So, the new Starlite-Campbell album 'Blueberry Pie' is well underway; the songs have been written, demoed and we are ready to record. This article is about my journey back to the blues.
Firstly, I apologise for being remiss in updating my blog over the last few months. It's been totally hectic here with bands recording, live gigs, sessions and a lot of time writing music.
As you may already know, a couple of years ago Suzy Starlite and I were married. We quickly put together a studio to write, record and release our music!
The issue now is we have composed over 30 songs in a variety of styles that we need to make sense of in terms of album releases.
Well, it was kind of decided for us really...
I was brought up on the blues and remember at the tender age of 16 having an intensely dark and difficult time. I focussed by playing guitar, learning albums in their entirety by 'Led Zeppelin', 'Wishbone Ash', 'Deep Purple' and '10 Years After', not realising they were actually blues records adorned with sunglasses.
Starlite started playing bass just over two years ago, throwing herself at the deep end and learning the complex parts from my solo records The Knife and ThirtySix for the live shows. The parts on The Knife were written by Andy Seward, the Producer and fabulous bass player, so she had her work cut out for her...
She broadened her approach listening to the great players from the last 60 years of popular music, but slowly gravitated to the blues: the house was full of the music that introduced me to the guitar and I fell in love with it all over again.
My favourite period of the British / Electric Blues was from 1965 to 1969, the days of the original Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck (not forgetting our US friends Mike Bloomfield, Roy Buchanan and Danny Gatton etc) in their respective bands.
This late 60's thing typifies the 'feel' and 'sound' that we are aiming for on the record, but of course with a few surprises...
It's 2016 (how did that happen ehh) so how can blues be relevant to our society right now?
It was born from the suffering of a horribly oppressed people: lots of sex, drugs and booze and lots of pain with an accompanying side dish of pure misery.
Well, I think many of these things are again raising their ugly heads and we have written lyrics that are [hopefully] relevant to today and presented in a new way.
Spain has taught us a lot in terms of reconnecting with yourself, family and the best of traditional 'stuff' - just like Blueberry Pie'.
Oh my life, Oh my life
The times have changed but one thing’s the same
That’s the taste of Grandma’s blueberry pie
I don’t wanna kill my brother, I don’t wanna feel no pain
I don’t wanna fear retribution, to me it’s all the same
I wanna help my sister, I wanna share the land
Where peace is not forgotten, to be a caring man
I wanna build a future, remember honesty
Remember good tradition, where family means something
Where family means something...
Blueberry Pie - Starlite/Campbell 2016
So, the album is an organic pie, all baked in the oven together, without special effects, clinical editing or software to unnaturally push our voices into what a machine determines is 'perfect' tune.
It has a light and succulent crust of electric and acoustic guitars, long and short scale basses, vintage amplifiers, Hammond organ, Wurlitzer electric piano, harmonica, drums and natural voices. The filling is made of contemporary stories of loss, love, despair and hope; the harshness of the year 2106 - drenched in a sweet and sour sauce of 1960's traditional British Blues.
We know it's not fashion now, or commercial sense to write albums containing songs that are meant to be played together... But fortunately Starlite and I don't care that much for fashion, so the album will be available to pre-order (with immediate digital download of a song) from 30th November and the full album released 1st February, 2017 - that's it :)
I did my first guitar session in 1975, terrified of course, marvelling at the environment and being surrounded by many fine, well-seasoned musicians. There was no click track, no fucking about, you had to 'do it' in one or two takes or you were out - and I needed the money :)
So, after the reintroduction to that way of recording on the Knife, we again go into the breach.
It's always been my mantra to surround myself with great musicians and feeling most of the time that you are the worst member of the band.
This record is no exception and when we thought of putting a band together for the record and tour, a few names went into the 'sorting hat.' It returned with two; Steve Gibson on drums and Jonny Henderson on Hammond / Wurlitzer.
Of course she is my wife, but I have to say that Starlite is one of the grooviest bass players out there, with a great tone and understands the blues beautifully. Her timing is spot on and has written many of the riffs on the new album.
Steve is one of the hardest working drummers out there and steeped in the blues. He was a member of two bands signed to major labels and has played with the Icicle Works, Buzzcocks, Maggie Bell, Larry Garner, Madeleine Bell, Van Morrison, Larry Garner, Chris Farlowe and Jack Bruce. He is an endorsee of both Paiste Cymbals and SAKAE Drums.
Jonny is again steeped in the blues. He has been voted Keyboard Player of the Year in both the 2010 and 2011 British Blues Awards and has toured with blues guitarist Matt Schofield, the legendary Robben Ford and singer Ian Siegal. This, along with his work in the studio with Matt, Ian and Otis Rush made him the perfect choice...
In 2009 Jonny released his first solo album Where Did I Leave My Keys. Take a listen to track #1!
Here is a little taster of him in action with Warren Haynes and Snr. Ford :)
The album is available for preorder from November 11, 2016 will be released on February 1, 2017 on our own independent label, Supertone Records and available digitally via iTunes and Amazon, plus super quality digital, CD and vinyl through our new Bandcamp store!
Blues at the Bay, 718 Yarm Road, Eaglescliffe TS16 0JE Stockton-on-tees, UK
Saltburn Blues Club, Markse Mill Lane, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, TS12 1QA, UK