Interview Derek Trucks – July 2010
(Y. Philippot-Degand et P. Archambeau)
RTJ : You had your first guitar at nine, but when did you decide to work the slide guitar?
DT: I started playing slide the same year I picked up the guitar. I listened to slide players
from the beginning so I was trying to emulate that sound, and at that young age it didn’t
hurt my fingers as much to play with a slide.
RTJ : First, I have few questions about your last studio cd (that gave five tracks –
live this time- to Roadsongs). You said that you recorded this album without pressure,
and we know that Already Free was self-produced at your new home studio in Jacksonville. Did the facts that you had no limit of time, and no problem to record an idea as soon as
you got it decide of the name of the album?
Yeah, the fact that we recorded “Already Free” ourselves, in our own studio and with more
time played into the name of the album. As with most titles there are several meanings
but this was the most free we had been in the studio so it seemed to fit.
RTJ : Do you think that this new way of recording gives a very different result than in
a more classical way?
There are definitely advantages to having your own home studio, especially one with quality
gear so you can record at home without sacrificing sound quality. The more time you have
to craft a song the better chance it has to take on a life of it’s own. For me this really
helped because I’m always juggling tight schedules between consistent touring and trying
to spend time with my family at home. I think some people might need the structure of
the more classical approach to recording, with a defined recording period in a major studio,
but for me it was liberating to record in my own studio and we were all really proud of the
record that came out of it.
RTJ : On this album, the sound seems to be thicker, with more distortion, and we
don't hear often Kofi's flute. Is it a new direction you wanted for the band,
or is it just a limited feeling for this album or for those titles precisely?
I don’t think we made a conscious decision to go for any one particular sound on Already
Free as an album. We tried to approach each tune individually and create the sounds that
served each song best. Several of the tunes just called for a more gritty and thick sound,
and we were experimenting with building each tune from the ground up so what you’re hearing
was the natural outcome of the process for us.
RTJ : The album opens with a Bob Dylan song. Does he belong to your deep musical roots,
or do you simply think that it's just the song you liked to do at this moment ?
Did you want to have on this record a song speaking of the impressions let by Katrina ?
My uncle Butch was always a big Dylan fan and over the years I dug into his catalogue more
and more. It’s a great song and when someone recommended trying it for this album it
seemed like an interesting tune to interpret. We played around with it in the studio and
felt good about the way it came together. Dylan’s songs always seem to have lasting
relevance, and with Katrina it had special relevance for the time.
RTJ : On "Already Free", you added the scratching noise of an old LP. Do you think
that it gives a cool feeling to the title? Is it a message saying that the music
had more freedom during the LP era?
I’m a big fan of vinyl LPs and listen to them all the time at home. There’s something
about the warmth and feel of vinyl that is hard to beat. I think that sound and feel has
been a goal in our recording projects even though the medium ultimately has to be digital
these days for the most part. On that song it just seemed like a sound that fit the vibe
of the tune.
RTJ : Which one between Susan and you had the idea to let her sing "Back Where I Started", with Warren Haynes' lyrics?
When we were writing that song it just seemed to call for Susan’s vocals.
Both Warren and I wanted to hear Susan sing it and she really made the song her own.
RTJ : How did you choose the singer of the other titles? You said that the songs sung
by Doyle matched better with his voice, so did Mike Mattison sing on stage the two titles
sung in the studio by Doyle Bramhall II? Is it the reason why those titles don't
appear on "Roadsongs"?
Doyle was hanging out in the studio a lot during the recording of Already Free and writing
with us. He was laying down vocals on the songs he co-wrote and we just liked how his
voice fit the songs. One of the advantages of studio recordings is that you don’t have
to always record exactly what you play live so we liked having the addition of Doyle’s vocals.
We didn’t end up playing those tunes on the road because Doyle’s sound was so unique
to the songs.
RTJ : In this studio album, you use quiet often different guitar tracks, mixing
for example acoustic and electric. How did you manage that on stage?
We had to figure out live versions that translated but we weren’t too concerned about
playing the songs exactly the way they were played on the CD. We try to change
up the arrangements of songs on the road anyway to keep it fresh for the band and the fans.
RTJ : In 2010, a double live CD is released. Can you tell to our readers how and
where you recorded it ? How did you prefer this gig to another to appear in the record?
How did you make the choices?
We recorded Roadsongs in Chicago. We carry a recording rig on the road and multi-track
record every show we can to have for the archives. So when we decided to make a live
record we looked back to see which shows were special. I remembered everyone
in the band feeling great about those two nights in Chicago. We all walked off stage feeling
like they were particularly good nights and we can often be pretty critical of our shows.
Those were the only two shows during the year when we added horns so it was also
unique to release a live CD drawn from those two nights.
RTJ : Does this title Roadsongs have a particular meaning for you, or is it just because
it's a live album ? Is it because you named this album "Roadsongs" that you decided
give a wink and to include "Key to the Highway" ?
We actually reached out to our fans to help us name the live album, and both a fan and
our bass player Todd Smallie came up with the same name Roadsongs. We’re known
as a live touring band and the name seemed to fit on several levels.
RTJ : Will you tour to promote your new live cd? Or should we take this record for the
end of the DTB, the last for this version of the group as your record company wrote ?
We are not touring behind this record because prior to the release I decided to take a break
from the DTB for a little while to reset and spend time with my family. My wife Susan and
I have been talking about putting a new band together for some time and after a great
year touring behind Already Free it seemed like a good time to give it a try.
I toured non-stop for 16 years with the DTB so it feels good to take a break and step back.
Right now I’m focusing on the band with Susan and writing for that project, and haven’t
made any decisions about touring plans beyond that for the time being.
RTJ : Musically, you tour now with the Derek Trucks-Susan Tedeschi Band,
that brings together a lot of musicians from the Derek Trucks Band. Is your musical
direction really very different from the DTB's one? How do you mix those two musical world?
I’ve got two players from the DTB in the new band but I do feel like the approach is
different. Hopefully you’re always evolving and changing as a musician so your ideas each year feel different from the previous years. And we’ve got a new combination of players in this lineup
that’s sparking fresh ideas. Susan and I have never written entirely for a new project so
we’re focusing on a sound that works for both of us, and this group of players, and so
far it feels like we’re heading in a new direction.
RTJ : Do you have news from Mr Gregg Allman ?
I’ve spoken to Gregg since the surgery and he’s doing great.
Everything went well with the operation and he’s looking forward to hitting the road again soon.
RTJ : Do you think that it is the end for the Allman Brothers Band or do you still have
projects with your uncle, Warren and the other members of the band ?
I love playing with the Allmans and it looks like we’re going to do some shows in November. There’s also talk of more shows at the Beacon in the Spring but we haven’t made
any plans beyond 2010 at this point.
RTJ: Last but not least for our readers: if you have to spend the rest of your life
on a desert island, what are the five albums that you would take with you?
1. Ali Akbar Kahn- signature series vol 2
2. Miles Davis- Kind Of Blue
3. The Allman Brothers Band- Eat A Peach
4. Stevie Wonder- Innerversions
5. Stravinsky- firebird/petruska