Robin Trower | 03.01.08

prof_robin-trower_box.jpgWhen I'm writing, I'm always trying to stay in contact with my upbringing with black music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1974, Robin Trower released the groundbreaking Bridge of Sighs. It included signature tracks like "Day of the Eagle," "Too Rolling Stoned" and "Bridge of Sighs," and has remained as an influential album to generations of guitar players. He is now on tour to support the release of the new album, Seven Moons, which is the new combined effort with Jack Bruce (formerly of Cream). Reunited again, they have made a new set of songs that hold true to the craftsmanship and warmth of live recordings of the late '60s to mid '70s. The lineup for the tour will be dynamic vocalist Davey Pattison, and the powerful combination of drummer of Pete Thompson and Glenn Letsch on bass. They will be performing the classic hits and some new material along with songs spanning Trower's entire career. Come out to The Pageant and you will be in awe of the tone of his guitar and will feel the grooves move right though you.

prof_robin-trower.jpg

You have a lot of friends here in St. Louis and we're all looking forward to seeing you this Saturday. I had a chance to hear samples online and download from iTunes some of the songs from your new recording with Jack Bruce, Seven Moons. That is a beautiful sounding project.

Thank you very much! Jack and I are very pleased with it, I must say.

How is the tour going; are you having a good time?

It's been great. It really has been an excellent turnout from the audience point of view. We had some very, very good shows from our point of view, some good-sounding rooms and playing very well. So you couldn't hope for any better, really.

What was the genesis of the idea behind the new release?

Actually, Jack and I had been talking about trying to get ahold of the tapes of our first two albums, to do a remix and a repackaging of the best of the two albums. Jack came up with the idea of adding a couple of new songs to the package. So, we got together and did some writing, and before we knew where we were, we had about four or five songs, and we just said, "Ah well, we just might as well go on and do an album."

So you actually both got together to write the material?

Yeah, we co-wrote all the songs on the album.

Having heard the character of the album, it seems that as with some sort of wizardry, you have been able to go back in time and create an anachronism; it sounds like a long-lost recording from a past era that did not exist until now. How did you capture that feel with such authenticity?

I think that the approach of basically going into the studio and just playing and capturing it is an old-fashioned idea these days. But, you know that's what me and Jack do. Live performance is the life's blood of what we're about, really.

Was there something different about the recording process? Did you use different equipment or older tape machines, anything like that?

We did record to tape. I just prefer the sound of tape to going direct to digital.

It sounds like a very "live" recording; was it all done in a single room together?

Yeah, that's right; we set up in a room. The room was a very good-sounding room; you've got a very nice sort of ambient sound which helps tremendously.

Will Jack Bruce be joining you for any dates on the tour?

No, but we are doing some live dates later in the year. We're talking September, October at the moment.

Have you been getting a good response from any of the radio stations?

Yeah, I think it's getting a bit of airplay. But you know, it not being a pop record, I think it's quite difficult to get on the radio.

Did the DVD Living Out of Time capture the experience of your live shows the way that you intended?

Yeah, I think so, pretty much. I mean, you know a DVD can only be a film of that night, so you've got to accept that.

Does your approach to your sound change in a live setting versus the studio? How do you keep such a sweet tone so consistently?

In the studio I play quite quietly compared to what I do live. I use a couple of small amps that I had hand-built by a friend of mine called Dennis Cornell. Live, I tend to play a bit loud. I use Marshalls live at the moment. But the sound is really what comes off of the guitar, so it's a pretty similar tone, just a difference in the volume.

Do you still use any of your old gear, amps or guitars, or do you update your rig with new technology all the time?

Those amps that I used in the studio on Seven Moons, they were new; they had just been built by Dennis. The Marshalls that I use onstage live are pretty old.

Been with you through thick and thin, I suppose.

Yeah, that's right. Obviously, you keep them up to scratch, but they are such great-sounding amps, the old ones.

Okay, here's the age-old question: E or E flat? Where do you guys tune at?

I tune in D.

Ah! So thicker stringsdo you use tens or elevens?

Twelves.

In a town like St. Louis, you have such a huge following of dedicated fans, despite not getting too much press or airplay from some on the classic rock stations here and there. I personally go around to two or three jam sessions a week around town, where some of the baddest guitar players in the city show up. You cannot go through a night without hearing someone blaze through one of your tunes.

That's quite a compliment, isn't it?

prof_robin-trower_sm.jpgWhat do you attribute the longevity of you're music to? What makes it seem so timeless?

When I'm writing, I'm always trying to stay in contact with my upbringing with black music, really. I mean, all my great inspiration comes from blues and rhythm and blues, and some sort of soul stuff as well, I guess. Everything I write, I try and get it to have some of that feeling in it. I think it is that sort of sense of truthfulness, or soulfulness that maybe makes the songs a little more timeless. If you think about blues, I mean real blues, that is a completely timeless music; it really is a folk music, and folk music knows no fashion or era. It's always going to be great. I've always tried to get that to feed into my creativity.

You have a great style that is a perfect blend of blues and rock and bit of funk. Do you feel resurgence in popularity of that type of sound in the mainstream on the horizon?

I haven't noticed it, but I'm not a real great popular music fan. I haven't been since the '60s, really.

So your listening habits, things that you listen to now, are still along the same lines as what originally inspired you?

I think so. I do recognize that there are some great talents out there; it just doesn't really get me where I live. If I want to put on a record on to knock myself out, it's going to be Howlin' Wolf, or James Brown, or Jimi Hendrix, or Albert King—you know, that kind of stuff.

What is your take on the current state of the music industry?

It has definitely become more of a business and less about the music. It always was based around the fact of selling a lot of records, except when you go back to the dance band era, when it was more about playing live music for people to dance to. But once the pop record became king, that dominated the music industry; I suppose it was inevitable that it would end up being run by corporations.

Do you feel like you are a guitar legend? Is there a membership card or something that they give you?

(Laughs) I don't think that you do feel like a guitar legend. That's all sort of a bit of a mystery, all that. I mean because you've got to remember that I've got heroes that I look up to, that I can't relate myself being alongside them. So it's very difficult, that.

Is there a particular message that you would like to get out there?

Anybody that's been up to any of my shows before, there's some stuff in the set that I've never played live. There's stuff from the '70s that has made it very interesting for me, but I know from the audience's response that they are very glad that I've put those songs in; makes it more interesting for fans of my music. | Derek Lauer

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