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© Bob Summers
People don’t often talk about your keyboard playing. Does it come naturally to you, or is it more of a struggle than, say, guitar playing?
“No, it’s just the opposite. Keyboards have always been, for some reason, very easy for me. I rarely practice, although of course, I get my chops back together before any kind of performance. It’s always been very easy, though. Frankly, it’s a matter of getting muscle conditioning in my hands so that I can last through some of the more challenging parts.
“For instance, live we play a much longer version of Foreplay, and it’s all at maximum speed. When I first start out, I can only get through a third of it before my hand cramps up. [Laughs] I’ve had to go into training. But other than that, keyboards have always been easy. Guitar, on the other hand, has always been a struggle. Every time I pick up the instrument, I think, ‘Wow. Shouldn’t this be getting easier by now?’ It never does.”
Another thing that isn’t mentioned a lot is your acoustic playing. Love Got Away has a beautiful acoustic intro, and you do some gorgeous Spanish-flavored soloing on Didn’t Mean To Fall In Love –
“Yeah, my little flamenco imitation [laughs].”
You do that, too, on You Gave Up On Love. What guitars do you use, and what’s your process for recording acoustics?
“It’s really simple: I have an ancient Guild D25, which got smashed twice by mic stand road cases falling over. It’s been pieced back together again. And I have a Guild G212 12-string, which I’ve used on Amanda and Love Got Away. It’s my go-to 12-string guitar. For recording, I always use a [AKG] 414 and compress it very heavily. If noise floor is an issue during a very quiet part – for example, at the start of Love Got Away or on You Gave Up On Love – I’ll switch to an old [Electro-Voice] RE20, just for the portion where the noise floor is an issue.”