Gilby Clarke is the real deal. He’s passionate about music, and chatting to Gilby about his upcoming return to Australia, the new record, and jamming, was as enjoyable as a glass of vintage wine or a damn fine whiskey.  On returning to Australia, Gilby expresses his love of the fans, “I really respect people that still enjoy rock n roll and support it. I think over the years rock is like fashion, everybody loves it from time to time. But I think for the real true fans, who know who I am, those people are real fans of rock, and I’m excited to meet those people. I enjoy the culture also, so I’m excited and looking forward to it.”

He’s making a new album, so a preview? “No, I won’t be playing any songs from the new record, as it won’t be out till later, and to be honest with YouTube and all this stuff, it kind of defeats the purpose of playing new stuff”. He adds, “You know, it’s just a good old fashioned rock n roll show. Music to enjoy a good cocktail with let the day go by, that kind of thing.”

He certainly comes across as the quintessential jamming style of musician, and he agrees wholeheartedly, “Oh yeah, what it is for me, is it’s about the connection, and as a musician, it’s really helped me grow. All these things have really changed my perspective.”

Mentioning one such memorable jam, being the all-star jam at the VH1 Rock Honours in 2006 with Rob Zombie, Scott Ian, Ace Frehley and Tommy Lee, he responds, “Man, that was a great time. Something that really came together and you know, just one of those unique experiences, where you get to play with different people. And that was really unique, as Scott Ian, who’s a guitar player, played bass, and it was a full on experience, and getting to play with these people, you want to play well, you want to play good for each other. You want each other to be inspired about it.”

On the new album, there’s been mention from Gilby, that this would be more of a blues based record. Does he consider himself more of a blues-man? “Blues is in your soul. It’s in the soul of guitar playing. You know those early players like John Lee Hooker and even back as far as Robert Johnson, they had ‘nothing’, and they created those sounds. You know how hard it was to get those sounds back then? I love the blues. To me, it’s very inspiring.”

He adds, “When I play with someone new, and we’re trying a new song, it’s where I always start. The foundation. I recently got to work with Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), who is one of the greatest guitar players of all time, and you know the great thing about Billy, is that he’s one of those guitar players that when he plays with other guitar players, he gives them their moment. Where some other guitar players can’t be they just want to show off. Guitar players like Billy are a rare breed. To have the level of talent that Billy Gibbons has, and when he’s playing those great ZZ Top songs with guys, he just lets other guitar players play, and you watch him, and he’s just watching and checking you out and I just love that.”

With an appreciation for Robert Johnson, I asked his thoughts on the legendary myth. He laughs, “I’m one of those guys that want to believe in it. We all want that to be true, and even if it’s not, it makes for a great story.”

The mention of ‘Pawnshop Guitars’, he expresses his gratitude and shares,“When I make a solo record, you know what I do is, I, depending on the songs, I’ll pick the drummer, that I feel is appropriate for that song. Like when I have a song that’s slamming and I think is going to push with groove, so I get someone like Kenny Aronoff, who’s a hard hitter, but has got a pocket from hell, and that inspires me to lay down a guitar track after that. I also had Stephen Perkins from Janes Addiction, who’s such an incredible feel drummer. He hears things differently to the way I hear, so I can say ‘hey, here’s my idea,’ and he adds such a touch, that once again inspires me. So I had a lot of those moments on this record. Mainly from drummers. Getting the feel and working with different drummers and players.”

And on Slash’s Snakepit? “We wrote what we felt was the new Guns N Roses record, collaborated together, and were trying to get some ideas down. Then we all got together with myself, Slash, Matt, Duff and Axl, and listened, and it was very clear that Axl just wasn’t into it, and not what he wanted the next record to be. So this evolved into the Snakepit record, which was a different kind of record. A lot of guitars on that record!”

So does Gilby still have a song that he loves to play in particular? “Tijuana Jail. It’s’ really such a good raw, rock n roll song that you know, even when I wrote it and recorded it, it just kind of flows. To this day, I still love playing that song!”

We wrap up, and he indulges “I think a lot of people will be surprised. People know me from a different time and they may know who I am, but don’t really know me, and I think they will be pleasantly surprised. The band is very good at entertaining, and people always have a great time, and at the end they’re always asking for frigging encores. It’s almost like a Springsteen experience. It’s always fun, and surprises happen in the moment. It has to be a moment.”


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