sixty seconds with...
A minute’s all it takes to find out what makes a great guitarist tick. Before he dived into his limo for the airport we grabbed a quick chat with Ocean Colour Scene’s Andy Bennett, on the launch of his first solo release.
GT: Do you have a type of pick that you can’t live without?
AB: I use 60mm Dunlop picks. I used to use the embossed type but they don’t make them any more, or I can’t find them.
GT: You have to give up all your pedals but three: which remain?
AB: I don’t really use pedals much but I do like my wah-wah (Dunlop original Crybaby), also my Boss digital delay (DD-6). But the pedal I can’t live without is my Boss TU-2 turner as I hate being out of tune.
GT: Do you play another musical instrument well enough to be in a band? And have you done so?
AB: I’m not a bad drummer and I’ve played drums at the Royal Albert Hall for Ocean Colour Scene on one song. But do I love the drums and play them on four or five tracks on my new album, Thinking Drinking Singing.
GT: If a music chart were put in front of you, could you read it?
AB: Not a chance! But I would love to be able to do that. Maybe in the future I’ll go to college and study music properly!
GT: Do guitar cables really make a difference? What make are yours?
AB: I think good guitar cables are probably the way to go. I use Planet Waves cables at the moment.
GT: Is there anyone’s playing (past or present) that you’re slightly jealous of?
AB: I am jealous of quite a few guitarists, usually friends of mine who I jam with. I love people like Robbie Robertson, John Frusciante and Andy Fairweather-Low – the list goes on and on.
GT: Your studio is burning down: which guitar do you salvage?
AB: I’d save my good old Epiphone PR350 acoustic. It’s my main guitar and I write on it, gig with it and record with it.
GT: What’s your favourite amp and how do you set it?
AB: My favourite amp is a 2x12 Fender Deville set with the treble and bass around 7, the mid around 5, volume at around 2, gain to about 4 or 5 with a touch of reverb.
GT: What kind of action do you have on your guitars – any particular quirks etc?
AB: Not really. I have quite a low action on all my guitars as I just find it easier and nicer to handle when they are set like this.
GT: Who was your first influence to play the guitar?
AB: Actually, it was Buddy Holly, although he was long dead before I was born. But the guy who taught me to play my first few chords played me That’ll Be The Day and I was hooked.
GT: What was the first guitar you really lusted after?
AB: I always wanted a Gibson Les Paul like Paul Kossoff, from Free. He looked really cool with it and I wanted one instantly!
GT: What was the single best gig you ever did…
AB: With my first band Sergeant as a support act at Wembley Arena. Just insane for a 17-year-old.
GT: …and your worst playing nightmare?
AB: Breaking four strings in one go at an Ocean Colour Scene show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London – it didn’t leave me much room for manoeuvre as my spare was having a string put on from breaking one the song before!
GT: If you could put together a fantasy band with you in it, who would the other players be?
AB: Jim Keltner, Hal Blaine and Ringo on drums; Robbie Robertson on rhythm guitar; Paul Carrack on organ; Paul McCartney on bass; Joe Walsh on lead guitar; The Memphis Horns section; Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin and Etta James on backing vocals; Ray Cooper on percussion; Dr John on piano; and me on vocals, acoustic and electric! Oh... and maybe Stevie Winwood on organ too!
GT: Present company excepted, who’s the greatest guitarist that’s ever lived?
AB: Probably Jimi Hendrix, just for the way he changed how electric guitar was played and could sound.
GT: Is there a solo by some other guitarist, that you really wish you had played?
AB: Yes, I love the solo on Struttin’ On A Sunday by Aaron Neville, but I have no idea who played it. It could be the guitarist from The Meters Leo Nocentelli. I wish I’d played that – very funky, clean and classy.
GT: What’s the solo or song of your own of which you’re most proud?
AB: The song I’m most proud of on this album is a track called Don’t Forget Who You Are; it has a great feel and I really like the lyrics.
GT: And finally... what are you up to at the moment?
AB: I’m releasing my first solo album. It’s called Thinking Drinking Singing and it’s out on 25th November. The first single from it is called A Little Love. We’re already doing demos for the next project and, of course, there are loads of gigs, as always.
i’m not a Bad drummer and i’ve played drums at the royal alBert hall for ocean colour scene
Andy Bennett of Ocean Colour Scene launches his first solo album