Walter Trout - (USA) in Live uit Lloyd
November 08, 2015
Marie: Here is a link to an hour with Walter talking about his crazy life and also playing five acoustic songs - three of which are with our son, Jon.
Walter Trout had in 2014 zijn 25-jarig jubileum als soloartiest moeten vieren maar het liep dramatisch anders. De nu 64-jarige gitaarlegende onderging op het nippertje een levensreddende levertransplantatie, zonder die ingreep had hij wellicht nog een dag geleefd.
Walter Trout - A Very Special Interview
November 14, 2015
Battle Scars, Walter Trouts new Cd. So many wonderful reviews about this cd, so many wonderful interviews. In those interviews Walter talked about his cd and the first lyrics. I don’t know the words but it was something like “ How the beautiful the sunshine is …“. Not what he wanted. So he wrote new lyrics and talked about the pain, the long fight, that he had almost given up, that it almost was too much and that suddenly he was allowed to live. I didn’t want to talk about that. For one year we suffered with him. His first lyrics seemed to be boring. Recording, writing Battle Scars was a kind of therapy for Walter. But talking about that over and over again? There must be something else … the sun is shining! What good did that painful experience do for Walter? If you write about the sunshine you must feel it and you must enjoy it. For me just a very small clue, more a feeling, an idea but I wanted to talk to Walter Trout about that. Something very private. But talking about his Battle Scars was very private too. I was nervous and a bit afraid. I didn’t know if it would work out. Can I really do this in front of a microphone ? How will Walter react?
Thx Dominic Packulat
Walter Trout Returns From The Edge Of Oblivion With 'Battle Scars'
November 14, 2015
Walter Trout has been playing and sometimes living the blues for five decades. The guitarist was with Canned Heat in the early 1980s, shared the stage and recorded with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers and sold millions of albums as a solo artist, but drugs and alcohol almost did him in. He was just days away from death last year when he received a liver transplant, an experience he recounts in a song called "Gonna Live Again."
"I'm having a conversation with God on that song," Trout explains. "I list in thie song that I've been a bad person in my life — I've lied, I've cheated, I've done things that I'm not proud of — but I've been given this chance. When I was in the liver ward, there were people dying all around me, but I made it. I survived. So I'm asking, what is my responsibility now?"
Walter Trout has returned from the brink, and played the Royal Albert Hall in London this past June. His new album is called Battle Scars, and he joined NPR's Scott Simon to talk about it; hear their conversation at the audio link. LISTEN NOW
Walter Trout 60 minute interview with tracks from "Battle Scars" Album
October 08, 2015
Walter will be on my Pete Feenstra Feature (60 min special interview and tracks from new album) on Sunday night at 19.00 hrs 8/11/15 (repeated 10/11/15 Tuesday 21.00 hrs (thereafter on play again link) -Link to show below http://www.getreadytorockradio.com/pete_feenstra.htm
Walter Trout "Battle Scars" Album Trailer
Oct 14, 2015
Rewind the clock. It's June 15th and the Royal Albert Hall in London hosts a Tribute Evening to the late great Lead Belly. Among the many guest artists performing throughout the evening, Walter Trout's name is certainly among the most expected to be seen on stage, in this stunning English venue. I have been waiting to talk to Trout for a long time now and no better chance to interview him than tonight's special music event. READ MORE HERE
“I’m going to make another album at the end of May. It’s going really good. I’m a wonder of modern medicine.” READ MORE HERE
Walter Trout - Fire And Water
VERBALS: PETE SARGEANT
Guitarist and singer WALTER TROUT is laid up in hospital in the States post-transplant, but spared our man a few moments to bring us up to date. His sense of humour is intact and far from feeling sorry for himself…..well, read on
BM: Now this is a conversation that we are both lucky to have. You have an extreme way of testing the strength of your fanbase and coming through for us ! How do you feel right here and now, Mr Trout?
photo by Jeff Katz
WT: Well – I’ve felt better in my life! I’m working hard to try and get my strength back and I lost a hundred pounds in about seven months. I lost a lot of muscles and I tried to play the guitar the other day and I’m still in the hospital. My son brought me a guitar and I couldn’t bend the strings, you know?
I didn’t have the muscles to even bend the string. I just have a lot of work ahead of me to get myself back to where I was. But the liver I got is functioning beautifully, except for feeling kind of weak and not much energy I think I’m doing real good. I think the operation was a triumph and a huge success.
Good. Obviously, strength doesn’t come out of a packet – you’ve gotta build it up….
I remember I hurt my hand once, my left hand, and I couldn’t play for a while. I sat for half an hour every night playing my twelve-string and once I could bend notes on my twelve-string (which you’re not supposed to do but I do it ) I went to the six-string and, it was like wearing lighter shoes Walter.
Sure. I had an injury some years ago where I lost the ability to play and I had to teach myself how to play again. My left arm basically went numb so I’ve been through this before and I sat around for a couple of months back then to really work on it. That’s what I’m gonna have to do when I get home from here…
Ok. Well even when you don’t bend notes, the twelve-string really builds the muscles up and refines your fingering I’ve found. There’s a way back for all of us I think you know?
Yeah. I just have to find the route there, this time.
Now we’ve never met, but I’m connected to you in some ways because I’ve been talking to Laurence Jones who’s got nothing but good things to say about you and I’m mates with Danny Bryant. Tell me how you get on with Danny.
photo by Jeff Katz
(Brightly) Oh he’s almost like a son to me. I have three sons and I feel like Danny’s number four. When I met him he was very young and I gave him guitar lessons and I’m really close with his mom and his dad. I just think he’s just one of the greatest people. Him and his wife Kirby are a couple of the finest people and I would say they’re probably my best friends in the UK.
I’ve been on stage a few times with Danny and I’ll play harp if he’s doing a Dylan song and like you, he does have this innate love of Bob Dylan and one of your children is called Dylan I think.
Yes indeed – I have a young son called Dylan.
As I understand it, Danny is helping out with some live dates whilst you’re off the road.
Yes he is. I ended up having to cancel an entire year of work. I had a couple of huge tours booked, with big shows and when this came down I had to cancel everything. I will have no shows in 2014 and then I felt so bad for my band.
We were sitting around and talking and we said ‘Why don’t we set the tour up for the band and have a couple of British guys go out and front the band ’. That way, the band can still work. I felt bad that my band depends on me for their pay check.
This way it’s a win-win. Danny gets known in the States and my band get their pay and also on that tour my son is going to be fronting the band also. It will be Danny and my son Jon who recently at the Shepherds Bush Empire benefit show in London they did for me, my son finished the show and just ripped it up. I saw on YouTube, Jon Trout ripping it up.
Walter, I was there as a paying customer.
Oh ok. That’s really cool.
I was there for Blues Matters and I was gonna say I thought Ian Parker was fantastic at that show, I thought your son did a great job and I thought Bernie Marsden was absolutely fantastic. Again, he was someone who’s shared some good times with you and remembers them well.
Yeah Bernie and I go way back. He’s just the greatest guy with a great sense of humour and a great musician. I love that guy.
He’s terrific. In the nineties, he came down to help us with a benefit charity show ..he went to the car, got a guitar and played on the stage with us. What an honour!
Yeah, now he will do great things like that, he cares man.
The first band I ever saw live was Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. It’s when you experience that music, it takes over your soul.
Yeah. That’s exactly what I said at the Classic Rock Awards and I presented a Classic Rock Award to John Mayall and when I gave it to him I said ‘Nobody goes into the blues to get rich or for ego. It’s not about that. It’s because this music is in your blood and it nourishes your soul.’ It sustains you and you love it more than anything else on the f***ing planet !
Now weirdly, I saw you on a bill with another guy who inspired me no end. I think this was at a place in London that used to be called The Town and Country and it was a bill with The Hoax, your band and Canned Heat featuring Harvey Mandel.
(Sighs) Yeah sure, what a line up !
Heaven knows how many Harvey Mandel guitar licks I’ve stolen and played ! I heard very early his ‘Christo Redentor’ album and it’s the most varied album you could possible make. That was one hell of a night because The Hoax were young firebrands, Harvey was rocking it up with Fito and then you came on and you turned it up to twelve. Do you remember that night?
No. (Laughs).I’ll take your word for it. I’ve done a hell of a lot of gigs and a lot of them I just can’t remember! I guess that was with the Radicals line up.
I staggered out of there thinking ‘Wow I’ve seen the range tonight!’
I do though remember playing in The Town and Country with John Mayall, a Bluesbreakers gig during my time working with John, that was a really good one, I recall.
I was with Coco (Montoya) a couple of weeks ago, and an album I really like from that era is a live album which over here is called ‘Life in the Jungle’. That’s a terrific album and I think it starts out with Lionel Hampton’s ‘Ridin’ on the L and N’ and then just rocks it up from here. That’s a live album that shows all of you off very well I think.
Yeah, I think so too. Live we were something else, the dynamics, the material, it just came together every night. John played on my new album, just turned up and started playing, so we pressed record and captured it happening there and then !
Let’s go right back. I’m sure of got some video somewhere of you playing with John Lee Hooker. Am I wrong?
Well it’s in the documentary that just came out. John Lee was the business, it was a privilege to get on stage with John.
That’s in my CD pack, I think.
Yeah there’s a documentary that came with the limited edition. It’s me playing with Big Mama Thornton and John Lee Hooker.
Now at this point, Walter in his hospital room is clearly in severe discomfort – sometimes the subject is far more important than the story, so I suggest to Walter that he gets some attention there to become more comfortable. He bids farewell and we agree to speak again when we can. He is in pain in hospital yet what he is thinking about is looking after his musicians – this one fine human being, readers.
Walter Trout - Child of Another Day - Podcast
Insight, interview, and inspiration from Walter Trout about CHILD OF ANOTHER DAY [on his THE OUTSIDER release]
Click for podcast from listenin.org
Ever feel like you were born at the wrong time? Um, yeah, sometimes...
Frank Jenks > > > interviewer, podcaster, producer, host
Walter Trout Just Wants To Play His Guitar
Veteran blues guitarist Walter Trout visits Emmett's in Appleton
Contributed Written by Mike Thiel www.postcrescent.com
Walter Trout left for Los Angeles in 1974.
The electric blues guitarist was searching for more than what his native New Jersey could offer him, so he headed west and hit the California music circuit, eventually landing work with notable acts such as Canned Heat, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, the Righteous Brothers, Big Mama Thornton and more. However, it was his work with British blues legend John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers that gave Trout his big break.
He toured with the Bluesbreakers in the ’80s, becoming a high-paid world-traveling guitarist. Trout was set as a top blues sideman: good money, good music and no pressure. However, after about five years of touring with Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Trout quit the band on his 38th birthday. Their friendship was still intact, but it was just time for Trout to do his own thing.
In 1989, Trout launched his new band, now known as Walter Trout and the Radicals, who bring their electric blues show to Emmett’s in downtown Appleton Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s not Trout’s first stop at Emmett’s; he’s just as familiar with the Appleton bar as some of the major halls and theaters he’s performed in. In fact, Emmett’s has become a favorite recurring gig for Trout, who cites the bar as a “relaxed, informal place” that he “loves to play at.”
Even after 23 albums, thousands of gigs and his recent release “Luther’s Blues” sitting at No. 4 on the Billboard blues chart, Trout isn’t afraid to perform at a bar; he just wants to play guitar.
P-C: You moved to L.A. from New Jersey in 1974. Was that an all or nothing trip for you?
Trout: I didn’t have a backup plan. My parents were very supportive of my musical endeavors and believed in me. They always told me they thought I had a lot of talent and I should go for it, but they would also say I needed something to fall back on. I used to tell them, I’m not interested in falling back. I was just determined. I figured if I spent the rest of my life playing in little bars, as long as I’m getting to play to people and doing what I love, I’m OK with it. I was never out to be a pop star; I just wanted to play the guitar.
P-C: Performing with John Mayall was one of your biggest breaks. How is life on the road different now than your tour days with Mayall in terms of performing and partying?
Trout: For me, I haven’t partied in 26 years. I’ve been clean and sober. Now, it’s all about trying to eat well and getting enough rest and staying healthy and not collapsing at age 62 because the schedule is a killer. With Mayall, it was a whole different thing and with Canned Heat, I don’t even remember those four and a half years. That is a complete blur. I actually like it better being sober ’cause I’m actually able to remember what happens and I’m able to be in the moment when I’m playing. I can dig in and be connected to the music and not just be in a stupor up there. Though my years with John Mayall were probably the most fun I ever had as far as touring because there was no pressure and the guy has the greatest sense of humor. It was all just a lot of laughing and practical joking. And it got even better for me in his band when I sobered up.
P-C: You decided you wanted your own band while you were performing with Mayall on your 38th birthday. Tell me about that moment in your career.
Trout: I was turning 38 and I was playing in this big symphony orchestra hall in Gothenburg, Sweden. It was a big beautiful place and I was thinking, I’m 38 and I can write songs, I can sing and it’s always been my dream to have my own band and do what Mr. Mayall was doing. I wanted to write the tunes and provide musical direction so I realized halfway through that show that I had to quit. I had to take the gamble and it was a big gamble because he paid me great, we traveled first class, we stayed in great hotels, we did great shows and it was the pinnacle of being a sideman in a blues band. If you’re an electric guitar player and you’re in John Mayall’s band, you can’t get any higher than that. What are you going to do? You could go play with Buddy Guy, but you’re going to play chords all night. He’s not going to feature you. You could go play with B.B. King, same thing. Not with Mr. Mayall. He features you, he yells your name, he gives you all these solos and he lets you sing. He makes a star out of you and after four or five years of him sort of making me known around the world, I had to take the extra step. … It was a scary moment, but I don’t regret it all.
P-C: Your ’73 Fender Stratocaster is your favorite guitar. Why do you leave it at home?
Trout: It’s too much stress. Here’s the story: We’d stop at a restaurant for lunch and I’d have to take it in the restaurant, I couldn’t leave it in the van. I can’t leave it in the trailer. If we have a night off and we go to the movies, instead of leaving it my hotel room, I take it to the movies with me. I bought that thing new off the shelf when it was blazing white and if you take a look at it now, you can see what 36 years of touring did to it. It’s got my spirit in it. It’s more than a guitar to me and as a matter of fact, in my house, I have that guitar done in the floor as a mosaic. … It’s just too much stress man. I’ve had guitars stolen out of nightclubs a couple of times where guys just walk in the dressing room, grab the guitar and run out the back door and I just can’t deal with it. It’s home. It’s locked up. It’s safe. And that’s the way I like it.
P-C: What do you play when you’re on the road?
Trout: I have a couple of guitars that some friends of mine put together. A guy built a guitar body and Seymour Duncan built me some pickups and I had an old Fender neck lying around so we put that on there. It’s kind of a mutt. It’s not a pedigree, but it looks great and it sounds great. I’ve used it for about five or six years now.
P-C: Your latest album, “Luther’s Blues,” is a tribute to blues guitarist Luther Allison. Why did you create this tribute album?
Trout: I felt like somebody had to do it. I felt like the guy was one of the all-time greats and if you ever saw him perform, you’d know exactly what I mean. The depth of feeling and commitment and emotion he could put into his music. … He was also a really dear friend of mine and he was an influence on me. He had moved to Europe and finally won five or six W.C. Handy awards and he was on the cover of “Blues Revue,” crowned the new king of the blues and all this and just as he was breaking through in his own country, he got diagnosed with cancer and he was dead three weeks later. I just felt like somebody had to call attention to the work of this incredible musician and incredible human being. It’s been on my mind since he passed away and it just seemed like the time was right.
P-C: You said when you played with John Lee Hooker, you just played one chord all night: the E chord. What’s your take on people who say blues is an easy genre to play?
Trout: Listen to the long version of “Voodoo Child” by Jimi Hendrix; the 13-minute version on “Electric Ladyland.” That’s one chord and you find me somebody alive today who can play like that. It’s not technical music. It’s about feeling. It’s about expression. It’s about communication. It’s not just about playing certain notes that you’ve memorized. You have to go in very deep and that’s what it’s about. It’s not music of the head, it’s music of the heart.
Trout finally gets his tribute to Allison
June 25, 2013 David Burke firstname.lastname@example.org
A labor of love is a labor of love, even if it's nearly 16 years after the fact.
That's the takeaway for blues great Walter Trout, who finally got to release "Luther's Blues: A Tribute to Luther Allison" earlier this month.
Trout had wanted to record a tribute album to his friend and collaborator Allison, who died in 1997 of a brain tumor. But the project kept getting postponed by the head of Allison's record label, who was also the singer-guitarist's former road manager.
"I finally figured out it wasn't that he was avoiding it, it was gonna cause him a lot of pain," Trout said in a cellphone interview from Tennessee this week. "I guess enough time has passed."
Allison, who was inducted posthumously into the Blues Hall of Fame the year after his death, was long overdue for a tribute, Trout said.
"It's hard for me to even fathom. There's 283 Albert King tributes and eleventy-seven Stevie Ray tributes and all this stuff. I kept waiting. 'Is someone going to call attention to this incredible artist that we had and that we lost?' " Trout asked. "I thought the guy was one of the all-time greatest ever, and I'd still in this genre rather listen to him than just about anybody."
Trout said he'll probably play five or six Luther Allison songs next week for the opening night of the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival. Former Allison collaborator James Solberg came out of retirement last weekend to play along with Trout at a show, and Trout said there is a possibility Solberg will show up July Fourth in LeClaire Park.
Bernard Allison, Luther's son, is the only guest performer on the tribute album. Trout said the singer's family wholeheartedly endorsed the project.
Trout said he learned a lot from Allison on and off the stage.
"I learned that you'd better be honest in your music and in your playing. You'd better mean every note. Don't have a persona, don't have a facade," he said. "With Luther, I learned that in this genre of the blues, you'd really better be honest and mean it. There's no room for bull ... in this stuff, no room for posing."
Trout, 62, is nursing a couple of broken ribs after tripping on a sidewalk about a month ago and landing on his chest.
He'll likely stay seated during his performances in the near future, he said.
"When I'm jumping around and the Stratocaster hits my rib, it hurts," Trout said. "As my wife said, 'Walter, they're not coming to watch you dance.'"
Legendary Bluesman Walter Trout kicks off 2013's 8 Great Tuesdays
BY CORY VAILLANCOURT
It’s not often that Erie plays host to Blues royalty. It happens about once a year; in 2011, it was Buddy Guy, and in 2012, it was Robert Cray – which by my calendar makes us about due for our annual allotment of pentatonic pleasure. Thankfully, the fantastic folks behind the endearing, enduring lakefront outdoor music series known locally as “8 Great” are about to feed us a free fine fix with the sultry searing sounds of Strat-slinger Walter Trout.
New Jersey native Trout’s musical career began in the late 1960s; serving as a sideman to John Lee Hooker and Percy Mayfield – among others – Trout gained widespread recognition in the early ‘80s when he joined Canned Heat and then moved on to John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. His latest album, “Luther’s Blues,” is a tribute to his friend and legendary Chicago Bluesman Luther Allison, who passed on to his great reward in 1997.
Cory Vaillancourt: So how’s it going?
Walter Trout: It’s goin’ pretty good, man. We’re out here, still going, still alive. That’s a good thing.
CV: I gotta ask ya, do people still make fish jokes around you?
WT: All the time.
CV: Does it make you mad?
WT: It’s so unoriginal. I mean, if that’s the level…I made an album back in the 1990s called “No More Fish Jokes.”
CV: Have you been to Erie before?
WT: I have been there a few times, yes. I do 200 cities a year for the past 30 or 40 years, so I couldn’t tell you the names of the venues.
CV: Your upcoming show will kick off a summer music series here called “8 Great Tuesdays.” It’s free and open to the public, it’s on the beautiful Erie Bayfront, and it’s, ummm, great. In your 40-plus years of touring, do you see a lot of this type of thing?
WT: That’s a hard question to answer; in the summer, we do lots of outdoor shows. Between the states and Europe, in the summer people like to be out in the sun, be outdoors, so we do lots of them. But this one sounds like a great venue, and I look forward to it.
CV: Speaking of your extensive career, who’s been your favorite person to work with over the years?
WT: Without a doubt, that would be John Mayall. We’re great friends. As a matter of fact, I recorded two tunes with him a couple of months ago. So we still keep in touch, we talk on the phone – he’s kind of like a dad to me. He was just great fun…in his band, there was always a lot of laughing, a lot of good times.
CV: Didn’t he live in a treehouse?
WT: He lived in a treehouse. He lived there for a while, then he came down out of the tree and decided to become a musician, went to London, and a year later was recording with Eric Clapton [laughs]. It’s quite a story.
CV: Let’s talk about Luther.
CV: What were your experiences like with him?
WT: Luther Allison was just a great, great person. There was no façade with that guy. When you talked to him you felt like he was just complete honesty and sincerity. And also great humor and warmth. He was a really great man, I thought. He was somebody I loved hanging out with, just sitting and talking. Being in his company was a special experience.
CV: I can imagine. I think he left us a little too early.
WT: I agree.
CV: But as Blues legends like Luther Allison leave us, a new school always seems to hatch in their wake. Who do you see today as carrying on the lineage of guys like Buddy, B.B., Luther, and the like?
WT: There’s a lot of young fellas out there, especially in England. There’s a whole batch of young English blues musicians right now that are incredible. Guys like Danny Bryant, Mitch Laddie, Lawrence Jones, Ben Poole. The have yet to really get going over here, but you’re gonna hear about ‘em. Like Lawrence Jones is 19 years old, and he’s amazing. And Danny Bryant – I used to give him guitar lessons when he was 14, and now he’s really coming into his own over there. Those guys I really see as the future of this.
CV: It almost sounds like what happened in the ‘60s when you had these British kids popularizing this American art form while the originators toiled away in obscurity, unappreciated.
WT: There’s a large group of young guys over here too; they just have a really hard time getting going because over here, it’s influenced by the huge corporate media. It’s hard for them to get noticed, whereas in England, it’s not quite so difficult to get started. But over here, it’s a much more difficult nut to crack.
CV: What can the audience expect from your show here in Erie?
WT: Well, I’ve done 23 albums, so I won’t just come out and do Luther’s songs. We’ll do some Luther, some old stuff of mine, some stuff off my last record. It’s pretty high-energy. I think people are going to enjoy it; plus, there will be some surprises. Some of us switch instruments, and have a lot of fun. I think it’s going to be enjoyable for you; or at least I hope so!
Walter Trout and the Radicals will kick off The Erie Port’s free “8 Great Tuesdays” summer music series on Tuesday (duh) July 9 in the Burger King Amphitheater at Liberty Park. For more information, visit PortErie.org.
Cory Vaillancourt can be contacted at cVaillancourt@ErieReader.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @Vlncrt.
Walter Trout Talks About Luther Allison, Recovery and Fred
BY CASEBEER – JUNE 22, 2013
Photo courtesy of Shawn Skager
Walter Trout just released the much anticipated “Luther’s Blues“ and man was it worth the wait. If you read our review, you’ll get a sense of how fond we are of the album. In our opinion, It has something for most blues fans and at the same time, it has something for all the fans of “Fred”, us included. For those who don’t know, “Fred” is a term that Walter came up with to describe the vast area in between rock and the blues that guys like him sometimes inhabit.
Walter was kind enough to spend a little bit of time with us and we had quite a conversation. We touched on a number of subjects and he’s a bright, funny and highly opinionated individual. After a fun discussion about what is blues and isn’t blues, we decided it was best to leave that subject alone and let other people fight that battle. Here’s the interview:
ABS: Let’s jump right into Luther’s Blues. Obviously it’s just a fantastic album, I’ve told you how much I like it, and I think people are going to be hard-pressed to find a better blues album right now, man. I think it has something for everyone. How proud are you of this?
Walter: I am proud of this, but I don’t do these things to congratulation myself. I like to get them out there and hope people are going to enjoy them. There are people who have their prejudices and sometimes I think if I put an album out under a different name and didn’t tell these folks it’s me, they’d go, wow, listen to that, then as soon as they hear it’s me, they say they don’t like that guy.
Those are few and far between these days. I’m building more of an audience in this country and it feels great to me. What I hope to do with this album, though, is really re-ignite some interest in Luther and his music, because I feel that the man deserves it. I feel he was one of the all-time greatest musicians I have ever seen and when I was a kid, I saw all of them. When I was a little boy, my mom took me front row to see Ray Charles, and James Brown, and Harry Belafonte, when I was 10 she had me hanging out with Duke Ellington. I saw a lot of great performers. I hung out with Ella Fitzgerald and saw her many times. Luther, to me, is one of those special, magical performers. I put him in a class with somebody in a whole different genre, be it Ella Fitzgerald or Itzhak Perlman, someone who really creates magic when they perform. He had that ability and I just want people to go back and remember this guy, and that’s why I did this.
Like you said, I think you’re going to bring in a broader audience than you’ve had before. Let’s hope they go back and check out the other stuff too. The vocals on the album are amazing, some of your best vocal work. How hard did you work on that?
You know, I just went in and sang the tunes. The thing that was happening, when I was sort of hot and heavy into putting this record together and I was watching videos of Luther and I was listening to his versions. I went to my wife and said, “You know something, this might be too big a project for me. I might have made a mistake here because his playing and his singing is so intense. I don’t know how I’m going to do this.” She said, “Just go in there and sing it as yourself, but give it everything you’ve got.” And that’s all I did.
I went in there and just sang those songs. I tried to get as involved in it as I could and I also tried to picture Luther and think of him as I sang and played and I was very conscious of trying to do justice to his music and trying to pay homage to him. If he’s up there in the air, in the sky, looking down at us, I want him to think I did a good job.
I think he would man. I think you’re going to get widespread thanks for this project. Let’s ask a few questions that people left on Facebook. This is from our friend Janiva Magness, who you’ve probably heard of… [chuckle]
Yeah, yeah, I know Janiva very well, we’ve been friends for years.
We love her to death. She posted this question: “What is your view on the music business now versus before the onset of digital downloads? Do you think it is better for the artist overall or worse?”
I have to say, and people might disagree with me on this, I think it’s worse. Even my own kids sometimes, I have to persuade them not to download music for free. I tell them, look, this is what your father does. This is how I feed you guys. Those other artists have to pay their bills too.
For someone to think music is some throwaway thing, everybody has a right to it, that’s bullshit. We spend years practicing and developing our abilities, working on it. It’s the same as guys who go to college for 20 years to become a surgeon. They shouldn’t have to perform brain surgery for free. They’ve put years of work into it. Now with the downloading… I miss the record stores, I miss going into a store and just walking through and shopping, and the main thing I have to say that sometimes ticks me off is that guys like me in the long run, Apple ends up making more off my music than I do. But if you don’t put your stuff on itunes, you’re screwing yourself because that’s the biggest music market in the world now. Apple makes more off my records than I do. I don’t think they need the money.
I’m not in the mass market genre. I’m not a rapper and I’m not Taylor Swift here. I’m just trying to make a living in the blues genre, and it’s a niche market. It’s not mass marketed or anything. I think for artists like me it’s worse. For upcoming bands it’s probably better because they can get their music out there. They can have a website and Facebook page and they can put their songs up and their videos up whereas 20 years ago you have to go to labels and you had to get signed and hope that the label was going to market your records and get behind you. So I think for the young, upcoming guys it’s probably better, but for guys who have been at it a long time like me and Janiva, and we both started before there were even home computers, I think it’s a little bit worse than it used to be.
I agree with you. I see it all the time. You talked about record stores closing — do you think that the world is too busy for music sometimes? With video games, movies, and smartphones…
I know that in the 60s when I grew up, music had a very important place in our lives when we were teenagers. We looked to our favorite musicians almost like they had answers to the questions of life. I remember buying a Beatles album when I was 15 and thinking, these guys know the answer. I don’t even know the question yet, but these guys know the secret. It had a very important place in our lives.
Now there’s so much–back then there were 3 TV stations. Now I live in LA and have 1000 TV stations. I think music has been pushed into a little corner and it’s not really that important and now they use Beatles songs and Credence songs to sell underwear and perfume. And it used to be a whole different sort of thing. A whole different level of importance in young peoples’ lives.
That’s exactly what I had written down, that music’s turned into a commodity instead of a necessity. I know for me, I almost needed music to function.
Yeah, and I would get together at night with my buddies and we would just sit in the living room and listen to our records and marvel at them, turn it up and discuss the music and go over the lyrics, and then we’d all grab our instruments and go into the basement and play like our lives depended on it.
It gave us a sense of belonging, a sense of community, a sense of being part of something. A lot of that is gone now because it’s so readily available. I don’t think it’s necessary to have music playing all the time. It loses its specialness when you’re standing in line at Arby’s and the music is blasting and somebody’s got their headphones on and they’re walking down the street. It just doesn’t have quite the special place in the lives of young people that it did when I was young.
I’m not trying to sound like an old guy who knows the golden days, the good old days because that’s bullshit, but the incredible onslaught of information that our children are exposed to, music is just a small part of it.
It’s just background noise. And that’s part of the reason I think they download stuff. It’s not that big of a deal to them.
They think it’s music and we’re all entitled to it. No, that’s somebody’s creation. That’s like saying I’m going into the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and walk off with a painting and say I’m entitled to this. It’s bullshit.
Let’s talk about recovery for a minute if we can.
Oh yeah, you heard on my last album, I have a song called “Recovery”.
I love that song, man. It’s awesome.
That’s sort of my story and the story of a lot of my friends. To me, the people who I came up through the ranks with who did not figure it out and who did not quit that bullshit, they’re all dead now. I’ve got a long list of friends, who are musicians, many of them younger than me, who are now dead because they kept drinking and they kept doping because they didn’t figure it out. It’s a sad thing and I feel very lucky and blessed to still be alive. I was running around in the early 70′s geezing heroine. I was all the way down. I didn’t even play guitar for 2 years, I just chased dope on the streets of LA in my youth. So I just feel lucky, and that’s why I play like I play and burn it up.
Okay, well let’s talk about this then. How did your sobriety affect your music?
I can tell you that when I started playing at 14, 15 years old, I’d get together with my buddies and we’d jam in the basement and in the garage, it was this incredible buzz, and then later the dope and booze came into it and you start feeling like you can’t play unless you’re messed up. When I did get sober, I was on tour with John Mayall, and basically Carlos Santana sort of spent 3 days talking to me.
We were in East Berlin, Germany, when it was communist, and we were in the same hotel as Santana. He gave me a book to read and we had long talks and I went to John Mayall and said, “You’ll never see me high on a stage again.” And the first night I went out and played with him sober, the first time I had played the guitar sober in years and years, just playing a chord ripped my heart out. I could not believe how I could feel it emotionally.
I had this revelation that when I was high and doped up and drunk, it was dulling my emotions, and my emotional involvement in the music was not what it should have been or what it could have been because the dope and the booze were getting in the way of me feeling what I was doing. So I went out on stage with John sober that night, played a chord and started crying at the incredible emotional intensity I was feeling from the music. And I hadn’t felt that since I was that kid playing in the basement.
That’s incredible. That was ’87, then. Obviously the music scene can be a little shady at times. Was it hard for you at those times to stay off of it?
Not once I decided to do it, no. I just had hit, in recovery they say you gotta hit bottom, and I’d hit bottom. I had enough. It wasn’t fun. I can tell you that some of the things that Carlos talked to me about were doing a serious examination of yourself and what gifts you have been given, and using those gifts to your fullest potential, and that’s how you can contribute to the world be it you’re a guitar player or be it you’re an auto mechanic. If that’s your gig, do it to the utmost and the best of your ability, and that’s how you can make this world a little better. He told me when I first met him the first night, “you’re in a famous band, you have a gift, and you’re so drunk on stage that you’re flipping the bird at the one that gave you the gift”.
So at that point it wasn’t that difficult to stop. To this day, I’ll be playing in a club somewhere, and there’ll be someone in the club that I look at from the stage and go, well, there it is. That’s the reason I quit. That used to be me. Some guy stumblin’ around puking in the corner making an asshole of himself because he’s all messed up. That was me, and that’s the reason I quit. If he comes up to me afterward, I’ll try and talk to him about it. I’ll try to gently say, “Don’t you think you would have enjoyed the gig more if you wouldn’t have been in the corner puking on your shoes?”
Yeah, that’s the funny thing about when people first get sober. They don’t think they can go to a show and enjoy music unless they’re wasted. I’ve found that I have a way better time because I remember everything.
Sure, that’s exactly right. I had a good friend who’s now dead, he didn’t die from drugs or booze, he died from something else, but he was one of the ones who was behind me sobering up too. When I was running around the streets, he was one of the guys I was running with. He sobered up and changed his life, and one of the things he said to me when I had just quit he said, “Walter, you have everything you used to do high, everything you need to do it sober now, and you’re going to enjoy it more.” He didn’t mean going and running around the streets, he meant if you went to gigs high, go out and live your life and do the same things but don’t do them loaded, and you’re going to see that you don’t have to change your life and you’re still going to enjoy, even much more so, every day of your life not being messed up. I’ll never forget that.
Do you remember the first album you ever bought with your money?
I saw a movie on TV called the Al Jolson Story so saved my money and I went out and bought it. The first rock (Modern) album I bought was the night after the Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show. Feb 9th 1964, Channel 2 Philadelphia, 8pm Sunday night.
We talked a little about the lack of major bands on television like they were in the 60’s & 70’s (at least our favorite bands) and Walter tells us about a friend that was in the entertainment business. He was big into commercial jingles and when asked how do I get my band on TV, Walter’s friend said, “Be mediocre”.
What do you have planned next?
I’ve already began some of the work on the next one that will come out in about a year. John Mayall plays on a couple tracks and in fact he does something he hasn’t done in a long time. He plays some boogie-woogie acoustic piano and also the Hammond B3.
So who is your favorite Beatle?
John, of course. I think he had the rock & roll in him.
I liked him not just for his music but his stance on the world. What’s your stance on all the crazy current affairs?
I try to make a statement with the music. If you read the lyrics on “Blues For The Modern Daze” that’s exactly what it’s about. That whole album was about me trying to make some statements. Money rules the world, politicians bought and sold, doing just what their told, pretending that they got our backs but they really belong to Exxon and Goldman/Sachs.
What do you think about Monsanto?
I think they should just close up and f#@king go away. That’s what I think about Monsanto. I gotta say that I’m severely disappointed that our president signed a bill that protects them. If they really think their products are safe, then why would they even want to be immune?
The corruption between Monsanto and our government is just unbelievable.
Oh I know it is. It’s awful. I just wish they’d go away. That song “Money Rules The World” is about that. There has to be somebody out there that could run for office who actually cares about the people and doesn’t just give lip service but will actually fight somebody like that evil company. There’s gotta be somebody that is out for the good of the people.
The older I get and the more shit I see going on, the more radical I get in my views. Because I don’t see it changing and I see people come out and they inspire you with their rhetoric and you think this is gonna be great and then they turn out to be another in the pockets of the corporation, ya know? I’m just sick of government by corporations for rich people.
Okay, let’s wrap this up, I know you’re busy but we’ll do this again.
Thank you for what you guys are doing. That’s a great website and one thing I really enjoy on that site is that you guys are not purists. You guys put stuff on there about Hendrix and Bob Dylan as much as you put on Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson. You’re covering the whole gamete and I think it’s great and I really think that’s why it has taken off.
Thank you to Walter and his camp for setting this up.
The Walter Trout Interview
By Ralph Greco, Jr. Photos by Brittany Fay
You’ve never heard the electric blues played the way Walter Trout plays it. A New Jersey native (like yours truly), he’s played with Canned Heat, John Lee Hooker and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, where his skills came to worldwide attention.
When Trout struck out on his own two years shy of 40, he did so knowing he had lots to say with his own compositions and his own band. Twenty-two solo albums, accolades galore and a strong international cult following, Trout’s gamble of leaving Bluesbreakers 25 years ago has paid off in spades.
In the following interview, we had a chance to talk to Trout about his career and his 2013 release Luther's Blues, a tribute to blues guitarist Luther Allison. “Luther was one of the all-time greats,” Trout says of his hero and close friend who died in 1997 at age 57. The love and respect on this album most definitely shine through.
I have to say, not only was I expecting (and got) plenty of your great playing on Luther’s Blues. I also was quite impressed with the tightness of the band, how the CD actually sounds like a "band record," if that makes sense.
Yeah, that’s my road band. Those guys have been with me for years. We have a certain way of playing together; we play 200 shows a year so we’re pretty tight. The newest guy, Mike, our drummer, is coming up on six years with us and he’s got 1,200 shows in…and he’s the new guy! Studio guys can come in, make a chart and play a song but the chemistry will not necessarily be there. When guys have played that many shows together it comes through on the record.
So it was basically the band setting up in the studio and letting it rip?
Yes, we basically set up in a big room, looked at each other and just played the songs. What you’re hearing are basically live performances with the occasional overdubbed rhythm guitar here or there, maybe a redone solo or something and probably some redone vocal every now and again.
You mention on your website and in the liner notes, that this was the right time to make this record, this tribute to Luther. Can you expand on that?
My last record, Blues For The Modern Daze, did really good for me but I thought: Do I need to do another record of: ‘Walter writes 12 songs and here they are’? No. I thought it was time to do something different and this idea to pay tribute to my friend had been on my mind for like14, 15 years. I’ve wanted to do this ever since Luther passed. He had worked so hard to finally get a little bit of recognition here in the States and he was really breaking through, getting some long overdue accolades in this country and boom, he got diagnosed with cancer and he was dead three weeks later; it was over so quick. He was a dear friend, and from that moment on, I thought I had to do something for this guy. I asked my label to see if they were good with it and they jumped on it, said it was a great idea and told me to go for it.
And the songs, as well as lots of stuff you write in the booklet, are all part of the full package of a tribute, right?
I did make a certain promise to Luther, you can read about, yes. The guy that wrote all those songs with him and was in his and for 20 years, James Solberg, he wrote a long piece for the CD booklet as well. Luther’s widow wrote a long piece too. There’s photos, here too. There’s lots here from people who knew the man, it’s not just the songs. My specific piece is about the first time I met Luther. Then I get into the last time I saw him and what our last conversation was about. When you read that, you’ll really understand why I wanted to do this record for so long.
And you’ll be touring the record you said, going out with the Walter Trout Band as usual. Any East Coast dates for a fellow New Jerseyan to see you?
Yes, we’re actually playing a big festival back in Jersey that we happened to pack when we played it before, the Somers Point Beach Concert Series. And of course we’ll be playing our usual bunch of dates. Check my website (http://www.waltertrout.com/) for details. We’ll definitely be out there.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you about your time in the Bluesbreakers…and then leaving them. Can you fill us in on that journey?
I had a four-piece band back in Jersey, I wrote all the songs, I fronted the band and though we were damn good we couldn’t scare up a gig! We were starving, so I came out here to California in ‘74 with a dream to basically do what I’m doing right now! I immediately got hired by people, I’m playing with Jon Lee Hooker and we do a gig with the guys from Canned Heat and before I know it they say, come join Canned Heat. I do and we open we up for John Mayall, and at the time he has Mick Taylor and John McVie in the band and he says, "I want to hear you play with Mick Taylor." So there I am, out touring next the original Bluesbreakers. Then Mayall says, "I’m gonna put together a new version, why don’t you stick around?" I just went from one to another to another situation.
And Mayall was the dream gig, as you’ve said.
Definitely, an incredible gig. But during it all, I was always writing songs. We’d come off tour and I was fronting a band, we’d play down at the corner bar doing my tunes, Beatles, Stones, all of our influences. And one day, it was actually my 38th birthday, I was playing with John and I’m on stage thinking: "I’m 38, if I ever want to have solo career and not just be somebody’s lead guitar player, which was an incredible gig as I’ve said, I got to explore what’s inside me." So I went to John’s room and told him I had to quit. It was scary, he was paying me great, I was traveling first-class, living the dream, but John’s one of the finest, funniest, greatest guys to work for. He understood I had to take the gamble.
Do you still speak to him?
Yes, were still great friends. He’s recorded four of my songs along the way and as a matter of fact about a month and a half ago he and I went into the studio with my band and recorded two songs .
Quite the tale to tell…and such a long career since.
Well, thank you, yes. I just had to follow my joy of creating, paying and being an artist.
Podcast: Walter Trout talks about some tracks from his album, 'Blues For The Modern Daze'
March 01, 2013 Click HERE to go to ListenIn.org
Interview: Guitarist Walter Trout Discusses His New Album, 'Blues For The Modern Daze'
Dec 11, 2012 Dave Reffett - Guitar World
Guitarist Walter Trout has a resume that reads like a who's who of rock and blues legends.
As a former member of Canned Heat and John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Walter has paid his dues and then some. He's even played lead guitar for the legendary John Lee Hooker, Big Mama Thornton and Bo Diddley.
I recently spoke with Walter to find out about his new CD, Blues For The Modern Daze, which was released April 24 via Mascot Music Productions. We also discussed how much he's looking forward to playing the new songs on the road.
To see if he's coming to your neck of the woods, check out his schedule here.
GUITAR WORLD: In your opinion, what's the most important track on Blues For The Modern Daze?
Wow, I haven't been asked that. There are a couple of them. The opening track, "Saw My Mama Cryin," is a true story about my mom. She raised me by herself, and I thought it was time to write a tribute to her and all of the crap she went through trying to raise me.
I also think "Money Rules The World" is a really good statement here in this election year, and "All I Want Is You" is a love song to my wife. Those are probably the three I like the most.
In the album cover photo, you have a really nice Fender Strat and a Mesa Boogie amp. Is that what you used to get your tone on this record?
I've been endorsed by Mesa Boogie since I was in John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, so we're coming up on almost 30 years now. When I play live, my stage rig is a Mark 5 through an open-back old Boogie cabinet they don't make anymore. It's a 4-by-12, and I've got EV speakers on the bottom and Boogie Black Shadows on the top. I set that up in the studio, and I also had a wall of amplifiers. I've got an old Fender, a Marshall, a couple of handmade custom things in there, and for all these tunes I kept going through to see what was sound best on any given particular song.
I ended up doing the whole album on the Mark 5. The clean stuff like on "Recovery," that's just the Mark 5 on the first channel. The opening track is the Mark 5 on the third channel set the way I have it on stage, so the whole record is a Stratocaster through a Mark 5. I have really put that amp through its paces, and I think it's the most versatile amp on the face of the earth.
What do you use for pickups?
The old guitar on the album cover, that's all stock. I've owned that guitar for 39 years, and when I bought it, it was blazing Olympic White. I use that on a couple of tunes and I don't take it on the road at all anymore because it's just too stressful to have it on the road. I don't want anything to happen to it.
When I retired that guitar a couple of years ago, my buddy Seymour Duncan told me he would build me some pickups that would sound exactly like them. There's a guitar builder in San Diego named Scott Lentz, and he makes beautiful guitars. He built the body for me; it's very light because I was having problems with my left shoulder after 42 years of guitar. So he built the body, and then I had an old Fender neck lying around and I put it on there and that's the guitar I use onstage. The majority of the stuff on that record is my stage guitar and that amp throughout pretty much the whole CD.
What can people expect to see and hear at a Walter Trout performance?
We'll be doing a lot of this record. I kind of wrote this record so we could re-create it live, and I'm really excited to come out and do these new songs. I've got the same band from the CD and we're going to do a really high-energy blues-rock performance. We'll take people on a bit of a roller coaster ride too. We'll hit them with some hard, loud, up-tempo stuff, and then we'll do very whisper-quiet blues like cut number four on the CD, "Blues for my Baby." The fans will get a good live show. The band is kicking butt.
What made you pick up the guitar in the first place? Who were your big influences?
It's funny. When I was a kid, I was going to be a jazz trumpet player. I studied trumpet and I was getting to hang out with people like Duke Ellington when I was 10. If I had to use an analogy to explain, I would say instead of wanting to be Jimi Hendrix, when I was 10 I wanted to be Miles Davis. Then in 1961 out came the first album by Bob Dylan. My brother brought it home and just the simplicity of it and the power of what the guy was doing really got to me. So I asked my parents for an acoustic guitar and I started off with just a chord book.
I taught myself some chords and started playing folk music. Then in '64, out came The Beatles. I saw them on Ed Sullivan and it was a pivotal moment in my musical life. The next day I told my folks I must have an electric guitar. The whole thing with playing leads and solos happened when I heard Michael Bloomfield. He played on an album by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and that's another one that my older brother brought home. When Bloomfield started soloing my jaw hit the floor. I was about 14 at the time and I remember it vividly. From that moment, I swear I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. After that I was pretty unidirectional. I knew I was going to play blues lead guitar. Everything else in my life took a backseat after that, and I just went after it with everything I had.
You've played with John Lee Hooker, correct?
Yes I did, and Big Mama Thornton, Percy Mayfield, Bo Diddley, Lowell Fulsom, Pee Wee Crayton, Bobby Hatfield from The Righteous Brothers, and then I got into Canned Heat. I did that for four years. I played with Mick Taylor also and then I got in with John Mayall and played with them for five years. I had quite a wrong a long run as a sideman. I was always working that was a great time. I was getting to play with these people who were my idols and were these legendary musicians.
I'd have to say the five years with Mr. Mayall was the most fun I've ever had in my musical career ever. It was a blast and he's got this incredible sense of humor. It was no stress or pressure because I was not the front man. It wasn't my band, I just had to show up and play solos. The other thing was though that I knew I had a lot more to give. I wanted to write songs, I wanted to sing, I wanted to have a band and give my own direction. So after five years, I quit and started my own band. It was a tough decision, but I knew I had to give it a shot.
Do you have any good John Lee Hooker stories for us? What did you learn from him?
I don't know how much of it can be said in public [laughs]. I did learn playing spontaneously from him because one thing he would do, and you can hear him on his records, he would go in and make an entire album and he wouldn't even have songs written. He would just start making up words about whatever was happening to him that day. We would be at the studio playing some boogie lick and he'd be like, "I got stuck in traffic on my way here today" [laughs]. He made up songs spontaneously right there in the moment as it was happening. You had to watch him because you never knew what would happen. So that whole experience was a crash course on how to play spontaneously with other musicians.
From your perspective, how has the music business changed?
It's had a massive change in the last 10 years with the Internet and all that. In some ways it's a good thing and in some ways it's a bad thing. The cool thing is, now someone can make their own record with a computer and a good program. You can make a record in your living room that will sound pretty decent. Then you can use Facebook and those kinds of things to market it and create an own audience. Now music that would have normally never gotten a chance can be heard. Unlike when everything was just dominated by labels.
On the other hand, you get swamped with stuff and you really have to look through to find the good stuff. Record sales are dwindling too. It used to be we would go out on tour as a means of selling CDs. Now the CDs provide us a means to go out and play shows. So I really make my living playing live. Unless you're Madonna or somebody and can move that amount of CDs. So the CDs enable you to go out and play and have good crowds, so for somebody like me the touring is essential.
I keep touring. I do 200 cities a year. I'm one of the lucky ones because I love touring. But the business is in an incredible state of change and where it's going we just don't know. The illegal downloading just pisses me off. People say, "Oh, man, music should be free," and I'm like, "What you do for a living?" OK, you go upholster my car for free then. I have teenage sons and they'll be downloading stuff, pirating stuff and I look at them and go, "Hey, man, that's what I do for a living, that's how I feed you. Do not be stealing music from people."
For aspiring guitar players out there, if you could list a handful of the greatest bluesmen to learn from, who would they be?
I think you've got a go back to the three Kings -- B.B., Albert and Freddie. Start there, those three guys, that's the bible of blues guitar licks. Then there's Buddy Guy. The thing I love about him is he just throws caution to the wind and he just plays with this insane energy, passion and feeling. He has no worry at all about going over the top into what some people would call overplaying. To me that just means he's getting off. When people go, "He's overplaying," I go, "What do you mean overplaying? What do you mean too many notes?" Go tell John Coltrane he's playing too many notes. That's bullshit. As long as you mean every note, who cares?
Then there's a fellow named Roy Buchanan who I love. I got to sit around with him, and he showed me stuff on the guitar. An amazing guitar player, one of the greats. Then go back and hear early Michael Bloomfield, like the very first album by Paul Butterfield. If you listen to that and put it in the context of that coming out in 1965 and you listen to the way Bloomfield plays, it is groundbreaking. Way ahead of its time. Nobody played like that back then and it was before amps had overdrive. He just plugged into a Fender amp and turned it all the way up.
Then you've got to go to the really obvious ones like Jimi Hendrix and early Clapton. If you sit down and listen to those guys and work on trying to figure out some of the stuff, you'll find that everything they play has an emotional foundation to it. Those guys played from their heart.
And one little footnote here about Jimi Hendrix is that when I hear young guys come out and try to play Hendrix, they go over the top. They do fast things like sweep picking and all of this stuff and I think to myself, they need to go back and listen to Hendrix. He never even played fast. He's considered the greatest of all time and he never ever shredded and he never even played fast. If you listen to him in that context, it's all about phrasing, tone, innovation and incredibly deep commitment to every note that he plays. That's what comes through to me with Jimi. He played beautiful things.
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