in 2009, mwe3 featured a great album of guitar instrumental music
from guitarist Bill Perry, entitled Songs Of Walden.
As a follow up to Songs Of Walden, Bill Perrys 2015 album
Guitar Journeys is an impressive 3 CD set featuring
40 tracks of guitar instrumentals, composed and performed by Bill.
Speaking to mwe3 about the way Guitar Journeys was made, Bill
Perry adds, I really let the music dictate where it wants
to go in the arranging process. In the end it all comes down to the
melody. I might start off solo acoustic, overdub the melody line separately
and then add harmonies. In my opinion, a good song needs not only
to capture the imagination of the listener, but to tell a story as
well. In order to do that you need a really good melody. You
might think, with 40 tracks that covers an enormous range of classic
sounding solo acoustic guitar music, Guitar Journeys might
become the white album of guitar instrumental music. Thats
a lot of music yet, spread over 3 CDs, and tastefully packaged in
an appealing, digi-pak artwork, Bill Perrys 3 CD set never wears
out its welcome. A mighty impressive set from acoustic guitar maestro
Bill Perry, Guitar Journeys is right up there with the finest
acoustic guitar albums of the 21st century. www.BillPerryMusic.com
mwe3.com presents an interview
Is Guitar Journeys the follow up to your 2009 album Songs
Of Walden, which was a concept album based around the famous book
Walden by Henry Thoreau? Is there a concept, musically
or otherwise, behind Guitar Journeys? One question would be,
why did it take so long to complete and have it ready for release
as a 3 CD set? Its a massive undertaking but every song is unique
Bill Perry: Actually I started working on a follow up to the
Walden CD immediately after its release with an album
titled The Road Not Taken. Once finished I sent it to James
Jensen at Solid Air Records and he liked it quite a bit, but was not
quite ready to move forward at that time. I really could not see the
point of self releasing and knew that label was a perfect fit for
my music, so I just decided to keep writing and recording and eventually
finished 3 more CDs. A CD titled Lost in Heaven, then Images
and finally The Road Begins. So basically, I just wrote and
recorded for 5 years. In the end James decided he liked the music
enough, that it made sense to release all of it at once. It was a
big undertaking as each CD was recorded and mixed at different times
over a long period, so the challenge became to blend the 4 CDs into
3 as cohesively as possible.
mwe3: Why do you call your new 3 CD set Guitar Journeys?
Picking up on the journeys theme, do you think of yourself
as a kind of guitar journeyman of sorts? You live in New Hampshire
and is that where you recorded the tracks? Tell us about the recording
process involved of recording a 3 CD set with 40 tracks on it.
Bill Perry: James Jensen first suggested the idea for the Guitar
Journeys concept and I thought it was a great idea. The 3 CD set
really is not only a culmination of my work over the last decade,
but I guess you could say over a lifetime of playing to this point.
As far as the recording process is concerned, I am fortunate to have
found Gerry Putnam who owns CedarHouse Sound and Mastering in Sutton
New Hampshire, which is very close to where I live. He runs a nationally
known recording studio and not only is he a great engineer, but understands
how to record acoustic instruments and has an incredible ear to boot.
It is always a pleasure to be able to go into his studio and not have
to worry about anything other than playing the music.
Are all the tracks on Guitar Journeys all solo acoustic or
were other tracks recorded with various guitars, including electric
in places and even overdubbing? Who else involved in the recording,
engineering, mastering and more on the Guitar Journeys album?
Bill Perry: There are quite a few solo acoustic tracks, but
I also really like adding other guitars when the song calls for it.
I really let the music dictate where it wants to go in the arranging
process. In the end it all comes down to the melody. I might start
off solo acoustic, overdub the melody line separately and then add
harmonies. Depending on the song, a steel string or 12 string is sometimes
used, but the only electric guitars used on Guitar Journeys
were the slide guitar parts played by Gerry Putnam on Ghost
In The Garden and The Road Begins. He also added
some nice acoustic slide guitar on Not Quite There and
some beautiful nylon string harmonies on that and a few other pieces.
The solo tracks are the easiest to record as you are only dealing
with one track. It can get pretty involved as far as editing/mixing
and mastering when you start adding multiple instruments, but if the
song calls for it then it is well worth it in the end. The tracks
were recorded and mixed at CedarHouse Sound in NH and mastered by
Bill Wolf at Wolf Mastering in Virginia, who had the unenviable job
of making all 40 tracks and the 3 discs flow smoothly from beginning
to end and he did a great job. I do not want to forget Todd Ellison
either, who is responsible for the CD artwork and design. A bunch
of great professionals who all helped make this project a reality.
mwe3: Any other guitar news from you these days? I know Songs
Of Walden was written and recorded with your Taylor nylon string
guitar. What guitars do you use on Guitar Journeys? What other
guitars as well as guitarists have grabbed your attention these days?
Bill Perry: I am still using my Taylor NS62-CE nylon string.
It has a smaller neck width than a traditional classical guitar, lighter
action and a cut away, which I like. It just fits my style perfectly
and has a very good sound.
I did use a few other guitars including a few other Taylor and Guild
acoustic and twelve string guitars for the sessions and also my son
Brian plays on some tracks with his Taylor 316 CE acoustic.
I really like mixing steel with nylon string in multiple guitar settings
as it is sonically more interesting than just nylon. I know there
are a lot of great guitarists out there today doing some really cool
things especially with model tunings and percussive techniques and
I do enjoy listening. A lot of those artists are on the Solid Air
You are a master of the orchestral guitar sound
or maybe I should
say orchestrated guitar sounds, even on acoustic guitars.
Back in 2009, you spoke about using multiple guitars on your upcoming
albums and you can hear this quite clearly on the final Guitar
Journey track on disc 3, The Road Begins. Are you
using this technique a lot on Guitar Journeys or do most of
the tracks just require a single guitar? Does the song dictate a multiple
Bill Perry: Orchestral is a great term to use. Even on solo
pieces I try to create a sound that evokes more than just the one
guitar. In my opinion, a good song needs not only to capture the imagination
of the listener, but to tell a story as well. In order to do that
you need a really good melody. I do hear a lot of music today that
is interesting technically and sonically, but in the end you are left
with no real melody. In writing, I always let the song take me in
the direction it wants to go and not the other way around, whether
it is one guitar, multiple guitars or any combination of steel and
nylon. In the future, I might possibly utilize other instruments.
It just has to be whatever helps tell the story. Nothing more and
mwe3: Do you get most of your inspiration from literary writers
and authors? I saw in the credits for Guitar Journeys a number
of authors including Shel Silverstein, Dylan Thomas and Tennessee
Williams. Makes you wonder if most music isnt just a reflection
of a myriad of different arts, from movies and mother nature to literary
works. Do you find that to be the case?
Bill Perry: A lot of my inspiration on this project does come
from great writers and poets and also from nature, life and spiritual
things as well. The same things I would guess that inspire all of
us, so it is all connected isnt it? A great poet can tell a
story in just a few lines of verse. I enjoyed the challenge of creating
instrumental music inspired by those words and I know I better do
a pretty darn good job, given their credentials. In the end, hopefully
I do them justice...
You mentioned you were originally inspired by playing electric guitars.
Do you still play or record with electric guitars and what are your
favorite electric guitars that you own or have played in the past?
Bill Perry: I love the electric guitar and played it for many
years even after studying classical. At this point I am not playing
or recording with electric, as I really enjoy and am completely satisfied
with all of the sounds I can get out of my acoustic. My favorite electric
guitars were and are the Gibson Les Pauls. I love the sound of a Strat
as well, but for me I always preferred the sound and feel of the Gibson.
I owned several over the years, including a 1957 Les Paul Jr. with
a tobacco sunburst finish. The bad news is that when I decided to
go to the acoustic I sold it for I think about $350.00. I kept another
electric on hand as I was not playing it anymore anyway. Not a smart
move. I am not sure exactly what that Les Paul Jr. is worth today,
but if I was going to put a guitar in a case and not play it again,
I sure picked the wrong one. Today that guitar is worth thousands
and the other guitar
not so much.
mwe3: You have said youre not a classical guitarist per
se although you are influenced by classical guitars. Do you think
of music as being a composers forum so to speak. How do you
contrast being a guitarist with being a composer? Are you still a
big Jeff Beck and Robin Trower fan? It would be interesting to hear
Beck playing some of your compositions in his fusion band. The songs
are the key to all good music right? Im sure Beck would be inspired
by the Guitar Journeys CD set.
Bill Perry: I studied classical for several years and it is
the basis for my acoustic technique. I did learn a lot of the usual
classical guitar repertoire, but you really have to have a passion
and be dedicated to it for life if you want to consider yourself a
classical musician. I love all types of music, classical, rock, jazz,
folk etc. and I think that is reflected in both my style of playing
and in my music.
I had to choose, I do consider myself a composer first and a guitarist
second though. Of course the level of playing has to be there, but
in most cases if the music is good enough, it will not be overshadowed
by the musician or the instrument it is played on. Great music can
be played on any instrument and in any style. It sure would be great
to hear Jeff Beck do an arrangement of one or more of my songs with
his band or to know that he heard and liked my music. He is a musician
that sure knows how to turn a musical phrase and approaches everything
from a melodic basis. I think I lost his telephone number though!
Is there a good story behind having Guitar Journeys released
on Solid Air Records? Its a fine company with some great guitar
albums and I read the new CD liner notes by James Jensen. Seems like
its a good combination. How are they planning to spread the
word about Guitar Journeys? Are your earlier albums still available?
Bill Perry: I do not exaggerate when I say how happy I am to
be associated with James Jensen and Solid Air Records. In addition
to being a Grammy Award winning producer, he is also a great person
and being an accomplished guitarist himself, he understands guitar
music and how to market it. After sending him 4 CDs in 5 years and
as executive producer, James conceived of the Guitar Journeys
concept and away we went. He is also handling the publishing so hopefully
we will find some success in licensing the music commercially at some
point. I am just happy to have an opportunity for my music to be exposed
to a wider audience through his label and we will see what happens
from there. People can find my earlier albums A Christmas Carol
and Songs Of Walden available on my website as well.
Would you consider doing some concerts to further promote Guitar Journeys?
It would be great if Solid Air could do nationwide showcases for some
of their guitarists. Even though the US is such a big country, I guess
we can live in hope that these kinds of events can still happen. What
are your plans for Guitar Journeys as we move into the second
half of 2015?
Bill Perry: Actually many of Solid Airs artists have
a very busy touring schedule and some of them do perform together.
For myself, as far as performing is concerned, that is just not my
medium. Some musicians are great performers, some great writers, some
great teachers and some two or maybe all three. At this point in time
I just enjoy writing, recording, arranging and producing my own music
too much to consider performing and I think it would actually take
away from those endeavors. It took awhile, but I finally figured out
at some point that my musical strength is composing, so I am sticking
to Bill Perry @ www.billperrymusic.com