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by email the 26 October 2007 by Philippe ARCHAMBEAU
RTJ : Hi Fogman. As you can see, we are a Southern Rock music, but also Classic and Blues Rock music, Webzine. Weve listened to your album and we felt a great musical emotion, thats why we wanted to meet you and know a little bit more about your band Zed Head.The Fogman : Well, thank you so much for the positive remarks regarding ZED HEAD'S work, TEXAS CUFFLINKS. It is very gratifying to know that our efforts, which genuinely came from our
collective hearts, are appreciated by knowledgeable folk like yourselves. It is sincerely appreciated by the band!
RTJ : First, can you tell us where does the groups name come from ? Does it mean something special ?
Fogman : ZED HEAD... the name was just kicking around in the back of my brain
I just reached back and pulled it out. A lot of my work comes from isolating the subconscious goings on in my noggin at a given moment. ZED HEAD is a play on the differing Canadian and American pronunciations of the letter 'Z'.
It is no secret that there is a pretty decent l'il old band from Tejas, that utilizes a couple of 'Z's' in their moniker, and although we are never short on inspired material, several of our tours in the very early days of this incarnation of the band were spent in the north east of Texas, as well as dallas, fort worth, san antonio and Austin - we even stopped in La Grange for a pizza one afternoon, on a day off, so consequently we felt it would be fun to pay homage to some great players, and some wonderful memories of the road. It manifested one day, in the Fogbrain, and i thought it summed up what we were about, and where we were going quite nicely, so we went with it. It also lends itself nicely in establishing that we are a Canadian outfit playing a decidedly southern fried, texas style of music.
RTJ : Can you introduce to us the bands members ?
Fogman : Neil Chapman is our resident gunslinging guitarist. The guy sees
music in colours like a lot of
geniuses do. Trust me, i'm not blowing the band's horn here, the guy is in fact a musical genius. He could play his axe in the Toronto symphony if asked to do so. He's so adept at pulling that perfect note or phrase to empahize what a number is all about. If you listen closely, he's always feeding off the rhytym section and dressing a sequence up to dynamically, or emphatically seal the deal in a given movement. When he's not doing that, he's laying the groundwork for what someone else is about to do. He also plays off the vocalist and again accentuates the feel in a fashion that enhances the work in question. great player!! Along with that inherent genius comes all sorts of ecclectic, eccentric little nuggets. We've known each other for a very long time and are now, after many years finally doing things that we've threatened to do for years. Smilin' Bob Adams on harp is the fellow that really dresses up our middle register. He and Neil, work extremely well together. He adds a great deal of colour and feel to what we do. Smilin' Bob gives us a boost live too. He's a dynamic rocker from way back and he get's 'er done live or in the studio. Smilin' Bob is in fact a pleasure to work with in the studio. The guy is a one take wonder. Brilliant player! He's another Toronto talent. The main cat on tubs in ZED HEAD is Terry Martell. When we were laying down tracks for TEXAS CUFFLINKS, we hadn't solidified the drumming position. All the guys we used on the cd were excellent, but when we got together with Terry, it just clicked and kept clicking. I don't know if I, as a bassist have ever played with a fellow that so liesurely melded skill with economy, while delivering his own dollops of energy and emotion. I just can't say enough about this 'first call' drummer from Toronto. Terry is a guy that makes everyone around him sound awesome. Less is more, but with such chops!! He's never in the way, and always adding to the equation. Any bassman would love to work with this guy's high hat and bass drum. And hey, I'm the bassman, and primary vocalist. I also put down the lyrics for the band. Another Toronto citizen, I've combined with some of the top talent available on the North American continent. We sincerely hope that y'all get a kick out of our project. We left nothing on the studio floor, we gave it everything we had and performing live is the same thing. These guys are all top of their game. It's enjoyable for us because we get to pour out our souls to the crowds that come out to see the band. When we get to trade off with the enthusiastic audiences we've been encountering, we'll it's like Neil says in 'Good Lovin' - It's 'win / win' - That's ZED HEAD.
RTJ : You come from Toronto. Are there many rock bands there ?
The Fogman : Toronto is truely a hot bed of talent. There are so many great players hiding under rocks and bridges in what we all call 'The big smoke' I sometimes think there are more musicians than fans. There truely are a lot of quality bands waiting to be heard that call Toronto home.
: When I listened to your cd, Ive noticed the songs Texas Twister,
Shotgun, Good Lovin and
The Big Smoke that seem to be close to Seveie Ray Vaughan or ZZ Top. Is it real and did you wrote these
songs thinking about these guys ?
Fogman : TEXAS CUFFLINKS is an album that draws from actual events and people.
This is an album that is genuine and based on actual experiences in most cases.
We're a guitar based band with an extremely solid middle register thanks to
Smilin' Bob, so our influences are diverse. The lyrical content on the recording,
apart from the two covers, are true stories, and Texan with perhaps the exception
of FAST FORD FREDDY. We had to throw in a pearl for those wonderful East Coasters.
But I can tell you honestly, this is an album that draws on emotion, experience
and of course the influences of many superb pickers and kickers that hail
from the Lonestare state. Having said that, a much forgotten scene is the
blues revolution that swept Britain in the late 50's and early 60's that played
a large part in our evolution as players. There's as much FREE, WISHBONE ASH,
PETER GREEN'S FLEETWOOD MAC, CREAM
(all bands that had their roots in either the delta, Chicago or Texas blues), and the like as there is ZZ TOP,
JOHNNY WINTER or STEVIE RAY. Each player in ZED HEAD has his own influences and the backgrounds of each fellow have roots in a plethora of artists. So while this endeavour of ours certainly benefits from Texas and Dixie influences among others, each man adds his own personal hue to the picture. We had in mind only our own experiences, our own styles, borne of our appreciation of many artists and we went ahead and recorded this work
with our own intent. If TEXAS CUFFLINKS sounds like other artists in places, it was not intentional.
Our influences merely make us who we are.
RTJ : How can you describe your Music ? Can we classify it in a special category ?
Fogman : People consistently call us a Southern Fried Canadian band. We are
often described as a
Texas Boogie Band. As far as I'm concerned, there are as many enthusiastic perveyors of this genre in Europe, so what can you say!? It's great music, it was probably initiated in Texas, so we'll just go with Southern rock / blues.
It's world wide these days, and we enthusiastically support it, but it got it's start in Dixie.
: You sing and you play the bass guitar. What is the more difficult, sing
or play ?
How can you do both in the same time ?
The Fogman : Well, this is an interesting question. Unless you're Paul Rodgers, it takes some time to find out who you are when approaching and spending any amount of time behind a microphone. I think once a person relaxes, settles in and becomes himself, or herself, and let's any amount of training enhance the experience, singing becomes more natural sounding and comfortable in execution. It has been my experience that most of us, learn an instrument first, hopefully becoming proficient, and before long you're perhaps trying to add to the vocal side of things. So, from that perspective i feel that playing the instrument is easier to master. One's voice is a God given circumstance. Vocally, to an extent, you can only play the cards you are given, training aside. Instrumentally, years and years of hard work can improve dexterity, and delivery melded with an understanfing of musical technique and theory, but the limits of one's voice are more confined to what you were blessed with. Achieving the independence needed to execute both of these disciplines at once takes time in most people's cases. I believe it's all up to application, and repetition. I so appreciate Martin Turner's (Wishbone Ash) ability to play and sing at the same time. Jack Bruce is another talented individual that masters both. It comes more easily to some than others, but that old adage 'hard work pays off' is the bottom line here.
RTJ : Can you tell us what are your bass guitars and amps labels ? Why did you choose them ?
Fogman : I'm so glad you asked!!! I have 3 vintage basses that i gig with
regularly on the road and use in the studio. The favoured bass is a '69 slot
head Gibson EB 3. You can't beat the ' bottom popping electric tuba from mars'
sound of these babies! i just love them. check out FREE'S Andy Fraser on a
tune called 'MR. Big!' - Unreal!! And such an easy bass to play! I'd take
one of these puppies over a hundred of the new hot rod basses out there! I
also have a black, '69 Gibson Thunderbird. For boogie chunk, this piece of
wood is the bomb! Martin Turner used a pick with his
T-Bird in the 70's and I defy anyone to come up with a better Rock / blues sound than achieved with this dynamic set up. Lastly, I have a 1970 Fender Jazz. Fender went for a wobble when the company got sold to a bowling ball manufacturer back in 1964 or so, and consequently, I had a lot of trouble in procuring a proper feeling, non warping neck. The bloody thing's had about ten necks on it - all this unfolding about 1970, or so. Finally to placate me, the company dug deep into the vault and found me a neck made by their bass neck specialist from about 1962 (you have to have a pre '64 neck, or components for a fender to really be considered 'pre cbs', and ultimately 'vintage valuable'). So, happily, i have a whizzing playing and sounding Fender bass, that is also worth a fortune. As far as amps go, well I've had 'em all at one time or another. For small rooms and ease of mobility - hey, we still move our gear ourselves on occasion, I use a two hundred watt Fender Boxer! The little critter belts out some nights and doesn't owe me a dime. I've played smaller rooms all over the south with this thing! However, when the puddings being served on the big stage, I've gone back to that old back breaking behemoth, the king of bass amps, the tried and true 300 watt,
Ampeg S.V.T. Vintage gear, you can't beat it!
RTJ : What are your favourite artists, and who are those you take your inspiration from ?
Fogman : Man you ask cool questions!! Vocally? Paul Rodgers! The man is brilliant!
He's been an inspiration from the first moment I heard him back in about 1969.
He pens evocative, moving lyrics, and I say unapologetically, no one sings
blues rock like Paul Rofgers. And you know what? He's an even nicer person
than he is a brilliant artist! Guitar wise, it's Paul Kossoff from FREE.
The chap was 150% emotion!! - Fantastic sound!! Then Peter Green, Jeff Beck, the cat from Skynrd that played the Firebird!! I love Billy Gibbons. He's such a knowledgeable, brilliant player. He's just too cool and his sound is the best out there today. He mentioned to me recently, concerning his excitement at first hearing Clapton's sound on that 'Beano', BLUES BREAKERS album - the Less Paul / Marshall rig, that that was the sound he was after! Billy, you're there man. No arguement, certainly. Neil Chapman, is another of my favourites. Whereas the bass is concerned,
Andy Fraser, Martin Turner, Jack Bruce and Paul Mcartney. I enjoy listening to
Ronny Woods, John Mcvie, Bill Wyman and Dusty Hill as well. - And let's not forget Willie Dixon!!
Drumming wise, well hey, Frank Beard, Ginger Baker, Simon Kirke, Steve Upton. Guys that put the roll in their rock! Easy to play with and unobtrusive. Charlie watts is a great drummer!
FREE, WISHBONE ASH, ZZ TOP, early FLEETWOOD MAC, STEVIE RAY, JIMI HENDRIX, SPENCER DAVIS,
all the KING dudes, OTIS REDDING, WILSON PICKETT.
RTJ : Do you play some cover when you play live on stage ?
Yes, we incorporate plenty of covers. By inserting JIMI tunes for example, or hits by great artists from the past, as well as recent hit tunage, is not only fun, but audience pleasing. I find it incredibly gratifying to interperet a cover song, to our way of thinking, and then observing an enthusiastic response from audience members.
RTJ : Road To Jacksonville is mainly about Southern rock bands. Do you think we can classify your band as a Southern Rock group, or do you prefer the name of Texas Boogie Rock ?
Fogman : We are most certainly a Southern edged rock band. We do our best
to relate that genre to our followers, and they love us down south, especially
in Texas and Louisiana, so yeah man, we're a Southern Band. A word of warning!!
- don't ever tell a Texan that he's not a southerner!! Texas is Texas, but
they are most certainly a land of Stars and Crossbars! Yeah, We're a southern
band! The amount of time we've spent there, and our association with clubs,
concert halls and Harley rallies and the like, HELL YEAH! We're a southern
band!!! ha ha ha...
I don't know how many times, Southern hospitality being what it is, that we've been dubbed 'officially Southern!! That hospitality and way too many toasts over tequila, ensure our legacy
as a Southerm Band!
RTJ : Do you know and do you enjoy Point Blank, the famous Texas band that just come back from a brilliant European tour ?
The Fogman : I don't know these fellows personally. I believe they were handled by the same people that worked with ZZ TOP for a spell. Apparently though, they have had decent airplay on the AOL stations from whence they hail. Really cool chops and solid bottom end. I dig these guys. Hey what do you know!!?? Another Texas oriented, Southern Band!!! I think they were present at a couple of our recent concerts in Jefferson, Texas.
RTJ : Is it easy for Zed Head to play some Blues Rock in Texas ?
The Fogman : Real easy, mon frere!!! We love the stuff, play it from the heart and consistently jam with the hot players from the locales we gig in. Wes Jeans, Sweet lips Clarkie, Unkle Dallas, Terry Salyer to name a few.
RTJ : Do you think you play enough shows ?
I'd certainly like to have played more shows over the last couple of months, but we've been extremely busy putting together tunage for our next album. We did manage recently to squeeze in several incredibly successful shows in Dixie. However, we are presently putting together the foundation for this next project so in the very near future, when we've finished with the studio work, we will be ramping up our schedule of dates as this will be of utmost importance in support of our recorded works.
RTJ : Do you think you could come to play one day in Europe ?
That would be a wonderful thing! Speaking to different distributors, radio people, media people and so on, I don't think there is a more fertile or appreciative area to play this type of music than Europe at the present. I'll certainly pursue that and welcome any feedback or suggestions from promoters on your side of the pond.
RTJ : Ive seen the picture where you are on a big motorbike. Do you ride it ?
yes!! My faithful, trusty Harley Heritage. I ride it every day since my old
Electra glide / shovelhead went missing!
ZED HEAD is very much a motorcycle driven endeavour. If there's a Harley gig to do, We're there. Bikers are a fantastic crowd. They got a lotta nice bikes in Dixie!
RTJ : What do you think about Music today, and what is your position about the Legal and illegal downloading on the Web ? Do you think that its a danger for the Blues Rock scene ?
Fogman : The scene in Canada is one of convolution. People here don't know
whether to promote or follow future Celines, Nellie's or whatever the hell
comes along next. The blues scene here is one of an underground nature. Frankly,
I think you folk are on the right track. Globally, We're in a bit of a state
musically aren't we!? We're between the next big thing. Sinatra, Presley,
Beatles... Man, what's next? I'm sorry, the brand new stuff does nothing for
me. I mean, I don't want to see boppers strutting their stuff to Ms. Fertado.
God love her, she's a talent no doubt but give me Humbucker's and a wailing
guitar picking out those well founded blues chops through big ampage. Give
me blues riffs with a spot of rock 'n roll! Give me emotion and dynamics and
a ball shaking, powerful delivery with that good old thing called 'stage presence!!'
Like I said, y'all are on the right track. If there continues to be a resurgence
in Dixie chops, Southern fried tunage and Texas boogie, well then I think
We're on the right track. Hey, let's hope for a Blues - Rock Revolution!!
I'll wave that flag! As far as illegal downloading? What are you going to
do!? Yes it hurts the artists, but as long as people are downloading what
you and I'd call 'the right stuff',
well at least it's some sort of fuel for the fire.
: Last and traditional question (fans enjoy it !) : if you have to spend the
end of your
life on a desert island, what d be the music albums you take with you ?
The Fogman : Hey, I've always enjoyed this question!! I'd take along FIRE and WATER (FREE), TRES HOMBRES
(ZZ TOP), ARGUS (WISHBONE ASH), and some of that good old PETER GREEN'S FLEETWOOD MAC (the album with the garbage can, the dog and the alley). Nothing wrong with that TRUTH album by JEFF BECK either! - Now, can you arrange for some svelt Scandinavian air hostesses to join me and bring along a few cases of Cuervo Gold to go with all of the above!? Phillipe my brother, thank you so much for staying in touch! Most appreciated. If there'a anything else
I can do, just let me know!! .