Category: Guitar World Interviews

‘Out of the Blue’: Mike Rutherford Discusses New Mike + The Mechanics Album, Gear, Genesis and More

Photo credit: Patrick Balls

Mike + The Mechanics’ ninth studio album, Out of the Blue, captures the spirit and power of some of the band’s most beloved hits. Featuring music from throughout their 35-plus-year-career, the new album also gives fans a glimpse of the band’s future with three brand new cuts, “One Way,” “What Would You Do” and the album’s title track.

A special deluxe CD version of the album features six newly recorded “as-live” acoustic versions of “Don’t Know What Came Over Me,” “The Best is Yet to Come,” “The Living Years,” “Beggar On a Beach Of Gold,” “Another Cup Of Coffee” and “Over My Shoulder.”

In June, the band will meet up with an old friend, Phil Collins, joining him for the first six shows of his European tour.

Guitar World recently spoke with guitarist Mike Rutherford about the new Mike + The Mechanics album, touring, gear and more.

What prompted the new Mike + The Mechanics album?

We’ve been touring the last eight years with two singers, Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar, and I observed the way the old hits have become something else. The two singers have made them their own with different interpretations. The sound was something quite special and I thought it would be nice to capture that in the studio.

What’s your writing process like these days?

It always starts with some chords, drum machine programming and bass pedals and guitar synths. Just making a big racket to get some starting ideas. Normally a title comes first but the best ones are when you get the words with the chords.

Let’s discuss a few of the new songs from the album, beginning with the title track, “Out of the Blue.”

I really like the title. In this day and age it has a positive statement on life. It’s fast and, in a sense, it’s also written a bit like a love song. Sometimes you’re looking for someone special in your life and you try and try. Then suddenly, out of the blue, something comes along. At the same time it applies to life and the aspirations and hopes you’re trying to achieve.

How about “One Way”?

I went back to the old Akai to get that crunchy sound again. The intro is my drum machine programming and the strings are me plugging away on the Akai. It’s a nice sound.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Mike Rutherford by Clicking Here!

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Interview: Kiefer Sutherland Discusses His New Album, ‘Reckless & Me’

Actor and guitarist Kiefer Sutherland, who has more than 300 shows under his belt and a lifetime of love for music and storytelling, will release his sophomore album, Reckless & Me,” on April 26. The 10-track opus follows on the heels of Sutherland’s acclaimed debut, Down in a Hole, which showcased his infectious brand of Americana/country-rock and his whiskey-soaked growl.

Produced by Jude Cole, Reckless & Me also highlights Sutherland’s master storytelling ability, particularly on songs like “Something You Love,” “Open Road” and the locomotive-like “This Is How It’s Done.” All of which lend themselves equally well to both the record and live performance.

Guitar World recently spoke with Sutherland about guitars, songwriting, Reckless & Me and more in this exclusive interview.

What originally inspired you to record your own music?

I never intended to make a record. I had a bunch of songs I liked and took them to my best friend and incredible producer, Jude Cole, with the possibility of sending them off to see if another artist would record them. After the first few songs Jude said, “I think these are great and you should make a record.” Being incredibly aware of the stigma of an actor doing music I was a bit hesitant, but we decided to record a few more songs to see where we were at. I think it was somewhere around the sixth song that I realized how much I loved the songs and the way Jude was making them sound. We decided to move forward and made the record Down in a Hole and it was one of the best times of my life.

What was the musical direction for the new album, Reckless & Me?

Even though a few of the songs on the new album were inspired by things that happened in my life, a lot of them are songs I wanted for our live set. I thought, Wouldn’t it be great if we had a kick-ass honkytonk song with a driving beat to get the audience moving? That’s when I wrote “This Is How It’s Done.” Then Jude and Brian MacLeod (drummer) sped it up with a relentless locomotive-doing-100-mph backbeat. That song went on the record because I knew it would be great for our set. Then there’s “Something You Love,” which is another driving song that Jude and I wrote together. Instead of sitting in the studio thinking about what sounds would work or what was the most emotionally moving, the choice and direction of the songs for the album were ones that would make for a better show. I’m thrilled with how the record came out and am so excited to be able to go out and play it.

What’s your songwriting process like?

I usually have a guitar with me so typically what I’ll do is noodle around until I find a few chords I like that sound good together. Then it becomes a matter of finding out where they go. The thing I love about acting and songwriting is being able to tell an interesting story. So, if I can get a lyrical idea down, I’ll usually come up with a melody as well. Sometimes Jude will even alter the melody, which is why we always write together. He has a great melodic sense.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Kiefer Sutherland by Clicking Here!

Guitarist Eric Schenkman Discusses New Solo Album, ‘Who Shot John,’ the Spin Doctors, Gear

Spin Doctors guitarist Eric Schenkman’s third solo album, Who Shot John, showcases the many sides of the artist’s vast repertoire.

Whether it’s the colloquialism of the album’s title track, the unbridled anarchy and groove of songs like “Agent Orange” and “Locked in the House All Day,” or the hard, Chicago blues feel on tracks like “I’m All Right,” Who Shot John is radio-friendly enough to draw listeners in, while his guitar wizardry reveals a dynamic, effervescent complexity.

Guitar World recently spoke with Schenkman about Who Shot John, the Spin Doctors and more.

How would you describe Who Shot John in terms of its sound and maybe how it relates to some of your previous work?

Sound-wise, it leans heavily on my working with a trio, which is something that I do a lot, and how I’ve been understanding music through the blues these last several years. It’s a good representation of where I’m at now and [looks] at a lot of different angles and perspectives that I’ve come to terms with.

What’s your writing process like?

It happens very differently for different songs. Sometimes a song can be melody-driven, like “Fortune Teller” and “Far Away.” A song can also be very immediate and other times could take years to write. “Agent Orange Blues” is an example of a tight, visceral response to a situation, whereas a song like “Who Shot John” came from a lyric I started about 20 years ago and just recently finished. I had that one in my head for years trying to figure out what the lyric meant.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Eric Schenkman by Clicking Here!

Broken Hope Guitarist Jeremy Wagner Showcases His Impressive Collection of Jeff Hanneman Gear

Jeremy Wagner, noted horror author and main riffer for death metal band Broken Hope, has been busily completing a gallery he’s aptly dubbed “Wagner World.” The 4,000-square-foot, music-studio/horror-and-rock memorabilia museum is a tribute to his favorite guitarists and includes rare instruments from the late Jeff Hanneman (Slayer) and Paul Gray (Slipknot), as well as Metallica’s Kirk Hammett.

In this exclusive interview, Wagner offers Guitar World a peek at his latest acquisitions. He also discusses his admiration for Hanneman, his latest novel and much, much more.

What was it about Jeff Hanneman and Slayer that first appealed to you?

I still remember the moment I decided I wanted to be metal guitar player. It was when I heard Metallica’s Ride the Lightning. I was floored and couldn’t stop listening to it. I immediately went on a mission to find the heaviest music and that’s when I found Slayer’s Hell Awaits. But it wasn’t until Reign in Blood came out that I discovered Jeff Hanneman had written all my favorite songs and riffs and was an awesome lyricist. It was another turning point. The thing that drew me was the extreme nature of his writing. He had this incredible talent to take aggression and extreme guitar playing and mix it with the catchiest riffs you’ve ever heard. He was a big source of inspiration to me on all levels.

When did you start collecting Hanneman gear?

I’ve been collecting gear and different instrument for years, especially vintage Marshall heads and ESP guitars from the Eighties. During this time, I developed a close relationship with Matt Masciandaro, the president of ESP, and became aware of an auction Jeff’s widow, Kathryn, was going to have. I had the unique opportunity to buy direct from her.

Where do you keep your acquisitions?

I’ve got a renovated property near my house that sits on six acres of land. The first floor is where Broken Hope rehearses and where I have a bunch of memorabilia that I like to call the “Jeff Hanneman Museum.” It has a number of Jeff’s awards and prints of live shots of Jeff rehearsing. In that same room is a vault where I have many of Jeff’s original guitars and Eighties-era ESPs hanging on the racks. There’s also a “Paul Gray Museum.” Paul was a friend who always loved Broken Hope and the two of us would talk frequently. I’m also a fanatic about 1984-86 Metallica and have an impressive collection of horror memorabilia.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Jeremy Wagner and See Photos
of his impressive collection by Clicking Here!

The Bangles’ Vicki Peterson Talks New Album, Saluting the Paisley Underground

Photo: Autumn de Wilde

It was the dawn of the Eighties when the Bangles (then known as the Bangs), the Dream Syndicate, the Three O’Clock and Rain Parade were all new L.A. bands at the core of the influential Paisley Underground scene.

Five years ago, the four groups got back together for a charity event that went over so well they decided to do something unique to celebrate their success. They each got to work putting their own spin on one song from each of the other three bands. The result is a new 12-song collection, titled 3 x 4: The Bangles, The Three O’Clock, The Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade, which will be released on purple swirl vinyl, double LP and CD for Black Friday Record Store Day on November 23, with a wider release coming early next year.

Guitar World recently spoke with Bangles guitarist Vicki Peterson about the new album and more.

What inspired this new project? How did it all come about?

The record is a delayed outgrowth of a reunion we did a few years back. We all got together, Rain Parade, Dream Syndicate, the Three O’Clock and the Bangs, and did a series of shows in San Francisco and L.A. We had so much fun reconnecting that a week later, I was talking with Danny Benair (The Three O’Clock) and Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate) about doing an album. But instead of recording new material, we thought a sweet project would be for each band to pick a song from the other three bands and cover it. It was a nice way to pay tribute to each other.

Who coined the phrase “Paisley Underground”?

It’s generally credited to Mike Quercio (The Three O’Clock). He was sitting down for an interview and someone asked him to describe what was going on and what the common thread was and he said, “We’re the Paisley Underground.” It was a movement and certainly not mainstream music. At the time, it was the early Eighties in Los Angeles. Punk was winding down and there was a rockabilly scene. All of us shared a common reverence for the music of the mid-Sixties to early Seventies. It was very contrite, and “paisley” really kind of says it best.

I want to ask you about the tracks the Bangles covered for the new album, starting with the Three O’Clock’s “Jet Fighter.” What can you tell me about it?

Generally, it’s the most pop tune on the album. It’s got such a catchy chorus and a great feel. It was one of the songs that when I heard it again sparked a lot of happy memories of going to Three O’Clock shows.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Vicki Peterson by Clicking Here!

Steve Lukather Discusses His New Autobiography, ‘The Gospel According to Luke’

In his new autobiography, The Gospel According to Luke, guitarist Steve Lukather tells the story of how he and his high school friends became the most in-demand session players in L.A., and then went on to form Toto, a band that continues to defy the odds and has sold more than 40 million albums.

Co-written with Paul Rees, Lukather’s biography is an engaging, hilarious and at times tender look into the life of one of music’s most accomplished guitarists and session players. His list of musical achievements alone are enough to fill an entire book. The five-time Grammy winner (and eight-time nominee) has worked with everyone from Boz Scaggs and Paul McCartney to Aretha Franklin and Miles Davis. He was once asked to join Elton John’s touring band and played guitar on Michael Jackson’s Thriller – the biggest selling album of all time. Then there’s his personal, brotherly relationship with the Porcaro brothers and Toto, and all of the highs and lows in between.

The Gospel According to Luke is more than a time capsule of life, love and redemption. It’s a treasure trove of information for anyone wondering what it was like being in the studio and working alongside some of the greatest artists, producers and engineers in music history.

Guitar World recently spoke with Lukather about his new book, session work, gear and more.

What made you decide to write a book about your life and career? Was it something you always thought about doing?

I originally wasn’t looking to do a book at all. A few years ago I got invited to the Grammy Museum to do a Q&A with Scott Goldman. It was one of those interviews where he asked me questions about my whole career, and I didn’t know what was coming. I remember the room was packed and as I was talking, people were howling in the aisles, laughing at all of my stories. When I came offstage, my agents came up to me and said, “You have got to write a book.” From there, I started getting calls from publishers and it morphed out of that. We spent a few years doing it, editing and rewriting. It was hard because there’s a lot of life I remember clearly, and a lot where they told me I had a good time! [laughs]

What was the writing process like?

It was very cathartic and brought back a lot of memories, both good and bad. The session years, in particular, brought back a lot great memories. Those were wonderful times for me.

How did you become involved in session work?

My father saw being a pro musician as something more attainable than a rock star. I played by ear from the ages of seven to 14 and then took proper lessons. From that point, I met the Porcaro brothers. Both they and their father were session players. I started reading liner notes and following all of the great studio guitar players I looked up to, like, Lee Ritenour, Larry Carlton, Jay Graydon and Ray Parker Jr. I also happened to be geographically placed where I could actually meet these guys. Jeff [Porcaro] knew them all because Jeff was in Steely Dan when we were in high school.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Steve Lukather by Clicking Here!

Ken “K.K.” Downing Discusses His New Autobiography, ‘Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest’

Photo: Ross Halfin

Through most of his 40-plus years as guitarist for the iconic British heavy metal band Judas Priest, Ken “K.K.” Downing lived the rock star life.

Now the metal legend is telling his story in a new autobiography, Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest.

Together with writer Mark Eglinton, Downing takes readers on a visceral journey from his impoverished childhood to the biggest stages in the world. In a vivid and often emotional recounting, the guitarist discusses all the highs and lows of his career with Judas Priest, from album cycles and touring to the inner-band battles with an up-and-coming Iron Maiden. Downing also pulls no punches in describing the events that led up to his departure from Priest following the band’s acclaimed 2008 double album, Nostradamus.

Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest will be released on September 18 by Da Capo Press.

Guitar World recently spoke with Downing about his new book, the legacy of Judas Priest and much more in this exclusive new interview.

What made you decide to write a book at this stage of your career?

So many people have been asking me about it and one day I just felt like it was the right time. I worked with Mark Eglinton, who’d recently done a biography with Rex Brown from Pantera. It was a chronological tour of my life. Mark would call me up and put up scenarios and then ask me what I remembered about them. It was quite a journey, to be fair, opening those locked doors and closets. It was also kind of emotional at times, going back through my life.

Judas Priest songs like “Living After Midnight,” “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ ” and “Painkiller” are iconic. Did you have any clue how special they would become when you were writing them?

I often think about that. When Pink Floyd was writing Dark Side of the Moon, they had no clue what they were creating. They were just doing the best they could at the time. That’s what we had always done. We worked hard and were very prolific just grinding away. In the beginning, I’d often say we may not be the best band, but if we stuck together and kept working away, one day we could achieve exactly what we wanted.

In the book, you mention about how, in the early days, Rob Halford was really starting to come into his own as a vocalist, and how everyone in the band had to stay on their game so another band wouldn’t come in and scoop him up.

I felt that we needed to have the right band members to stay the course. When Rob came on board, he was very outgoing and a flamboyant showman. I thought, This guy’s got such a great voice. He’s always going to sing and always going to put on a show, and I was right about that!

Read the rest of my
Interview with K.K. Downing by Clicking Here!