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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Nothing Mailed In But Gold

posted by on January 17 at 14:11 PM

gunslinger.jpgJesse Sykes and her Sweet Hereafter guitar player Phil Wandscher play an acoustic set tomorrow night (Friday) at Tractor Tavern.

Philís left handed playing summons western country, tumbleweeds, and the gold rush. Itís 107 degrees on a dry riverbed, whisky only makes you more thirsty. Jesse says Philís solos are songs within the songs. Torched dry and bright. Heís more about melody and touch and imagery.

Phil spoke about his guitar and his playing:

Where do your solos come from? How do you write them? Is there a process?
Phil: I play the song over and over. What comes to mind first, I think, is what everyone would do. I try to dig through layers and get to what normally wouldnít be played. Itís almost like I have to learn it myself and teach it to myself. I think the more you play something, the further you can take it.

Does Jesse have input?
Yeah, usually sheís right there and gives me her feedback.

Whatís it like playing these songs every night? Do the songs get tired?
Itís definitely challenging to stay inspired. But I get into every song and section. Itís not something I have to make myself do. Autopilot for me isnít just mailing it in and going through the motions. Autopilot for me is being comfortable enough with the song or the section to take the solo different places.

What kind of guitar do you play?
I play left handed so it kind of limits my options. My main guitar is a DeArmond Starfire Special. Fender made them in the 60ís. Jerry Garcia played one in the Warlocks. They were sort of cheap when they came out, then Fender bought Guild and killed the line. Now they are sought after. Iíve been looking for another one, but canít find it.

You donít have another one? You must baby the one you have.
When we travel, I keep it with me at all times. Flying is hard because sometimes they try to tell me I have to check it in as baggage. We were flying America West one time, seated all the way at the back of course, and the flight attendant told me I couldnít have it in the passenger cabin. I told him I wasnít getting rid of it. He took me and the guitar all the way up to the cockpit to talk to the pilot. We were delaying the flight. Everyone on the plane was so appalled and saying, ĎYou should get rid of the guitar.í ĎI canít believe heís not getting rid of his stupid guitar.í

I told the pilot the seat next to me was open and I could put it there. And when he saw that this was why the flight was being delayed he was so pissed. He said, ĎStrap that fucking thing into the open seat and letís go!í We were flying to Austin, TX too, a music city. I thought people would have been more understanding.


What guitar players do you listen to and like? Any influences?
Yeah, all the Jimmyís. I like Link Wray, the guy who created distortion. I like surf rock and the Cramps. I like clean sounds just as much as I like dirty, nasty, crunchy Cobain stuff. Some guy called me a hippy because I like George Harrison. Whatever. Iím into Merle Haggard too.

Real guitar picking baffles me. It comes from intensive repetition. Itís all runs and runs and runs. Those Nashville guys will be playing and theyíll throw in one these impossible runs. Itís almost too much. You know how drum machines have the ĎFillí button that does the almost too perfect tom fill? Thatís kind of what these country pickers do when they play one of these runs. I need a ĎNashville Session Player Run Buttoní on my pedal board.

Whatís up next for you guys? Are you working on a new album?
Weíre lining stuff up for Europe and writing, yeah. The way things are, with all the touring, our writing has to be quick and condensed. The touring is great, donít get me wrong, but it can make the time set aside for writing new stuff seem a bit pressured. Thereís this immediacy attached to everything. For the next month or so, weíre writing.

Now that people donít buy CDís, there are so many ways to put out songs. Songs kind of have a new independent life of their own.

You seem like such a gunslinger to me. Is that something you think about when you play?
What, being a gunslinger?

Yeah, you know, that country western sound. Being handy with the steel. High noon. Are you handy with the steel?
Like do I shoot guns?

I just play guitar, Trent.

At high noon?
Thatís a little early, but I guess sometimes I play at noon, yes.

Thank you.

RSS icon Comments


Totally high noon. I hear it. Nice interview.

Phil, we know you're handy with the steel, you can't hide it.

Posted by Natasha | January 17, 2008 2:46 PM

The new Clint Eastwood re-make "For a Few Solos More". The showdown. Starring Phil Wandscher. He lights a match off his stubble and the other guy flinches. His badge sparkles. A wolf howls and Phil solos the other guy down, in broad daylight. Mothers have hidden their children. Phil walks slowly into the hotel saloon, rents a room, goes up the stairs and takes a bath.

Posted by Sterling | January 17, 2008 3:34 PM

Phil, you are incredible. Can I have your hands? Have a good show!

Posted by Otter | January 17, 2008 4:00 PM

Great player. Great band. Great words here. Phil does bottle and wreak of lightning. I wouldn't want to piss him off.

Posted by Clay | January 17, 2008 4:07 PM

I think Clay means 'reek.' Don't you clay?

Posted by trent moorman | January 17, 2008 4:30 PM

really nice article. The supportive styles of Jesse and Phil on their cuts shows a deep respect for the other's skill.Nice to see you cvapture it.

Posted by tante | January 17, 2008 7:01 PM

Cool interview.

Posted by Dave | January 18, 2008 1:00 PM

They are such a good band! Sheriff Phil is right.

Posted by Daisy | January 18, 2008 4:07 PM

The 2 of them were great last night! and Phil threw down some rippin' solo's along with Jesse's lovely vocals.
I love these guys!!!
Nice interview! thanks!

Posted by bob | January 19, 2008 11:41 AM

2nd that. Was truly an amazing set. Their sound is so them. I had chills 4 times!!!!!!!!! Love the interview.

Posted by Liz | January 19, 2008 12:38 PM

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