Quinn Sullivan -Driving Forward
Glenn and Quinn met at Buddy Guy’s London show last Summer – here they catch up and talk about the young guitar star’s forthcoming Mascot label album release Midnight Highway. The record covers a lot of styles and moods, enjoy his conversation about it…
JLTT: Hey Quinn! How ya doin’?
QS: I’m good, Glenn. It’s great to do this..I’m back home in Massachusetts right now
Describe your home town in a few words
It’s fun. It’s interesting, diverse, with all different kinds of people, y’know? You get to hear a lot of varied music
When Dad and I first saw you it was at Hammersmith, with you opening for Buddy Guy. How has the experience of being able to tour with him been for you?
(Sighs) What it comes down to is that man has shown me the world..and helped me so much and yes, I owe everything to Buddy. I think we met when I was 10 or 11 years old and he let me go on the tour bus and meet his crew and band and then go to lot of very cool places and literally showed me the world, where to go, all over the US and then that European tour. So the way I see it, I owe a lot to him and his kindness. Of course he has the talent and the experience and all that stuff. And to open for him, well..I get to play places I could never have imagined performing in, legendary venues..like The Hollywood Bowl!
And Red Rocks! And of course Hammersmith where we were talking..it has definitely helped me a lot to have that encouragement..
This might make you laugh but the minute your set finished and I turned to Dad and said ‘Mascot ought to sign this guy !’
Oh wow! Thank you very much!
Your record – my favourite track here is Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming. Now how did that number come about as regards the writing/recording process?
That was from Tom Hambridge, who produced the record. With a co-writer. Like you, I immediately fell in love with the song. He had a recorded version of it. I said that it was cool and could we record it to see how it came . We did end up recording it and putting it onto the record. I am grateful for that as it’s a great song, very strong and powerful. A killer track, glad you buy into that one.
You have quite a lot of songs you have written yourself on here – on the cut Eyes For You, was that written about a specific person or what?
Hmm, that was a co-write and I think it is maybe more of a general message, there..it wasn’t really a personal thing to an individual..I have eyes for you, not for anyone else at this point..maybe it would if a girl sang it for a guy ?..you have me thinking now! But another one that was a bit more personal was Going. Which is about someone specific, I admit.
My notes here are that you want to develop as a songwriter as much as a musician, so is there any particular area or channel where you find inspiration?
Yes, there are quite a few artists that I listen to a lot that make we want to develop the songcraft side..they inspire me, certainly. It’s a freedom thing, songwriting and lyric writing , there aren’t any limits or boundaries, really. I might come up with a lick on the guitar that I want to use a trigger for a song, or a melody and what I do is record it on my phone, to hear it back later. I don’t really have a home studio type set up yet. I’m not really into that whole advanced tech thing. I keep it simple and store ideas that way. If something comes out of it then fine, if not there are others brewing. That’s how it is with me.
I was wondering whether you listened to a guy called Brad Paisley?
Cos every now and again there are elements of country rock in your music along with all the blues and rock and jamming ones. Tom Petty?
Oh yeah! He is fantastic, all round. It’s maybe not even a conscious thing but I do totally get what you’re saying as that would influence the songs I come up with. As a natural thing, yes. Tom Hambridge is a huge country fan and has produced many country acts.
Tom seems to have the art of making people almost play beyond their skills, to stretch them creatively
Now I would totally agree with that! He is a great guy, singer, writer, drummer, producer.. he is fully relaxed the whole time, calm and all but he gets things done. He does slack off or waste time but he doesn’t rush, either. He just has that way about him and it affects you and helps you.
Let’s talk gear – what hardware did you use on this album project?
Quite a mixture! The main guitars are a mid 60s Strat, a Gibson Les Paul..the studio in Nashville was full of magical vintage stuff and I love all that…a Thunderbird a couple of times. An old 335. An old blonde Telecaster…so there is a bunch of different stuff but the Strat is really my go-to a lot of the time. There’s so many different sounds it can make.
Do you have any favourite tunings?
On stage I pretty much stick to the standard EADGBE tuning BUT at home around the house I do indeed like playing with say Open G or Open E..and lately I have worked around D minor tuning just to see what I can do with it…I know Jimi Hendrix used to mess around with different tunings, it can be interesting..so that is something I can be getting more into, over time. It can give you a different taste on the music!
Around this house I hear a lot of 12-string! Do you have one?
Oh yeah I have a Yamaha that my uncle gave me. Haven’t played it in a while so I shall, cheers! A really cool texture and sound.
There’s some acoustic on your record – is it a Martin? Or a Gibson?
Correct , I did use a Martin on a couple of songs there. And a really old Gibson Hummingbird on two.
The action sounds low
Yes I keep the action low on my guitars, in the main
Is travelling a bore or a boost, for you?
Oh, seeing the world and experience things, that has to be a boost!
What was the first live music show you went to and how old were you?
I saw Paul McCartney when I was five years old! Boston Gardens. It was the loudest show I had been to in my whole life. There was a very cool band he had put together for that show. It was so electrifying, I am a huge Beatles fan. That was my first love, The Beatles. That was big deal for me back then to see that performance.
Ok Quinn, thanks for this and it’s a great album with a good team aboard so good luck with it
Thank YOU, Glenn – let’s catch up when I am next over!
(Many thanks to Quinn and Lee at Mascot Label Group for help with this piece)
(Quinn Sullivan Photos Supplied By Mascot Label Group and taken by Griffin Lotz. Buddy Guy Photo by John Bull at Rockrpix)
Quinn Sullivan’s new studio album ‘Midnight Highway’ is out now worldwide on Provogue Records/Mascot Label Group.
You can read our full album review of ‘Midnight Highway’ here: http://bit.ly/2okR6lh
For more information visit his official website here: http://bit.ly/2mWGGYF