‘Cannibals’: Richie Kotzen Talks New Album, The Winery Dogs and Gear
In a career that has spanned more than 25 years, guitarist extraordinaire Richie Kotzen has built an impressive resume of albums that showcase his unique shredding prowess, vocals, songwriting and vast musical knowledge.
On Kotzen’s recently released 20th solo album, 2015’s Cannibals, we find the guitarist exploring some interesting new territory.
“In an Instant” and “Come on Free” offer a tasty, Seventies-AOR sound, while “The Enemy” showcase Kotzen’s slide guitar skills. Kotzen also makes the new album a multi-generational affair by including his daughter’s piano-driven song, “You.”
I recently spoke with Kotzen about Cannibals, his songwriting and his current gear setup. He also provides an update on the next Winery Dogs projects and more.
GUITAR WORLD: Lately, you’ve been busy with the Winery Dogs and releasing a compilation package called The Essential Richie Kotzen. What made you decide to release a new solo album?
I felt like it was time. I really had not released a new solo record since 2011. I remember saying to myself around that time that I’d like to take a break from myself and do a collaborative project. The Winery Dogs came at a very good time because the songs I was working on at the time, “Elevate,” “Damaged,” “I’m No Angel” and “Regret,” all ended up on that record.
They were things that we either finished or ideas that were started that ended up on the record. Plus we all wrote new material. After spending the last year and a half doing the band, I really wanted to get back to what it was I’ve been doing for the last 20 years. So I went back into the archives and found some songs I started writing many years ago. There also are brand-new songs, like “Cannibals,” on there too.
This is one of those records where I did what I felt and one that creatively and artistically was true and accurate. I don’t like having to meet a deadline or live up to someone else’s expectations. I’m at my best when I’m left to my own devices.
What’s your songwriting process like these days?
I don’t believe in consciously setting aside a time to write. For me, writing is an emotional, creative thing that requires a lot of variables to line up. To write a real song, there are a lot of things that have to go on emotionally. In my experience, the most truthful material I’ve written comes from unexpected moments. Ideas will come at you many different times and in many different ways. You just have to be prepared to recognize that inspiration and roll with it.
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