An Interview with Laurence Jones
January 8th 2018
I had the great pleasure to sit down and chat with Laurence Jones about his life, his career and his new album.
I must apologise in advance for the background noise but hopefully you can still hear Laurence fine. Below is a transcript of our interview.
TFM - Okay, Laurence, welcome. We’re in London today, and we’re going to have a chat about your life, your career, and your new album. Tell us a bit about yourself and your band and how long have you guys been together?
LJ - Well, the drummer’s been with me for two years and the boys joined exactly a year ago, the bass player and the keyboard player. And I just wanted a new change, new band, younger guys. Obviously, their influences are different, so that always helps. And I just get inspired by playing with different people. It’s very hard to find the right band.
TFM - You have your own ideas of how you want to sound, and what you want to play, and it’s finding that perfect match to complement your style?
LJ - Definitely.
TFM - And that’s always going to be the most difficult thing.
LJ - Yeah, what was interesting was last year was 2017, so we got a new record label, new band, new album, new image, it was cool.
TFM - So you were classically trained, like you say, and scales were very important. So your soloing nowadays is just second nature to you. You can just play anywhere on the neck, you can just go for it. And that helps.
LJ - Yeah, that definitely helps. I mean there’s a lot of scales in there that I learnt and a lot of different chords. And melodies that I hear in my head, you know, if I would have learnt the blues first, I think I would have stuck to just what Stevie Ray Vaughan did, or B.B. King. But I like to hear things more melodic and classical is quite dynamic as well.
TFM - So you can bring those influences into your playing and, like you say, put your own stamp on the blues, so to speak.
LJ - I’m big about putting my own stamp on it. Back in the day when I first picked up the electric guitar, I tried to copy people like Hendrix. But obviously, he’s impossible to copy anyway, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and I could never get the solos to sound like them. So then I was like, right, I’m going to learn it as best as I can and then do my thing.
TFM - So with influences from the past, who would have, when you were growing up, 8 years old, classical guitar, you want to rebel, who did you look to? You said Hendrix. Who else would have been?
LJ - Clapton, and Gary Moore.
TFM - So just basically the front men, lead guitar players.
LJ - The songwriters and the singers and the people who were showmen, they had all of that.
TFM - I think that’s the thing, especially when you are young, you’re drawn to the guy on the stage who everybody’s staring at who’s making these amazing sounds on his guitar, this piece of wood, that there’s only so many notes and chords that a guitar can do, but these people are making it sound like nobody else.
LJ - Yeah, exactly.
TFM - And you want people, like you say, you put your own stamp on the sound, you want people to sound like Laurence Jones.
LJ - Definitely.
TFM - Rather than Laurence Jones to sound like Joe Bonamassa, Eric Clapton, or anybody else.
LJ - There can only be one of them. So be yourself.
TFM - Don’t be a copy.
LJ - Exactly.
TFM - That’s really cool. Now how many albums, including this latest album, how many have you actually released?
LJ - Five.
TFM - Which is a lot, because you are mid twenties, 25?
LJ - Yeah, 25. So it is a lot of albums to get out there So, I like to change the direction I go in each album so my fans don’t get bored, and I don’t get bored. And I’m always inspired by different music, anyway.
TFM - So how do you see that you’ve grown as an artist over the five albums, up to the present album that is going to be released March the 9th I believe? How has your sound, to you, improved or grown, as a sound compared to when you started?
LJ - Well, the main thing is the songwriting comes from experience, and age, and having people involved as songwriters. And just songs can carry so much, you know, can make the guitar sound more mature, make the instruments sound different.
TFM - And people always, doesn’t matter what they say, they always do look at the lyric booklet.
LJ - Always.
TFM - And they always want to know what line of the song, what it means, what it says. So, like you say, if you’re a good songwriter, you’ve got great lyrics and it tells a story, people can relate more, when they listen to the actual music. Because this latest album, you recorded it in Florida, is that correct? With Gregory Elias.
LJ - Yeah, Miami.
TFM - How was that whole experience with that guy?
LJ - It was amazing, because Gregory Elias owns the record label and he produced the album, and he’s got a big influence in the music industry. He brought the Rolling Stones to Cuba to play a free concert.
TFM - Yeah, paid for it with his own money.
LJ - He just wants people to do that, and he’s got this real sort of interest in bringing British music to the Americas, to the masses.
TFM - More like a passion for him.
LJ - Yeah, it’s a passion and it’s a love, and when you combine them two together it creates a great force.
TFM - So how did you two get together in the first place? Because that must have been quite an interesting conversation?
LJ - It was very interesting. I mean the story is amazing. how it happened. He saw me in guitar magazines about five years ago, and he saw me on YouTube, and heard I won all these awards, British music awards, and European guitarist.
TFM - Kept an eye on your career?
LJ - He kept an eye on me, and then his business partner, there are two of them involved, and they have a lot to do with the North Sea Jazz Festival, as well. So they booked me for that festival and came to see me, and came to me with a record deal. And it was a great opportunity and the direction I’ve always wanted to go in. And you don’t get opportunities like that in the music industry anymore.
TFM - So there’s 10 tracks on the new album. Was it easy to pick those 10 tracks or did you have to lose some by the wayside?
LJ - Yeah. And also a bit like a theme. I had loads of great songs but they didn’t fit with the album. I wanted it to fit. Some somehow don’t fit, but that’s what I wanted.
TFM - So is there a particular favourite that you like to play live off this new album? I mean I take it you’re playing a lot of the new stuff now just to prepare people, and was there a particular favourite?
LJ - I like playing “Gone Away.” It’s got that rock punch to it, a cool chorus, and I rip on the solo as well.
TFM - Now we talked earlier, you’ve obviously got this nice Gibson. You’re normally seen with a Fender on stage. And I was gonna say, is that your weapon of choice? But after today, seeing this beautiful Gibson Les Paul, what is your favourite guitar, or what would be your dream guitar, if money was no object?
LJ - Well, the new album has a lot of different sounds that I wanted to duplicate live. I don’t like doing albums where I can’t do it fully live, and they used a Les Paul in the studio. And Gibson have kindly endorsed me today.
TFM - It’s a totally different sound to a Strat.
LJ - It’s a completely different sound.
TFM - But it’s a beautiful sound, as well. It’s like you say, for a punchier song, it’s got that backbone.
LJ - And a lot on the album, a lot of it is rocky, and I need that power to it behind, and it’s a different voice to my vocal and it complemented it. But my dream guitar, the guitar I always pick up, is my Fender Stratocaster. I do love it. It just sort of feels like it sinks into my body. I don’t know what it is.
TFM - I saw you earlier this year supporting Vintage Trouble at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, and you just looked like you were having fun on stage. Is that a big part of this new band you’ve got together? To have fun and enjoy the music, enjoy the moment?
LJ - I’d have fun whoever is up on stage with me. It’s like each just – I suffer with Crohn’s Disease, stomach problem, it’s ulcers on the stomach. And for me, music is my healer, it’s everything. When I’m on that stage you forget all your worries. It’s like another world that you get into. And that’s what I love about music, and that just makes me happy.
TFM - So I also saw you recently at the Bad Touch show in London, and also you were at Black Country Communion last week, I believe.
LJ - Yeah.
TFM - Is that something you like to do, get to these other gigs when you’ve got down time?
LJ - Yeah, I mean, I love going to concerts and I did like 200 shows last year, so I didn’t get a chance to go to many gigs, other than the gigs I was at, like festivals and seeing other bands. I saw some great bands, you know.
TFM - I was going to say, who have you seen, or who have you dealt with that you would recommend to somebody for this year that maybe they’ve never heard of before?
LJ - I supported the Rival Sons. They’re really cool. Have you heard of them?
TFM - Yeah, yeah. I think everybody has, that’s the problem.
LJ - Yeah, I like Eric Gales, we did some festivals with him. He’s really cool. Kenny Wayne Shepherd, went on tour with him, he’s great.
TFM - So you’ve had some fantastic sets with some great artists. I mean you’ve got your headline tour coming up and it starts in March (Actually May), I believe, starts in March. But you’re doing a one off show at the Borderline in London?
LJ - Yeah, we are doing that the 23rd of January, that’s coming up in a couple of weeks.
TFM - Is that just the one off show, just to get back into it?
LJ - Yeah, a one off show, yeah, to get back into the swing of things. I didn’t want to leave it too long to tour. We’re touring in May, Planet Rock presenting the tour, which is a great rock station always supporting real music.
TFM - They seem to have very good promotion for their events, very good at sorting tickets and people, they seem to be able to draw a crowd.
LJ - Yeah.
TFM - And as an artist, you, I mean, it’s always great to have, I mean you’d probably play in front of two people, the same as you play in front of 20,000 people, but it’s nice as an artist to have that support.
LJ - It’s great to have that support from a real radio station. You turn on the radio now, it’s a lot of crap, and I’ll say that on camera.
TFM - It’s true.
LJ - But with this album I wanted to sort of blend a mixture of songs that get on radio but with real, live instruments, and real guitar music.
TFM - I think that’s the thing. I mean for me, personally, if it’s live music, I’ll watch it. It can be classical, I can go and watch opera, or anything. As long as it’s live, as long as the people are playing real instruments
LJ - Yeah, you feel it.
TFM - Yeah, exactly, and it’s just fantastic. So, well, thank you for talking to us today. Best of luck with your upcoming tour, and everybody should go and check you out for certain. And “The Truth” is out on March the 9th.
LJ - Yeah.
TFM - So thank you.
LJ - Thank you.
TFM - So how old were you when you first started playing guitar, and what drew you to the blues?
LJ - I was 8 years old and I played classical guitar, I studied all my grades through that, and then when I was about 13 I moved up to the blues. I wanted to rebel a little bit, I didn’t want to read music anymore, in front of a sheet and just do that. I wanted to play whatever came to my mind, whatever I was feeling like.
LJ - Oh, it was hard. It was really hard. I wrote about 25 songs for this album, and we picked the ones that sort of flowed into each other.
TFM - As if you are playing a set on stage, so it runs, yeah?