Monday, December 2, 2013

INTERVIEW:GENERATION X AND EMPIRE 'S DERWOOD ANDREWS


Bob Derwood Andrews is the legendary guitar player on the explosive Generation X debut from 1978 and its polarizing follow-up, Valley of the Dolls. Required listening is Andrew’s amazing band Empire and the “Expensive Sound” LP, which influenced many bands to come in the following decades. His latest solo outings in the Tone Poet Volumes are worthy listens of a master guitar player in his prime. Enjoy…

I wanted to let you know that since I bought my first Generation X album in 1986 during grade school, your guitar style and solos to this day get my adrenaline rushing. In my opinion, it was Hendrix and Townshend for a new generation of disenfranchised youth. When did you start playing and what were the early influences that helped shaped your style?

Well thanks, my elder Cousin first showed me some chords when I was about nine. His elder Brother was in the Canterbury scene as a bass player with bands like Caravan ect. As a kid it was cool to hang out with players and then when I saw Chuck Berry on TV it blew me away, also a band called The Nice was on TV and seeing them smash their shit up stuck with me…
At that young age I began to discover that raucous playing along with racing motorcycles was a simi-lar rush. At the age of sixteen I was faced with a choice of professional Speedway or jamming in my room with my mates. I chose music, but will never forget the feeling of seeing my motorcycle, leath-ers, helmet and trailer leaving my house forever and walking back into the house to look at my young decision, a Japanese Tele and Orange combo. My personal guitar influences are (in no or-der), Jimi Hendrix, Bo Diddley, Ritchie Black-more, Rory Gallagher, Robin Trower, Wilko Johnson, Mick Ronson, Buddy Guy, and many more but top of the list is Paul Kossoff, why? Passion and minimal...

The guitar solo at the end of “Youth, Youth, Youth” was listed as one of the greatest all time rock solos, I used to lift the needle off of the vinyl to repeat the ending part and air guitar to it over and over again. What was that track like to record in the studio, was it done in one take?

We used to jump on my mates bed with tennis rackets to the Who's 'Young Man Blues' and trash his pillows in suburban Streatham too. 'Youth Youth Youth' is certainly not a great technical solo but, it WAS done in one take with a couple of pints of beer and a magic attitude of youthful angst.

“Running with the Boss Sound” was a track you penned for the Valley of the Dolls LP, I’ve heard so many punk bands try to emulate the opening guitar intro, the album itself was a perfect mixture of glam and raw punk. How had your style changed in the band by the time you were doing album number two?

I no more 'penned' that track than any other, but for some reason I got a writing credit. The style changed in as much as we had a famous 'rock-star' producer in Ian Hunter, a bigger budget, more time and a wider gap between the two older guys and me and Laff. It was actually heartbreaking for Mark Laff to be told by Ian, Billy and Tony that he was not going to play on this album and for him to choose a replacement drummer. He chose Clive Bunker from Jethro Tull and whilst teaching him the parts with two kits set up it was decided it sounded great with two drummers. If I took to long tuning up for an overdub I could see Tony James through the studio glass calling Chris Spedding! It wasn't the same camaraderie as the first album.

What were the best and worst memories of Generation X’s quick rise to the top during those days? How did your leaving of the band morph into the beginnings of the now legendary Empire?

The best memories were delivering the musical goods against violence and pure hatred from our peers and competition. And the worst memories were to watch what happened to people I considered good friends. I believed something way different from the actual situation, and was pretty much stunted and ignored. My job was to play great guitar, but the gap became so great between Billy, who after three years I couldn't stand the desperate sadness of, and Tony who was losing his position of visionary. When I was told it's NOT your band it's ours and don't play such good guitar and we don't want to hear your songs, I had to leave for my own sanity…

I love EMPIRE”S “Expensive Sound”, the track “Hot Seat” has the coolest guitar riff, were the compositions for EMPIRE intended for Gen X or originally written as a solo outing?

I actually think Expensive Sound was Generation X's fourth album after we fired Billy and Tony.

With your take on lead vocals for the LP, was it a new experience and do you prefer taking vocals or guitar on a project?

I get very little pleasure singing, but it's a case of would you rather teach someone else to sing your songs and be disappointed, or be disappointed with yourself…I'd take the latter.

I always thought Mark Laff was the new Keith Moon, do the two of you collaborate anymore?

I love Mark Laff dearly, we will always be in the same boat…with a leak!

Do you play out in California ever and are you working on any new projects?

I just re-released my first solo CD called 'Tone Poet V1'. It was made some 7 years ago from loose ends. But I am working on Volume 2 at the moment, it's all done on Lapsteel guitar on my own with me singing. I play at bars and churches and it's the loudest thing I've ever played...

Any plans in the future to reunite with any of the bands you’ve been in?

Not really, what's done is done and then move on somewhere else musically.

Looking back over your career, how do you think it changed you as an individual in your view of the world.

I think growing into being a unique individual, as we all are, is way more important than a career, and being proud of your past work is a bonus.

What made you decide on calling California home?

The love of a good woman and the weather…

Any last comments or thoughts?

I love Long Beach, I've been shot at through the restaurant window eating sushi, I spread a good friend’s ashes on the beach, seen a good few bands at Alex's and of course Gawd bless The Queen Mary. Thanks for the interest.

Kevin P McGovern, 2013
Fear and Loathing in Long Beach
F&L LB Facebook

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