"We want to just enjoy and hope the people enjoy listening."
The Motives: The future of the blues
June 2012 sees the European release of the long-awaited debut album from the Motives, featuring one of the UK’s finest contemporary blues guitarists Matt Taylor alongside the cream of the crop of British musicians; Andy Graham, voted bass player of the year 2010 & 2011 in the British blues awards; Jonny Dyke, a stalwart of both the UK blues and session scenes; Roy Martin whose drumming has been heard on countless albums and stages the world over.
The Motives, a new band project brings together some of the finest talent from the European blues scene, drawing their musical inspiration from 40′s New York, 50′s Chicago and 60′s London. January 2011 saw them take to the recording studio and their eponymous debut album is out now receiving excellent reviews. In the last year, they have played all over the UK, recently opening for Robert Cray at Shepherds Bush Empire as part of London Bluesfest 2012, as well as several gigs in Holland and Germany where the album is receiving an excellent reception.
The name Matt Taylor is becoming more and more familiar as a highly regarded guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer. He has made four albums with his own band and several others in collaboration with the likes of Long John Baldry with whom he toured Europe twice, releasing one live album and The Snowy White Blues Project who he has been working with since 2008, touring all over Europe and releasing one studio and one live album.
This project sees Matt collaborating once again with Snowy White Blues Project drummer Roy Martin. Matt and Roy met in 2003 whilst touring with Patricia Kaas with whom Roy has worked since 1997, traversing the globe many times. Prior to that Roy spent 5 years living in New York where he had the opportunity to work for a wide variety of artists including Aretha Franklin and David Sandborn. More recently he has been seen on the road and in the studio with James Morrison, Barclay James Harvest and Thea Gilmore and in the past has shared stages or studios with artists as diverse as Jack Bruce, Joan Baez and Robert Palmer.
Matt: The band is kind of an extension of my previous solo stuff where I’d worked a lot with Jonny Dyke. I’d been planning a band with Jonny a couple of other guys but it didn’t work out, so I was left scratching my head. I remembered being impressed seeing Andy Graham play with Ian Siegal a couple of years before so I got in touch with him through Myspace (we’d never met before) to see if he might be interested. Roy Martin was an obvious person to ask as I’d worked with him a lot both with Patricia Kaas’ and Snowy White’s bands and he knew Jonny well, but I wasn’t sure if he’d be available but luckily he was and it all came together really well. The name ‘The Motives’ came from Roy – his cousin Ian, who taught him to play the drums, was in a band in the 60s called ‘The Motifs’ so it’s kind of a homage to him and it works well with the feel of the music and the style of the band.
What characterize the philosophy of The Motives?
Roy: We are friends that have enjoyed playing together in the past with other artists and now we get to play together in our own band. We want to just enjoy and hope the people enjoy listening.
Would you mind telling me your most vivid memory of The Motives?
Matt: We had a great time in the studio recording the album, with everybody staying at my house after each session. Lots of red wine! Also we had a great gig in Holland last year where we played on a floating stage in the middle of a lake and the audience turned up in little boats to see us!
Roy: There haven’t been many yet, it’s a very new band! Maybe, playing in a beautiful festival in Holland, on a stage in the middle of a lake. All the people arrived to see us in boats as it got dark. It was beautiful...
When was your first desire to become involved in the blues & who were your first idols?
Matt: My first real influences were Chuck Berry and other 50s Rock’n’Roll and the Beatles. In the mid-80s I discovered Eric Clapton and Robert Cray, which led to me to listening to Albert King and Albert Collins and a little Robert Johnson and Elmore James.
Roy: Blues has been a big influence on all the musicians I love. My first musical heroes were the Rolling Stones and as a 10 year old you have no idea its ‘blues’ music. I just loved the feeling and the sound of their live album ‘Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out’, which had some great blues on it.
What was the first gig you ever went to & what were the first songs you learned?
Matt: The first gig I can partially remember was an Eric Clapton gig with my parents at Guildford Civic Hall in the late 70s. It was the last night of a tour and I remember streamers and balloons coming down from above the stage. Also, we sat with Eric’s Grandmother Rose because a friend of my Mum’s knew Eric and her a little bit.
Roy: My first gig was a Deep Purple gig in Liverpool when I was 10 years old. The first songs were probably Rolling Stones songs from The Sticky Fingers album. Brown Sugar maybe…
What does the BLUES mean to you & what does Blues offered you?
Matt: I’ve played a lot of different types of music but blues is my ‘default setting’. It is by far the most satisfying music to play and I think the most emotionally direct. Musically speaking, a straight ahead blues is very simple but I think that makes it more difficult to play well because you have to put more of yourself into it in order for it to stand out.
Roy: The Blues is the basic element in most of my musical heroes and so it’s given me 1000’s of hours of pleasure listening to many artists. It has influenced so many great rock artists and jazz artists...
What experiences in your life make you a GOOD musician?
Matt: Practise! And trying to do your own thing.
Roy: I have never said I WAS a good musician!! I hope others think so, though! I think everything you do and every time you play you learn things which help you get better as a musician.
How do you describe Matt Taylor’s sound & your progress?
My guitar sound is pretty straightforward, either a Strat (or more recently an Epiphone Firebird and Wildkat), into a Fender amp. I do have a deceptively large pedal board with a few toys such as delay and modulation but mostly they’re not switched on and the basic sound is the guitar straight into the amp. I have a clean boost pedal for solos, which helps to overdrive the amp and a Robert Keeley modified Ibanez Tube Screamer for a thicker solo sound. Add to that the occasional bit of Wah-Wah (Jim Dunlop Cry Baby) and that’s about it. As far as songwriting goes I try to expand on blues ideas and themes without lapsing into cliché. I like melodic songs with choruses and I like to mix things up. I really think the best music is usually a mixture of things and I have wide ranging influences from pop to classical.
How do you describe Roy Martin’s sound & your progress?
My sound is difficult to describe on a piece of paper! You have to listen to The Motives album…My sound changes depending on what type of music and what type of mood and feel I want to display. You will hear this as you listen to each track on the album. In music you are always progressing, as you are always learning every day. You hear new things every day and so it influences your progress.
Roy, from whom have you have learned the most secrets about blues music?
Matt Taylor probably…he knows everything!
Matt, how do you get inspiration for your songs & who were your mentors in songwriting?
Inspiration can come from absolutely anywhere and ideas can strike at any time, usually when you’re least expecting them. My favorites songwriters are Willie Dixon, Chuck Berry, Lennon/McCartney, Paul Simon, James Taylor and Tom Waits.
Matt, do you remember anything funny or interesting from Long John Baldry?
Mr. Baldry was always funny and interesting! He had lots of great stories from the 60s many of which might incur libel cases if I were to tell the in public! He once told me that he was with Willie Dixon at his home in California the day he died. On the first tour I did with him he took to calling me ‘Kevin’. We’d be driving through beautiful countryside in Germany or Switzerland somewhere and he’d say in his booming aristocratic voice “look Kevin, people pay thousands to come here and see this and you’re getting it all for free!”
Matt: It’s been a great pleasure to play with Snowy and I feel like I’m now a better player for it. We’ve had a lot of great gigs in Europe, in fact our first two gigs were in Larissa and Athens! I think possibly our best gig was in Tel Aviv and I’m glad we made the live album “In Our Time… Live” another great night, recorded at a great venue in Holland. I’d be very pleased if Snowy wants to do more stuff with The Blues Project now that his tour with Roger Waters is over, you never know…
Roy, which was the best moment of your career and which was the worst?
I have many great moments to remember. Playing my first BIG venue, which was in Israel, with Israeli artist Shalom Hanoch. It was a beautiful Roman Amphitheatre outside Tel Aviv. Recording and hearing Aretha Franklin’s voice in my headphones as I played on her track in New York. That was great. Many incredible shows around the world with French artist Patricia Kaas. I can’t tell you my worst, as there have been many disappointments when things don’t happen that you expect to. But that happens a lot in any freelance musicians career.
Roy, do you remember anything fanny or interesting from Barclay James Harvest, Jack Bruce, and Joan Baez?
A lot of funny things happened with BJH, as there were very funny people in the band and we laughed a lot when we were on tour. Its difficult to describe one now to you, you would have be there. I worked with Jack Bruce on an album session with Vivian Stanshall . It was great to play with such a legend. He was a very unusual player. He played the bass as if it was a guitar! With Joan Baez, that was for a track on a Thea Gilmore album and so I didn’t meet Joan unfortunately. She put her vocal on the track from her home in America.
What are some of the most memorable gigs and jams you've had? When did you last laughing in gigs and why?
Roy: Playing at The Great Hall of The People in Tiananmen Square, Beijing with Patricia Kaas was a great memory. We were the 1st western artists to ever play there. 10,000 people sold out. Also doing my first show in the Kremlim with Patricia was amazing. There is a large convention centre where they have shows and I have played in there many times now with Patricia.
Laughing on gigs? That happens most nights! There is always something that happens that makes us laugh. Maybe its something that goes wrong or even something that goes really right, like a great piece of playing by someone which will make me laugh through enjoyment.
I had been taken to a rehearsal of the legendary sax player Ornette Coleman, by my friend, producer Ron Saint Germain. Ornette’s music was something I had never experienced before. It was a completely different concept to pop music I had grown up listening to, so it was an incredible experience. The following week I was in the launderette washing clothes and there was Ornette doing the same. He said hello and we talked. It was very surreal, sitting in a launderette in Manhattan talking to a living jazz legend as we watched our clothes go around in the machines. That’s New York…
Which of historical blues personalities would you like to meet?
Matt: Robert Johnson, to get to the bottom of his deal with the devil.
Roy: I am not someone who needs to meet heroes. Listening to them is enough.
Of all the people you’ve meeting with, who do you admire the most?
Roy: I admire the people who are great at what they do and take it seriously, but are normal people and treat everyone who isn’t so talented/famous/rich with respect and are humble. I have had the pleasure to work with quite a few musicians who are like this.
Some music styles can be fads but the blues is always with us. Why do think that is?
Matt: Blues is the basis of all modern popular music, so it’s always around us all the time whether you know it or not. It’s the most honest and direct type of music there is and I think there will always be a need for peoople to connect with it.
Roy: I suppose because it was the style of music that has started everything else. So it is the Grandfather of popular music and every one owes it respect.
How do you see the future of blues music? Give one wish for the BLUES
Matt: I’d like to see the blues achieving more widespread popularity again, and I think this is happening a bit with people like Joe Bonamassa, Seasick Steve, even Imelda May, mixing country, rockabilly and blues. For blues to reach wider audiences the artists that play it need to try to come up with ways of adapting and developing their songwriting styles. This is very difficult though, as I have learned from experience if you go too far the music isn’t blues anymore, plus the fact that this whole process has already happened once in the 60s! It’s not easy reinventing the wheel.
Roy: The future of the blues? The MOTIVES!!
What turns you on? Happiness is……
Matt: The Motives!
Roy: My family…….my drums…..my friends……Liverpool F.C……red wine…..good food…..
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