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, mwe3.com 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 Marks 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 mwe3.com,
This is our first release together and I owe it to brother
Myke for instigating this project by simply saying lets do some
jamming and see what happens. Im very proud of this album.
Mark Cloutiers 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 its quite clear that Thunder N Lighting
keeps the timeless blues-rock genre going strong. As Mark notes
in the following 2018 interview with mwe3.com, in addition to his
new album with brother Myke in Cloutier, hes 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, theres 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
this first Cloutier album, and with
one killer track after the next, Thunder
N Lighting is a stunning mix of solid blues-rock at
mwe3.com presents a new interview with
Is the 2018 CD release of Thunder And Lightning the first album
youve made with your brother Myke in the band Cloutier? You
guys sound like youve 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
Mark Cloutier: Yes this is our first release together and I
owe it to brother Myke for instigating this project by simply saying
lets 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. Im 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? Hes 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.
When you tracked the guitars, how many guitar tracks are there on
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.
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 youre 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?
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
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. Im 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. Its 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.
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 dont do much sparring or any fighting these
days. I had my time back when so Im happy training on my own
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
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.
maybe another guitar album! Shall see
I do want to spread the word any way we can. You can find our CDs
and also our web
site. Thanks to my great family and my sweetheart Laurie for her