I wholeheartedly promote the idea that younger musicians should be a sideman in a group.
They need to learn the ropes. Don’t just
immediately go towards learning your chops.
If you look at all the great musicians, they all
had some sort of sideman gig.
After you got picked up by Silvertone
and released your debut, Texas Sugar/
Strat Magik, the SRV/Hendrix comparisons
began coming almost immediately from
the music press. Did you feel those
comparisons helped or hurt you?
I actually do think it helped, because at the
time there was a big void in the American
public, this appetite for Stevie-sounding sort
of stuff. And I have to give credit to myself
because my music was thrown against the
wall and it stuck; people kind of dug it. That’s
the only way it works, because there’s been
many examples of record companies pour-
ing millions into a group and it doesn’t stick,
even when you thought it would have.
I mean, take Eric Johnson’s follow-up to his Ah
Via Musicom album. I thought, “Oh man, people are going to grab this album up. It’s Eric, it’s
what the people want.” And it did fairly poorly,
compared to what he had done before.
Did you ever feel pressured to live
up to those comparisons?
You know, I kinda did, and with the second
album I might have shot myself in the foot
because you start believing the hype. It happens in a lot of bands… people start calling
you a great guitar player, and you start thinking, “Yeah, I am a great guitar player, and you
know what, I’m an artist too.” So for my second album, I felt like I was going to flex my
artistic muscle. That’s why we did loops and
some really different stuff, and there’s not
really that much Stevie-sounding stuff on it.
I was just listening to Blue Velocity and
I was floored by the fact that you’re not
readily stuck in these ruts of just blues, or
just rock—you can really get out there and
explore for minutes at a time. How do you
balance that line between that instrumental creativity that you want as an artist,
and the pop sensibilities that the industry
You know, I really don’t. Looking back, I feel
that I’ve been so lucky in my career that I’ve
been able to go out and pretty much play
whatever I want. And my fans have come to
expect it; they never know what I’m going to
play. I’ve been very blessed to make a living
at doing that and not having to play a certain
way. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t mind
playing “My Way Down.” I’ve got pragmatism to me, too. I know I’ve still got to play
it, it’s a big hit. But it’s my song, so what the
hell? It doesn’t bother me at all.
Tell us a little bit about 396, which will
be out in the beginning of 2009.
I’m re-establishing myself, and we’re re-establishing ourselves as this group. And I
think this new album has some songs that
could hit on rock radio. There’s one song that
sort of sounds like it could be an old Santana
tune, kind of Latin. There’s some Allman
Brothers-like stuff, some Americana.