Kim Simmonds from Savoy Brown in Conversation

Kim Simmonds from Savoy Brown in Conversation
Kim Simmonds
Image copyright Arnie Goodman

Hello, Kim, thanks for taking time out to chat with me, I jumped at the chance to interview you, having been around at the beginning of your career 55 years ago and 40 albums ago…are you still enjoying it?
Yes, I’m still enjoying it, especially the creative part.  Writing songs, getting guitar tones etc. The touring side can be daunting because sometimes it seems nothing has changed since 1967.

“Ain’t Done Yet” will be your 41st release, following hot on the heels of “City Night”, on a new label as well? Does the new album differ in any way?
The new album differs from any previous album because I really concentrated on the rhythm guitar and I layered the background guitar parts. 
Quarto Valley Records are like family to me, the way I’m treated.

A lot of songwriters are living out their experiences in the lockdown etc… have you drawn any influence from these difficult times?
Fate was kind to me because I had already decided to take March and April off this year so when Covid hit I wasn’t left hanging to dry.  Of course, I thought we’d be back playing live, quicker, but now my touring starts in October….hopefully.  All this year’s gigs, to date, have been postponed until 2021. 

Following on from that, how do you approach writing a new song? Do any songs on the new album stand out, if so, why?
I always start a song by writing a lyric.  I also try to find a good title which in a blues-based song is half the battle.  I then go into my home studio and along with an 80s drums machine, I make a demo playing bass, guitars, and laying down a vocal. 
On the new album I like all the songs but “Feel Like A Gypsy” came together really well with Garnet’s added percussion giving it a real spark.

Kim Simmonds from Savoy Brown in Conversation
Savoy Brown
Photo copyright Juan Junco

Your rhythm section has been with you over ten years now, a relatively long time in Savoy Brown terms, what’s the secret to keeping together so long?
Garnet and Pat are very much team players for one thing.  They always go the extra mile if needed.  They also have played blues, in some form, all their lives and finally, they are able to put up with me!

Looking back, I think I’m right in saying you moved to the US in 1980, although you’d toured successfully prior to then, did the reception you got in the States impact on your decision? Foghat also made their move there at roughly the same time – a truly British Blues Invasion!! You played at some prestigious venues both here and in the States, any stick out to you?
Yes, 1980 I emigrated to the USA.  My success in the US was definitely a factor.  The best feeling I’ve ever had playing on stage was at the Fillmore East, New York City in 1969.  Very knowledgeable audience and ‘69 was the year when I really started making my reputation as a guitar player in a larger way.

Why the blues? Who were your early influences?
I was brought up on 1950s rock n roll, which was blues with a different approach, by my elder brother.  When I was thirteen, I fell in love with Chicago Blues in particular.  I thought blues music was straightforward and honest.
And the blues guitar of the early 1960s sounded like the way of the future to me.  I wanted to be a part of that.

What era, to you, was your ‘I’ve made it time‘?
It wasn’t until I was in my fifties that’s I thought “wow, I’m going to be doing this till the day I die”. Prior to that I just kept giving myself two years ahead, thinking it would end sometime.

You can play with any other musicians, alive or passed… your current line-up excluded, what would be your dream band?
Elvis on vocals, Chuck Rainy bass, Earl Palmer drums, Lonnie Mack guitar and, and, and…

If memory serves me right, you did the Skegness Rock & Blues Festival in January, how do Brit audiences compare to the other side of the Pond?
I loved playing the U.K. in January.  There was always someone in the audience who was at The Nags Head in Battersea where I started in ‘66.  I started a club in the upstairs Room that year and I’m amazed how many people I meet who saw the early shows.  It was the epicentre for south London blues at the time…albeit an unfashionable area.

Heard a rumour you’re a bit of an artist too, is that way of winding down?
It’s been another way of getting out the creative energy I was born with.  I paint in an abstract way which is just the same as playing a guitar solo which also is an abstract creation.

If a film was made of your career, who would you like to play you?
Ha ha.  This question brings a smile to my face.  Maybe Johnny Depp because he has played some wild roles and my life has been one wild ride.

Talking of which, are there any plans for a book?
Yes, I’ve written a book that I now have to put the finishing touches to.  Writing this new album got in the way and I’m currently writing the next album so hopefully, I’ll get the book done soon.

Does the ‘R’ word ever cross your mind, or have you more to achieve, 50th album, maybe?
I’ll never retire.  Thank you for believing I’ll live that long to make a 50th album…but why not?  I always envisioned myself playing in my eighties.  I hope providence is good to me.

Have you plans to tour the new album if and when Covid-19 permits?
I start touring again in October this year (2020) Covid-19 willing.

Presumably we can get updates online?
Yes, everyone can go to www.savoybrown.com for all band current news, store items (including artwork), photos and history.

Thanks again, Kim, for your time, good luck with the new album (as if you need it !!)
Thank you.  I’ve been very lucky in life so far…. I hope it continues!

Kim Simmonds from Savoy Brown in Conversation

Savoy Brown’s new album “Ain’t Done Yet” is released by Quarto Valley Records on August 28th and can be pre-ordered from  http://smarturl.it/AintDoneYet

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