Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Guitar Edge Xclusive: Taddy Porter

As the lead guitarist of Stillwater, Oklahoma-based Taddy Porter, Joe Selby seems bent on updating ′70s Southern rock n’ roll for the new millennium.

On the band’s self-titled debut, out June 29 (digitally released on June 22), Selby makes a dirty racket with scruffy, riff-driven, hard rock tracks. Produced by Memphis-based Skidd Mills (Saving Abel, Saliva), the album wanders stylistically from gentle acoustic blues to vertiginous up-tempo rock. And it’s working: The album’s single, “Shake Me,” is scoring with mainstream radio, and it sits at No. 30 on the active rock chart right now.

“‘Shake Me,’ was a unique experience for us,” Selby said. “We were fiddling around with ideas, and we ended up writing and recording ‘Shake Me’ in one day. I think we spent eight hours on it, which was pretty crazy. We blinked, and it was there. The next thing you know, it’s our single, and it’s taken us to where we are now.”

Guitar Edge caught up with Selby backstage at the hot, sweaty Rock on the Range 2010 to talk gear, the new album and his take on the Southern rock revival.

What music influenced you growing up?

When I first started listing to music, I was all about The Red Hot Chili Peppers. “Under the Bridge” was my favorite song as a kid, so John Frusciante was a big influence before I even picked up guitar. Early ′90s rock like Soundgarden, Nirvana, The Chili Peppers—that’s the first stuff I really remember getting into. Then later, when I started playing guitar and listening more to music, it was more of the classic stuff like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and all of the bands in the late-′60s, early-′70s rock era.

Who are some of your favorite guitarists?

The first guy I really liked was Kirk Hammett. I was in seventh grade, so I was really into Metallica when I first started getting into guitar. But after that, my mom got me into Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jimmy Page. Eric Clapton is one of my top guys now, and I also like Freddy King. All of the blues players. Jeff Beck is amazing. But if I had to pick my top few, they’re Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, and Freddie King.

How did coming out of Stillwater, Oklahoma, affect your sound?

For one thing, there’s not much to do in Stillwater besides play in a band. [laughs] As far as the musical influence, there’s a big country scene there. I’m not into it so much, but that kind of rubs off on me, because I’m around a lot of top-notch guitar players who play that style. There’s also a really good indie scene, and even though we’re a rock band, we really like some of the bands on the indie circuit. The first band I remember us all getting into was The Black Keys. There’s a big following for bands like The Black Keys, The White Stripes, and The Raconteurs in Stillwater, so that influenced who we are as a band.

Do you think there’s a resurgence of Southern rock, with bands like The Black Keys and Kings of Leon paving the way?

Yes, definitely. The more we travel around, the more I think the classic sound is coming back. We see more and more bands that are in the same vein as us. I think that’s the next step for music. I think things are coming around full circle, and the evidence is seeing all of this new music coming out that sounds classic from bands like The Black Keys.

Let’s talk about your upcoming self-titled album. How did the ideas come together for the release?

We were a fairly new band when we started writing this album. I was teaching guitar lessons at a guitar shop [Daddy O’s] in Stillwater, and Andy [Brewer, vocals/guitar] came in for a lesson, and we started jamming together. We just started playing everyday, and we didn’t have a set thing we were going for. We were just playing what we liked: little riffs and different ideas like that. It just happened. We just wrote some songs we liked, we started playing and recording them, and we started seeing this pretty awesome reaction from people.

How did you get the distorted tones on the album?

My main amp is a Rivera Quiana 2x12. It’s 60 watts, and it’s a combo amp. That amp is really awesome in that it has awesome distortion, so the dirty channel sounds really good, and if you click it to the clean channel, there’s another distortion on that channel. So, you can have the clean sound and mix that dirty, or you can click it to the dirty channel. I don’t like using distortion pedals; I like using amp distortion, so that’s what I really like about this amp. On the album, I got most of the tones with the Rivera, and then we mixed it with a Marshall head—the Silver Jubilee reissue, which is my Holy Grail of amps right now, if I can ever get an original. We used those amps for most of the sounds.

So what’s your most trusted guitar, and why?

Definitely my 1960 Classic Reissue Les Paul. I play almost every song with that, and it has a tapered neck on it, which I love. It’s light, which is good for me, because I’m not a big guy. It’s my favorite guitar I’ve ever owned.

Do you have any playing advice for our readers?

My biggest tip is to always try to have an equal balance between learning other guitar players’ material and writing your own stuff. It seems to me like it’s a teeter-totter. There are some people who write a lot of their own stuff but don’t play as well, and then there are other guys who work on the technical stuff but aren’t amazing songwriters. You should find a balance. And practice, practice, practice.

By Anne Erickson, Guitar Edge

Interview: Saving Abel rocks USO tours

Many fans credit Saving Abel's music with helping them get through tough times. They relate to personal lyrics in songs like "18 Days," "Drowning (Face Down)" and "Addicted."

Saving Abel's rock songs speak to the men and women in the armed forces, too. The Mississippi guys just wrapped up an USO tour of the Persian Gulf in February, in which they visited eight military bases, playing seven concerts for soldiers in Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq.

Now back in the states, Saving Abel just released its sophomore album, "Miss America," out last Tuesday, choc full of crunchy, post-grunge rock and soulful, Southern-fried ballads.

Saving Abel headlines the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series aftershow on Sunday, June 13, at the Michigan International Speedway.

Bass player Eric Taylor checked in with NOISE about the band's new album and the USO Tour.

NOISE: You just wrapped up a USO tour in the Persian Gulf. How was that?
Taylor: It was really fun getting to hang out with the men and women of the military and seeing how they live. We slept in the same place as them, ate the same food - it was a really great experience.

NOISE: Do you feel like it's your duty as musicians to give back by entertaining the troops?

Taylor: Absolutely. What we feel - and we don't shove it down anybody's throats - but we feel they're over there fighting for our freedom. We're just asking for people to support them, not the war. (They) are sacrificing so much.

NOISE: You're playing the Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, June 13. Excited?

Taylor: We're lucky - we've had the opportunity to do a lot with NASCAR. We've met a bunch of the drivers, so every time NASCAR calls, we jump on it. It should be fun to hang with fans and watch some good racing.

NOISE: Let's talk about the album. Why did you choose the title, "Miss America?"

Taylor: Well, we chose that title when we were overseas. We have this song, "Miss America," and it's a soldier writing home to his mom and dad and wife. While we were over there, we said, "Let's finish this up." We all agreed it should be the title, and it's the first time all five of us have agreed on something that quickly. In the song, it's, "I miss America." America is also known as the lady, so that term can be used different ways.

NOISE: When you listen to the album, what stands out to you most?

Taylor: We pinned down our sound. On this album, you can really hear the Southern rock. It shows Saving Abel isn't afraid to get up and play some rock and roll. I'm most proud that we've grown as writers and musicians, and we can sit back and listen and think, "Wow, we've constructed that. We've improved that much."

By Anne Erickson, Gannett LSJ

Monday, June 7, 2010

Interview: Jade Puget, guitarist in A.F.I.

East Bay punks AFI (A Fire Inside) entertain with energy, fire and breakneck speed.

"When we go out there, we each give it our all," guitarist Jade Puget says, chatting from a Providence, R.I. gig. "I could never imagine just standing there, playing songs. It's just not what we do."

AFI has been a significant part of the underground hardcore punk scene since 1991, but it wasn't until 2003 that the band struck gold - literally - with the gold-selling, "Sing the Sorrow." The album painted a dark, gothic portrait, deflecting strains of rock, punk, hardcore and metal, plus enough catchy melodies to make a few pop hits. Next came 2006's "Decemberunderground," which hit No. 1 on Billboard.

Now following the release of 2009's "Crash Love," AFI is as busy as ever, with a summer that packs Lollapalooza (August 6-8 in Chicago) and a tour with Green Day in August. On Thursday, June 3, the band headlines Grand Rapids' Orbit Room.

NOISE caught up with Puget to talk "Crash Love," Lollapalooza and Green Day.

NOISE: AFI is one of the major acts on Lollapalooza this year. Are you excited?

Puget: Yeah, we're definitely looking forward to Lollapalooza. Davey (Havok, vocals) always says one of the first concerts he ever went to was Lollapalooza in '91, and a lot of what he was inspired by was that first Lollapalooza.

NOISE: What are you most looking forward to at Lolla?

Puget: Just playing, really. There's a lot of history with that festival, so it's just going to be fun. We just played a series of festivals in Australia with Jane's Addiction (Perry Ferrell of Jane's Addiction founded Lollapalooza), so it will be cool seeing those guys again.

NOISE: You're on tour with Green Day in August.

Puget: Yeah, we've known those guys a long time. We came from the same scene they did - both bands started in the East Bay scene. From their very first record, when they were still a small local band, I listened to them. So, I've been a fan for almost 20 years now, so for me, it's exciting. I think musically we don't sound the same necessarily, but I think we're coming from the same place.

NOISE: What was the defining moment, when you knew AFI was going from an underground punk band to something bigger?

Puget: There was a certain moment when we started stepping outside of the underground world we lived in. All of a sudden, we were signed to major label, our record (2003's "Sing the Sorrow") came out and was No. 5 on the charts, we won an MTV VMA and we had a hit song on the radio. All these things we never expected all happened on the same record. It was a whirlwind.

-Anne Erickson, Gannett NOISE