an interview by Craig Keyzer

 

Chris Duarte took a moment to talk with me about his new album "Blues In The Afterburner" which will be released in September 2011. The album was recorded in July at Prairie Sun Studios in Cotaxi, California, and maintains Blues Bureau International's streak of releasing a Chris Duarte album each year! Something different about this album is that Chris used studio musicians instead of his band. He said that this was due to the newness of the material (the band would've had to learn it all from scratch anyway) and to save some money as well. Here are the song titles from "Blues In The Afterburner":

Another Man / Make Me Feel So Right / Bottle Blues / Milwaukee Blues
Hold Back The Tears / Summer's Child / Searching For You
Black Clouds Rolling / Don't Drive Me Crazy / Born To Race
I've Been A Fool / Prairie Jelly
Bonus Track (Japanese release only): Sweet Young Pussy Cat

How long did it take to record the new album?
Well, like in all my previous recordings, the whole process was done in a matter of three weeks. Every single one of my cd's have all been done in that timeframe. Someday maybe I'll have more time like the big boys and girls get, but at my stage it's "Time is money!"

You mentioned that you used studio musicians for this album, why was that?
At the time the plans were made to do this recording, Chris Burroughs was exiting the band and I just didn't feel that I'd have a cohesive organic unit in place. You never know what goes on in this fluid business I'm in, but I didn't know that Jack Jones, the current chairholder in CDG, would be so good! But I just had to go with what was before me at the time. It turned out to be a good experience for me and I'm grateful for the professionalism that was displayed by the studio kats I used. Aaron Haggerty was on drums and Robert Watson played bass.

Did you rehearse the songs with them very much?
The rehearsals were easy 'cuz, let's face it, my music just isn't that difficult! It's more of finding the vibe to go with the songs.

You mentioned that some stuff on this album will have an "Americana" kind of feel to it. That can be a very broad term and I was wondering what you meant by that? Perhaps a banjo with a wah-wah pedal run through a Tube Screamer?
There are some tunes on there that I would classify as in the Americana genre. Plus I've put down some 'country-fied' stylings on one of my solos. I'm a bit nervous 'cuz normally I just mess around with the hybrid/country/rock style and in no way did I think I was ready to bring it out. But Mike Varney liked it and so we painstakingly went about building the solo. It's still unmistakeably "Chris Duarte" on the tracks but we'll have to see how it pans out. I don't expect everybody to like it, but I've just got to work more on it. It's just in the nascent stages as of now.

Did you use different instruments to get that sound? Any acoustic stuff on the record?
No, just straight ol' electric guitar. Someday maybe acoustic stuff will make a return.

I noticed on the song titles for the album that all of them are new except one. Did you write these recently or have you been working on them awhile?
So, as usual, I get to the session with a handful of songs and then Mike gives me suggestions for songs and I get to work. There were only 4 songs that I had sketches for and the rest were just beginning ideas in my head. All the lyrics had to be written except for two of the songs.

Which tracks were the thorniest to record?
I'd have to say "Hold Back The Tears". It's the only song that I had a more established vision for. All the other songs I was kind of flying blind and going with what sounded good, but "Hold Back The Tears" I pretty much knew what I wanted. Although there's some backward guitar phrases on it (the inspiration came to me while listening back to it), I worked hard to give it the respect of the original Savoy Truffle (aka Bluestone) recording and still put my mark on it. I finally just ran out of time and when I listen to the song I can hear all my regrets of what I should've done for it, but it still turned out pretty good.

Did you bring in any guest musicians on this album?
Nope, just me and the studio guys.

You've also kept up your trend of including a car song, "Born To Race", on the album.
I try to get a car song for my friend Johnny Hunkins of Popular Hot Rodding magazine. He gives me free page space and exposure when I write a car song. It's also a nod to Billy Gibbons 'cuz the rhythm is just a ZZ Top rip-off and I know Billy is an admirer of autos himself.

Do you take your sweeeet SS Camaro out for inspiration when you're back home in Atlanta? How fast have you taken it?
I don't race around too much in my SS Camaro, mainly 'cuz the suspension is the old original suspension. This makes the steering challenges much greater for an inexperienced 'race' driver like me! She fishtails pretty bad if you gun it around the corners. I did run her up pretty hot against this Maxima about 5 months ago, but that's a rare occasion for me to do that. I don't know what made me 'cuz normally I just ignore people that want to race. I'm more into enjoying my car - like I'm strutting in a nice Armani suit!

Why did Japan get an extra bonus track ("Sweet Young Pussycat") that we don't?
"Sweet Young Pussycat" is kind of like no other song on the album. Mike Varney and I always end up collaborating on at least one song on all my albums and this was the one. It was the last song we were to work on during the last day of recording. We had the track but no lyrics. So we agreed upon a subject matter: seeing a hot chick at a party and you want her to dance with you. Purile maybe, but rock n' roll! I took the verses and Mike took the chorus and interlude. "Voila!", melody. Then we put guitar on it and "bang!" it was done. Sounds like a Motley Crue type of thing but it was a whole lot of fun. I don't expect many true CDG fans to take to it too much, its a little off the beaten path.

When will "Blues In The Afterburner" be available?
I'm pretty sure it could be out as early as the last Tuesday in September or the first Tuesday in October. I'm excited as always about the new product.

Thanks for your time, Chris! The new album sounds intriguing just based on the song titles alone. Your fans on this planet know your adventurous music isn't for the timid or faint of heart and we can't wait to hear this new album!

 


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