Chris Buck's band Cardinal Black hit the ground running in May with debut single Tell Me How It Feels delivering huge success – including knocking Noel Gallagher off the top of the iTunes rock chart. Now the Cardiff four-piece are readying their eponymous EP for release on 16 July and have aired another new song with a live studio performance of the soulful Warm Love. And again it shows off some magnificent tones from Chris and his P-90-loaded Yamaha Revstar guitar.
We talked to Chris to find out more about about the song and its tones – plus his tips for players who would like to emulate his incredibly expressive fingerstyle and picking dynamic.
This performance shows more of an expansive side to the band, you remember how this song came together? Was it in a jamming scenario or did someone bring in an idea?
Chris: "Warm Love’s easily the oldest track that we’ve released to date - it goes back to the first version of the band about 10 years ago, so the specifics may be a little hazy! If memory serves though, I’d been working on a chord progression that would eventually become the verse and bridge sections but the chorus definitely sounds like something Tom would write.
"It’s almost cliched but pretty much everything with this band really is a collaborative effort; as much as someone may come in with the genesis of an idea, they only really become songs once we’ve had chance to kick it around the rehearsal room for a while.
"As for the arrangement of this particular version, we were trying to capture the energy and spontaneity of a live show, especially in lieu of actual live shows at the moment! Live sessions give you chance to be a little more expansive, as you say, without feeling too self-indulgent."
There's two additional musicians joining you on the studio live session - can you tell us a bit about them and will they potentially join the live line-up?
"Tay and Zak! Yeah, definitely. Whether it’s those guys will be dependant on their availability once touring comes back but the plan is to flesh things out a bit for certain shows. The extra harmonies in particular are so much fun to play with! It really adds an extra dimension."
Your solo is another stunner on this - how did you build up the idea for it?
"Thank you! It’s a bit of a different beast to something like Tell Me How It Feels or Jump In, both of which were fairly structured and of a set length. I guess the live solo for Warm Lave was subconsciously informed by the solo I’d recorded for the E.P. version a few days earlier but aside from a few reoccurring motifs, it was entirely off the cuff and if you ask the band, probably went on a bit longer than it was meant to! It’s one of those solos which is a different length every time we play it. It’s fun to let the band drive you and determine where it goes.
You're using fingerstyle on it - do you have any tips for players who want to start putting down their pick and switching between the two?
"There’s no time like the present! The sooner you start experimenting with it, the sooner it’ll become second nature. I’ve been doing it so long now that I’ve forgotten what it felt like to have not done it but I imagine if you’re coming from a pick-only background, it can feel a little awkward and clumsy at first.
"Finding somewhere that you’re comfortable ‘storing’ your pick is a huge part of it - there’s no right or wrong and as long as it’s somewhere accessible enough that you can switch between the two fluidly, you’re nailing it.
What do you feel are the gains to be made for developing fingerstyle technique for electric playing?
"For me, it’s always been about dynamics and texture; a pick has an immediacy and attack at the front of the end of the note where as your fingers sound fleshy and rounded - softer, I guess. Neither one is better but having the capacity to change between the two adds an extra dimension to your playing.
"There’s a funny moment in the live session solo where I drop the pick right at the climax of the solo, having been using my pick for a long time beforehand. Trying to maintain that momentum and energy with my fingers was a bit of a task but at least being fairly well-versed in using them, it wasn’t as clumsy as it might have been."
There's a very cool reverb sound on this performance - what pedals were you using for this?
"There’s a decent amount of spring reverb coming from the amp itself at all times but for the sections where it sounds a little more spacious, it’s actually a subtle delay coming from the Dawner Prince Boonar - it’s a cool effect that if you play softly enough, you don’t really hear the sharpness of the repeat, only the length of the decay.
"There’s also a plate reverb I use in my HX Stomp XL preset but that that’s primarily for Jump In. Listening back, there may have been a subtle amount of reverb added in the mix stage as well to help things gel together. That’s invariably the case when it comes to mixing so I made a conscious decision not to go too crazy with the effects at the time of recording.
"Usually, time-based effects in a live scenario are a bit like stage makeup; you can afford to be a little more drastic than you were anticipating because the subtleties are lost but if you do that for a recording then there’s no going back…"
For more info on Cardinal Black and to order the EP check out thecardinalblack.com