off with a track entitled Voodoo Guitartaken from
the 2010 CD release of Deep Down Bluesthe 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 lighta 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 whos 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 Cloutiers album 6 Strings
Of Passion) offers solid proof of Cloutiers skillful and
imaginative rock guitar style. All in all, Wings Of Fire offers
a revealing introduction to Cloutiers 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
mwe3. com presents an interview with
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. Im
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
doesnt lie stands. I spend much time listening back usually
as I do my 30 minute martial art workout. If the music doesnt
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. Its 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.
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. Im 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. its
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.
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
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 wasnt 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?
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 its the E - A chord theme that
makes it work along with the drop down D swamp sound for the lead
work. I dont think it sounds like anyone. Just me thinking of
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
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
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?
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 couldnt 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. Im 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
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. Im 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?
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!
to Mark Cloutier @ www.BluesLionRecords.com