10 questions for The Temperance Movement's Paul Sayer

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Getting classic rock right in the modern day is a tricky task: it requires injecting a sense of '70s spirit while bringing something fresh to the table, but nobody treads the line quite so successfully as achingly authentic UK blues-rockers The Temperance Movement.

Following the departure of Luke Potashnick last year, Paul Sayer is now the sole guitar player in the band, but the duo cast a mean sonic shadow on the band's second album, White Bear, which is chock-full of chunky chord riffs, echo-laden leads and slick hard-rock songwriting.

Here, Paul lets us in on his six-string loves, quest for better slide playing and surprising session success…

1. What was your first guitar and when did you get it?

"I'm very lucky that the first guitar I ever played is still my main one! It's a 1973 Telecaster which was my Dad's, and it's Sunburst, which is quite a rare color for the '70s Teles. As if all that didn't make it sentimental enough, Keith Richards signed the back of it for me last year when we opened for The Rolling Stones in Orlando!"

2. The building's burning down - what one guitar do you save?

"I think it's safe to say that's pretty much been covered in the previous question!"

3. Is there a guitar, or piece of gear, that you regret letting go?

"I had a great early '70s ES-335, which sounded awesome. I sold it to a friend, because it had the post-'65 thin nut width, which felt strange to play, but I kind of wish I'd held onto because it sounded so good!"

4. And what's the next piece of gear you'd like to acquire?

"Honestly, I'm in a phase now of wanting to really focus on getting the best out of what I have already. I have some great guitars, amps and effects, and always looking to the next bit of gear can sometimes be too much of a distraction from actually making music! Having said that, my old Echoplex is pretty temperamental and noisy, so I'd love to try the Fulltone Tape Echo."

5. Is there an aspect of guitar playing that you'd like to be better at?

"At the moment, if I could zone in on a particular thing, it would be my slide playing. To have a tiny bit of what Blake Mills has going on would suit me just fine!"

6. When did you last practise and what did you play?

"Over the last few days, I've been learning a couple of live solos by Sturgill Simpson's guitar player, Laur Joamets. He's a fantastic player all around, but he does a fairly unique thing with a slide and the guitar volume to mimic a pedal steel. I've been trying to work some of that stuff out."

7. If you could have a guitar lesson from one guitarist, dead or alive, who would it be?

"Maybe Lowell George. I'm a massive fan of his all around - his guitar playing, singing and songwriting is all perfect to me. I reckon he would have been a pretty cool guy to hang out with for a couple of hours, too."

8. What item of gear would you take with you to a desert island?

"My '71 Martin D-18."

9. What's the worst thing that's ever happened to you onstage?

"The thing is, the usual hazards of being onstage - tripping over, dropping guitars, etc - don't really bother me. I just look at it as statistically likely to happen at some point if you play 100+ shows a year, and I try and laugh it off.

"I remember playing a session gig with someone for the first time years ago and thinking it had gone really badly. The artist's management and label were all there, and I felt like I hadn't played well at all. I beat myself up for days afterwards abut it, until the artist's management called and asked me to play a load more shows with her. I ended up working for her for four years, so it goes to show how much I know!"

10. What advice would you give your younger self about playing the guitar?

"I would tell myself to stop feeling like I had to be good at every style of playing, to just focus on what I really love doing and put my energy into getting great at that!"

White Bear is out now in the UK via Earache Records and released on 15 July in the USA via Fantasy Records.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as a decade-and-a-half performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.