Style: Texas Blues
K: Hi Colin. Can you tell me how you got into the Blues. I guess most people progress from one genre to another and end up settling into one particular preference later on. Why the Blues for you?
G: My Dad was a country music fan and my Mum was into Elvis, Motown and all that kind of stuff so I started off with a really wide range of musical influence. When I was a teenager I was into Rock like most teenagers are I guess. I had the long hair and all of that and then one day my Uncle played me a Stevie Ray Vaughan track and that was it… Music wise that was the change for me …Guns n Roses and all of that heavy stuff….suddenly there had been something added that sent me of on a tangent in another direction.
K: Did he actively introduce you to this or was it just a case of…this is what he listened to?
G: Well, I’m not that great at remembering all of the stuff that happened all those years ago but he came to a gig of mine recently. I hadn’t seen him for ages and he was saying that when I was 4 years old, he was listening to Fleetwood Mac…he had a great record collection….Blackfoot and all of the Southern Rock kind of thing. Anyway, Fleetwood Mac were on and I went up to him and asked him “How do they play that?” So, he sat me down and showed me chords on his guitar! Then 8 years later when I was 12 he actually gave me an acoustic guitar. So that was my first guitar. So he’s be very influential in turning me on to playing the guitar.
And then, when I was going through the teenage years, with lots of stuff going on, as is the case when you’re a teenager, I kind of disappeared into the guitar. It was an escape for me back then. I also tried everything out as I went. I was offered guitar lessons but I was concentrating on just having fun with it. I didn’t want to turn it into another thing that I had to learn on top of all the schoolwork and all the other stuff.
K: So what did you do to keep the fun in it but still move forward?
G: I just kept going to gigs and watching and learning from the guys in Glasgow that were doing it. I used to go and see Big George and The Business, The Nimmo Brothers…listen to their records. I used to go and watch them and then run up the road and get the guitar out and try and do what I’d seen them doing and sometimes a light would just come on and you would think “Ahhhh, that’s how they do that!!” So that was my journey in the early days.
K: It’s interesting that you knocked back the lessons. I guess there’s a certain amount of technique, scales, music theory etc that can be taught but…can you teach someone to play the Blues?
G: I personally don’t think you can. I’ve heard some technically brilliant guitarists try to play the Blues and they don’t get it. It might be a cliché thing to say it’s a feel thing but for me that’s what it’s about. You can tell someone “Put your finger there, bend that, do this, do that….” but there ends up being nothing in it. There has GOT to be something behind it. I know Rock guitarists that can’t play BB King licks. It’s not a technical thing…I can’t play what they play, some of these guys are technically incredible but there’s something missing. It’s definitely a feel, it’s something inside of you and I don’t know if you can teach that.
K: When I watch you on stage or on YouTube you tend to “zone out” and go into your own world while you’re playing.
G: Nah, that’s just me looking at my fingers (laughs). But seriously, when it’s all going well I do “zone out”. I get goosebumps sometimes when I play, it’s an incredible feeling and I just don’t want it to stop.
K: So back to the learning thing with live playing then. There are some good jam sessions in Glasgow and there used to be a lot more. You’re first experience of playing was at one of these wasn’t it? Tell me how that all played out?
G: It was at the Studio One sessions with Jim Ward. And again it was my Uncle that took me there. I’d been going for months and months and I never thought I was ready. I used to watch all of the other guys, John Doole, Brian Carpy and Gary Miller and I thought “I could never do any of that!” And I can remember the day that I thought “I’m just going to do this!”….and I did! And they were so welcoming and supportive and gracious and friendly about the whole thing.
K: Can you remember what you felt like when you came of stage that first time?
G: Oh man…I was absolutely sh***ing myself! Really nervous. Shaking…you know….REALLY shakey!! I felt brilliant!
K: So what’s next for you Colin
G: I’d like to try and pursue writing our own stuff. It’s the ultimate if people are standing applauding something you have actually written.
K: You’ve got 3 guitars here with you today Colin. Tell me a wee about them.
G: Well this is the Les Paul. (see picture above) This is the guitar I always wanted. I always used to joke with my wife that no matter what happened I would never get rid of it. We could be living on the street but this one is never going (laughs). Because I knew I would never get another one and I would especially never get another one like this. So it’s a 95 and it’s THE ONE! I’ve got a Thinline Telecaster that I really like and a Stratocaster but I’m not attached to them like the Les Paul.
K: Obviously your connection with Rockus is that you’re playing there regularly.
G: Yep. Every Saturday. It’s become our home on a Saturday and then they started doing Blues on a Sunday so it’s a great pub for the Blues and they are making a great effort to keep the Blues alive in the city.
K: Last question Colin, and from what I’ve heard you say so far I think I know the answer but what would you say your style was?
G: Texas Blues. SRV, aggressive, swing, boogie. I also like Peter Green, he’s incredible, amazing. And the “proper” Fleetwod Mac….(exhales….)….ridiculous. I’ve got an album that has about 6 outakes from tunes like “Man of the World” and each one was entirely different and every one is amazing. Joe Bonamassa as well, brilliant
Again, I’m attracted to anything that has a bit of feeling.
K: Thanks Colin.
Special thanks to Derek Baillie from Rockus who made getting access a breeze and also for turning up early in his own time to provide access and give support throughout the shoot. A prime example of great people making an effort above and beyond. It’s a real pleasure to work with people and businesses who support positive action.
Camera: Nikon D7000
Lens: Nikon 50mm f/1.4
Focal length: 50mm
Exposure: 1/50 sec at f/6.3
Time of day: 13:50
Conditions: Interior, low ambient light
Lighting: Keylight at 45 degrees at about 10 feet elevation with 24″ softbox + 1 gelled(blue) for background and honeycombed rimlight.