Guitarist Lance Lopez Interview

"Lance Lopez got 3 standing ovations when he opened a show for me and I was among those standing..."
B.B. King - Blues Legend

There's no doubt about it, the state of Texas is well known world wide for its fiery blues guitar players. Lance Lopez is one of them...

Even just a cursory look will reveal the state's rich tradition, which easily rivals Chicago and Mississippi for producing players who have been both originators and contributors to the legacy of the guitar's significant role in the genre's history. Dating back to the 1920's with "Blind" Lemon Jefferson, continuing through the 1950's with such legends as Freddie King, T-Bone Walker and "Lightning" Hopkins, with the advent of the rock era of the 1960's the pressure cooker exploded.

One such player whom Vaughan touched the soul of was young, gifted blues/rock axeslinger Lance Lopez. Although born in Shreveport, Louisiana, at the age of 12, his family moved to Dallas, where with the exception of a spell back in New Orleans and Southwest Florida, the guitarist has called his home ever since.

A professional musician since the age of 14 when he began playing local bars in and around the New Orleans, Louisiana area, at 17 he was hired by soul great Johnnie Taylor, with whom he toured for six months. By 18 he was hired as the band leader of blues legend Lucky Peterson’s band, spending three years touring throughout the world.

From 2003 to 2007 Lopez recorded, and released three studio and one live CD for a small independent label, Grooveyard Records – all of which were heavily influenced by another of the guitarist’s main influences – Jimi Hendrix. Despite the hindrance of being released on such a label, the albums are all prime examples of post Hendrix heavy blues, filled to the brim with awe inspiring fretwork, which led to him garnering a cult following amongst guitar fanatics world wide.

After a three year break, Lopez returned with a Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Santana) produced studio album ‘Salvation From Sundown’. Intentionally conceived as a more traditional Texas blues styled offering, it’s the guitarist’s most mature recording to date, showcasing strong songwriting while still retaining the red-hot fretwork which has elicited none other than guitar god Jeff Beck to call him “A very exciting and intense blues guitarist”. His first release on a major label MIG Music/String Commander. In Europe in November 2011 MIG Music released the follow up to ‘Salvation From Sundown’.

A very strong Hard Rocking/Blues offering entitled ‘Handmade Music’. ‘Handmade Music’ is full of well crafted songs and Lopez’s signature searing guitar work. Again, Lopez working with Jim Gaines, recorded this entire album in the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. Ardent was also where Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, Stevie Ray Vaughan, George Thorogood and others made some of their greatest works. After non-stop international touring in support of 'Salvation From Sundown' Lance wanted to put something very special together.

In 2012 Lance joined forces with bassist, producer/engineer, songwriter, Fabrizio Grossi. After a meeting at Fabrizio Grossi's studio in Los Angeles, and encouragement from the great Billy F. Gibbons, the duo along with legendary drummer Kenny Aronoff formed Supersonic Blues Machine. Produced & engineered by Fabrizio Grossi Supersonic Blues Machine's debut album 'West Of Flushing, South Of Frisco' was released on Mascot/Provogue in February 2016. Supersonic Blues Machine's debut offering was received with unbelievable critical acclaim, with most of the media focusing on Lance, stating that he deserves more from the music industry and needs to be given everything he has worked his entire life for.

The album featured guest appearances from his heroes Billy Gibbons, Robben Ford, & Walter Trout as well as long time friends Chris Duarte and Eric Gales. Supersonic Blues Machine shows Lance Lopez poised to take his rightful place as one of the finest guitar players on the planet. April of 2016 saw the release of Lance Lopez 'Live In NYC' on Cleopatra Records. Recorded live at Johnny Winter's 70th birthday party at BB Kings in New York City. 'Live In NYC' captures Lance in his natural element, ripping the Blues out of his guitar and putting it right into the audience's heart.

Texas has its guitar heroes, not least of which is Johnny Winter, Billy Gibbons, and the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan. And here’s another to add to the list: Lance Lopez.

Courtesy of Lance Lopez



Guitarist Lance Lopez Interview

Scott - Hi Lance, thank you for agreeing to do an interview w/ my website Guitarz Forever.com ...

LL: Absolutely! Thank you so much for reaching out to me and asking to me to do it! I always look forward to chatting with fellow guitar maniacs! (laughs)

Give our readers a short but descriptive label for your style of music.

LL: I would say Modern Texas Blues Rock...I'm just traveling the road that was paved by all of the great Lone Star Guitarslingers that came before me. Yee Haww! (laughs)

What is the name of your New Album and why the title?

LL: I was involved in two releases on two different labels in 2016. The first in February 2016 was 'West Of Flushing, South Of Frisco' with my band, Supersonic Blues Machine was released on Mascot/Provogue. The title eludes to coordinates, being Los Angeles where Supersonic Blues Machine was formed and where we recorded our debut album, which is west of Flushing, Queens, New York and south of San Francisco. The second release in April 2016 was my latest solo offering, 'Live In NYC' on Cleopatra Records...it doesn't take much to try and figure that title out! (laughs) We recorded it live at BB Kings Blues Club in New York City at Johnny Winter's 70th Birthday party, which sadly was his last birthday party...
 
What were the genesis' for the NEW Albums?

LL: Supersonic Blues Machine has many different facets as there are a lot of great guitarist involved in it so we really took our time with it. We didn't want it to be just a big blues jam record. Live In NYC is the exact opposite...it's a big blues jam record (laughs)
 
What differentiates these albums from your other recordings?

LL: 'West Of Flushing, South Of Frisco' took a couple of years to complete. We really collected a lot of great songs before we began recording. Because we had a lot of special guest we had to schedule around everyone's hectic schedules. The songs are what makes SBM great...it's all about the song, and each guitar solo is a statement from each guitarist. 'Live In NYC' was recorded without me even knowing it. Johnny Winter invited me to perform at his birthday party in New York. We had been on tour together, I was his opening act. He wanted me to go out and do just what we had been doing on tour together, so I did. After he passed away a couple of months later, Paul Nelson (Johnny Winter's manager/guitarist/producer) called me and said that he had the recordings from BB King's from Johnny's birthday party and that it was good enough to release as an album. Out of respect for my dear friend Johnny, I didn't want it to be released so close to his passing, so we waited 2 years before we released it
 

How do you come up with your songs?

LL: It usually starts with either a riff, a chorus or a melody for me. I will have parts for years sometimes until I bring them all together with other ideas I have all pieced together. Sometimes it happens quickly, sometimes slowly...I never try to force it...

Is it one song writer or more of a collaborated effort with other musicians?

LL: Supersonic Blues Machine had many great writers and my last few studio albums I began collaborating with other writers. I used to write everything alone...and it was a lot of pressure...I feel very relieved to record great material written by great writers. Some people are great writers and some people are great performers...when the two meet it's usually magical and there are a couple of cats I really dig working with. Serge Simic, Joey Sykes, Eric 'Scorch' Scortia. Fabrizio Grossi...these are the guys I write the most with or that write for me today...You know so many people think that in order to be great you have to write your own music and what not, but I think a lot of humility comes from being open minded and listening to others and allowing yourself to work with another great writer and create great music...I need that kind of objectivity today...I'm truly blessed to have some great songwriters in my life.



"Texas has been know throughout the years to be the breeding ground for some of the baddest guitar players of all time...Lance is yet another one to carry on that Texas tradition..." BILLY F. GIBBONS - ZZ TOP



So Lance, tell me a little bit of what you’ve learned about human nature during making these new productions.

LL: Oh man! Well as far as Supersonic Blues Machine and the recording of my 'Live In NYC' album was concerned I was really struggling during the making of both of those. I was in a very dysfunctional marriage, I was back on alcohol and drugs, eating very unhealthy and very overweight.  It was a very difficult time period for me. I was spending a lot of my time away from the dysfunctional marriage back in Dallas and hanging in West Hollywood partying very hard. I would be up for days doing a combination of Cocaine and Meth, drinking nonstop and chain smoking cigarettes, then I would come down with Heroin, Morphine, Oxycontin or Hydrocodone...or just do them all together at the same time! (laughs) I was living in a nightmare...Fabrizio Grossi would come track me down in Hollywood and take me to the studio to record, he was very worried about me, as were all of my dear friends in L.A. I was a complete train wreck. But when they would put my guitar on me I could get my work done and play...kinda... (laughs) I left recording sessions with Supersonic Blues Machine and went back on tour opening for Johnny Winter. My drug addiction and alcoholism was spiraling out of control. Johnny Winter saw what was going on and one night after a show in Atlantic City, New Jersey, I was pretty fucked off, and Johnny looked at me and said "the stupidest thing I ever did in my life was try Heroin" and then he just looked at me...I'll never forget that as long as I live...I knew the end was near if I didn't get help. I made it through Johnny's birthday party because he counted on me to really go out there and tear it up...I knew I couldn't be all fucked off during the gig...so I stayed pretty straight aside from a few glasses of Jack Daniel's before the show, but a soon as I came off the stage out came the Blow and the pills. The next day I began making calls to get some help. Harold Owens at MusiCares in Los Angeles had already reached out to me as the tales of my Hollywood debauchery were circulating around L.A. Harold offered me help and said that MusiCares would help me get the treatment I needed to get clean. I finished the East Coast leg of my tour with Johnny Winter I went back to L.A. to continue recording 'West Of Flushing, South Of Frisco'. Things became worse. Fabrizio Grossi finally had a major confrontation with me about my addiction, but it was full of tears and sadness...It was horrible to watch how my illness was hurting everyone around me, and mainly me. I went back to Dallas all fucked off and dreading going back to marriage I was in. Then the dysfunctional marriage ended when, my now current wife, Kayla Reeves (lead singer of Trans-Siberian Orchestra) showed up and pulled me out of my Ex-wife's house where I was sitting around and doing Heroin just endure the verbal abuse from my Ex-wife of what a loser I was because I was a junkie. Kayla came in my house and said "you're better than this, you're stronger than this, you are gonna die if you stay in this, I'm in love with you and I'm not gonna let that happen to you" With the help of MusiCares I went to rehab in Nashville. I had a brief slip after rehab when Johnny Winter passed away, that hit me really hard and I had only been clean like 2 moths when it happened. I got right back up and started the path of recovery again. Several months after getting clean we finally finished 'West Of Flushing, South Of Frisco' I couldn't believe it, I was playing better, singing better...because I was clean...Fabrizio Grossi and Kenny Aronoff were really there for me when I returned to L.A. for the first time clean and sober to finish the album...I'm so grateful for that...


Once Fabrizio was preparing 'West Of Flushing, South Of Frisco' for post-production to turn into Mascot. I went back to Paul Nelson and said we need to move forward on 'Live In NYC'


I called Paul and said go ahead and start preparing to release 'Live In NYC'. He went to a studio up in Brooklyn and began mixing the album and getting in mastered. It was an epic road of hardship and struggle getting through both of these albums. But because I had people around me that truly loved me I made it out of all of it. I've been clean and sober now for over two years and life has an entirely new meaning. I eat better today and exercise and try to live as healthy as I can. Surviving what I did and then to come out of it with these two bodies of works sometimes astonishes me, because I knew how fucked off I was...it was horrible but I did my very best I could being as sick as I was...not to get to religious or to begin to start preaching...but it was all God...He carried me through all of it...there is no other explanation, to me at least, as to why I survived and what I have in my life today. So each day I wake up I make a choice to be clean, sober & healthy, for myself, my family, my band and my fans and do the best I can and ask Him to help through each day...I have a new found gratitude for life and knowing that I have been given a serious do-over...and I'm very grateful for everything and everyone in my life today...
 
What are your personal highlights on the new albums?

LL: From 'West Of Flushing, South Of Frisco' 'Running Whiskey' on 'West Of Flushing, South Of Frisco' is one of the biggest highlights for me personally. On 'Live In NYC' it's 'Lowdown Ways'

Why?

LL: 'Lowdown Ways' is just me playing the Blues as I do night after night and it just happened to be captured live on a recording, I felt we really captured the way I play the Blues in my natural habitat. 'Running Whiskey' was the first song I ever recorded with one of my biggest heroes and long time mentors, Billy F. Gibbons. Billy had written it for his car the "Whiskey Runner" and it was very cool that it would be the song that started the whole Supersonic Blues Machine's wheels turning...but for me personally that was the biggest highlight of them all...
 
Where do you live, play live, and  record?

LL: Nowadays we live between Louisiana and Texas...and play all over the surrounding region. I do most of my recording nowadays out in Los Angeles with Fabrizio Grossi...working on getting a little recording setup of my own going at home. My drummer in the Lance Lopez Band, Landis Chisenhall is also opening a very killer studio in San Antonio so I am looking forward to getting down there and getting into that...but I record and play all over the place
 
Are there a lot of places to play your style of music in and around your area? If so, could you name some venues?


LL: Hellyeah! (laughs) Man in Texas you could work all over the state all year long and not play everywhere (laughs) One of our most favorite is Gas Monkey Bar & Grill...if you ever get to Dallas ya gotta check it out...killer venue. Dallas's Blues scene is not what it used to be. Back in 1990's is was amazing...but around 2000-2001 it really started to change...I really miss the mid-1990's the Texas Blues scene was amazing...But there are some very cool venues still around doing the Blues! You got Dan Electro's and Pub Fountains in Houston, Antone's or the Continental Club in Austin, Gas Monkey in Dallas...then we got all the other Beer Joints and Roadhouses in between...





How often when you start an idea for song, does it actually get finished?

LL: Dude, sometimes it takes years...as I said before...I never force a song out. It has to come to life naturally. Sometimes I'll come up with riffs at soundcheck or jamming during the show and I'll have one little riff for years before another cool comes along that fits with that one...then comes the song.


I was wondering if you ever hear music in your dreams and turn them into songs?

LL: Oh man that's how I wrote most of my early work! I would mainly hear all of these great riffs combined together..but they would have like this phasing and flanger-type sound to them..or they would be big huge riffs...I would wake up and try to play them and it was always frustrating trying to remember what I had heard or it just didn't seem to sound like what I heard in my dream...Kayla also tells me I play air guitar in my sleep...she has woken me up several times in the middle of the night because I'm playing air guitar and yelling "SLOW BLUES IN B FLAT MOTHERFUCKER'S...1...2...3....4" (laughs)
 
Are you a schooled guitar player or a self-taught guitar player?

LL: 100% self-taught. When my Dad bought me my first guitar fro Christmas he also got me a Chuck Berry album called 'The Great Twenty Eight' and made me learn 28 Chuck Berry songs..and if I learned them all he would get me an electric guitar! (laughs) So I learned very quickly how to play and tune my guitar by ear. When I was a little kid back in the 1980's we would go to concerts at the Hirsch Memorial Coliseum in Shreveport, Louisiana where I grew up. I saw all of the great Arena Rock bands of the 80's there, and all of the seats were general admission so we would get there very early and work our way up to the front row. I would watch all the lead guitarist from those bands from just a few feet away and go home and try to duplicate what they had just done that night. I would watch all those guys like a hawk. At home I was listening to music that was a generation behind, stuff from the 1970's I just connected with it more for some reason, because it was all Blues-based. In 1987 I heard Jimi Hendrix for the very first time and that changed my life forever. When I devoted my life to the Blues in 1990 after seeing BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughan jam together in Dallas life took on new meaning. I began studying Delta & Country Blues and worked my way through Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, on to BB King and so forth. I also went very heavy into British Blues like Cream, early Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers, Savoy Brown, Jeff Beck, Robin Trower...I was going back and forth from traditional Blues from Chicago in the 1950's to British Blues Rock from the 1970's.


After living a couple of years in Dallas with my mother, I moved to New Orleans to live with my dad where he took me out to start playing with bands. I would go down to the Rock N Bowl and jam with the guys from The Meters and lots of other great New Orleans Blues musicians and starting getting paid to play gigs with bands down in the French Quarter. Every time I played with another band or another artist I would always learn something new.


I mean I learned from all of the people I played with. Johnnie Taylor I learned about singing, Lucky Peterson I learned how to lead a band, Buddy Miles I learned about pocket and groove. Years ago Eric Gales introduced me to the late great Shawn Lane, I did a lesson with him before he passed away and it was really hard to keep up (laughs) he was brilliant and its sad he is gone...I still apply a lot of the speed licks he taught. In Texas, all my time around Billy Gibbons and later, Johnny Winter, who shared a great deal of knowledge with me, really expanded me as a Blues historian and scholar. Johnny Winter pretty much taught me how to play slide guitar and Billy Gibbons was always and still is telling me about "groove".and how to make just the right statement and not just fire out a bunch of notes just to look cool...it's all about saying just the right thing. Every time I'm around Robben Ford or David Grissom, both of whom I look up to very much and have inspired me greatly, I always ask them for a quick lesson or some brief insight about something playing wise.

I'm very fortunate to have learned a lot from a lot of great guitarist
 
Did You develop your style by concept or by messing around on the neck playing what sounded cool to you?

LL: I think a bit of both. As a young guy I spent hours and hours playing guitar and listening to so much great music and taking so much from all of the different influences. I also was influenced by other instruments. Robben Ford and I just had a discussion about that. A lot of my fast licks came from John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Jimmy Smith,..ya know...Jazz guys..but horns and organs and pianos. Robben and I just talking about how we both have adapted all of our best licks from Jazz guys and applied it to the Blues
 
So, what type of guitars do you play and why?

LL: I am playing Gibson Guitars nowadays. I was a Strat guy for many, many years. I still have some cool ones. I got my first nudge to move over to playing Gibsons many years ago when I opened a show for BB King. I was hanging on BB King's bus, as I did many times at his shows, and I had my Strat with me playing it and he just stopped me and said "I really wanna hear you on a Gibson, you need to get you a good Gibson. Lucille has been good to me all these years and all I need is her" Later on that made since to me, when I thought of all of the great guitar heros that played Bursts...all they needed was one Burst, and they shaped history with it. The next nudge came from Billy Gibbons when I was on tour with ZZ Top in Europe. I was playing both Strats and Gibsons. We were on Billy's bus one night after a show and he told me that he preferred me to play my Gibsons and then I told him the BB King story and he said "well there ya go"! My main guitar is my Gibson Custom Standard Historic R9 Les Paul Ice Tea Burst we have dubbed the "Barton Creek Burst". The Gibson Custom Shop presented it to me as payment for an event I was supposed to play for the Gibson Custom Shop down in Austin at SXSW. It was hand picked by the great Steve Christmas at the Gibson Custom Shop in Nashville, Steve said it was the best one they had built at that present time...and it definitely shows! (laughs) They sent it down to the Gibson Showroom in Austin, Texas. My wife and I had to be at a film screening of 'Sidemen-Long Road To Glory' at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, so we went to pick up the Les Paul and go to the Film Festival and that night we stayed at the Barton Creek Resort and I stayed up all night playing it...so we have named it the "Barton Creek Burst". The top is so nice, a just a great cut of flame maple, not to over the top, it's just right. Billy Gibbons loves the guitar. I texted him a picture of it as soon as we got to the Barton Creek Resort and he replied "WOW!" When we got together in Amsterdam a couple of months later, Billy picked it up and was like "Oh yeah, Man, this is the real deal". He told me "don't ever let this one go", it's a very special Les Paul. My 2nd guitar is my Gibson USA Firebird 120 I have heavily modded. We call it the "Fenix de Tejas" which in Spanish means "The Firebird of Texas" It is the traditional brown vintage sunburst finish. I had one of my guitar techs in Dallas, Spencer Deaton, hand wind some killer mini humbuckers for it. They are Alnico V and the bridge reads out at 15k and the neck is 11.5k, which really doesn't make them really super high gain, but wider rather...very PAF-like while still retaining that almost single-coil like thing that the mini humbuckers do. We also took those new gearless tuners off and put the old Banjo tuners back on there. 3rd would be "Sugar" the Alpine White '67 Reissue Flying V. Billy Gibbons also loves this guitar! We had some Alnico II PAF's wound for this one, they are very similar to Slash's signature set. It's a great guitar with a lot of snap and snarl...it really cuts through the mix. Next we have "Big Red" which is my Heritage Cherry Explorer 120 The Firebird and the Explorer are both 2014 models and part of the 120th anniversary series because 2014 was the year I reestablished myself as a Gibson artist. "Big Red" really honks, it's a great Explorer. Los Angeles slide guitar legend, Chuck Kavooras recommended I get it. I knew if Chuck was telling me to get it one it had to be a killer guitar, as he is a Burst collector and has sold Les Pauls to Slash and is an avid collector and has some great Gibsons. "Big Red" is completely stock, except for a big Texas flag stick I put on it (laughs) it has Burstbucker Customs in it and it's a solid slab of mahogany which gives it a huge tone, unlike korina.
 
Scott - What type of amps do you use?

LL: My main amp is the Bogner Helios 100. I love this amplifier! It's basically a 1968-69 era Plexi platform with all of Reinhold Bogner's most famous Marshall mods on it! The Bogner Helios 100 basically has a JTM-45, a Super Lead 100 and a JCM 800 in one head. There are two different bright channels for each mode and the FX loop is amazing and can be used as a boost with the footswitch if you don't have anything running through it. I have a couple of different cabs I designed with Reinhold for it. My 4x12 Bogner cab has four Celestion Creamback speakers, two 65 watt and two 75 watt in an "x" pattern. I love the Creambacks because they sound like greenbacks, but are higher wattage so I can push them with pedals and not worry about them blowing like the greenies do! My 2x12 Bogner open back cab has a vintage 30 and a 65 watt Creamback in it, which is a very cool combo. It's very important for me to have open back cabs for my 2x12 cabs.  I mainly use the 2x12 when I using the Helios 100 in the 30 watt JTM-45 mode it's like a Bluesbreaker on steroids. There is also a Helios 50 combo that Reinhold is working on for me that is the 50 watt version of the Helios but in 1x12 combo with a 90 watt Celestion Alnico speaker, I have played the proto-type and it's going to be a killer combo amp. Another great amp I have used for years is the Mojave Ampworks Scorpion. Billy Gibbons introduced me to Victor Mason who builds the Mojave Amps as I was always on a quest to achieve cranked up PLexi-tones at a low volume in Clubs. The Mojave Scorpion is based on a very special 1968 Super Lead 100, it has 100 watt transformer in it, but it is only operating at half power. It's got 2 Mullard EL-34's in it..it's just solid as a rock! I have a Mojave 2x12 open back cab for it with WGS 55Hz Reaper 30 speakers in it. But if you put it on top of a Marshall 4x12 checkboard cab with greenies in it you instantly have Cream-at-Winterland-style tone...it's just epic classic British Blues rock tone! Billy Gibbons had a rack mounted Scorpion in his rig for years and used it for all of the classic ZZ Top material live. THey are amazing amps. Then there is the relationship with one of Texas' greatest amp builders, Doug Sewell, who now lives in Maryland and builds amps for PRS Guitars. Doug is from the same neighborhood I grew up in back in Dallas. Paul Reed Smith met him and the rest is history. My favorite amp Doug builds is called a "Super Dallas" around Texas it was known as the Sewell Texaplex. It's basically a 50 watt Plexi with reverb. David Grissom was using one for a long time before they finished his signature amp., and when I would go down to Austin to see him, he just sounded so amazing! It's an incredible amplifier. I have a very unique 4x10 solid Pine open cab for it. It has four 10 inch Celestion greenback speakers. It's very cool. I used Super Reverbs as a kid when I was backing R&B, Blues and Soul artist, I wanted something with 4x10's in it but that gave me my sound...it's like the cross between a plexi and a Super..it's a very cool amp...I know Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks were also using the Super Dallas with the Allman Brothers. When I do fly dates or have to rent backline over in Europe or for festivals I use the Marshall JCM 2000 DSL 100. I love the DSL 100, it's really a workhouse, very reliable and gives me everything I need in one amp. Jeff Beck turned me onto them years ago when I did a show with him in Germany when I was a kid. When Jeff was using them he had these very cool 1x12 Marshall extension cabs on the floor in front of him like floor monitors, he told me you could only get them from Marshall in England. At that time he was using only a 535q Wah Wah and using the footswitch and the amps gain channels for his lead tones...so thanks to Jeff Beck I always ask for a DSL 100 if I can't get what I normally play. I have owned several of them and I love the ones from the late 1990's the best.

Do you use different amps for the studio vs live shows... If so, why?

LL: Yeah, sometimes... I mean sometimes it's just a volume issue. On the Supersonic Blues Machine album we have all kinds of amps. We used a small 12 watt Bogner Brixton which is very cool. I'm not sure if Reinhold still makes that one, but it was very cool...it was tiny but it sounded like a wall of full stacks on the recording. The Helios 100 was not yet completed when we were recording, so the Brixton is the main. We also used the PRS Super Dallas. Fabrizio Grossi is a master of recording small wattage amps and making them sound huge. He has some really great miking techniques as well as ways to isolate the cabs that really make them sound large. So there are ways to get that huge wall of Marshalls sound without having a wall of Marshalls...a lot if it tis the guitarist and a lot of it is the engineer/producer..

Scott - Do you have any endorsement with instrument and gear companies?

LL: I am very fortunate that I have some of the greatest companies in the world believe in me and support me.
Gibson Guitars, Bogner Amplififcation, Ernie Ball Strings, PRS amps, Mojave Ampworks, Big Joe Stompbox Company, Veretex Effects, Wampler Pedals, Mojo Hand FX, PRA WiC wireless system, Lewitt micrphones, Klotz Cables, 64 Audio In-Ear monitors, Graphtech.

What were your favorite recording artists and or bands a teenager?

LL: As a teenager I ate, breathed and slept, Jimi Hendrix! Then there was Cream, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Johnny Winter, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, Robin Trower, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and of course all of the Blues and Jazz artist...I mean I would be here all day listing all of the Blues guys I would dig up in the libraries. I was a sponge back then. It was such a great time period...I miss the days of practicing for 12 hours non-stop and learning complete albums and delving into one great guitar player after another and discovering them for the first time. For a long time in my early teens Robin Trower was a major hero after I discovered him for the first time. Trower actually got a bad rap from a lot of the old Texas Blues guys...but to me he was a God! I can remember learning his songs for days on end. I remember learning all of the live Cream records note-for-note, I would spend a day on just one section from 'N.S.U' or 'Sweet Wine' from Live Cream...those were good times
 
Who have been your main influences on your career to date?

LL: Billy Gibbons, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan, Bugs Henderson, Van Wilks, David Grissom, Smoking Joe Kubek, Jimmy Wallace, Lucky Peterson, Allen Collins, Gary Rossington, Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, BB King, Albert King, Freddie King, Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy, Robert Johnson, Elmore James
 
How has your guitar playing evolved over the years?

LL: It has I have try to expand my knowledge constantly. Every time I'm around a guitarist I admire I ask them for a quick lesson. You can never stop learning. So I am always trying to learn more and apply it. So I thinks that leads to evolution. Also, the more time I have clean and sober, the better I am. Fabrizio Grossi saw a huge difference just last month when we were in the studio together out in L.A. He couldn't believe how great I sounded being lucid...and I really couldn't tell I am just being me, but he could see a major difference and major improvement. To hear that is even more of a reason to continue to stay inspired to be clean and sober and to continue to learn from all of the great guitarist I encounter.
 
What are you listening to these days?

LL: Man, ya know there some cool bands out there now. Blackberry Smoke's new record is cool. I really dig Rival Sons and of course Gov't Mule. Jeff Beck's new record 'Loud Hailer' really knocked me out...and I love the new live ZZ Top album...
 
Give us the low down on your other project Supersonic Blues Machine.

LL: Bass player, producer, engineer and songwriter, Fabrizio Grossi, Legendary drummer, Kenny Aronoff and I formed this Blues-Rock band out in Los Angeles a few years ago. We invited all of our favorite guitarist to come play with us and make it a very brotherly, unified situation. A machine has a lot of moving parts and combining all of our tones its get pretty supersonic, and at the core is the Blues...so you get Supersonic Blues Machine!
 
How did this all come about?

LL: I was touring Europe a lot several years ago. I kept running across people that kept telling me I needed to hook up with Fabrizio Grossi. So when I got back to the States I connected with Fabrizio through a mutual journalist friend of ours, Tony Conley. Fabrizio invited me to his studio if I was ever in L.A. and I sent him a few songs I had been working on. A couple of months later I had some gigs in SoCal, so I rang up Fab and told him I was coming to L.A. We got together at his studio for what was supposed to be an hour meeting and then 3 days later I left the studio with several tracks! (laughs) We were like brothers instantly and our chemistry was instant. I went back to Dallas and a week later Billy Gibbons called Fabrizio to help him work on some things for ZZ Top and Fabrizio told Billy I had just been there and what had happened and Billy told Fab "Man, I've known Lance since he was kid, he grew up around us, played shows with us...he's one of my favorite guitarist!" Then Billy told Fab "You guys should form a band, and if you do I want to come play with you guys!" As they say the rest is history! (laughs)
 
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?

LL: .Well I work with kids and young musicians and teach lessons when I can and help other young guitarist try to find their way. But as far as "close to my heart" my family is the closest thing to my heart. My wife (Kayla Reeves of Trans-Siberian Orchestra), really pulled me out of a dark place. She has been my angel. On the 4th of July last year we had our daughter, Lilly Grace, and she has been my other angel. God has blessed me with two angels that have literally saved my life and turned my life around. Again, surviving everything that I have, I am just so grateful to have another chance at life and I'm grateful for all of the suffering because I have learned to appreciate each day, every hour, every minute, every second of the day that I'm allowed to be alive and surrounded by people who love me. I'm grateful to be free of the addictions today and that I can be there to help others. If I'm not on the road, I'm home with them, and when Kayla is out with Trans-Siberian Orchestra it's just me, Lilly and our puppy Penny at home being a blessed little family. I thank God every time I look around at them and am able to take another breathe. Playing guitar and being a musician and everything is all just gravy...truly a privilege...So if I'm not touring with my bands or working..I'm home with my family. Sobriety and my family come first in my life today...
 
Scott - I would like to thank you Lance for your time and candor with our loyal readers and keep on fighting the good fight to bring us some awesome music.

LL: Dude, it's been my pleasure Bro! I look forward to chatting again sometime soon! Stay safe and God Bless...



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