of the coolest instrumental guitar bands in the USA today, Rondo
Hatton released a worthy follow up to their 2012 self titled Rondo
Hatton CD. The 2013 CD release of Destination... Fun!! is
filled with the same upbeat instrumental surf-rock energy and good
vibes that has kept the genre at the top of the guitar world for 55
years. Rondo Hatton guitarist and guiding light Bruce Lamb is
in top form on the 19 track CD which features 15 electric surf-rock
anthems played to perfection. The electric part of the CD is followed
up by four semi-acoustic tracks that brings a definite Latin twist
into the surf-rock genre. Featuring several well known, vintage guitar
covers such as The Breeze & I and Maria Elena,
the Destination... Fun!! CD is a good example of instrumental
guitar rock in the 21st century. At the core of the new CD is guitarist
Bruce Lamb, whose solid lead guitar work is superbly backed up by
his Rondo Hatton band matesJohnny Rossetti (guitars),
Les LeBlanc (bass) and Joe Miceli (drums and percussion).
Commenting on keeping one of the great American music genres alive
and well, Bruce tells mwe3.com, I like playing instros because
it is different and fun! People sometimes look at us like we are from
Mars, What do you mean you dont sing? Fans of
guitar legends, from The Ventures and Duane Eddy, up to and including
great 21st century American guitar bands like Insect Surfers, 3 Balls
Of Fire and guitar heroes such as Don Leady and Jim Colegrove, will
completely enjoy Rondo Hatton. The preeminent American guitar band
currently based in and around the Gulf Coast of America, Rondo Hatton
pulls out all the stops on their totally rockin Destination...
Fun!! Guitar fans: miss Rondo Hatton at your own risk!
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Bruce Lamb of RONDO HATTON
How long did it take Rondo Hatton to write and record the newly released
Destination... Fun!! CD? Over what period of time was the music
written and rehearsed and how long did it take to realize the concept
after the release of the bands 2011 CD which was simply called
Bruce Lamb: I started writing the songs about 2 weeks after
we finished recording the last CD. They were finished by January 2013.
Johnny and I worked up the arrangements and showed them to Les and
Joe. We started recording in March but had to back a couple of times
to finish it up. We did several percussion and Christy Gandy did all
of the strings at a studio in Baton Rouge.
mwe3: Why did you call the new Rondo Hatton CD Destination...
Fun!! Its a pretty tongue in cheek idea so to speak but
the music is really fun and enjoyable and it gets the point across.
Its got a kind of very 1960s type title. How does the
Destination... Fun!! CD cover art tie into the music and I
guess that kind of imagery increases the fun. Who designed the cover
Bruce Lamb: Well, I have a hard time naming my songs. It drives
the other guys crazy! So, we started naming them after fun spots
in the Baton Rouge area, like Thunderbird Beach, Leos
Rollerland and, Harding Drag Strip. Destination
Get it? At first, we were going to have a young lady pose next to
a classic car, like she was going on a trip. When that didnt
happen, I found the pin up girl picture. I mean shes sitting
on a suitcase with her thumb out hitching a ride. Destination
Tim Mueller put the cover together for us.
mwe3: The Rondo Hatton lineup continues to strengthen with
the new Destination... Fun!! album. How do you and Johnny Rossetti
share the guitar chores this time around and Les and Joe continue
to keep a solid groove. How would you compare your two guitars sound
on this new album? Is it kind of like the Shadows / Ventures sound
with the lead and steady rhythm guitar?
Bruce Lamb: Johnny tells me, You write em and Ill
hold it together for you. Les and Joe lock on and away we go!
I have to take my hat off to them; they will try anything I throw
at them. Johnny plays a few solos on this CD, just like he did on
the last one. He always sounds so good! On live gigs we feature him
on things like Apache and Poor Side Of Town
You ask if our formula follows The Ventures, well, they cast the original
mold didnt they?
What was the recording process like for Destination... Fun!!
and were there overdubs on the CD? What roles did the Aaron F. Thomas
and producer Bill and is there anyone else you can cite as being instrumental
during the making of the new album?
Bruce Lamb: We went into the studio, set up and played live.
Just that simple. We did overdub a couple of guitar tracks, percussion,
keyboards and strings. Aaron Thomas has great ears! He is definitely
responsible for the overall sonic product. He is also a player so
he will say, You can play that one better! He is also
a super nice guy. Bill Boelens has been a very close friend for 30
years. He is always full of encouragement and support. He is the one
who got us into the KRVS studios. He is an on the air
personality there. Chad Solomon was our original drummer and has come
back as percussionist. John Smart played piano and organ. He has been
a friend for a long time too. Christy Lee Gandy did all of the strings.
Very, very talented and one of the sweetest and prettiest ladies you
will ever meet.
mwe3: You live in Baton Rouge Louisiana and we were talking
about the popularity of Rondo Hatton there. How do you like it in
Baton Rouge and how would you compare Baton Rouge to other music cities
like Austin and Nashville or Memphis? Where else have you lived over
the years and can you compare those places as well to Baton Rouge?
Bruce Lamb: Ill refrain from any comment about Baton
Rouge. 1980s rock cover bands, nuff said. I did live in
Austin, Texas for 17 years and I really enjoyed most of it. I got
to play a lot, met some great players, and got to work with some true
legends. I would move back today, if I thought I could afford to live
mwe3: How about the guitars, amps and other effects you played
during the making of the new CD? What guitars does Johnny Rossetti
play on the Destination... Fun!! CD and how about the basses
Lamb: Well, I dont know what kind of drums Joe plays, but
they are a real cool sunburst finish! Les plays a Fender P bass but
he has a couple of mongrels he has put together as well. Johnny played
a G&L ASAT Classic with TV Jones filtertrons and a Bigsby, a Fender
Tele, and a 1968 Gibson 335 through a Fender Deluxe Reverb. I played
a Fender Jazzmaster, a Fitzwell Strat type, and a no name, mystery
of the Orient Les Paul copy (on one song) through a 1961 brown
face Fender Super with a Boss Fender Reverb pedal. I would like to
say, that Johnny and I both use Peavy Bandit 65 amps for live gigs
and we are proud to admit it!
mwe3: With the resurgence of the entire surf-rock genre in
recent decades, what do you like best about playing instrumental guitar-based
music and what artists today do you feel are best carrying on that
spirit? Is there a worldwide surf-rock community and how can it best
be united by a single driving spirit?
Bruce Lamb: I like playing instros because it is different
and fun! People sometimes look at us like we are from Mars, What
do you mean you dont sing? (lol) As far as players from
this genre that I like, I would have to include Danny Amis and Eddie
Angel from Los Straightjackets, John Blair, Dave Wronski, and the
guys from The Greaseballs. Im sorry, but I cant remember
their names. I guess there is an instro community but, we are kind
of on the fringe of that just because of where we are based out of.
I will say, I have met some great folks since we got our music out
there on the internet and thanks to guys like you who give us exposure.
In the following track by track interview
Bruce Lamb discusses the new Rondo Hatton CD Destination... Fun!!
Thunderbird Beach sounds very Ventures influenced. How
would you describe the guitar sound on that track?
Bruce Lamb: To me, that song is very South-West, Tex-Mex
sounding. That is why we had John Smart put that cheesy Farfisa organ
on it. The guitar sounds Big, I guess. A little side note
on this one... I played this for a friend of mine and she jumped up
and started dancing the Sideways Pony. She said we should
make a video with a bunch of gals doing the Pony. Maybe
mwe3: Miramar has a great pre-1963 kind of sound.
Lost innocence. Is that the sound you were after on many of the Destination...
Fun!! tracks here? What guitars are you featuring on that track?
Bruce Lamb: After I wrote Seabreeze for our last
CD, Johnny started pushing me to write more pop or melodic
type songs, so that is where this came from. I played my Jazzmaster
and I dont remember which guitar Johnny played.
mwe3: Leos Rollerland has another one of
those late 1950s / early 60s guitar sound. What was the keyboard
sounds backing the guitar? What is that spoken word at the end?
Lamb: That is one of the Fun Destinations in Baton
Rouge, or it was! Actually, they are still in business. The keyboard
is John Smart coaxing a Wurlitzer or some other ilk out of his keyboard
rig. When we were mixing this down, Joe Miceli said it needed the
voice of a roller rink announcer on it. Aaron Thomas, the engineer,
grabbed an old push button dispatch mic and said, Next skate
couples only. At the end he says, This was the last skate
of the evening
Please return all skates to the service desk.
mwe3: Track 4, Weekend Getaway has a Duane Eddy
West Coast kind of big open soundtrack type sound. What kind of tone
were you going for there Bruce? And how big an influence was / is
Duane in the guitar world in your estimation? Theres also a
cool kind of James Burton inspired closing to that track!
Bruce Lamb: You nailed that one! I was going for Duane Eddy
all the way and Johnny will be very flattered that you think he was
going for James Burton. Thanks for the very nice compliments! And
yes, Duane Eddy started it all, with Link Wrays help!
mwe3: We spoke earlier about the Duke Robillard composition,
Cookin which Rondo Hatton covers here. How would
you compare the guitar sounds on that track compared to the classic
Rondo sound? Cookin sounds almost R&B in scope.
Hes pretty underrated! Did you take some liberties with the
cover of this track?
Lamb: All of us in the group have real deep R&B backgrounds.
We actually moonlight as an R&B band from time to time, but that
is another story. We play a lot of R&B instros anyhow (Bill Dogget,
Freddy King, etc.) Ive never heard anything by Duke that I didnt
like. Hes great! Did we take liberties? Well, I sure cant
play like Duke so I did it as close as I could. I think its
close to his original.
mwe3: Is track 6, The Quiet Surf getting back to
the classic Rondo Hatton guitar sound. The guitar interplay is great
between you and Johnny.
Bruce Lamb: That is a tune by The Fenders. I dont know
anything about them at all. I have twp tracks by them on an old surf
comp LP. This was one of the two. I think it is a cool song. Kind
of Lounge-Surf, I guess.
mwe3: Big Mack Attack has a funny name and the
guitars are uniformly in attack mode there. What was the M.O. on that
Bruce Lamb: O.K. This is my tribute to Lonnie Mack. I just
love his stuff and what a great singer, too! That is the tremolo circuit
on my Fender Super and a cheap Vibrato pedal together.
I played a no name Japanese Firewood Les Paul copy on
this. I dont know what Johnny used to make his amp sound like
it was on fire for his solo. (lol)
mwe3: Perhaps the most high profile cover on Destination
Fun!! is your new version of Maria Elena You mentioned
it was a tribute to a relative of a band member? The song has such
a rich history. What inspired the Rondo version?
Bruce Lamb: Les LeBlancs mother loved this song and loved
our version the best. She was one of the sweetest ladies on the planet!
When she passed away, we all agreed we would include it on this CD
for her. Ive been playing this song for quite a while.
Oceanside is another Rondo track featuring the classic
surf-rock sound. This will be a future classic and theres some
very clean guitar picking and double stops there. What inspired Oceanside?
There must be a lot of towns named Oceanside in the US!
Bruce Lamb: This was another attempt to write a melodic pop
type instro. The chord changes came first and then the melody. Again,
it is... Destination
Fun, were going to the
beach on this one. I picked the title out of thin air, honest!
mwe3: Track Sagebrush Serenade is something else.
Are those real strings there? It almost sounds country & western
but theres a cool Duane like guitar break in there.
Bruce Lamb: I was going to play this on the lap steel but then
decided against that. I thought it sounded sort of Hawaiian but Johnny
said it was western so, Sagebrush Serenade.
And yes, those are very real strings. That is Christy Lee Gandy playing
a first part (3 times), a second part (3 times) and yes, a third part
(3 times). She is and amazing musician! The twangy low guitar part
is me on a Fender Baritone Telecaster.
mwe3: Theres some interesting reverb effects on El
Roll-o which kind of has a Ventures sound there. On the whole
do you like to use a lot of reverb on the entire Destination...
Fun!! CD, or would you say you used a more judicious amount? Some
records have so much reverb sound like they bounce! lol Can you ever
use too much reverb on a record? (lol)
Lamb: I got carried away with this one. There are actually 4 guitar
parts on this track. I played my Fitzwell Strat for that super wet
guitar part. I never play without reverb, no matter what style of
music Im playing. I just dont like a dry amp, but I try
to be subtle with it unless the song calls for a surfy, wet sound.
And yes, you can use too much!
mwe3: Theres two versions of Tu Besitos on
Destination Fun!! Is that your Tex-Mex influence there? Another
future classic. The guitar sound is very varied on the electric version
of that track. What effects were prevalent on the electric and can
you say something about the unplugged version of Tu
Besitos when the track reappears again on track 16? What is
the English name? You mentioned sometimes Rondo does shows where the
sound is smaller where you cant be all electric? So is that
why you put the unplugged Latin music tracks at the end of the CD?
Bruce Lamb: Tu Besitos means your kisses. Im
a big fan of most Latin music's. I thought I was writing a Bolero,
but now Im not sure. Maybe it is a Samba! I dont know
if we used any effects on it other than reverb! The unplugged version
was cut in Baton Rouge at Jim Taylors studio. He had just gotten
some new gear and wanted to try it out so, it was us doing him a favor
and him doing us a BIG favor because I think the 4 unplugged
tracks came out great. We occasionally work in an all acoustic setting,
such as in a small restaurant.
mwe3: Did you purposely follow the electric Tu Besitos
with the Rondo Hatton version of The Breeze & I. That
song has a rich history. Are there strings added there too? How about
the keyboard sounds? It adds a nice touch. Whats the connection
to The Breeze & I?
Bruce Lamb: Well, they just happened to be back to back. No
special reason at all. It was my idea for Christy to play the Tempest
or Wind lick. I dont know what you call it. I guess
it is a scale of some kind. She came up with all the other string
parts and John Smart played a baby grand that is in the studio in
Lafayette. His part was an afterthought but I am sure glad we added
it. This is one of my favorite tracks. I learned this song off of
a Jon & The Nightriders LP!
mwe3: High Country has a big open sound. Kind of
like the theme from Bonanza. Maybe a great single track there.
Were you greatly influenced by big western movies soundtracks? Whats
your favorite movie soundtrack and composer?
Bruce Lamb: No more than anything else, really. I do love Westerns!
Besides Pulp Fiction for the obvious reasons, Id have
to say The Good, The Bad And The Ugly or Hang Em High.
Lead Footin is a great way to close the electric
part of the new CD. It sounds like a great album closer. Another great
choice for a single. Why did you subtitle it The Ghost Of Harding
Drag Strip? Any other cool data on that track?
Bruce Lamb: The original title was Ghost Of Drag Strip
Hollow. Someone told me there was a movie by that name. Well,
I didnt want that to come back and bit me on the butt so we
needed a new title. Harding Drag Strip was another Fun
Destination in Baton Rouge many years ago. When we were mixing
this down, it still didnt have a real title, so I just called
it Lead Footin. But that Ghost of
thing was still in the back of my mind. So, with Ghost Of Harding
Drag Strip, we covered the local fun spot thing and The
bit, too. Bill Boelens got that car sound from
some internet site.
mwe3: What made you add in 4 bonus tracks that are sort of
surf-guitar unplugged including the aforementioned Tu Besitos.
Are are the titles in Spanish and who wrote the tracks? As far as
those 4 bonus cuts go, how did you change your approach and does the
entire band play on the unplugged cuts? What about what acoustic guitars
you play on those tracks?
Bruce Lamb: As I said, the 4 acoustic tracks were a separate
project but they came out so good we just had to use them. There was
no change in the approach. We cut them live though Joe and Chad did
overdub additional percussion. Les wasnt available when these
were cut so engineer Jim Taylor overdubbed the bass on Tu Besitos
and I played bass on the other 3. The titles are in Spanish. All I
can tell you is that some guy named Lopez wrote El Trenecito(
Little Train). That is all I know. I played a 1967 Gibson J-50 that
I have had for over 40 years. I also played a Parocho Bajo Quinto
and a cheapo Oscar Schmidt Puerto Rican Cuatro. Johnny played 2 different
Guild acoustics but I have no idea what their model numbers are.
How about the track La Bikina? It has an interesting
melody and rhythm while the CD closing Danzon Juarez doesnt
even have writers credit. Is that a public domain track? It
sounds kind of familiar but I cant place it!
Bruce Lamb: La Bikina is a Mariachi waltz I learned
from an LP by Frank Corrales, a guitar player from San Antonio, Texas.
I plan on re-recording this on a future CD in an electric format in
4/4 time instead of the waltz time. I think it would make a great
Ventures style pop tune. Johnny says Im nuts! We could not find
the composers name for Danzon Juarez but I do know
it was named for a Mexican General Juarez who was a hero in the Mexican
Revolution. It has been recorded by many artists and is a standard
in Mexico, Texas and the Southwest.
mwe3: What is the plan to spread the word about Destination
Fun!! and as far as new destinations go, whats the Rondo
Hatton plan for 2014? Only six years to 2020.
Lamb: The new CD will be available through CD Baby, i-Tunes and
Amazon.com. You can also buy it from DWM Music and Deep Eddy Records.
We really want to hit the festival circuit and would love to play
in Europe. What we need is an agent!! Anybody out there interested?
Weve got a couple of concept CDs in mind such as In A Blue
Mood with Rondo Hatton which would be, surprise, blues and we
really want to cut an all Latin CD that would be mostly acoustic stuff.
Im working on a solo project of all original Surf, Spy, Spaghetti
Western stuff plus some choice Ventures covers. Thats about
it Bob! Thank you for your help and support.
Thanks to BRUCE LAMB and RONDO HATTON @ www.Facebook.com/RondoHattonBand