For those of you too young to remember, Hank B. Marvin
was the English lead guitarist for the band The Shadows
. The group primarily performed instrumentals, and was initially formed as a backing band for singer Cliff Richard.
Considered to be the U.K's most influential band, until the emergence of The Beatles, Marvin
went on to influence very revered guitarists such as Peter Frampton, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Brian May, Tony Iommi, George Harrison, Mark Knopfler and Pete Townshend. Although neither Hank B Marvin
nor the Shadows
were ever well known in the United States, despite several appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, Marvin is nonetheless listed by Frank Zappa as an early influence on the first Mothers of Invention album.
Canadian guitarists Randy Bachman
and Neil Young
have also both credited Marvin's guitar work as being major influences on their careers. And Carlos Santana
's nickname in his formative years was Apache because it was one of the earliest pieces he learned to play. As well as playing with The Shadows, Hank B Marvin has also enjoyed a successful solo career both as a performer and a recording artist in his own right. He has been willing to experiment with styles and material, doing some purely instrumental albums, some with only vocals, one with only acoustic guitars and one with a guitar orchestra.
Hank B Marvin recently released his 13th solo album entitled Guitar Man
which serves up a collection of his own renditions of contemporary songs and classics, including Take That's Patience, Sting's Fields of Gold and James Blunt's You're Beautiful along with two new recordings. Joe Matera
recently caught up with Hank B Marvin - who now resides in Australia - to discuss his new album, guitars and how the recording process has changed for him over the years.
Ultimate-Guitar: One of the tracks on your new album is an instrumental cover of The Beatles' Here There And Everywhere. Is it true that the original track, without lyrics, was offered up to The Shadows to record by Paul McCartney whom later, changed his mind, added lyrics and recorded it with The Beatles instead?
Hank B Marvin:
That's absolutely true. We were recording an album in 1965, in the UK, and Paul was always coming in and nicking ideas (laughs) and one time asked if he could play us this tune he'd written which he thought would be good for us. So he played the tune on piano and we thought it was beautiful. So he offered to send it to us on a cassette the following week. But he never did so we waited and waited for the cassette and I'm still waiting! (laughs) Anyway a few months later the Revolver album came out and I had got a copy and was playing it through when one of the songs sounded familiar and I thought, 'I know this tune, Here, There and Everywhere
'. So when this album - Guitar Man - came up, I just fancied having a crack at it after all these years as it is such a good tune.
Once you've decided on what song or songs you will cover as an instrumental for an album recording, what sort of approach do you use in the arranging of the material?
I will look at everything and will work at what kind of ways I can interpret the song. An example of that is a track I did do called You're Beautiful, the James Blunt song. Because the song doesn't really have a tune, there is a bit of a chorus but it is just basically - 'da di da da, da di da da
' - a lyrical thing, Gary Taylor - who played rhythm guitar on the album - and my self sort of worked together on an arrangement. And because I like to bounce things off each other, I said to Gary, 'I'll have a crack at this but I don't want to do it like James Blunt
'. So we just kicked around and worked on putting some guts into it. Like there is that little riff at the start of it where I thought we could just alter the riff by keeping it simple and keeping that riff going but making it slightly bluesy and then using the chorus as the tune.
The recording world has changed dramatically since you first started out in the late 1950s, particularly with how technology has evolved.
|"I like Pro Tools for a number of reasons."|
Yes, back then they expected have three finished tracks done in a three hour session. We did the recording of our first Shadows album in four three-hour sessions. That was the way it was then. But sometimes it didn't all go to plan like for example when we recorded Dynamite a track that was the B-side to one of Cliff's biggest hits called Travelling Light. Dynamite was a rock and roll track and for some reason on this particular day in the studio, we could not get it right. With all previous attempts, it never felt right and we were always unhappy with it. Something was going wrong as it just wasn't kicking. Then Norrie Paramor [producer] goes, 'now listen boys, we spent three hours and we haven't got anything in the can and you know what the expectation is. Three sides in three hours. This is really not good. Come in tomorrow and you will really have to nail it along with two other titles in the three hour session. Do you think you can do that?
' And funny enough we came in the next day and nailed in just a couple takes. I suppose it was just one of those days. So that was what it was like recording back in those days. Then things changed over the years where it went from four track to eight track machines to 16 and then 24 track and on it goes.
The guitars on those early Shadows recording seem to have this crystal clear quality to them, where every nuance of the instrument and the amp can be heard.
That was because we were all mik-ed in the studio. I wouldn't use D-I as I don't like the sound of D-I at all. I like to hear the amp working, the mikes working and the air around them and everything. And in those days I don't think anybody was utilizing direct injection anyway. If Bruce [Welch] was on an acoustic, like on he was on Apache, he would be mik-ed up to with a box around him.
Are you open to all this new technology in the recording field, like do you utilize digital recording methods such as Pro Tools?
Well for a number of years now I've been using Pro Tools. I like Pro Tools for a number of reasons. One is that if you suddenly get an idea during a song but you've run past the recording allotment instead of saying, 'I'd wish I extended this solo by another chorus
' or 'that chorus should have repeated here
' you can just cut and paste it. And to do it with tape editing is always going to be tricky with master tapes, but not this way. So it is a very creative tool in that way. The down side to it is of course, you start to do so many things you can start to do them and take a lot of extra time. But I do like to have that facility. I also like the facility to be able to try different ideas for solos out especially if I'm doing variations on a theme kind of thing.
When it comes to touring today, what sort of guitars do you tend to take out on the road with you?
Normally if I'm working live either with my own or band or like when we reformed the Shadows a couple years ago, I will use my three Strats which are all custom shop signature models that were made in the 1990s. I have a Strat that is strung 0.12 to 0.52 for mostly doing all the older stuff. I have another Strat that is strung 0.11 - 0.50 for the later stuff, like from the '70s onwards where I was using slightly lighter strings. And then another Strat that is strung 0.10 - 0.46 for the numbers where I have to bend freely over faster tempos which obviously with heavier strings would be a bit hard to do. So I have that guitar but I only use it for like one or two numbers and that is all.
When it comes to acoustics it will depend on the type of show I'm doing. I want a guitar that can tour and that has some kind of amplification put through the system as that will work very well. Of late I've been using a Lakewood guitar that has a sound system on the guitar, an amplification system called a B-band system which sounds very good acoustically onstage. I've also used a French Favino which is in a similar style and again it is an older guitar without amplification.
On my last tour because I had an acoustic album to promote, the Guitar Player album, I used a British guitar made by the late English luthier David Hodson. In fact I have a song called A Song For David on this current album dedicated to him where I use that same guitar.
How many guitars do you currently have in your guitar collection?
|"I have got a lot of nice instruments and I appreciate them all."|
I have about 40 or so guitars.
Out of those, which do you consider to be your most prized possession?
That is a hard one to answer but obviously the Strat! But I do also have this lovely old 1958 Strat which I've now had for 27 years. I bought it in Paris and it is a lovely guitar. There are also a couple of acoustic guitars; a lovely old 1932 Selmer Maccaferri as used by Django Reinhardt and a 1949 Selmer Over Hole and they're both beautiful guitars. I have got a lot of nice instruments and I appreciate them all for different reasons.
How do you personally feel about the influence you have had on every British guitarist prior to The Beatles?
I didn't fully understand it or appreciate it back then but it was only later on when different guitarists started talking about it that I started to realize what was happening and what had happened. It is a good feeling though. And it is flattering on the one hand. And I'm glad on the other hand that some of those guys have instead of beating up old ladies picked up guitars! (laughs) We all start off by copying someone we really admire but if we've got any creative bone in our body, we will have to move on. We will have to develop our own music and that is what it should be about.
Finally, there has been a spate of rumors circulating of late that are saying that Cliff Richard and The Shadows are planning to do a reunion tour next year?
No, no, Cliff is going out with his own band in 2008. He is doing his own 50th anniversary tour. But that is not to say something might not happen there after. We'll see
2007 Joe Matera