By Thomas S. Orwat, Jr.
Rock guitar legend Pat Travers has just released “Fidelis,” his most solid recording in decades. Travers who is best know for his killer guitar tone and classic rock hits “Boom Boom Out Goes the Light,” and “Snorting Whiskey, Drinking Cocaine” is also out on the road this summer delighting fans with his high energy performances. Here at RockMusicStar we had the honor to phone Pat and discuss his new Cd and many other interesting tidbits. Here’s what Mr Travers had to say.
RockMusicStar: Hey Pat, I want to start off by discussing your new CD “Fidelis.” When did you start writing and recording it?
Pat Travers: Well, first of all “Fidelis” is the record that I’ve wanted to make since “Black Pearl” or “Crash and Burn.” “Black Pearl” was the last recording that I made that I had really good production. Since then everything has changed and I’ve been storing all this up in my mind for a long time, a couple of decades. And although some of the songs I didn’t actually write until I got up to the studio in Northern Ontario, once we were there, things started happening really quickly. But, I really knew what I wanted the songs to sound like. The opening track “Ask Me Baby” is kind of homage to bands from 1966 to 1970, bands like the MC5, The Beatles, Otis Reading, Wilson Pickett, the stuff that’s kind of energy and riffs. So I thought that came out really well. And I was happy with everything else. I had a great producer and a great engineer. I didn’t have to worry about anything in a technical sense as far as the recording. I just had to worry about coming up with good songs and having good performances while recording.
RMS: How close did the final recording come to satisfying your preconceived goals for the Cd?
PT: It came pretty close to 100%. I really like the overall sound, tone and feel of the whole thing. I really know what I’m doing now (laughs) after all this time. I know how to express myself and do it sonically. No question marks anymore on how to get a sound, that’s all pretty easy stuff. Plus, when you are in a studio two and its two and a half hours from nowhere and you have no TV or phone and you’re doing a vocal track at 2am in the morning, you just have to transport yourself to being in front of a crowd of ten thousand people and just do it.
RMS: Why is “Fidelis” only available as a download?
PT: That’s not a nice thing and it was not according to plan. My record label, well actually I don’t have a record label. But the recording is on Alexus Records which is run by an individual from Toronto, Ont. I met him a few years back at one of his clubs and he told me that he wanted to start his own record label and have me as one of his lead off artists. He put me in a position where I could do this album. But he just couldn’t get her to cross the finish line. But, I’ve had no communication with him for three or four months now, so…. But you can download it and if you want Amazon will send you a hard copy on CD-R. But, it wouldn’t have any linear notes, just the front cover. You may be able to order the actual Cd through the record site label as well. www.alexusrecords.us .
But it’s a weird situation, it’s the best album that I’ve made in years and I’m finding it very difficult to promote it because I have no communication with my label. It’s crazy, but we are going to make it right in the near future. I want people to hear this because it is so good. Eventually, I will end up re-recording it and then I’ll own the recordings and I will get distribution and everything will happen.
RMS: So, since we have no hard copy of the Cd, tell us who played on the recording with you.
PT: Originally I had a drummer named Randy Lane who played with me for about a year. He was a great drummer, perhaps not as technical as some of my past drummers, but he had a great feel and I welcomed that. We were supposed to start the recording in June of 2008, but that didn’t work, so we pushed it to July. So we got up there and started practicing and getting ready record and then we got hit by lightning and we lost the power supply to the console and it turned out to be 5 weeks before we could get it repaired. So, then I only had twelve days left to record. Randy then decided to leave to play with another band. I said you can’t just leave and he said that he could record all of the tracks in one day. I said, I’m not doing that. So he did something I’ve never seen before, he just walked out. So I had to get Sean Shannon who has worked with me before to do the rest of the drum tracks. So Randy ended up on two songs and Sean played everything else. Rodney O’Quinn played bass guitar, it was his first big album project and he did an amazing job. And Kirk McKim, who had been playing with me for almost six years, he did all the clean Strat stuff and acoustic guitar that you hear. I’m all the nasty, grungy crap. (Laughs)
RMS: You do have one of the most amazing guitar tones in the history of Rock. Can you tell us your secret?
PT: I’ve come to the conclusion that it is mostly in the hands. For this last release, we had brown power in the studio and so the amps were not getting enough power. I had to re-record some of the guitar parts back here in Florida. But I was getting some of these amazing fuzzy tones, but they were super smooth. So I worked with that. Because it sounded that way I played a little different. Because of it I was hanging on to notes a little longer. Carlos Santana once said, “Do ever notice that the worst somebody’s tone is, the faster they play?” When you have a great tone, you can let it flow and just let it ring out. But like I said before, I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve acquired a lot of little nuisances in my playing style.
RMS: Do you find that you still need to practice a lot to keep up your guitar chops?
PT: Yes, I have to play all the time and I’m going to suck tomorrow because I haven’t played in a week, no five days. I generally try to play every day for at least half an hour to an hour, sometimes more. I’m always working on something. I’m also aware that I have to keep my chops up.
RMS: Back in late 70’s early 80’s when you were at the top of your popularity, were you ever asked to join any established bands?
PT: Yes, but I was too stupid to realize that I was being courted. The first time I went to NYC, I was promoting my record “Putting it Straight.” I was at Polygram headquarters in the conference room doing interview after interview and then the VP of promotions comes and tells me that Gene Simmons is on the phone and he wants to talk to me. For me, Kiss wasn’t music, it was something else. It was a pop show. But anyways, he invited me over to his place, we chatted and he came down to my show later during the evening. I didn’t realize it at the time, but they were looking for a new guitarist.
And then with Aerosmith, when we were on tour with them. When Rick Dufay and Jimmy Crespo where in the band, I got invited up to the Aerosmith floor to hang out with the guys. I had a private meeting with Tom and Joey, but I was too stupid at the time to realize what was going on. But it never would have worked out anyways.
RMS: Really? I think that you in Aerosmith would have been fuckin’ amazing!
PT: Well, Steven Tyler and I have worked together a little bit a couple of times. And it’s just so freaking great. I love Steven. He’s such a cool guy, great singer. We did an acoustic thing with Richie Sambora. We had a blast and the next day we played in front of a huge crowd, did a couple of songs and did “Come Together.” We were singing on the mic together. It was great. I always thought that it was a shame that Steven got stuck in Aerosmith and couldn’t do anything on his own. I always thought that he should have done a duet with Stevie Nicks. Thirty years ago, that would have been amazing. He should have got the opportunity to work with other people. He’s very versatile, but Aerosmith is not Aerosmith without Steven Tyler and they have their hooks in him.
RMS: So true. Ok, one question that I’ve been dying to ask you for a long time. In 1979, you were the support band on AC/DC’s last North American tour with Bon Scott. What was that tour like?
PT: Yeah, we played your hometown Buffalo on that tour.
RMS: Yes, I know, it was on my 14th birthday October 18, 1979.
PT: Sean Shannon, my drummer was at that show. He was working as an usher, him and his buddy. And then his buddy’s dad got him up front from the nosebleeds for my performance. So yeah, Sean saw me play when he was 14 or 15.
But yeah, Bon Scott was always so cool. One time, Angus was playing his solo with his wireless guitar and he came backstage while the band was performing and gave me the guitar and told me to play. So I was jamming with AC/DC and nobody knew it was me playing for that few moments. But yeah, they were really cool. And they still are. But, it was very sad when Bon passed, they were all very upset.
RMS: Yeah,…Ok, I have one last question for you. Is there anything else that you would still like to accomplish in your career?
PT: Is not that I want to be really famous, because I don’t. But I would like to be a little bit better known. And I still want to have that song that’s going to live on long after I’m gone, but it’s going to be one that I write. And I’m very close to that song right now. But once I do something, I always then think, now what I’m I going to do. I’ve never really just sat back and tried to grasp what I’ve done because I’m always looking at the next job. I don’t know when I will be satisfied, it might not be ever, who knows.
for more on Pat Travers check out www.PatTravers.com