So you’re not a collector?
No, absolutely not. Guitars are made to play, not to collect.
Are you into vintage instruments?
Both of my main axes are vintage guitars – my Strat from 1957 and my Tele from 1969. I don’t know if it is the age or not, but both have fantastic tone, much better than any other guitar I have ever played. Both guitars are slightly modified though. I know that’s almost a sacrilege, but first and foremost they are working horses for me. Naturally I stored all the original nuts and bolts, but no true collector would even think of modifying these. You know, if I could find a guitar today that’s better than my old ones, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy the new one and sell my old ones. I really don’t care if it’s new or vintage; it’s the sound that matters.
You’re working on your first solo project, right?
That’s right, and it’s a lot of fun. My wife Jenny plays fiddle and cello, and together we wrote and arranged some nice songs that we are recording now. It’s not a country album – more of a mixture of classical music and Latin with some modern elements. It has no electrical instruments on it; it’s completely unplugged. It’s hard to describe – I wish I had a guitar in my hands to show you some things! We’re hoping to finish it soon.
Do you two play together a lot?
Yes, every possible minute. Our whole life is filled with music – it’s my job, my hobby, my passion. When I come home from the studio and want to relax, I play guitar. I really enjoy playing together with Jenny; she is a fantastic musician. Jenny and I got married in April 2005 and she’s the love of my life. She’s my wife and my best friend at the same time, which is great.
Are you friends with your session colleagues outside of the studio?
Not directly, we moved to the countryside some time ago and it’s hard to drive all the way to the city just to have dinner or some beers. Still, we’ve all known each other for a very long time and naturally, there are some friendships with guys like Bill Hullett and Willie Nelson. I’ve always tried to separate my private life from my job, but it hasn’t always worked.
Touring with the Memphis Boys all over Europe; did you ever think about doing a solo tour?
No, never. I don’t have time for one, and the Memphis Boys are kind of family for me. We’ve known each other for so long, we’re really good friends. I would miss them too much on a solo tour!
Did you ever think about retiring?
That’s a joke, right? Absolutely not, I still have my health, I’m feeling great and my musical career is still in progress – I have no time to retire!