Kim Simmonds (Savoy Brown) Interview Part 2
Pete has rung Kim in Syracuse to talk Savoy Brown and beyond and the conversation continues…
Do you realise how many acts, contemporary or veteran acts are absolutely nuts about Savoy Brown? You must meet them on your travels. For example, Blue Cheer I interviewed them and all they wanted to talk about was Savoy Brown!
KS: Oh really? They were fans ?
One of the guitar players in Blue Cheer told me he had the honour of playing with you. George Thorogood absolutely adores your music, Alan once gave me an album to pass on and he jumped in the air when I presented it to him…
( Genuinely surprised ) Oh wow! That is ….well that’s wonderful….for us, for me
I suppose you must meet these guys at festivals or whatever, but you’re a bit of a hot topic often on par with Peter Green, everybody wants to talk about Peter Green when they realise that you know him. Now Savoy, I think it’s the fact that people come out of the shows having been taken on a bit of a journey. It leaves a memory with you doesn’t it? It must do. It’s like a great painting or a meal that you savour
Ell, if it’s the live shows that you’re talking about..? Well I think that’s what happens. It doesn’t appear that way to me. I can only talk about and analyse it from what I hear, the reaction and what people say. That’s why I think, ‘Why is this still going on?, ‘Why do people still come along?’ and ‘What’s the story here?’ People do tell me that the show is different every night. It doesn’t seem that it’s radically different to me every night, but something is different. I know I’m driven to try and change things around and try to approach things differently. So it’s exciting if that’s how it comes across. People say all sorts of things to me and I have no idea that that’s what’s coming out. I’m in no shape or form manipulating anything. I just walk onstage and try to work as hard as I can, put as much as I can into it. Have those battles on stage and I just do what I do. One particular artist, who I admire said ‘I like you because you work hard on stage’. I don’t think what I play was his particular style of blues but that really meant a lot to me. He said that he sees a lot of people who don’t work hard on stage. That meant a lot to me because I think I’ve been a hard-working guy
Yeah, that what as a fan I perceive
It doesn’t seem like much of a compliment, but I think it was a great compliment
I think it is. Don’t forget that the one thing you can’t shy away from is the fact that a lot of people started playing music because they saw Savoy , Chicken Shack, Fleetwood Mac and you could see these guys were soaking up these influences. You told me about Albert Collins, I didn’t know who he was. You told me at Tolworth that I should go find ‘Truckin’ and I thank you to this day!
(Laughs) Oh well ! . that was good advice, Pete, I stand by that one ! the fans at that place were very young and VERY keen, I do remember that…all the bands liked playing there..Aynsley Dunbar, Ten Years After, Jeff Beck and Rod….
I thought ‘I’ve never heard this guy but if Simmonds likes him I better check him out!’
Wow that’s amazing! Your memory is astonishing
True tale. Therefore, we are not following you out of nostalgia, it’s because we like a dynamic show
Yeah and going back to what you were saying as maybe I got off track there, I do think myself as a musician and Savoy Brown as a band has been way more influential on other musicians. There were no massive number one hits or top fives even. But nevertheless, I think it is something I am aware of that we probably have been influential. That is only a sort of misty awareness because people don’t come up to me on a weekly basis and shake my hand
I spend a lot of time interviewing people because I find it interesting. Let’s talk about your current band. Sounds great on the live record, have you used that same crew to make your new studio album?
Yeah. The studio album is really the same band and when I started the new line up Pat DeSalvo came on bass guitar and Garnet Grimm on drums. We were friends and we knew each other but I wasn’t sure whether playing in Savoy Brown would be something they would be interested in doing. They were at a stage in their lives where they wanted to take it on. So now we go out as a three piece and we have great fun. I was little bit of a nutcase as I’ve had a bit of a strain with previous line-ups and I was really very difficult to get along with. I think it was just the pressure of keeping a band going like this. There’s a lot that goes with it so I was under a lot of stress. At that point I was doing the singing and playing guitar and I said ‘Let me bring in a singer. I think that will take some of the pressure off and make me a better person.’ I bought in Joe as a singer and player, he is a friend of mine and he introduced me to my wife. So Joe came in and took the pressure off me. Joe had a solo career and other things going on and wanted to do his own thing. I think I learnt a lesson about how to deal with pressure and it’s very important that I have people around me. So here we are again, a three piece and I’m able to have great fun and keep the pressure away..
You’re remarkably self-aware, objective, Kim
A couple of people have said over the last year ‘ You’re there but not just for yourself’ , y’know..
It’s true, I am there for the audience…now that’s very sweet thing to hear..another reason why I’m still doing this..I am philosophic and I am very religious..these things make me aware, to respond properly to you there
What we’re getting to here is, Kim Simmonds s not going to go out there and play on auto-pilot
(Chuckles) Ha! I wish I could ! But it would never work..you be true to yourself and that’s been my mantra for a long time
Your slide guitar style has got quite a distinctive feel to it..and I’ve always thought that just a little touch of George Harrison in there
Slide playing came very easily to me and like everything that comes easy, you don’t value it..I quite often don’t play any slide guitar at all in shows..now you mention George Harrison, I think he’s one of the best slide players ever
He plays that split second behind where the note should be, doesn’t he ?
(Ponders) Now you bring that up, yes, think he does…that is one of the things with me, I do sometime play behind the beat ..slightly..in my case, it’s just poor musicianship !
No ! it’s just something I did wonder about and haven’t remembered to run past you before
Not til you mentioned it. Now you have..yes I can hear it. I wasn’t aware before that he was slightly behind the beat but yes he was, he is….I was never aware of it, as a sometime characteristic
(Owning up ) I’m kinda saying that you should maybe play a bit more slide, sometimes …
(Laughs) Well I wanna hear that, because here I am putting together a setlist for tomorrow and Saturday and I’ve been DAYS pondering what to include..! OK there was one song I wasn’t going to play slide..now I will, I think ..your input will be heeded
Well OK…sorry to take your time but I did really want to talk about how you’re doing and where you are now. So we’ve been in and around all that and thanks, amigo. Oh, I did ‘Little Wheel’ the other night at a flood fundraiser..I’ve never heard anyone do that Hooker song as well as you, when I was in America and you played it with Pete McMahon..
Oh thanks..well when we did that song, Pete and myself, we could just read each other’s minds on what space to put in here and when to crank it up..it was a joy to play with Pete and in particular on that great song…we built up quite an intricate arrangement, just because we knew each other’s playing and who should push where
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Well, there we have it, Mr Simmonds thoughts and opinions. Long may he play and sing up a storm with Savoy Brown and players especially may enjoy his various solo albums
Thanks Kim and Al