Touring in support of his latest album ‘Let The Good Times Roll' , McPherson is set to play his first New Zealand concert, backed by his longtime four-piece band featuring Jimmy Sutton on upright bass, Jason Smay on drums, Ray Jacildo on keys and Doug Corcoran on saxophone, guitar and keys.
We had a chance to catch up with McPherson on the phone from Melbourne, ahead of the NZ leg of the tour.
When did you first start performing music?
I’ve never not had a band since I was 16. Of course back in those days it was playing backyards and stuff. I started playing weekend gigs when I moved out of my folk’s place and into town. So I kind of always poured more enthusiasm into it than was responsible to do. I've put more effort into it than other things I should have put more effort into (laughs). But yeah, it’s always been a big part of my life, so now I’m just thanking my lucky stars everyday to be able to do it for a living.
Who were your early influences?
The very first influences were what my older brother was listening to, which was what they call in the States “Classic Rock”. Which would be Cream, Jimmy Hendrix, Led Zeppelin… that was the first stuff that I got into. Then I got into punk rock music and the emerging alternative music at the time. I was a child of the 90s so I was really into The Pixies, and a lot of British bands. Then I got into really early Rock n Roll, that’s what really made most sense to me. And early Rhythm And Blues. My favourite singers are female, and there is good music everywhere so I always try to keep my ears open for something good.
What was it like growing up in Tulsa?
Well I was born in Tulsa and was only there for the first three years, and I then grew up in the country in southeast Oklahoma till I was 17. But then I moved back to Tulsa and it’s a really great city. It’s a very kind of artist friendly city, with a lot of great venues and architecture. It’s a cool place. But where I actually grew up was just completely removed from anything resembling a town or a city. It was an hour away from the nearest supermarket. What that granted me was a lot of isolation and when you are bored you tend to work really hard on your interests. I was granted a lot of opportunity to play the guitar, listen to music and read about music. So it probably would have been a different story if I grew up in a town somewhere.
How would you describe your sound?
It would be an experimental take on the earliest expression of rock n roll music. Let’s see if we can come up with some catch phrases… Little Richard meets the Black Keys… a more literate Eddie Cochran (laughs). That’s a good one, I gotta remember that one!
In 2015 you released your latest album Let The Good Times Roll. Where did you record that?
That was recorded in Valdosta Georgia, at a fellow named Mark Neill's studio. Mark is a great producer. He made his bones producing the Black Keys record and I just always loved the songs that he got. We spoke a lot on the phone trying to make sure we could make a lot of things happen. At first I was afraid he might be a kind of traditionalist, but he ended up being as crazy as I was and wanting to make crazy sounds. He was like a mad scientist in that regard so it was the perfect atmosphere to make that second record.
How long did it take you?
A long time! (laughs). Longer than it probably should have because there was a lot of flying back and forth for touring. Suddenly you have plans to play tours so it was kind of an argueos process, but you’ve just got to be happy with what you put out so we took the time to do it.
So the process was quite different from your debut album?
Yeah, and I’d say that the sounds are a little broader. One thing that we talked about making the latest record was trying to take a lot of sounds and processes from early Rock n Roll and turning it up to 11. We started introducing things like plate reverb and fuzz guitar. It was a fun thing to do. One thing that came up was Marty Robbins ‘Don’t Worry’, which is a really beautiful quiet country ballad. But in the middle of the song there is this gigantic fuzz guitar that comes in for a solo and is completely out of place (laughs). And that was a huge influence on the way we made the second record. Trying to get things that shouldn’t necessarily go together and make them fit together in some fashion.
You’re performing in Auckland this Saturday night. Will this be your first visit to New Zealand?
First time and I can’t wait! I’ve got a lot of friends and family who have been frequent visitors to New Zealand but I’ve never been, so am really very excited about it and can’t wait to see it for myself.
What can we expect from your show?
Total physical commitment!
What are you plans for the rest of 2016?
I’ve got a European tour right after this one. So we go home for a couple of weeks and then head to Europe for three weeks. There is still touring in the States and revisit some of the cities that we hit on the beginning of the campaign for the new record. And then we’ll be heading into the studio for record number 3.
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