Shane Fogerty talks Hearty Har and rocking with his famous father
Shane Fogerty vividly remembers the first time somebody complimented him on his guitar chops. He was 14 years old and was rocking out on Creedence Clearwater Revival's Up Around The Bend in his garage. His dad poked his head in and said, "That sounds just like the record!" Oh, yeah – his father just so happens to be John Fogerty.
"That was a pretty cool moment," Shane says with a laugh. "It's one thing to have your dad give you a seal of approval – that's always nice. But it's his song, so that's extra big. He was really surprised. He came in and said, ‘Your tone is spot-on. A lot of people can play the notes, but they can’t get the sound.’ He still says that to me.”
John's thumbs up wasn't just a gesture of fatherly pride, as evidenced by the fact that Shane has been a member of his dad's touring band for the past few years. Musical talent doesn't stop there in the Fogerty family: Both Shane and his brother, Tyler, contributed guitar parts to John's remake of Lodi on his 2013 album, Wrote A Song For Everyone. And now the Fogerty brothers are forging their own path with the band Hearty Har. The five-piece group (which also includes bassist Daniel Zucker, drummer Will Van Santen and saxophonist/keyboardist Jordan Bush) just released their Kickstarter-funded self-titled debut. You can purchase the album at heartyharmusic.bandcamp.com.
Shane sat down with MusicRadar recently to talk about the band, his influences and what it was like growing up with rock royalty.
Your father has certainly had issues with record companies and ex-bandmates over the years. What kind of career advice has he given you and Tyler?
“He’s given us a lot of advice over the years, actually. The biggest thing he’s said is, ‘Always have it in writing.’ And we struggled with a bit of that at the beginning of making this record. There was a problem with an engineer, somebody we’re friends with. Halfway through the process, the guy bailed on us and took our money. We didn’t have anything in writing, so we lost that money. It was a tough lesson to learn. So our dad was right.” [Laughs]
Your father is, of course, a brilliant guitarist...
“Oh, man, he’s amazing. Absolutely.”
Was he something of a built-in guitar teacher at home?
“Yeah, that was great. He was with me the first time I ever picked up the guitar. My brother and I went to the Guitar Center with him, and there were these little guitars in the place. We were like, ‘We want those! We want those!’ So, of course, he wanted to support us, so he got those little guitars for us.
“We’d try to figure out songs like Smoke On The Water, and he’d show us how to play certain things. Honestly, I think we were too young at the time, so we kind of got over it for a while. We didn’t come back to the guitar till we were maybe 12, 13. Then he would show us chords. We’d be like, ‘Hey, Dad, how do you play this song by Green Day?’ At that point, he wanted us to have a different teacher, a more formal kind of guy; he wasn’t really confident about his teaching skills. But I’m sure he could’ve done a great job.”
Has it ever been intimidating to have a father who’s also a famous musician?
“Yeah, it’s kind of a unique situation. I mean, every day you hear him on the radio. You see people who sing along to his songs – they know every single word. You think, ‘Will I ever do anything that big?’ It’s almost untouchable. To try to be like that or as big as that, I don’t think it’s possible.”
Above photo: Shane on stage with Hearty Har band mates, Tyler Fogerty (center) and Daniel Zucker.
Things are different for actors. You can have Michael Douglas, son of Kirk, or Jeff and Beau Bridges, sons of Lloyd – and so on. But musicians following in their parents’ footsteps seems to be a tougher road.
[Laughs] “Yeah, you’re right. We’re trying to do it our own way. I mean, we still look up to our dad. He practices every day for four to six hours. He’ll wake up at five in the morning, and before he takes our little sister to school he’ll get some practicing in. I strive to be like that. I don’t practice that much. Hopefully, eventually, I will, but right now I’m more focused on writing songs.”
As a kid, did you want to steer clear of playing your dad’s music – you didn't want it to influence you too much – or were you always cool with it?
“I’ve always liked the Creedence stuff. I never tried to separate myself and be at the opposite end of things. I really like Americana music. The Band, too, have been a big influence.”
Listening to the Hearty Har album, I found your guitar style to be fully formed – you can be lyrical, but also loud and raucous. What are some other influences?
“Guitar-wise, my first influence was Jimmy Page, and he’s still really big for me. I remember the first Led Zeppelin riff I ever learned was How Many More Times? Me and my brother and our bass player would just play that riff for 20 minutes straight without stopping. I got such a kick out of that. Then I dug deeper and got into Cream and Eric Clapton. Our oldest sister showed us a lot of the ‘60s psychedelic stuff – you can hear a bit of that on the album.
“We like a lot of folk stuff, like Simon & Garfunkel. The Incredible String Band are pretty crazy – we love them. A lot of garage rock, too. Rhino Records put out that Nuggets compilation, which was great. Oh, and lots of soul – Stax and R&B.”
You and Tyler recorded the Hearty Har album to tape. Not a lot of people are doing that these days – and certainly not a lot of young bands.
“Yeah, we were pretty adamant about doing that. Tape just sounds better. People say it’s warmer, and I guess it is. It sounds truer to me. We rented the tape, so it didn’t cost so much, but we definitely burned through our Kickstarter money.”
You went to USC’s Thornton School Of Music. What about the curriculum was helpful to you?
“The reason why I wanted to go was because they had just introduced the Pop Music Program; up till then, it was only jazz and classical. You could study ‘studio jazz guitar,’ which to me sounded really tough – a lot of chart reading and learning standards. But the Pop Music Program was all about learning pop and rock through the decades, starting with the late ‘40s and going onward. That sounded like it would mesh with what I wanted to do. I had ear training classes and theory classes every day for a few years. I didn’t know how much that would help, but it really has. It’s had a big impact on me.”
Les Paul love
Has it been hard for your dad to watch you and Tyler go through the process – learning the ropes, playing clubs, trying to get noticed?
“I don’t know if it’s hard, but he definitely knows the deal. Last October, we had a residency at some bar, and he was like, ‘Oh, yeah, Creedence had a residency at this place called the Monkey Inn. That’s where we learned a lot and grew as a band.’ He went through all the same things that we’re going through now, so he gets it.”
At a certain point, you’re going to have to leave your dad's band to concentrate full-time on Hearty Har.
“Yeah, I’m hoping – that’s the plan, anyway. We’re trying. There’s no cut-off point, but we’re trying to get more exposure for Hearty Har and to get the album out there. We’d like to open for other bands. If things like that happen, I might not be able to do my dad’s gig. We’ll see.”
You get to play this great American songbook on stage with your father. As a son, what’s that like? I imagine the experience must be a very profound and personal one.
“It really is. One thing you learn pretty quickly is how many people he’s touched with his songs. Seeing everybody’s faces when he starts playing Have You Ever Seen The Rain? is pretty amazing. Or seeing people get up and dance when he starts Bad Moon Rising – it's a really great feeling. I’m sure that’s why he keeps on doing it.”
What’s your favorite song of his to play on stage?
“I really like playing Ramble Tamble. That’s so much fun on guitar. You really get to dig in on that one.”
What are your favorite guitars to play? Any go-to models?
“With my dad, I play a ‘90s Gibson Black Beauty. That sounds great on his stuff – it’s got a lot of sustain. I have a pretty simple pedalboard, just a little delay and compression. With Hearty Har, I play a custom Rickenbacker 370, the three-pickup one. We got a custom paint job on it. My dad knows some of the guys at Rickenbacker, so they painted it this cool purple color – I love it. I have an old Coronado, too, from 1967, and a Danelectro 12-string. Those last three guitars are on the record. I’m not opposed to new guitars, but to me, the vintage ones just sound cooler.”