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Robin Trower - Seven Moons Tone

Robin Trower talks about his recording techniques on his latest, Seven Moons

Robin Trower, the iconic disciple of Hendrix, was born on March 9, 1945 in Catford, South East London, England. Catford is a town within London located at the heart of the London Borough of Lewisham, dating back to Saxon times, and which has a rich cultural artistic history. So it is no surprise that it would be the

birthplace of one of the most talented and tone-respected guitar heroes of our time. In the early turbulent sixties, Robin formed a group that would come to be known as The Paramounts, later including fellow Southend High School mate Gary Brooker. The Paramounts disbanded in 1966 to pursue individual projects. Trower then joined the band Procol Harum in 1967, staying until 1972. In 1973 he teamed up with bass player James Dewar and drummer Reg Isidore to form the Robin Trower Band. Without a doubt, Trower’s most famous album is Bridge of Sighs (1974). Ironically, his former Procol Harum band mate, organist Matthew Fisher, produced the album. In 1980 Trower teamed up with former Cream bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Bill Lordan for the magnificent self-titled release B.L.T., an outstanding, retro Hendrix experience. Now they are back for their first collaboration in years with the release of Seven Moons. Trower’s heavy univibe guitar tone can be heard meshing with the distinctive voice of Jack Bruce. I had the pleasure of interviewing Robin as he came off tour with his reincarnation of B.L.T., in which Gary Husband replaces Bill Lordan on drums.

What’s your setup, guitar and amps that you used on the recording of Seven Moons?

I used 2 Cornell “Plexi” 18/20 amps—these are the 20 watt 1x12 combos. I would split from my pedals, running one clean and one more overdriven. On the track “Just Another Day,” I used my DejáVibe going through one amp and the other straight. My pedals were a Fulldrive II and a Clyde wah, both by Fulltone, as is the DejáVibe. The guitar was my signature model Stratocaster from the Fender custom shop, built by Todd Krause. This model is really quite a vintage-type Strat (saddles) with a seventies neck with large frets and locking tuners. I thought the larger headstock might possibly give the guitar a bit more resonance. The neck pickup is a fifties reissue, the middle is a sixties reissue, and the bridge pickup a modern winding for more oomph.

Do you have your own studio or did you use an outside studio for this project?

I do not have my own studio, and for Seven Moons we went to a studio in London called Intimate Studios. I recommended it to Jack because I like the acoustics in the room: wooden floor, not too dead—very good for guitar and drums.

I was a very big fan of the original B.L.T. album and it was great to see that you and Jack are back for another collaboration. How much did Jack Bruce play a role in both composing the album and production?

I would come to Jack with a guitar idea and a lyric and he would turn it into something great. All the songs are co-written. We both acted as producers on the sessions but I always let Jack choose the take. If he was happy, I was happy. I did a lot of the guitar soloing on my own and then Jack would come in and do his vocals. One day he sang five master vocals in a few hours—amazing!

How did you record the guitar, mics, room amp or close mic, etc?

A Shure 57 a few inches from each combo.

What format did you record the songs on? Analog or digital? Can you be specific about tape players, such as Ampex or digital formats such as Logic, ProTools, etc?

Seven Moons was recorded on tape through a Neve VSP 72 with Flying Faders to an Otari MTR90 (2” 24 track analog) and mastered to a MCI JH-10 (1/2” – 1/4” analog mastering).

Being a guitarist, what foot pedals did you use on this project? Were there any in particular that really gave you that classic Hendrix feel? Perhaps you can share a technique with the readers?

Fulltone Fulldrive II, Clyde wah and a DejáVibe. I am very flattered that you think I have something of the Jimi Hendrix feel. All my influences were black Americans, blues, rhythm and blues, and soul. Of course Jimi Hendrix was the first guitarist to pull all of these threads together.

What upcoming projects or albums are you working on?

Jack and I are trying to do some dates in Europe in the New Year—hoping to have one show filmed.

I knew when I heard this release that it was recorded properly onto tape. It’s so refreshing to see artists still using this format. Hell, it’s tried and true! Just check out the tracks “Lives Of Clay” and “Bad Case Of Celebrity” to feel those dynamics in the recording. Of course, it’s Robin’s playing that comes through with soulful blues, the way only he can do it, but the tape is a living, breathing integral part of the recording. LONG LIVE ANALOG TAPE!

Brian Tarquin
Emmy Award winning guitarist Brian Tarquin scored a Top 20 hit in the nineties with “The Best of Acid Jazz, vol. 2 ” on Instinct Records and enjoyed several top 10 hits on the R&R charts. Founder of the rock/electronica band, Asphalt Jungle Tarquin has scored TV music for such shows as CSI, Smallville, MTV, Alias, 24, All My Children and many others.