AN INTERVIEW WITH JOE GOOCH
© 3rd December 2003

JOE GOOCH is the new man on guitar duties in Ten Years After.

Alvin Lee is, of course, a tough act to follow, but Joe has proven that he is the right man to follow in those footsteps and he is now bringing 'rock and roll music to the world' on tour with Leo Lyons, Chick Churchill and Ric Lee.

Here he talks about his musical background and how he first got into playing with Ten Years After, and also about recording the new Ten Years After studio album.

First of all, congratulations on the tour earlier in the year! I've been looking at the photos and the reviews, and it sounds like you had a great time. Hi! Thanks, yes I've had a great time the past few months. We've played all over and had some fantastic gigs - right now I'm just looking forward to getting back out on tour.

JOE GOOCH


OK, we'll talk more about the tour later, but first of all give us a brief history of how you started out playing air-guitar at the age of three, and how it all led on from there to the present day
. I started playing guitar when I was about ten. I was given a nylon string acoustic as a present and I was pleased to receive it, although I seem to remember thinking I'd really prefer a drum kit - but I soon saw the instrument's appeal and began to play. My dad taught me my first few chords and then I went on to take classical lessons. I was never particularly disciplined when it came to practicing my classical pieces, due to the irrepressible desire to listen to and learn any kind of blues or rock records I could get my hands on.
I eventually gave up classical lessons at about the age of thirteen. By this time a few of my friends had started playing instruments so we would meet up and jam, and eventually we got a band together. It's interesting that neither myself or my friends seemed to listen to the music of the day - all our listening was made up of stuff from the seventies or even older blues records - I wonder if it's the same with fourteen year olds these days. I played in bands right through school doing gigs whenever I could. I was never particularly academic so these combining factors meant my school work suffered, but I always knew what I wanted to do and I think it's very important not to lose sight of that.

You say your influences are people like Hendrix, Clapton, Methaney... who else? What was the music you heard that made you decide that music was the path you were going to follow and thereby change the course of history forever?

JOE GOOCH

My listening has always been quite eclectic. When I was young I would listen to my parents' records which were predominantly jazz, Stephane Grappelli, Django, Louis Armstrong, Steely Dan and although I didn't play guitar at that time, they have definitely helped to form part of my musical identity. Later on I got really into Hendrix - I remember when I first heard Live at Monterey I was at a friend's house and I begged him to let me borrow it. It was the most exciting thing I'd ever heard, and it turned me on to guitar even more.
From then on I just listened to any guitar-based music I could get my hands on. Every new player had something to offer - I think every guitarist I ever listen to inspires or influences me in some way.


One of the things I like about touring is meeting and listening to other musicians and I've learned a lot during the last few months. When it comes to true influences I think specific aspects of several key players have served to help form my style. I love Hendrix's raw feel and the way he would really attack the guitar. I also love fluid legato as applied by the likes of Holdsworth, Satriani, Vai and the way Steve Ray Vaughan would squeeze the last ounce of tone out of his Strat, and put so much power and emotion into just one note.
I have always liked Larry Carlton's choppy and melodic style, and whilst I'm by no means a jazz fusion guitarist I do love that style of playing. I could sit here all night reeling off guitar players I like, and how they have influenced me, but I genuinely feel the most original and expressive things I come up with always comes from playing live. There's a lot of energy in the TYA shows - we really go for it, and I find this is when I'm at my most creative. On a good night stuff I feel I've never played before seems to just flow from my fingers. It's an incredible feeling and I wish It was like that all the time. I think the key point is, aside from influence or technique, the most important ingredient in my style is being able to tap in to the powerful live energy of a show and use it as a vehicle to let my true creativity and identity through. When it works it’s a great feeling - its amazing to really connect with the crowd and feel I've achieved something musically.

The band you were playing with when you got head-hunted for the Lyons safari... what happened to them? Do you still play with them as well? Before the TYA thing I was in a band called Siro, they are still going - they just got a new guitar player.

It was all a bit of a whirlwind how you first started to play with TYA, yes? Tell us about how it happened. I sent Ric a CD of me playing 'Going Home' and a kind of heavy rock version of 'Red House'. After a few days he called me up and said he really liked it, and that he had played it to Leo down the phone {Leo was in Nashville at that time}, and he was also interested. I couldn't quite believe it, and at that time I really didn't think I would get the gig. Ric wanted to come and see me do a show, so I set one up and he travelled down to Herefordshire.

I got a call from him a couple of weeks later 'we've got a gig in Germany on Friday, I'll call you later with the details'. I had to learn the songs pretty quick, so yes it was a bit of a whirlwind, but it was good fun.

Wow! OK, what are your favourite Ten Years After songs to play live? And why?
I really like 'Time To Kill'. It's going to be on the new record. It's got a great feel and me and Chick mirror each other in the solo. 'Easy For You' which is also off the new album is another favorite - it’s a kind of bluesy ballad - me and Leo really let rip in the solo. Of the old TYA material I really love the solo section in 'I Cant Keep From Cryin' Sometimes'. It's never the same two nights in a row. I get a chance to really express my self - me and Leo play off each other and some great stuff comes out, you never know were it's going to go next - that’s one of the things I love about playing with TYA.

JOE GOOCH

Were you surprised at how well the long-term fans took to you at the gigs? Many of them must have been a bit dubious beforehand, because Alvin Lee is a kind of icon amongst TYA fans - revered as a God and all that. I have to admit I was very apprehensive about the way it was going to go, but the fans were very receptive, in fact the response has been so positive I have found the experience very humbling, and at times quite overwhelming. I thought it would be inevitable that I would encounter a considerable amount of negativity from die hard fans but I just haven't. There are a couple of people that don’t like what we do, but they are definitely in the minority.

Do you consciously try to play the tunes the same way that Alvin played them, or do you try to bring your own personality into your playing - your own interpretation. Mainly it's my own interpretation, aside from the obvious exceptions like the intro to 'Going Home' or 'Maybe Wrong'. Aside from these and a few others the guitar solos are different every night.

As far as you know, has Alvin heard any of your work? Or have you had any feedback on how he feels about you taking over the reins? I'm not aware of him saying anything about me.


JOE GOOCH

How does it feel to be up on stage with legends like Leo, Ric and Chick? Was it intimidating? Invigorating? Tell us how it felt on the first gig. And how does it feel now that you've done a full tour together? The first gig I was very nervous, but now I feel very at home playing with the band, although sometimes I walk on stage, kick into 'I Woke Up This Morning' and I get goose bumps as I think 'Shit, that’s Ten Years After stood behind me'.

Hahaha yeh! What are your best memories from the road? Any funny road-stories or embarrassing moments? I couldn't possibly comment! Hmmmm... keeping it for the book, are we...? Okay. How about writing your own songs? It's been a great experience writing with Leo. It's been good for me to work with an experienced song writer. We're currently in the process of writing for the new record.


Has the TYA gig inspired you to write? I've not done a great deal of writing in the past, I always concentrated on guitar and lyrics never interested me that much - but now I feel I've got a few songs in me.

Tell us about the studio sessions for the new cd? There are some photos on the website, and it all looks pretty calm and laid back. Was it? Or did the camera miss all the blood, guts and gore being hurled across the room? Did anyone actually need any body parts sewing back on, by the end of it? It's all pretty relaxed - just don’t turn your back on Churchill! Hahahaha.

Tell us about your guitars - what do you use?
For my main guitar I use an USA Strat with a Seymour Duncan humbucker at the bridge. I also use a Mexican Tele with Tex Mex pick-ups. Amp wise, I was using Mesa Boogie but I've just switched over to Marshall. For my main sound I use the clean channel on the Marshall JCM 2000 with an Ibanez Tube Screamer and a Boss OD2 overdrive pedal - this and a Cry Baby Wah pedal gives me all I need.

What bands are you listening to at the moment? Anyone in particular that you think has 'got it'? I really like The Darkness. Blimey, and this interview was all going so well till you said that, hahaha. Well, as long as I don't catch you wearing tigerprint lycra on stage, I suppose that's ok. (In the privacy of your own bedroom it's alright, apparently).

What have been the best things (for you) about being a member of TYA? Being able to go out and do what I love.

What are your ambitions for the future of TYA? And for your long-term future?
I just want to take it as far as it can go, I have lots of solo things in the pipeline, but right now I'm giving TYA all of my attention.

Good man! And all the best with the tour which starts on Friday December 5th in the Czech Republic.

This interview © Batttttty 3rd December 2003