I got to talk with Brian May for an hour the other day. I told a friend about it and he said, "Man, you've got a great job." That got me thinking. It's a tricky time to be in print media (perhaps you've read about it on the internet) and each day presents certain, ummm, challenges that we at GP have to deal with. Add to that a commute that can take anywhere between an hour and three hours round trip and you've got a gig that I can sometimes complain about. (The idea that I'm capable of complaining will come as a shock to my family and coworkers, but it's true.)
So, it's good to be reminded of why I got into this line of work, why I still love writing about guitars and guitarists, and why I'm glad that the music business hasn't killed my love of music. To that end, here are some remembrances of a few of my favorite interviews over the years.
I went to London in 2000, hung out at the studio where he recorded, played his guitar, had some laughs, drank some warm Heinekens, and carried his guitar case for him when his hands were full. He was cool, funny, and humble and he exudes a power that I've never experienced with anyone in my life. The guy is a freaking superhero.
I was fascinated by his tone before I ever played guitar. Only the Beatles and Edward Van Halen have had as great an impact on my music. I had pretty much been preparing for this interview for 30 years and I asked him questions I had always wanted to know. He was smart and thoughtful and when he says something, you believe it. He's a full-on renaissance man.
I was worried that he might be mean or pissed off like a Rage tune. He's not. He's quick to laugh, has an Ace Frehley poster in his rehearsal room (along with two Ovation Breadwinners!), and thinks his killer timing is shaky and his awesome tone is the result of "giving up." He won't do what you tell him and neither will I.
He was at the top of his game and gave me great stuff about playing with Danny Gatton and B.B. King as a kid, how he gets his tones, etc, This was his first cover story and he was more grateful for that than anyone I've ever interviewed. Joe B just keeps getting better, which is both scary and unbelievable.
This was for Frets, GP's dearly departed acoustic sister. Jake was totally unknown and there was understandable pushback on the idea of putting a ukulele player on the cover. I told him he'd have to come to the office and play for the staff in order to make it happen. He did and played right in the lobby and blew every mind in the place. Probably the nicest person I've had the pleasure of interviewing and an absolute monster musician. I called him the Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele but really he's the Jake Shimabukuro of the ukulele.