Q&A with Deborah Bonham & Peter Bullick, a powerful Blues Rock band steeped in the primal intimacy of Soul

"Different types of music can affect people in different ways, sometimes it brings us together, sometimes it can divide us. We all have different tastes and that should be celebrated. I need music to move me, whether that be to get up and dance, sing out loud or whether it makes me reflect, touches my soul - either way it needs to move me. For my own music, I want it to move people but if it doesn’t move me then I don’t feel there’s there’s any way it will move someone else."

Bonham - Bullick: Blues Rock & Soul Spirit

Deborah Bonham and Peter Bullick, along with their band and special guests, have recorded a new Blues, Rock and Soul inspired 13 track album Bonham-Bullick is scheduled for release April, 29th 2022 on USA label Quarto Valley Records. The Albert King classic ‘Can’t You See What You’re Doing To Me’ is the first single from the new album, showcasing Bullick’s searing guitar and includes special guest Paul Brown (The Waterboys, Ann Peebles, Bobby Rush) on Hammond Organ, alongside Richard Newman, Ian Rowley and Gerard Louis from Bonham-Bullick's Live band and Paul Rodgers' 'Free Spirit' band. The Bonham-Bullick album is a departure for Deborah and Peter as the album is a song book of interpretations of some great and obscure songs spanning 7 decades. The Bonham-Bullick album takes you on a journey with songs from O.V. Wright, Johnnie Taylor, Ann Peebles, Bernard Fowler, Mark Lanegan and others. Deborah and Peter throughout the recording process of the album have shown a deep respect for the original songs while reaching deep into their hearts and souls to make each song an exciting new adventure for the listener.              (Photo: Deborah Bonham & Peter Bullick)

Over the course of an impressive career, Deborah Bonham has established herself as one of the finest blues, rock and soul singers the UK has produced. A string of critically acclaimed original album releases, captivating standing ovation concert performances at the Royal Albert Hall, London Palladium and on the USA Stars Align Tour with Paul Rodgers, Jeff Beck and Heart’s Ann Wilson, have continually followed her while also garnering rave reviews. Belfast born guitarist Peter Bullick, lauded by the press for his passionate and exceptional playing, paid his dues playing clubs and theatres across the UK and Europe for many years. The constant touring allowed Peter to develop his own style while holding dear guitarist Rory Gallagher and others who were a big influence on his playing. Of all the guitarists that influenced Peter it was Paul Kossoff with whom he connected with the most. Years later Pete’s playing would not go unnoticed by none other than Paul Rodgers who selected Pete and the rest of Deborah’s band to back him on his Free Spirit concerts and tours of the UK and USA.

Interview by Michael Limnios                    Special Thanks: Dave Hill (Tenacity PR)

How has the Blues/Soul and Rock music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Bonham: Blues, soul and rock has always been a part of my life. I’ve grown up listening to some of the greatest music ever and it’s without a doubt influenced me in my music. The music encourages me to search for the light in darker times.

Bullick: The music gave me an escape from a troubled time in my country in my childhood. Although the troubles in Ireland gave me the blues, the music encouraged me to take a peaceful journey out.

How do you describe BONHAM-BULLICK sound and songbook? How did that relationship come about?

Bullick: Bonham-Bullick has a certain sound and swagger, reminiscent of the great Blues Rock and Soul Bands of the late 60s and early 70s. We grew up on and absorbed that music as kids, and it now naturally filters into our music today. We’ve treated the great songs and artists we’ve covered on the new album with the utmost love and respect and tried to create a worthy, tasteful alternative version of their song.

"The music of the past lives on in us, but I will miss not being able to see it performed again by the original artist in its original form with its intense emotion. I hope future generations can harness the genuine emotion and soul of the past and not just default to the equivalent of a tribute band ‘phoning it in’." (Photo: Deborah Bonham and Peter Bullick)

How do you describe your music philosophy? What touched you from O.V. Wright, Johnnie Taylor, and Ann Peebles songs?

Bonham: For me all music must come from the soul. OV Wright, Johnnie Taylor and Ann Peebles’ music comes from the heart and soul... they mean it.

What´s been the highlights in your life and career so far? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Bonham: So many highlights, but aside from performing with the band, Bonham-Bullick which is always a highlight, some of the world’s greatest singers have joined us on stage. We've recorded and played live with Paul Rodgers, Ann Peebles, sang Lorraine Ellison's Stay With Me Baby live with Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, and When The Levee breaks with Robert Plant.  Best advice was from Robert Plant - get out and pay your dues on stages, and from Steve Marriott - mean it when you perform.

Bullick: Lucky to have many highlights: as a kid in Belfast, being told to F*** Off by Van Morrison, then playing guitar on stage with him 40 years later... Listening intently to Paul Kossoff’s guitar from the age of 9, then playing guitar around the world with Paul Rodgers as ‘Free Spirit’ nearly 40 years later, but best of all, being with Deborah and the band, accumulating more than 30 years of cracking shows and making great records. A bit of a Guinness life… good things come to those who wait!

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Bonham: The rawness, the energy, the swagger and soul. Hopes and fears for the future - I've learnt to live each day as it comes and love it, love what I do, love the band, my friends, animals and family.

Bullick: The music of the past lives on in us, but I will miss not being able to see it performed again by the original artist in its original form with its intense emotion. I hope future generations can harness the genuine emotion and soul of the past and not just default to the equivalent of a tribute band ‘phoning it in’.

"Bonham-Bullick has a certain sound and swagger, reminiscent of the great Blues Rock and Soul Bands of the late 60s and early 70s. We grew up on and absorbed that music as kids, and it now naturally filters into our music today. We’ve treated the great songs and artists we’ve covered on the new album with the utmost love and respect and tried to create a worthy, tasteful alternative version of their song."

What were the reasons that made the British Isles be a center of Soul/Rock/Blues researches and experiments?

Bullick: The Irish and British musical greats took their influences from the USA’s early 20th century Blues and midcentury Rock’n’Roll. In the 1960s a musical explosion Britain and Ireland seemed to take this and run with it with a renewed life, soul and vigor that brought it back home with a bang to the USA.

What does to be a female artist in a Man’s World as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?

Bonham: It’s a tough journey there’s no doubt about that, I’m far happier about it now than when I was younger, having lived through the gradual improvements since my debut in the 1980s. Women can thankfully enjoy a more equal status today, but there’s always room for improvement for all.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Bonham: To stay true to your soul, true to who you are.

Bullick: Choose great ingredients and don’t burn them. My younger self shoulda listened to this when I set fire to my Gibson Les Paul!

"It’s a tough journey there’s no doubt about that, I’m far happier about it now than when I was younger, having lived through the gradual improvements since my debut in the 1980s. Women can thankfully enjoy a more equal status today, but there’s always room for improvement for all." (Photo: Deborah Bonham and Peter Bullick)

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the music to affect people?

Bonham: Different types of music can affect people in different ways, sometimes it brings us together, sometimes it can divide us. We all have different tastes and that should be celebrated. I need music to move me, whether that be to get up and dance, sing out loud or whether it makes me reflect, touches my soul - either way it needs to move me. For my own music, I want it to move people but if it doesn’t move me then I don’t feel there’s there’s any way it will move someone else.

Bullick: Music had a profound effect on people in Ireland and around the world. For me, the music naturally and subconsciously brought many folk together, to forget their differences in religion, colour, sexuality, perceived social status, or whatever. Once at a concert, we were all on the same wavelength. The strongest memory of this was late 70s Ulster Hall in Belfast, when Tom Robinson had the whole crowd in chorus ’Sing If You’re Glad To be Gay, Sing If You’re Happy That Way... Hey’. The sadness was that the Hall was full of people who could revert to inflicting pain on each other the following day. For me, apart from seeing Good and Evil in perfect harmony, I was absorbed by the guitarist, Danny Kustow with a Gold Top Gibson Les Paul, just like Johnny Fean’s of Horslips, playing guitar solos with a tone and vibrato akin to Paul Kossoff. Many years later I read that the late Danny Kustow’s father, who was a friend of Koss’ father David Kossoff, had bought one of his Les Pauls for him. Just like I’ve rambled off topic, on sweet childhood memories, whilst surrounded by carnage, we were able to escape to a Musical Utopia of an evening, encapsulating the emotions, with the ability to release and share many years later!

Bonham - Bullick - Home         Quarto Valley Records

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