Lance Lopez in conversation with Wes O’Neill with new solo album Tell The Truth, Supersonic Blues Machin and Rockin’ The Blues tour 2018. As he says, Lance Lopez been there, done that and back for more.. read what they talked about
It’s been awhile since Texan axe slinger Lance Lopez has released a solo album, but it’s certainly been worth the wait. “Tell The Truth” is full of hard rockin blues, deep southern influences and incendiary yet tasteful guitar playing. Add to this a man who certainly has stories to tell and “Tell The Truth” is a sure-fire hit. As Lance sings himself on the opening track, “Nothin’ worth having, ever came easy to me, the sweetest victories came within an inch of defeat”.
WO’N: Your solo album “Tell The Truth” has been coming for a while now, what’s been the hold up?
LL: We recorded it over a period of a few years – we started recording at the end of 2012 but then Supersonic Blues Machine happened! I headed out to Los Angeles to record the first three tracks with my good friend producer and bass guitarist, Fabrizio Grossi, and then a week later Billy Gibbons showed up and they began working on “Running Whisky” and the next thing you know Supersonic happened in our West of Flushing, South of Frisco album! When we began to record that album, we resumed recording “Tell The Truth” simultaneously to it. We’d start off with Supersonic songs, go out and have a bite come back and the work on “Tell The Truth” for the rest of the day and into the night. Sometimes those were 20 hour days that Fabrizio and I were recording for, but man it was fun! It just took time and in between the first Supersonic record and the latest “Californisoul” I recorded on my own in New York, Texas and wherever I happened to be at the time and would send things back to Fabrizio in LA where he would edit them, mix them and then I’d be back in LA where we would resume recording. It was really when we began recording the second Supersonic Blues Machine album that we actually finished “Tell The Truth” midway through.
WO’N: That must of been crazy working on two records at the same time…
LL: In fact, it was easier! Hahaha! One day Fabrizio and I would work on Supersonic, the next my record – alternating days as opposed to giant long days that were in first place. The other thing for why we did it like that then was that we didn’t have very much more to do on “Tell The Truth” ‘cos we had been working on it for a number of years. The main thing behind it taking so long was Supersonic Blues Machine…but that’s a cool problem to have had!
WO’N: Did you have a different mindset or approach for each album?
LL: Absolutely! Here’s the thing, working with Fabrizio Grossi is super cool in that he very much has a vision of how we want everything to sound, how it should be played, sung, attacked, held back…every last detail that’s super polished and just so well produced man. It was particularly in the early recording split days as I said that it was much more of a collaborative process in Supersonic yet more of an out and out producer role with my solo record. This came about in the writing, the vision and overall delivery for “Tell The Truth”, there’s much more of the Texas blues-rock influence in my record than our Supersonic Blues Machine records. You know that was what was really cool – adding a lot more of the blues harp and slide guitar real authentic sounds in “Tell The Truth” which ended up influencing our Supersonic Blues Machine “Californiasoul”. There was a definite mindset to each, but you can’t help being influenced by what you’re around.
WO’N: Tell The Truth is a very thematic album – a lot of references to redemption, luck, nights out gone wrong…
LL: It’s autobiographical and biographical at the same time. There’s Joey Sykes songwriting, ya know the lead guitar player in The Babys, on this record and really great writer and producer Serge Simic who looked at my life and wrote songs about me instead of like “Hey Lance, here’s a song I wrote about something you don’t care for, wanna put it on your album?”. It was very different having guys look at my life, real good times and real bad times, and coming to me with these songs of how they saw me or what had happened in my life so far. It’s one of the most different experiences I’ve had as a musician than before as I’ve wrote and recorded with people before but with this I had folk coming up to me and saying “‘I’ve wrote this song about you”. Just wow man, just wow…
WO’N: Did it make you feel uncomfortable at all having these guys peer into your life like that and how did you deal with that from an artistic vantage point?
LL: It was real interesting, I can tell you that! Hahaa! Songs like “Down to One Bar”, like damn, some of it was hard to hear, you know a song about my…let’s call it “my adventures in the pub”, hahaa! Like the song “The Real Deal” – Joey Sykes wrote that about me so it was kinda strange to stand there and sing that I’m the real deal! Hahaa! But, hey, that was his vision of me and real interesting to sing it from a first person perspective. It was very cool to have that experience that people were watching my life from the outside and some of it was very good, some of it was bad, lot’s of ups and downs but it’s really cool that we were able to document all that and that’s the premise – like “Blue Moon Rising” which I co-wrote and it was very touching and a good awakening of sorts to loom back and say “Wow, you know I may of been thinking this but other people are seeing it too”. We were just being open and honest through it all, hence “Tell The Truth”.
WO’N: Now then, it wouldn’t be chat between guitar players if I didn’t ask what ladies you used on the album would it?
LL: No man, it wouldn’t be! I mainly used my Gibson guitars. My R9 Les Paul, my Pelham Blue Firebird (you can see them front and centre in the video for “Down to One Bar”) and also a sunburst Firebird which is a newer one which is my slide guitar. On “Never Came Easy” and “Cash My Check” I used a 1963 Melody Maker that belonged to Warren Haynes’s former guitar technician, Brian Farmer who passed a few years back. A good friend of his brought me his guitar in to play and it just sounded fantastic on those tracks. It was very interesting recording the different guitars on different tracks – I did also use a 1963 Telecaster on “Blue Moon Rising”, you know, just to get the old Stax Records R&B vibe going down for the rhythm tracks, that was really cool.
WO’N: I’m thinking that these guitars will be out in force for the first Provogue Rockin’ The Blues Tour which kicks off in Germany on March 9?
LL: Oh for sure man! You know what the great thing is about The Rockin’ The Blues tour is that everybody on it, we’re all dear friends. Eric Gales, Gary Hoey and young Quinn Sullivan – man we’re gonna be out on that tour having a great time and I’m just looking forward to being back out on the road with those guys. That’s one of the great things about being around other guys is the jamming, in that everybody admires each other, respects each other and are good friends.
WO’N: You guys also play in Holland with the final night of the tour being here in the UK at The Garage in London Saturday, March 17…
LL: Yes man, and it’s gonna be the same every show with this tour so when we’re up on stage jamming, people will be able to feel it, not just hear or see it. There’s no competition, there shouldn’t be in music – we’re just all friends having fun! I’ll be sitting in with Eric Gales and we’ll play some songs from “Tell The Truth”…and all jam at the end, it’s gonna be cool and a trip for the audience.
WO’N: It’s always great chatting with you, thanks again, to close off – with all the ups and downs in your career so far, what lessons would you pass on to the youngsters?
LL: Well, you know one of the main ones is that practice is what makes you good. Spending time with your instrument and having the dedication to. It’s like when Eric Gales and I were young, that’s all we did was play the guitar and that even happens today when we get together. It’s all we did as kids, we’d sit and play, but then there’s the bad stuff which you need to avoid. There’s the pitfalls of the substances and the booze – you know you don’t need to take anything to play or sound a certain way…I know that we felt like we did when we were younger and it didn’t do a thing but cause us lots of pain and suffering. If you can avoid trying that myth, steer clear of that and practice well, you may get somewhere and I hope you do.
Ticket link for Rockin’ The Blues with Eric Gales, Quinn Sullivan, Gary Hoey and special guest Lance Lopez at The Garage London UK March 17