhere. It will always be pertinent, always evolve, will have new players. A lot of the old guard we have lost; not many left at all. That is probably true of all folk music or music that is important of the people. When I say folk music I literally mean music comes from people and their lives, big part of history there that’s when you factor that into story songs it becomes a richer experience that to me is profound.

BD: For me it was your opening phrase Grace in the face of adversity is just brilliant.

SL:  Part of it is all the trials and tribulations and my God! The things that people went through was just horrific and beyond belief. But they would turn to music and they would express, there would be a release in that expression that joy in the moment a thing to have, there is something about that connection that does make it so profound. It is not just another fad or pop song sells in the moment but doesn’t equate to the test of time and that is the big difference. Great music to me is music that stands the test of time.

BD:  Your bottleneck/slide guitar style is so full of power what makes your playing stand out from the crowd and your distinctive sound many describe you as King of Slydeco?

SL: I think what happened to me looking back I am so comfortable is so many different genres of music because of growing up here and that is great, versatility is a good thing. It is possible to go in too many directions at once I think when I landed on and beginning to work with the slide and started to make my way with it I realised it was a way to crystallise all these influences into a unified sound that was my own. Very much included songwriting as well and that became my focus. The fact that I started out on another instrument, influenced by all the other instruments in the area, accordion, rub board, triangle everything because slide offers a greater potential for creating sounds, I picked up on that pretty early and would begin to try and emulate some of these other instruments so I think that is part of it. I definitely made some discoveries that opened the window in terms of possibilities, harmonically, percussively, lyrically I could accomplish all that it was a bigger layer of sound from one instrument so to speak. All those influences come to bear you hope some like cosmic dust rubs off on you. As I got more opportunities to work with people, I always paid attention to how they worked and it has to be your passion.

 BD: If you were putting together the perfect fantasy band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing
SL: I would probably but my heroes together, I could watch them play just sit on the side of the stage

Accordion: Clifton Chenier

Drums: Big Robert, just primitive style never heard anything like him.

Bass:  Noel Redding

Guitar: BB Guitar, Jimi Hendrix

I met Jimi Hendrix in store in Baton Rouge he had run away from his road manager and I talked to him . I heard BB; Jimi and Clifton play for the first time within a year when I was 16/17 years old. I have also  met them all, takes us back to your first question that was incredible experience set the bar so high not a bad way to start out

 

BD: Are you planning to come to the UK.

SL: We are Yes, hopefully in the fall if not certainly 2018. 

 

BD: Thank you for taking time out on 4th July

 

Note from editor: Check out his music over at Sonny Landreth

 

Bluesdoodles In Conversation with Sonny Landreth