Karl Demata interview…

Karl Demata has a rather good blues rock album out now called ‘Cross The Mountain and is working on a new Crippled Black Phoenix album…

1. What are you currently up to?

I am currently working on the new Crippled Black Phoenix CD. We should finish recording in early september and release before the end of the year. Also, on September 12th I will release my solo cd called ‘Cross The Moutian’. in between other commitments I am also performing shows and festivals with an Oxford based band called The Original Rabbit Foot Spasm band. It’s great stuff. If you can imagine 1940’s jazz played with a punk and drunken attitude you would not be far off.

2. Could you take us through your new album ‘Cross The Mountain’?

”Cross The Moutian’ was conceived in a very natural and spontaneous way. I have been playing this sort of blues-rock for many years mainly performing in local venues and festivals (in Oxfordshire) for years. I thoroughly enjoy playing and touring with Crippled Black Phoenix but In the last couple of years I started writing original material and I found myself with a good number of tunes clearly showing that rock blues influence, late sixties / early seventies bands like Cream, The Allman Brothers, early Fleetwood Mac etc, – which was the kind of music that made me start playing guitar in the first place. So it felt like a natural development to book a studio and records these tunes.
Taken as a whole the CD shows a good number of different hints and influences but which is the result of the total freedom to explore whatever felt natural to play.

As far as songwriting goes i constantly collect and pile ideas and little parts of songs. Every few months i’ll just got through all of them, bin some ideas and work on developing the chosen few. Once the core ideas are more developed i turn my attention to try to listen with a more detached and objective mind. There’s a point where you have to ask yourself ‘where does this song wants to go’ rather than ‘where do i want it to go’. That is also a good time to work more in-depth on vocal lines and to think about what the lyrics should be about. I was very lucky to work with a friend called Chris Hood who used to be a screenplay and novels writer (and a blues-rock fan too). So we got together few times listening to demos, drinking tea and talking about themes and subjects for the lyrics, and vocal lines. The rest came by just playing together with the band and arranging the final bits in the recording studio with Chris (heilmann, bass player) and Merijn (Royaards, on drums).

3. How different was it writing and recording a solo album as opposed to being in a band environment?

Playing in a band as the ‘guitar player’ carries less responsability and in a way you work is much easier. I have room to bring my ideas and suggestion to all the bands i am in. In Crippled Black Phoenix I arrange all my parts. It’s a great position to be in as it comes natural to me to listen to songs and ideas and bring my own styles and influences along the way. Working on your own material might be a little more tricky as it require to go through a stage of detachment from your own ideas, and of course there’s more pressure. But then the rewards are all there.

4. How did you get Hugh Flint (John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers) to guest on the album?

I have been knowing Hugh for a long time. I used to see him often in local folk jams. He is pretty much retired from professional playing and now plays mainly percussions in local folk sessions. We talked few times about jazz, country and blues. His knowledge of music is extremely vast and I always though it would be such an amazing honour to play with him as he was as his drumming was pretty much outstanding. He played on some of my favorite albums ever, from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton to The Blues Band to The Blues Band. So when we were going through the production process i aksed him to listen to some of the tunes and he really enjoyed few of them, mainly the song Crpss The Mountain. so we thought why don’t try to include his contribution. again it came all in a natural way,

5. In this age of downloads and declining CD sales has the internet helped you get your music out there or has it in some ways hindered it by websites offering free downloads?

well, no matter what musicians think about it, we have to live with it. Overall I think the technology developed around the internet is a very good thing for musicians. We all have the opportunity to reach our listeners and even communicate on a more direct way. To some extent the great divide between the artists/bands and the audience is drastically reduced. And to me this is a good thing. On the other side the audience too has to make an effort and understand the work ethics of single artists/bands. If people recognise the sincere and true musicians and artists from the manufactured ones they will be more keen on supporting them, coming to the shows, buy the cds and even meet and shake hand. Plus, at the end of the day, nothing will eliminate the experience of a live show. And that will always be there and untouched by technology.

6. What made you want to start playing guitar and who have been your musical influences?

I think I started playing when I was about 11 years old. Early influences as mentioned already was the blues revival of the late sixties/early seventies, plus my father and brother record collection. Just the usual classic, early Floyd, Stones, some early prog. etc.
Since then i went through loads of different kinds of music and to this day i am finding and discoverying new things. I believe there’s bad and good music in every section of your record store so i enjoy classic rock, blues, alt-country, bluegrass, jazz, you mame it

Influences? just too many to mention. From Duane Allman to Johnny Winter, from contemporary jazz players like Bill Frisell to contemporary bluegrass players like Tony Rice. On the more contemporary scene I really like bands like Gov’t Mule, Borth Mississippi Allstars, Derek Trucks, Drive By Truckers. As I said, too many.

7. If you could create a fantasy band line-up who would be in it and why?

I love great skilled players, especially drummers and bassists, who can combine high technical skill with a very vast knowledge of different kinds of music. I believe good musicians should be able to corss boundaries and styles in a totally natural way. So if I think about this I would say my dream line up would involve musicians like Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Victor Wooten, Steve Smith. Again, too many to mention.

8. What have been the live highlights so far and why?

Well this actually is a hard question. I had the pleasure of playing some great festival including in far countries like China – Crippled Black Phoenix played there last June – which was brilliant, or in very cool festivals in Europe. But the difference between a good show and a memorable one has more to do with your state of mind on and off stage, There’s an elusive element of the live performance which has to do with the rational side of your brain totally shutting down. In those moments the performance comes directly from a far deeper level, which is the more creative one. This can happen literally everywhere, on a small stage or on a large festivals in front of thousands of people. And those are the most memorable moments.

9. Is the rock and metal scene still in good shape or do you think there maybe to many bands out there now competing for an audience that isn’t growing that much?

I am not I can properly answer this question. As a musician I never think in this way. And of course music should not be seen as any sort of competition for a sections of market. That’s business talk that should be left to bankers and business execs. I only want to play the music I love with the people i like and respect and hopfully create something interesting and meaningful along the way .

10. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from music?

My wife! I also like to read books, a lot about music of course, but also about politics and society in general. I also enjoy good movies or tv series. When I can I also follow Italian football. Napoli is the team i support. Go guys!

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