Thunder 'N' Lightning
(Cloutier Music)


Fans of 21st century blues-rock sounds must check out the albums of the well-regarded Upstate New York based guitarist Mark Cloutier. Back in 2011, helped spread the word about Wings Of Fire, which was a CD compilation of assorted instrumental blues and rock tracks first brought to light on Mark’s various self-produced album releases. Time flies as they say and now in 2018 Mark returns to the music world with Thunder ‘N’ Lighting, an album of all new material written and recorded with Mark his brother, singer and lyricist Myke Cloutier. The resulting ten track album by their band Cloutier, the ten track Thunder 'N' Lightning rocks up quite a storm and will quickly find a home among fans of finest rockin' blues being recorded today. Commenting on this first ever album release from Cloutier, Mark tells, “This is our first release together and I owe it to brother Myke for instigating this project by simply saying let’s do some jamming and see what happens. I’m very proud of this album.” Mark Cloutier’s previous albums, including Deep Down Blues and Attitude With Gratitude, were clearly inspired by the rock, blues and instrumental guitar music of guitar giants like Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Freddy King and Jimi Hendrix and after a few spins it’s quite clear that Thunder ‘N’ Lighting keeps the timeless blues-rock genre going strong. As Mark notes in the following 2018 interview with, in addition to his new album with brother Myke in Cloutier, he’s also still quite busy with his Syracuse, N.Y. based band, The Double Barrel Blues Band, and fans of his work with DBBB will equally enjoy this first Cloutier album. And, considering the sonic diversity that Mark brings to the blues and rock guitar world, there’s always the chance in the future for a follow-up album to his groundbreaking instrumental guitar album Wings Of Fire. There's plenty of trailblazing, rockin’ big-beat electric guitar sounds on this first Cloutier album, and with one killer track after the next, Thunder ‘N’ Lighting is a stunning mix of solid blues-rock at its finest. presents a new interview with

: Is the 2018 CD release of Thunder And Lightning the first album you’ve made with your brother Myke in the band Cloutier? You guys sound like you’ve been recording together for decades, will there be gigs promoting the album? Is that family and musical ESP between two brothers working together on the Thunder And Lightning CD?

Mark Cloutier: Yes this is our first release together and I owe it to brother Myke for instigating this project by simply saying let’s do some jamming and see what happens. He was coming to my house once a week and we started off playing acoustically and recording everything with my Edirol MP3 recorder. He also brought over his old boom box with a small mic attached for recording. I would play stuff and he would start singing melodies over the guitar music and bring the tape home and write words over what we had jammed on. It was a really neat process and Myke worked extremely hard and would come back and play the music for me that was taped previously so I could remember what I did. We just built upon that formula weekly and it produced some really cool material. I’m very proud of this album. I think the “ESP” really flourished when we actually recorded because there were some very spontaneous things that happened in studio that really helped create a great vibe!

mwe3: How did you make the Thunder And Lightning album? Was it cut live and did Myke supply all the lyrics and vocals on the CD? He’s a great lyricist. What was the nature of the collaboration on the Thunder 'N' Lightning album? Sounds like he has a lot of compelling ideas in his expressive vocals.

Mark Cloutier: To begin with it was just really Myke and myself playing together in my living room until we got in studio and decided to use studio musicians to make it easy as far as organization. I have had 35 years of experience playing blues and rock ‘n’ roll, so I was confident I could lead session players through these songs and basically teaching them arrangements and what we were looking for in each song. The great thing is everyone had some nice input in the process. Myke is absolutely a superb lyricist we just had to teach him about how to communicate and deal with song arrangements in a live studio environment. The main thing for us was to get a great backing track in a single take from the drummer, bass man, and myself. To me that was the hardest part of it all. The tracking was a blast. I loved plugging in and exchanging ideas with Andrew the producer. He was superb.

mwe3: When you tracked the guitars, how many guitar tracks are there on some tracks?

Mark Cloutier: Some of the tracks had multiple guitars in them. For instance, “Man On The Mountain” had three lead guitar tracks. The coolest part was when our producer Andrew, of More Sound Studios, sent me into the room with a stack of speakers and said cut loose starting with some killer feedback. I loved that part. These things I can do live during a performance with one guitar but as far as a record it really added so much by basically playing off of my own lead guitar to make it a sort of a psychedelic jam, giving the listeners much to listen to and really filling space at times. It was so much fun and different from my past “live” off the floor recordings, not messing with much to keep its live integrity.

mwe3: What kind of guitar effects were used on the guitars during the Cloutier sessions?

Mark Cloutier: The only real guitar effects I used sparingly were an analogue delay and a Supa -Trem for tremolo effect on "Dreaming A Dream". As far as Myke, he had his set lyrics but also ad-libbed quite a bit during the jam sections and he really did feed off of what I was doing at the time. A real highlight is at the end of the song “Thunder And Lightning” where we all just really cut loose. I guess that would be brother ESP, as you mentioned earlier. Andrew thought Myke was a real hoot cause he would just let it rip vocally with not a care in the world and that helped give it a live sort of feeling.

mwe3: How did you assemble the band who else plays on the new Cloutier album?

Mark Cloutier: As far as who is on the album, we used Jose Varona on drums. He is a real beast… as good as it gets and he played a huge part in some very cool extensive improvisations. Mike Spadaro played bass on five tracks. A very accomplished blues bass guitar player who was right on it… no probs. A friend of mine, Joel Kane played bass on the other five tracks. Him and I go back many years doing gigs together and he is a real pro. I can always count on him!

mwe3: Your guitar work is simply on fire on Thunder And Lightning. What guitars are you playing on the new album? How about amps or effects you’re using on the new album.

Mark Cloutier: Thank you! Well I must say I have played my SRV Strat for many years now. I just love the big neck with jumbo frets and it allows me to be physical. I use 12 gauge strings in standard tuning. I love to work the neck even if I sacrifice perfect technique. I would rather have the edge so to speak! I used a studio Strat on a couple of the tracks just for a softer sound at times. As far as amps, I used a Mesa Boogie, a Marshall and a Vox. Each song seemed to call for a slightly different sound so we went with what made sense at the time. I think I got the most sustain and flow out of the Boogie as far as lead work. The Vox was killer for rhythm guitar and some leads. The Marshall always has that distinct sound. I believe I used it on the “Man On The Mountain” jam!

mwe3: Is instrumental rock still of interest to you? The Wings Of Fire compilation is all instrumental as you planned it, with some egging on from me, but do you find the instrumental genre somewhat limiting to you and is that one of the reasons you went for a rock vocal sound on Thunder And Lightning? Have you done other instrumental tracks since the Wings Of Fire compilation?

Mark Cloutier: I always love instrumental blues and rock guitar and never feel limited as far as playing and recording them. I was listening to old Jimmy Nolan on You Tube the other day… very inspirational blues guitar, swinging stuff. I can play that for days and recently had a go at listening to some old live Zeppelin. Myke and I go back along way with that sort of influence. I love “I Cant Quit You Babe”, their take on an old Otis Rush Song. Awesome raw power live and of course, always inspired by Jimmy Page. I took a little break from recording instrumentals and have been playing live with my working blues-rock band Double Barrel Blues Band. I have so much fun with Garnet, John and Bill doing about 25 shows a year in New York. We will continue to gig as long as the gigs are there. We have done very well I must say. Myke and I will do some shows as Cloutier as well. I’m excited about the playing the album live!

mwe3: How was the Thunder And Lightning album recorded, mixed and mastered and what was it like recording in More Sound studios and what role did producer / mixer Andrew Gleason have in the process and end result?

Mark Cloutier: What a great experience it was. It’s the first time I was really pushed to get the most of our music. Andrew is a musician himself, so he has a real good ear for things and would not hesitate to express his thoughts of what should be done. He would even at times say “hey, why not try another guitar voicing?” and I would just do it and go, “yeah I like it”. I loved the enthusiasm by all the musicians and the excitement from our producer. It really helped inspire us to do our best. As far as how it was mixed, Myke and myself listened and gave input to Andrew but we mostly let him do his thing knowing he was really good at it. We did our best to just make the instruments sound right from the get go and Myke made sure he was happy with his vocal delivery. The owner of the studio, “Jocko” put the final stamp on the project by doing the mastering. They are all very talented at the studio. I suggest checking out their website for all the equipment used for mastering etc.

mwe3: What else is new in your world lately? Are you still doing the martial arts and training and how are you staying in shape musically, both as a guitarist and a composer and also as a band leader?

Mark Cloutier: I love that question Robert! I think I spoke of my training in a previous interview. I run 3-6 miles per day and lift weights daily. I have been doing martial arts for about 30 years now. I have a cool kicking routing that I do. I would say it is a mix of Tang Soo Do, Hapkido, and Tae Kwon Do kicks with a bit of Muay Thai kicking influence as well. I mix it up often with boxing, Kenpo and Kung Fu hand stuff- all pretty much in my basement with all my equipment It keeps me in top shape and well focused. It truly helps me as a musician as far as endurance and the energy that is exchanged with the folks. I don’t do much sparring or any fighting these days. I had my time back when so I’m happy training on my own now.

I practice guitar on average 30-45 minutes a day and at times I extend practice to be ready for our summer shows, which can be 1-4 hours long. I like to think I have good balance in life. My daughter is in NYC studying at the NY Film Academy to be an actress. I love that she is pursuing her dream!

mwe3: What are you planning for 2019 as far as writing, recording and gigs? Be great to keep spreading the word about the new Cloutier CD.

Mark Cloutier: Myke and I will continue to write and record songs and book some shows I am sure. I think by March will be ready for another album. I will continue to play blues with the Double Barrel Blues Band mainly during summer season because we love the outdoor venues. Who knows… maybe another guitar album! Shall see… Myke and I do want to spread the word any way we can. You can find our CDs here and also our web site. Thanks to my great family and my sweetheart Laurie for her support!


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