coolest instro surf-rock band in the Gulf Coast region of the USA
is Rondo Hatton. Led by guitarist Bruce Lamb, Rondo
Hatton released Destination... Fun!! in 2013 and in 2015 theyre
back with another instro surf-rock masterpiece entitled Breaking
The Sound Barrier. The 16 track CD features another
round of Bruce Lamb originals and this time around Bruce gets solid
backup from his Rondo band mates Johnny Rossetti (guitars),
Les LeBlanc (bass) and Chad Solomon (drums), with the
addition of Denise Brumfield (bass) and Jon Smart (keyboards).
With their comprehensive, user-friendly approach to guitar instrumentals,
Rondo Hatton are masters at bringing listeners to a kinder, gentler
place in music history, even in the hair-raising year of 2015. Clearly,
Lamb and his Rondo Hatton band mates are greatly influenced by giants
like The Ventures, The Shadows and Duane Eddy and Rondo's original
tracks sometimes echo classics from yesteryear with such authenticity,
youd swear you heard these tracks before, yet with its own unique
sonic flair, Breaking The Sound Barrier is much more than an
exercise in sonic deja-vu. As on Destination... Fun!! Rondo
Hattons latest CD masterpiece was recorded at KRVS studios with
Bill Boelens producing. Several guest artists drop in, including
string arranger Christy Lee Gandy, whose string sounds help
Rondo Hatton echo some of those classic Duane Eddy vibes from the
late 1950s and early 1960s. As in the case of earlier Rondo Hatton
albums, the CD cover art of Breaking The Sound Barrier is classic.
Surf-rock fans will get another sonic blast from Rondo Hattons
2015 CD masterpiece, Breaking The Sound Barrier. www.Facebook.com/rondohattonband
mwe3.com presents an
Bruce Lamb of RONDO HATTON
How did you approach the making of Breaking The Sound Barrier,
compared with say Destination
Fun!! both from
a compositional and recording standpoint? Seems like theres
less of a Latin influence this time with a more straight ahead kind
of sound this time around.
Bruce Lamb: I would like to tell you this was really thought
out, but it wasnt. Five of the tracks were done by Johnny, Chad
and myself with me overdubbing the bass. The nine tracks with Denise
Brumfield playing bass were cut in one session with about six hours
of rehearsal! The remaining two tracks with Les on bass came off of
our very first CD, which is out of print, and we remixed them using
ProTools. I have a list of Latin stuff, both originals and covers
that I would like to record but, there is only so much room on a CD.
Maybe next time!
mwe3: How has the Rondo Hatton lineup changed for Breaking
The Sound Barrier and tell us how your producer Bill Boelens helped
shaped the sound in the studio this time? I guess your drummer Joe
left the band for this album and Les LeBlanc only plays on one track
here? In addition to the core Rondo Hatton lineup, with fellow guitarist
Johnny Rossetti, what did the guest artists bring to the CD this time.
Also I noticed that the CD was devoted to the memory of Bryan Evans.
Can you say something about Bryan?
Lamb: Bill Boelens has good ears and great taste in music. We
rely on him telling us
thats a keeper or do it again.
Plus, he has been a close friend for over thirty years! Regarding
Joe and Les, they just dont want to record anymore. Chad Solomon
was the original drummer with us and he is back on board. Denise Brumfield
had played with Johnny and myself on different projects and she was
an obvious choice to fill in. The bass line on Riding The Coffin
is her idea and we all thought it was great. If I wanted something
specific, Id tell her and she would knock it out. Bryan Evans
was a very dear friend and fellow musician who passed away very, very
suddenly. Dedicating the CD to his memory was the least I could do.
I miss him very much.
mwe3: What was your guitar setup like for the Sound Barrier
CD? Are there any new developments in the guitar world for you
these days? Are you still playing your Japanese Jazzmaster reissue?
I saw Fitzwell guitars gets a credit in the CD liner notes. Do you
and Johnny follow all the trends in new guitars and gear?
Lamb: Well, I recently got an Eastwood Sidejack Deluxe, which
is a copy of a Mosrite Ventures model. I only used it on two tracks
though. The Jazzmaster is still my main guitar for this band and Johnny
still used his G&L ASAT. I think I did use a Fitzwell Strat-type
for an overdub. Johnny and I really try to stay away from all aspects
of guitar nerdism if possible. I mean, if something really
useful comes along, like the Mastery Bridges
these things are
great, then Im interested. Otherwise, I dont really pay
mwe3: Most of the songs on Breaking The Sound Barrier are
Rondo originals. Are you finding your way more as a composer these
days? You have said in the past that you were influenced by a lot
of R&B guitarists like Bill Doggett, Freddy King and Duke Robillard,
so would you say the Sound Barrier is more of a true Rondo
Hatton album without some high profile covers?
Bruce Lamb: I dont know if Im finding my way. Most
of the time I feel lost in the woods! I do think this is our best
sounding CD and I am very happy with the performances. I also think
a couple of the songs are some of the best Ive written. But,
as I said earlier, the approach to this CD was no different than the
others. I feel the rhythm section is what gives this CD the big push.
mwe3: Is Cerveza On The Mesa an original or a cover
as I saw there were credits for that track and also for track 13,
Surf Party. Did you give those tracks the Rondo Hatton
edge and were those tracks kind of long lost songs or other favorites
of yours? Another cover here is Socorro written by someone
called Bulinsky that sounds very Buddy Holly influenced. Youre
a walking, talking music encyclopedia Bruce!
Bruce Lamb: These songs just caught my ear. Cerveza
Frank Blandino of The Fathoms, Surf Party is by The Astronauts
and Socorro is by Bill Bulinsky of The Greaseballs. I
tried to play them as close to the originals as I could.
After listening to Breaking The Sound Barrier it seems clear
that Rondo Hatton doesnt differentiate between different regions
in the world when it comes to guitar instrumental music. Do you set
out to cover as many of those regions as possible on your albums or
is there a distinctive Rondo sound you try to keep constant throughout
Bruce Lamb: Again, Id like to tell you that it is all
thought out, but it isnt. We just play stuff we like. If it
comes from the Congo or Brasil or California, who cares!
mwe3: Has there been any new interest in Rondo Hatton in the
New Orleans region and elsewhere in the world for that matter? Whats
in the Gulf Coast area? I saw the credit for Pipeline mag in the liner
notes for the Sound Barrier CD. Are you surprised that the
genre isnt more popular and what ways can the guitar instrumental
genre increase its standing in the world?
Lamb: Well, the new CD has gotten us some attention in the U.S.
I have not heard back from most of Europe yet. I am hopeful. As far
as New Orleans goes
I could care less! People from New Orleans
have always treated those of us from Baton Rouge like we are a bunch
of stump jumping, peckerwood rednecks, so I will never care what they
think. I think if the mass media force fed the world instro music
it would be more popular. You know, most people seem to want somebody
else to tell them what is cool.
mwe3: Zero Hour is a great way to kick off the
Sound Barrier CD. Would you say that track is a very Ventures
type track that kind of harks back to the early 1960s? Is 1960 - 1963
your favorite time in music history?
Bruce Lamb: Thanks for saying that. I wasnt going for
the Ventures so much as I wanted to do a driving surf type number.
If you think it sounds Ventures like, Im really
flattered. The early 1960s were cool, but no more than the late
40s through 50s when all this great music was brand new.
I love it all!
Does track 2, Blast Off continue the Sci-fi kind of vibe
of the Sound Barrier CD? Is science fiction the most popular
realm of instro guitar music? Funny how instro guitar music rose to
prominence during the early space race days of the early 1960s. As
a matter of fact, Blast Off almost sounds like Son
Of Telstar at the end of the track!
Bruce Lamb: I have noticed that a lot of the younger instro
groups are into monsters, zombies and other scary stuff. I guess we
were lucky that instro and the space program happened at the same
time. It made it easy! You must be referring to the rocket noise at
the end of the song. You know, we always work at least one sound effect
into each CD.
mwe3: Are there other hidden, tongue in cheek musical tributes
on Sound Barrier, kind of like you had on the Destination
Fun!! album? I remember you saying that Big Mack Attack
was a tribute to Lonnie Mack, so what other guitar tributes might
be hidden on Sound Barrier?
Bruce Lamb: No secret agenda on this one! (lol)
mwe3: Juliana is another beautiful original track
on the Sound Barrier CD. It has that early 1960s kind of vibe.
Was that song written for someone in particular?
Bruce Lamb: I just wanted to give that song a title using a
womans name. It was originally called Adrianna but
Chad asked if we could name it after his dentist!! So, it became Juliana.
Simple as that!
Clearly, youre still influenced by big sounding western music
sounds as O.K. Boys, Lets Get Western indicates.
Who are your favorite composers of that genre? The keyboards on that
track sound like horns and strings in all the right places. You mentioned
movies like Hang Em High among your influences, what
about those composers back then?
Bruce Lamb: I dont really know anything about those composers.
I couldnt name one! I have to tell you, there are no keyboards
on this track. Those are real strings, played by one super talented
violinist, Christie Gandy, multi-tracked over and over again. It took
her over 3 hours to stack all those tracks! She is also one beautiful
and sweet lady! Now that I got that straight, I like spaghetti western
stuff because it has twangy guitar.
mwe3: Track 8 on Sound Barrier, Untitled Pop Anthem
is a great track. Why call it Untitled? Its one
of your best songs and it covers so much musical ground too.
Lamb: Again, thank you for the compliment. Are you ready for this?
I couldnt think of a title, Im serious.
mwe3: Did you commission the artwork specifically for the Sound
Barrier album? I saw album art was designed by a local Baton Rouge
company. I guess you were going for a futuristic vibe with the cover
art. I remember all those great Ventures album covers as benchmarks
when everything and anything was possible.
Bruce Lamb: I gave the artist my scribbled version of the art
work and told her, Have fun. She did a great job.
mwe3: Last time around, you spoke about bringing Rondo Hatton
overseas and also finding an agent. How is that going these days?
Now that the world has become much smaller thanks to the internet,
it doesnt make a lot of sense that traveling has become kind
of a long lost art form at least for some. How far down the line are
you as far as what you spoke about a couple years back, regarding
Rondo Hatton concept albums like your blues and acoustic Latin albums,
and even the solo album you were speaking of? It would be great to
get some additional recognition for all the great music that Rondo
Hatton has released these past 5 years.
Lamb: Well, as I said earlier, this new CD is getting some attention
here in the U.S.. Sales have been pretty good via the internet. But
we cant buy a job in our own home town. I have made contact
with some of the other instro scenes like Atlanta (Southern Surf Stomp),
the Instro Summit in North Carolina, and NESMA up in New England and
they have all been very encouraging. So, it looks like we may get
out on the road later this year. The concept albums will happen whenever
I can raise the money! The solo album is next on the agenda, maybe
next year. Robert, I want to thank you for your continued support
and interest in what we are doing. It makes us proud and happy to
know that the members of the music press like our product. Well
see you down the road. Pray for surf!
Thanks to Bruce Lamb @ Rondo