1. Hi and welcome to Melodic.net. How are you?
Hello, and thank you for inviting me here. I'm pretty well, recovering after a day off in Austin. I'm opening for Cyndi Lauper, on a short tour of the U.S..
I met up with Stephen Barber, the string arranger on my record, yesterday, and we spent some time celebrating our friendship again, after too long. Good fun, that left me feeling a little worse for wear!
I'm performing solo, which is a relatively new challenge for me. I use electric guitar and a laptop (no amp); the most portable rig that I can work with. There are limitations, but working with those can be positive and creative. Boundaries and rules can be your friends.
2. For those out there who are not familiar with you, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I've been working in music, mostly playing guitar for people, for the last thirty years or so. For nearly all that time I've worked for Peter Gabriel, recording and touring. I also used to do a lot of sessions, and bits of production.
Over the last few years, I've spent time working with another musician who works for Gabriel, Richard Evans. Together we've created a lot of soundtracks for the Discovery Channel and National Geographic. I've also scored a couple of European features on my own, one a cartoon, the other a romantic comedy. We also produced and collaborated on Gabriel's (Golden Globe nominated) soundtrack for Rabbit Proof Fence.
It's been varied and interesting work. I feel fortunate and privileged that I've been able follow this path for so long.
3. What can you tell us about your latest album?
My latest, indeed my first solo album, is called Bittersweet.
It's a collection of songs that I've gathered together over the last few years.
It's an honest record, really quite personal.
The songs are quite simple and direct, with plenty of guitar on them!
I was lucky enough, that some good friends were happy and willing to take part in recording it. Ged Lynch, played drums, Charlie Jones played bass, Dean Brodrick played keyboards. Stephen Barber wrote and sorted out the strings for me, and Richard Evans co-produced. Tchad Blake, another long standing friend mixed it, and brought beautiful detail and balance to it.
It sounds good!
4. You have been working closely with Peter Gabriel for about 25 years, what has been the best part of that?
...actually since 1979...ouch...
It's always been good fun, a real pleasure and a challenge. The expectation in the studio, is always to play with as much passion, groove and attitude, that you can muster. I guess that applies to the shows too, in all their delightful oddness; the mixture of emotion, dark and light, that is in the performances.
Its been great to play on some wonderful songs, songs that one hopes, have touched and moved people.
5. Who else has influenced your own music?
This is always a difficult question.
I wish the fact I used to listen and still listen to Hendrix, could have had a real effect on my playing, sadly his fluidity has flowed right past me, and left me high and dry!
I suppose Bowie, Syd Barrett; a lot of English music.
Having said that I used to love Nile Rodgers' solo records.
I guess systems music (Reich), and the discipline of Kraftwerk, where parts change very little, have always appealed to me. This is true of a lot of groove music.
6. During your long career, what has been the biggest change in the industry and how has that affected you as an artist?
Obviously, the change in technology has had the most effect. Before the takeover of computer technology studio musicians would be hired to go in and do a creative job quickly. Now people can stay at home and spend all the time they want achieving the result they want.
This is great for an artist to keep costs low, but the excitement of a gang of musicians tussling their way through a tune can be a truly inspiring experience.
So, as an artist, I try to embrace both ways.
7. What music do you listen to yourself at home?
Tinariwen, are a favourite band that we listen to. Hendrix and Miles Davis are always close to hand.
I'm fond of a Norwegian singer, Solveig Slettahjell. My daughter enjoys Michael Buble, which is good but for me the dosage should be kept moderate.
8. Is there a song out there that you wish you had written?
'In A Silent Way', written by Joe Zawinul. It is a wonderfully poetic piece of music. It's very simple and elegant but tremendously evocative. (Stephen Barber, worked on some orchestral arrangements for Zawinul, a few years ago, and asked him how the tune had come about. Zawinul told him that he was in the mountains, of his native Austria, seated at his piano watching the snow fall, and he knocked it out in ten minutes...fabulous.).
I'm going to cheat and have a song too!
'I've Got You Under My Skin', Cole Porter. It is a wonderful song, and with Sinatra singing it, glorious.
9. Name one album that everyone should own.
Probably Miles Davis, 'In A Silent Way'.
It is a beautiful record of restraint and mystery. I never tire of it. The three way percolating keyboard conversation that runs through it, the soloing of Davis and Shorter, the guitar interjections, absolutely wonderful, all on top of the Holland, Williams rhythm section. You can't ask for more.
10. What does the closest future hold for you?
I finish with the Lauper tour at the end of August, then I will return home.
One of my first jobs will be to harvest some honey from the bee hives I keep. I'm very excited about that. I'm in my second year of keeping bees, and this will hopefully be my first proper harvest.
I'm expecting to do some more touring in Europe, still working the 'Bittersweet' material, but with a trio (bass and drums).
This is an exciting way forward for me. I'd never played in a trio before until we tried three shows in Germany a few weeks ago. It's great fun and challenging. It's a very pure form, and I'm writing new material to suit it. We'll see if I can stick to my rules on that.
11. Thank you for answering the questions, any final words for our readers?
The more you do, the more you can do.
Onward and upward!
all the best,