Back from a brush with The Grim Reaper, a post-transplant Walter Trout has recorded a new album called Battle Scars for Mascot/Provogue and wants to get out on tour and thank his followers. Pete found him as strong and full of character as he ever was……
JLTT: First question has to be – how are you feeling, mate?
WT: I feel great, man! Y’know, I’m reborn here..physically, emotionally, mentally..as a husband, as a father, a musician..I feel like my best years are ahead of me. Which is an amazing feeling, to feel I can just start over again
We last spoke when I was crocked but you had just arrived at the Royal Albert Hall for the Leadbelly Tribute show and Golly passed the phone over so I could check how you were doing
I had such a wonderful time..so fulfilling. The first time I had been on a stage in over two years. And I’m telling you what, man..the moment I counted to four and that incredible band came in, with Mick Rogers..it was like I was flying, Pete! I was having these realisations..wow, I can DO this! I can play, I can sing, I’m at back there, again. I felt completely at ease, relaxed, I’m not intimidated by this truly fabulous venue..this is what I do. I haven’t done it in two years, but man, I can still do it. I could have played another ninety minutes, for those lovely people
As I was recovering, I knew I had to get back and front my band, even on crutches. And I felt I was back home..do you know what I mean?
(Firmly) I know EXACTLY what you mean. I feel at home on stage – and I hadn’t had that feeling for so long…when I was in the hospital on my smartphone I would pull up videos of myself, playing and I couldn’t relate to it at all..who is that guy? How does he do that? So to finally get back up there at this incredible venue.
Let’s talk about ‘Omaha’, Walter – now that’s a song about a man haunted by death isn’t it?
OK. To write that, just had to put myself back, in that hospital bed, laying there..what was that like? what was going on? and that where it says about looking out the window, at the rain, y’know..need something for the pain, don’t want to get strung out again..I’m trying to deal with that…I was in the Liver Ward, people dying around me. One night, three people went, around me. You could hear the families crying, grieving. That’s what that song is about.
That whole episode, as you recover and enjoy life, it’s going to seem like a story about someone else. But there it is, recorded.
Well yeah..it already does, as I feel so good now. I look back – was that a bad dream I had ? But I just look at my arms, all chopped up still…no. I didn’t dream all that!
I got a hole in my chest where they drilled in to save me when my lung collapsed and I was on the way out second time, they were complaining it was hard to bite in, but it’s all guitar muscle…it’s a reminder..no anaesthetic
I’m friends with Laurence (Jones) and Danny (Bryant) and the reason why they revere you is simple – you gave freely to them, when you didn’t have to. You now have the harvest on what you sowed, the goodwill
(Pauses) That’s a beautiful thing…I have to say, when I play a gig, I do feel that I give the people who are giving me their respect or time or whatever. They give it right back. It becomes a circle of energy. I try to give them everything I have, the crowd. I play off the energy of the crowd, I’m sure you know what I mean there? I have never had any time for those acts that walk out on stage with the line or attitude of the audience being guys who are lucky to be in the act’s presence! The crowd are supposed to marvel at their magnificence..I don’t want to mention any names but there are some people who have that approach..the show should be communal celebration, more
By the way – ‘Almost Gone’, fantastic track! And that’s you playing the harmonica on there is it?
That’s me, yeah. I’m glad you dig that song, I really am.
I love that arpeggio intro, building up the tension ..when the band comes in it’s like ‘When The Levee Breaks’.
(Laughs) That’s kinds funny, someone asked me about this and I was telling him that the day we recorded it, I had a rough mix of the thing to bring it home and check it out. I played it to one of my kids in the house. When it ended he said ‘All you need on that, Dad, is Robert Plant singing along!’ …I didn’t write it with that in mind ..but I love that track. Our new bass player, his part on that literally makes that track, very simple…a normal bass player would approach it in a standard way. But the guy I got now is just ********** incredible. His playing on there is just awesome.
My favourite track of yours in ‘Fast Moving Traffic’..the atmosphere
Thanks, I kinda like that song. It’s about 1992. I got up in the morning and I said to my wife I had this dream that I made some song called Fast Moving Traffic..an hour later she walked back in with lyrics!! She said it’s about addiction. With the world passing you by, so I wrote the chorus part musically and then my drummer, he wrote the melody for the verses. It was fun doing it, that way. I did all the background vocals myself. Maybe I should resurrect that?
Consider that a request! ‘My Ship Came In’ – I found this quite moving
This whole album is a concept album, about what I went through. It’s about this, Pete – do you have the slang phrase in England ‘my ship came in’? Here, It means something really good just happened to me. A guy lands a good job..anyway, Provogue had plans to do this big push, my work anniversary, ‘Year of the Trout’, documentary, vinyl releases, festivals…the kind of promotion that as a musician you might wait for all your life. And we had to cancel the whole thing (Transplant needed – PS) . I tried to make joke about it on that phrase ..the ship just sailed away again ! It stuck in my head as a song title.
‘Fortune smiles, then scowls’
(Laughs) There you go! The Surrey version! We were really excited, then events took over…for 25 years as a solo act I have been waiting for this kind of help, promotion…now we’re kicking ass ! we are playing a great unit every night, been in the US and Canada..the chemistry is there, we are listening to each other, we are having the time of our lives!
Walter Trout’s new album ‘Battle Scars’ is out now on Provogue Records/Mascot Label Group. You can read our review of Walter Trout’s live return at Leadbelly Fest here: http://justlistentothis.co.uk/live-reviews/leadbelly-fest-june-2015-royal-albert-hall-london-united-kingdom/
You can also read our review of Walter Trout’s headline show at O2 Forum Kentish Town in London here: http://justlistentothis.co.uk/live-reviews/walter-trout-plus-special-guest-simo-november-2015-o2-forum-kentish-town-london-united-kingdom/
Walter Trout will return to the UK as a Special Guest on The Blues Stage at Ramblin Man Fair on Sunday 24th July 2016. Tickets are available to buy here: http://www.ramblinmanfair.com/
For more information visit: http://www.waltertrout.com/
Visuals: Kieran White at KW Media
(Thanks Walter, Lee Puddefoot and Steve Marsh at Mascot Label Group)