“There’s gonna be some changes made around here.”
The opening line to the song “Changes” on Taddy Porter’s new album couldn’t be more apropos.
Co-produced by Dave Cobb (Chris Cornell, Shooter Jennings) and Mark Neill (The Black Keys), Stay Golden is an 11-song collection that marks a newly expanded sound for the band — one where British Invasion meets Motown soul, with a healthy dose of Southern blues thrown in for good measure.
Stay Golden is an album that clocks in at just over 31 minutes, but it does something not many albums released these days can do: deserve repeated listenings. It's a true testament to the songwriting, performances and production skills and a welcome throwback to the sound of the '60s.
Taddy Porter is: Andy Brewer (vocals/guitar), Joe Selby (lead guitar), Kevin Jones (bass) and Doug Jones (drums).
We spoke with Selby about Stay Golden, which is set to be released date February 26, and got some good practice advice.
GUITAR WORLD: Can you describe the sound and inspiration for Stay Golden?
We were all into bands like Zeppelin, Hendrix and music like that. But for this record, we wanted to go into a more old-school type of sound. We wanted to go more in the direction like the Kinks and the Stones. The album is a throwback to the British Invasion, but with a Southern/Americana-type sound. Working with Dave and Mark was amazing. They have so much knowledge of the sound from that time period.
Tell me about the songwriting and recording process.
We came in with all kinds of ideas for songs that everyone had accumulated over the years from writing and touring. We stripped them all down and started from scratch. A lot of the songs got transformed. “Fever” was a song that was a little bit more hard rock at first, and we made it more laid back. And whereas the first record was done more piece by piece, for this one we wanted to go for the live sound. Dave and Mark were totally against the use of a metronome so there was no click track. Doug, Kevin and I would all be in the same room playing along until we got the bare bones track of every song. We cut all of the basic tracks live and then came back and did a few guitar over-dubs.
The track “The Gun” has a Doors vibe to it. Especially the line about the “peppermint sky." It’s very visual.
That’s a total '60s British invasion line right there, and it's one of our favorites. Andy brought that song in and we all thought it was great. It was so different from anything we had done before. We knew we had something special with it.
Tell me about another track, “Emma Lee.”
Emma Lee is a fictitious character. It’s basically just a love song. The song started off as a jam Andy and I had done called “Honey Bee," which was more of a groovy song. We gave it a more up-tempo, Motown vibe and discovered that it sounded better with a girl’s name.
Do you have any advice for up and coming players?
I had an outline that I always tried to stick by when I practiced. I’d usually start out with a 1-2-3-4 warm up, sometimes all the way up the neck and back. I’d then go on to whatever scale I was working on at the time. I’d take the scale and move it around the circle of fifths until I had played it in all 12 keys. That really worked best for me, especially when I was learning a lick.
If I had a lick that I really wanted to nail, I’d first play it in whatever key the song was in and then take it up a fourth and play it there. Once I felt comfortable with it, I’d move it up another fourth, and then another. I’d do this all the way around until I got back to the starting key of the song. It’s a great way to practice because you practice longer and aren’t bored. It also works your fingers more by allowing you to play all over the neck and not be isolated to just one position on the fretboard.
Congratulations on Stay Golden. It’s one that longs to be played over and over.
We didn’t want the songs to keep going; we wanted to keep them short and sweet. The trick is to always leave ‘em wanting more!For more about Taddy Porter, check them out at their official website and Facebook page.James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.