The Canadian guitar is always on the road, but we rang him for a chat…..
Where are you Pat?
I’m sitting in my home just outside of Orlando, Florida. Just sitting outside and enjoying the day. It’s actually started to not be so miserably hot.
Ok. Are you back from a tour or about to tour?
I just finished a tour that I did with Edgar Winter and Rick Derringer, Canned Heat. We did twenty two shows and that was great. That was an awesome tour and now with my own band, I’m doing some shows this month and then we head to the UK at the end of the month. The first couple of weeks of October in the UK.
I will try to get to one of those shows.
That would be awesome. Not to brag, but the band is smoking and we’re really firing on all eight cylinders here.
Last time I saw you Pat was at The Boom Boom Club in Sutton.
Yes. The venue you love to hate!
It’s weird. It’s a sports club really.
The audience there is always great, but the stage is so low. Every time I try and do anything flashy I scrap my knuckles on the ceiling!
The Tubes can’t play there! The way I connect to you is this; there are certain things which connect because you know people I know. I first heard you playing on a Glenn Hughes album I think.
Wow. Well Glenn and I go way back. It’s a friendship I’m very proud of because prior to meeting Glenn I was huge Glenn Hughes fan. Then we were introduced just at the very end days of Deep Purple. He was recording his solo album and he asked me to come over and put some solo guitar on it.
Was it ‘Play Me Out’?
Yeah that was ‘Play Me Out’ his first solo album. But, he’s just such an awesome musician, vocalist, writer and a great friend too. I’m glad I’ve known him all these years.
Hughes isn’t someone you meet every day. I don’t know how he’s still alive but he is. I saw you once in the company of a guy I admire as much as you called Pat Thrall.
Pat at one time was in a fantastic group called Automatic Man. You had a great dynamic going between you. Was it natural? Did you sit and work it out? What happened there?
You know, Pat’s just the greatest guy. Aside from playing music and playing guitars together, just as guys we had a lot of time and a lot of fun hanging out together. We were pretty similar in our upbringing even though he’s from California and I’m from Canada. The type of families we grew up in and the way our musical careers started were very similar. It was actually Neil Shone from Journey and Santana who suggested Pat to us. So he came and he hung out with us for about three weeks on the road. We just kind of eased in and by the time he was in the band everybody was really comfortable. He’s a really inspirational guy and now he is in production and engineering at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas. It is a very high-end studio so he’s doing alright.
Good. I was begging Glenn to make another Hughes-Thrall record.
(Laughs) Don’t hold your breath!
How do you stay so thin?
I don’t know. I’ve been training mostly on rather than off in karate since 2004. I guess I’m kind of naturally that way. Then of course playing the shows live requires a lot of energy from me. So I think I burn quite a lot of calories in one day just being me.
The trouble is, and I hate you for this, you make it look so easy!
(Laughs) That’s part of the secret. Make the hard parts look easy and the easy parts look hard!
Tell me about your current band.
I’m so happy. This is probably the best band I’ve ever had. I’ve had great players over the years but this band started with Kurt on guitar. We’ve been playing together now since 2004 and we have that same kind of relationship I had with Pat Thrall. I just love what Kurt plays over the songs I write. He does stuff that I wouldn’t think of doing. Not only the stuff I come up with but the stuff he comes up with as well. On bass guitar, Rodney Quinn who has been playing with me since the very beginning of 2008. He’s just awesome and such a cool guy to play with. Then Sandy Genero is on drums and he played with me back in ’81. He was on the ‘Radioactive’ album and he was also on ‘Black Pearl’. We did numerous tours with people like Aerosmith. Sandy went onto play with Cyndi Lauper, Davy Jones from The Monkees. When I needed a new drummer he was the only one I called and fortunately for us, he was available and that was in 2010.
Yeah. I tell you one thing I’ve always wondered about you; Jeff Healey was another great Canadian player I liked and he had quite a leaning at times towards jazz and I wondered whether you’d ever considered incorporating more jazz into what you do on your own records. Have you ever been tempted?
Well, I could see myself doing some of that music. Recently, on this tour we were on with Edgar Winter. I spent quite a bit of time with Edgar just listening to music and he would play some pretty out there stuff. A lot of it I’d guess you’d call it jazz but I’m not sure. It was very out there music and I felt very attached to it. I had an affinity for it. So I think given the right set of circumstances I could go there. I don’t know whether you’d call it jazz or just being a little free-form.
I’m thinking of the Mahvishnu album called ‘Visions of the Emerald and Beyond’
But the thing is, sometimes with that kind of music they get carried away with the fact of maybe doing an odd time signature for the sake of itself rather than cause it sounds good musically. Doing something in 9/4 is fine if you know how to count to nine. But that takes some experience and some educated ears. So if I did something like that, it would have a groove and any of the time signatures I would make the easy stuff look hard and the hard stuff look easy.
If I do something in an odd time signature, I try to make it as danceable and easy to listen to as possible. So it’s only the people who really know what’s going on ‘Wait a second, this is in seven four and I didn’t even notice! How cool!’ That’s how I feel about that.
I think some people found their way into electric jazz via Tommy Bolan.
I thought that was always a weird thing. ——————– He did as far as I know write that song. Jeff Beck did it on that ‘Live at Ronnie Scotts’ thing and it was awesome.
When you’re playing with your current band, do you compose at home or do they come to you on the road Pat?
They come to me all the time. At home, on the road, travelling. Of course, there’s times when I need to record an album which means I have to write these songs. Now, I did a lot of work last year and I’ve got this new album and a bunch of new material. So I didn’t need to be writing songs. But guess what/ That’s what I’ve been doing anyway. There in my head without me even thinking about it.
I was talking to Leslie West on Monday and his current record, he made one out in California with people like Bonamassa. His current record he’s deliberately pieced it together over a time because he wanted to be in a different frame of mind for the variety of tracks on the album. He said if he records too much in one session, it’s not as good as if he pieces it together.
I’m exactly the same and that’s why I believe the new ‘Can Do’ album is so good because I recorded it over a period of about eight months. I was working on two songs at any one time and not thinking about this whole monstrosity of twelve or thirteen songs. That made it much easier for me so I know what Leslie’s talking about. Some of my best albums have been like that anyway. ‘Crash and Burn’ took about eight months because we were back and then on the road and that just continued.
Having said that, without being too obsequies you’re the king of the live album.
Well, we’ve got one in the can that we recorded last year at the —————————– in New York.
I’m thinking of the ‘Live at the Bamboo Room’.
With these live things, I don’t think I’ve done one yet where I feel it’s the best representation of what I’m capable of doing. For some reason, whenever we’re recording something seems to go wrong that never goes wrong when you’re not recording. One of these days, maybe next year we’ll record five to ten shows because than you’ve got a chance of coming up with what is the best of live. ‘Warts and all’ is my philosophy and that’s the way it should be presented.
Like Rory Gallagher did. There’s a Thin Lizzy album where it’s like three quarters overdubbed.
I never saw the value in that. You have to record a few shows I think to get that great show.
I don’t know if you were ever a fan of Savoy Brown but Kim Simmons did that.
I heard a song by Savoy Brown yesterday and it was great but I can’t remember what it was.
I am friends with Chris————————- and he’s bon some of the albums. He’s a fantastic singer and he is so soaked in that blues feeling that you could be listening to Muddy Waters.
When I was young Savoy Brown was really inspirational for me.
Here’s a real musician question: could you give me three tips for someone who’s going on the road and trying to do some shows where they’re happy with those shows.
Ok. Number One: The thing that you have to pack is a sense of humour. Number Two: Make sure you’ve got enough underwear and socks. Number Three: Always carry your wallet with you on stage.
On equipment-wise, how many guitars do you take out for your shows?
I take two. My number one guitar is a ———————————————————————————————-. Then I have a ————————————— and I use that for slide guitar. Those are the only two guitars I bring.
Ok. I was wondering whether you’d ever owned or tried a Rickenbacker.
They never really spoke to me. The few times I’ve tried to pick one up and play one the bodies are too big and the necks are kind of flimsy.
I’ve got a three sixty twelve but I don’t take it on the road because it’s too delicate.
They’re so beautiful. I have played one a little bit but I think it had the wrong strings on it. It would have needed some attention from me to be able to play it properly.
Now you’ve made loads of records so how on earth do you pick a set list?
It’s not been too bad lately. We just keep on adding stuff. So we just added two more new songs. We’ve added some older stuff too.
There are some songs you have to do some songs don’t you?
Yes. We have to do ‘Smokin Whisky’ and ‘Crash and Burn’ which I love to do anyway.
Gear-wise I was wondering what strings you use because you seem to stay in tune very well.
I’ve been using ————————————————– since 1978——————————— they’re a little heavier than normal. Kurt uses the same.
I use Blue Steels and I find they stay clean. For some reason, they pick up my effects better than other strings.
Most strings are made in the same factory anyway. I have somebody else getting ready to call me soon so I have to go now.
Ok. I’m happy with that and it’s a lovely little chat and I’m grateful for the time.
Well thank you so much. I really appreciate it and we’ll get to see you soon.
Where are you playing in England?
I know we are playing some shows in the south of London.
Well I will get to one and buy you a beer. Thanks Pat.
Cheers mate. All the best.
By Pete Sargeant
Pat Travers new album ‘Can Do’ is out now on Frontiers Records
For more information visit www.pattravers.com