siXty seconds with...
A minute’s all it takes to find out what makes a great guitarist tick. Before he jumped in his limo for the airport, we grabbed a quick chat with young UK blues sensation, Aaron Keylock
GT: Do you have a type of pick that you can’t live without?
AK: I use anything! Mainly around 0.85mm, but I’m not too worried. I go between fingers and picks on songs for different sounds as well.
GT: If you had to give up all your pedals but three, what would they be?
AK: I don’t use any pedals at all! I like the fact that I have one guitar to work with and I use it in so many different ways to get different sounds! I use tone knobs and volume knobs a lot.
GT: Do you play another instrument well enough to be in a band?
AK: I played drums for four years and used to play at jams, but haven’t played in years so not really any more! Guitar is the one instrument that I connected with; I guess I can get through a song on bass but guitar is what’s always interested me.
GT: If a music chart were put in front of you, could you read it?
AK: The world I came from was improvisation and playing what I feel. I had a chance to learn but I always thought of music as an expression and a way to express your feelings and not just play what’s on a piece of paper. I play songs differently every night and they have a different vibe every night because I have different feelings every night.
GT: Do cables make a difference?
AK: It obviously comes from the player but good amps and guitars help. I’m using Monster cables at the minute and they’re really great.
GT: Is there anyone’s playing that you’re slightly jealous of?
AK: Not really. There’s influences that I love but I’ve always believed in having your own identity and voice, which is what I’ve always tried to present in my music.
GT: Your house/studio is burning down: which guitar do you salvage?
AK: My Les Paul is the guitar I have the biggest connection with. I got it when I was 10 and it’s been on every stage with me.
GT: What’s your favourite amp and how do you set it?
AK: I love the old Marshall Plexis. It sounds awesome flat out! I’m using modern cabs with Greenbacks so they sound great. I also have a Bluesbreaker with everything on 10, but the bass all the way off.
GT: What kind of action do you have on your guitars?
AK: It changes because I play slide and acoustic and open-tuned guitars so I couldn’t really say.
GT: What strings do you use?
AK: Ernie Balls 10s on my Les Paul, 11s on my Firebird and TSR junior.
GT: Who was your first influence to play the guitar?
AK: That’d probably be Keith Richards! I always loved The Stones from a really young age and always loved their sound. There was loads of guys that got me into it but I guess Keith was the one who always inspired me to find a sound and character of my own in my music.
GT: What was the first guitar you really lusted after?
AK: My Les Paul! I always loved them. I remember staring at them for ages as a kid and I got the one I have now for Christmas when I started to play live. It really did connect with me and I’ll always play it.
GT: What’s the best gig you ever did?
AK: Download Festival was an awesome show for us, as we got to play with some great bands to a great crowd of cool people. Then we supported Blackberry Smoke at Shepherds Bush Empire. That was a dream because I was such a big fan of the band and it was such a beautiful room to play. I got to see Johnny Winter there just before he died too so it meant a lot to be there.
GT: …and your worst playing nightmare?
AK: Everything falling to bits. The whole song just ends up stopping.
GT: What’s the most important musical lesson you ever learnt?
AK: To just been honest. People always love and respect honest music and can see through bullshit. That’s always stayed with me.
GT: Do you still practise?
AK: Not so much on the road because practice is on stage. But at home I play a lot, whether it’s just writing or learning something I still see it as practice, as you’re stretching yourself as a player by just playing things.
GT: If you could put together a fantasy band with you in it, who would the other players be (dead or alive)?
AK: Johnny Winter on other guitar, Tommy Shannon on bass and it’d have to be John Bonham on drums. I’d stick Joe Cocker on vocals and Leon Russell on piano too!
GT: Present company excepted, who’s the greatest guitarist that’s ever lived?
AK: There’s so many amazing players but what always interested me was players who had their own sound as soon as they played a note. I guess I’d have to say BB King for that.
GT: What would you most like to be remembered for?
AK: For being someone who always played what he wanted to do and was an honest musician.
GT:What are you up to currently?
AK: We’re on this Roadstars Tour with SIMO and Federal Charm which is going really well. We have a week left on this tour. We’ve been out since October. We’ve done shows with Wilko Johnson and Joanne Shaw Taylor as well, which where all great. Then the album is out in January so I’m looking forward to getting that out there.
what always interested me was players who had their own sound as soon as they played a note
Aaron Keylock: got his Les Paul aged just 10