robin mackie talks to roryRory Gallagher's looking a bit out of place in a rather trendy record company office. If there's one thing Rory's not, it's trendy. Rory's taken off his donkey jacket and scarf and he's sitting in his denim work shirt and jeans almost dwarfed behind a mound of six-packs of Guinness.
looks like he might well be a lad
who's just come in waiting for an interview, trying to become an
errand boy for a Polydor executive; he certainly doesn't look like
one of the company's biggest record sellers awaiting an interview. He
looks slightly ill at ease, almost apologetic at first. His
expression is always friendly, but he doesn't look as sure of himself
as he does when he's up on the stage and concentrating on his
old and trusted guitar.
stage, Rory seems to be almost
the last of a dying breed the serious, dedicated and highly
proficient guitarist: he's the prototype figure of the old British
Blooze boom, but to outlast a trend, you have to be good and
hardworking. Rory is both, and really deserves his success.
been playing guitar since he
was nine, and playing it in clubs since he was 15 and left home,
writing songs since the mid teens. It's been honed to a fine
point, pared to the essentials, with little room left for chat
between songs or any kind of show-biz extravagance. Rory knows what
his audience wants, and is currently engaged in giving it to them in
a full scale tour his first dates on the road for a long
period, apart from two dates just before Christmas.
FidgetyIt's the first tour to feature the new four man line up (Lou Martin has joined on keyboards; Rod De'Ath, also from Killing Floor, has replaced Wilgar Campbell on drums; Gerry McAvoy continues on bass. Wilgar is now with Mick Abraham's Band).
glad to be back on the road:
"If I stop for more than a couple of months, I get pretty
fidgety. Maybe if I was playing more academic music I wouldn't need
the vibrations you get from an audience so much. I take our music
very seriously, but I wouldn't call it serious in inverted commas.
I mean Segovia probably doesn't have to tour . . . but it is nice to
stop sometimes and catch up with more introspective things, like
the writing. I seem to write better when I'm back in Ireland. I
don't get very much done on tours."
got a lot of enthusiasm for the
new band: "Rod and Lou both came from Killing Floor, which was a
much more derivative blues band, but a very good one. We tend to
listen to the same stuff. I've worked with just bass and drums for a
long while, even from before Taste, but I've always said to myself
that if I saw a good player, I'd get him in, and that's what happened
Delinquent''It's dangerous to enlarge a group just for the sake of it, and Lou plays guitar as well, so we won't necessarily have organ on every track. It's a change but it's not like going from the Old Testament to the New. And it isn't just Lou that's making a difference Rod's drumming has made a lot of difference. I really enjoy listening to him he has a delinquent feel to his drumming as if he's doing that instead of stabbing old ladies."
The old ladies of Britain can sleep more comfortably in their beds during February and early March, when the new Gallagher ensemble is on tour. The delinquent drummer is in fact Welsh, which makes a change from Rory's usual all-Irish bands. I wondered whether he felt that someone growing up in the harsher climate of Ireland is more natural to feel the blues than we well fed suburban southerners of England.
think there's a bit more
fire in the Irish character, yes. I think Celtic people have a wide
range of approaches, more like the old R & B people. Perhaps
there's a bit more grit in Celtic players, but on the other hand, I
guess musicians here tend to be steadier; the Irish tend to be very
emotional, and sometimes aggressive. Ireland has a great musical
tradition as well, of course.
thinks it's just
thumping beer cans in pubs and singing along, but it's much more than
that. There's a long tradition of quiet, lonely types of thing. My
parents both played in amateur ways and the Irish naturally like
musicians, and at parties everyone has to do something, you know.....
sing a song or whatever.”
also feels that a certain type
of guy tends to go with a particular instrument, though he wasn't
necessarily applying it to his own bands.
“I think bass players usually tend to be easy going, drummers a bit fidgety and neurotic, keyboards players are usually studious, and guitarists are extrovert or extrovert-introvert, a lot use the guitar as an emotional outlet.”
at least, seems to be a
well-balanced mixture of extrovert and introvert, quiet and
soft-spoken offstage, dominating on it.
Does he think of himself in any ways as a showman? "I don't think of it as a necessarily derogatory term, but I wouldn't like to be regarded as being as much of a showman, as . . . Ian Anderson for instance, which is not to decry him in any way. I think it would be a drag to be really popular and have to have a halo of sorts. To be really popular, I guess you have to be a bit typecast.
rather be known for good
music, a good show and good records. I suppose you can't stop
something from maybe getting too big, but I don't have managers, and
that helps. You can't stop stardom, but it shouldn't be for its own
main difference between Rory and
some more widely-known "stars" is that so many people feel
they’ve outgrown touring, and are happy to sit around in the
newly-built home studio, and knock out the odd album.
feel sorry for the groups
starting out nowadays – the club scene has got to be revived. I
got used to starting off by lugging amps around and all that: it’s
a much more natural birth for a band. Nowadays, they start off with
a big record advance and never really have any independence. I think
it’s better to crawl up on your own by working the clubs and having
a company come to you. Otherwise, you miss a rough time and a lot of
fun.” Rory did part of his apprenticeship in the tough clubs of
Hamburg around 1965 and ’66.
Chatting over even earlier days in Ireland, Rory admitted his chief enjoyments musically have been Fats Domino, and . . . Lonnie Donegan, who we both agreed had had a pretty rough deal when it comes to mentioning people important to the development of rock here. “He was an early idol and he was doing good stuff. Even in the 50s, he was doing Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie numbers.”
keeping that tradition
alive. He's got a Big Bill Broonzy number Backward Blues
( Banker's Blues- j.g.)
in among his songs on the new album, Blueprint; “It's nice to
interpret other people's songs occasionally the ratio now is
about 95 per cent originals to five per cent of others, and it's
about the same on stage.
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