Robin Trower – Sonic Voyager
Robin’s new album ‘Where You Are Going To’ is stacked with effective songs, inventive and soulful guitar playing and some very personal lyrics as the artist continues his travels around the world. Pete tempted him temporarily out of the studio to talk about the new record and its inspirations.
JLTT: I love this record and I’ve been playing it a lot. As I understand it, the record was layered up with you playing the guitars and bass and then Chris Taggart drumming?
RT: Yes it was done that way, so it is a little hard to get to the ‘band’ sound in a way but on the positive, the songs come together exactly right which is the way I have approached things for this set
Is Livingstone Brown involved?
Oh yes, he fixes everything that needs it to get the final sound we want
Is this a slightly rockier album than other recent ones you have done?
(Ponders) Yes I think I’d have to concur on that, overall. No master plan or anything but I’d have to agree it’s got that flavour to it this time around
‘When Will The Next Blow Fall’ – This is the way I feel when I watch Sky News! How much worse can things get??
Exactly! In my mind here I had things like the constant refugee crises..and wars , all over the globe it seems. Hence the lyric. You see all these people, refugees displaced by conflicts. It is so worrying, you wonder what can possibly solve it or make things easier for them
The key sounds spot on for your voice
Well I become better at all that as I sing more, these days..but I’m glad you notice it! When you write songs you’re going to sing you do want it to flow in the coolest register
That nagging riff makes it quite addictive, as a piece of music
Er, thank you, it suited the pace of the song, the feel don’t you think?
‘Where You Are Going To’ – Is this really about you and your life? Or someone else?
It’s directly inspired by looking back at my days from The Paramounts and Procol and onwards, about the way the trio thing developed and affected my playing style and songwriting, everything really. You could say in a way the experience of fame, of travelling and thoughts on all that’s involved in that. I liked it as an album title and it’s one of the strongest tracks in the set
The sustain really sings….’Back Where You Belong’ – Ah the Johnny Guitar Watson tinge! I do like the ascending chord progression and the vocal sounds very comfortable
Excellent!! I am a big fan of his music. Not as well-known as BB King or Albert King and maybe more of a pop/r&b artist. I couldn’t tell you where that chordal thing comes from to be honest, Pete. It is the sort of twist you just stumble upon and don’t think about if it works. But thank you, it is one I do enjoy singing. Writing rock’n’roll is still a bit of a rarity for me as you know, I usually go for space, texture. But here, I am very happy with the result, I have to say.
The vocal sounds very personal, it sounds like you speaking almost in a singing voice
(Laughs) Well that’s a good thing, isn’t it?
‘JigSaw’ – I like the emphatic chord and the drumming is so laid-back..here’s where the low tuning helps? On the low register runs?
The main guitar part just came to me whilst on tour in the US and the lyric is reflective, on how you can view life. The guitar figure just made the whole song come together, I would say. I am generally tuned down a tone so the bends are a touch easier for the feel I am going for, yes
Jeff Beck tunes down for much the same reason. ‘The Fruits Of Your Desire’ – Now this is one lovely tune
Practically everything you hear on this album just comes to me naturally, just from my way of playing
‘Ain’t No Use To Worry’ – Steady funk…ace guitar solo, maybe the best on the record!
Thanks – it is a sort of James Brown reference, that yelp..if you do it inwards you can get that vocal effect. On the last record you detected some Curtis Mayfield influence I recall so maybe that comes in here? But Howlin’ Wolf just as much!
I like the mention of The Cognoscenti…
(Laughs) I think I got that from a gangster film,,the Godfather or something! But it says it’s no use worrying about what you can’t change, it’s more important to take care of the ones you love
Is that your overall philosophical stance then, these days?
It’s certainly part of it. Quite an important part
‘We Will Be Together Someday’
A poem to my late wife, really. Another personal song that I wanted to include
That swirl, is that a Deja Vibe?
Yes..and of course I still use the neck and middle pickup mostly, as you know so it gets that depth
‘In Too Deep’ – It’s a slightly harsher vocal and rockier sound..maybe a step towards Paul Rodgers or James Dewar?
(Ponders) I sort of had the Stones in my head creating that one, funnily enough..Satisfaction maybe? It was definitely that area of sound I was tapping into on this particular song.
The slight swagger behind the solo sounds cool
Thanks, it seems to work on this song, having that sort of twist. If it works, I keep it
‘I’m Holding On To You’ – The ghost of Lightnin’ Hopkins got me on this one, such a slithery sound, also the semi-tone shift like Third Degree..my notes say ‘rust-stained love song’…
(Sighs) In a way it’s got the feel of the previous album..but again it’s a personal song about my late wife and I have to say it is one of my favourites on this collection. A love song, yes Pete it is that
‘Delusion Sweet Delusion’ – Pretty much hard funk, here – edgy guitar. Would surely be one for the stage show?
Ha! Yes I am also thinking just that..again the music is built up in stages to get to that impact..the riff will be great to play live so you are likely to hear that one if you can get along to one of the shows again. The setlist is likely to be the one we have been using in America, for those dates. Thanks for catching up and take care.
(Photos credited to Rob Blackham at Blackham Images except feature image which is credited to Marco van Rooijen)
Robin Trower’s new studio album ‘Where You Are Going To’ is out now on Manhaton Records. You can read our review of the album here: http://bit.ly/2alVO8S
In addition, Robin Trower will be touring the UK with special guest and label mate Stevie Nimmo Band. The tour dates are listed below:
For more information and tickets visit Robin Trower’s official website here: http://bit.ly/1RXKUsK
(Many thanks to Robin)