Barefoot Music’s Exclusive Interview w/Trevor Sewell
Part I of II
Some of the best Blues musicians globally are not from the southern region of the USA where the roots of Blues was founded. Trevor Sewell’s British Blues Band – The Trevor Sewell Band reaches the rocky and soft shores of Blues-hounds everywhere, bringing his fantastic storytelling through his lyrics and guitar.
Vocally & musically I have become a hard fast fan of the band’s.
I find Trevor to be the epitome of a consummate lead guitarist and singer/songwriter. Though I have not had the pleasure of seeing the band perform live (yet, albeit on my bucket list) his persona & showmanship comes across even in his recordings and videos. Trevor’s vocals & guitar chops speak Front-Man without question.
Hearing the rich timbre of a bluesy vocalist like Trevor Sewell is why I like listening to someone….singing the blues.
With release of Trevor’s latest CD titled “*Independence ” and receiving the 2013 Hollywood Music Media Award for Best blues (more details to follow) on the same day no doubt swung Trevor’s life into full motion, yet he still finds the time to share with his fans. Being a generous person is only a glimpse of who Trevor is; and in that spirit he took time for an interview with wonderful details about himself and his music. Because Trevor so pleasantly surprised this writer by his openness and sharing, he inspired this to be a two-part series, which is an amazing & humble honor for Barefoot Music.
So on that note, as a favorite DJ of mine often says; “ You didn’t come here to listen to me…”
Up first is Trevor’s award-winning song “The Train” which on a side note let me just add; as you’ll see Trevor is playing his 3-string Cigar Box guitar with his amazing slide work.
” The Train. “
Interview Part One:
BM: When I first was introduced to your music I heard a definite Mark Knopfller influence, which you shared with me was not the first time you had heard this.
Who is it that influences you musically?
Trevor: ” Yes I get the Mark Knopfler comparison quite a lot and this may possibly be in part because we both come from the same place as I actually went to
the same school with both of the Knopflers (I was in the same class as David). In those days Mark was very into Bob Dylan and I always take any comparisons with him as a compliment – he was great player even in those days and I have a lot of respect for him. Other major and perhaps more direct influences can really be pinned down to 3 very specific albums. The first being John Mayall with Eric Clapton and the Bluesbreakers, the second Are You experienced by Jimi Hendrix and the third Burglar by Freddie King. I only really discovered Freddie King in the mid 70’s but I learned how to play guitar by working out the Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix albums. “
BM: As I write these questions I am listening to “The Train” from your new CD INDEPENDENCE, which you won an award for recently. I think all your fans might wonder like me; How did you find yourself writing this powerful song?
Trevor: First up I have to say that the Train is not in any way autobiographical in nature but is an anti drugs song. The idea is that I’ve used a train metaphor to hopefully suggest a scenario that outlines just how easy it is to board the train but that it is a much different story when it comes to trying to get off. There are references e.g to mainlining and taking away my self-respect etc. but I wanted it to have a more positive message near the end where it says ‘just lost control for a little while that’s all and ‘I’m gonna stop you train right now – gonna stop you in your tracks – c’mon train disappear and don’t come back ‘ In the story the subject is determined to beat the train (drug habit) but acknowledges that it may be a difficult task. I hope you get the feeling that the subject is very determined to win and that the outcome will probably be a positive one.
INDEPENDENCE The Trevor Sewell Band
BM: Tell us about the artwork for your cover of your new CD Independence.
Trevor: The Artwork was designed by Doug Wallace a very talented Design Student at Northumbria University (well technically he is actually a graduate of the Interactive Media Design course there). The photo was taken in Shaw along the Blues Trail in America by Paul Blackburn. I wanted something that suggested Independence and blues but with a more contemporary edge and I think Doug has hit the spot with this. I also liked that it wasn’t just another picture of me.
BM: You’ve been in the industry for many years, working with some fantastic musicians and studios; how would you say your music has changed over time?
Trevor: Well when I very first started – my first ever gig in fact I can still remember the set list as we only knew 3 songs. We were supporting my brothers band and it was quite a big event so we used their gear (well we didn’t really have any of our own) we started off with well respected man by the Kinks then did one of my own songs called ‘out of sight out of mind’ which if I’m being honest had more than a passing resemblance to ‘can’t explain’ by the Who and we finished off with Walking the dog – the audience were great and shouted for more but we hadn’t actually thought that far in advance so we didn’t have anything else we could play. Later I played a lot of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix mixed with a fair smattering of Soul, Motown and early rock music like Deep Purple, Spooky Tooth, Santana, Joe Cocker and Sly and the Family Stone –so my roots were probably pretty well established when I discovered Freddie King and Tower of Power in the 70s. I then drifted into resident jobs in the Middle East and Europe for a few years where I had to play a very wide range of material everything from Jazz standards to Rock of the day which was good experience for playing sessions. In the 80’s I was signed to EMI records with a band called the Revillos and when that split I toured with The Monroes on EMI Norway. After founding Made to Measure Music in 1988 I had another detour in direction where I was writing music for different purposes that ranged from Dance to Ambient and beyond some of the companies I worked with included Sony and the BBC. I still do music for adverts etc. but gradually I was starting to look back to my roots and after a long period of extensive gigging on my own I one day around three years ago had a kind of light bulb moment when I just thought ‘Why don’t I just do something for myself’ and so I recorded the ‘Calling Your Name Album’ I didn’t have a plan or a market or anything in mind I just wanted to have some fun and it really helped me rediscover why all those years ago I wanted to learn how to play guitar and that it had nothing to do with making money or earning a living – it was just because I liked it. After so many years with record companies and managements etc. telling me ‘what I should be doing’ I just thought ‘I’m just going to do this anyway even if its only me that gets to hear the end result’ and this return to my roots has brought with it perhaps some of the biggest surprises that I have had to date and no one is more surprised than me about just how far it has gone in such a short length of time and all without a record company.
Want to know about Trevor's favorite gear? Learn who in Trevor's dreams would he like to jam with.
Tune back in tomorrow for part II and learn more about bluesmen Trevor Sewell. A BIG THANK YOU Trevor for taking away from your valuable
composing and studio time to chat..
Purchase Trevor's new CD INDEPENDENCE www.cdbaby.com www.itunes.com
Before concluding Part II of the interview with Trevor Sewell I want to thank Trevor again for his time he gave to us his fans in sharing for this post and for his music he brings to our lives. It enriches our lives. Please take some time and visit Trevor's web site and also look for his new album "Independence" at the retail outlets lined below. I am fortunate to have acquired Independence and his album Calling Your Name (another personal favorite) in my own collection which adds nicely to my blues collecion. I don't think one should be without
Both Trevor and I want to thank his loyal fans for your attention. Trevor’s wishes to also welcome and thank his newest fans.
Trevor Sewell Band at The Cluny – ” 100 Years”
BM: You are a brilliant composer & storyteller. What is your process for creating your lyrics and music?
Trevor: Thank you Toni that’s very kind of you – my process changes all the time I tend to write all the time -sometimes it may be just picking up my guitar and starting to sing something – anything. I usually stick my phone on to record the rough ideas and sometimes I might even be watching TV while its happening I just open my mouth and make grunting noises while I’m experimenting with some chords – it sounds awful but if I get something that I like it sort of means something to me when I play it back. Sometimes I go into the studio and maybe stick a drum loop on and just jam – I try not to think about structure at that time or in fact anything really. The words usually just come in their most basic form at the same time. I have no idea where the words come from I have a theory that there is a little bloke inside my head with a desk and a pen and paper and he sort of just does that – I never think about them as he always delivers something that I like – very occasionally there might be a line which I think may sound like a very strong line but if it just doesn’t’ sit well with me, I throw it out but that’s pretty much the only times I disagree with the little bloke in my head.
BM: With all that you have experienced as a musician what has success come to mean for you?
Trevor: Success is just such a movable concept as the goal posts are always changing. I tend not to think about it and I definitely don’t measure it in any financial terms. I like being able to do what I like and I am generally a happy sort of person with a lovely family around me who put up with having to hear the same song blasting out of my recording studio over and over again while I’m writing stuff. I’m happier now than I have ever been musically because I just do what I like and its really great when other people seem to like it. The other major thing is that everyone from my area and on Facebook have been so incredibly supportive sharing things and generally giving me the encouragement that perhaps you don’t always get on a label who tend to be more interested in the financial side. Once you remove the money side all together it gets to be much more fun and I feel that I am more or less back in the same mindset as I was when I started at thirteen years of age with my first guitar- In other words I’m back to playing just because I want to!– I guess that is sort of a success in its self. I feel very lucky that I discovered playing music all of those years ago and that I still really like doing it today.
BM: As an award wining bluesman, performer, & recording artist, can you share some of your best tips for an aspiring artist?
Trevor: This might sound like a ‘I’ve heard all this before’ scenario but (and I had this said to me many times over the years but chose to ignore it –DOH!) – Just do something that you want to do and stop trying to please everybody – if you like it then the chances are that someone else somewhere will too – its more a question of finding like minded people and growing your own audience and in this day and age with social networks etc. its all possible – in fact that’s how I met you Toni – like I say I wish I had taken that on board a lot of years ago but I suppose I had to discover it for myself –I think hindsight would have come in very handy at times.
BM: A little gear speak, can you please tell us about your favorite guitars?
Trevor: I have a selection of guitars which I use for different purposes. I have two vintage Gibson Les Pauls a 1969 Goldtop and a 1973 re-issue. Also A contemporary series Fender Telecaster which date to 1984. The one I use the most live at the moment is an artist series Fender Stratocaster which has been very heavily modified. The body has been grouted out to make room for the electrics I imported from America which gives it midi capabilities when couple with an Axon Fast Response system. One of my other favourites is my Cigar Box which I use on songs like the Train. It was made by an English guitar maker called Chickenbone John – all of his guitars are one offs and I have a 6 string resonator made from an oil canon order from him but you can’t hurry Chicken-bone John, so I may have to wait a while yet.
Trevor: I don’t have a playlist as such as my phone is usually just on Random and it contains such a wide variety – Freddie King and Robert Johnson are both in there as are Kate Bush, Green Day Black Keys The Byrds The Clash Funkadelic Imelda May, Patto. Paloma Faith, Mumfords The Pogues Brooke Nickerson and loads of others actually way too many to mention – I’m always open to new ideas (and old ones)
Thank you once again Trevor Sewell for your always outstanding musicianship.
if you you’re in the UK Newscastle area and you get the chance go out to see Trevor and his band. Live at The Cluny, last time around catch us back at The Cluny on Friday December 27th – tickets online from www.thecluny.com or if you see me just ask 🙂