Tara speaks with guitar virtuoso Simon McBride about the varied styles of his brilliant soulful album “The Fighter” and the creative process behind making it. Simon also talks about how growing up in the 80’s influenced his sound, playing with the legendary Deep Purple and reflects on the changing landscape of the music industry.
Every once in a while, a prodigy comes along in the world of music. A true all-rounder with the potential to turn everything upside down and leave no stone unturned. To cover well-established genres with a whole new coat of paint and let them sound fresh and exciting. There is no doubt Simon McBride is such a talent. Everyone who has seen or heard the exceptional guitarist, singer and songwriter (for instance as a sideman of the Deep Purple legends Don Airey and Ian Gillan) will undoubtedly agree.
There’s no question about it: McBride is a guitar virtuoso. One whose DNA is made of the finesse and class of blues-rock legend Gary Moore. Of the fast-as-lightning but yet versatile and melodic licks of Joe Satriani, Steve Lukather and Eddie Van Halen. One who does not only deeply love but has absorbed the teachings of Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix and Yes. One who effortlessly pulls out both earthy riffs as well as awe-inspiring solo runs. But for McBridge, one thing always comes first: the song.
I started as what they call a ‘Child Prodigy’ at the age of 15, winning Guitarist Of The Year in the UK. I soon joined a heavy metal band called Sweet Savage. I toured with Andrew Strong (of The Commitments) around the world. I started out on my own solo career in 2008 whilst appearing alongside various artists like Joe Satriani, Jeff Beck, Derek Trucks. I have travelled the world doing clinics for PRS Guitars and other endorsements. I became the chosen guitarist for Don Airey and Ian Gillan and recorded several albums with them.
The best way to experience that yourself is to have a listen to Simon McBride’s new album “The Fighter” — a soulful and brilliant rock album on which McBride proves himself to be not only on top of his game… but on top of THE game in general. “The Fighter”, that is modern and timeless rock, its roots deeply in the blues, one eye always looking for big, catchy hooks. It’s the sum of McBride’s experiences on the road.
A rearing wave of noise opens “Don’t Dare”, the first track of “The Fighter”. The tension rises — and then McBride settles into a dissonant, stomping mid-temp Blues. A huge riff comes up and overtakes everything. It immediately gets stuck in the listener’s ears and brain — and it won’t by any means be the last riff on this record. McBride proves himself a true master of hooklines, from the vocal lines to the riffs and adorning licks, everything is utterly catchy and (even the guitar lines!) truly singable!
Songs like the great “Show Me How To Love”, the straight rocker “Kingdoms” or the high-energy “High Stakes” prove exactly that: McBride’s music is all about the songs, the soul. Whenever the guitar maestro starts a solo on the six-string, it is rousing and impressive, but never a mere means to an end in itself. It’s the work of a musician who has not only deeply mastered his instrument, but also knows how to write songs with substance … and also how to sing them! McBride’s raspy, versatile voice is that of a storyteller. One who has seen a lot … and did not call the album “The Fighter” for nothing. It’s an autobiographical journey, stories of a life on the road, of dreams, opportunities and struggles. “We can do it, but it just takes time”, he sings in “Just Takes Time”, yet another highlight of the record.
There are quieter moments on “The Fighter”, too — just have a listen at “Don’t Let Me Go”, which opens with guitar and voice only. The way McBride dissects the chords of the song here, delicately playing around their substance, is reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix. “Trouble” is also a nod to the guitar legend in guitaristic terms, but takes an even catchier direction. At the very end, McBride sends us back on the road with one last driven blues song. “The Fighter” is a fantastic, impressive and multi-layered album. It is indebted to the blues and rock tradition, but never anachronistic, always modern, but never concerned about trends.
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Written by: Channel R