Musicfrenzy - Paul, you have an upcoming East Coast trio of dates starting Thursday in New London, CT. How many shows do you play on an average year?
Paul Nelson - The number now is around 150 worldwide annually
MF - Although I do play some guitar I've never played on stage before. Try to explain the rush of playing on stage. It's got to be both exciting and freeing!
PN - Yes you're exactly right. It is exciting and free. There's nothing like it. It's actually what keeps me going is that live rush I get from being on stage playing in front of people who like your music and paid money and took time out of their day to come see me. What’s really great is when the audience returns the favor by singing along with your songs; air guitar, tapping their feet, clapping their hands... it's definitely a payback for all the hard work that goes into this.
MF - Your latest release “Badass Generation” has so many high points. The riff in “Fooled By Love” is awesome Paul
PN - Well... Thanks for that. It was all done in one take. I just went for it and knocked it out. I was very familiar with the guitar chords as I had written the song. It makes things alot easier to play a song and perform it when you’ve written it yourself, but I really poured my heart out on that one.
MF - Are you familiar with Richie Kotzen? Morten’s vocal tone sounds very similar to Richie’s. Just a gorgeous song Paul
PN - Yes I am familiar with Richie. Morton Fredheim is a fantastic singer. He's from Europe and I had produced his band in Oslo, Norway so I called him when Sony asked me to record and he was available so I flew him over and we hit the studio immediately. He actually wrote the words on that song and I wrote the music. He's a big fan of Paul Rodgers' singing style and he’s a big fan of retro 70’s vibes, so he was a perfect fit. Morten was actually runner-up on the Voice in Europe. He is one hell of a singer; one of my favorites.
MF - “Down Home Boogie”….come on…classic blues/rock tune. Love it!
PN - Yeah that was the song that ended up being the first song in the album. I really wanted to showcase all that was about to come on this album. It has me playing slide which not too many people have heard me do. I figure playing with Johnny Winter, who is/was the greatest slide player in the world, rubbed off on me!
MF - You’ve played alongside so many music icons and anyone who checks out your website
paulnelsonguitar.com can see pics of you on stage with Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Warren Haynes and in the studio with Slash. That’s how I guy like myself knows how talented you are. These guys don’t just perform with anyone you know??
PN - That's true and I appreciate the kind words. You know you have to know your stuff because at first they invite you up to play, but once you're up there playing you'd better be ready! Sometimes it can be a war zone onstage but I like when that happens. I just smile and say to myself "okay let's dance". All kidding aside, I really respect the other artists I've had the honor to play with. When I look over and there's Buddy Guy onstage with me or when I'm recording a guitar track and see Eric Clapton's name on one of the faders of the song that I'm playing; it really always hits home with me how fortunate I am.
MF - Did you get your start as a studio musician?
PN – I started in playing in bands and then developed as a player. I wanted to make sure I played in as many different styles as possible. When I realized that this was becoming a serious career I knew I had to be prepared. So I enrolled in Berklee College of Music where I studied with Steve Vai. Then later on after that I sought out private instructors like Mike Stern and Steve Khan. But in between, yes, I did tons of session work then got in some musical situations where I starting to appear on major and independent labels. It was in the studio where I met Johnny Winter at a recording session for NBC and Johnny asked me to guest on a couple of songs for an album he was recording at the time and then asked me to join his band and the next thing I know, I’m touring the world with Johnny Winter.
MF - What are some of the highlights you've experienced Paul?
PN - Obviously winning the Grammy was the big highlight but overall, my biggest highlight was just playing with my idol Johnny Winter. There are a few things like performing in Japan the first time or China and certain other places and festivals in Europe. Also recording for the first time with various other favorite artist idols of mine that I learned from in the past.
MF - It has to be satisfying knowing the work you’ve put into your career has afforded you all the stage time with legend after legend after legend
PN - It's a wild ride and still is. I've been very fortunate. What it comes down to is I love to play, I love the guitar and I love music in general, that's my life.
MF – As you mentioned, you’ve done a lot of work with Johnny Winter including grabbing a Grammy Award with him. How did you and he get started working together?
PN - We met in the studio on the east coast. He heard me play and asked me to write some songs for him. Next thing I knew I was on tour with him all around the world. What a great honor and privilege for me!
MF - When you guys performed on Letterman, man that had to have been a blast?
PN - Yes, that was a definite highlight. I remember watching it at the hotel bar room after we had taped the show and the bartender looks at me then at the screen, looks at me again and then does a double take and says "hey man that's you” then buys me a round of drinks. That felt great! Hahahaha
MF - Is Paul Schaeffer a certified musical genius or what??
PN - Yes he's practiced and performed a lot and is an amazing musician and band leader. I actually ended up in the band that night with the horns and did a great blues number before Johnny came out to perform for the audience.
MF - And like I said your own music is solid as hell. Do you prefer writing your own music, or collaborating with others, or performing live?
PN - Actually I like it all. You just have to know how to put the right hat on for the right situation. It's all part of it. You better be well-rounded.
MF - Do you listen much to new music and if so who do you see as being able to bring us cool guitar work?
PN - I listen to a ton of blues masters for my inspiration; Freddie King, B.B. King, Johnny Winter, Son House, Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton, Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robben Ford, Larry Carlton…the list goes on. I also listen to jazz guys and rock guys and let's not forget Eric Johnson, Jeff Beck, Hendrix... there's just too many to name. I also listen to any new player that comes out and see if they have a new slant on playing different styles of music. And I listen to new bands and songs of various genres. I feel it's how I can sharpen my playing and songwriting. There's always something out there to add to your own playing.
MF - You’ve played so many iconic riffs live.
PN - That's a classic. I actually recently played that with Quinn Sullivan on the Blues Cruise out of Puerto Rico. It was pretty fun butting heads with him, ha ha.
MF – And “Slow Ride”
PN – Did that song a lot on tour last year mainly because my bassist then was the former bass player with Foghat. That's a fun one to play. I don't think there's anyone who doesn't like that song, at least not anyone I know!
MF – What about “Whole Lotta Love”
PN - My lead singer is really into that tune so we break into that one a lot of times for our encore.
MF - What makes a killer riff Paul?
PN - A killer riff has soul, feel and beautifully outlines the chord changes. It speaks and it inspires others to want to learn it and copy it, a true song within itself.
MF - So talk about this stint of shows next week. Those in attendance are going to hear what?
PN - Fans hear what they've come to expect from me; rock and blues guitar with the finest musicians around and of course I'll tip my hat to Johnny playing some of his songs that we played on the road along with many songs from “Badass Generation”. Whenever I play other people's songs, they are always blues classics. I like exposing that music to both new fans we're playing for and the fans that know exactly where that music came from.
Betraying The Martyrs released their latest album "the Resilient" January 27 through Sumerian Records. The album is a brutal effort that continues to show the bands ability to bring topical ideas to it's fans through bludgeoning music and poignant lyrics.
Singer Aaron Matts recently answered a few questions of our that shows real insight into the band and "The Resilient".
Musicfrenzy - I Interviewed you guys on the Mayhem Festival in 2012. I remember the band just killed it that day on the Sumerian stage. “Breathe In Life” had come out in the fall of 2011. Spending the Summer on tour with Slipknot, Slayer, Anthrax what did that exposure do for the band?
Aaron Matts - That's crazy, nice to 'meet' you again haha! That was an incredible experience for us all, not long after having our first album out and being propelled to the forefront of the industry like that was a dream come true. It definitely helped to expose us to the American public and that's thanks to Sumerian Records for backing the band!
MF - Album 3 “The Resilient” comes out today on Sumerian Records. Congrats on such a masterful album. Each song sounds so big and they all have multiple layers (heavy vocals, clean vocals, brutal guitars, piano) Was this an easy album to make?
AM - Thanks a lot mate! To answer your question, it was in no way easy. We put an insane amount of effort into making this cd perfect in our eyes, but at the same time, we knew exactly where we wanted to go and do that it came together naturally and smoothly. It was a perfect experience with a great outcome!
MF - We played “Lost For Words” on last week’s show, The brutality of your vocals, the epic feel added by the choir, and the killer guitars made this one a no brainer to play. What made this song the right one to open the album?
AM - Awesome, thanks for putting us out there! I guess there's a few factors that came into play. For example the rain sounds at the beginning which gave a sense of coming out of the storm and into the light with this new cd, the epic intro, and the showcase of everything that makes us who we are is condensed into the first minute, so it was a simple choice to make.
MF - The video is so well done. What was the video shoot like?
AM - For me it was hell haha! I was sick, it was cold, they were waterboarding me in the cold. It wasn't a nice experience as far as that is concerned, but working with Igor (who also shot the "Great Disillusion" video) is always a pleasure and he made it a fun day!
MF - The other single released is “The Great Disillusion” Lyrically what’s the song about?
AM - This song was written from the perspective of a person who ran to seek refuge in another country, only to be faced with hostility and negativity when there was promise of a better life. With the current European climate this is something we see on a daily basis.
MF - Throughout the album hearing how you and Victor’s vocals play off each is so impressive man. How much work goes into deciding when the clean vocals are turned on?
AM - It's pretty natural. Me and Victor bounce well off of each other. During the writing process it's pretty clear what kind of riff calls for clean vocals for example in the choruses, but then in the studio we always have extra ideas where Victor can pop in and do his thing. We're super open to it, he does a great job!!
MF - “Won’t Back Down” Is the concept of the song from the bands point of view or of today’s youth or some other idea?
AM - "Won't Back Down" was written for the sole purpose of remembering those lost in the Paris Bataclan attacks and other attacks around this time. It's written from the point of view of France, as a nation and as a people.
MF - What affect did the Bataclan terrorist attack have on the band, professionally or personally?
AM - A huge effect. This particular attack was directed at the alternative music scene. Never has there been a tragedy that has hit so close to home for us. We had to take care of friends who were present at the venue that night. Friends were lost. It hit us and everyone within the scene particularly hard. It has only made us stronger.
MF - Betraying The Martyrs have made a career of having very heavy vocals and music along with incredible melodic vocals. Suicide Silence (who the band has toured with) puts out 1 song that has limited clean vocals and the world implodes. Have you heard “Doris” and what are your thoughts Aaron?
AM - That's true. The Internet went nuts for a week straight over that track! Yeah I've heard the track. I'm gonna sit on the fence with this one. As a fan of the original Suicide Silence sound, and also a fan of the idea of evolution, I respect that they're seeking new horizons. You wish them the best and I hope that people will respect them for that too.
MF - March 2nd European tour with Chelsea Grin. Have you toured with Chelsea before? Great guys! Stoked for the tour?
AM - Absolutely! We've toured with them before and they are awesome guys! Super stoked just to get out there and party!
MF - Any U.S. dates on the horizon?
AM - It's in the works! We have our team working on getting us over there again so keep your eyes peeled for our next tour!!
MF - Well, whoever buys this album today better set plenty of time aside for listening Aaron because it’s very hard to listen to it just one time.
AM - Thanks so much and thanks for your time mate. Take care!!
Art of Anarchy guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal gave us a call to discuss the band's newest album "The Madness" which came out on March 24th.
We spoke about the band which now has former Creed frontman Scott Stapp as it's singer (replacing former vocalist Scott Weiland) joining former Disturbed bassist John Moyer, guitarist Jon Votta, and drummer Vince Votta. "The Madness" is the band's second album and will be played in it's entirety on the upcoming tour which starst in Amityville, NY on April 3rd.
Paul Nelson interview
August 11, 2018
Betraying The Martyrs
Interview with Aaron Matts
January 30, 2017
Grammy award-winning guitarist Paul Nelson spoke to us as he prepares for a string of East Coast shows highlighting his latest album "Badass Generation".
Paul has performed with many blues/rock legends and won a Grammy for his work with Johnny Winter. You can find out more about Paul's work and his touring schedule at www.paulnelsonguitar.com.