If you haven’t heard the news, Kenny Wayne Shepherd is making his way to Australia in October on the back of last year’s release ‘Lay It On Down’. Taking some time out of his schedule, Shepherd was kind enough to speak about the upcoming tour; the first topic of conversation was about the excitement about returning to Australian shores. After quickly proclaiming “I’m really excited as it’s been several years since we’ve been there“, Shepherd then went into further detail:
“We’re looking forward to coming back, as we’ve always had such a good time. Even my very first trip to Australia when I played Byron Bay; we had such a good time I celebrated by getting a tattoo while I was there! It’s a daily reminder of my first trip every time I look at my arm. I love it there! I actually went on to marry an Aussie and her family is there, so there’s definitely a very personal connection to Australia for me.
After pointing out “I signed my first record deal in 1993, so it’s been twenty-five years in the business”, Shepherd delivered a great insight into what has kept the flame burning all these years quipping “I’m driven and I love playing music! I’m one of those people who not only wants to make the best music I can, I constantly want to push myself to do more and experience new things. Whether that be create new sounds, write new songs or reach people in a different way; I just feel motivated and I’m grateful for the opportunity that I’ve been given!”
Shepherd was quick to express “to have a career that’s been going for this long, it’s not something that you want to neglect; so many people would love to have that opportunity. People would be happy to have a career that lasts them five years, so it’s not something to take for granted! I feel when you receive an opportunity like this, you ought to take full advantage of it and see it through as far as possible. The beauty of getting to play music (the key word is play) is that it’s supposed to be fun! Getting to do what you love to do and have fun whilst supporting your family AND reaching people, it doesn’t get much better than that. I can’t imagine doing anything else” before ending with a small laugh.”
Touching on the feedback that ‘Lay It On Down’ has been receiving, Shepherd was happy to express “across the board, all the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive! This record was intended to be a contemporary sounding album, which was a huge change to the last one we did which was an all traditional blues record where we covered some of my biggest musical heroes and influences. Because the last album was so traditional and all cover songs, I wanted to follow that up with something more contemporary and all new music that I wrote; that way when fans hear the record, they don’t feel like it’s something they’ve heard from us before!”
On the topic of cover songs, it seemed like the perfect time to tap into the mind of Shepherd and find out what his favourite genre to perform a cover in is. Without blinking an eye, Shepherd expressed “blues is always my first love of music; I could just play traditional blues all day every day and I’d be a happy camper! I also love to do some rock n roll; we did Bob Dylan on our second record, we’ve done some Jimi Hendrix over the years and we’ve got a Fleetwood Mac song buried in there somewhere. That’s hard to answer as I just love to cover whatever song I feel we can do a very good job of, put our own personality into it and have people think that it’s at least on par with the original.”
On the upcoming trip to Australia, Ash Grunwald has been selected to open for the KWS Band; when asked whether this decision was planned or just fell into their lap, Shepherd explains “even though getting Ash to tour with us just sort of fell into place, I’ve been aware of his music for a while and I’m a fan! He’s got a nice solid blues foundation, but he mixes in a bit of rock that adds a real youthful, edgy approach to his music that will work well with the audience. I think the combination of the two bands is going to be a winning combination!”
When asked what he hopes to see at the upcoming run of shows, Shepherd quipped “not only do I want to see the people that have seen us before, but I also want to see those in the audience who have never seen us before; that way I can see the transformation from when they walked in curious to walking out as a life-long fan” before giving an insight into what fans should prepare themselves for:
“Our show is about two hours long and we’re going to try and cover as much material as we can! We’re going to feature songs from the new record because that’s what we’re promoting, but in a two hour long set you have the opportunity to cover a lot of ground; I know there’s going to be people coming to our shows that have been hearing certain songs for many years and are looking to seeing them in concert, so I’m hoping to cram as many into the shows so everyone walks away happy! Regardless, we’re a high energy, guitar eccentric band who prides ourselves on putting on a great concert, so I think people should just prepare themselves for a great time and an exciting night of music.”
Taking time to talk about what the future holds once they leave Australia, Shepherd let us in on some great news!
“We were in the studio doing a bit of recording back in March actually; so whilst I’m feeling prolific when it comes to writing and creating new music, I want to keep the ball rolling, finish up the record and have it ready for when the time is right! I’ve pretty much spent the first half of the year to spending time with my wife and family, so once July kicks off we’re going into high gear. We’ve got a lot of cool things coming down the pipeline, so keep your eyes peeled for exciting news!”
Drawing the interview to a close, Shepherd had the following statement for readers:
“First of all, I want to thank you for supporting us all these years and we hope to see you at the show. But my main message is to those people who may not yet be fans; come out and give us a chance! If you like good music, good guitar playing, great songs and a band that loves to perform live, come check it out. You might be pleasantly surprised and end up a life-long fan which is our goal!”