Monday, 16 December 2013

***The Big Boy Bloater Interview!***

After weeks of being in the pipeline, this was gonna be a gooden. We met up in the Masons Arms pub near St. Pancreas Station to have a little chat. This is what happened...


So! Who or what started your interest with music in general?
BBB: Wow. That's a hard one.. Well, my family were big music fans, but none of them were MUSICAL. I remember my Dad singing all the time, but what a horrible voice [laughs]. 

How old were you when you picked up the guitar? What made you do so?
BBB: I think I was about 11. I bought a mangled classical guitar from a boot sale. It cost about a fiver and it was hardly playable. So my Dad Bought me an electric guitar and... That's where it all started!

We briefly spoke about Ike Turner, how did you come about listening to his stuff?
BBB: I don’t know, I guess being a blues and R&B fan from a very young age I just listened to more and more stuff and his style of playing really appealed to me.  I like how innovative he was with his style of playing – that aggressive whammy-bar style.  It’s very much influenced my playing.

Even though it's easy to say that you are heavily influenced by 50's and 60's Rock n Roll/R&B and Blues, is there anything more contemporary to the last decade or so that excites you at all?
BBB: I really like the Black Keys, I've got some of their stuff. But we're not really elitists when it comes to music; we listen to stuff from the 50's right through to present (missing out most of the 80's and 90's, mind!)

Before we move on, this is the obligatory question; what was the first record you bought? - AND NO LYING!! 
BBB: [Gives a shifty look] Radioactive Kid by The Meteors..


Seeing you play with Young Jessie was phenomenal. What caught my eye was that you also collaborated with artists like Lazy Lester and Eddie Bo. How do opportunities like that come about?
BBB: It’s probably not as exceptional as you think, the 50s/60s R&B scene is a relatively small one and I have been well known as a specialist R&B guitarist for many years from having my own R&B band (which I started in 1993, and had been playing for a few years before that in other bands).  When people need a band put together that is expert in that kind of music I often get the call.  I suppose the more I have done the more I get the calls!  One of the first American guys I backed was Nappy Brown when I was around 19, I was playing in a 50’s R&B band at that time and we got the call to go and back him in France.  I was pretty excited about it as you can imagine and after the show I asked him for his autograph.  He was puzzled I had asked as we’d just played on stage together – it was a good early lesson that we’re all just musicians together and it’s stood me in good stead ever since!

How did you find the event Jukebox Jam? Did you enjoy it?
BBB: Unluckily I had to shoot off due to having to get to the next date for the One Man Tour. But We [Bloat and Lisa] are no strangers to Jukebox Jam, it's a fantastic event.

What was it like to play with Young Jessie? Were there any practices involved or what it totally impromptu?
BBB: We were supposed to have a two hour rehearsal before the doors opened, but due to [cough] technical difficulties, it was only 25 minutes! But he knows what he wants, and he's comfortable with us because we've backed him another two times before that.

What's your current live set up of choice at the moment?
BBB: It depends on what show I’m doing.  For a straight-ahead R&B show I just plug my Strat directly into my ’63 Vibroverb amp.  For my band (Big Boy Bloater & the Limits) I use a bit of overdrive and some tremolo.  For the recent One Man Show I use a looper, which helps build a bigger sound as it’s just me on stage.


So, onto what you're doing at the moment. Tell me a bit about this BBC Recording. Where is it going to appear?
BBB: It's a recording for Craig Charles' Funk and Soul Show. I'm just doing a couple of songs using my pedal board and the Tanglewood but it's actually going to air in January 2014. 

The One Man Show Tour 2013 of this year, how has it been so far?
BBB: Surprisingly, very relaxing! It's just me and Lisa, so it's like a little holiday [laughs]. People have been very surprised with the live performance. Some people think they're going to see the Limits behind me, but despite the tour having 'The One Man Show Tour' all over it, they're surprised when they see it's just me! Other people expect to see me just with an acoustic playing singer/songwriter kind of stuff. But it's all been positive. When they see I'm using a looper they come up to me afterwards saying "I've never seen technology like that before! Brilliant!" So, it's nice to do something new.

What was your reason for doing a one-man show?
BBB: There were a few reasons; first off, even though I don't really play acoustic guitar, but Tanglewood gave me an endorsement, so I thought I would try something different. Also, I've had this looper for ages and I wanted to see where I could take it. Another factor is that it's SO expensive to take yourself and the band on the road, that's namely the gas (petrol) and hire of a bigger vehicle for all the equipment. But I really miss the boys though.

Last but not least - what have you got planned for 2014?
BBB: 2014 is going to be a very weird year. We can't give away too much, but I'm planning a record near the end of 2014, but I've just got to... Write it! So that's on the cards, also doing a few festivals too over the summer.

Bloat was a great interviewee, and he kindly got me into his BBC 6 Music session. Lovely chap, and I will be waiting eagerly as to what unfolds for him in 2014!

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