ALASTAIR GREENE BAND “TROUBLE AT YOUR DOOR”
Blues and rock have met at many different crossroads. From Cream and Johnny Winter to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Gov’t Mule these blues rock recipes are often boiled down to a simple trio. Such is the melting pot of influences and presentation of the Alastair Greene Band. Greene formed his first blues rock trio with former members of the legendary Southern California band the Pontiax in 1997. The Alastair Greene Band (AGB) has gone through several incarnations and line-ups over the years and has included alumni of the Steve Miller Band, Paul Butterfield Band, and Junior Wells Band. The AGB has also backed many blues artists in the studio and on stage, including Delta Groove recording artists Mitch Kashmar, Franck Goldwasser, as well as the incomparable James Harman. Currently, the line-up has solidified with Alastair Greene on guitar and vocals, Jim Rankin on bass and vocals, and Austin Beede on drums. Courtesy of http://agsongs.com/
Guitarist Alastair Greene Interview
Guitarz Forever - Hey Alastair, I hope all is well with you... Give our loyal readers and peeps an update with what’s been going on with you in your music world these days.
AG - All is good! I'm still touring with Alan Parsons. It's a great gig and I'm coming up on seven years with him. My Blues Rock band (Alastair Greene Band) has also been playing a lot and starting to get around more. We're currently working on our next record with David Z producing. I've got some great special guests on it including guitarists Mike Zito and Walter Trout.
Guitarz Forever - Introduce yourself and where is your stomp'n ground?
AG - I've been doing the Blues Rock thing in Southern California for quite awhile now. My band has been together (although with a couple line-up changes) since 1997. I've got 4 records out under my name and am working on my 5th.
Guitarz Forever - Give us a short but descriptive label of your style of guitar playing and the types of music you play.
AG - Well, my band is a Blues Rock band with most of the influences you'd expect and maybe a few you wouldn't. I've gotten to play a lot of styles but don't consider myself a master of any of them really. I've been in Hard Rock bands, Metal, Country Rock, R&B and Latin Bands, and of course Blues bands ranging from somewhat traditional to heavier Blues Rock. Playing with Alan Parsons has gotten me a few calls to do some Progressive rock gigs and some other classic Rock things such as subbing in Starship featuring Mickey Thomas. I play a lot of slide guitar which is something I feel not a lot of other player pursue as much. I've been compared to a lot of great players, which is flattering, but I hope to develop my own style which embraces Blues and all of it's branches with a few other influences mixed in. I'd like to think I sound like a Rock guy with a deep love and appreciation for the Blues.
Guitarz Forever - Are there a lot of places to play your style of music in and around your area? If so, could you name some venues?
AG - We play pretty regularly around Southern California and the Bay Area. All of the Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co venues, The Watermark, Discovery - Ventura, The Poor House in San Jose. We just played a great festival down by San Diego with Savoy Brown.
Guitarz Forever - When it comes to touring, where have you toured?
AG - As far as foreign countries I'm starting to lose track. Being in Alan's band I've been all over the world. Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, England, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany (many times), Poland, Russia, Spain, Italy, Israel, India, Holland, Belgium, and Austria. I think that covers it. Surprisingly we haven't done quite as much in the U.S. but we seem to be getting around the states a little bit more these days.
Guitarz Forever - I'm sure there is one country where you have introduced new folks to your music, what country sticks out in your mind the most and why?
AG - Germany is probably my favorite so far in that I've been there with Alan so many times and I went over this year on my own to perform at a Blues festival. The people there, and in Europe in general, really appreciate lots of styles of music and go out of their way to support it.
Guitarz Forever - What is the name of your latest album and tell us how that album came about.
AG - The new record we're working on is yet to be named. It's been 2 years since our last studio records (Trouble At Your Door on Eclectic Groove Records) and we wanted to get another one out. We've grown a lot as a band the last few years and you can really tell on this record. (Austin Beede on drums and Jim Rankin on bass) Musically it's all over the map from really rocking Blues to a couple more traditional Blues songs, to an acoustic instrumental and a couple other full band instrumentals. I've really been trying to zero in on communicating with the guitar.
Guitarz Forever - How do you come up with the songs?
AG - It's usually riffs and progressions followed by lyrics and melody. Sometimes a lyric comes first. I learned how to use the recording program "Logic" in a basic way so I can demo and fine tunes songs before I bring them to the band.
Guitarz Forever - How often when you start an idea for a song does it actually get finished?
AG - Good question! Since I've been up and running using Logic I'd say more often than not. I used to file ideas away in my head or on simple tape machine, now I can knock out a decent sounding demo in an hour or 2.
Not only is Greene a blues rock guitar
slinging and singing front man, but he has also served many years as a
side man to some legendary musicians. Currently, Greene is the touring
guitarist with Alan Parsons and has been touring
internationally with the English pop/ progressive rock veteran since
2010. After Greene played on Parsons' 2004 release A Valid Path,
Alan was quoted as saying, "Alastair should be out playing guitar with
the biggest bands in the world. I believe it's just a matter of time."
Heady praise indeed coming from the man who engineered Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon,
served as second engineer on the last two albums by The Beatles, and
has also sold millions of albums with his own Alan Parsons Project. When
the guitar slot for Parsons' band opened in 2010, Greene got the call.
Alastair has also appeared on albums by high profile artists such as
drum legend Aynsely Dunbar as well as Toad the Wet Sprocket front man Glen Phillips.
Courtesy of http://agsongs.com/
"I've known Alastair since we were kids and he's always been a ripping guitarist. Glad to hear he's still going strong."– Chris Shiflett / Foo Fighters
Guitarz Forever - Why did you pick the electric guitar as your instrument of choice?
AG - I actually started on piano, then saxophone, then bass, then finally guitar. I wanted to play the music I was listening to which at the time was Hard Rock. I immediately fell in love with guitar even though I'd been playing and reading music for years prior.
Guitarz Forever - Are you a schooled guitar player or a self-taught guitar player?
AG - A bit of both. I've learned a lot by ear which I think is the most important. I also learned a lot from guitar magazines and learning tabs, I took private lessons for a handful of years and also attended the Berklee College of Music for 2 years. I have some theory and schooling in my bag but it doesn't really come out that often in the context of my band. I've had to use some here and there over the years as far as reading charts and basic melodies or figuring out what scale or scales are going to work over a certain chord progression.
Guitarz Forever - So, what type of guitars do you play and why?
AG - I've used a bunch of different guitars over the years. My first "good" guitar was a Fender '57 reissue strat. After that I fell in love with Les Pauls and used an LP most of the time for many years. Recently on tour with Alan and also as part of the quiver for my band I've been using MusicMan Steve Morse Y2D guitars. They stay in tune REALLY well and are so versatile and play really easily. The company is also really supportive of my endeavors and is made up of a great group of people. I can get classic strat tones and huge humbucker sounds with the flick of a switch. It's a great guitar. On the new record I used a couple Y2Ds and a couple Gibsons. I have a 335 which for some Blues tones is pretty unbeatable.
Guitarz Forever - What type of amps do you use? Do you use different amps for the studio vs live shows. If so, why?
AG - I have a fantastic relationship with Hughes & Kettner. I got turned onto their amps on tour with Alan a few years ago. When I'm able I use either a TubeMeister or TubeMeister Deluxe with Alan. It's got everything I need for that gig. 3 Channels and I can adjust the wattage so I can get great tone at a low volume. I've also had the chance to use the Tri-Amp a few times which is just monstrous sounding. With my band I use the Hughes & Kettner Pure Tone. It's a really clean amp. Much like early American amps with no master volume and 3 knobs. I put a variety of pedal in front of that and get a bunch of great sounds. It's a great platform to start with and has lots of head room and takes pedals really well. On the new Alan Parsons Symphonic Project DVD and CD that was recorded live in Colombia I used a TubeMeister. For my new record with my band I used used a PureTone and a TubeMeister for most of the tunes.
Guitarz Forever - Do you have any endorsement with instrument and gear companies?
AG - Yes, I currently have what could be considered "official" endorsements with Hughes & Kettner, MusicMan, Ernie Ball, Seymour Duncan, Mogami Cable as well great relationships with Yamaha Acoustics, Strymon and Reunion Blues gig bags.
Alastair Greene has
released four studio albums and one live record since 2002. His fifth
studio recording will be the Eclecto Groove Records offering Trouble at Your Door. This is sure to be his most explosive recording thus far. The Alastair Greene Band
combines a deep respect for traditional forms and themes, but adds a
modern approach combined with a classic rock sound. Drummer Austin Beede brings a deep knowledge of jazz and rock grooves, as well as an innate ability to shuffle with the best of them, while Jim Rankin’s
rock solid rhythm & blues and classic rock influences on both bass
and vocals have been a welcomed addition to the band. "This is the
happiest I've been musically in a long time," Greene said recently.
"These guys are so much fun to play music with. We've got a great
chemistry, and I can't wait for the world to hear it."
Courtesy of http://agsongs.com/
Guitarz Forever - How did you first get into the music business?
AG - Well I've tried to hide from the "business" end of things for as long as I could, but I suppose when you make your first demo and shop it around and start making a few dollars at gigs you've entered the "business". I knew making music was something I wanted to pursue so I've been learning about the business since the late 90s. Things keep changing, I keep adapting.
Guitarz Forever - Where do you see the music business today?
AG - Well it's obviously incredibly tough for most musicians in any genre and we all have to work extra hard to be heard and make a living doing it. Music has been very devalued and it's really down to playing shows and selling your music at shows. There's so much music online these days it's incredibly tough to get heard and singled out. Record stores are few and far between. It's not pretty but we have to make the best of it.
Guitarz Forever - Do you do social networking? If so, what are your facebook and twitter web addresses?
AG - I have kept up on social networking and some people claim I do a good job at it. I dunno,...it's just part of the whole process to me.
Guitarz Forever - Who have been your main influences on your career to date?
AG - I'll try to keep this list as short as possible, but that's always tough. As far as me getting into Blues and Blues Rock I have to mention Buddy Guy, BB King, Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Allman Brothers Band, Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter, and Rory Gallagher. Other players I really like are Eric Johnson, Steve Morse, Bruce Bouillet, and Jeff Beck.
Guitarz Forever - How has your guitar playing evolved over the years?
AG - I'd like to think I've gotten more melodic and have become a better improvisor. I've also learned a lot about honoring recorded parts from records playing with Alan Parsons as well as Starship.
Guitarz Forever - What’s the best thing about playing your own music in front of a live audience?
AG - Just knowing you've written something and it's got a groove that's reaching people and making them happy, or having some sort of positive reaction. It's one of the best things in the world.
Guitarz Forever - Who are you listening to these days?
AG - I've been on a bit of an Otis Rush kick. I've got some live early Gov't Mule recordings which I've been digging. Since Walter Trout played on my new record I've been going back through his catalog and rediscovering his badassness.
Guitarz Forever - Please tell our readers what your high school years were like, what music did you and your friends listen to, and what the musical soundtrack (Favorite Album) would you recall to sum up your senior year in High school.
AG - I was a Hard Rocker / Metal Head in high school. I was into Van Halen, Ozzy, Iron Maiden, and a lot of the LA bands with awesome guitarists. I was a fan of the Shrapnel label and a lot of those records. I was and still am blown away by some of the technical achievements those players made. Jake E Lee was kind of my first guitar hero, followed by Vivian Campbell when he was in Dio. I didn't know then, but I realize now, I gravitated towards them because of their Blues and Blues Rock influences. Zeppelin and Deep Purple with Jake,.. Rory Gallgher and Gary Moore with Vivian. As far as favorite album, when I was a freshman it was "Powerslave" by Iron Maiden, but by the time I was a senior I was listening to a lot of different stuff and had just discovered Blues so it would be hard to say.
Guitarz Forever - By the way, who would you say were your biggest influences when it comes to playing guitar as a kid and now today?
AG - Well the afore mentioned Jake E Lee when I was a kid, but by NO means did I ever get close to playing his stuff. Today,....man that's a tough one. Today I'm going to say BB King, and by NO means am I ever going to get close to him either!
Guitarz Forever - Please give us three top musical goals you would like to achieve this year.
AG - I'd like to get deeper into chord voicings, especially when comping Chicago Blues music. I would also like to get some more melodic tools for improvisation so I'm trying to keep my ears open. Technique has always proved a bit elusive to me so I'm always working on picking cleanly and executing things with conviction and clarity.
Guitarz Forever - Is there anything else you’d like to achieve in your life personally and or as a musician?
AG - I'd like to continue to play at a high level with great players. I've gotten to play with a few of my heroes and I'd like to keep adding to that list. My inner guitar geek is always over joyed at that prospect. I want to continue to open doors for playing more shows with my band and keep writing and recording quality songs.
Guitarz Forever - I also don't want to forget this... Tell us about any other things you may be in involved in or any special interest besides music that is close to your heart.
AG - I've done a fair amount of teaching and have been involved in music programs for kids and adults. It's always nice to teach and learn from other people. Aside from that, I love animals, cats in particular, and I really enjoy cooking for my wife.
Guitarz Forever - I would like to thank you for your time and candor with our loyal readers and keep on fighting the good fight to bring us some awesome music.
AG - Thank you!