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Home Artist Interview Ronny North's Chatting with the Pros: Gilby Clarke
April 21, 2019
Ronny North's Chatting with the Pros: Gilby Clarke PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 17 October 2007 19:52
ronny and gilby.jpgBy Ronny North - GJD Contributor
This is my new interview feature that Nick Friese at GJD has graciously allowed me to host. In 'Chatting with the Pros,' I will be interviewing artists and asking them the questions I've always wanted to see in interviews but were just never asked.

I'm going to kick off the column with an interview with my friend Gilby Clarke. I feel very fortunate that Gilby took time out from his busy schedule to do our first interview. Many of you know him from his stint in Guns N' Roses at the peak of their fame. He has had quite a career and is not ready to hang it up anytime soon - as you will see. Gilby is one of the coolest down to earth guys you will ever meet. He has been a mainstay of the L.A. music scene forever. He's a multitalented artist who really does care about the local music scene and even produces and records for other artists when he's not playing with his own band.

Most importantly he's a guitar player. He straps on his Les Paul and goes for it. Here we go.

Ronny North:
Everyone knows that you were in Guns N' Roses and that whole story. Did you start singing or playing guitar first? Tell us what got you into playing music and a little about your first band and about your former band Candy that you were in before Guns. Any chance of a Candy reunion??? Care to comment about the G N' R reunion rumors?


Gilby Clarke:
I moved from Ohio to California when I just started high school. I found that music was a great way to make new friends in California. I had just started playing guitar at that time. In my first band I played guitar and sang. I joined Candy as a guitarist. Candy was a local Hollywood band that was just starting to draw around town. We were headlining clubs like the Whiskey, Troubadour and the Roxy without a deal. We eventually got a deal, made a record, toured and lived the life. Candy did all these things without a manager, agent, etc., we got all those things once we got signed, but that's when everything fell apart. I've noticed even though I've had managers, agents, etc.,I've gotten all my best gigs without them. All my bands including Candy, Kill for Thrills and my solo deals I got with out representation. I got the G&R gig, Rockstar Supernova on my own too.

As far as reunions go? Who knows what's gonna happen with G&R, I guess that's what makes it still interesting. Even when the band was at it's peak, we never knew what the future held, so why would we now?

R.N.: Tell us about your Rockstar Super Nova Experience. Is it true that you also wrote the theme song for the show???

G.C.: Yes, that is my riff they ran on the show. I wanted to be in a new band more than anything. I got the gig first and then came Tommy and Jason - and I was really excited to have those guys on board. I didn't get rapped up in the drama of the show, Mark Burnett and Co. know how to make a good show so I trusted them. I kept thinking when the show was over, that's when we take over. It was an incredible opportunity to start a new band with 2 other guys I like and respect, find a new singer and use the show to promote the band. I just didn't think we'd get such a backlash from the hard rock community. I was very surprised that they didn't trust us to represent rock n' roll on TV. I got into it for all the right reasons and I was more disappointed than anyone that it didn't work.

gilby clarke.jpg

R.N.: You're very knowledgeable about the music production side of things and self produce and engineer your own CD's as well as record other big acts as well in your studio. Tell us how you got into the production things and about your studio and a few of the bigger projects you've worked on for other artists.

G.C.: I've always been involved with the technical side of record production. I used to do local sound at all the L.A. venues when I needed a job so I learned how to get sounds quick, and mix on the fly. I put my studio together after my first solo record when I needed a place to record my music that didn't cost $2,000 a day.

R.N.: When you're producing another artist and you're having trouble getting a good performance out of them for the recording what do you do?? Does being a singer and guitarist yourself help you deal with situations like that?

G.C.: Yes, I think having first hand experience really helps. Producing is a lot of psychology. I have worked with so many personalities over the years. I have pretty much seen it all. You really have to know how to inspire people in emotional situations. I always try to approach producing like I'm the 5th member of the band. I try to come up with ideas that the band would never think of on their own.

R.N.: I've always been a big fan of your catchy songs. Being the guitarist and the lead singer in your project, how do you write material? Do you have a set way that you write or does it just happen when it happens? Do you come up with the lyrics, melody or the music first?? How did you develop your songwriting? Do you always write or do you just write when you're getting ready to make a new CD?

G.C.: Thank you. I make records that I would want to buy; I don't write for my fans; I write for myself. There are too many artists that do everything politically correct and I think it gets to a point where you lose your identity. I like a good riff with a catchy chorus. I start with a riff I like and the rest of the music just kind of comes out. Lyrics all ways come last. As far as a new CD, I'm always writing and recording, so when I have enough songs I'll probably make a new CD.

gilby2.jpg

R.N.: Being a guitar player like yourself I need to ask about your guitar and amp collection, I know you're sort of a guitar collector and have some cool vintage guitars and amps. Can you tell about a few of your favorites and have added any new axes to the collection recently??? One of my personal favorites of your guitars is the sunburst Les Paul that used when you were in G&R that had the paint all smeared up. Can you tell us the story on that guitar?

G.C.: That guitar is a 60's Classic Les Paul. I got it new from Gibson when I got the G&R gig. It played great and sounded good, but I would never play it cuz it looked too new and shiny. Elwood, my tech at the time lit it on fire. He made it look more vintage, so I would play it, and I did...and it's still my favorite Les Paul. I have a lot of Les Paul's, but the only valuable one is a mint 59' junior and a 59' and 60' single cutaway melody makers. I have vintage Teles, a 59' Strat, a couple Gretschs. I also have some great amps too. My prize possession is my Zemaitis's. I have two electrics that Tony made for me before he passed away and two acoustics I got as gift from my wife.

R.N.: I was digging your live guitar tone at the recent show I saw you play. Can you tell our readers what guitars, amps and pedals you're using live these days? It looked to be a pretty basic set up. What's with the light up 4x12 cabs?

G.C.: I'm using Matchless now. I usually need two amps to get my sound. In G&R it was an AC30 and a 50watt Marshall. In Heart it was a blackface Bassman and a Marshall. This Matchless is 30watts and it rules. I'm using one head with 2 - 4x12's. My cabinets are plexiglass. I wanted the backline to be see through, cuz we had such an amazing light show and the speakers look like they're hanging in mid air. The plexi is cosmetic, it adds a little lo-mids to the sound, but we close mic, so it's not a big deal. I don't play with a lot of gain on my amp, cuz I need to hear my rhythms accents. I also like to hear the high strings in a chord when I play. I use a Tube Screamer modded by the analog man for extra sustain on solos. I also use a Crybaby Wah that Dunlop modded with led lights, I also added a Super Hard on to my pedal world and sometimes a Phase 90.

R.N.: While we're talking guitars and gear, I've always been a fan of your production on your CD's and especially the guitar sounds you get on your CD's as well as CD's you've worked on for other artists. One of my favorites is the Dad's Porno Mag CD. How do you get those great rock guitar sounds on tape??? Can you give us the basics on how you record guitars and the gear you use???

G.C: Once again, thanks for paying attention. I get a lot of work because I know how to record guitars and drums. I really hate when you have a great sounding amp or kit, then it sounds nothing like it through the NS10's monitors. I used to use a Shure SM57 and a Sennheiser 409 on the same speaker just about 6 inches away from the cone. Lately I've been married to the new Royer 121 ribbon mic. I even took it on the road, cuz we've been using in ears.

R.N.: I recently saw you play at the Key Club in Hollywood and the place was packed and you were rocking better than ever. You were singing and playing great and your band was tight. It really was a great show. Tell us about your latest CD and the shows you've been playing recently including your shows at the Cat Club.

G.C.: I have a great band. Brian Tichy on drums & vocals and Stefen Adika on bass & vocals. We've done a lot of shows together over the years and we are really locked in. We can cover a lot of ground for a 3 piece. Playing with a band that inspires you is important, and the guys know how rock n' roll. I still feel like a little kid when I strap on my Les Paul. We play every show like it's our last and the world is gonna end tonight!

R.N.: I know that you're always working on something. What projects do you have coming up and what does the rest of 2007 hold for you?

G.C.: I'm producing a band called Crash Kelly from Canada and finishing up Silent Rage's record this week. After that, I have a couple solo shows in South America in December, and an acoustic show in November. Early next year I have a tour in Japan.

R.N.: Even though we are friends I want to thank you for taking some time to answer my questions. Any last words for all the readers of Guitar Jam Daily?

G.C.: Guitar rules...

To find out more about Gilby check out his official website: www.gilbyclarke.com
 
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