MARK CLOUTIER
Wings Of Fire
(Blues Lion Records)

 

Kicking off with a track entitled “Voodoo Guitar”—taken from the 2010 CD release of Deep Down Blues—the 2011 CD release of Wings Of Fire presents the first ever album compilation showcasing some of the finest instrumental tracks, written, recorded and produced by New York guitarist Mark Cloutier. Subtitled the Blues Lion Collection, the 19 track CD draws on tracks culled from nearly ten Cloutier albums that the guitarist has independently released over the past decade. A colorfully packaged and tastefully designed CD, Wings Of Fire presents Cloutier in a splendid light—a guitarist sounding clearly inspired by rock guitar greats like Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Winter as well as more traditional blues, R&B and jazz guitarists as diverse as Buddy Guy, Steve Cropper, Robin Trower and Kenny Burrell. In other words, Cloutier is a guitarist who’s not afraid to break through with a hard rock riff before moving on to jazzing things up when he has to. Case in point are the first three tracks on the Wings Of Fire CD. Both “Voodoo Guitar” and “Psychedelia Man” (tracks 1 and 3, both remastered and culled from the aforementioned Deep Down Blues) as well as the title track “Wings Of Fire” (track 2 here, from Cloutier’s album 6 Strings Of Passion) offers solid proof of Cloutier’s skillful and imaginative rock guitar style. All in all, Wings Of Fire offers a revealing introduction to Cloutier’s electrifying blues meets jazz meets rock guitar style of writing and recording. Of course the entire album is completely instrumental making Wings Of Fire a great choice for instro rock and blues fans who enjoy in-your-face, hard driving sounds as well as heavy surf-rock and jazz guitar fans who like hard rocking, dynamic and filler-free instrumental guitar music. www.BluesLionRecords.com


mwe3. com presents an interview with
MARK CLOUTIER



mwe3: Wings Of Fire is a great CD title. Sounds like a rebirth or revisiting past greats, musically and otherwise. Was that the spirit behind the making of your first ever guitar compilation and hat did you set out to accomplish with this CD?

MC: Initially I was not sure what to title the collection CD. I think people should know that you were the one who thought Wings Of Fire would be a great title for the CD and I agreed with you! It was nice to get the input from you. The cover on the CD shows the idea nicely with a guitar with burning wings soaring above. That was my art guy Steven Hall at work. He is a brilliant artist. I hope to have brought out some of the guitar ghosts of the past in spirit so to speak. I’m forever a Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan fan along with the countless guitar legends who have passed on. Of course guys like Buddy Guy and BB King are amazing in their longevity. They are so inspiring. I want to do this another 30 years!

mwe3: Does the Wings Of Fire compilation span most of the albums that you've recorded? What were some of the other parameters you used in picking tracks from your many albums and can you say something about the time frame, of the earliest recording dates to the latest CDs and the new tracks on the Wings Of Fire CD and will you be planning a volume 2?

MC: Yeah I tried to grab at least one track from the many CDs I have recorded in the past few years. My studio time is endless. Almost everyday in the afternoon I spend a few hours recording ideas and usually come up with something to work with. I have become a better player from all of the recording I have done. The old saying the tape doesn’t lie stands. I spend much time listening back usually as I do my 30 minute martial art workout. If the music doesn’t inspire me than how will it inspire others? I think its been about five years or so that I got into the online recording process. Its amazing what we can do on the computer now. It’s a necessity with the changing music industry. Gotta do it all your self because if you wait and depend on others. Well…I added a few late minute tracks to the CD just before I decided on the final order. I felt the CD needed something still. So I am happy with the new track additions. I think a volume two CD can happen down the road. It was an exhausting process but really worth it and I appreciate your help Robert because you were “Instrumental” (okay no pun intended) in convincing me that this was important to do as a stage in my music career.

mwe3: You mentioned some of your influences and a highlight of the Wings Of Fire CD is a new track called "Trower Like Jam" which pays tribute to Robin Trower. How big an influence was Trower and the other English blues rock guitarists that made a big impression on your guitar and compositional styles?

MC: Man I will tell you I saw Robin Trower probably 20 years ago at the Lost Horizon in Syracuse NY. It was probably the most up close and personal guitar experience I have had in my life. He turned it to Spinal Tap II and blew me away big time! Bridge Of Sighs was an amazing album. Spent many many hours absorbing that music. I lost the tape I had of that album but it still lives within me. That track was kind of me thinking of him. The guitar/bass line more so than anything. Jeff Beck...another amazing player. Blow By Blow. Gets no better than that. Clapton and the Bluesbreakers-yeah man!

mwe3: What guitars are mainly featured throughout the Wings Of Fire CD? What do you like best about your SRV Strat and can you compare it to other guitars you play or have played?

MC: My SRV Strat, standard tuning with .12 gauge strings and Belvedere Dipinto tuned down to D. It's funny but "Voodoo Guitar" should have been played with my Strat but I had that Belvedere tuned down and it was so swampy sounding. It was perfect for that track. I think I cranked on the Bigsby tremolo a few times but it does not stay in tune like the Strat. I’m going to get my cell phone now and take a picture of my first Strat and send it to you now. I would like you to post it on this interview if possible. It's so worn down I retired it years ago!

Nothing has compared to my SRV Strat to date. It's so diverse and what I love is I can play while holding the tremolo bar. it’s a neat feature because I believe all other Strats have the tremolo bar positioned underneath the bridge while the SRV guitar has it positioned above, making it easy to pick and hold at the same time while hammering on it or subtly using during chordings. There may be a Hendrix version out as well with the same feature as well...not sure.

mwe3: The Wings Of Fire CD has a very clean, bright sound. Can you say something about the CD mastering process and how you created the 19 track compilation master?

MC: I actually spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to master it. We talked about sending it to the great Greg Calbi but decided it was out of my budget and I mulled over different online mastering companies but ultimately I was tipped off by JC Carroll - a brilliant musician from England - to a very good mastering software program called Sony Architect. It added a very cool “dithering” effect that I thought really rounded out the overall sound of the CD! I wasn’t sure what you would think and decided to sent it to you-pre-release. Your reaction was great to the sound so that was all I needed to put the final audio stamp on the project.

mwe3: The Wings Of Fire cover art is great. Is there a story about the artwork and the great new Blues Lion logo too?

MC: Yeah this guy Steven Hall, from the Watertown, New York area, has been involved with the few bands I have been in for some years now. He has always been out there taking pictures and sending them my way for press and the web sites. He had done the art work on my bands' previous release Night Train Home. Loved what he did so I thought he was a no brainer for my solo project. In fact, he is now the official graphic artist/photographer for Blues Lion Records. He designed the logo. Very happy with it. Our blues is about the heart of a lion. Always from the heart!

mwe3: What kind of groove were you going for on the lead off track "Voodoo Guitar", which is clearly one of your best tracks?

MC: I wanted something different than the usual 1-4-5 blues progression. I decided to go with the repeating 1 chord to 4 chord theme. I turned it around from time to time but it’s the E - A chord theme that makes it work along with the drop down D swamp sound for the lead work. I don’t think it sounds like anyone. Just me thinking of Hendrix and
Vaughn...just playing like I know how. With drop down tuning I think I could articulate the string bends a bit more than the usual standard tuning.

mwe3: Is there a story about the title track "Wings Of Fire" and do you have any personal favorite tracks on the Wings Of Fire CD?

MC: Yeah this guy Loren Risker, a fabulous online musician sent me the backing track maybe 3 or 4 years ago and I decided to just let it go on this one. Not blues. Just guitar playing with no rules. It was a beautiful piece of music featuring amazing keyboard work given to me to do as I wish. After doing the lead work I went back and added a bit of a theme lick. It's sparse but just enough. I think that was the part that made it fly...

mwe3: From what higher source or level do you draw your most inspiration from musically and guitar wise?

MC: As I have gotten older I have become more spiritual. I pray to God everyday for direction. Much of it started in the past several years as my dad was battling cancer. The church we attend as a family has really enlightened me to the power of prayer. I had always started prayer time asking for the healing of my dad. He hung on for 12 years after being diagnosed with the most aggressive form of prostate cancer. The doctors couldn’t believe how long he hung on. I have gotten so much inspiration from him. My mom is very resilient as well...a cancer survivor herself. My dad was the strongest man I will ever know. Amazing grace and strong faith in God. He always put others before him. There is that sense I would like to succeed musically for my family. That drives me to a degree but I am happy with what I have done to this point. I’m cool with whatever happens from a music standpoint but life and death are much bigger than music.

mwe3: Do you have special interests or pursuits outside the music world?

MC: Yup, I love the martial arts. I should have been an ultimate fighter. Always had that fighter's mentality I think. It was baseball, football and basketball throughout high school, then the arts during my 6 years in the Air Force. Fought several tournaments back then and have some nice trophies to show for the hard work and only one bad injury from it. A broken kneecap and dislocation that set me back about 6 weeks. I was fighting about a month after the cast came off. I got that sort of determination from dad. I have mellowed though in last several years. I’m older and wiser now. I like to train about 30-45 minutes per day just enough to stay healthy and strong as I channel much of the energy into my guitar work and music.

mwe3: Do you have any projects planned for 2011 and beyond?

MC: Well I seem to be leaning toward some sort of surf-rock style guitar playing these days. I hope to do some more collaborations with some online pals and more albums to come for sure. Hopefully a full-on band project as well!

mwe3: Thanks Mark, best of luck on the Wings Of Fire CD!

MC: Thank you Robert and mwe3.com for all your help and guidance. The people out there should know you have been so helpful in this Wings Of Fire project. Big thanks!

Thanks to Mark Cloutier @ www.BluesLionRecords.com

 

 

 
   
Attention Artists and Record Companies: Have your CD reviewed by mwe3.com.
Send to
: MWE3.com CD Reviews Editor Robert Silverstein, P.O. Box 630249, Little Neck, N.Y. 11363-0249
E-mail:
info@mwe3.com
 
 
CD Reviews Feature Reviews & Features Archive Photo Archive Contact MWE3 Home
Email: Info@mwe3.com 

 

Copyright 1999-2011
MWE3.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved