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A lot of times these intros are something that simply happen on the spot, but this particular one was a composed chord change section for a little fanfare intro. I worked it out in rehearsals before we went out on the road. The improvised sections are totally different every night and sometimes they evolve into songs. When I started it I had plans to make it into a song, but some of the other parts didn’t seem like they were very happening, so I just turned it into an intro.
I had that riff for the chorus and then had to figure out how to build a song around it. It’s a fun one to play and there are a lot of open areas where you can just jam on it. It felt like a good song to open the night with. I wrote and recorded it for the Alien Love Child album and didn’t really plan to do it again. I’ve never recorded a studio version of it. When we decided to record our shows, we were doing it in the set and it seemed like a good fit.
On this tour I used Deluxe Reverbs instead of Twins. I used an 18-watt Fulton Webb amp and a 50-watt Marshall head through Marshall cabs. I used my normal pedalboard, but since then I’ve made a new board that’s smaller. It was just so expensive to take the big one overseas.
I grew up in Austin, so it’s a bit of a commentary. There have been a lot of changes in this town. It went from 200,000 people to 2 million over the last 20 years. The tune has kind of Stevie Wonder-inspired chord changes, like “I Was Made to Love Her.” I just love all those songs.
When I was growing up in Austin, you could hear a lot of Texas Tornados-type of stuff, and then of course the blues thing was starting out with Stevie [Ray Vaughan] and Jimmie [Vaughan]. But mainly, the beginning of the whole Austin live music thing was country-rock. Guys like Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie Nelson, and Rusty Wier. They were very popular and it was a very strong musical scene. Then the jazz-fusion thing arrived and that’s where the Electromagnets came from.
“Forty Mile Town”
It was originally written about Galveston, Texas, which is about 40 miles from Houston. It’s like a really small town that’s next to a big town. And it’s on the ocean. We put it on the setlist for this tour, but I haven’t played it since. I’ll probably come back around to it at some point.
My first exposure to Coltrane was probably the Lush Life record and the Giant Steps record. I’m trying to learn some standards and work through them to improve my playing. I’ve always been interested in learning more about playing jazz guitar just because you learn more about harmony. It’s an ongoing process. I never really aspired to be a legitimate jazz guitarist and have that be my scene. I’m just really curious and interested to learn more and more about it so I could put that into my thing. I picked this tune because it was a pretty straight-ahead blues and it had a really nice tempo to it. We were looking for something intense that Wayne [Salzmann, drummer] could take a solo on and it just had this fiery energy to it.