Per­fect 10

His­tor­i­cally, he left Eu­rope and then re­joined – but how will he han­dle the 10 ques­tions we ask ev­ery­one?

Guitarist - - Contents - Eu­rope’s lat­est al­bum, Walk The Earth, is avail­able now via Hell & Back Record­ings http://eu­ropethe­


What was your first gui­tar and when did you get it? “It was an acous­tic – my mum’s gui­tar. My whole fam­ily are ba­si­cally gui­tar play­ers, my un­cles, my grand­fa­ther… I can’t even re­mem­ber the name of it. I started off play­ing acous­tic and then my first elec­tric was an Ar­biter; I think it was made in Ja­pan. It had an SG-type body but with sin­gle coils and a Fen­der-style head­stock, so you had a weird com­bi­na­tion of a Strat and an SG with a whammy bar.”


Sup­pose the build­ing’s burn­ing down; which one gui­tar from your col­lec­tion would you save? “Oh, that’s easy: my Fen­der Stra­to­caster from 1965. I’ve had it since ’84 and it’s been on pretty much ev­ery al­bum I’ve recorded since. It has a nick­name, I call it ‘Old Betty’. I don’t know where it came from. Some­times I re­fer to it as The Fi­nal Count­down gui­tar be­cause I used it on The Fi­nal Count­down al­bum, on all the so­los, and on my first solo al­bum, To­tal Con­trol. I don’t use it live any more, be­cause I feel it’s too valu­able, not in terms of money, but more like a sen­ti­men­tal type of thing, you know?”


What’s the old­est gui­tar that you have in your col­lec­tion? “The ’65 Strat. It’s quite spe­cial, too, be­cause it’s a cus­tom colour – a white one – I think it was a spe­cial or­der. It has yel­lowed a lot over the years… I’ve had other gui­tars: I had a ’57 Les Paul Ju­nior at one time and also a ’57 Gold Top, but I sold them in the 80s. If I had known then what I know now, I’d never have done it!”


When did you last prac­tise and what did you play? “About 10 min­utes ago, ac­tu­ally. I don’t re­ally call it ‘prac­tice’, I just play and see what hap­pens. I’m go­ing on tour so I’m go­ing through all the amps. I’ve got five, and two or three of them will be on the tour, so I have to de­cide which will be the main amp, but I need a backup, so I’m just div­ing in and chang­ing tubes. Same thing with the gui­tars: sol­der­ing new pots, try­ing dif­fer­ent pick­ups. I’m a real nerd when it comes to sound.”


When was the last time you changed your strings? “About three or four days ago, as we haven’t done any gigs for a while. I like chang­ing strings – it turns out bet­ter when I do it my­self. It’s stuff like, how many turns on the machine­heads? I’m very par­tic­u­lar with de­tails like that.”


If you could change one thing about a record­ing you’ve been on, what would it be and why? “I guess what comes to mind is our last record, Walk The Earth. I should’ve used a lit­tle less gain on the rhythm gui­tar. It made it a lit­tle too fizzy for my taste. Now I don’t use so much gain; I like the clean sound, more like an AC/DC type of thing or Black­more, early Deep Pur­ple stuff – Made In Ja­pan. It has a lot of sus­tain, but it’s very clean and you can hear ev­ery note. I don’t like any of that fuzzy, fizzy stuff. That’s one re­gret I have.”


What are you do­ing five min­utes be­fore you go on stage and five min­utes af­ter­wards? “Five min­utes be­fore I’m just stretch­ing and get­ting ready. I usu­ally warm up for about half an hour or 45 min­utes, and then my gui­tar tech comes and takes the gui­tars up on stage be­cause they have to adapt to the cli­mate out­doors, in­doors or what­ever. I’m ba­si­cally stretch­ing and drink­ing beer! Al­ways one beer be­fore the show, it re­laxes you – and ba­nanas, they’re good for the mus­cles. Af­ter­wards, walk off, into the dress­ing room, sit down, re­lax, talk to the guys about the gig.”


What’s the worst thing that’s hap­pened to you on stage? “I broke four strings at once one time. I don’t know how it hap­pened… just hit­ting it too hard, I guess. We didn’t have a backup gui­tar and so I was stuck there. This was back in the 80s on our first or sec­ond tour and I thought, ‘I don’t need two gui­tars, one is enough.’ I had to get the gui­tar tech to put some more strings on and the other guys were stand­ing around im­pro­vis­ing. Em­bar­rass­ing.”


What song would you play on an acous­tic around a camp­fire? “The first song that comes to mind is King’s Call by Phil Lynott from his first solo al­bum, Solo In Soho. That is the per­fect camp­fire song. It’s the one that Mark Knopfler played the lead gui­tar on.”


What ad­vice would you give your younger self about play­ing the gui­tar? “The most im­por­tant thing is to work on vi­brato. It’s such an im­por­tant thing, it’s like a per­son­al­ity for a gui­tarist. Also play in pitch: you can play a mil­lion notes a minute and then bend a note and it’s out of tune then you’re kind of screwed.”

“The most im­por­tant thing is to work on vi­brato. It’s like a per­son­al­ity for a gui­tarist”

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