Walter Trout talks about Jeff Healy
Jeff Healey, the Canadian guitarist, singer and songwriter was a long time friend of Walter Trout. Healey died of lung cancer on March 2, 2008. When Trout played The Redstone Room on July 22, 2008, I asked him to talk about working with Healey on his Full Circle album.
Walter Trout: Working with Jeff Healey on the Full Circle album was great. We got in touch with him and asked him if he would play on the record. We’re old friends; I’ve known him since he was 17. When I used to tour Canada with Mayall, he was our opening act.
That’s when he was just starting. So we used to travel around Canada together when he was just a kid.
So I asked him to be on the record, and he said I’m all for it. He was really into the concept that we play together. Not I’ll record my part and send it, and you do yours. It was all about playing together live, communicating. And he said my only problem is I can’t get to L.A. So he suggested that I come to Toronto and we’ll do it with his band. So I went to Toronto, actually it was on my birthday, March the Sixth 2006. I flew to Toronto and his bass player runs a studio there. It’s Electro-Fi Records he records a lot of guys. Alec Fraser he records a lot of people there and plays on their records and produces them. We went in and we set up and then Jeff came in and they had a little amp for him. One of the things about Jeff that I find amazing is that…Uh there are a lot of famous guitar players who are into collecting and really famous guitar player have all these vintage guitars and Jeff pulled out a Mexican Fender Stratocastor that’s probably worth 150 bucks, and Alec says “that’s not your main guitar”. And Jeff said I’ll never forget this “I thought I’d bring my other guitar” (laughs). The man had two guitars. That’s all he needed. He wasn’t into all this hype and all this baloney. Anyway I taught him the song and we played it live. I actually took my video camera and he was sitting in the corner and I put the video camera on the Hammond B3 and pointed it at him. So I have a whole clip of him recording that song close up. When it was time for us to sing it, he said well tell me the words. I said, well I’ll tell you the words, is that how we’re gonna do it? He said of course you gotta tell me words and I’ll remember them. He goes I certainly can’t read ‘em (laughs). So I just told him the verses and he just sang them. He remembered ‘em ya know…and he sang the hell out of ‘em.
One thing, he showed up at the studio and said Walter I’m really glad you’re here I’m excited to do this but I gotta tell ya I got a hour and a half. So we did that whole thing in an hour and a half. I taught him the song we played it, we sang it, Alec did a quick mix for us and I walked out of there after an hour and a half.
I brought the tape back to L.A. and we did a real mix on it there, but the whole thing was done in an hour and a half from start to finish. It’s his band and it’s the same band he recorded his last album with.
Billy Rose: The live one, “Mess Of Blues“?
Walter Trout: That live album, it’s done with the same guys. A really, really good band, nice bunch of guys.
Billy Rose: Thanks for talking to me a about Jeff. I was sad to hear of his death.
Walter Trout: Sure, I’ve told this story a lot, but I’m gonna tell it to you because I think shows what the guy was like. A few years ago I was at Heathrow Airport in London. There is this big…like eighth of a mile long moving sidewalk, going in two different directions. One side goes this way and across the room the other one goes the other direction. I’m with my band and we’re on this moving sidewalk and I look across the room and coming the other way is Jeff Healy and his band. As we’re passing I yell hey Jeff and he goes like this ya know looking around and I yell its Walter Trout and he yells “hey Walter, you’re looking good” (laughs). And off they went. I think that story says it all about that guy. He was just a complete sincere heart and soul gentleman. I miss him a lot. He was a real loss…that unorthodox technique he had enabled him the do things physically on guitar that you can’t do when you play the traditional way. Bends and intervals and stuff. It opened up a lot of possibilities for him, that technique that he created.
So when I hear him on a record I immediately know it’s him. ‘Cause he does these bends and intervals and things that normal guitar players, no matter how good they are, you don’t hear them do that.
Billy Rose: I’m gonna have to listen to Working Overtime and see if I can pick out which guitar is him.
Walter Trout: It’s easy on that album to who’s who, because on every song I’ll be on the left and the guest will be on the right. My engineer mixed it that way on purpose. So if you’re driving in your car you hear me on your side of the car. Of course in England that doesn’t work out the same (laughs).
Billy Rose: Thanks again Walter.
Interview with Sibling Rivalry
When Walter Trout plays The Redstone Room in Davenport Iowa he has his three sons play a couple songs before he takes the stage.
Trout introduced the boys as Sibling Rivalry and said they don’t play blues ‘cause that’s what dad plays. So I hope you enjoy their music. I thought I would talk to the little Trout’s and find out something about the guys and their music.
Billy Rose: Hi guys thanks for talking to me. First let’s start out with your names, ages and instruments.
John Trout: I’m John and I’m 15 and I play guitar.
Mike Trout: I’m Mike and I’m 12. I play drums.
Dylan Trout: I am Dylan and I am 6.
Billy Rose: The first thing I noticed about you guys is that you’re all bigger than you were a couple years ago. John wow, are you taller than your dad now?
John Trout: Yeah. That’s what everybody says.
Dylan Trout: And taller than his mom.
Billy Rose: John do you play any other instruments?
John Trout: I used to play piano.
Billy Rose: You don’t play anymore.
John Trout: No not really.
Dylan Trout: You’re still as good as you used to be.
Billy Rose: How about you Mike?
Mike Trout: I play guitar and bass. Guitar and bass are about the same thing. But I do play slide guitar.
Billy Rose: Dylan what do you play?
Dylan Trout: I play drums and slide guitar.
Billy Rose: Who teaches you guys to play guitar? Your dad.
Billy Rose: So your dad doesn’t teach you.
John Trout: He taught us like three chords and once in a while we’ll say how do you play this, and he’ll sit down and show us.
Mike Trout: Yeah he just kinda taught us the basics. With me I just watch a DVD or something and learn from that.
John Trout: Tell him about the Buddy Holly thing, that you learned a whole song just by watching it.
Mike Trout: Oh yeah! I had a DVD of Buddy Holly well actually it was a VHS. I would play it and then I would pause it and learn the chord and I eventually just learned the song.
Billy Rose: What song was it?
Mike Trout: A bunch, I learned like seven of ‘em.
Dylan Trout: You learned pratically every Buddy Holly song.
John Trout: I think it was Ed Sullivan. A video of his show.
Mike Trout: Yeah it was Peggy Sue on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Billy Rose: I noticed your sound is a little different than it was a couple years ago. It’s much darker.
Mike Trout: Oh yeah!
Billy Rose: Who are your favorite bands?
Dylan Trout: Deathclock.
Mike Trout: Beatles.
John Trout: It might seem weird but I like The Beatles and I like Lamb Of God.
Billy Rose: Do you guys ever listen to your dad’s music?
John Trout: We hear so much of our dad’s music, it’s like the last thing we want to listen to.
Mike Trout: I’ve been listening to his old stuff for the last three days now.
John Trout: Yeah we listen to his older stuff that we haven’t heard in a long time. But we hear a lot of dad’s music on tour.
Billy Rose: Are you guys planning on doing music for a career?
John Trout: Not really.
Mike Trout: I am.
Billy Rose: Mike you plan on it but John doesn’t. What do you want to do John?
John Trout: I wanna be a pilot.
Billy Rose: Really, what a commercial pilot.?
John Trout: Yep! A corporate pilot.
Billy Rose: How about you Dylan, do you have nay plans yet?(laughs)
Dylan Trout: I have no idea. I’m six!
Billy Rose: John are you the primary song writer?
John Trout: Yeah kinda. Sometimes we work together. Like I’ll have a song a Mike will come up with something based on what I have, and we’ll throw that in there.
Billy Rose: Thanks for sitting down and talking to me guys, I’m gonna post this on Independent Midwest Music Dot Com. So you can go and read it there.
All: Cool, thanks.