BLUESFEST 2018 SPECIAL
EVER WONDER WHAT IT’S LIKE TO PLAY GUITAR ALONGSIDE PRINCE? TONY MOSLEY KNOWS, AND HE’LL BE BRINGING THOSE FUNKY SKILLS WITH HIM TO BLUESFEST. BY PETER HODGSON
The biggest Bluesfest yet is riiiiiight around the corner! In this monster triple treat, we catch up with the New Power Generation, Dumpstaphunk and Eric Gales.
If you’re a musician, you’ve probably – nay, definitely – daydreamed of playing with Prince at one point or another. While the general public might have thought of Prince as a popstar, musicians know he was a virtuoso and a visionary who worshipped at the alter of the jam. If you could hang in Prince’s band, with its marathon sets and extended jams, you could do pretty much anything. That’s where Tony Mosley found himself when he was inducted into Prince’s New Power Generation, and that’s what you’ll hear when NPG plays Bluesfest in Byron Bay in 2018.
What can we expect from these upcoming NPG shows in Australia?
I think you can expect a lot of energy. One thing we wanted to do when we did our European tour was to bring the energy – or at least a version of the energy – that Prince brought to his shows. There will be a lot of emotions for the fans in Australia to go through – they’ll probably struggle through some, but they’ll smile and be happy for most of the set. I just tend to focus on the crowd and make sure they’re smiling.
The overarching feel I’ve always had from Prince’s music is that it’s meant to be danced to.
Absolutely, and we’re definitely going to play a lot of those tracks we worked on, like “Diamonds And Pearls”, NPG classics, and Prince’s own classics like “Purple Rain” as well. Those are the tracks that will tug on the hear tstrings, but we’ll all get through it together!
As musicians, we always like to hear stories about what it was like to work with Prince and communicate with him as a musician. What was it like for you?
Well, my experience was that I didn’t come in as a musician right off the bat; I came in as a choreographer during PurpleRain. We went through a lot of different phases with him, and I once had the opportunity to play the guitar onstage with him – that part was a little overwhelming! The dancing and vocals and rap all came naturally.
I had always played the guitar, but to be onstage with him playing guitar was another story. You didn’t want to mess up! I have this photo that a fan posted of Facebook – I was playing the guitar and I had this Tootsie Pop in my mouth; I was concentrating on my chords, and he was just smiling and doing his thing, being Prince, and I told my Facebook people, “Look at him! He’s just being Prince, and I’m trying so hard not to mess up!”
So in terms of his musicality, how did he present ideas?
I’ve gotta tell you, it was a unique situation that he allowed us to have in New Power Generation. Normally, he would come in with parts and delegate them, but New Power Generation was a collaborative effort with the band, and we would just jam for hours. He would hear something he liked and we would go into the studio to lay it down. He allowed everyone that freedom. We would lay it down and go home, and he would stay back and tweak it. It was bizarre sometimes – you would hear him take something that we’d just did because we were having fun and playing, and suddenly it’s a funky song!
So what guitars are you using now?
Right now, I’m using a Schecter Corsair hollowbody. I love it! I got a hold of it through Prince. I loved the Epiphone that I used to play, and I was looking for another solid, larger-sized solidbody to play. I picked this charcoal grey hollowbody and I absolutely love it. I like the warm sound and the size of it. I’m a bigger, taller guy, and sometimes playing a Tele or a Strat looks a little small on me – I’d pick up Prince’s Cloud guitar and it looks like a toy on me! Like Tiny Tim playing a little ukulele.