By Marty Mulrooney
AMO recently reviewed Wilson T. King’s debut album Follow Your First Mind, describing it as “a debut to be proud of, echoing the past whilst always managing to sound refreshingly contemporary.” Which makes it even more exciting that we recently interviewed the man himself in an exclusive online interview! Here is what he had to say…
Hi Mr King, thank you for your time! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself please?
Sure! I’m from England and I play guitar. I also write and produce records across genres.
Can you talk us through your musical career leading up to your first solo album?
Well I first got into music at the age of five or six checking out my father’s LP collection. The Allman Brothers, Bowie, Steely Dan, Cream etc. I just used to put the headphones on and sit and listen for hours.
Do you remember your first guitar?
A Gibson SG copy which never stayed in tune!
How many guitars do you own today?
I have a 69 Stratocaster, a late eighties Strat, plus a Gibson Les Paul, a Guild Acoustic and a 73 Fender Jazz Bass.
Do you come from a musical family?
My cousin was a big influence on my playing when I was very young but there are no other musicians in the family.
Do you play any other instruments?
I played a good portion of the bass on this album and on other recordings I play a lot of bass and some simple keyboard lines. In actual fact I try and always write starting with a cool bass line and a great lyric as it avoids all the clichéd guitar moves.
Who inspires you, both musically and artistically?
Musically it’s the greats like Hendrix, Coltrane, The Beatles, Albert King, Pink Floyd etc. Artistically I love the poet Bukowski, writer James Ellroy and the comedians Larry David and Bill Hicks to name just a few.
You have been compared to the likes of Hendrix and Jeff Beck: do you ever play their songs in your spare time?
I play Jimi every week. From the age of 13 to 16 I pretty much listened to nothing else but Mr Hendrix and I can repeat verbatim the entire Jimi Hendrix documentary film which I must have watched over a thousand times!
As regards Mr Beck I find his style of playing very inspiring but his records are not really intense or dark enough for my taste.
Who is your absolute favourite artist that you have performed with?
I have supported Def Leppard, Alice Cooper, Keane and countless others but once had the pleasure of recording with violinist Nigel Kennedy for two days which was amazing. He had with him a couple of Stradivari and was ripping over a song I had written.
His tone was like a laser beam of the richest harmonics.
Your new album, Follow Your First Mind, was apparently inspired by an encounter with Mitch Mitchell (The Jimi Hendrix Experience) in a dream, days before he died. Is this true?
It’s true. I woke up in Manhattan and said to my girlfriend, now my wife, that I had some strange dream of hanging with Mitch Mitchell at Waddington air show! The next day he died.
Who knows? But I have experienced astral projection and had a lot of strange occurrences happen in my life so maybe it was just some space and time connection or maybe just a freaky dream?
I noted in my review that this feels like a very personal album: what does it mean to you?
The album is my take on the 21st century and how modern life doesn’t give us enough time to sit and reflect in a meaningful way.
We are overloaded with so much information and expectation that bad decisions are still being made that result in war and misery for too many people.
If the world slowed down just a little I’m sure the lessons of history would be more likely to be taken on board.
What is your favourite song on the album and why?
Favourite song on the album? I change my mind every time we play them but I love Hurricane for being so forward thinking and cool and Vigilante Man for having that deep Hendrix blues vibe but again still sounding fresh and contemporary.
I tried to avoid all the Karaoke blues clichés, of trying to sing in that pathetic white-man-trying-to-be-a-blues-man gruff voice and there is not one ‘Stevie Ray Vaughan Shuffle’ on the album.
I also took great care with the lyrics as they have to mean something for me to be inspired to solo.
Recording was split between England and Manhattan: why was this? Does the setting add anything to a recording?
I live in Manhattan and England. To be honest the impetus of the record came from the energy of Manhattan. However a lot of the recording was done in England.
How has the reception of the new album been?
The reception has been overwhelming. I think we have had over twenty amazing reviews worldwide in big publications and only one negative review so far.
I really thought the record might be too forward thinking for some of the old school blues/guitar heads but they have really embraced it along with a lot of younger critics and reviewers.
Do you prefer performing live or in the studio?
I love writing, constructing and jamming in the studio it’s a beautiful thing to be able to do but live is like the big time boxing match where if all goes well you feel like your sitting on top of the world.
We played our first live show a month ago and it was mind blowing. Your readers should check it out on YouTube!
Do you have any unusual personal tastes in music that would perhaps surprise your fans? Or do you listen to the same type of stuff that you create?
This morning I was blasting out MGMT, Hendrix, Plan B, Radiohead, Sly Stone, Massive Attack some Miles Davis and finished with some Alice in Chains and Albert King. I dig anything that is real, true and makes the heart and neural networks jump in unison.
What is next for you?
Working on the next album plus a tour of Holland and some festival shows in the UK then a few shows in Manhattan.
Plus I’m writing and recording with some other artists that I manage.
Is blues music still alive?
Blues is alive as it exists in all great music. Does it need as a form a kick up the arse? Then yes. My record is a reaction to what I can only describe as appalling white boy karaoke blues albums by so called guitar greats that have been polluting the airwaves since Stevie Ray Vaughan died. By the way SRV was a monster blues man and god rest his soul.
I can’t say it strongly enough but I hate what these people pedal as blues music. It’s all a soulless joke. These guys are just frustrated guitar nerds who realised the only way to make a few bucks was to masquerade as so called ‘Blues Artists’.
They are lyrically appalling, they can’t come up with one original idea between them and I wish they would all f**k off!
Thank you for your time!
Anytime and keep up the good work! As the man said:
“In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”
Cheers! Wilson T. King