Interview with Myles Goodwyn and Brian Greenway of April Wine
Article by Dave Alexander, Edited by Tom Morel
Brian - Ah..the guitarless 80's. A terrible time for guitar players that spent time getting that perfect tone together. You know, guitar based rock only went away on radio. The fans of it never disappeared. Radio just abandoned them. The Classic Rock Station format has brought guitar based rock back to the masses but it will never be what it was. It was a style that was the sound of a generation, and that generation still rocks!† Is it making a comeback? The music world is such a fragmented place these days. From what I see at our shows, I would say that guitar based rock is getting attention with our younger fans. Will it make a big comeback? For the love of it, I hope so. There is always a new twist on an old sound. Rock has gone in and out of style, but it has never gone away.
Myles Ė A station that I listen to has recently changed its format to classic rock.† Itís really refreshing because Iím hearing a lot of classic stuff and a lot of soloing, a lot of guitar work.† Listening to whatís new out there, youíre really not hearing the solos and great guitar work anymore.† As to whether itís going to come back, I donít know, but it really is nice to hear and something that I miss in the new stuff.
Myles Ė I assume that people like Alex and Rush, Colin James, Rik Emmett whoís another great guitar player, are well respected.† I would say overall thereís certainly respect for Canadian guitar players.†
Brian - I don't think that where you are from matters as much as what you can do. If your a brilliant player with great chops and tone in a great song, there are no
Brian - I've been playing for 38 years. I wondered when I first started what I would be like when I got to this age as a player. I'm happy with it. I stayed in a style that I liked, Blues based. I love blues and never get to play it as much as I would like to. Some guitar friends got into jazz as they got older. I never got a feel for it.
I know I'm not technically as knowledgeable as others might be, but it all works for me.† I don't consider myself only a guitar player. Vocals and writing are a big
part of what I do on and off the stage.
Myles Ė Iím not really a guy that plays much anymore.† Itís totally by instinct.† I remember an interview with Steve Miller some years ago and they asked him about his guitar playing and he said ĎI donít really practice, itís instinct.† I pick it up and I play.í† Whatever happens, happens. I donít sit down and work on it so many hours a week.† I find that when I go into the studio, that Iíve got the chops and Iíve got the sense as a producer and a player to be able to put together the solos, parts, melodies and harmonies.† If you donít think about it so much and you just go for it and see what happens, you find yourself in new territories.† I think Santana once said, Ďwhen technique and imagination meet, thatís when itís perfection.í† If you can play what you hear, thatís perfect.† Iím not someone that dedicates himself to being a ĎLead Guitar Playerí itís just all feelingÖget a great sound, get a feeling, get something that works for the record.† I find that Brian and I can do that.
Myles Ė When I first started playing guitar, my influences were
country music, when it was Country & Western.† I was brought up in rural
Brian - Well, I started out to be a drummer. That didn't last long as I discovered that drums were real loud to practice you needed a whole lot of drums.
Guitar? It was easier. You only needed the guitar and a pick and with out an amp you could play for hours without disturbing anyone.
I was a Beatle Baby as most guitar players were from that era. I thought George Harrison was God. Later I found out the Eric Clapton really was, but in the beginning it was Harrison and Lennon. One night I heard blues for the first time at a dance. I didn't think too much about it after the band's first set. I was still wanting to hear top 40. They came one for the second show and something happened. I suddenly understood the 12 bar blues and the feel of it all. It was like opening up a door. Suddenly, Top 40 seemed like a child's toy that became boring. Later that summer I was into Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop when they played with Paul Butterfield's Blues band. The biggest influence in my life was Eric Clapton when I heard him on Live Cream in 1967. His style floored me. The tone, the sustain, chops! Shortly after that came Jimi Hendrix. He still freaks me out today when I listen to him. I once sat 3 rows away from Mick Taylor when he played with John Mayall and watched his vibrato and how he used it. I went home and practiced for weeks to develop that into my style. The others were Robin Trower in Procol Harum and Ritchie Blackmore. I think there is a little Jimmy Page there, but I was never a big Zepplin fan.
Brian - I love Little Feat. I could listen to them for hours. It's not just the playing but the arrangements and writing I listen to. Jimmy Nail and Mark Knoffler are two others that are in my CD most of the time. Today there are only two kinds of music for me. Good and bad. I listen to all kinds of styles from Classical to Country. I admire a player or a writer that has great chops and technique no matter what style of music they are playing.
Myles Ė I have my own record company now and Iím working with ĎXí
number of bands.† Today Iím in the studio
with a country artist named Julian Austin, so Iíve been listening to an awful
lot of country to understand whatís going on these days in country.† Iíve been buying Dylan lately.† I listen to a lot of radioÖmostly talk radio
though.† I got a little turned off with
everything sounding so generic on the top 40.†
Everybody sounded the same.† I
found that very frustrating.† Itís very
seldom that I hear something come out where I can say ĎOh my God, does that
ever sound good!í† For me coming back to
country, I find that is a lot of fun and I find myself playing guitar on the
records, because thereís not a big difference between rock and country now.† I work with some serious guitar pickers
Brian - I never was forced to take guitar lessons but I was forced to take piano for two years. I'm glad I was as I can play keyboards today. I took a few guitar lessons for the first few years, but most of what I know I taught myself. Didn't most of us learn that way! I did practice for hours. Sometimes up to 6 hours a day when I could. I had a passion for wanting to become a player.
Myles Ė If youíre going to a place like
Brian - No. It's not like teaching in a school music program. If you want a good teacher, reputation as a player and teacher should be good enough as a reference.
Brian - I was going to do this with or without them. I felt that strong about it. They saw the passion I had and left me alone with it. Everyone was in a band back then in the late 60's and early 70's.† Today, itís a different story being having a family of my own. My Daughters are young and think what Dad does is cool. My wife gives me the support she always has in everything I do. You know the story.....behind very successful man is a strong woman!
Myles Ė My Dad took me to a music/furniture store in
Brian - I've always been serious about music. There have been good times and there have been the lean times. Hey, that happens. As a player, I have never had a blank period. As a writer, sure. That can happen. You just keep chipping away at it. It'll come.
Brian - I don't practice like I used to. I find that touring keeps me in shape. If we're of the road for a while and not recording I'll practice a few hours
every week to keep the fingers in shape. Sometimes I find it refreshing not to play for a few weeks. Just to get way from it.† Kind of like a vacation. Then it feels good to pick it up again.
Brian - No, ( LOL ) it's what you see is what you get with me!
Myles Ė No. I really donít play much at all at homeÖwe do approximately 100 dates a year, so a third of the year, Iím not even home.† And so beyond that, I tend to only pick up the guitar to write.
Myles Ė I write alone 90% of the time.† I collaborate a few times, but Iím pretty uncomfortable with that process of two people sitting down across from each other with a blank page.† I think it takes a certain kind of writer to be able to do that.† Itís difficult unless one guyís really outgoing.† Ideally, if youíre going to get together, have something before you doÖan idea, a great chorus, melody, whatever. 90% of everything that Iíve written for April Wine, which is over 150 songs, Iíve done alone.† I like the time it takes to write a song.† Some of them come very fast and then there are others that I keep going back to and thatís a process where I can really take my time to refine the song.
Brian - I always write alone. It just worked out that way in April Wine. First, I always write the music. I'll get a verse feel then I'll marry it to a chorus. I write on Adat using 8 tracks. I'll use a Boss Dr. Rhythm 660 for a beat to put down a snapshot of where I'm going. I write on keyboards and guitar. So the first track down will be one or the other. Next comes the song structure. I need a bridge after getting comfortable with the verse and hopefully killer chorus. Once all that is down on tape, I'll go back and demo the whole music track complete with solos. I write the words and melody last. I don't know if this is the proper way to do it but once again, it works for me. Theory when writing? If it sounds good... it works!
Myles Ė I just come in and play it.† I say here are the chords, this is the tempo, this is the feel.† I donít like to come in with half scattered ideas.† Sometimes itís great because I can say ĎI just need to jam on an ideaí, but generally speaking I find that if thereís chords and thereís a feel but thereís absolutely no melody, I donít hear a song.† Whenever possible, I have all the lyrics, because the lyrics dictate how youíre going to play it.† So when I present a song, I try and have as much of it together as possible.
Brian - Yes. My stage gear stays with the crew for most of the
year as we live in different cities. At home I have a custom made one of a kind
guitar made by Andrew Clement of
Brian - My main guitar is a 1969 Les Paul Custom I bought it new
for $500 Canadian. Now they ask a bit more I hear. I have used that guitar on
every recording and just about every show I have ever done with April Wine. The
neck has been broken twice and I finished it is 1978. I shaved the neck down a
touch to feel more like the neck on a '59 and the teardrop sunburst was toned
down. The pickups have been replaced so many times I forget what is actually in
there. I believe the pickup config now is 2 Seymore
Brian - Hey, we called it 3 guitars no waiting! It was simple
really. Each one of us had a distinct sound way of playing. We all blended
together into a good sound. When we all came together in a chorus on a power
chord, it was like thunder! The beauty of it was, we all did not have to be
playing at the same time. Two of us could double up on a pattern and get a
double tracking sound going with the natural chorusing you get from two guitars
playing the same thing, while the 3rd could be playing a counter rhythm, or we
could have 3 different parts like we did on 21st Century Schizoid
Myles Ė 3 guitar players is great.†
We have a utility player whose name is Carl
Brian - In a word? Always let the Stage crew or Security take care of it. Never get involved. You might not be able to play the next show! Worst case scenario? Leave the stage.
Myles Ė Funny you should mention itÖwe just had one in a show in
Brian - I still get nervous before a show. It's the excitement of it that I still have after all these years. You see I still love what I do. If you know your parts cold, just go out there and give it all. That's what I always do.
Myles Ė Thatís a good questionÖI donít have stage fright to the extent that Iím really nervous before I go on stage.† It will happen sometimes and in my career, it has.† When youíre going on before the Rolling Stones, if you donít have stage fright, youíre dead, thereís something wrong, youíre not breathing.† You just get through it.† But itís very seldom that I will feel a real stage fright.† I did go through a period of panic attacks when it would come and I just couldnít breathe, but that went away after a while.† Itís basically in your mind.† You can get worn out and really tired and thatís when it will hit you.† If youíre seriously nervous before a show, I donít think a shot of Jack Daniels hurts either if thatís what it takes for you to calm downÖhehehe
Myles Ė Itís real and I have it in my living room.† It sits next to a 1956 Wurlitzer Jukebox.† Itís a Goya, all plastic except for the tuning pegs and the frets.† The entire body is plastic.† It obviously doesnít sound very good, but itís a beautiful looking guitar.† The picture is on the back of the album and the guy was a real street person.† The person standing behind him with a dog on a leash was his actual son.
Brian - The sound is all in the hands. That's where the tone comes from. It's how you hit and pick the string or chord. The amp helps. I use a Marshall DSL 2000 head with a JMP900 4X12 cab. I like the 75 Watt speakers. Myles likes the 35 w celestions. I like the extra bottom and the fact they don't brake up as soon as the 35's do. My highs and mids on 2 with the bass on 6. Volume on the gain channel is 5 & 5. The clean channel volumes are 10 & 8. My guitar volumes are never on full unless it's a loud solo. Even then I try to back it off a touch to where there is a little more tone. For FX all I use is an old Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1 that I bought new in 1978. I tried digital FX and had quite the rack mount thing going on there for a while, but I found it coloured my tone to much, so back I went to what worked in the beginning. If it ain't broke...don't fix it!
Myles Ė I use a Marshal.† I took it off the road 2 years ago.† Iíve had it since 1973 and thatís all Iíve ever used as my main recording and live amp.† I was just afraid that because itís so old and been around so long and itís so dear to me that it would get broken or get stolen, so I replaced it with a Marshal 2000.† I still use the old one in the studio for recording.† I have many, many, many guitars.† I have guitars here that Iíve owned longer than the amplifier.† I have an SG here that Iíve had since the early Ď70ís that I still use.† I love the fact that Iíve had these guitars for many years.† I know exactly what they sound like.† When thereís a solo needed, I can go to that specific guitar, plug it into that amp through my Marshal speakers and thereís my sound.† Itís really easy, itís a no brainer.† Itís really easy to get that sound.† Brian experimented way more than me, but itís always Marshals.† Your hands have everything to do with itÖand your pick.† That really is part of it.† Iíve used the same picks from day one.† Iíve never changed my picks.† I like the medium triangle picks.† I always use those because if I broke one point, I have 2 more and I like the size of them.† Theyíre very difficult to find sometimes, you canít just find them everywhere.† Itís bigger than a lot of picks I see some people use, so thereís a lot of surface to hold onto.
Myles Ė Itís a no brainer.† Itís just wrong.† Period.† I mean thereís not even a discussion in my mind.† Unless these people are paying the writers and the publishers their fair share then it cannot be allowed.† Itís as simple as that and I donít buy any other argument.† I hear a lot of young bands out there who donít care; they think theyíre getting heard.† I havenít heard a story yet, where somebody became a major star because Napster sold their records and they caught on. I donít know any stories like that, but even if there was, it still doesnít change my mind.† Itís stealing, itís wrong and itís criminalÖ
Brian - I'm undecided about all this. It's a great way to promote yourself on the web, but I don't like the fact that royalties are not accountable. There is going to have to be a format worked out that benefits both artist and consumer.
Brian - Absolutely. Promotion is what we all need to get recognized in this business. A common place to access information of the trade can only benefit us all.
Myles Ė I think itís great.† I think itís good.† I think that the music business in general is very confusing.† Any information you can get around guitar playing and contracts concerning your desire to be a professional guitar player or wherever you want to go with itÖI think itís really important that thereís something like that that they can turn to.† Any good advice is almost priceless especially when itís that easy to access.† You can ask questions and you can get answers and you can get tips from players and why not?† I think itís great!
Myles Ė Thank you very much.†
Brian - Dave, Thank you. I enjoyed it.
You can get more info about April Wine from their official website at http://www.aprilwine.ca or any of the many fan sites around the internet.
Copyright © 2001-2002 Canadian Guitar Players Association. All Rights reserved.