60 Seconds with... Joanne Shaw Taylor
A Minute’s all it takes to find out what makes a great guitarist tick. Before she jumped in her limo for the airport we grabbed a quick chat with British blues diva
GT: Who was your first influence to play the guitar?
JST: Stevie Ray Vaughan. My father introduced me to his Live From Austin, Texas DVD when I was 13. My dad played a lot of older country blues artist such as Mississippi Fred McDowell, Bukka White etc but Stevie was the first player that really inspired me to start.
GT: What was the first guitar you really lusted after?
JST: 1972 Telecaster Thinline. I’d seen Jonny Lang playing one and thought it was really cool .
GT: What was the best gig you ever did?
JST: I opened for BB King when I was 17 in Switzerland. That was a dream come true.
GT: What’s the most important musical lesson you ever learnt?
JST: You never play as good or as bad as you think you did. That’s kept me in a good frame of mind - aware of the importance of improvement but without being to obsessive or anxious about it.
GT: If you could put together a fantasy band with you in it, who would the other players be?
JST: That’s a tough one. It would probably have to be Paul McCartney on bass, Keith Richards on rhythm guitar, Booker T on keyboards, and Benny Benjamin on the drums. Maybe the Memphis horns, too.
GT: Who’s the greatest guitarist that’s ever lived?
JST: That’s obviously personal opinion and the problem with opinions is everyone has one. My favourite would probably be Gary Moore.
GT: Is there a solo you really wish you had played?
JST: Cliffs Of Dover by Eric Johnson.
GT: What’s the solo or song of your own that you’re most proud of?
JST: I would say that Diamonds In The Dirt is the song I’m most proud of. And I suppose my favourite solo of mine would probably be on the song Soul Station.
It’s all down to personal opinion but my favourite all time guitarist would probably be Gary Moore.
GT: If you had to get rid of all your pedals but three, what would they be?
JST: Tubescreamer TS9. I inherited it off my older brother when I was 14. I’ve tried many different overdrive pedals but I keep coming back to this one. It gives a nice clean overdriven boost but isn’t too distorted and gives me the right amount of high end. Aqua Puss delay. I leave this pedal running through most of the show for a little slap-back echo (a trick I learned off a few country players) and then I have an additional delay I use that gives me a longer effect on solos like Jealousy. Dimebag Darrell Signature wah-wah. My favourite wah-wah so far. I don’t tend to use a great deal of this but it’s a cool effect to have in the arsenal. I tend to use it more for rhythm than lead - I may kick it on to give me a deeper sound for rhythm parts on songs like Diamonds In The Dirt.
GT: If a music score were put in front of you, could you read it?
JST: No way!
GT: Is there a guitarist whose playing you’re slightly jealous of – and why?
JST: Paul Kossoff. I fell in love with his vibrato the first time I heard The Hunter. Great tone, feel and phrasing. He really did have it all.
GT: If your house or studio was burning down, which guitar would you dive in to save?
JST: My 1966 Fender Esquire. It was my first guitar and regardless of its value I just couldn’t replace it. I have too many memories I created with the help of that guitar.
GT: What’s your favourite amp and how do you set it?
JST: I don’t use them too much live any more but I’m still a huge fan of the Fender Bassman. Volume depends on the show but treble 5 bass 6.
GT: What strings do you use?
JST: Ernie Ball, skinny top heavy bottom. I used to use .011s but the strain of doing as many shows as I do every year it was worth going a step down. Tis the burden of small girly hands - new set every show! Joanne Shaw Taylor starts her nationwide UK tour with special guest Bernie Marsden on Saturday Nov 1st at the Norwich Epic. Joanne will perform songs from her critically acclaimed new album The Dirty Truth. Tickets can be ordered from the 24-hour box office: 0844 478 0898, or booked online from The Gig Cartel.
Joanne Shaw Taylor: back on the road soon