Stuart Smith Interview
By Mike Fred

Stuart Smith

There is a new guitar slinger in town and you all should be aware of this guy! His name is Stuart Smith. No cheap licks or tricks, just great music by a group of seasoned musicians with notable backgrounds in the music business! Names like Richie Sambora, Glenn Hughes (former Trapeze and Deep Purple), Joe Lynn Turner (Deep Purple, Rainbow) are just a few of the guys who lend a hand playing and writing the music on Stuart's first solo release, "HEAVEN AND EARTH".

The title track is destined for airplay with its catchy hook and appealing melody. From there Stu jumps in with the in your face, "DON'T KEEP ME WAITING" which has a great riff running through it and some powerful vocals by Kelly Hanson. Stu also displays his diversity with "SHADOW OF THE TYBURN TREE" which is a Medieval style tune.

From there Stu goes on to my favorite cut, "DREAMS OF DESIRE", which is a heavy remake of Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desire". There are also some blues influenced tunes on here as well to show that Stuart means business and is not a one-dimensional player. I had a few moments to chat with Stu and here is what the British strat slinger had to say...

MF = interviewer, Mike Fred SS = Stuart Smith (duh!)

MF- How long did this recording take you complete and how did you manage to get all these great players together to play on your recording?

SS- The album took over a year and a half to make partly because of everyone's schedules but mostly because the producer I chosen kept on taking other projects once he'd been paid. As far as getting all the musicians together, I'd either worked with them in the past or they were just friends whose talents I'd admired and wanted them involved. Most of the people I just asked, but it sort of became like a snowball gathering more snow and momentum once the first couple, who were Joe Lynn Turner and Richie Sambora, committed. Then people wanted to be involved.

MF- You are a very versatile player When did you start playing guitar and did you take lessons?

SS- I started at seven years old and was classically trained originally.

MF- Who you were your early influences and who do you listen to these days?

SS- My main influence in rock and roll was Ritchie Blackmore who ended up personally teaching me but I'd also listen to Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, David Gilmore, Paul Kossoff and Snuffy Walden from Stray Dog who was a great but relatively unknown player.

MF- You seem to shun any effects which is unlike so many players these days. Do you use many effects in your live set up?

SS- I don't like too many effects in my setup. I feel it takes away from the true sound of the guitar. I think the minute you put a guitar through any digital effect, it's like talking with your hand over your mouth. You hear all these guitar players with these huge racks of equipment and to me they all sound the same, sort of like processed cheese. I just use a Boss Blues Driver or a Sans Amp to overdrive the amp and an echo unit.

MF- I see you were also on the first WOOD N STEEL release (put out by Taylor Guitars). How did that come about? Any chance of an all-acoustic release in the future?

SS-During the recording of Heaven & Earth, I got a call from TJ Baden, the head of A & R at Taylor Guitars. He told me that Taylor had secured a deal with Windham Hill Records to put together a compilation CD of all their major endorsees and wanted me to write and perform a track on the album which was going to be called Sounds of Wood & Steel. Joe Lynn Turner happened to be flying into LA the next day as he was singing on Heaven & Earth so I invited him to play on the track with me. Not many people know but Joe is also a great guitarist. I wouldn't mind doing an acoustic album sometime in the future but I'd want to spend at least three months just playing the acoustic first as I feel it's a totally different animal from the electric and should be approached as such. It would probably end up being a mixture of acoustic and classical. I'd love to play some classical pieces with a string quartet or orchestra.

MF- I also noticed that Joe Lynn Turner played on that song as well with you. He seems to be a pretty fair guitar player as well as a good singer.

SS- Joe originally played guitar in his first band so he's been at it a while. He's great with jazz chords.

MF- Are you presently touring HEAVEN AND EARTH on the road?

SS- I'm trying to. At the moment we're getting out and playing a few shows here and there but I need to get a good manager and agent to make things happen as I'm doing most of the work myself at the moment.

MF- Who is the band that is touring with you?

SS- The line up I've been using for the shows we've already done is probably the one I'd use to tour with which is, myself on guitar, Kelly Hansen on Vocals, Richie Onori on drums, Ray Rodriguez on Keyboards and Bjorn Englen on bass.

MF- When can we expect the follow up to HEAVEN AND EARTH?

SS- As I've been in the studio for about a year a half, all I want to do now is get out on the road and have some fun so I don't see myself going into the studio till at least sometime next year. I love playing live so it may be a while before I go back in to record anything else but I'm already thinking of some ideas.

MF- Where can people order HEAVEN AND EARTH?

SS- People can get an autographed copy from my web page at www.stuartsmith.com or there are some mail order places that stock it in the States at the moment. I've got it licensed in Europe and Japan but am still looking for the right company to handle it in the States.

Oficial Stuart Smith Site: www.stuartsmith.com

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