ALLEN HINDS
Monkeys And Slides
(Hindsybabe Music)

 

In jazz rock land, he’s referred to by informed guitar enthusiasts as the “other” Allan, or in this case, Allen Hinds—who has just released what some are calling his best album yet, Monkeys And Slides. Fans of the intense guitar pyrotechnics of guitar legend Allan Holdsworth will enjoy the new Allen Hinds album as it taps right into a similar sonic vibe. With a cross section of dazzling fusion guitar instrumentals emanating from his fingertips, Hinds breathes new life into his rising jazz-rock instrumental sound with the nine track Monkeys And Slides. Several of the same musicians who appeared on the 2009 of his Falling Up album appear on Allen’s 2011 album and, it’s nothing less than exciting to hear these guys operating on the same musical wavelength. For those jazz-rock fans not familiar with Allen Hinds, think of Pat Metheny at his most daring but even kicked up another notch. In the following interview on mwe3.com, Allen is promising to bring his music around America, a thought well worth seeing happen for fans who’ve followed his career this past decade.


mwe3.com presents an interview
with ALLEN HINDS



mwe3: I didn’t think it could get better than your last album, Falling Up but you really give it your best shot on the Monkeys And Slides album. Would you say there’s a continuous flow between the two albums and what are the sonic / stylistic differences you set out to make between the two?

ALLEN HINDS: Thanks, well, flow? Not in the way I think you mean. The new CD came at a request from a promoter in Japan to have product when he brought me over for a tour. I really wrote most of the CD in about two months. If there is a flow it's that I have always loved the sound of slide guitar. Always been a huge pedal steel fan, David Lindley, Ry Cooder, Lowell George, Duane Allman, Buddy Emmons, Greg Leisz...and I always have song ideas floating around. Having the Japan tour was the impetus to get working. I initially just recorded a million guitar tracks with the idea of replacing a lot of them with keys. Because of my rush, and my eventual getting used to the songs, I left a lot as it was...and I have often had folks tell me they wanted me to “blow” more on my CDs. So if you want lots of layered guitars and solos, you got 'em on this CD. (laughter) But the songs just started to unfold when I started laying down tracks. One thing leads to another...but yeah, I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.

mwe3: Why did you call the CD Monkeys And Slides and who came up with that wild concept artwork of the monkey heads peeping out of the slides?

AH: I was sitting here putting together the title song, to eventually be named “Monkeys and Slides” and it was a “mother” to play. Convoluted, busy, hard changes to solo to. In front of me at my computer I keep an array of slides and I happened to have these little monkey figurines. I had initially bought for stocking stuffers last Christmas. I was sitting here taking a break and just started playing around, they fit perfectly and there you go. Besides the title “Monkeys And Slides” can also have other connotations. In life, ”monkeys” on our backs. Up and down “slides” in every day life, so it seemed to make sense.

mwe3: Do you have a core band that you work with in L.A. and what players formed the crux of your band on the Monkeys And Slides album? The addition of vocalist Rogerio Jardim really enhances the title track with his wordless, yet totally soaring vocalizing.

AH: I do have a group of great players. Jeff Babko, from the Jimmy Kimmel show, he also toured with James Taylor and Sheryl Crow. We’ve known each other for a long time. Dave Hooper is a rock solid drummer, and J.V. Collier is a close friend. He works with Bruce Hornsby and many others. At the same time I have always loved Jimmy Johnson’s playing, and while I was on tour with Gino Vannelli the last 5 years, I came to love Reinhardt's playing. It’s hard to decide on only one combination of players. When you live in a city like Los Angeles…they all bring something special to the table. And Rogerio is amazing. I sent him the track with a melody, he sent back parts in 30 minutes. He’s really a gifted musician.

mwe3: What electric guitars are you mostly playing on the new Monkeys And Slides album and is there going to be an Allen Hinds signature guitar model in the future? Are there any other guitars or guitar related things catching your attention these days?

AH: I used many. I do use a Les Paul primarily these days. Love the sturdiness and the sustain and the clean sound is just great too on the CD. I used my trusty Xotic guitar. Like a maple neck Strat with a humbucker that has a Tom Holmes pickup. I know they sell many like this. And I like the AC boost they make. I’ve done a lot of ads for them, but so far no signature guitar or pedal. I guess I am not quite famous enough. (laughter) Anyway, I also used a 1964 335, a mid '80s SG with Tim Shaw pickups for slide. I also have a 1060 Melody Maker with a humbucker. It has a Palm pedal. I can do the poor man’s pedal steel simulation with that and I have a nice 1954 175 for the jazzier stuff.

mwe3: How were the Monkeys And Slides tracks recorded and were there many overdubs?

AH: I recorded them all here, with Shure mics and Neumanns for the acoustics. Avalon preamps, Bogner amps, Bob Burt cabs. And yeah I did overdub but I keep the contour of the solos the same...in that I will record one solo, and usually just keep that motif and punch in where I messed up. But I try to limit the overdubs to the first few takes.

mwe3: What amps do you prefer recording with in the studio and live?

AH: I like the Blankenship Carry On model and I used a Bogner Barcelona too. Both clean, around 20 or 30 watts apiece. Pedals work well this way, for me.

mwe3: Can you add something about the two live tracks on the new CD including “Toss It Back,” the 11 minute closing number?

AH: Well, I wanted to catch the live aspect of our band, which I think it does. We let it all hang out...go for anything we feel. With Babko this is easy, and really the most fun I have in life is playing live with these guys. I did one at the Baked Potato and one at my friend Peter Hastings’ house.

mwe3: What is the key in bringing your studio sound to compact disc? Even on the live tracks the playback sound is natural without much distortion. Can you say something about how you master your tracks for CD audio and just a few tips on how you get that amazing sound onto CD? It's becoming a lost art form these days.

AH: I honestly don’t put a lot of thought into that. I just dial and tweak until I am inspired to play and Ernesto Homeyer helped a lot by bringing his mixing skills to the table. But I don’t really use any chorus, just a guitar into the AC boost by Xotic into the amp and tweak away, but tonally not much was done after the initial recording.

mwe3: Are you planning a DVD in the future?

AH: Well, after recording the live stuff, we’ve been thinking about doing a live DVD. We will see, but I think our live band needs to be seen and heard. Folks come, and even if they are not guitar enthusiasts they seem to really enjoy watching the interplay in the band. It’s very spontaneous and exciting. I hope to get that out one day. I’m also planning on some online instructional stuff on my web site, like a “weekly lick” type of thing.

mwe3: How do you split your time these days between recording artist, session musician and guitar teacher?

AH: It's been hard of late. I’m teaching at a new school called Shepherd’s School in L.A. with Abe Laboriel, Otmaro Ruiz and Jimmy Branley. I do a lot of sessions here at home, online, and still teach at M.I. a bit. Been doing tracks for several cable TV shows. I just try to keep busy, but I really want to branch out and do more live stuff, hopefully more outside of L.A. and Japan. More around the U.S and hopefully Europe. I think they would really like where the band is coming from and I’m looking for management now.

mwe3: What are some of your interests outside of the music world, hobbies, special causes.

AH: Well I am a tennis nut. I have that bug. It’s the best game in the world in my opinion and I'm pretty good. It’s a healthy addiction but sometimes think I would get a lot more music done if I wasn’t on the courts 5 hours 5 times a week. (laughter) But yeah... that is my balance to music.

mwe3: Looking back on all you’ve accomplished over the past decade how would you compare your roots growing up in Alabama with now living and recording in Los Angeles, which was always the king of the recording world, and a city just breathes music I feel.

AH: Well, although I guess it’s all a learning process. I feel I wasted many years worrying if I was good enough to cut playing with all these other touring groups and trying to play what another artist thought was the “right way” to play. I am really thankful I started doing my own thing six years ago or so... It’s the most satisfying thing I have ever done. I should have started 20 years ago. But yeah, having my compositions and my playing accepted the way it seems to be the last few years is the best feeling in the world...next to hitting a backhand down the line for a winner. (laughter)

Thanks to Allen Hinds @ www.AllenHinds.com

 

 
   
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