Australian blues journey man and acoustic guitarist extraordinaire Lloyd Spiegel will officially release his new studio album This Time Tomorrow on July 3rd. Even though it’s been been 7 years since his last studio record, Tangled Brew, he’s hardly been idle. In that time Lloyd has circumnavigated the globe many times and in 2015 released an incredible live recording called Double Live Set. Having just returned from Europe, he’s currently on tour around Australia playing songs from the new album and can also be seen at the Melbourne Guitar Show on the weekend of August 5 &6 at Caulfield Racecourse.

Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips caught up with Lloyd for a chat about the new album and the guitar show.

4 PANEL CD DigipackIt has been a while since your last studio album. Did you have a specific idea about what kind of album you wanted to make this time or was it more just a matter of dealing with a new batch of songs?
I’ve always been a guy who has made guitar albums, blues albums or songwriter albums. I’ve never been able to put all three together, so I was really conscious when I was writing this album … well probably not so much when writing, because that was very organic but when I was recording, I was making a real effort to make sure that all three elements were there for the first time. Also I knew the songs were quite eclectic, it had to have all three elements of what I am about, so I was more conscious of that than anything I have done in the past.

Over what period of time were these songs written?
About 9 months. Through the European tour last year I wrote about 70% of them and they sat there. Then I started recording them and the last 3 songs came from my American trip in February and recorded very quickly after that.

Do lyrics come easy to you or is it something you have to work hard at?
They’re coming easier now. It’s probably always been the weaker link in my songwriting, getting those lyrics together and being happy and proud of them. In the past, I have written some throwaway lyrics that I have not ever been happy with but this time I focussed a lot harder on them. They are coming easier when I write them on the spot, whereas I used to have to make them a distant memory before I could put it into song. These days lyrics are coming much, much faster to me and it is something I am really happy about.

Who are some of the artists who have influenced you in the way that you write?
Obviously Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, the cliches but they are cliches because they are so incredible in their lyrics. I often say that there are not a lot of great lyrics left because Tom Waits took them all and I think about that quite often. Also there’s an American named Guy Forsyth who nobody here has probably heard of but I listen to him religiously and he’s had an enormous influence on my songwriting.

Is there a track on the album which means more to you than others?
They are actually all quite personal. They are all written very much from a first person place and they all represent a certain time in that year that I was a long way from home and writing the postcards back. Each of them are really close to me but I think for other reasons, there are songs which are more important to me. Into The Blue for example because my 11 year old son is playing on the track so that was a really special thing for me. My little brother plays on the track Trigger and he has never been in the studio with me before, so little things like that. If I had to pick a favourite among them which touches me it would be the simplest song on the album which is Kansas City Katy. Katy was just a real eye opener for me being back in Kansas City where I used to live for the first time in 16 years and seeing around me that not a lot had changed. It was a really wonderful experience writing that song and sort of brought me back home to my blues roots.

How many guitars did you use on the album?
Just the three. I used one Cole Clark for all of the acoustic stuff, it was a redwood Cole Clark. I didn’t use my signature model. I wanted something that sounded quite big and American for lack of a better term and the redwood Cole Clark did the job with no pickup. I also used my ’71 Les Paul for a couple of lead tracks then the majority of the electric is an American Standard Stratocaster that I recently got from the good folks at Fender Australia. I couldn’t wait to plug it in, which I hadn’t done until I got into the studio, so it was a great experience to get that twang. When you are playing electric over acoustic you need that twang over the top, which only a Stratocaster can supply.

I saw you at NAMM earlier this year when you were involved in the promotion of the Boss Singer Pro and Singer Live amps. How was that experience for you?
Really good. When they approached me they said we’d like you to do this video for this new amplifier. I said, well I have spent my entire career telling people I don’t like acoustic amplifiers and that acoustic guitars should be plugged straight into a PA. They said, that’s why we want you to do it … we’ve created something here which we think you will really like. So they invited me to Sydney to test it out and filmed me that day and I really loved the product. Getting an acoustic amp that doesn’t sound like the amp and sounds like the guitar is really difficult, so I was really happy to help them out with that and it’s become a really good relationship.

Lloyd at Winter NAMM 2017 at the Boss booth

Lloyd at Winter NAMM 2017 at the Boss booth

You finally got to play Bluesfest this year … how was that experience?
It was incredible, it was a really great thing. I’d experienced festivals of that scale in the US many times but I had never been to a festival in my own country that had that level of international artists with that kind of production. The artists are treated so well too. The best thing a festival can do is ensure that an artist only has to worry about performing … that you putting on a great performance is your only concern and that’s what the people at Bluesfest do. It was a great thrill to play that festival and to wander onto that stage finally after twenty odd years of trying to get in there, was a really great feeling.

Did you stick around and catch some other bands?
I did, I was quite the fan boy. What was funny was that of all the artist I saw and I saw some amazing artists. California Honeydrops were amazing, Vintage Trouble … amazing. Everyone was amazing, that’s the beauty of that festival. Everybody is carefully hand selected, so they were all incredible but I went so crazy when Buddy Guy came on stage. Now Is have seen Buddy Guy thirty times but for some reason, when he came out I found myself just really going back to my roots and I thoroughly enjoyed every note the man played. Neil Finn was a highlight for me too because I had never seen him play but for some reason Buddy Guy just did it for me. Maybe that’s because deep down no matter how much things change, I’m still just a blues guitar player.

Lloyd at Bluesfest 2017. pic by Jason Rosewarne

Lloyd at Bluesfest 2017. pic by Jason Rosewarne

You’ve pretty much been all over the world this and last year. What were some of the places which made an impression on you on this tour?
This time around I toured Germany and the Czech republic for the first time. The Czech Republic was the really interesting one for me because I was playing to an audience that really didn’t understand English, whereas Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, they all speak English pretty well and I can get away with my whole show including my stories. The stories are an enormous part of the show, so to get in front of an audience where I couldn’t tell my stories and couldn’t communicate with talking, it was a really good challenge for me to push my music a little harder … to fulfill that connection with the audience. The first couple of shows I came off stage and realised I’d only been on for forty minutes because I was skipping all of my stories. I had to find new ways and new facial expressions and bring new excitement into the songs and it really pushed me.

I was talking to Nick Johnston the Canadian guitarist who is playing at the Melbourne Guitar Show. He was saying that playing guitar is a bit like playing golf, where some days you don’t sound as good to yourself as you did the week before or vice versa. Do you feel that too?
Constantly. I used to worry that I wasn’t a consistent player. For a while I’d show up at the Cole Clark guitar factory, wander into the set up room and think there was something horribly wrong with the set up or something but the truth is, you have your off nights. I kind of look at it like the first time you go on an airplane ride. You get off and you tell all of your friends, well we watched this movie and we ate this and there was a little bit of turbulence and we landed a little bit late, blah blah. Whereas after a while, it’s … how was the flight? It landed! I think shows are like that now. As long as the audience has thoroughly enjoyed themselves, I’ve done my job. Over critiquing myself probably doesn’t lead to anything good. I try hard to base whether I played well on whether the audience has left happy. Unfortunately musicians and especially guitar players can over think things and if you over think them, the next time you won’t be any better.

You’re back to play the Melbourne Guitar Show this year. What are your memories of the first guitar show that you played at?
I always say that Melbourne deserves a show like this because there’s such a rich culture of guitars in the city. There are so many great guitar players and to have them all in one place at one time is such a rare and unique experience. That’s what I really loved about the first time. It was the only chance I have had all year to catch up with these people I’ve really liked and admired. We kind of unite and sell off what we do as an entity and it’s a part of Melbourne’s fabric. It’s really important. I also like looking at some of the boutique brands. I think we have some incredible guitar makers right across Australia that can showcase their gear, it’s not just the big boys. They are makers who might make 8 or 10 guitars a year and they get to sell off their wares. It’s a bit of a candy store for someone like me.

I remember a great moment at MGS 2015 when you got young Charlie Bedford up on stage for a play. What was your moment like that when you were a very young guitar player?
I grew up going to the Station Hotel in Prahran every Sunday religiously to see Dutch Tilders and The Blues Club. From about 8 years old I would go every Sunday and sit on a milk crate next to the stage. They used the crate as a step. Right beside him was Geoff Achison and I used to watch the two of them in utter amazement. The first time I jumped up with them I guess I was 12 years old. The first time I jumped on stage at The Station was like playing Carnegie Hall with The Beatles for me. I think about it often. Pretty much every time I got up with Dutch Tilders after, I still felt like that 12 year old kid. I am well aware of what goes through Charlie’s mind because I have been there and I love giving him those experiences. There are always young musicians that I am inviting on stage for that very reason because I know the thrill. You know it is not entirely a selfless act either because you get to feed off that excitement. You can get a little jaded in the music business and you start to focus too hard on your spreadsheet and sales numbers so sometimes it is nice to remind yourself that when you started this, you did it because it’s a great thing to get up and play an instrument.

LLoyd Spiegel Melbourne Guitar Show 2015 with Charlie Bedford

Lloyd Spiegel Melbourne Guitar Show 2015 with Charlie Bedford

What’s happening after the guitar show and for the rest of the year?
I launch my new album in Melbourne on August 11 at the Thornbury Theatre and then I head over to Canada for five weeks on a national tour doing 20 shows then I come back and do West Australia, South Australia and a few festivals and that’s the year!

This Time Tomorrow is released on July 3rd