Interview with Foghat’s Bryan Bassett

Foghat is often linked to the classic rock genre, due to such anthems as “Slow Ride” and “Fool for the City,” but the band has always had their roots in vintage blues. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to longtime fans that Foghat has reconnected with the blues on their latest release, ‘Last Train Home.’ Recorded both in New York at EKO Studios and at Foghat’s own studio, Boogie Motel South, the album combines covers of such blues classics as “So Many Roads, So Many Trains” and “Shake Your Money Maker,” as well as a few new originals. Recently, Foghat guitarist Bryan Bassett chatted with GuitarSite about...guitars!

When/how did you get started playing guitar?

Like many guitarists of my generation, I was very influenced by the British Invasion bands I saw perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and many others performed, it was a very exciting time for us young rockers. Just about everyone I knew got a guitar that Christmas. My parents bought me a Harmony Rocket I and a small Harmony Amp. I was in heaven.

Who were your early influences?

I began studying with an old Italian gent and excellent guitarist named Jerry Conderato in Pittsburgh, PA. He really got me off to a great start emphasizing proper playing technique and before I knew it I was able to chord along with some of my favorite 45s, The Last Time by the Stones, I Can See for Miles by The Who, Gloria dozens of others. As my playing improved I discovered Jeff Beck and all the great John Mayall guitarists, Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor. Then a bit later Jimmy Page, and Duane Allman, so by this time my playing was pretty set in the Blues Rock style.

How did you come to join Foghat?

In the 70's I was lucky enough to have a hit record as a member of the funk rock band Wild Cherry (Play That Funky Music), we toured the same venues as Foghat during those years and while we never met then I was a huge Foghat fan. Flash forward to the late 1980's where I had become an engineer/ producer for the Blues Indie label King Snake records in Florida and was also the guitarist in a blues quartet named BlueHouse. Pat Travers, a good friend and great guitarist, brought Lonesome Dave to one of our blues shows. We played some old Excello songs during our set, songs that Dave new and loved, so we had a great jam that night. We became fast friends and we played together for the next 4 years. Dave and Roger reformed the original lineup of Foghat in 1992 and in 1999 when Rod Price left the band I was asked to take his chair.

Who have been some memorable bands Foghat has toured with? Standout memories?

Wow, that is a long list indeed. We have had the pleasure of playing with almost all of the great classic rock bands of our day at one time or another. Standout memories for me are of a more personal nature, becoming friends with other bands we perform with often, Blue Oyster Cult, Kansas, the guys in Lynyrd Skynyrd are great...it is just very cool to me to meet musician's I admire and have them be nice people as well.

Please discuss band's latest release + touring plans.

Our latest release "Last Train Home" is a blues oriented recording where we cut some of our favorite blues standards, wrote a couple of new songs and had a great session with Blues legend Eddie Kirkland. It was also our first foray into recording at our rehearsal space in Florida, which we call "Boogie Motel South". It is a very relaxing environment for us to write and record at our leisure. Our summer tour schedule is looking good with more shows being added as we speak. We are doing some Blues festivals this year as well in support of the new release.

What type of guitars, amps, and effects do you use?

My live setup is really quite plain as I prefer the sound of a good guitar into a good sounding tube amp as my basic tone. I use 2 Marshall JCM 900s running in stereo with a Boss tuner , Boss compressor (when I play slide) and a Vox wah on the floor and TC Electronics G Major in the effects loop for light chorus and echo. My main touring guitars for some years have been my Gibson '61 SG reissue for slide and a Schecter California Custom Shop PT for standard tuning songs.

Who are some of your favorite modern day guitarists and why?

I've been watching Derek Trucks for years, he did some recording at King Snake studio when he was just a youngster...his slide technique is off the chart. I've become a big Johnny Marr fan as of late, loved his work with Modest Mouse and The Healers. He is only about 10 years younger than I and has been a guitar hero since his seminal work with The Smiths but his playing is always modern sounding. He has quite a different style from mine but always plays great parts with great tones. I must add Jeff Beck, a modern day guitarist for 4 decades, he is doing some of his best playing now and has been my favorite for decades

What advice would you give to other guitarists?

In my view music is conversational not competitive or confrontational. Your guitar is your voice, speak clearly and intelligently to your fellow musicians, be polite as in conversation and be a good listener , then you and your bandmates can communicate clearly with a combined voice to your audience.

For more information, visit:
http://www.foghat.net/

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Great interview. I love Foghat & always enjoy how Bryan connects with everyone.

Brian Rocks !!! also come to house of blues June 27th. sunday to see TED Nugent

House of blues in Orlando, Fl. that is !!

Hi Bryan,
Looking forward to seeing you play in Va. Beach on 17th street Sept. 3rd 2010. It has been a long time since we have seen each other. I will be bringing Denise & Sherry as well! Rock on Babe!
Gina

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