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

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