GET READY TO ROLL! is fired up about the release of the smokin' new album by DAVE BURN. We talk to Dave about THE NIGHTWATCHMAN which is a collection of ten blistering tracks containing some scorching guitarwork!
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Okay Dave, fire away - please describe your music to someone who's never heard of you before.
I'm an oldschool-style guitarist. My solo work is mostly instrumental, and I write mainly in the rock vein, but I believe that instruments should be orchestrated, as you would in classical music. Melody is of utmost importance to me, along with the feel and dynamic. The 'soundscape' can sometimes be less structured, more ethereal - but I'm not averse to a bit of shred every now and again if the track requires it!
Tell us about The Nightwatchman, which is released on 31st October.
It's my 14th solo instrumental album and it starts with a rock/metal track, followed by some oldschool rock, a Steely Dan influenced track and some rock/blues based tunes. There's also a 60's influenced track with a Brubeck-esque jazz vibe. I'm pleased with the atmosphere of this album more than any other record I've done before.
The artwork is by Tristan Greatrex who is responsible for many of my previous album covers, although he's probably better known for his work with UFO and Michael Schenker!
How do you go about writing and recording? Do you get creative bursts or just play every spare moment?
I seem to be on a constant mission to come up with something new, and with only twelve notes to choose from, that is not easy! An idea can come from nowhere, a title, a musical phrase, a drum pattern, even something visual can spark an idea, so I carry a notepad and a pen with me. If I don't have them handy I record the idea on my mobile phone and work on it as soon as I get back to the studio. The best tunes are the ones that aren't forced, the ones that happen naturally, with the least effort - the tunes that almost feel like they've written themselves!
A question regarding your instrumental tracks - at what stage do you come up with the titles, and how are the titles relevant to the tune?
The title comes fairly early. I like wordplay and phrases that can have two meanings. For example, on Out Of Darkness from 2009 there's a track called Asia Major, a play on Asia Minor, which was how that whole Ottoman/Turkish area was described to us at school, - the crossroads where East meets West. And there's a track on 2004's Laced With Blue album called Mrs. Gren which is an acronym for all the things required to count as being alive - the initial letters of Movement, Reproduction, Sensitivity, Growth, Respiration, Excretion and Nutrition. Every title has my own meaning to it, and there is also a thread running through each of the titles on my albums. I try to make the meanings subtle though!
My new album was going to be called Dead Cool. Why? I keep my shades on a skull - not a human one you understand! - and looking at it one day I thought... that looks dead cool! But my virtuoso guitarist mate Paul Hindmarsh, released an album last year called Dead Crooner, (well worth checking out by the way). So, not wanting anyone to think I was copying from him, I went with The Nighwatchman, another track on the album. Tristan had already come up with the superb artwork, and it actually fits the new title perfectly!
Do you always use the same guitar to get into the mood? Do you visualise the bass/drums etc as part of the tune and then record them once you've got the melody? How does it all come together?
I use different guitars if I'm looking for a particular type of song - say I have a title and I want a clean feel to it, then I pick up my Strat because I know the sound the Strat makes will fit that mood. I tend to play differently on each of my guitars and I kind of know which style will suit certain songs. I have a mental picture of the end result of a piece of music, can hear it clear as day, and it may all start from just two or three notes or just a title.
You've been prolific musically, not just with your solo albums but also as guitarist in a UFO tribute band and with other projects. Tell us more about all that.
Well I was playing gigs for about 25 years around the Newcastle area in clubs and pubs and occasional festivals up until 2002, when I went solo to become a recording artist. But just prior to that I was in UUFO (pronounced double-you-eff-oh) for a while. That was a great band, the gigs all went down a storm - well you can't go wrong playing UFO material really can you?!
We got some excellent reviews, but decided to call it a day when the line-up changes sadly didn't work out. We did record three tribute albums at a later date though, as we didn't manage to get any of the gigs recorded either in audio or video.
I also recorded a track on a Pink Floyd tribute album a while back. It was Another Brick in The Wall Part II, and I often record solos and guitar parts for friends when they need them.
Which musicians most inspire you, and why?
Initially it was Jimmy Page - after hearing the opening strains of Whole Lotta Love at 12 years of age, I wanted to make that sound, whatever it took and however it was made. That one moment changed my life completely! I was extremely fortunate to have an older brother, Bernie, who played all the new music of that period to me. We'd avidly listen to Alan Freeman (Fluff) on Radio 1, and then I took up guitar and my brother took up the drums and we taught ourselves how to play each instrument. Although he didn't teach me how to play guitar, he taught me virtually all I know about music. Of all, Bernie was my biggest influence.
Then it would be Paul Kossoff. His music had a massive effect on me, his feel and vibrato are second to none and I do play more vibrato than most of my peers, so I guess he's been a bigger influence on me than I give him credit for! Others who've influenced me over the years would be Leslie West, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Schenker, Dave Gilmour, Dweezil Zappa, Joe Satriani and John Bonham. I think it's because of John Bonham that I often write off a drum pattern or a particular drum fill. I'm a huge Leslie West fan and through him I started listening to Michael Schenker, and now own three Gibson Flying Vs because of it. I'm also inspired by Tchaikovsky and Mozart, hence why I write classical music too.
There's been a very positive response from the people who've seen your YouTube clips, but most of the footage I've seen is studio-based, rather than on stage.
I only gig intermittently, so there's not much live stuff of mine up there, but I've uploaded some clips, e.g. my versions of UFO's Try Me, MSG's Into The Arena, and Randy Rhoads/Ozzy Osbourne's Mr Crowley.
I've also been putting some of my own material on YouTube such as Fate Calls The Shots and Rack 'Em Up.
One great thing about being independent is the freedom of choice and expression, you can control exactly what's recorded and how it's recorded - no record company calling the shots. The downside is the lack of publicity and shelf-space in CD shops, nowhere to rack 'em up. This is why YouTube is so important!
What's the best gig you've ever been to, and what made it so?
Tough question! So many different gigs have been special for different reasons. Seeing Randy Rhoads with Ozzy was special. From Ry Cooder, Jeff Healey to Yngwie Malmsteen I just love watching a musician at work. Van Halen at Donington 1984... and UFO in 1998 with Michael Schenker, which was my first show seeing that line up. Leslie West, Deborah Bonham, this question is just too hard to answer. There is something so special when you're at a gig and the lights go out and all you can hear is the hum of the amps and that sense of anticipation. I love that!
What are your most special moments, highlights etc so far?
Anytime you perform and someone thanks you for it, or praises you for that performance, is special. Many years ago a guy who was at least 70 years old came up to me after a show and asked me to sit with him and his wife. They thanked me for 'one of the best nights entertainment' they'd had in the last 15 years. We sat talking for a good twenty minutes and they mentioned different songs and asked questions about the music - it was amazing. You can't buy that kind of feeling. I was at a local pub a few weeks ago and a guy I knew from years back came up and said he'd started playing guitar because of seeing me play in the late 90s. What other job gives you that?!
What's coming up next?
At the moment I'm putting together a band for intermittent gigs doing rare Paul Kossoff material. I'm also working on some video footage based around Paul Kossoff's style and especially his vibrato. There don't seem to be many videos out there showing how he played a lot of his best material.
Right now I'm working with a singer and will be recording an album of new material and hopefully putting a band together to play the album live. We're also discussing having a covers band doing occasional gigs. I'm looking forward to getting back on stage again!
Planning to carry on writing and recording as long as life will let me! I'm already working on my next solo album, so there's a fair bit going on!
© Get Ready To Roll - 4th October 2012