Morse: It did take some doing, though.
I think the first thing is knowing what
to expect. I even suggested to these guys
that they just bring in an idea, a starting
point. That way everyone’s personality will
come out by joining in. Having written
with groups like Deep Purple, that’s the
best way to do it, rather than bringing in
a complete song.
Considering the lineup, the record is
fairly restrained in terms of pyrotech-
nics. Steve, your solos in songs like
“Fool in My Heart” or “Shoulda Coulda
Woulda,” are more focused on bending
and melodic playing than flash.
Morse: Yeah, technique is most effective
for me if I don’t use it all the time.
LaRue: That’s one of the things I like best
about the record. There are a lot of great
compositions and the vocals are really
nice, but Steve’s stuff kind of sets it apart.
It’s pretty unique sounding.
Steve, your bluesy playing on those
songs and on “Kayla” sounds like it’s
coming from a different place than your
average blues fan. Your phrasing and
bending choices are less obvious. Where
does that come from?
Morse: Three big ones I can think of are
Jeff Beck—he’s the guy who can bend one
note to four different places. Then Lynyrd
Skynyrd—they also use bends a lot as part
of their vocabulary. And Ravi Shankar.
When I was a teenager I saw him play
live, and I thought it was cool that you
could bend so many little microtones.
Steve, your solos in “Kayla” and
“Infinite Fire” sound like you’re using
a lot of bebop-ish, strategically placed,
chromatic approach tones. But, given
your strong country and bluegrass influences, I get the feeling these lines aren’t
coming so much from a jazz thing.
Morse: Well actually that is it. It’s the
same exact leading notes, as you said. I
tend to use any chromatic notes as grace
notes or leading tones to very tonal,
diatonic notes. That works over jazz and
it works exactly the same for bluegrass
and, I think, over melodic rock. Different
producers have different ideas about that.
Some would say, “Jazz Police!” and make
a noise on the talkback microphone like a
siren and stop you and say, “Let’s not do
any of that.” Some producers think rock
needs to be very restrictive.
So you’ve actually had people ask you to
tone it down?
Morse: Oh yeah. A lot.
“All Falls Down” is the most over-the-top
cut on the album, in terms of virtuosity.
Morse: I’ve always written very difficult
parts for guitar—I’ve enjoyed challenging myself that way. I think you have to
work hard on technique in order to have
Dave, you play a wicked-ass solo with
a gnarly tone on that one. Are you tapping there?
LaRue: Yeah, it’s two-handed tapping. I
used a Chellee Odelya distortion pedal on
that one. It’s made for guitar and allows
you to substitute chips [IC modules] in
the unit itself to get different sounds.
It also has two 3-way mode switches to
change the tones up.