with... SIXTY SECONDS
A minute’s all it takes to find out what makes a great guitarist tick. Before he jumped into his limo for the airport we grabbed a quick chat with British blues sensation Danny Bryant.
GT: Who was your first influence to play the guitar?
DB: There was always good music around the house when I was growing up. I remember my parents had a VHS tape of Eric Clapton from one of his blues nights at the Royal Albert Hall. That really was the first thing to catch my interest.
GT: What was the first guitar you really lusted after?
DB: I just wanted anything that was Strat style. But my first guitar was an Encore.
GT: What was the single best gig you ever did?
DB: l have played some big festivals alongside some of my heroes but usually I find the real magic happens in those intimate sweaty club gigs. Especially after you have been out on the road for a couple of weeks and everybody is firing on all cylinders. I couldn’t pick just one but I have some great memories from all the touring that we have done so far.
GT: And your worst playing nightmare?
DB: I think the hardest gig that sticks out in my mind is, after already having been on the road for about seven weeks we had a 15-hour flight to China and then had to go straight to the first show. I was backstage about 10 minutes before, with a theatre full of people and I was warning the band about not drinking the tap water... because we didn’t want anyone to get sick. Literally as I finished saying it a wave of nausea swept over me and there I was puking. We made it through the show though!
GT: What’s the most important musical lesson you ever learnt?
DB: Play every note with feeling. If it doesn’t have emotion behind it, then it doesn’t mean a thing.
GT: Do you still practise.
DB: Yes I do. But it’s not really a conscious thing. It’s just that I love to play so I still pick up the guitar for a good while every day because I still like just noodling along to my favourite albums.
GT: Do you have any kind of pre-gig warm-up routine?
DB: Not really. I always have a guitar on hand backstage and it’s generally a case of just hitting a few licks five or ten minutes before we go on.
GT: If you could put together a fantasy band with you in it, who would the other players be?
DB: I think I would just have Muddy Waters’ band from the ’50s. I would be Muddy’s guitar tech!
GT: Present company excepted (and notwithstanding the stupidity of the question!), who’s the greatest guitarist that’s ever lived?
DB: From a blues perspective I would have to say BB King. He wrote the book on modern electric blues guitar. Everything about him was perfect; tone, phrasing, everything. Go on YouTube and watch BB King Live at Sing Sing prison.
GT: Is there a solo by someone else that you really wish you had played?
DB: Albert King, Born Under A Bad Sign - it’s killer!
GT: What’s the solo or song of your own of which you’re most proud?
DB: I recorded a track with the great Bernie Marsden called Just Won’t Burn a little while back. I am proud of that. I think we both put a lot of emotion into that song.
GT: What would you most like to be remembered for?
DB: I think just to be remembered is a pretty cool thing. I hope people come away from my shows knowing that I always gave 100 percent of what I had.
GT: Do you have a type of pick that you can’t live without?
DB: I use Fender Extra Heavy celluloid picks. I have used the same ones for as long as I can remember. Anything else now and I just don’t feel like I can achieve the amount of attack in the notes that I want.
GT: You have to give up all your pedals but three; what are they?
DB: I am not much of a pedal guy really. I use a two amp set-up so I have a Blackstar HT50 and a Fender Twin. All I have on the floor is an A/B box to switch between amps, a Boss DS-1 (which I only use with the Twin) and a Crybaby wah. So three pedals to me is a luxury!
GT: Do you play another instrument well enough to be in a band? And have you ever done it?
DB: No, I’m afraid guitar is my limit. I keep promising myself I am going to learn some blues harp but every time I put an album on to try and steal some licks, I hear something the guitar player is doing that I can’t do and I am straight back to the guitar. It’s a never ending journey.
GT: If a music chart were put in front of you, could you read it?
DB: No! Actually, I just put together a nine-piece big band for some shows and I was the only guy onstage who couldn’t read music. Luckily they were my songs we were playing, so I got by!
GT: Do guitar cables really make a difference? What make are yours?
DB: Yeah, I believe that they do. I think it is kind of pointless if you spend years working on your tone, finding the right combination of amp, guitars, string gauge etc (the list is endless). It seems futile to hook it all up with a crappy cable. I use Elixir cables.
GT: Is there anyone’s playing (past or present) that you’re slightly jealous of?
DB: I wouldn’t call it jealousy, but there are so many players that I’m in awe of. BB King, Otis Rush, Freddie King, Albert Collins, Walter Trout, Bernie Marsden, it goes on and on. I finally got around to seeing Jeff Beck live and it is ridiculous how good he was. Okay I guess I was a bit jealous!
GT: Your studio is burning down: which guitar do you salvage?
DB: My dear old dad bought me a limited edition Custom Shop ’59 Stratocaster last summer shortly before he passed away. I don’t let that guitar out of my sight! I am lucky to have a few other favourites that I would run to rescue. A BB King Lucille, a ’74 Stratocaster and the prototype of my Fret-King signature model that Trev Wilkinson made for me.
GT: What’s your favourite amp and how do you set it?
DB: For a long time I used just Marshall amps. But a couple of years ago the folks at Blackstar approached me and I started using the HT-50 heads. I have not looked back since. I think their amps are pretty incredible and the attention to detail they put in is remarkable. I use that amp and for certain shows I pair it with a blackface Fender Twin for a different flavour.
GT: What kind of action do you have on your guitars - andy particular quirks?
DB: No, I guess you would call my set-up fairly standard. I don’t want a super low action, I like to have to fight the guitar a little bit. But equally I try not to make things too hard on myself.
GT: What strings do you use?
DB: I use D’Addario 10-46. Actually for a long time I used 11s but we do a lot of touring and I just found that I needed something a little easier on my fingers for those long periods on the road. But I find that I can still achieve the tone I want with a lighter gauge of string.
GT: What are you up to at the moment?
DB: I have a double live album coming out on April 21st this year. It’s called BIG! We recorded some shows in Europe with a nine-piece big band (full horn section, keys etc) and the results came out great. We will be touring throughout the year with both the big band and my regular trio. Do come and see us!
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