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Schofield with organist Jonny Henderson (left) and drummer Kevin Hayes (right).
There are two cover songs on the album. How did you choose those?
When Kevin joined the band he said, “Have you guys heard that recent Steve Winwood record? There’s a good tune on it we should try doing.” And it turned out that me and Jonny [Henderson, organist] had already been playing it, so we were like, “We gotta do it now.”
I have a big, long list of songs I’ve been doing since I was a kid, and every time we do a record I get to do one. On the last record we did a Freddie King tune, on the one before that we did a B.B. [King] tune, so this time it was Albert [King’s “Wrapped up in Love”].
Were you channeling your inner Hendrix on “Dreaming of You?”
For a long time, we were kind of known as the jazzy blues guys—certainly in the UK— with what we were doing with the organ-trio stuff, but there’s, of course, a whole other side to me with Hendrix that I’d not really brought out [before]. So this seemed like the right time to do that.
“Share Your Smile Again” has an almost pop sound.
Is that a direction you may consider?
No, it’s always going to be what it is. For me, it’s like, if we’re doing something a bit poppy, it’s because I like poppy stuff, as well.
If you went and got an A-list celebrity girlfriend and made the tabloids every day, that wouldn’t be so bad, would it?
I don’t know whether that feels good to me though, y’know? If it meant I couldn’t turn around and do what I do already.
So you wouldn’t compromise?
No. But there’s no great master plan for me, like, “I gotta make it more poppy.” It might be like, “All right, we’re not gonna do a bunch of Meters-like instrumentals.” But it’s not, “Are we gonna do a John Mayer record?” And I think John’s fantastic—his Continuum album is fantastic. But that’s not for me. Everything that we do, you’re going to cheer or smile when it gets to the outro—it’s blues time for me.
Your vocabulary is broader than the typical minor-pentatonic-based blues player. Do you have to edit your playing to conform to the expectations of typical blues fans?
The only person I try to hold back for is me. My own sense of taste is what determines what I do. Sometimes it starts coming out and I could just keep going and going and going, but I think, “You know what, nobody wants to listen to that—including me.” That’s the edit point.
We played at a jazz festival last night, and a lot of the people came up afterwards and said, “We enjoyed it so much tonight because it was easy to enjoy—it was accessible.” That’s the bit I always try to keep in mind. I just want people to be able to enjoy it as well, because if I go to a gig I want the same thing for myself. The other night we went to see Oz Noy in New York—unbelievable guitar playing. And it’s a thrill for me to hear someone and have no idea what he’s doing at all, because I don’t get to see that very often—where it’s like, “What the hell is this guy doing? ” But it’s not accessible in anyway—which is great, if that’s what you want. But that’s not what I want for my music.