involves a constantly moving
harmonic structure—a bass part
going one way and a melody
part moving on top of it. The
challenge was to add vocals to
that underlying structure.
instrumentals are a bit older.
I’ve had “Lethal Injection” for a
year, and I wrote “Uli’s Jump”
when I was 17. That’s the oldest
song on the CD.
Did you record home demos
to work out your parts?
I did guitar-and-vocal demos
of all the songs. I played all the
songs on acoustic—even the
ones I knew would be electric on
the album—just to hear them in
their most basic form. I demoed
a lot of songs to determine
which ones felt right for this
album. I lived with the demos
for about a month, so by the
time I was at rehearsals, I had
a grasp of the material. I really
focused on these work tapes,
trying to hear if the lyrics were
solid and if they were communicating what I wanted to say.
I was nervous that I’d never
really sung on a record before.
And, although I’ve written a
lot of songs, I’d never really
written any for myself as an
artist. So once I knew I wanted
to do an album of vocal-based
songs with a band, I decided I
needed more experience in this
area. I went through a process
of cowriting songs with people
on Music Row [the historical
area on 16th and 17th Avenues
in Nashville that’s home to
dozens of music publishing
companies]. Five days a week
for six weeks, I churned out
a song each day. Each week
I’d get a better handle on the
songwriting process and write
better stuff. It was interesting
to explore that world—some of
those writers are just geniuses.
Guitars: Gretsch G6122-1962 Chet Atkins Country Gentleman with
Tru-Arc bridge, Fender Custom Shop ’60s Strat with Brierley pickups,
’60s Gibson ES-335 (borrowed from producer Frank Rogers), Maton
808TE acoustic, Maton Custom Shop acoustic
“Uli’s Jump” reminds me of
Jimmy Bryant. Did you ever
get into him?
Oh yes, Jimmy Bryant is crazy
amazing! You know the albums
he made with [steel guitarist]
Speedy West? I can play several of those songs by heart. A
friend from Sydney and I used
to play all the parts in harmony.
I wrote “Uli’s Jump” with
Pat Bergeson, a Nashville guitarist whose playing I love. I
was opening a show for him in
Germany and staying with a
guy named Uli, and Pat and I
jammed on that theme. I was
basically trying to steal as many
licks from Pat as I could.
Amps: Laboga Alligator 30, AER Compact 60, Dr. Z Carmen Ghia
Effects: Eventide TimeFactor, Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory
Man, T-Rex Tremster, T-Rex Octavius, Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer,
Peterson StroboStomp2 tuner/DI, T-Rex Room-Mate, T-Rex Alberta,
Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive, Radial Tonebone, Jim Dunlop Cry Baby
Strings, Picks, and Accessories: Elixir 80/20 bronze .012 set with
a .016 or .018 1st string, Elixir Nanoweb electric .011 set with .012 or
.014 1st string (Gretsch Country Gentleman), Elixir Nanoweb electric
.010 set with .012 1st string (Fender Strat and Tele), Wegen flatpicks
What did you take away from
those songwriting sessions?
One of the dangerous things
about being a skilled musician
is you can basically play any
song and make it sound okay.
Sometimes when working with
other songwriters I’d play a
cool guitar lick and they’d say,
“I love that.” And we’d write a
song that was kind of neat, but
what held it together as a song
was the guitar lick. I’ve really
tried not to rely on that.
American Idol, I see some great
singers but they all sound similar.
It’s the same when I see blues-rock guitarists—they all play the
same licks. The musicians I like
are those who take their talent
and technique and use them to
make something interesting and
original. That’s why I love writing with piano players—they
always have nice harmonic ideas
that guitarists might not think
of. I really try to incorporate
piano voicings in my guitar parts.
And how would you describe
I love people who have a unique
melodic sense—that’s exciting to
me. When I watch The Voice or
Are all the songs on Introduce
from this recent writing period?
I wrote most of the songs on
the album a few months before
going into the studio. The
What gear did you use on
Introduce and what did you
learn from these sessions about
capturing great guitar tones?
I was lucky—I tracked a lot of
my electric guitar overdubs at
Frank’s home studio, and he has
a really great guitar collection.
That’s important because each
electric guitar sits in a different
sonic spot in the mix, and if
you find the right guitar, it can
really make all the difference.
For “Barely Hanging On,”
I played a Strat I’ve had since
2003. It was the first electric
guitar I ever bought. When
I was a kid, I broke the neck
by cranking the truss rod too
far, so I recently got the neck
replaced. It has pickups wound
by Mick Brierley in Adelaide,
South Australia. He does
great stuff—his pickups are
reasonably priced and a lot of
Australian guitarists use them.
I have Brierley pickups in two
Strats and one Tele.
We didn’t use my Gretsch
Country Gentleman—one of
my main stage guitars—that