his 15th solo album, Marvin On Steel, guitarist
Kay Das once again returns to the instrumental guitar sound
and vision of Shadows legend Hank B. Marvin. Of course were
talking about the sound of Kays 8 string Steelocaster guitar,
a custom lap steel modeled on a Stratocaster. For the 18 track Marvin
On Steel CD, Kays Steelocaster guitar is paired with fellow
guitarist Charles Campbell, who successfully teams with Kay
by adding in some of the more traditional sounding Marvin-esque guitar
sounds. Several drummers, along with several other musicians, assist
Kay and Charles on the album. Musically, Kays choice of Shadows-related
music is first rate. Just to single out a fewMarvin On Steel
includes a number of tracks Hank and The Shadows made famous including
the 1960s era classic composed by Hank, Little Princess
and a new Kay Das version of Richard Hawleys excellent tribute
to Hank entitled Im Absolutely Hank Marvin, which
Hank originally played on, two Shadows-esque tributes to Whitney Houston,
including One Moment In Time, first done instrumentally
by The Shadows back on Steppin To The Shadows back in
the late 1980s. Several Marvin On Steel tracks are Beatles-related
too, including Sunset Over The Kushiara, a song inspired
in part by George Harrisons Marwa Blues and also
a surprising instrumental cover here of a relatively recent Paul McCartney
song entitled My Valentine, which is just dripping with
Kays fantastic Steelocaster guitar work. In fact, most of the
songs Kay has assembled on Marvin On Steel are quite well known
and all seem to benefit from Kays steel guitar flavored interpretations.
When it comes to steel guitar flavored renditions of Shadows style
instrumentals, very few guitarists can claim to have the magical touch
and finesse of guitar master and guitar enthusiast Kay Das. Marvin
On Steel is recommended listening for all Shadows fans, guitar
instrumental fans and anyone who loves and admires memorable classic
pop melodies. www.KayDas.me
mwe3.com presents an interview
mwe3: The new Marvin On Steel CD is great. Was Hank
Marvin really the main inspiration behind the 18 track CD? I ask that
because theres such a wide range of music including several
Beatles related songs too. What was involved in your selecting which
songs to cover for the Marvin On Steel CD?
DAS: Grateful for the appreciation, Rob. Yes, my fifteenth album
of instrumental steel guitar music has been inspired by the guitar
stylings of Hank Marvin, in continuation with the previous Shadows
on Steel and Shadows on Steel Encore
albums. I think Hank must have had a steel guitar kind of sound
in his mind when he developed his unique lead guitar stylings. Hank
played a Fender Stratocaster making innovative use of the whammy bar,
along with string bending to get the steel guitar effect
and which also makes a guitar sound more voice-like. An art that he
perfected. Hanks unique guitar sound was originally produced,
apart from his exceptional technique, by a combination of the Stratocaster
guitar, Vox amplifiers, the Meazzi Echomatic tape, and the Binson
magnetic disc. This album represents a completion of the circle, a
steel guitar tribute to That Sound, plus tracks in some
new directions. I believe music never to be static and that new directions
evolve all the time with inspiration from the past and present.
I usually record new tracks over a period of time and then sit back
and group them to compile an album if I have collected enough tracks
on a theme. The music of Les Paul, Chet Atkins, The Shadows and The
Beatles, along with some Hawaiian steel guitarists, were some of earliest
musical influences. Regarding choice of tunes, no fixed process. I
usually have a tune buzzing around in my head and the buzz only abates
when I do something about it... like recording it. An 8-string Steelocaster,
a custom lap steel modeled on a Stratocaster, as featured on the CD
cover, was the lead instrument on many of the tracks.
mwe3: Can you say something about who plays with you on Marvin
On Steel and how did you meet Charles Campbell, how did you share
the guitar parts with Charles, and who else was involved in the album
making, the recording and the creative process?
Sometimes when you get that buzz and it feels like doing everything
yourself and sometimes involving others, both of which I enjoy. I
also do a lot of gigs and real time playing with different groups.
Doing stuff on your own gives you total control. Doing stuff with
others is exciting because you come to close contact with their skills
and approach and it is fun to combine, you learn so much. It is also
very rewarding to play with my son, David, who is a producer, composer,
and instrumentalist in Hollywood.
I met Charles Campbell, originally from South Africa, who now lives
in Dublin, at the Shadowmania events in 2011 and 2012. We played together
last year. He is a brilliant guitarist and, apart from following The
Shadows, we share a common interest in home studio recording in which
we are both active. The three tracks recorded were worked across the
internet with uncompressed audio file transfers. I work with others
on a similar basis. You can transfer audio files across the internet
with no loss in quality nowadays. Absolutely fantastic! No studio
mwe3: Interesting that you have a new song on Marvin On
Steel called Sunset Over The Kushiara which was inspired
by George Harrisons Marwa Blues, from Georges
final studio album Brainwashed. Tell us something about that
track which was also inspired by your roots in India. Are you still
influenced by Indian music? I know the guitar is quite a popular instrument
from India along, with the sitar. Do you have favorite Indian guitarists
and sitarists and what is your favorite album of instrumental Indian
- guitar and sitar music?
DAS: I had been reading my Dads hand-typed memoirs in which
he often mentions the river Kushiara in eastern India on the banks
of which he grew up. I had heard Georges Marwa Blues
before and the tune buzzed in my head for long and I began thinking
of it as a cover, which it starts out at, but as I studied the tune
I began to get my own ideas and that is how Sunset Over the
Kushiara was born. The opening bars are much like Marwa
but it then evolves
My influence from Indian music is small, and more from pop than classical
music. Calcutta (now Kolkata) has a steel guitar following probably
because Tau Moe, a Samoan musician who toured the world during the
World War II years, spent 14 years in Calcutta. One of his students,
Garney Nyss, was my first steel guitar hero with his renditions of
Moana Chimes and St. Louis Blues. I also liked
the steel guitar stylings of Van Shipley, who played many Bollywood
tunes on steel. He had great left hand control and was capable of
accentuating the microtones which are a characteristic of many Bollywood
tunes. Microtones got my attention. Van Shipley was followed by others,
notably Batuk Nandy and Sunil Ganguly long with a few other superb
steel guitarists with albums of their own. The two above would have
to be some of my favorites. Batuk has passed away in the prime of
his career; I am in touch with his son.
I should also mention that my first public non-steel performance of
a Shadows tune was as a teenager in Calcutta. The guitar was a homemade
red electric guitar that was imagined to resemble a Stratocaster,
as I could not afford to buy one, and it was christened Apache. I
played the tunes Apache and The Savage at my first
non-steel stage performance. We could not obtain frets for the neck
so I had to fashion them out of curtain hem holders suitably cut to
fit the width of the neck and embedded into the fretboard. The fretboard
was not too friendly and made my fingers hurt. The year was 1965.
Also from Marvin On Steel, Im Absolutely Hank Marvin
is a song that originally featured Hank but was actually a b-side
on a Richard Hawley EP. Did that track ever come out on CD? I just
see its on download. Its such a great song, can you shed
some light on that track and what brought that one to the table for
you? Speaking of rare Hank related songs, what did you think about
Life Story, the final (so far) Shadows song and would
you ever cover that or have you?.
KAY DAS: I first heard Absolutely Hank Marvin at
Shadowmania 2012, played by my friend Derek Kerner and its forlorn
melody line immediately caught my ear, and thought it could have a
particular interpretation on steel guitar. It was written by Richard
Hawley and is from the Coles Corner CD single of 2005. Hank
Marvin played the lead on the original recording. The steel on the
track and on other tracks in Richards albums is almost certainly
played by Richard himself; he is known to have a few in his collection.
Richard Hawley is unique in that all his CDs are named after Sheffield
local areas (Coles Corner, Ladys Bridge, Lowedges, and his latest
album Standing At the Skys Edge).
On my version, lap and pedal steel guitars and guitar rhythm tracks
are played by me with the Steelocaster, MSA Deluxe XL pedal steel,
and a 2002 Stratocaster respectively. The lap steel lead was routed
through an Alesis Quadraverb GT with patch setting #51, "Walking
on Air". The backing is by Andrew McGarrick. The score for this
recording is also credited to him. This is a great tune: the melody
arpeggiates notes per a F major 7th chord followed by F minor major
7th triads while the rhythm guitar sequences Am - E chords. Some (regular)
guitarists have found the tune disquieting, but I think it sits well
with the fluidity of the steel guitar. Maybe the jury is out on this
I would love to cover Life Story some day, great and
fitting finale from The Shads, just have not got down to it yet
Watch this space!
I was always amazed by the Shadows cover of One Moment In Time.
As great as Whitney Houston's version is, The Shadows version seemed
to really capture all the power of the song. Was that why you chose
to cover it for the Marvin On Steel CD? Any other insights
on that song? I didnt know it was the anthem for the 1988 summer
olympics. There used to be a great You Tube clip of the song by The
Shadows, that I found after Whitneys passing in 2012 but I cant
find it anymore! But there have been a lot of videos inspired by the
KAY DAS: I loved Hanks version from the 1989 CD album,
the last track of Steppin To The Shadows and it was the
direct inspiration for this rendition. Amazing how Hank can fill a
whole auditorium with just well chosen simple notes and with what
he does between the notes. Jerry Byrd, noted steel guitarist, once
said, Everybody can play the notes, its what you do between
them that matters. On this track I play the first and last sections
with traditional picks and the middle section with a plectrum. The
attacks are very different.
mwe3: What made you choose Paul McCartneys My Valentine
as an instrumental for the Marvin On Steel CD? Its an
unusual song but it works well under your treatment. Any inside story
on that song? It was always amazing to me that the first Beatles song
was a tribute to The Shadows called Cry For A Shadow.
KAY DAS: This is a version on steel guitar of Sir Paul McCartney's
haunting composition, track 8 of his sixteenth studio album, Kisses
On The Bottom, released 7 February 2012. Some of the recording
was done at Capitol Studios, not a million miles from where I live.
Sir Paul performed it live at the 54th annual Grammy Awards. The final
day of prep for the Sunday night awards show began with McCartney,
who did three run-throughs of this. Diana Krall joined him on piano
and Joe Walsh of The Eagles strummed guitar while, behind the three
veteran artists, an entire orchestra gave body to the forlorn melody.
Later, Walsh sighed when he spoke of the song. "It's a beautiful
song, He wrote that for his wife. He just did an album of standards,
something he wanted to do for a long time. It's a side of Paul we
never really heard before. It's a side he never really heard before.
He didn't know it was in him."
Lovely lyrics: what if it rained?/ we didnt care/ she said that
someday soon/the sun was gonna shine./ and she was right/this love
of mine,/my valentine
mwe3: How about track three from Marvin On Steel, a
song called And Wish Her For Me and the history behind
that song? Its relatively unknown.
And Wish Her For Me is the translation of an Italian tune
E Salutala Per Me made famous by Raffaella Carrà
in 1978, a torch song
.talking about unrequited love
She is known in Italy simply as La Carrà and in some Latin
American countries sometimes simply as Raffaella. Carrà moved
to Spain, doing television and releasing records in the Spanish language.
This led her to move to South America, where her records had been
heard for some years. She was very well received throughout Latin
America, and filled the stadiums and theaters wherever she performed.
She returned permanently to Italy in 1982. The tune caught my ear
probably due its tonal cadences.
mwe3: How about your cover of Michel Legrands Summer
Me, Winter Me? It sounds like a song that sort of fell by the
wayside as far as guitar instrumentals go, but it works quite good
as a guitar instrumental. I hadnt heard it before so thank you
for that. Do you have a favorite version of that song and has it ever
been done as a guitar instrumental?
KAY DAS: Although I do not always listen first to the lyrics
but more often to the notes, this composition caught my ear: Summer
me, winter me/ And with your kisses morning me, evening me
This lovely tune was the main theme from the motion picture Picasso
Summer. Recorded famously by Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand,
Johnny Mathis, Kiri te Kanawa. Laura Fygi and many others, a standard
in its own right. Although there are quite a few orchestral and string
versions I do not know of any other guitar instrumental version. My
favorite is the version by Michel Legrand and Laura Fygi from the
CD Watch What Happens
mwe3: Whats new in the guitar world for you as far as
any new guitars, new gear or developments on the technical side of
things? Hows your Steel-O-Caster guitar these days? How unique
is it in the guitar world and you done any modifications on it and
how easy is it to maintain? How about the strings and amps youre
featuring on the Marvin On Steel CD?
KAY DAS: I am told I have developed a characteristic style
and sound and that usually means, like The Shads found, that that
is what people expect from you. I am stable in my choice of instruments
I am biased towards Fender tube amps. I recently bought a third, a
Superchamp; it is light to carry around, has acceptable tone and Fender
amp modeling for small gigs, has a line out. I try to be a minimalist:
no foot pedals apart from a swell pedal on occasion. For the recordings
on Marvin On Steel I frequently had the Steelocaster in directly
to a Quadraverb Alesis GT in series with the amplifier, then the line
out into an optical compressor and then into the mixer. For strings,
I generally compromise between the higher gauges for thickness of
sound and lower gauges for pliability and softness to achieve micro-tones.
mwe3: What does the future hold for you as far as recording
and releasing new music and what new directions and what new songs
are you planning or looking to explore and record in the coming months?
KAY DAS: Apart from being a Shadows fan, I try to portray the
steel guitar in a variety of settings from blues to big band to standards
to Latin to surf... and so on. I currently focus in two musical directions:
(a) The Shadows tunes, or tunes that might have sounded good if they
had played them, and (b) old/contemporary Hawaiian and pop tunes.
I just finished recording a couple of tunes associated with James
Micheners Hawaii. I wish to make more originals;
there will be more of them in the future.
Thanks to Kay Das @ www.KayDas.me