KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD INTERVIEW
Kenny Wayne Shepherd has sold millions of albums worldwide and, in addition to his five Grammy nominations, has won two Billboard Music Awards, a pair of Orville H. Gibson awards, the Blues Foundation’s Keeping The Blues Alive award and two Blues Music awards. He’s had six #1 blues albums and a string of #1 mainstream rock singles. His last album, 2017’s Lay It On Down, debuted at #1 on three different Billboard charts: Blues, Current Rock Albums, and Internet Albums. American Songwriter noted “There’s sufficient nitro-burning, blues-drenched shredding to keep live audiences playing their air guitars. But Shepherd’s obvious attention to and insistence on exceptional material with musical inventiveness continues to impress, and 22 years into his career raises him and Lay It On Down above his plentiful competition.”
We got to speak to Kenny Wayne Shepherd about his new album and more.
TM - What can fans expect from your new record?
KWS - To me it is a great representation of where the band is at today, who I am and where I am with my music. It is a Blues-Rock record. Some songs are a little bit more on the Rocks side. We have some ballads, we also have some fiery guitar playing. There is a little bit of something for everyone on this record, but it is a bit more to the rock side this time.
TM - What was your writing and recording process for this record?
KWS - I wrote in my off time between two tours. I just kept on writing until I had enough songs for a record. We do demos and then we do a recording. After that, we go into the studio. When we go into the studio the songs come to life and the magic happens. By the end of it, you have an album.
TM - Who designed your album cover?
KWS - My friend is an artist and he designed the last few, his name is Tony Crow. It was a combination of his vision and my vision, I took the photo and then he is the one that added the scenery to the photo and he gave it to me as a package.
TM - That is cool, I really like the album cover. It is really artistic.
TM - You Co-produced this album with Marshall Altman, What was your favourite thing about working with him?
KWS - He did my last record as well. I think he has a great work ethic, every day I am in the studio he is in the studio and he works hard. He is good with vocals and arrangements and has a lot of really strong qualities. When we work as a team, we balance each other out.
TM - You did a Blues cover album and covered some of your favourite artists, what inspired you to do this album?
KWS - I just wanted to pay tribute to a lot of my favourite Heroes.
TM - Who is your favourite person that you have worked with overtime?
KWS - I don't think you can say favourite. I have worked with everyone from Eddie Van Halen to The Rolling Stones. My favourite thing about working with these types of people, is I have a lot of friendships that have come from that.
TM - you also have a side project called The Rides, can you tell us more about this?
KWS - The Rides are a blues band, featuring Stephen Stills and Barry Goldberg. We have done two albums and two or three tours. I enjoy it and we are hoping to do a third album in the near future.
TM - We cannot wait to hear that album.
TM - You have a website and you have a guitar on there called "The One" for people who don't know the story, can you please tell them?
KWS - I finally gave that guitar and name it is called Martha now. It is the guitar that you dream about finding one day and you are just going to pick it up and it is going to fit you like a glove and be perfect.
I found that one in the guitar center in Hollywood and then when I played it I knew that was the guitar. I couldn't afford to buy it at the time so I had to walk away from it. A year or two later I found my way back to Los Angeles and I checked if the guitar was there. This time I refused to leave without the guitar. I still did not have the money but I wasn't going to leave the store without it, because I knew it wouldn't be there the next time. My dad, attorney and one of the guys from the record company split it three ways under the agreement that I would pay them back and I did.
TM - You just said you called your guitar Martha, why did you choose this name?
KWS - It seems like a nice strong name from a woman from that era. It is a strat and when I think of women from that era and strong names, I just think of Martha.
TM - What is your favourite memory playing that guitar?
KWS - I don't have a favourite memory, I have played that guitar all over the world. I have also played it on so many records. My favourite memory with that guitar is the day I walked out with it in my hands.
TM - Who is your biggest musical influence?
KWS - I don't have a lot, it is a toss-up between Albert King, BB King, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
TM - Did you always think you were going to be a musician?
KWS - I started playing at a really young age, but for my career to end up the way it did is amazing.
TM - You have worked with a lot of amazing artists, it is awesome.
TM - You have quite a collection of guitars, how many do you take on tour with you?
KWS - It depends on the tour, on the last tour I took 12. I try and take only what I need. If we are only doing one show, I will bring four. It also depends on the set list.
TM - You have your Dodge 61 listed on your website, are you a car man?
KWS - I have a bunch of classic American muscle cars and guitars, they are two of my big passions. I love all cars but Dodgers, Chryslers and ones from the 60s and 70s are the ones I know the most about.
TM - Do you like the mustang?
KWS - Yes, I like Mustangs if they look good. I am all about it.
TM - I like the Mustang 69, that is my dream car.
KWS - 67, 68, 69 and 70 are all my favourite for sure.
TM - Sweet dude!
TM - If you could have any band perform one of your songs which band would it be, which song would it be and would it be in your style all their style?
KWS - There is one of our songs that recently got recorded by Five Finger Death Punch it is called Blue on Black. We did a collaboration where they recorded a song and I did the guitar on it. A country artist, Bailey Gilbert sang on it. They also got Brian May from Queen to play guitar on it. That was really cool and unexpected.
TM - I love that song, I didn't know you wrote it. Now I have to find the original.
TM - What advice would you give to any up and coming bands?
KWS - Do it for love, not money. Do not lose sight of the dream, do it because you love to do it. If you do it and you are successful at it, is like gravy.
Don't let anyone talk you into doing anything you don't want to do. If you record a song you really don't like and you are successful with it you have to play it for the rest of your life.
TM - (laughs) good advice.
TM - Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?
KWS - I appreciate the support, I have been going on for 30 years now and my fans still show up at my shows. Thank you for buying our records and tickets, we appreciate the support.
TM - Thank You for this interview today, I really appreciate it.
CHECK OUT THE ORIGINAL BLUE ON BLACK ALBUM HERE: