On paper, the musicians behind The HeadCat’s new Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk album couldn’t seem to come from more different backgrounds.
Lemmy — of course — conjures thoughts of Motorhead. Slim Jim Phantom? Stray Cats. Throw in Danny B. Harvey, the Texas-born, Chet Atkins-loving guitarist/pianist from the Lonesome Spurs and sometime guitarist for Nancy Sinatra, and you've got a unique and rocking mix of styles and backgrounds.
The trio came together in 2000, while recording an Elvis Presley tribute CD. The group realized they had a fun time playing songs by Buddy Holly and Johnny Cash — so they decided to record an album together. The result of the sessions was Fool’s Paradise (2006), an album of covers, followed by a live DVD in 2007, Rockin' The Cat Club: Live From The Sunset Strip.
Guitar World recently chatted with Harvey about the new album, which comes out July 5. We spoke about how the band chose the covers they recorded, the songwriting process -- and what it’s like being in band with Lemmy.
GUITAR WORLD: I notice you have a few covers on the album, including “Let it Rock” and “Something Else.” Whose idea was it to include the covers, and who picked the songs?
We all kind of picked them out together. But we’ve been playing off and on for 10 years. The last three, four years have gotten a little more busy. We started out originally doing covers of songs we liked from whatever era we liked, usually it’s ’50s and ’60s — mainly ’50s. All the covers we did were songs we’ve been doing in the live sets, so we went in the studio to record the album, made a list of the songs we’d done and said, “Hey, let’s try that one.” We recorded till we had an album, and we wrote a couple songs in the studio too.
Were there any other covers you guys considered or any songs you recorded that didn’t make it to the record?
Pretty much everything we recorded made it to the album.
I noticed you have a cover of Robert Johnson's “Crossroads” on the album. I like the playing on that track; it’s very bluesy but tasteful and not flashy. Did you consciously try to play that song similar to how Eric Clapton played it with Cream, or did you try to make it your own?
I do the intro riff that Clapton did. I duplicate that just as a homage to him; that was one of the first solos I learned when I was a kid. The rest of the guitar playing, the solos in that song, I don’t follow Cream at all. We cut it live, but then I redid the solos. Lemmy and I’d be sitting down, and he’s really good about it, he’d say, “Oh, you can do better than that” (laughs). He’s very inspirational. I’d play really fast and he’d say, “No, don’t play that fast.”
Do you have any favorite tracks on the album?
I love “American Beat,” “Crossroads” and “Shakin’ All Over.”
Are you guys planning a tour this summer?
I don’t know when we’ll be able to tour; it’s actually been a very busy year for Motorhead with the Lemmy film and stuff. Normally, it used to be in the past, January through the beginning of May we’d do HeadCat shows. Normally summers we don’t tour, but I think we might have a little window in September or October.
Last but not least: What’s it like being in a band with Lemmy?
It’s a lot of fun. I met Lemmy when I was England with a band in the ’80s. Every time I’ve ever seen him, he’s always been friendly. I don’t know if you’ve ever met him, but he’s a really nice guy, very good about music. He knows a lot about music history. He’s entertaining. It’s a lot of fun being on the road with him. He’s not some wild, crazy rock ‘n’ roll guy. He’s quiet, and he’s very focused on everything he does, whether it’s talking about music or WWII history or playing his bass.
He’s very focused. He’s always very interesting. He’s a nice guy, he’s respectful of people. The band, we all get along. It’ll just be the three of us on the tour bus, and we’ll sit there and talk for hours and watch TV.