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Impeccable as you both are as guitar players, do you recognise strengths and weaknesses?
“Oh, absolutely. We know exactly where our strengths and weaknesses are. Aside from what I do with Martin, I’m always personally working on stuff, and so is he, although I think I practise probably a lot more than Martin. What do I still want to improve? My knowledge of modes. I’ve gotta learn more about modes and the technical side of music. Look, I’m very untrained. I don’t read music, I’ve never had lessons, I play everything by ear. And I have a thirst for knowledge all the time.
Sometimes, someone will help me. Like, Frank Vignola, one day, we were playing this tune, and I stopped him and said: ‘Frank, what did you just do there?’ He said: ‘Oh, it’s a semitone diminished run that I got from Django Reinhardt.’ So, I learned it from him, and then I applied it to a lot of other things. He gave me one crumb – and I made a loaf out of it. That’s what I do. But he has that knowledge.”
Does Martin read music?
“I’m sure he does.”
Have you ever considered learning to read music yourself?
“I did try once, and I was hopeless at it. I just don’t have the patience. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I was told by enough people that I should really learn how to read music so I could get work
[on the Australian session circuit]. The problem was, I was already getting so much work that I couldn’t keep up with it. I couldn’t read a damn note – but I was busier than a one-armed fiddler! Anyway, I gave it a go, and I was no good at it. It just wouldn’t sink in, you know?”
What can we expect when you and Martin take this out on the road?
“Oh, I think it’s going to be electrifying for everybody, including us. It’s going to be so exhilarating to have this music to play together, and to really edge each other out there. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun.”
You’ve worked with the likes of Eric Clapton, Chet Atkins, Les Paul... who impressed you most?
“Well, if I want to get my dress blown up by a guitar player, I always put on Django. I go back to the source. He’s still the greatest for me. But there are so many players. If you look at the last five years of Joe Satriani’s work, it’s off the chart, it’s phenomenal. Frank Vignola is doing great work, too. There are so many players out there who are inspiring people to be around.”
The Colonel & The Governor is out now on Mesa/Bluemoon Recordings